I started October thinking about hypotheticals, the ingredients of my everyday dream life and how technology fit or didn’t fit the vision. I’m ending the month thinking back on actuality, all the dreamy and dull and demanding experiences that made up my days. I took on the challenge of this series right before bailing the blog, bidding farewell to the big kids and hitting the road for a reprise on the honeymoon.

There was the throwing of laundry and pushing of buttons, a quick swish-swash and a token toss in the dryer before the heathered tee and other stray pieces of clothing, ready or not, had to join the bags in the car. Sometimes you need a view from above, to see a stretch of time as a tale from history instead of seeing life through a magnifying class, one snippet at a time through social media or the to-do list of the domestic life.

anniversarytagalongI thought of all that as I sat barefoot on the very top balcony of West Baden Springs whispering with my husband so as not to wake the tagalong baby in the room. We did a lot of talking, uninterrupted by kids or the Internet. We did a lot of looking and listening and just being, in the mood of the soft-stepping deer that welcomed us back to the cabin and the slow-flowing water that over the years cuts through rock forming caves underneath our feet, both of which we saw on this trip.

deerI took plenty of pictures, because they help me remember. And I posted some on Instagram and Facebook because sometimes you just want to yell from the top of the world that you’ve found something good and you’re sticking with it. On the way to our anniversary dinner, my husband handed me ten years’ worth of words in handsome handwriting only he and I can read. When we sat down and picked up the steakhouse menu, the Lord had arranged a little surprise in the dessert section, something that matched the words on the anniversary note I’d just opened–bananas foster, a throwback from our bed and breakfast honeymoon.

bananasfosterOn the way back to real life, we got lost, an hour out of the way. The sign was so small, really. And, ugh, we had been on track to be early for once. I texted our friends and they righted our path and said they’d save seats for us when they got there. “You’re going to lose all cell reception after the T in the road,” they said. I didn’t know if it was something to dread or to celebrate.

We stayed on the country curves until the last bar vanished from my phone, taking each turn on faith, waiting for the sight of a tiny village emerging out of dried corn and soybeans. We walked through a deluge into the warm sound of a honky tonk piano and upright bass and our friends calling from the table. It felt strange to be unreachable to anyone outside that latitude and longitude. We were captive, and captivated there at Story Inn. That’s when we heard the story of our friend climbing over and into the ruins of the place we’d just seen in its full glory.

All through the month, I kept seeing things through the filter of the technology question. While shopping for birthday presents, I looked up to see a Facebook friend face-to-face as she visited from the other side of the world. Her boy had grown at warp speed, at least it seemed that way from my vantage point through the portal of social media.

Later in the week as I prepped for the party, I searched Pinterest for the best caramel frosting recipe, but I also left the screen, got outside, looked at the natural resources in reach, fallen branches and salvaged walnut bark, and built a wigwam, a little remembrance of a bygone era, the frontier and my childhood both. At the party, kids ran around outside with feathers on their heads. They sat down with river rocks, striking them together waiting for a spark, and it sparked hope in me that the whole lot of them still had some imagination.

nativeamericanbeadworkcakeAt the living history museum, the signs tell you what doesn’t exist in the time period you’re about to enter: no microwaves, no cell phones, no fast food. There, the baby felt the mulch with her bare toes, the big boy threw tomahawks and the birthday girl picked wildflowers. At the weekend festival on the property, we took in the hayride, the candied pecans, the old-timey Sleepy Hollow puppet show and the full moon above. And I won’t forget walking that wood with my son one Saturday afternoon, stumbling upon a secret cornfield and hearing him gasp as if he’d found gold.

hiddencornfieldMid-month at our baby girl’s dedication, there was no sign in her of the frenetic fear of missing out that plagues those of us who have grown less innocent. “Let [her] gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” She slept straight through as we prayed over her “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, to guard [her] heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” She lives wholehearted in the present, mind focused and pushing her body to act in the world, instead of scattered about in the abyss of virtual life. She puts her full effort into crawling to that crumb under the table, pulling up to standing and now attempting stairs.


My best moments come with that kind of intention and initiative. Sometimes technology helps. My high school pen pal, Tristi, and I have been texting each other and cleaning house together even though we’re three hours away. A couple of weeks ago, connecting with her energized me to wrangle the laundry while she cleaned the garage as a surprise for her husband. That same week, after reading my friend Amber’s inspiring post online, I gave my son his first piano lesson and watched him play Ode to Joy with the right fingers, as if by magic.

My best moments come when I’m attentive and fully present, when I’m using props and telling stories with my daughter or listening to my son finish his first chapter book completely on his own, or when I pass along words of remembrance and get a family history in return.

boxcarchildrenJoy sustains when I stop stressing about capturing every single beautiful thing with my camera and every so often take a mental picture instead, letting the light catch my natural lense, the way her baby skin glows on a sleepy Saturday morning as she wakes Daddy with gentle taps.

Happiness comes in walks to school on crisp fall mornings, picking up sap-dotted pine cones, taking photos of fallen leaves like art on the sidewalk…and being aware enough not to get run over by the lady watching her smartphone screen instead of the stop sign.

My best moments come when I am approachable and adaptable, when I determine not to be the mom on the iPhone and instead leave myself open to meeting a new international friend, talking heart-to-heart for two hours while our kids play, and then use that very iPhone to keep up with each other via text before our next get together.

The good life peeks up when my husband and I go on an impromptu date on the last day of the local film festival and find ourselves sitting next to an acquaintance who also happens to be in the cast of the documentary we’ve come to see. He chats with us afterward, giving us whole new layer of connection with the experience on screen.

That is technology at its best, when it works with our lives, providing more opportunities for connection without distancing or blocking us from those that are already there, something like the happy hybrid. I don’t plan on throwing out my phone or tablet or computer, but I do want to be wise in the way I use them and be willing to give them up if they should ever claim a right to the worship I reserve for the one and only God or the attention and devotion meant only for those made in His image. I want to know “the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth.” For me, that means doing my best to live less distracted, less digital.

Here’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Revisit Day 1 and the 3 objects/experiences that make up your dream life. What place have those things had in your daily life this month?


{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}