While in Kennebunkport on a church trip as a high schooler, I purchased a funny puppet. It was Lowly Worm from the Richard Scarry stories. Lowly cracked me up and I was a impulsive kid with disposable funds. We had fun with him on the trip even posing him with sites as we drove across the country. After coming home Lowly went into a box that wasn't opened again until Logan was around two years old.
It was love at first sight. Since Logan was two Lowly has been his favorite companion. Watching Logan cuddle wit his worm has been entertaining to say the least. Logan has stacks of Richard Scarry books which have increased his curiosity and reading skills. Over the years Lowly has become dirty and his cloth has worn thin. Last year, we found the Doll Hospital and Toy Solider Shop in Berkley and had scheduled to bring Lowly in for repairs, but it went out of business before we could have Lowly fixed. Logan was crushed. He was heartbroken about Lowly's seemingly irreversible condition. Jason searched the internet and found a shop out in California. For over year we've talked about sending Lowly out west, but Logan wouldn't hear of it.
Finally after much convincing and confirming that the nice lady who fixes children's beloved stuffed animals wouldn't do anything to hurt Lowly we have sent him off.
This morning my heart ached to see Logan so scared and afraid. He was worried about Lowly getting lost in transit. He's worried about the California wildfires. He worried about earthquakes. He's worried. So we prayed. We prayed that Lowly would return to us safe and sound. We prayed that he would come back good as new and last for many years to come. Then after we prayed, I prayed. I prayed that Logan's prayers would be answered. I know he's just a worm, but if anything happens I'm afraid of how it will impact Logan's faith. He is convinced that God will take care of Lowly, but life experience has taught me that things do not always go the way I want them to. God sometimes chooses not to answer with, "Yes," but how would Logan deal with that loss?
"Trust God," is excellent advise and I believe that is true, but it's also hard. God's way is best, but often there are trials associated with that trust. I remember what it was like to love my stuffed animal friends. I didn't have a house full of siblings or tons of friends. The bond I felt with my stuffed animals was strong enough that I still feel emotionally connected to them. As I pray for Logan, I know that it will be alright. Whatever happens. But that is hard. So tonight I find myself praying for a worm and his cross country journey. Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.
One of my favorite shows growing up was the A-Team. The falsely accused Green Berets hid out in the Los Angles underground helping underdogs that were being oppressed. Often they would be overtaken and locked up by the bad guys or trapped by some scheme. (Inexplicably, they were always trapped with lots of power tools and fixable equipment.) The leader, Hannibal Smith, would devise a plan and the team would execute it. After achieving victory, he would always say, "I love it when plan comes together."
As a learner, I love it when my reading combines to form a concrete and deeply understood idea. As silly as it seems, I get that satisfied feeling of everything coming together as it was planned to be. Today's word is an example of this coming together of ideas.
In my previous career as an English teacher, I was teaching Macbeth and discussing the concept of a tragic or fatal flaw. In Shakespeare's tragedies, the characters have a tragic flaw which is the ultimate cause of their destruction. In the plays we studied, the characters get what they want, but not in the way they saw it happening. Romeo and Juliet want to be together forever. They get that, but their togetherness is in death, not life. Macbeth is ambitious and wants to be above the rest as their leader. At the end of the play, he is raised up, but it is his head on a pike that is raised. As I was teaching this concept, a student said, "There's a word for that." Questioning her I said, "A word for what?" She said that there was a word for a tragic flaw, but she couldn't remember what it was. She had read it in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I had read the book myself and but had missed that part. Fortunately, she knew where it was mentioned in the story and I had a copy of the book on my Kindle. We looked it up and, sure enough, found it. The word was hamartia.
Around the same time, I purchased the book The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New by Marty Machowski. It was recommended to me by a friend. The book teaches systematic theology to young children by breaking down the concepts into very understandable ideas with many illustrations. They call things "The Ology of of God" or "The Ology of Christ" instead of Theology or Christology. This helps kids understand and grasp the understanding that "ology" simply means "the study of." One of the "ologys" mentioned is "The ology of sin". I was looking up the actual name of this ology and discovered that it is Hamartiology.
At this point, it hit. Sin is our tragic flaw. When I looked up Hamartiology the sources said that in Hamartiology, hamartia is defined more as the missing of a mark, because sin keeps us from missing the mark of God's glory and perfection. (Romans 3:23) But I think that the tragic or fatal flaw definition also makes sense here. I brought this back to my class and we discussed the impact that sin has on us. Although mankind was created perfect in God's image, sin marred that perfection and became our tragic fatal flaw.
Today's Word: Hamartia
Four syllables. Pronounced [hah-mahr-tee-uh]. Noun. Defined on dictionary.com as a tragic flaw. Today, I challenge you to contemplate your own tragic flaw. The sin that you cannot conquer on your own that only Christ can clean up for you. It can get overwhelming, but praise God that he didn't leave us without hope and offers us salvation from our hamartia.
I would also like to mention that this discovery was made possible by three things. (1.) The Holy Spirit guiding and directing in my life. (2.) Reading a wide variety of books on a wide variety of topics and reading what the students in my classroom were reading at the time. (3.) A classroom that allowed for expression and curiosity. I allowed the student to question me and my limited knowledge regarding the word for a tragic flaw. I indulged the curiosity of the moment by stopping the lesson and searching for an answer. I came back to them with updates as I learned from The Ology. This all took time away from my original plans, but the impact was much greater than had we just moved on. Shortly after this, a student brought in a page from his Word-a-Day calendar. I still keep it hung on my wall to remind me of the lessons we learned and the joy I felt in teaching those students.
As I mentioned last week, I have spent the last few years in notebooks and with a large variety of journals. I've experienced the value of putting pen to paper and grasped the power of a hand written note. I don't dislike analog living, but after dealing with some intense anxiety, I decided that I should try something different.
Let me explain my previous method of organization. I had a bullet journal with a calendar ranging from June to May, because as a mom and teacher my schedule has always worked better that way. I would put my appointments in the monthly spreads and my task lists on weekly spreads. I used a habit tracker and beautiful stickers. The whole thing was in written in beautiful fonts AND I made the whole calendar system in French. I've received LOTS of compliments on how beautiful it was. I had stickers too. Fun planner stickers that I could use for notating everything from laundry to getting coffee with a friend. It was absolutely adorable. Who would give up an adorable French bullet journal? Here's the issue. Remember when I said I wasn't organized? Well, I would go somewhere and forget to bring my journal. If I did remember, it was cumbersome and then I started carrying around my Sharpie pens (wonderful, by the way) AND the adorable stickers just in case a situation came up. I would keep all the stuff out on my counter because if I didn't I would never use it. I spent more time "jamming on my planner" than actually working on the stuff I was supposed to be doing. .
The first time I actually put aside the planner and made a task list on my phone. I realized that I have been making this way too complicated. But I was doing all that so I wouldn't become distracted by the digital. Apparently I have to ability to become distracted by the analog. Pens, paper, stickers, journals - these are what intoxicate and distract me. They are just so fun in and of themselves. (You're just now realizing what a big nerd I am?)
I've read quite a bit about the dangers of digital distraction. Reading things with hypertext slows down our reading by milliseconds. Our phone's chimes and rings hold a powerful sway over our attention. I don't want to get so caught up in my phone that I ignore what is going on around me. I want to be a good example of digital well-being to my son. All of this made me nervous about relying too heavily on the digital world. I thought I would be too distracted, but woah. That isn't what happened at all.
I will refrain from explaining the details of each app and specific change for now, but the overall impact has been more interesting than anything to me. I put away all my journals and stickers and pens and all the other stuff I had been using. I simplified. Everything is connected to Google. Because Google is available online, I can used it in whatever, I'm logged into. Doctors appointments? No problem. I can search for the phone number and make an appointment right here. No need to go find my calendar. My task list is linked to my calendar so I can see which days I'll be able to get things done and keep track of them from wherever I am. (Yes, I am careful to log out and practice on-line safety.)
My anxiety has dropped significantly since starting this experiment. I honestly didn't expect that. I'm not carrying around so much stuff because I only need my phone. I'm not misplacing my phone (usually) because I always have it on hand. Rather than leaving me addicted to my device, I've been on it less. Before, I used it to call and text and for social media. Now it's a work tool. It's something that allows me to focus on things so I can put it down and enjoy a clean counter and time doing things I love. When I go to look at my social apps I am given my daily task list so I put down to phone to get to work. Then when I'm done with the work, I find myself enjoying a board game with Logan or watching a show with Jason, which are things I thought I didn't have time for.
This might change. My brain may get used to the switch and flip back over to craving social media updates and focusing on the minutia rather than on the important, but for now I will revel in the ability to get things done and make stuff happen!
Around New Year's I posted about my resolutions and said that I was embracing some apps to help me meet my goals. Well, I embraced them and then some. I've decided to live this year digitally. For several years now I've had a bullet journal and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've loved hand lettering the dates and months. I like seeing the tasks and events spread out before me. BUT, and here's rub, I sometimes forget to carry it with me. I sometimes get so distracted with making it pretty that I fail to accomplish the tasks on my lists. The collections were spread out across months and sometimes got lost despite my endlessly improving it with washi tape and stickers. I will always love my bullet journal, but I am choosing to set it aside for now and try something new.
This doesn't mean I am giving up intentional living. Intentional living is laid out in Ephesians 5:8-10 "Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." It is making deliberate choices rather than being swept along with a crowd and doing what it takes to survive a day. It requires a great deal of self-knowledge and knowledge about the One you are lining up your life to follow. No, I'm still planning to live very intentionally and seek God's direction in everything I do.
I've decided to live a year using digital apps to assist me with everything I do. Some of this decision was prompted by my recently receiving a Microsoft Surface Pro and trying to make the most of it. I can now work from anywhere! My posting has been limited because back in November I accepted a long-term subbing position that has absorbed much of my time at mental energy. Since then I've been trying to eke out time to do the things I need to do while also finding time for the things I want to do. After re-evaluating my time and how I spend it I've decided that the digital life is worth a try.
There is one slight issue with this though. I am not super tech-savvy. Computers and are often not my friend. Passwords get lost and weird things happen. I can not tell you how many times I have had some issue with a computer only to have the IT or tech support say something like, "Oh wow! This is weird! I haven't seen this before." So I'm not tech savvy, but my husband is. We have Alexa who can turn on lights and assist us around the house. We have a Nest system with cameras, thermostat, and smoke alarm. We even have speakers connected to each other around the house. These always seem to work when he uses them, but for me, they crash and burn. But I will not give up! I have fixed some of the bugs by getting a new smartphone and understanding the issues that were keeping the technology from working. For the moment we are smooth sailing and this is awesome.
I will be keeping you updated on how the digital life is going by posting about apps and how the change is affecting my life. So far, Jason is excited about my choice and interested to see how long I can make it work.
What apps do you absolutely love? Do you prefer to do things digitally or analog?
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."