The Laws of Smartphone Use

Smart Phone use

It is painful to admit, but there are times when my smartphone has controlled my life. In an effort to be transparent about this, I am writing my own laws of cell phone use. Call them commandments, call them laws, call them guidelines, call them what you will — they are designed to remind me that life is short, and the idea of people eulogizing me as one who is always on their smartphone is terrifying.

So here goes: 

  • I will not check my phone in the morning until I have had coffee and prayers. (Possibly in that order.)
  • When I am at dinner, whether said dinner be at a restaurant or at home, I will put my phone away. I will recognize that everyone I need right then is present.
  • I will turn my phone off when I am in church. Always.
  • I will turn my phone off when I am at a workshop. Always.
  • I will leave my phone at my desk when I am going to a meeting, because I don’t trust myself to use it properly at the meeting.
  • If I have to message someone in front of you, I will tell you exactly why I have to message them at that moment. I will explain why it can’t wait.
  • I will not text while walking. Ever.
  • I will not text while driving. Ever. Ever
  • I will recognize that the moment is always more important than posting a Facebook picture of the moment. I repeat: Always.
  • I will seek to understand that the person who is present is generally a priority over the one who is on the phone. (Except when it’s my mom and my kids.)
  • I will realize that the chance of the phone call or text message I receive being an actual emergency is 1 to 100 or 1 to 1000 (or perhaps less) and I will relax.
  • I will not be rigid and annoying with these rules (except the ones about driving) with other people, because who am I to judge?

Please be gentle with me as I attempt to abide by them. Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and sanctification is a process.

What are your laws of cell phone use?

Short Sunday Thoughts: On Politics and Facebook

breaking bread

Dialogue is best done in relationship, over breaking bread, over coffee.” From On Sharing Bedrooms and Dialogue

As I think about the next year in the United States, I look back on something I wrote in the past, and I pray I will stay true to that conviction.

“We all have strong convictions that could lead to ugly. Human reactions, emotions and interactions are complex. And there are some things that I won’t discuss online, not because I lack conviction but because the potential for misinterpretation is too high…”

And this from my friend Tara:

“…I don’t need to battle over politics because I have a massive fight on my hands as it is. 

The battle to walk closely with Him day-by-day. 
The battle to be salt, to be light. 
The battle against my own sin and depravity. 
The battle to love my neighbor well. 
The battle to act justly; to love mercy. 

The Kingdom isn’t so much about how I vote (or promote my vote on-line) – the Kingdom is more about the way I love and live and act toward the lost and hurting around me.”

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

Unwanted Bodies

Judge Chapin was a three term Mayor of Worcest...

Chances are you have not heard of Peter Stefan. Stefan is a funeral director at the funeral home Graham Putney & Mahoney in Worcester, Massachusetts.

His funeral home is in a poor area of the city and has been part of the community for over a hundred and fifty years. That’s a lot of funerals. That’s a lot of bodies.

And for Mr. Stefan it’s a lot of unwanted bodies.

Because one of his specialties is providing funerals for the unwanted. It is his modus operandi. He takes on the bodies of the homeless, bodies of murderers, bodies of those in what one commentator said were “unfortunate circumstances”, bodies that are not claimed, bodies despised by the world.

These are the unwanted bodies.

He doesn’t do it for money. Most of these unwanted bodies have no one who will pay the cost. He does this out of conviction – conviction that even the unwanted deserve a burial.

I heard a story about him on the radio and I can’t get the words ‘unwanted bodies’ out of my mind. The phrase keeps playing, an iPod on repeat.

Unwanted bodies. Those who no one claims

Unwanted bodies. No one in the world willing to connect themselves to the person.

Unwanted bodies. No one will grieve and many will say good riddance, a scum bag gone, someone who wasted society’s time, a life that deserved to die now in the ground. No sorrow there.

But Peter Stefan takes those bodies. He has done it for years but recently made national headlines because he took the body of the alleged Boston Bomber, killed a few days after the bombing in a police stand-off. He did not back down on his convictions and his convictions are that every person deserves a burial – no matter who they are.

I have no idea if Mr. Stefan is acting out of religious principles – but it feels right that someone would be willing to do this, it seems proper that the unwanted are buried, or cremated by one who is willing to do the unpopular.

For me the conviction comes as I pass by those unwanted bodies that are still living – for they are everywhere, and they are still alive. They are living, breathing unwanted souls. They come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. They are in every country, every city, every town. They are called the Dalit in India because India is at least honest about its class system. Elsewhere, in places where there is supposedly no class system, they are the unspoken unwanted, as if not mentioning will make them go away.

So what will I do when these unwanted bodies come across my path? Will I connect with them, communicate with them, attempt to understand their stories?

I’m not sure. While I like to think so, I know that it is easy to ignore that which we wish to ignore. How about you? What do you think of Peter Stefan’s willingness to take “unwanted bodies”? How does that sit with your soul as you think about those around you who are living unwanted?

On a different subject…..Check out this amazing photo taken by my brother and submitted to the National Park Photo Contest. The title is “Realignment” and if you think it worthy – you can vote as well as ‘like’ it on Facebook!

Poetry is Necessary – Bumper Sticker Philosophy

Bumper sticker car parked in Santa Cruz, Calif...

Two years ago our trusty 7-passenger white van was totaled by a snow plow, and with its demise an era ended.

When I found out I was pregnant with our 5th child, one of the first things we said to each other was “We’ll never fit in a ‘normal’ car again!”. And it was true. But after the van totaled we realized that we were down to a family of four, soon to be three. Our three oldest had flown the nest and another was heading that way, her graduation imminent. While we were car shopping we discovered three little words that had a big meaning – No.More.Van.

We transitioned in size fairly well, adjusting to a five-passenger PT Cruiser, but to this day there is something about that white van that we miss:the bumper sticker.

Let me explain that we are not bumper sticker people; we prefer to express our theology and philosophy of life verbally rather than through anonymous bumper stickers that declare to the world strong sentiments without the softening that is the human connection. But this bumper sticker was an exception. This bumper sticker was different. In simple black letters this bumper sticker shouted to the world: Poetry is Necessary”. 

My husband came upon it at a Slam Poetry event one evening in Phoenix and, despite his resistance to bumper stickers, bought it on the spot.

Three little words that verbalize to the world something of the importance of art, not in a way that is defensive or confrontational, but in a way that people can understand – and smile.

Poetry is Necessary – such an excellent way to live, always recognizing the artist among us. Recognizing in three simple words the unsung poet; the need to take the difficult in life and portray it in lilting words; the need to speak the language of poetry to sometimes make life bearable.  Poetry is Necessary.

Bumper stickers as a rule are not necessarily kind. They tend to anonymously proclaim to the world disdain for other ideologies and beliefs. Consider the following:

  • “Spay and Neuter Republicans”
  • “Christians: Ya Can’t Live With ‘Em, Ya Can’t Feed ‘Em to the Lions Anymore
  • “I was an Atheist until I Realized I was God”
  • “Jesus Loves You But I’m His Favorite”

And then by stark contrast in black letters on a white background are the words “Poetry is Necessary”.  Now those are words and a philosophy to live by!

What bumper stickers do you have or have you seen that make you smile instead of cringe? Lend your voice to the comment section.


Are you tuning into this blog for the first time? Welcome and Click here to learn more about Communicating Across Boundaries. Check out these posts that others have liked!