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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Unplug

I am currently settled on my favorite striped chair, ready to call it a day after successfully navigating my first 24 hours home from paradise. Re-entry was a bit of a challenge for my hubby and me; as my sweet friend so insightfully said on our first day in the British Virgin Islands, as we were sitting with our faces to the wind while sailing on a beautiful 50-foot catamaran, "I didn't think it would be this easy to forget about the children."

Kidding. But seriously.

I left the country with a bit of apprehension. I was leaving my itty-bitty munchkins with extremely capable parents (shout out to the most awesome moms and dads in the world), but I knew that it would be an exercise in relinquishing my sense of control as a mother. I left not knowing how much cell access I'd have in the middle of the ocean, and that sense of being unreachable did not sit well with me. Turns out we were very reachable, as there are probably cell towers every five feet even at the North Pole by now, but after we arrived and began to relax, there were very few times that I wanted to know what was going on at home.

Quite simply, I began to...


In our crazy-paced, constantly on-the-go society, I think I had forgotten what it means to unplug. It's virtually impossible to escape cell phones and the steady stream of 24-hour news updates, isn't it? Even third-world countries have cell towers peppering their landscapes nowadays, and it's not unusual to find locals who live in utter poverty walking around with iPhones. Mud homes. No car. Little to eat. And an iPhone. Suffice it to say, we have a hard time unplugging.

If there is one thing I walked away with from what was easily the most amazing trip of my life, it is how important, how crucial it is for us as moms to unplug every once and a while. I quickly fell into a rhythm of rest and relaxation, and the stresses of life literally vanished as I enjoyed my husband, good friends, and God's amazing creation.

I am not suggesting that the only way to unplug is to leave the country and take an extravagant vacation. It's actually quite the opposite! I realized the importance of getting away and becoming somewhat unreachable here

My husband and I went to the beach in March for a few days. It was beautiful and restful. However, we were unable to unplug. My laptop was on, my email was checked often, my phone was next to me at all times. I called home to check on the kids multiple times each day. I did not unplug; I was actually trying to control parent remotely instead of trusting my parents with the children and using the time I had to be still.

Brandon and I made a commitment to each other early on in parenthood to take one week each year to unplug together. Alone. This is for the betterment of our family, for the sake of intentionally strengthening our marriage, and for our general sanity. After our trip to the islands, I have realized that I want to add to that commitment. I want to not only get away together, but to purposely unplug while we are gone.

It's important, and it's harder to do each and every day. We have obligations. We have worries. We have important things to do, God-sized things. 

But sometimes, those things need to wait.

Sometimes we need to press the pause button on our lives.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him..." Psalm 37:7a 

So easy to say, yet so hard to do. 

However, this is the key to the renewing of our souls. If we do not make it a priority to get away and to be still before Him, we will be more drained, more depleted, until we have nothing left to give our children, our husbands, our friends, and our ministries. 

It's as though we are batteries. We are somewhat of a power source to many around us. We give until it hurts. We serve our families. We volunteer. We work. At some point, our energy begins to near empty, and we have little left to give. And we have a choice. We can burn out or we can refuel. We can plug into our life-giving, refueling power source, our Heavenly Father, and be renewed to start afresh, or we can fizzle out until the joy and the purpose is zapped from our lives. 

Unplugging doesn't even have to happen on vacation. We can work hard to take time to unplug in the here and now. We can choose to fast from our computers for a day, realizing that being still before the Lord is a necessity and that email and social media can wait. We can *gasp* turn our phones off and choose to be unreachable for a few hours. We can turn off the television at night and enjoy the sound of silence before the Lord.

That's what I find myself doing tonight. Enjoying the quiet. The boys are in bed, Brandon is tucking Emerson in, and I find myself sitting here, writing down my thoughts in the hopes of encouraging you, my friend, to find time to unplug. You need it and you deserve it. 

If you're in a position where you find it hard to have time to yourself, either due to being a single mom or due to finances making it hard to truly get away, please know that I am praying especially for you. The need to unplug is great for you, I know, and I believe the Lord understands this and wants to bring you refreshment even in the face of those obstacles.

Now, as I say goodnight, I'd like to give you a mental picture of what is currently transpiring in my daughter's room. My husband is sitting on her floor, shirtless, while she stands behind him and peels off his sunburned skin, one shred at a time. This is her new favorite hobby. Now, before you say "gross" and click to exit this page, know that they are having very meaningful daddy/daughter conversation while this is happening. Don't ever say the Watts family doesn't know how to have fun!

Feel free to laugh!