Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Rainbow-Themed Post in Which I Open a Discussion About the Effect of the Internet

"Slide down my rainbow into my cellar door and we'll be jolly friends forevermore."

Hello there friends! Hope you are have a lovely summer/winter!

After battling an illness for over a month, I am at last feeling much better.

Today I want to say a hearty thank you. I've been blown away by all of the love and care that my kids, my husband and I have received from friends and family. There have been days when I've received phone calls that I haven't had the energy to take, but simply knowing that someone was checking in to see how I was doing has meant a lot. Many of you have sent me kind emails. Thank you so very much. It may take me some time to get around to responding, but I've read each one with a warm heart. Our community group friends have watched our kids, they've taken them to VBS, they've brought us meals. I could go on and on. When you have five kids, it truly takes a village to pick up the slack when Mom is down! And the prayers! Oh my word. I'm humbled.

There is something about this experience that gives me a pang though -- and that is you. It seems like the kind of support system I have is in global decline. Is this true for you? What would happen today if suddenly you crashed and could not get out of bed for week?  When the rubber meets the road all that matters is knowing you are not alone. I want to know where you are with that. Do you feel like you are literally holding everything together all by yourself? I used to be more of a loner. I used think I'm fine. I got this. And as I said, I am humbled.

The road home.

In my last post we talked about the subject -- "I am your keeper and you are mine." -- which is biblical, of course. A wise person once pointed out to me that the entire Bible could be viewed as a long reply to the question that Cain asked God after he killed his brother Abel in Genesis chapter four:
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” 
The answer is YES! Yes, you are your brother's keeper! And God spent a lot of time and effort showing us what that is supposed to look like!

When I was a girl there was one family in my large neighborhood who had a computer in their basement. (My parents still don't have one!) I never would have dreamed then that I would one day be able to converse with friends all over the world!

Sitting in church last Sunday I looked around at all of the nifty new hair styles and I thought, Isn't Pinterest enriching? We are in a hair-renaissance!  Doesn't that just get you excited! It gets me really excited because it is a sign of how our global-connectedness is working it's way into our most mundane decisions -- like how we do our hair.

When you and I sit down to type out our thoughts or post pictures of a healthy, yummy bean salad we really have no idea how far our influence will go.

So in light of our Bible story today, the question I keep tossing around my mind is this: How does being each other's keeper work in the online world?

We are sitting here in front of our computer screens witnessing the dawn of a new era and we have no way to measure our influence over time. We are laying the groundwork for generations to come. The internet is a tool that meets needs in the here and now, but it is also a work of eternal significance.

So talk to me -- I want to know what you think being each other's keeper should look like on the web. Many of my readers are Christians like me, but some of you are not. I want to hear from you no matter what faith tradition you are speaking from.  Vision casters -- speak!

My online life did not start out incredibly meaningful. I had a homeschool blog in the beginning because I always saw myself as becoming a gloriously successful homeschooler. The plan was to show you how you could become a gloriously successful homeschooler like me. The only problem with that plan is that not too far into my homeschool journey, I realized I wasn't going to be gloriously successful. I found myself doggie-paddling, barely able to keep my head above water. Reading other homeschool blogs just made me feel bad about myself.

First I blogged the wrong way, now I'm learning how to get it right. (Yes, I'm still learning!) I know this much for sure: when you use the internet correctly it will have a positive effect on both your online and offline life. It is a powerful tool, but it takes time and practice and a lot of mistakes to get it right. 

Be patient with yourself and be patient with others. 

There is only love.

Now I want to hear from you. Tell me about your experience with the internet and it's effect on you. Tell be about how you use it and give me some suggestions on how to make our online experiences more enriching. 

Oh and before I forget, here's the recipe:

"Jolly Friends Rainbow Salad":

1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced

1 red onion, finely diced (optional -- it adds a nice purple color to the rainbow, but I rarely use it.)

1 can chick peas, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 bag of frozen shelled edamame, rinsed to thaw

(In the above picture I used fresh parsley, b/c I happened to have some on hand. This recipe is really flexible. Just have fun with it. I added some peas to the baby's meal.)

Let your children help you mix this salad. Their eyes will pop when the colors start to blend. Season liberally with seasoned rice vinegar to taste. Take to a grill-out and and enjoy with friends.

Much love,


  1. tsadang! Im glad you're feeling better. :)

    *Now I want to hear from you. Tell me about your experience with the internet and it's affect on you.

    -haha. I used to have workmates as my readers before so it's kind of getting to know more stuffs about each other-they also have a blog. I started my blog because i used to have a very short memory like forgetting to log out at work(biometrics). I read somewhere that gratitude is the heart of the memory so i have some sort of a gratitude blog. And then it kind of evolved into writing about things i usually think about or things that makes me happy. And then i started to explore and have online friends who does not know me personally and i discovered a lot of things and i felt like they are all living the good life, which inspired me but made me feel small and lousy at the same time...somehow i learned things along the way...about people and facade and sincerity.
    Now i am terrified that if people will get to really know me i am not what they think I am. It made me careful with my words and made me think of how i come across. I'm not this or that. I just want to be sincere (ahhh highest ideals!) I was terrified, I even came to a point of not writing anymore but my God i cannot keep myself from not writing! I have to write or ill die.

    *Tell me about how you use it

    Most of the time i use it for facebook and twitter just so i can rant or say something(guilty).

    *and give me some suggestions on how to make our online experiences more enriching. - I get what you mean but i dont know how to answer but as to enriching:

    -I download a lot of free audios! Books and interviews! It has helped me in my English grammar and opened my mind to a lot of things.

    P.S. I love the idea of an online keeper.

  2. Adriana, I have not stopped by for awhile...way too long. So glad you are on the mend: prayers for your continued recovery! (And I finally remembered to add you to Feedly so I'll be back!)
    Learning to accept help is always humbling, but what a blessing to receive help and be humbled. I'm always amazed at the ways my online community finds ways to reach out across the miles.
    As a Catholic, the most amazing thing has been to know my intentions have been taken to Rome, France, and Canada without me even leaving NJ. To know that my family has been made a small part of someones pilgrimage is awesome, in the truest sense of the word awe.
    I also love being able to connect with small communities that would otherwise be cut off from one another. Being the parent of children with a rare disease, must have been so much more isolating even 10 years ago.

  3. Adriana, So glad to hear from you. I have been thinking I should contact you via FB to see how you are doing; but you beat me to it. That is one good thing about internet.

    Nothing beats face-to-face contact and a sweet hand-written letter, but when we can connect with people all over the world with the same ideals and interests, it makes the world a little more intimate.

    For me, I am way too busy to be blogging, but I love writing. (I like how Sheena put it: "I cannot keep myself from writing.") I blog for myself, I say, but it is humbling when others respond and draw from my opinions or ideas, too.

    When blogging, It is important to be realistic about the outcome and not let my writing rule or control me or my time. It is probably best to keep the focus on Christ, even writing (blogging), and that is what I try to do when writing about literature or homeschooliing.

    How can we make our experiences more enriching? You just keep doing what you are doing, Adriana! I should probably ask that question of myself.

  4. I am so glad you are finding strength and health returning, Adriana. Continuing to pray for full recovery to be at your door soonest!

    For support systems, I think we have the type that you describe here, but I know that's not the case with everyone. So many people in my courtroom for jury duty or cases they are involved with tell me they have no one they can ask to watch their kids. No one. Not even for a couple of hours. It's just not in their lifestyle or friendships. How sad.

  5. Adriana, thanks for these fascinating thoughts and questions. I'm SO glad that you were able to receive support and love from friends and family during your illness.

    In my family's "real," non-virtual life I sometimes feel our family lives a somewhat isolated life b/c of our kids' special needs -- but we DO have support systems consisting of family and friends who live nearby. (I heard another parent at Jonathan's camp saying "I have nobody, no friends, no family, I never have" and I realized thankfully that no, I am NOT isolated!) We have neighbours who, while we don't socialize extensively with them, we would trust to be there for us in times of crisis. (I will NEVER forget one morning many years ago; we had called an ambulance the night before because Jonathan had a seizure in his sleep and was breathing in this loud, choking way. He turned out to be fine and we brought him home the same night. The next morning a neighbour came over with a piece of paper with their name & phone number, and told me to call on them if we ever needed help. He was like a big, gentle teddy bear; he looked me right in the eye and said "You're not alone, you know.")

    I am only in the past 6-8 months discovering the reality of online community. My blog posts used to be fairly infrequent, just simple posts of family pictures, etc., that 4 or 5 family members would read. But lately I have made connections with other bloggers like yourself, Tim, Ellen, etc. and I find it very enriching. I truly enjoy encouraging people, letting them know I think about them and appreciate them. The internet (and FB) is great for that.

    I struggle with how open to be when blogging; that's a big concern for me. Some bloggers write very openly about interpersonal conflicts, which I'm very hesitant to do because I don't want people to read things about themselves that they might find hurtful or inappropriate. Even if I'm acknowledging that it's only my version, they may not appreciate that becoming public. So part of being others' "keeper" is respecting their boundaries and privacy. I feel sometimes that my posts seem superficial because I'm not bringing the really hard stuff out into the open on my blog -- but I can't disrespect someone else just to make myself appear more "real."

    This is an awfully long answer but your questions are so interesting! By the way I LOVE Sheena's comment above, especially "i discovered a lot of things and i felt like they are all living the good life, which inspired me but made me feel small and lousy at the same time..." I can so relate! Comparison is the kiss of death.

    Thanks for this post and I look forward to the next one! xo

  6. I was just going to write to you today and ask how you were doing, and now I read you are doing better! HOORAY!! I am so thrilled. :-) XOXO I understand not being strong enough to take calls, and I'm so glad you found the strength to take care of YOU. XO Regarding the internet, it is a GOOD thing for me when I approach it with love instead of fear. Fear has been such a huge part of my life for a long time, and now that it isn't, I find that I'm THRIVING when I AM online. :-) I try to connect with kind, loving, gentle souls, people I want to emulate in my own spirit, and that makes my online experience good. When I let cruel, intolerant, ungracious people into my online world, I find myself flustered, ungrounded, anxious, emotional, and afraid. So, as long as I maintain a healthy online world and do my best to behave in a loving way, it is a lovely, lovely place. I'm so thankful to have a place where even when I'm so sick I can hardly function, I can click a few buttons and suddenly your words are here comforting, or another friend's crazy baby/puppy/life picture to make me grin. We don't have to be next door to enrich each other's lives and shore up each other's battered hearts. XO

  7. Nice to see you are feeling better!

    I am blessed to have a great community of supportive people IRL. They would show up at my house if I got sick, and I have shown up at their houses too. I feel so grateful for them and wish that many others had such a network. It's hard to be on your own. Life is too overwhelming for that and we need to help each other out.

    I also have some wonderful folks online. Esp. in the homeschooling category, since I'm a classical homeschooler and I live with lots and lots of hippie unschoolers. They are lovely but they have no desire to discuss Stratford Caldecott's latest book. It's a big help to me to have my little homeschooling crowd of folks, and we share a lot of support.

    I have met some wonderful book bloggers too (like you!) which is so great, since not everyone wants to read like I do. Book blogging helps me search out better books and I get to talk about them with others. So great. I don't like to be too openly personal on a public blog, but there is lots of good stuff to share.

    The great thing about the Internet is how we can give support to people even though they are far away. We can't take them meals or clean their houses, but we can talk things through. What is neat is how even someone with a very rare problem can find specific support and advice online. *Somebody* has been there, and probably has some helpful experience to share.

  8. I'm so glad you're on the upswing, Adrianna!

    Churches, neighbors, family (especially if they're local) provides the kind of community that can bring casseroles and drives your kids to VBS - and it gives you the opportunity to do the same in return. These networks are the foundation and touchstone for community.

    Online community gives us something different, as we tend to congregate and associate with others with whom we share convictions and ideas. I first discovered the power of online community to stretch my thinking, introduce me to new resources, and give me a safe place to ask questions and share struggles back in the ancient days of dial-up modems. Those days coincided with my early homeschooling years. There weren't a whole lot of homeschoolers in my geographical area back then, and the online world regularly confirmed that we were not alone in this adventure.

    Nowadays, my online community continues to stretch and challenge me as I write about church life and culture. My physical neighbors may not share these interests, but my online neighbors do.

    Great question and lovely post. Thanks.


Comments make my day! I read each one and try to respond within 24 hrs. If you choose to comment anonymously, please leave your first name, pen name, or nickname in the comment box along with your comment. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!