As we approach the end of another month it’s time to join with Heather Gerwing and friends for Share Four Somethings.
I wrote last month about the Easter trail I was helping to organise for my church on Good Friday, and it is definitely something that I loved. It was even better than I would ever have expected.
90 children took part (plus all the parents and other accompanying adults) and the weather was perfect – the first really lovely spring day of the year. As well as the families from the church and the friends they’d invited, several passers-by joined in, and I was surprised by how much they enjoyed and appreciated it.
On reflection, I’m pretty sure it’s because for months there has been so little to do and so few children’s activities available. Our trail was really nothing special, but I think people enjoyed the chance to take part in something bigger. Even though they were restricted to groups of two households, they got to see others as they passed by in the park. it felt like it brought our community together and it helped people see our church as something positive.
Also, I got to talk to more people face-to-face that day than I had in the whole rest of the year so far, so that was a big highlight for me!
For a long time, I was happy to live without a smartphone. People would try to persuade me of the benefits, but I was content with the phone I had. It had served me well for 12 years(!) and I didn’t see any reason to upgrade. It actually took my phone being destroyed by a hotel cleaner dropping it down the toilet to finally make me succumb and get a smartphone!
Almost five years later, I can’t imagine life without it. How did I ever find my way to unfamiliar places without Google Maps? How did I keep in touch with people effectively without WhatsApp?
There have certainly been lots of advantages to having a smartphone, but I also discovered certain disadvantages – the difficulty of switching off, the temptation to mindlessly scroll, the distraction it can cause…
I was interested to read this book by Tony Reinke to reflect on “12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You”. It is a small book with a lot of information, and it is very thought-provoking.
I like that the book considers both the positive and negative impacts of the smartphone, and that it doesn’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the challenges. Instead it prompts the reader to reflect for themselves and consider what to put into practice.
It is a challenging book, but very worthwhile, as these quotes illustrate:
“Those who feed on little nibbles of immediate approval from man will eternally starve. But those who aim their entire lives toward the glory and approval of God will find, in Christ, eternal approval.”
“Every morning we must take time to stop, to be still, to know that God is God and that we are his children. Digital technology must not fill up all the silent gaps of life.”
It also contains a very helpful list of questions for online content creators to consider before posting online, for example:
- Will this ultimately glorify me or God?
- Will this stir or muffle healthy affections for Christ?
- Will this misrepresent me or is it authentic?
- Will this build up or tear down?
I’d definitely recommend it if you have a smartphone and you’d like to reflect on the impact it is having and consider your habits.
In the darkness of the January lockdown, I wrote a list of things I hoped to do in 2021. My 2019 self would have laughed because every single thing on the list is something that I would have considered part of normal life, but many of them are things I haven’t been able to do in at least a year.
This month, I finally got to mark off three of the items on my list!
First our “stay at home” order was lifted, which meant we could travel for non-essential purposes, but only within our local area. This meant I was able to drive ten miles to walk by the sea. It is something I always find relaxing, and it was lovely just to be able to walk somewhere different.
Then a surprise announcement meant that, a few weeks later, restrictions were eased even further. We were allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to six people, and travel restrictions were eased completely within Scotland. This meant that on one day I got to have an in-person meeting with four work colleagues and I got to travel to visit my family.
It’s wonderful to finally be able to do some of these things again!
Still uncertain, but looking a little more hopeful…
We have a provisional date in May to resume in-person church and, looking slightly further ahead, there’s a chance that my band rehearsals might be able to begin in June.
My birthday is next month, and I will be able to celebrate with others this year. The next month should hopefully also bring my turn for the vaccine, so it looks like we’re heading in the right direction.
It seems strange to be filling up my diary again!
What about you? How has April been for you? Feel free to share a highlight or prayer request in the comments.