What Would Mary Do? (If She Had a Smart Phone)

“When the the shepherds saw Jesus, they spread the word about this child, and all who heard it were amazed. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:15-19 (NIV, paraphrased)

I just finished reading the January 2014 issue of Real Simple magazine. (Bear with me, and I will get back to Mary and the Shepherds.) The issue is devoted to the idea of achieving life balance. Much of the content hit me squarely between the eyes, because I am arguably the world’s worst iPhone addict. (Ask Nathan.)

  • What is it that makes us jump at every ping?  It’s that desire to find out who wants you…. (page 26)
  • Parents need to show kids that there’s no need to panic if you’re without your phone. If you don’t teach children that it’s ok to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely. (page 26)
  • It’s not that people don’t have profound things to say. But we’re stripping away the conditions for saying those things to each other. (page 26)
  • …it’s not necessarily about how many hours you spend at either work or at home, but what your relationship is like with your children when you’re with them. (page 34)
  • Sanctify the ordinary. (page 110)
  • How you do anything is how you do everything. (page 110)
  • No need to hunt through our busy calendar to schedule quality time. We’re living it. (page 110)
  • How much more proof do we need that we should prioritize what really matters while we’re here?” (page 110)

I wasn’t always so addicted to devices and social media; I used to scold family and friends for pulling out their phones in meetings or at restaurants. When I lived in Romania, I barely had an internet connection! I didn’t have my own computer until after college; I didn’t have a smartphone until just a few years ago.

But now I’ve become just as device-addicted as everyone else, mostly because of loneliness or boredom as a stay/work-at-home-mom. I feel less isolated when I can text or scroll through a feed; it’s easier to ignore my feelings of inadequacy about entertaining my son when I am busy on my laptop.

Long before long before Nathan and Rawley, long before my iPhone, back in my unplugged days, I went to Scotland by myself. In Pitlochry, I set out for a hike on Ben Vrackie despite a threatening storm. I hadn’t been hiking long when I knew I’d have to turn back; the conditions were getting too touchy and I didn’t have appropriate rain gear.

Just then, the grey skies broke and a shaft of light shone down on right top of me. Only a few yards from where I stood, a rainbow touched down next to a lone tree. It was the closest I’d ever come to the proverbial pot of gold. Stunned, I threw down my pack, grabbed my (film) camera, and captured the fleeting moment.


Self-Portrait on ben Vrackie, Pitlochry, Scotland, Oct. 2000 / Canon Rebel 35mm film

In that moment, I felt as if I’d received a precious gift. I wrote in my journal: “I feel like this is happening for me. I’m totally alone up here.”


And just like that, the rainbow vanished. The light changed. The moment passed. I felt honored, like I was chosen to experience it, me and no one else. It made me feel loved. It made me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, right then. But oh, how I longed to share it with someone!

It remains, to this day, one of the most precious memories of my life.

If I’d had a smartphone with me, I am pretty sure I know what would have happened: snap, filter, hashtag, post, tweet. But, no one was with me, and I couldn’t post the photos on Facebook; I couldn’t tweet. I was forced to simply “ponder” the scene unfolding before me, because I didn’t have any way of communicating with the outside world about what was happening.

While reading Real Simple’s inspiring issue, I kept thinking about that moment in Scotland, and the phrase about Mary pondering things in her heart kept creeping into my mind. The verses above show how little human nature has changed in 2000+ years. While the shepherds were amazed when they arrived at the manger, they left – to go tell others what was happening. If there’d been smartphones in Jesus’s day, the shepherds would have been Tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting, and photographing. Instead of just.being.there. to witness a momentous occasion, to seal the memory in their minds.

Mary, in contrast, stayed put, soaking it all in, “pondering it in her heart,” placing more importance on being in the moment than on telling others what was happening.  I want to  be like that. I want to really feel okay with just pondering the amazing and the ordinary things that happen in my life, without seeking validation from others.

I am not planning to make any radical changes in 2014. I won’t be selling my iPhone or deleting my Facebook account or taking a year-long hiatus from blogging. I am not trying to deny the world I live in. But I have three simple goals that, I believe, if adhered to, will enrich my life and my relationships:

  • To call and meet face-to-face with friends and family more than I text them
  • To only turn on my laptop or pick up my phone when I have a specific purpose
  • To spend the majority of my son’s waking hours actively interacting with him

Will you ask me how I am doing in a month or two on these goals? Expecting your inquiry will help keep me motivated. 🙂

What are your 2014 goals? I’d love to hear.

Finally, repeat after me: this Christmas, less posting, more pondering!

Merry Christmas and much happiness and joy in 2014! xoxo


About Mosaic Collective, LLC

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, founding member of Mosaic Collective, LLC, which was founded in early 2017 and is based in Central Illinois. I own and operate Mosaic Collective with my partner in business and life, my husband, Nathan. Mosaic Collective, LLC houses our rental property, my consulting contracts (with the nonprofit and public sectors on various work), and also my commercial and portrait photography business, which has been doing business as Holly Baumann Photography since 2008 long before the formation of our LLC. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and sometimes, my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
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