Why I want to quit the Internet (and why I won't)

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I still remember saying goodbye to my friends on the last day of 5th grade. It was 1998 and it was emotional. The way the school zones worked out, I was going to end up attending a different middle school than most of the kids I had spent the last six years growing up with. I had never been the “new kid” before and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be. As my bus slowly rolled out of that elementary school parking lot, so did the tears from my eyes. And as I stared out that foggy, glass window, I wondered if I’d see my best friend or secret crush ever again.

Who knew that only six years later, in 2004... there would be a way that I could. I believe it’s no coincidence that Facebook was created the year before I graduated high school. Instead of tears rolling down my cheeks my senior year, I was jotting down college email addresses so I could add all my friends on this new and upcoming, popular social website! It seemed pretty straight forward - you put up a profile picture, shared photo albums and “wrote on walls” of people you wanted to say hi to. It was brilliant and most importantly, I’d never have to miss a friend again! 

In 2006, I began blogging as a college student just trying to figure out life. I was married only two years later after I just turned 21, and was joyfully naive, but nonetheless excited about offering advice to the rest of the world! I spent a good portion of the early years of marriage writing about faith, music and ministry life together with my wonderful husband. Those were golden and beneficial years. A transformation happened in my writing when I began to get vulnerable about our struggle with infertility, which eventually led to sharing the joy of our pregnancy with our first baby boy and then, by God’s grace, two girls following! It all came naturally as I shared my life, and family, with people across the internet. And I ended up keeping in touch with quite a bit more than just those few friends I was afraid to miss in high school. 

But if I’m honest, It’s 2019 now and after 15 years of being on the Internet, I’m ready to quit. 

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There are many reasons I’ve been struggling with wanting to quit the internet (stirs up comparison and discontentment, too many people to keep up with, never feeling enough, etc.) But, for times sake, I’ll break it down into the BIG 3. 

THREE REASONS I WANT TO QUIT THE INTERNET.

1. My time is limited. 

There is a lot of pressure these days to maintain and grow your social media presence. As someone who does photography as a side gig, I know that I have to keep posting regularly or I lose my place in the “algorithm” and stop showing up in feeds. Which, therefore, hinders my prospect for new clients. But, as motherhood has taken its toll on me (in the best of ways) my time and energy have become limited. I distanced myself from this blog almost two years ago after receiving some not-so-nice comments about a political post I wrote. It wasn’t the mean comments that got to me - it was that I didn’t have the energy to defend my words anymore. This was a problem. If I was going to invest my heart and passion into writing something, I knew I needed to have the follow-through to defend it. Which brings me to my next point — 

2. I’m too passionate. 

I struggle with how to be a good and present mom and also... save the world from going theologically, spiritually and politically down the drain! (I think I’m a little too late on that last one) I have watched from the not-so-comfortable sidelines for over two years, hoping that I would somehow (magically) turn into one of those mom-bloggers who could write about sofas and recipes and call it a day. (Please take no judgment, sofa and recipe-writing mamas! I need you. I read you.)

But that’s just not how I’m wired. And I’ve learned to be okay with it. And more than okay, I’m grateful. Grateful that God would give me this never-ending desire to see Truth win out. And let’s face it, I’m just no good at blogging unless I can blog about the things that give me life and purpose. Some would argue a couch could do that for them. My couch can’t. 

3. The world (and therefore, the internet) is dark and evil.

This is really the one I could sit down on for a few hours/days. The Holy Spirit has been heavy at work within me over these last two “silent” years, as I’ll call them. I have felt so unsettled by the current spiritual climate of our country. My heart, physically, aches. I read things almost on the daily now that cause me to run to Scripture. Not just to have a verse to throw into the fighting ring - but as armor to guard my own heart and mind. It’s scary out there! I have questions about everything. And even my questions have questions. As followers of Christ, we must cling to The Bible as our only true and reliable source - and, sadly, we are in a culture today that is trying to disarm us from our only weapon. 

But as I run to Scripture, I find that this battle has already been predicted. God knew beforehand that these were the times that would exist. And get this... it is NO coincidence that any of us were brought into this world FOR SUCH A TIME. 

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
— Galatians 6:9

This brings me to…

WHY I WON’T QUIT.

If we believe God placed us into this world for this time, and we are called to be bright lights in a dark world (Matthew 5:14). Where else can we shine our lights brightest if not the place that seems the darkest? 

Honestly, I was hoping the internet would die or fade away if I started fading away from it. But that’s just not how it works. In fact, it seems like the more I try to ignore it - the louder it gets. (Try putting your phone down for a day and you will notice EVERYONE else on theirs). None of us are THAT important enough to kill it. The Internet is here to stay.

And one day soon (in fact, in LESS time than the amount of years I’ve been on Facebook!) I’m going to be handing it over to my children. How will I ever let them use a tool that I have never really grasped the purpose of myself? They are looking at our example now and, as with everything, we need to model what that looks like. 

Millennials are the first generation to parent while also using social media.
And we won’t be the last.

I’m afraid that one day we will have a lot of advice to give of “what-not-to-do” and not a lot of WHAT to do. I know that I’m still figuring it out myself.

But I can tell you this - it doesn’t look like endless self-promotion (though, at times, it is necessary). It doesn’t look like mindless scrolling, or ranting, or speaking words that I would never say in a conversation face-to-face. Or finding my value in numbers that go up and down like the waves. 

It does mean connection, speaking life, pointing others to Christ and spurring each other on into likemindedness. Did you know that we are called to think alike, as believers? Being of “one mind” is something Paul wrote about frequently with great urgency and prayer (1 Corinthians 1, Philippians 2). He knew it would be difficult. But I’ve found the best way to unify isn’t to shout from the outskirts, but to stand in the center of something with open arms. 

So even though I’m worn out, tired and ready to give up at times - I keep pressing into this space and using this tool to hopefully, somehow, be a light to the world and encourage other believers to do the same. When the voices of those who speak Truth begin fading from view, confusion takes over. And where there is no vision, the people perish. 

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
— Proverbs 29:18

And to think, I thought the Internet was just a brilliant way for me to never miss a friend again. Only God knew it would be a tool to make sure my friends never missed Him. 

Conversations over Coffee

I wrote a post a couple months ago talking about how I wanted to get back to blogging like the old days again. And while the intentions were good, and I do long to write more frequently like I used to, I've been struggling with how to approach it.

The real problem is there's been a lot going on in this head of mine. And I've just become so exhausted, personally, reading article after article of one-sided commentary on every single topic - that I really don't want to sound like another gong beating my own drum. 

I think it would help, though, if I approached blogging like having a conversation with a friend over coffee. 

If you were that friend, I would start by telling you that we've been living in Jacksonville for 10 months now and I am still recovering from the emotional toll that this specific move has taken on us. It's hard to complain when you have so much to be grateful for, so I won't go on and on about it. But I am so thankful for the friends that have sent a message or text to let us know that they are praying for us on this journey. It has been so encouraging. Every time we move, the most painful part is leaving people. And as long as we are investing our lives in wherever the Lord calls us, I'm certain that will never get any easier. 

Speaking of investments... we are praying through whether or not to buy a house again! Our first home that we purchased in Alabama has still not sold (but thankfully has a tenant!) so we have been reluctant on taking that leap again. But now that our church campus has launched and our rental lease is up in May, we are looking to join in with the community on the Northside of Jacksonville sometime in the next few months. Not to mention, we've been told it's a good time to buy before the "economic boost" that is projected to take place now that Trump is in office.

Speaking of Trump in office... it's been something, hasn't it? I've never seen a single party so divided over a candidate quite like this. And, truthfully, I've never felt more confused in where I stand myself. It's about time, though, that Christians separated their faith from allegiance to a certain political party. And I will be the first to admit that I've gotten it wrong in the past so many times. But there is just too much at stake, spiritually, for us to keep putting our hope or hate in any governing office. Instead, let's pray and turn our actions towards being the change we want to see happen in the world (cue, Michael Jackson!) How can we love those close to us better? How can we love the least of us better? Jesus said in John 13:35 that the world will know us by our love... not by our political platforms or strong opinions. 

If I were having coffee with you, I'd probably let out a deep breath right after that last sentence and take a big sip of that coffee to shut up my own strong opinions from spewing all over the place. Because it's easy to do. And I know once I get started on a tangent, I have a hard time shutting up. 

But then, I'd probably sit back and let you take over the conversation from here. Because I'd want you to know that I value you and your thoughts as well. We may even disagree at some point, but we'd probably never raise our voices or belittle each other for having an opinion. It's funny how differences become minor when you're sitting face to face with someone - seeing their expressions, hearing their tone, and learning about all of the life experience that has helped shape their views over the years. That's the benefit of having conversations over coffee. 

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“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:2, 15‬ 

My Journey in Photography

CRPhotog-01You may have noticed that I started a photography business a few months ago. Actually my very first paid session was in May, and I have had a steady flux of clients since then. Clients. Sounds so official.

I have to admit, I feel so overwhelmingly thankful and so overwhelmingly unqualified at the same time in this business.

It's not necessarily that I feel unqualified in my talent or skill to take photos. I don't. I truly believe I have an eye for it. I've always been able to see things in my head, before actually snapping the photo. If I didn't feel confident that I could take at least one good shot for every dozen bad ones, I wouldn't have started a business. Period.

But, I feel unqualified when I compare my early work with the work of those who have been doing it for years. It's not just a shot in the park (literally), it takes major attention to detail, not to mention fast execution to be able to capture those beautiful moments. I am learning as I go, and I praise God for all of the people so far that have been willing to trust me on the beginning of my journey with photography!

Although, this isn't actually the very beginning. And I feel compelled to tell you all a little bit of the story of how this all began.

I started dabbling in photography as soon as I got my Nikon D60 for Christmas in 2008. Josh and I had been married earlier that year and as a gift to document all the moments in our family, my dad bought me my first SLR camera. I was giddy and took that thing everywhere for the first few months. I even took it to my friends weddings, documenting right along with their actual wedding photographer (and occasionally over-stepping my bounds, I admit). But I would always smile when a friend would choose the photo I took for their profile on Facebook. It was like affirmation that hey, I actually took a good shot. 

Then slowly I started getting requests to take photos for people on different occasions. Portraits, Birthdays, Christmas cards, Engagements, even a small church (no guests) wedding. And I loved every minute of it. Even though at this point, it was still just a hobby.

And for awhile, I thought that's all it would ever be. A hobby that I did for people on rare occasions. Sure it took some time and late nights editing. But it was all for friends and I didn't think it was anything substantial enough to charge for. But eventually I learned I wasn't just robbing myself, I was robbing other, professional, photographers by offering free services.

Every time someone asked me to take their photos for free, I was taking business away from another potential photographer.

I struggled with this for months, but I still felt like I didn't have the investment and proper tools required to begin charging for my work. That is, until recently. Last year I was blessed with a new portrait lens for my Nikon and Adobe Photoshop on my computer. After a few months of practice, developing my editing style and creating a signature "look." I finally felt like I had the confidence and tools I needed to start a business.

My friend, Jared Sylvia, created my awesome logo. The "cr" is actually designed from my handwriting. The colors and font are taken from the look and feel of my blog. And I wanted all of it to have a "Central Florida" vibe to it. Hence, why my signature looks a lot like waves. :)

I am so very thankful and proud to have started this journey. It really has been obvious that the Lord has had his hand on every aspect, providing me with the tools and opportunities I have needed. And while my number one priority is to be a supportive wife and mom to my little ones, this is truly something flexible enough for me to be able to do that. It also gives me an outlet to fulfill that creative itch that lives inside me. The one that I can never shut off no matter how hard I try.

Thank you all for following along with me on this journey. I pray I have many more projects to share with you soon!