The Gift of
Being Present

This past weekend I participated in my first social-media-free-weekend.

No Facebook, no Instagram, and I only used Pinterest to look up recipes I planned on cooking that day. As a reminder and in case of temptation, I created a folder on my iPhone and called it “distractions”. I then moved the apps into that folder. I also removed email from my phone too. This, I think, I will keep removed going forward as there really is no reason for me to check email on my phone. Because I don’t respond to emails over the phone, it’s simply a distraction.

To be quite honest, I was shocked at the effect these small changes had on me. I felt entirely present in each moment and my mind felt so clear. On top of that, I finally got around to doing so many things that I’ve been wanting to do. I’m not really convinced that I had so much more time because I wasn’t on my phone. Though I’m sure it played a part. But what I think I learned most from the exercise was how much being on my phone distracts and clutters my mind. It removes me from the moment I’m actually in, and depending on what I see or read, when I come back into the moment my mind and mood can continue thinking about or being affected by what I saw or read. Without the constant distractions, I was able to just look in front of myself and see how much there was to enjoy in my day.

So, what did I get to fully enjoy? Well, there were many little things throughout the weekend, but the highlight was sitting with Vitaliy at a cafe on Saturday. We began choosing pictures from last year in order to create a 2013 Family Album. We sipped a hot cup of coffee together and enjoyed belly aching laughter as we relived so many incredible moments. It made me so thankful. God is good.

This is a picture we came across from a trip we took in June. It’s a picture of my favorite street in Ukraine. I had walked this same street 8 years ago at the start of the darkest time of my life. I remember being so afraid and so sad. Vitaliy and I ate dinner at a restaurant on this street a few days before I had to return to the US. I had no idea when I’d see Vitaliy again. He was still waiting for the documentation for him and his younger sister Leska to come to the states. I had to leave him behind when I felt like he needed me the most. A time when I needed him the most.

We went back to this street last June and I remembered all those painful memories. But I stood amazed and overjoyed at God’s faithfulness. He walked us through the darkness (me kicking, screaming and crying) and brought us out into the light. What beauty.

Thoughts about Ukraine are running high these days with all the turmoil going on there. Our emotions are running high too, as a result. Please keep Ukraine in your prayers.