encouraging a unified worship experience

Unplugged: 4 Ways I Was Renewed by Disconnecting

I'm addicted to technology! There, I said it. I love gadgets! I can usually be found with one of my many Apple products in hand. I am the geek my friends call when they are looking to purchase or have issues with their gadgets. I follow blogs about gadgets and love finding out about new gadgets before they are released. I post on this website about new technologies for worship. And as most know, in order to be an effective leader today, one must be connected....all the time...connected to the world...with no relief...right?

One week ago today Loren and I returned from a 5 day mini-vacation. We went to an all-inclusive boutique resort along the Riviera Maya. With family issues, work issues and other stresses of life we both needed time away to unwind and refresh our spirits. This was a beautiful resort with 90 rooms, of which only about half were filled. The staff was incredible and the views, breathtaking. We knew we were in good hands when we realized Dustin Hoffman, Ricky Martin and others stayed at this same resort. But, I might have missed it. I might have missed the relaxation, the beauty, the time of bonding with Loren, and the rejuvenation I experienced had I not unplugged for these few days.

Prior to going on this vacation, Loren and I made a conscious effort to unplug. We turned off our iPhones, turned off all texting, disabled twitter, disabled Facebook and switched off all email accounts. At the suggestion of blogger Michael Hyatt, I created an emergency email address which we gave to our parents, the sitter and my production assistant. They all understood that this was for emergency use only. I also gave my production assistant permission to do whatever needed to be done to keep things moving forward in my absence. We have worked together long enough that he knows how I would handle most situations and I knew I could trust him with this task. The only thing we used technology for was reading books and to FaceTime the children once from the resort.

How did I do? Surprisingly well! The first day, I occasionally had "phantom alerts" where I thought I was feeling my phone vibrating. But after that day, things were amazing! Here are a few things I accomplished by being unplugged:

1. I Renewed my Spirit- there are times in life that we just need to be quiet and listen. Often we are unable to do this because of the technological clutter that crowds our mind. The constant barrage of information can make us miss those times of quiet and solitude. It's amazing how our Creator can speak to us when there is nothing around to hear but the sounds of His creation. I was able to think about my ministry and my personal walk without interruptions from phones or emails.

2. I Renewed my Relationship with my Wife- we chatted. Often we chatted about nothing. We ate meals together and focused on the conversation rather than the sounds of text messages or emails. We walked around the resort with no agenda. We had no place to be and no calendar buzzing to tell us we were missing a meeting. We sat in quiet on the beach just enjoying the company of each other. I feel that we have a very strong marriage, but times like this serve to rejuvenate and strengthen the very thing God has put together.

3. I Renewed my love for Reading- working in ministry and trying to complete a doctorate degree, I read constantly. However, many of these are things I have to read not thing I necessarily want to read. I purposely did not read things that related to ministry or my degree. I was able to read a book I began two years ago for pleasure but simply have never had the time to finish. I also read humorous books. I love funny things and it was great to read some humor for a change! Loren actually finished two large fiction books. She, like me, had not been able to read for pleasure in quite some time. We both enjoyed this very much.

4. I Renewed a Commitment not to let Technology rule my Life- yes I still use technology and will continue to do so (if I didn't, you wouldn't be reading this blog)! However, several months back we chose to ditch cable and satellite at our home. Part of this was the high cost and the other was to allow more family time. We have a jailbroken Apple TV which we watch Netflix, Hulu, XBMC and we also have a standard attic antenna for local channels. This has limited our television viewing and helped prevent us from using it as "background noise". However, prior to leaving on our vacation I was sitting in our living room and noticed something interesting: I was using my iPad, Loren was using her iPad, Kenny had the kid's iPad and Maddie had her iPod touch. We were all together, the television was off, but we were all in our own worlds. On this vacation, Loren and I decided to set aside specific nights during the week where we do not use technology. The only exception for this is using an iPad to read a book or a computer for homework. I'll try to blog in a few weeks to let you know how this is working!

Yes, I realize this renewal time could have existed without a vacation. However, for me, it took getting away from my usual routine to realize how much technology had begun to control my life. I will still be a techno-geek and will still follow technology with a vengeance! I will not allow technology to dominate my time or my family's time but will work diligently at protecting our time together. Sure we will still use our gadgets! However, it will not take the place of spending time with each other or our quiet times of solitude.


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