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Do you have a phone? Do you know anyone these days who does not have a phone? Mobile phones these days are not just designed to make calls. In fact, "phones" are used for everything and the one thing they are rarely used for is making actual "calls." We text, video call, play games, surf the internet, pay bills, order things and a whole lot more. When I was small, teachers would say, "you need to learn this math because it isn't like you will always have a calculator with you." Guess they had no idea then we would have "phones" like we have today, huh?

One of the best things about phones is the camera. Who knew we would be walking around with a camera, a video camera and a photo album all in one small device? What's more, we can share them, upload them, store them, look at them instantly (no more having to wait for them to be developed,) have a litany of ways to edit which makes everyone an instant expert and tools we could not even imagine years ago.

For someone like me, I have at any given time up to 1500 to 2000 photos on my phone at any given time. To me, photos capture a moment in time. I do not really think there is anything such as a bad photo. Every photo was taken for a reason. As one who has acted as a photographer for numerous events for several years over a span and a variety of experiences, I have learned a lot about photos. For me, I'd rather have a picture or two (or fifty) than any other memorabilia because a picture offers so much more than a t-shirt, mug, bag, trophy, certificate or anything else.

A picture can trigger emotions, thoughts and memories. It can evoke stories. It may reveal something you missed while you were living the moment. It may help you remember an important detail. It can also cheer you up or bring things into perspective. When you scroll through someone's photos on their phone, you can tell a lot about a person. Are there tons of selfies? Pictures of their "things"? Family pictures? Pictures of friends? Pets? Places? Things they want? What are the majority of the images? Do they freely share the images or do they hide them? Is there inspiration? Remember this verse, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 (KJV) I also remind you of this: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21 (KJV)

When we scroll through our photos that we are carrying with us everywhere, we are, whether we want to admit it or not, we are sending a message to others but we are sending a message to ourselves. We take time to meditate on them when we scroll through them even for a moment. Then we actively search for them, we do more than that.

I carry 3 specific photos as a reminder and I search for them when I need a reminder. I also share them with others when they need them. When I need to, I will stop and reflect on what they mean.

I use this image to remind me of several things. To me, it puts things in perspective. I can complain all I want. In the big scheme of things, what do I really have to complain about? In my moment of self pity; in my moment of "darkness"; when I "feel" like everything is crashing down around me; when I "feel" I have no where to go and no one on "my side"; when nothing positive can come out of my mouth; when the day seems just plain "bad" I turn to this picture and stop. I turn my "selfishness" into worship. "God, I don't know how I am going to do it but my faith and trust is in You. I know Your truth, Your promises and I know I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me. Thank you for your Mercy, thank you for your Grace. Thank you for your love. Help me grow through this. I thank you for this opportunity to cling to You, Your strength and Your Will, not mine."

I use this image to remind me of several things as well. I am chosen by God for a purpose. It is a great calling. Just because I have that calling does not mean it is going to be easy; it does not mean it will be free from heart ache or heart break but it is important. As a mother, I must remember, God trusted me with one of His children. He endowed me with immeasurable love but as a mother, my ultimate purpose is to raise my children in the ways they must go and let them go to fulfill their purpose set forth by God. I cannot stop all of their pain or trials and tribulations. It will hurt and I will have to rely on God to get through it. I cannot always stop the things that happen to them; I cannot always take away their pain and suffering. Their story is not about me; it is about them. On days when all I can do is watch or be there. I will find my strength in God. I am to pray. Whether my children are mine by birth or adopted by circumstance, I am to serve. I must remember, love is unconditional but not always pain free.

I use this image to remind me of very specific things. Life is not fair. You can and will be hated for the truth. You may be innocent and still be treated as guilty. Just because it is supported by the masses make it right or true. There are times, even when you are being yelled at - spit on - being accused of things that simply are not true or right, there is no need to argue your case or speak a word. Standing up for the truth, what is right sometimes means being quiet and standing your ground. Bad things happen to good people and good things appear to happen to bad people. People in power like to shift the blame to appear blameless. Jesus still loved Barabbas at that moment - standing there - in front of everyone - as the crowds yelled - the priests spoke against Him - as Pilate wash his hands of the whole thing - as Jesus knew what was going to happen - He still loved Barabbas and harbored no hate or ill will. WOW.

It all goes back to, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV.) What in this world can steal my peace? If I remember the teachings of Christ, the promises and work on my authentic relationship, I can handle all "tribulations." I still have to face them. I still have to endure them, I still have to live through them but the way I overcome them, handle them, grow from them and face them are different from those who do not have or know Christ. There are days I fall short and, on those days, He does not. He is there.

During our Lenten journey, our focus is ultimately Easter morning, yes? This emphasis we are placing on our relationship with Christ is and should be heart and soul changing. It is a renewal. Remember, it is a time to set aside our wants and needs to come humbly and meek before God, recognizing our need for a Savior above all. Lent is meant to be a time of repentance. Our plea becomes, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalms 139:23-24 (NIV.) When I look at my reminders, I always ask those questions. I want to overcome whatever it is that is holding me hostage to the ways of this world and removing my focus from the source of peace that He offers.

I ask you, do you know peace? When you glance through the photos on your phone, what do you see? Maybe you do not have pictures like the ones above - and that is okay - but where is your focus? Do you have one? If your phone was "hacked" and all your photos stolen and posted to the public, what would it say about you? Do you find serenity, happiness and inspiration or is there something else? What reminders are you feeding yourself? Do you see the values you have reflected in what you save? Do you seek out things of this world? Is there no evidence of the life you claim in that which you treasure? Can you see the love of Christ in yourself and the actions captured? Are His teachings anywhere in the album through the eyes, people and memories you treasure? Are you a world "overcomer?" Do you seek Him in all things or just for things? Do you seek Him at all?

If you are not sure, take the time to figure it out. Phones are a tool. They are a mini- computer we are lucky enough to carry around with us. We can choose it to join the world and use it for just fleshly desires or we can use just a tiny bit of it to be a tool to overcome the world and enhance our journey towards enlightenment as we cultivate our relationship with Christ. We can fit in or we can stand out. There is no better time than now to choose to overcome.

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