Friday, September 21, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Focusing

Last Saturday I went to a Beth Moore simulcast event at another church in town.

As Beth had us flipping back and forth in our Bibles, exploring the theme, I realized that I had not done that for quite a while. We visited many verses throughout the day, and it felt good.

Toward the end, she said something I just had to write down in my notes: Maybe we don't know who we are because we've forgotten who He is.

"Bingo!" my heart cried. That's why I've been so restless and unsettled in recent months. (I suppose it could also be a six-hour move to a new city, but that's only part of it.) I've been listening to podcasts and reading books and watching YouTube videos, but I haven't been digging deep into the Bible on a regular basis. That's where my true guidance comes from. From God, through His word.

My brain has been jumping from one idea to another: Maybe I should become a full-time editor. No, maybe I should get busy writing those books I've been talking about. Should I write the book on anger? or the book on depression? I'm not angry or depressed anymore, maybe I need to pour my time into ministry at church. Oh, but faith is very important, I need to spend time growing spiritually!

And because I'm not focusing on any of those things, none of them get done.

As I looked for a verse about focus, I found this passage from Philippians 3:12-20 in The Message. Take a minute to read it and let it sink in (even better, go read the entire passage online, I left out bits and pieces here):

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But.... I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision-- you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.

Stick with me, friends....There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them.....All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street....all they can think of is their appetites.

But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven!"
                                                   (Philippians 3:12-20 The Message)

I think that's it. We need to keep focused on the goal, Jesus. It's not "easy street," but if we stay totally committed to Him I think the rest of life will fall into place more easily.

When our eyes (and our hearts) are darting around looking at every possibility and opportunity out there, we'll be confused, unfocused. But when we fix our eyes on Him (the author and perfecter of our faith) our path will become much more clear. We'll know which goals to focus on so that we get closer to Him and closer to the person He created us to be.

If I focus, maybe I'll even finish a book someday.

"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you." (Proverbs 4:25 NIV)

Are you unfocused, looking around at way too many possibilities? How can focusing on God help you to see more clearly and know where to spend your time?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Suicide


I didn't realize that September 9-15, 2018 was National Suicide Prevention Week until I saw an article in our local paper on Thursday.

We don't like to think about things like suicide, do we?

It's so dark and scary and...depressing.

Even if your life hasn't been touched personally by a family member's suicide, most of us have been saddened to hear about someone's suicide in the towns where we live or by celebrities like actor Robin Williams, designer Kate Spade, and chef Anthony Bourdain.

And then there are those of us who have actually contemplated ending our own lives.

I got to that place back in 2014 when I became clinically depressed and could find absolutely no hope in life. I was still a Christian and I knew where my hope should be found, but I was too sick to grab hold of that hope and be happy.

Thankfully, I was able to talk to my husband about those frightening thoughts and he took me to the hospital where I could be safe until I felt better.

While I was there I met other patients, people who had actually attempted suicide. I'm so glad they didn't succeed. We talked and laughed and learned together about our illnesses during our stay. We all had families that loved us and wanted us healthy again.

Since that time, I have worked hard at making sure I do the things I need to do to stay healthy emotionally. If I feel myself starting to get into that downward spiral, I'm quick to reach out to my husband or a friend so I don't get too far away from hope.

That's why I want to focus on suicide this week.

Maybe you have a family member or friend who struggles with depression. Watch for the warning signs that their depression is getting worse and reach out to help them before it gets too bad.

Maybe you deal with depression at times. Don't settle for feeling bad most of the time. You may have gotten so used to it that you think it's just normal for you. It doesn't have to be! Medications, counseling, exercise, and changing the way you think and act can all lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. 

Please don't give up! Talk to someone, reach out to anyone. Hopefully you have a supportive friend or family member, but if you don't, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line

I'm not a professional, but you're also welcome to talk to me by email (robynmulder @ hotmail.com) or a private message on Facebook.

We can do this hard thing...this amazing thing called Life...if we just don't give up.

"The thief [Satan] comes only to kill and steal and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV - brackets added)

Have you ever had suicidal thoughts? How can focusing on God help you to get support and embrace life again? 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on our Goofy Goofy Brains

It's going to be close to midnight when I post this week's blog.

It didn't have to be. I could have gotten it done this afternoon or earlier this evening. It's all my sister-in-law's fault.

Last week Cheryl commented that I seemed to be getting my blog done earlier in the day since we had moved to Platte.

It was true. I've still had a few "Super Saturdays," but recently I had been finding time to write and post well before my usual late hours.

So what happened today? I guess I can't really blame it on Cheryl. It's my goofy goofy brain!

For some reason, even though I didn't give it too much thought last week, my brain remembered that comment today and I could actually feel the strong resistance to writing my blog earlier.

I'm not even sure exactly what my goofy brain was doing. Most of it was subconscious earlier in the day, but as it got later I actually had thoughts like these:

I don't really feel like writing my blog tonight.
I can wait until tomorrow, nobody will mind.
I'm not sure what to write about, so waiting will be better.

I filled my day with stuff that was worthwhile in my free time, but it certainly wasn't necessary. It was nothing getting me any closer to my goals of writing more and growing in my faith.

My goofy goofy brain has been bugging me in other ways, too, like when I set the alarm for six. When the alarm goes off my brain tells me all sorts of lies about why I should just stay in bed a little longer, even though I have a goal of exercising early and getting a good start on my day.

Sometimes my goofy brain suggests that I grab a handful of M&Ms or eat a bowl of ice cream when I'm not hungry, even though I've set a goal of losing some extra pounds in the weeks ahead.

Our goofy brains are amazing. So much goes on in our heads. Our bodies wouldn't function without everything happening just right in our brains. 

But we have to realize that our brains will sometimes lie to us. If we have gotten into certain bad habits or routines, our brains will try to keep us doing those same things over and over. They will protest if we attempt to do something new. Our goofy brains want to take the easy way.

"For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want." (Galatians 5:17 NIV)

The Holy Spirit can help us when our goofy goofy brains want to take us down a road that caters to our flesh. With some thought and prayer we can act in ways that are better for us than the things our goofy brains tell us.

So...take that, goofy brain! I'll do something else instead of grabbing that snack if I'm not hungry.

Wake up, goofy brain! I'm getting out of bed even though you're telling me I don't have to.

Well, what do you know, goofy brain! I just wrote my blog post even though you told me to wait until tomorrow.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Does your goofy brain ever lie to you and keep you from accomplishing your goals? How can focusing on God help you to ignore the lies and do what's right instead? 


Friday, August 31, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Keeping Our Word


Last week I told you that I was going to work on my website (robynmulder.com) and start working on a book proposal.

Because I told you that, I actually did those things, even though I was scared.

It didn't go perfectly. 

I made some changes on the website, but I also tried a new theme in WordPress. It was live for about five minutes, until I noticed a couple of things that looked funny and I didn't know how to fix them. I quickly reverted back to my old theme, the one I'm comfortable with.

I said I would work on my book proposal for three hours, but I didn't start working on it until Thursday. I think I worked on it for about an hour and a half.

Did I fail? No. 

I kept my word to my readers, even though it didn't go exactly as planned.

I played around with my website theme and now I want to spend a little more time learning how to change the look and have things work the way I want them to.

I spent an hour and a half on my proposal and now my brain is working on ideas for the book even when I'm not at my desk.

Keeping our word is important.

We've all been disappointed by someone who said they would do something, but they blew it off and didn't get it done.

People understand when there are emergencies that come up, but they lose faith in us when we fail to show up or complete a task just because we didn't feel like it.

I think that includes the promises we make to ourselves.

We lose faith in ourselves when we say we're going to do something, but then we let it go just because we're afraid or we don't feel like it.

Friends, we need to practice keeping our word, to others, of course, but even to ourselves.

When you say, "I'm going to get up at seven o'clock tomorrow morning," make sure you get up at seven o'clock.

When you say, "I'm going to eat healthier," make sure you fill your fridge with healthy choices and stay away from too many sweets.

When you say, "I'm going to get closer to God," make sure you spend time in the Bible and talk to Him often as you go about your day.

When you say, "I'm going to __________," make sure you take the steps necessary to get that accomplished.

It will help if you tell someone about these promises you're making. Give someone permission to ask you, "Hey, how's it going? Are you doing what you said you'd do?"

Don't lose hope if you don't always keep your promises to yourself and others. We're human and we can't do it all perfectly. But do your best to keep your word. Others will see you are a person of integrity and you will feel great as you accomplish the things you've always said you were going to do. 

"God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Numbers 23:19 NIV)

Are you good at keeping your word to yourself and others? How can focusing on God help you to get even better at keeping your word?