How Social Media is Impacting My Life

I often hear one of the following phrases when I ask friends how they feel about social media. “I’m on it all the time!” “I hate it. I actually deleted my accounts.” “I want to be on, but I just end up feeling horrible about myself.” I can absolutely relate to all of these statements. I used to (as in, just a few months ago) spend tons of time on Facebook and Instagram. Not long before that I deleted my Twitter account. And I have had to take breaks from all of it because seeing everyone’s apparent awesomeness was making me feel crappy. But, even with all this, there is a whole lot of incredible stuff going on through social media. And no, this is not an ad about why you should be on it, because I just wouldn’t do that to you. But I’d be lying if I said social media has no good points, because it has actually helped me become more of the woman I want to be. So yeah, social media can actually be a decent thing.

2015-04-17 02.29.44 pm

Instagram friends who are now real life friends! @thethomps & @dreambiglittleones

If you’ve not seen this side of social media, I know you could very well be thinking, “But wouldn’t this be better with someone I see face-to-face on a regular basis? Isn’t this kind of a fake relationship?” Yes and no. I would love to say that I get to see all my close friends every day, and that I know the big and little things happening in their lives. The truth is, with a busy husband, two young children, and multiple ministries to stay up on, I don’t get to spend even close to the amount of time with my dear friends that I would like. I’m terrible with phone calls and only okay with texts. Play dates can be challenging to schedule with nap times, winter sick-bugs, and tantrums (and not just from the kids, because, let’s face it, we all throw them from time to time). It gets hard to meet with friends in person. Being able to connect online fills in those gaps when we don’t get to connect in real life.

2015-04-17 02.31.09 pm

I connected with writer & mama Kelle Hampton on Istagram and then in real life! @etst

It’s not only about the people we already know, though. There is tremendous potential, as I’ve found through Instagram, to connect with countless others on a similar life journey. I began my Instagram life when I found other moms who had kids with Down syndrome. And let me tell you, those connections have turned into real friendships over the last two-and-a-half years. My Hope Spoken roommate, Andrea, for example, has been one such friend. This was the first time we were able to meet in person! The beauty of social media is that it’s almost as though the whole world is available. You can find people in the smallest of niches and actually connect with them. For example, I am now connected to Wendy, a missionary mama of nine, two with Down syndrome, living in Uganda. I would likely never meet someone so similar in my regular circles! Since Christmas, I’ve had the opportunity to meet (in real life!) four friends who have little ones with Down syndrome whom I only knew through Instagram. We were in Florida, Indiana, Texas, and Minnesota. And I’m planning more meet-ups for next month. I really do love how social media can make the world seem a bit smaller.


Andrea & I finally met last month after being IG friends for 2.5 years! @ahtharpe

 Here are a few things to keep in mind as you build your community on social media.

1. DO follow accounts with topics that matter to you.

Start by searching hashtags. Some of my personal favorites are #downsyndromelove, #theluckyfew (also Down syndrome related), #thepursuitofjoyproject, #childhoodunplugged, #wildandfreechildren, Click on photos that inspire you and then click on through to see if you connect with the person posting or anyone commenting on their photos. It’s a great way to get started.

2. DO follow accounts that inspire you.

You may not have a whole lot in common with them right now, but maybe something in their photos connects with who you want to be. I follow a few writers, photographers, homeschoolers, and missionaries who show bits of life that I want to adopt into my own life over time. Another big thing that inspires me? Showing pieces of real life. No one’s life is picture perfect all the time. Even if they do post lots of gorgeous photos of their little girls playing in the garden in adorable vintage dresses or sitting in front of an incredible sunset with drippy ice cream cones, I want to see the real stuff from time to time. Like the pile of laundry that has been ignored for two days or the moment their little girl fell asleep on a lovely quilt because she was so exhausted from throwing a fit at the grocery store. Because that stuff happens! Pretending it doesn’t it a bit too fake for me, and it doesn’t do any of us any good. They don’t need to post tons of awful, real-life dramas, just enough to keep things real.

3. DON’T follow accounts that make you feel like you’re not enough.

It’s one thing to be inspired, but it’s entirely different to feel you don’t measure up. Protect your heart and your mind when you choose to follow someone. Even if you feel inspired by them today, those feelings might change next month. You’re not in a relationship (unless they are your real-life friend, of course), so feel free to unfollow them. Again, keep your heart and mind protected.

4. DON’T analyze who has unfollowed you.

It can hurt to lose followers, but the truth is, you have no idea why they’ve stopped following you. So don’t analyze it. And don’t send a message to someone who has stopped following you. That’s just awkward. Someone did that once when I decided to stop following them due to the amount of drama they were posting. It made me feel terrible.


Overall, if you choose to be a part of social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or one of the many, many other options, keep in mind that you can control what you let into your heart and mind, just as Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, The Message). Perfect guidelines for how to keep ourselves focused on the positive aspects of social media instead of getting caught up in what can get yucky.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram! I can be found under TheMangoMemoirs on both or by clicking the links in the sidebar.

Do you have a favorite part of social media? Who are your favorites to follow?





Simplicity: Day 72


We’re roughly 2.5 months into our simplicity journey, and I’m really starting to see the ways these changes are impacting me. The more I talk with friends about this simplicity journey, the more I’m able to process what we’re doing and the interal changes taking place.

One of the biggest changes so far is that my desire to buy things has been greatly reduced. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of times I see a beautiful shirt or an artistic mantle display, especially when I’m scrolling through Instagram, and I have a strong urge to shop. It isn’t the same urge that I had three months ago, though. I don’t feel like I’m missing trends or that my simply decorated mantle needs something more. Yesterday I was at Target for groceries and a couple household odds-and-ends, and I realized I didn’t have the desire to buy much else. It’s sinking in that I already have plenty. I don’t need another little bowl, even though it is incredible cute and I would love to eat yogurt out of it in the mornings. Nor do I need another kitchen towel, even one that has sweet little red polka dots, because I have four towels in my drawer and that number is absolutely sufficient. My Target trip was pretty short, fairly inexpensive (we do need to eat, after all), and then I headed home to play with my Sammy baby. This is a change I’m happy to see in myself.

Simplifying my clothes stash is a difficult task for me, as I imagine is the case for a lot of us. I’ve never been one to have a wild amount of clothes, but I’ve certainly always had more than I actually wear. One tricky point right now is that I am working hard to get back into my pre-Sammy shape. I’m not there right now, though, which means I’m sort of between sizes. I have five or six outfits that I wear on a regular basis that make me feel cute and comfortable. I’ve decided for now that I don’t need more than that. Do my friends mind if they see me in the same few outfits every time we hang out? I’m fairly positive they don’t. I like wearing everything I have and knowing exactly what’s in my closet. I did recently need to buy a new pair of jeans as my size changed a bit (yay!) but I stuck with my previous set ‘rules’ and bought them second-hand. I do plan to keep my clothes stash fairly small until we leave for Kenya next year.



My last post mentioned a little break from social media. I realized I was spending so much time, especially in the morning, hovering over my phone. I was excited to see what some of my favorite people posted and what friends would say about my ‘this is Sammy in the morning’ pictures. But then I realized, multiple days in a row, that as the clock hit noon, I felt I hadn’t really accomplished anything all morning. That’s when I felt God leading me toward a break. I didn’t blog or look at Facebook and I deleted Instagram from my phone. A week came and went, and in the end, I found it quite refreshing. I wasn’t thinking during that time about taking just the right photos or writing a great caption, and I didn’t spend any time at all reading random, odd articles posted by friends. It was nice. It was so nice, in fact, that I’ve decided to continue with regular breaks. I’ll be on social media Friday afternoon through Sunday night but not at all during the week. Such boundaries tend to work well for me, since I find it difficult to simply limit my media time each day. And I don’t want to cut it out altogether, especially Instagram. I love my little Instagram family! I’m simplifying my technology use and praying about what I can do to simplify further. I know there are all kinds of ways to do it, but I want to make sure each thing I do is meaningful and what God has for me. Otherwise, I might grow to really dislike simplifying, and right now, I thoroughly enjoy it.


Even though I’ve mostly been enjoying this simplicity journey so far, I don’t want to give the impression that every decision is super easy and that I don’t sometimes struggle with it. Two weeks ago, I was really, really missing having my nails done. This might seem silly, but having my nails done is one of the ways I treat myself away from the kids. After Pete finished residency and we started getting real paychecks, I celebrated by getting my nails done. I had never had beautiful, strong, artificial nails before that. For our wedding, I did the inexpensive Target press-ons, which looked pretty fantastic, but they didn’t last long at all. Anyway, I made it a regular treat, going to the nail salon about twice a month. It was a dream, especially since I’ve always been pretty self-conscience of my itty-bitty, super soft nails. Of course, I stopped having my nails done back in January when we tightened our budget. A pretty easy place to cut costs. I was missing having finished nails so much that, one afternoon, I drove to Ulta and bought a bottle of red, sparkly OPI polish and gave myself a manicure. I have a history of giving myself terrible manis, but I actually did a very lovely paint job! This little bottle of polish has been the only item I’ve purchased outside of necessity since January 12. At first I felt bad about it, but then, after talking to Pete and, yes, praying about my wee purchase of nail polish, I remembered that the whole point of this six-month journey is to learn. And I am surely learning.

I am learning that God does care about my little daily choices. (He cares about all our details!) I’m learning to listen for his guidance on those choices. And I’m seeing the emotional and spiritual outcomes of obeying his leading and being open to more of what he has. He continues to slowly reveal areas where we can simplify and how we can do it. I know He is the one who put the social media break in front of me, and I feel more freedom because of it. I have been reading far more (while walking laps in my hallway to keep on top of my fitness goals), and I’ve begun journaling again, both activities that I feel build me up rather than leave me feeling a bit blah after too much Facebook time. One step at a time, I hope to continue to grow in this journey and to take what I’m learning far beyond the end of our six-month timeline.

Is God urging you to make any small changes in your daily life? Go after it! Obeying in even the smallest of things can open the door to tremendous freedom. If you’re not sure if he’s trying to point anything out to you, take just a couple minutes and ask him. It doesn’t have to be anything formal and proper. Simply say something like, “Jesus, is there anything I can change in my daily life that would bring more freedom?” And then wait quietly for a few moments. If anything comes to mind, ask if that’s him showing you. If you’re not sure, try it out! Maybe it has something to do with the time you’re watching TV or the amount of money you spend at Target each week. God really does care about little details and he wants to to show us how to live more joy-filled lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for more joy in my life!




Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Happy World Down Syndrome Day! This day is celebrated all over the world to spread awareness of the beautiful people created with a very special extra chromosome. We love celebrating our Sammy!




A sort of Spring Break

Hi, friends! I want to let you know that I will not be posting much this week, as I’ve decided to take a sort of Spring Break from social media (Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and the blog). I began on Monday, and it’s been quite refreshing. I’m working on being fully present with the kids and with Pete. It’s good timing, actually, since it’s also Pete’s birthday this week. I’ll be back next Monday!

Before we part, here are a couple photos from a play date on Sunday. How sweet are these two?! Miss Delaney was born a year after Sam and also has a magical extra chromosome. I went to college with her parents. I’m hoping for many more play dates in the future for these two!




Did your heart absolutely melt seeing those photos? I just love them!

Design by: Bumble + Buzz Design // Copyright © The Mango Memoirs