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Meditating on Psalm 131

What do we do when the problems are too big for us? Many of us can relate to feeling overwhelmed these days.

Join me today as we meditate on Psalm 131, and learn what it means to rest in our Father’s lap. We will do a slow down activity and listen to Scripture. Added bonus: I even throw in a little attachment and regulation info. into this episode! I hope you come away from this 10 minute podcast feeling renewed.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul-Care Reflections: Boundaries and Social Media

Today’s episode is a first! I’m talking about boundaries and social media on both the podcast and the blog today. Why? Because it’s an important topic, and it’s one that I find myself navigating constantly.

In this episode, I will list four boundaries that I am finding helpful for forming my own healthy relationship with social media. I hope you’ll find them helpful as well! To read the transcript of today’s episode, visit my blog at: pauserenewnext.com.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Setting Boundaries with Social Media

Are we ever really alone anymore? The truth is, we can have an audience anytime we want with the simple use of an app or two.

Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I find that I have a choice. I can keep my experience to myself, or I can post about it online and make my experience available to the masses.

Everyday life becomes an opportunity for social media posts. A coffee date with a friend can translate into beautiful pictures of steaming cups of coffee for Instagram. A date night with my husband means taking cute pictures of ourselves, not for posterity’s sake, but instead so that I can document our date on social media. Actually, if we’re being honest, I might not even wait until the end of the date to post our pictures. Each and every experience in the day creates a choice of whether or not to let my online community be a part of my life. So long privacy, and hello global connection!

As much as I love the opportunities that this kind of connectivity affords us, I find that in my own life, it also breeds some unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Can you relate? If so, I’d love to share four boundaries that I am finding to be helpful in forming my own relationship with social media.

The world of social media is full of perplexity!

Boundary #1: Taking a Break

More often than I’d like, I find myself interacting with social media in obsessive ways. This can look like checking and rechecking posts for likes or comments, or aimlessly and repetitively refreshing my feed out of boredom. Even more disturbingly, I sometimes have a difficult time being present with my family, because I’m thinking about how I could be turning our day out into a social media worthy post later. These are just a few of the ways that I know it’s time to take a social media break.

The spiritual discipline of fasting shows up often in the Bible as a way to repent, refocus, and reset our fleshly desires. As we take a break from the things that feed our worldly nature, we find that it resets not only our body and attitude but also our thinking patterns. Although people usually mention fasting in the context of food, social media fasts are equally important to our mental and spiritual health. I’ve found that blocking off a day, a weekend, or a week for a social media fast is very beneficial for helping to refocus my mind and priorities.

Taking a break from social media helps us recenter and focus on our present lives with the people who are physically present with us.

Boundary #2: Being a Respecter of Persons

When my children were little, one of my favorite things was to record their funny quotes on Facebook to share with friends and family. Now that I have two teenagers, I’ve found that I must be much more selective about what I post online. Unsurprisingly, teenagers have many opinions about what they do and do not want shared about themselves publicly!

An important limit for what I now post online is to respect the lives, privacy, and opinions of the people that I care about, including but not limited to my teenagers. I try to ask my family members’ permission before posting their pictures, stories, or anecdotes in a public space.

I hope one day when they have their own platforms, they remember to do the same for me!

Boundary #3: Keeping the Personal, Personal

Have you noticed that not many marriages or families survive reality TV shows? I don’t think our personal lives are meant to be shared with the masses. The essence of our closest relationships remain special because they’re shared in close and personal spaces. For instance, my husband and I share secrets, jokes, memories, and heartaches that are special and private to our relationship. This is part of the beauty and sacramentality of marriage.

In some ways the same is true for our closest friendships, our relationships with our parents, or our children. When we share the very personal in a public space, we risk breaking the trust of those we love. We also risk turning the precious parts of our relationship into a public spectacle. Major life conflicts aren’t meant to be played out on Facebook. At the other end of the spectrum, our precious memories and private moments may not be appropriate for social media either. The internet can be an unforgiving place, and we risk losing our special and private things when we place them in a public square.

In my own life, I am trying to differentiate between what stories need to be kept safe and “pondered in my heart,” and which stories from my personal life may be safe and beneficial to be shared with others through a blog, podcast, or over social media.

Boundary #4: Keeping the Sacred, Sacred

In the same way, I find that there are parts of my spiritual journey that are not yet ready to be shared publicly. This concept of the sacred can be broken into two general ideas.

1) Sometimes we’re just not ready to share the sacred parts of ourselves. For example, I firmly believe that in the middle of a painful season of healing, it is probably not yet time to share wounds publicly. The story is still being written, and mid-healing we may not yet have the perspective or strength to share our story in healthy ways. Although I definitely think we should be continually sharing our stories with close and safe people, it takes much more discernment to consider sharing our raw wounds with the online world. Social media does not discriminate people: safe versus unsafe. So, we must discern for ourselves, when and how we want to share about our own personal journeys of hardship, trauma, or healing.

2) The other sacred space I want to be careful about sharing online is my relationship with the Lord. Just like I want to be a respecter of persons, and keep my close relationships personal, I also want to keep my walk with the Lord close to my heart. When leading a ministry, it can be easy to turn every spiritual lesson into a public platform, but some things need time. Our alone time with the Lord is special, and it can take discernment to know when or how to share some of what He is teaching us in a public space. Everything the Holy Spirit teaches us in the quiet doesn’t immediately need to be shouted off of the rooftops. There certainly may come a time for sharing publicly, but I think understanding the when and how takes prayer. Even Jesus took time by himself in the wilderness to pray and discern what He was hearing from His heavenly Father. We can learn from His example.

Also, side note: he didn’t take his phone out into the desert with him to snap a selfie and document his alone time. (Not that we would be tempted to do that, right??)

Pause, Renew, Next: What about you? Do any of these boundaries resonate with you? Where are the places that you find yourself needing to set boundaries with social media these days? I encourage you to think about where your relationship with social media could use some tweaks or changes and consider what steps you need to take for your own soul-care.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul-Care Reflections: Jars of Clay

Feeling a bit fragile? Join me for today’s reflection episode as we focus on one of my all-time favorite Scripture passages: 2 Corinthians 4.

We’ll start with a grounding exercise, then use the mindfulness practice of deep reading as we pay attention to the themes of the text.

I hope you come away from this episode reminded that even in your fragility, as a fellow jar of clay, you are filled with the light and life of your Savior, and that your light and momentary troubles are working towards an eternal weight of glory.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Grace Walk Farm: A Conversation with Amber Benge

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and come sit down for a conversation among friends. On today’s episode, my real-life friend, Amber Benge, joins me for a chat about life transitions, homesteading, and faith. You will come away from this conversation so encouraged.

Amber explains how the Lord, through health issues and an overload of stress, helped her pare down her life to the essentials. A couple of years ago, she and her husband bought some acreage and began a new family adventure called Grace Walk Farm. Amber has learned and grown so much through tending her garden, and in this episode she shares how much the Lord is teaching her in that sacred place.

To learn more about Amber, Grace Walk Farm, and her upcoming book, please visit her website. If something you heard on today’s podcast resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment under today’s show notes or join the conversation on Instagram or Facebook.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul-Care Reflections: Grace for the Body

What happens when our bodies make us slow down? In this soul-care episode, I am sharing about how a recent injury is making me not just “talk the talk” about slowing down, but actually, physically, slow down.

Having grace for our physical bodies is an integral part of soul-care. In the same way, having grace for the body of Christ is an integral part of our faith walk. It was no accident that God named the church his body.

Join me for a pause in your day. I hope you leave feeling renewed. May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul-Care Reflections: Redo for the Win

As humans, we just don’t always get things right the first time. Sometimes, we need a redo. In today’s reflection episode, I share a real-life example from the journey of parenting a six-year old.

God himself was the designer of connected parenting. He knew that our muscle memory would take precedence over our cognitive memory and that we would need re-dos.

Join me for today’s episode as we take a pause and reflect upon the grace God has given us through second chances.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul-Care Reflections: A Meditation for the Weary

Are you weary? I know I am.

Today’s Scripture meditation, found in Isaiah 40, focuses on weariness and restoration. Actually, this chapter flips the script on weariness.

Join me for an 11 minute pause in your day to renew your soul.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

A Gentle Hand

It was a long and tiring day. Bedtime had finally arrived, and I was going through our nightly ritual with my youngest son. Every evening we have the same routine: he climbs in bed, arranges his stuffed animals, and snuggles with his special blankie. Then I cover him up, sing three songs, and pray before turning out the light and shutting the door. It’s a sweet and meaningful ritual. It provides safety and security for my son, and it’s a rhythm that he’s come to depend on.

Still, many nights, it feels more like a checkmark on my to-do list, than a sweet moment with my son. If you have multiple children, I know you can relate to the bedtime countdown. There are so many things to do each day, and once your children are in bed, sometimes it’s nice to have some time to yourself.

This night, however, as I sang his songs, I became aware of the tension in my body. I could feel myself rushing through the songs to get to the end. Then, I looked at my son and remembered he’d had a long day at school. It had been a busy afternoon and evening. I had hugged him during the day, but I had never taken time to really hold him.

Feeling compelled to give him some touch time, I leaned over the bed and laid my head on his chest, wrapping my arm around him. I kept singing.

Quietly, gently, I felt his fingers in my hair. While I sang, he gently played with the strands of my hair.

The song ended. I laid my hand on his chest and prayed for him. Then, I wished him a good night sleep, told him I loved him, and shut the door.

Every time I think about that interaction, I feel emotional. I instinctively knew that my son needed to be touched. I made an intentional choice to reach out and give him what he needed. What surprised me was his reaction. He touched me back. Not only that, he played with my hair.

Friends, I didn’t know that I needed to be touched too. That gentleness was a gift.

Raising boys is a challenge. Every boy mom knows that there’s a lot more yelling, rough and tumble, and grunge than there is gentleness. Yet sometimes, like a rainbow showing up after the most violent thunderstorm, a moment of sweetness bursts through and surprises me in the most beautiful way.

My fierce and gentle boy

Isn’t that typical of real life? The sweetest moments are often unexpected. They are the sprinkles on the ice cream of reality. It’s easy to miss them in the busyness of life, but when we find them, we can choose to cherish them.

Parenting is one of the hardest challenges and callings that I have been given in life, but I’m encouraged to know that I’m not alone. Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, cares for our children more than we do. Jesus has plenty of time for children, and He loves them very much.

Here’s the bigger encouragement though. The Good Shepherd cares for Moms too. He has compassion for our struggles, our weariness, our pain, and our worries. He wants to lead us with his gentleness.

He gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11b

Just like my son showed gentleness to me as I sang with him that evening, God shows even greater gentleness in the way that He shows me mercy as I stumble along in this mothering journey. He gently leads me: both in green pastures and in the valleys, walking me into paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. (Psalm 23)

In the chaos of everyday life, I want to intentionally look for and cherish the gentle moments He provides.

Pause, Renew, Next: Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Sit with the knowledge that Your Good Shepherd is leading you. He knows your struggles. He knows the journey ahead and the path you’ve already taken, and He shows you gentleness. If you have time for Scripture study today, pull out Psalm 23 and Isaiah 40, and notice the way that in these passages the Lord leads, guides, and renews His people.

May you be aware of all of the “sprinkles” the Lord sends your way this week.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Rebuild, Restore, Renew: A Conversation with Sharon Tedford

What a joy it is to share this conversation with you, friends! Today’s podcast guest, Sharon Tedford, is an absolute delight. (And so is her British accent!) She is a worship leader, author, artist, and podcast host. It was so fun to talk with Sharon about her award-winning podcast, God in the Ordinary, and her journey into the podcasting world.

Sharon has the gift of encouragement, and I have no doubt you will come away from this podcast feeling refreshed. During our conversation she shares how the Lord led her family from living in the U.K. across the Atlantic to starting a life in Texas. As Sharon says, change does not come easily for her, but through such a dramatic move the Lord began a work in her that continues to this day. She also shares how the Lord has used Isaiah 61 in her life and her ministry, which she aptly named 61 Things.

If you’d like to learn more about Sharon and check out her music, writing, and podcast, please visit her website: 61-things.com. As discussed in the podcast, Sharon is kindly offering listeners of the Pause Renew Next Podcast a free copy of one of her watercolour paintings which you can find on her website. The passcode to receive your free copy is: podcast.

If you enjoyed this podcast, or something from this episode resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment under today’s show notes, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page. You can also follow Pause Renew Next on Instagram: @pauserenewnext.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

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