Friday, December 2, 2016

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on This and That

My mind is going in a hundred different directions tonight. 

Gary and I were going to leave today for a trip to the Grand Canyon. We didn't. 

Oh, don't worry, we're still going. We're just going to leave tomorrow at about 3 p.m. and drive pretty much straight through to the Grand Canyon. It wasn't what we were planning on, but friends from church lost their sixty year old daughter on Wednesday evening and Gary is going to do the funeral tomorrow. Sally was a very special woman and her parents will miss her so much. We love our congregation and we're glad we could make this work out and that she didn't pass away while we were already on our trip. 

That was a little bit of "this." Now here's a little bit of "that":

I didn't win NaNoWriMo this year. I admitted defeat on Tuesday with 25, 224 words. The story wasn't going anywhere and I had too much to do to justify writing furiously on Nov. 30 just to make the word count. I think I might be growing up because it didn't upset me too much to let it go and turn to other things on that last day of November.

I finally have a number for you in my project to go through all of my clothes: 363. Yes, that's right. Almost one item for every day of the year. I've filled two boxes with items for Goodwill, but I'm afraid I haven't been ruthless with my clothing choices. I have put some neatly into my drawers and closet, but way too many things stayed on Blake's bed for way too long. Tonight I put the last of the items on the bed into some boxes and stacked them by my bed to finish sorting through "later." (When is "later" for a procrastinator?)

I think I'd better call it a night and get to bed. I'm looking forward to enjoying time in the Grand Canyon with Gary on Monday to Wednesday of next week. God sure created a beautiful place when He made that! I'll be sure to post some pictures on Facebook after we make it out (no cell reception in the canyon).

Hopefully I can turn off my brain and get to sleep once I go to bed. Right now it's jumping from "what should I be packing?" to "what do I have to get done here at home just in case we fall over the edge at the Grand Canyon?" I'm kidding! Mostly.

Before I lay my head on my pillow tonight, I'm going to spend a few minutes meditating on this verse: 

"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth [the Grand Canyon?], and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land." (Psalm 95:1-5 NIV)

Maybe that will help my thoughts stop bouncing around on so many things.

Are you busy with lots of projects and finding it hard to focus? How can taking a few minutes to focus on God help you calm down and decide what to do next? 


Friday, November 25, 2016

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Giving Thanks

Last week I told you I might tell you my final clothing number this week. Unfortunately, I don't have that number for you yet. Here is a visual, though:

That's pretty much my entire wardrobe in one place. I didn't think this through very well. The end of November may not have been the best time for a procrastinator to undertake this clothes counting/sorting project. It's NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving was this week, and we're getting ready for our hike at the Grand Canyon. Yep, good intentions but poor timing.

The piles are still there, except for the stack of jeans on the corner of the bed (it's in Blake's room and he's at college so they can stay there at least until Christmas break). I'll keep picking away at the piles and try to give you a final tally sometime soon.

For this week, I think it's fitting to focus on thanks. Thanks for our clothing, thanks for the people in our lives, thanks for our family members and friends, thanks for our jobs, our hobbies, and our homes. But it also may be a good day to give thanks for the "bad" things in our lives. 

Thanks for the people that drive us crazy (whether it's a coworker, a child, a spouse, or a stranger we have to interact with at a store or on the phone). Thanks for the job that frustrates us. Thanks for the little things that irritate us about our homes, our vehicles, or our wardrobes. Thanks for the world situations that break our hearts and tempt us to worry.

We can be thankful for all of those things because each of them can push us closer to God and help us to develop the discipline of choosing a good attitude in the midst of difficult times. Life will be better if we can develop the habit of giving thanks in all circumstances.

Thankful for all of you today... ~Robyn

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

Do you find it difficult to give thanks for the difficult things in your life? How can focusing on God help you to develop that important habit?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Enough

A while back I read a book called More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger (DavidCCook, 2013). It was a great book that helped me to look at different areas of my life and see how I could live with less and give more to others. 

One section stuck with me: Enough Clothing. In that chapter, he told about a girl named Ashley who did a social experiment so she could relate to the people in her neighborhood who didn't have as much choice about the clothes they wore as she did. She decided to wear everything she owned one time. She figured she could maybe go for 70 days...but she ended up going for 156 days. It was interesting to see what she learned from her social experiment.

She owned 190 articles of clothing. In the months since then, I've been wondering how many articles of clothing I own. I'm a little scared to find out. You see, my clothes are all over the place...

In the four-drawer dresser in our bedroom:

Piled up on the floor next to our bed:

In half of our bedroom closet (and piled in front of it sometimes): 

 Two drawers in the hallway right outside our bedroom:

Two drawers in Blake's room:
I forgot I even owned the jeans I found here!

And in an upstairs closet:
The prom dresses aren't mine, but the rest of these clothes a box full underneath!

Do you see why I'm a little scared to start counting? 

As Thanksgiving approaches, I think I just might take some time and do a little inventory. I know there are many items of clothing that I never wear. I seem to have favorites that I grab most of the time for all sorts of reasons. I'm thankful for the clothes I have, but this may be a good time of year to take stock and give some away to those who need them and will wear them.

Just how much is enough? If I'm brave, I'll tell you next week what my final count was. Until then, I'm going to make sure I'm thanking God for all of His blessings. I take them for granted way too often.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving next week, everyone!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."                                                                             (Psalm 107:1 NIV)

Do you have too much of something? How can focusing on God help you to be grateful for what you have and decide to be content with enough?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Good Conduct

This has been a tough week for all of us. I don't feel like I can focus on anything but the current political situation in our country, but I don't feel smart enough or brave enough to attempt a detailed analysis of what has been going on.

My heart hurts over the division we are seeing in our country. No matter who you voted for on Tuesday, you're probably experiencing some uncertainty about what the future holds. I just want to remind you: If you're a Christian then you have many reasons to have hope for the future. God is sovereign and He has everything under control.

So for this week, I'd like to focus on good conduct. So many people are expressing their feelings with hurtful, hateful words toward those who don't agree with them. "My brothers and sisters, this should not be!" (James 3:9-10)

At Fresh Hope this week we talked about a topic called "The 4 Conducts" from Fresh Hope's topic cards (#302). Even if you don't deal with a mental health diagnosis, I think it might help all of us to take a look at them today.

1. Speak carefully. Words can hurt or heal. Use words for good. Say what you mean, mean what you say. 

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD." (Psalm 19:14 NIV)

2. Be humble. It really isn't all about you. Look at others as the Lord sees them.

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another..." (1 Peter 5:5 NIV)

3. Live in truth. Believe in the power of truth. Speak truth in love. Seek truth.

"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth." (Psalm 86:11a NIV)

4. Always do your best. Do your best for whatever state you are in - good days or bad days. Live for an audience of one (for God).

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

Let's all try to put these 4 conducts into practice. They will help us in all of our relationships.

Do you have problems with communication? How can focusing on God and practicing these 4 conducts help you improve relationships and experience more peace?