Don’t Regress

Ever feel like life sometimes has 3 steps forward & then 1-2 steps back? Truthfully, Monday mornings often feel like the toucan two step with some possible backward progress. 
Translation: I’m not a Monday morning fan. 

But no matter what happens or doesn’t happen on difficult days, let’s keep in mind that God has given us the ability to chose our attitude, words & actions. I’m very happy to have this ability & I just need to be careful that I keep my attitudes, words & actions moving forward & positive rather than letting them slip into some Monday doldrums 🙂

I’m choosing not to regress – anyone with me?

a million little pieces

Ever had a day when your mind is more easily distracted than usual?  Today, I find myself flitting from one thing to another, getting distracted, remembering to go do a quick task, then getting sidetracked with just little distractions and . . . . .   So I have a million little things I need to finish & all of which are only partially complete, hence the title to this blog, a million little pieces.  Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited time to accommodate this kind of craziness, so I need to crank down on my focus and stick to one task & finish it before I move to something else – like finishing this blog before I try to figure out why the music isn’t playing on my phone, or checking emails, FB, etc.

All of this helps me appreciate all the more when Jesus applauded Mary for the Main Thing, the main thing in Luke 10:42 🙂

Focus grasshopper, there’s lots to get done!

Watch out!

I recently read in Genesis how Jacob did some creative things with sticks being stripped & spotted around the goats, sheep & livestock for which he was responsible. Jacob put these decorated sticks in the feeding troughs for the animals that were particularly robust but removed the sticks when the sickly animals came to feed. The result was that he acquired boatloads of speckled, spotted & striped livestock who were really sturdy 🙂
While, we now have scientific evidence about genetics with dominant & recessive traits passed along family lines, I still think it’s important to consider our focus. 

I find that the longer I focus on something, the more absorbed I become in that focus. The more I’m absorbed, the more influenced I become & eventually, my behaviors & attitudes get shaped by that focus. 

So let’s be mindful about where we focus 🙂

STOP YELLING – maybe

I’ve learned that typing in all caps in social media is the same as yelling & I’m not attracted to yelling, full stop. Indeed, when I would practice piano & my dad would yell at me for something, I seemed to make more & more mistakes the more he yelled. 
The problem with yelling is that the listener can easily get distracted by the method & miss the message. With my dad, his emotions would get so intense that he’d yell but I can’t really remember what he said. 

  
With saying all of that, I shot this picture last night:  I was trying to concentrate on a really important writing assignment & I kept noticing that the sky was getting increasingly pink. Finally, I stopped my writing & man am I glad I did! As I took a pause to look at this unbelievable sunset, I heard our Triune God whisper, “Thanks for looking Sarah, We love you”. 

God’s message & methods are altogether riveting & I’m entirely addicted to the divine love experience, no yelling needed 🙂

I like people

People are interesting without a doubt.  Sit in a Starbux, visit an airpot, watch in Walmart, socialize in church, etc & its high grade entertainment value to see what people do & how they behave.  Sometimes I just like to stop what I’m doing, adjust my attention & look at what the people are doing around me – so MUCH FUN!!!!

Here are some reasons why I like people:

  • diversity:  no two people are the same in any way, no matter how much effort they make to imitate & blend
  • creative: everyone seems to see things from unique & often highly creative perspectives, causing them to behave in very creative ways & do creative things
  • beautiful:  each person has a distinct beauty (in their visage, mannerisms, interactions, clothing, makeup, etc)
  • surprises:  just when you think you have a handle on human behavior someone does something entirely unexpected, rogue & outlier-ish
  • community:  it’s always fun to watch the ways in which we interact with each other, endeavoring to honor, connect, communicate & engage

Today, let’s celebrate people, God’s highest & most valuable creation 🙂

bang, smash, crunch

Presently, I’m trying to work on researching & writing a few sermons in the middle of the roofers at our house almost crashing through the ceiling – at least that’s how it sounds, even with noise cancelling headphones on!!!  Holy BUCKETS!  So much for the concept of listening to the “still, small voice”!!!!  And this is precisely what I totally LOVE about God: God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention & the appropriate volume that will be effective.  So thanks to our lovely roofers replacing our hail damaged roof, I’m getting to practice my focus & discipline, paying high grade attention to what God wants to say through me and with the Helper’s assistance, I get to tune in to God’s voice & presence with great intensity and focus.  The truth be known, I need this discipline & exercise not only today with the roofers at my house, but also in my everyday, common living.  This discipline plus coffee can yield some really awesome divine fruit ,)

tick tock

In an effort to counter-balance my post yesterday with, “stop waiting”, in all fairness, maybe God is doing the pick & shovel work of cultivating patience in my heart with some fertilizer augmenting, maybe.  The reason I’m thinking about this possibility is from some recent experiences in a trip to Cambodia for Saving Moses.  In this extremely brief trip, I found myself becoming really tense about accomplishing much – a very long way to travel for such a really short trip to get massive amounts of stuff done.  Did we accomplish some things?  Absolutely!!

But in those conversations I had in Cambodia when someone would say, “I’m happy to do this in the next three months”, or “Let me pray about it” or “Let’s see how this this plays out with some time”, I found myself becoming increasingly uptight.  And then I heard this small voice in my heart, “What’s your hurry?  Why are you in such a rush?”  In my natural thinking, those questions sound like fertilizer augmenting – they smell bad, feel yucky, look revolting & have the greatest resurrection potential for me to grow at this time.

Here are some things to consider about patience, tick tock:

  • slow change often lasts longer than quick fixes
  • patience develops roots and roots often last longer than flashy
  • roots are the groundwork for abiding which facilitates fruit
  • patience takes my focus off of situations and puts it back on God
  • patience can be the good side of stubborn

tick tock

the other side

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year when we celebrate lots of things & in lots of ways.  We lavishly spend time, money, people interactions, parties, etc and revel in the celebrations of the season, opulence and abundance.  Then there’s the day after, today, when we might be groggy, overstuffed and possibly fatigued.  On this day, I find my heart longing to recover a sense of balance, desiring some still and quiet, centering into what’s really important, the One Thing that Jesus spoke about with Martha at her dinner party in Luke 10:42.  Sometimes it helps us regain our core when we sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, waiting, listening, watching and paying attention to Who is the most Essential in our lives, Jesus 🙂

#selah

Whispers

Boom!! Bang, clang, crash, slam!! I have three wonderfully active, energetic & frequently LOUD children. Most of the time I really love all of the volume, most of the time. But I also like the still, shhhhh, hush when one of them gets near to my ear to whisper something quiet, important & close to their heart.
Usually when a person whispers, it’s because they want to say something for a limited audience rather than a shout to the world.
God shouts LOVE to the world & whispers in quiet ways to beckon our attention, nearness & presence. Shhhhh, come close – God’s whispers invite you to be near in every moment of this day

Rustle Bustle

Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let’s be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie “help!!!” requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!

Rustle Bustle

Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let’s be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie “help!!!” requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!

Pay attention!!

The world in which we live would have us focusing on everything from ginsing knives to stolen passports in Malaysia! Look here! Listen to this! Give me your attention! FOCUS HERE!! There are lots of things that could easily grab our attention & if we aren’t careful, we could miss what’s really important.
I was reading in 1Kings 19 this morn about Elijah & how he was in a cave & he heard a MASSIVE wind (strong enough to break rocks), saw a fire that seemed to come from nowhere & experienced an earthquake. For me, all of those things packed in a short amount of time would totally freak me out! But Elijah was praying attention for that which was of greatest value – the still small voice.
Let’s determine to be like Elijah & not get distracted by crisis but rather lets remain attentive to God speaking into our lives! 🙂

Advertising & Marketing

We are all very popular. Everyone wants to get our attention. But ultimately, what businesses want even more than our attention is our money & they go to elaborate efforts to engage us for this treasure.
But here’s God’s crazy advertising scheme: send His only son, “disguise” Him as a human, empower Him to express genuinely transformational love & then let Him be brutally murdered. To secure humanity’s attention, God raised His son from the dead – now that’s some premier marketing & advertising. But God’s ultimate goal isn’t your money but rather your heart for a deeply satisfying & fulfilling relationship with the Creator of the universe. Skip the marketing hype & surrender to real love 🙂

The importance of quality decisions

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the quality of various decisions that I make – not just with big decisions but also with what seems to be little decisions. It seems that when I get under some heavy pressure that I can tend to let the quality of my little decisions deteriorate under the guise of letting off steam (staying up later than normal, drinking coffee at 5pm, eating crummy food, playing on the computer rather than working out & more). I totally understand that we all need some outlets to just “be”. However, when I make mediocre quality decisions I shouldn’t expect outrageous quality results.
So I’m challenging myself to make higher quality decisions & to be better disciplined with my time & energies – quality decisions = quality outcomes 🙂

some help for worry

Lately, I’ve had some struggles with worry & if you give me the line that I’m not supposed to worry, I’ll hit you ,)

With that being said, I had a nice chat with God about this & I received some great help that you might also find useful, if not today, maybe for the future.  I learned that when I worry, I make an attention decision that can undermine the closeness of my walk with God (not that God moved, but rather that I’ve compromised my trust in God).  When I worry, I choose to give my attention to challenges, problems & difficulties that I’m unable to resolve.  When I worry, I neglect to include God in these struggles and therefore become increasingly absorbed in them, to the point of being all consumed.  And clearly, being all consumed with worry is no place I want to live.  So that counter-point to worry is choosing to trust God and while this can be difficult, this decision is much better than going down the worry path.  But I’m also learning that trusting God is often a continuously active decision.  So let’s encourage each other to keep our eyes on Jesus and to make healthy choices to strengthen our hearts by trusting God 🙂

that’s impressive!!!

There are all kinds of things that can impress us: stupid animal tricks, brilliant mental feats, amazing generosity, world’s strongest iguana and oh so much more!  I just looked on youtube for the latest & greatest (something about an elevator prank in Brazil is popular today), but I was less than impressed.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul challenges us to not be impressed with amazing spiritual feats & miracles, nor should we be impressed with persuasive conversations or speeches.  He’s not even impressed with excessive philanthropic activities.  What Paul challenges us to be impressed with is genuine love.   Let’s be mindful about what really catches our attention and grabs our admiration 🙂

Pay Attention!

We pay attention to lots of different things: the bell on our phone that tells us we have a text message, the street light as we wait for it to turn red, our mate when they need help, our boss when they’re giving us our Performance Review, etc. There are lots of things to which we give our attention & not all of those things have a good return on investment, if you think about “paying” your attention as a means of investment.
So in my opinion, there are some are some attention non-negotiables, like our family, job, school, etc. For our optional attention, I’d suggest that we should be mindful to what we pay attention & make sure that the return on our attention is worth what we’ve paid. To me, paying attention to God isn’t an optional choice – I’ve found that I consistently need God involved throughout my life & I’ve never regretted paying attention to God. His return on investment far exceeds the attention that I pay to Him ,)

change

Change can be frustrating, exhilarating, empowering, difficult & fun – all at the same time 🙂

Lots of things are in a state of flux right now, with uncertain outcomes.  This morning in my prayer time, i found myself thinking about a variety of things that are really bothering me at the present – areas needing & undergoing changes.  Unfortunately, these things seemed to get more of my attention than praying.  Now of course i brought these various issues to God & asked for His help, but i found myself still dwelling on these things & trying to figure out ways to fix & improve various situations.  When we’re in the middle of change (in small or big ways), its really easy to fixate on problems, needs, frustrations, etc. 

The truth is that we desperately need to focus on God, especially in seasons of change.  Lately, i’ve been reading about Paul & the shipwreck he endured in Acts 27.  Paul was in a tremendous season of stress & change – but if you watch his words & behavior, he was totally aware of his circumstances, but kept his eyes on God.  Truthfully, i don’t think he had any alternative. 

So here’s my bottom line – in the middle of change, we’ve got to keep our eyes, attention & heart set on God.  What are some things, actions, ways that help you do this???