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The SQUARE Summer Challenge {Doing The Mom Job…With Your Whole Heart}

This weekend–I got away with some of my dearest mommy friends. It was heavenly. We got away…we talked…we talked…and we talked some more. Getting together with dear friends and talking just to talk can some times even seem like rare thing in our culture of status updates, instagrams and emails. And keeping up with all of those–often has me distracted from completely giving 100% to the job I have been entrusted with–Job Mommy.

In one of our conversations, we were talking about how there are now studies done on behaviors that have been formed from habit of continuously checking Facebook status, emails and such from iPhones. There are counselors that are helping people refocus on relationships that often don’t get the attention they need–many times…because of these “square” devices: iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and laptops. My dear friend Amy Monroe (Tapestry Ministry/Empowered to Connect), gave an amazing talk at our first Created for Care retreat in 2011 about the “squares” that distract us from really being intentional with our relationships–which include TVs, DVDs and other media. I wish I could say that I never check “squares” when my littles ones are up and at ’em…but more often than not, I’m guilty of telling my littles as they try for my attention, “Hold on JUST A SEC…lemme send this REAL QUICK!

This weekend as we were talking, I was sitting there thinking: Do I pick up my phone too much to check for updates? Am I engaging whole-heartedly with my children throughout the day without distraction from squares? When I need to do something, do I reach for squares to distract my children rather than teaching them patience in a more challenging and healthy way? And through out the weekend–as I’ve thought–as I’ve put my phone and squares completely away (almost–but I’m typing this now as I am checking email after my littles are asleep and the husband is reading)–I’ve seen this mom needs a challenge to put my priorities exactly where they should be.

Are you up for a 30 day SQUARE Summer Challenge?*** (stop reading now if you need to check your squares lots throughout the day to function)

As I was praying about this–I thought about how long I have had the desire to be a mommy. And this verse came to my mind…

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Are squares keeping me from doing my calling with all of my heart?? Are they in any way distracting me from giving 100% to those the Lord has put in my life? I can easily make excuses. I need to just unwind. I need to get ideas on Pinterest . (But who are we kidding–I don’t have time to make anything I see on Pinterest…but I MIGHT have some extra time IF…) I need to connect with the outside world because I stay at home and this is MY OUTLET. This is how I communicate with friends. The list can go on and on and on. I can justify anything. Trust me.

But then…I compare that picture up there–to this picture…

What if…what if I could pour in more love to them? What if I could have more time seeking the Lord and His will? What if I had fewer distractions from the world and more influence from scripture? What if instead of grabbing my phone when I got bored to check for updates–I grabbed crayons and sat with a little one who was at my feet…or when that was over…hopped in the car to go visit a friend…just to drop in for a few minutes to say hey (which might not ever happen in our crazy culture…but the flexibility of friends just dropping by–really is a lost art that I totally think should come back;).

I’m not even really sure how much my squares distract from REAL living…we don’t really watch TV at our house–but I know I’m distracted through my iPhone and Facebook. And I think this momma needs a 30 day SQUARE challenge to really gage if squares are keeping me from doing my job with my WHOLE heart.

Here’s the challenge…

The 30 Day SQUARE Challenge

1. Respond to SQUARE typing communication (texts and email) twice a day during a time that will not distract you from your husband or children. Never even think about looking at the phone when your husband is driving–UNLESS this is one of your twice a day checks. Instead, engage in conversation with your husband:). Be sure to let those who email and text you in order to communicate with you know about your 30 day challenge–and tell them they should call you for emergencies:).

2. I’m not a phone talker at all–but if you are…Limit your square verbal communication (home phone, cell phone, etc) to times you will not be missing opportunities to engage more deeply with your family. Sure chatting on the bench at the playground with a friend doesn’t take away from their fun maybe–but for the next 30 days–see what happens when you slide down with them too. If you have to catch up with a friend, consider inviting her to join you so you engage in real life too. (Not being a phone talker, I have seen what this does to relationships. To connect with me, we have to get together–and when you get together with friends instead of just catching up on the phone you really go deeper and so do your kids. It’s harder to coordinate–but I’m completely weirded out that cell phones are cancerous so I’m just not a cell talker at all. We don’t even have a cordless phone in our home–it’s 1 phone corded to the WALL. And it keeps me from being chatty Cathy…because I have to literally stand in ONE place to talk on it. I can’t multi-task with my kids and talk on the phone–I actually have to get off the phone to get the biscuits out of the oven. My friends all know this too and without my cell service at my house, I’ve got a little help there;).

3. Don’t use a SQUARE to distract your children more than once a week (even during the summer). Don’t give them games video games to play, movies, TV more than once a week TO DISTRACT them. Notice I used the word DISTRACT. If the video games, movies, or TV is bonding your relationship as a family, helping create healthy habits, and building their character–then your wise judgement can make an exception if the SQUARE does these things (but still limit it!) We don’t own video games, but I’m sure you could say they are connecting brothers to brothers–but just for 30 days see how family connects without these distractions. SURE they might get along better with them–but it isn’t real life or connecting. And if they lose it without them–if they pitch fits when you turn them off–then that is a sure sign the 30 day challenge might be a really good opportunity for them to learn to connect in new ways with family.

4. Challenge your nearest and dearest…to do a 30 day SQUARE challenge with you. Especially if it’s a dear friend that you just love communicating with through your SQUARE throughout the day.

5. Print off verses to remind you of your purpose in the SQUARE challenge. Put these veers and others that encourage you in your calling where you can see them. I almost called this challenge the Colossians challenge, but not all of it applied..but I guess you could say much of squares lead to the things discussed in that chapter.

Here are a few verses that I think will encourage me the next 30 days that I want to share with those of you considering joining this crazy momma in this challenge…

Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:15-17, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

(Will you pray about taking this summer challenge with me?? Cause it’s always more fun to do a momma challenge with other mommas? I mean, YOU NEVER know where challenges like this might take you! My husband and I challenged ourselves to NO TV for the first 2 years of marriage—we still don’t watch it. Within 30 months after our marriage…we had 2 children. That’s beside the point, just an interesting fact.)

Take a bit to pray about this challenge–and if you are up for it–comment below…AND shoot me your email! I’d love to check in with you here and there to see how it’s going AND to hear at the end of the 30 days what you learned and how taking this challenge effected the relationships between you and others. I’m always scared of challenges–but thinking about my littles and my man… and investing in them–I think it’s a challenge that will be totally worth it!



Liz Barnette - June 18, 2012 - 12:18 am

Oh my goodness Andrea, I was literally being convicted about this very thing 5 minutes before I read your blog. Wow! I guess God is confirming what I felt the Spirit saying! I am ashamed to admit this but I have realized that lately I rarely play with Hannah without my phone beside me to check email, fb, adoption forums. So I will definitely be taking part in this challenge! Thank you for your wisdom!

Christy - June 18, 2012 - 6:25 am

I love this! And one of my verses in my devos this morning was Colossians 3:23! 🙂 I am doing a similar but different challenge this summer so I can be still and listen, and I wish I had someone else doing something like that with me. I deleted twitter/FB off my cell phone for the summer, after hearing Vicki Courtney speaking about being a Mary or Martha woman. I’m also reading the Circle Maker and was reminded of my need to be praying in the silent times – car rides, moments waiting for the kids to get out of VBS, etc – instead of picking up my phone for something to do. And, I want to be journaling my prayers more than I recently have been. So this way I only check from a desktop when I have the opportunity, which usually isn’t very often! 🙂 Praying for great things for you as you take this square challenge – especially with another girl to love and give your attention to this summer! 🙂

DeAnn Holness - June 18, 2012 - 7:19 am

Great idea Andrea. I am up for the challenge!

Chrystal - June 18, 2012 - 9:47 am

.. after feeling convicted from The Holy Spirit about the amount of time I was waisting online while my girls were in school, I disabled my facebook account on Valentines Day and I haven’t been on since. What started as a “30 day challenge” for me is still going…. and I feel SO MUCH BETTER about how I spend my time now. Amazing how He knows what we need to bring FOCUS, balance, and peace in our lives.

This is the first time in over a week I’ve been online, it just doesn’t pull at me like it use to. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.. and the BEST way he can do this is by stealing our time that is so so precious.

I’ve never been a phone or TV person- our family will watch an ocassional kid-friendly movie, but(rarely) watches TV because of all of the garbage on it, so the computer has always been my “social outlet”. I’m a SAHM, but my girls are all school-aged so my days were whatever I choose to make of them. My morning routine would be take the 4 of them to school, come home– turn on the computer, check facebook, blogs, emails, and pinterest and before I knew it… 2-3 hours would be gone in an instant and then I was left feeling crumpy about how my day was waisted. Then… The Holy Spirit started pricking my heart slowly.. and then on Valentines Day the conviction was SO heavy, I knew that was the day & what I needed to do.

My joy was being sucked out of me because of a computer screen, waisting time, and then making me feel guilty about it. Love how our precious father knows what we need and then leads us to do it.

Anyways… good luck with your challenge sweet girl— I think it’s an awesome idea! 🙂

Jenny - June 18, 2012 - 12:53 pm

Oh, Andrea… I am so convicted about this very thing. My hubby even mentioned it this weekend…that I need to put down my “square” and just be in the moment! I have found myself checking my phone just out of habit. For no reason at all! This challenge scares me a little 🙂 but I am SO in need of it and am so excited to do this along with you! Thank you!

Courtney - June 18, 2012 - 2:27 pm

after waiting almost 2 years to adopt our sons from rwanda, it became a HABIT to check email incessantly. they are home now. i don’t NEED to check the computer that often, but it still do. this is a GREAT challenge to me! especially as my summer is beginning with my 6 kids at home! i want to BE with them FULLY!!! thank you for the challenge!

Amy - June 18, 2012 - 3:30 pm

I would love to join you for this challenge. I waited a long time to be a mommy and yet I struggle with living in the moment and just enjoying my sweet boy. I have been convicted about this very thing and know I need to do this. Thanks for the challenge!

Dawn Birdsong - June 18, 2012 - 10:06 pm

I have been feeling the same way…..I will take this summer challenge with you ladies and spend time connecting with my family and God! Especially in the really quiet moments where I grab my phone or ipad. I will be praying for all of us and believing that God has something in store for each one of us.
Thanks for the challenge Andrea!
Dawn Birdsong

Julie Hand - June 19, 2012 - 9:20 pm

I have been following your blog since the January Created for Care retreat. I have often said that my hobby is following adoption blogs. I do enjoy it and have been blessed by the stories telling about the miracles and mercies of God. I have also been convicted that I spend too much time reading about other peaople’s lives (many of whom I have never met) and not enough time engaged in my own. Thank you for this challenge. Praying that all of us who are taking it on, will be blessed by the time we gain with our families!

Heidi - June 24, 2012 - 9:26 pm

WOW I need this!! as I feel myself getting caught up in that nasty little square thing way too much since summer has hit. It’s my outlet is what I tell myself daily.. ugg… thanks for this and going to try to do this!