Friday, March 17, 2017

Focus Friday:Let's Focus on Sleeping

Apparently I have trouble with sleeping.

Not only do I snore and keep my husband awake sometimes, but I have also turned into a very poor traveling companion. Seems like every time we get in the car to go somewhere, I start dozing off. 

Today I woke up to find my husband chuckling as I looked around and tried to figure out where we were. We were just traveling from Orange City to Rock Rapids and nothing looked familiar. 

It seems he pulled off onto a side road so he could document my nap.

He wasn't happy with that angle, so he slowed down and pulled over so he could really get some good shots:

Maybe he was just worried that I was 
going to choke to death on my gum. 

I finally woke up and stayed awake until we got to his mom's apartment (where it didn't take long to start dozing in the chair as we visited).

It's funny, but it's so frustrating to me. I really can't help it. It's not like I say to myself, "Gee, I think I'll take a nap now." No, it's at the most inopportune times that my sleepiness kicks in. 

In church. (Thank you, Gary, for never calling me out on it from the pulpit.)

During hospital visits. (One time I sat on the edge of the bed and joked about falling asleep and a little later I heard the lady say, "I think we've lost Robyn." My eyes popped open to see her and Gary laughing at me.)

In the car. (You've seen the disturbing evidence of that. At least it doesn't happen when I'm driving.)

At my desk while I'm supposedly "working."

Maybe I need to get a little more sleep. Maybe I need vitamins. Maybe I need to start drinking coffee or something. I don't know. 

One thing I do know is we need to be careful we aren't sleeping through life. It's comfortable to stay in our beds instead of jumping up to face the day and dive into new challenges. It can be tempting to just go through the motions in life and keep doing what we've always done because it's familiar. We need to wake up and really live.

Gary is getting a little sick of looking over to see me drooling while we're in the car together. He'd rather have a wide awake traveling companion to talk with and enjoy the ride.

I'm going to work on that...(yawn)

Right now I'd better get to bed or I'll be sleeping all the way home to Allison tomorrow.

"Then [Jesus] returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?' he asked Peter. 'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'" (Matthew 26:40-41 NIV)

Do you get enough sleep? (Studies recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.) How can focusing on God help you not to "sleep" through life?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Your Best Thing

One snowy morning, I didn't get the message that our exercise group was cancelled until I got over to church. I decided to pull out a 50 minute Taebo workout and do it by myself.
We must have only done the first half hour or so because I got to things I didn't remember. I made it to the end and was pleasantly surprised to see Billy gather his workout buddies and end with a short pep talk. Among other things, he asked, "What's your best thing? My best thing is my mind and my will."

I showed the end of the video at Fresh Hope on Thursday night after we talked about how important exercise is for our brains. I asked "What's your best thing?" and waited for answers. One member answered right away: My creativity. Another member had to think, but they had one, too: My ability to hang in there and keep going. Another said: My influence on others.

Then they looked at me. "What's your best thing?" they asked.

I wasn't having a very good day mentally, so I fumbled around for an answer before mumbling, "My writing, I guess."

Gary asked if he could suggest something else. "Your caring," he stated. "You really care about people and that's a good thing."

That shocked me, especially on a day when I was struggling and didn't feel like I cared about much of anything. But as we talked I realized he was right. On my good days, I do care. I care a lot. I want to encourage others and teach others and inspire others to love God like I do. My writing helps me accomplish that sometimes, but maybe the caring really is my best thing.

I'm not sharing that to be all braggy about how caring I am. I'm telling you that so you realize that maybe what you think is your best thing really isn't. If you're not sure, ask someone who knows and loves you. They can help you figure out what your best thing is and whether you're using it well.

Don't compare yourself with someone else's best thing. God made each of us unique so all of us are going to have our own best thing. Be aware of that and celebrate what makes you special.

"Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else," (Galatians 6:4 NIV)

What is your best thing? How can focusing on God help you to figure that out and use it for His glory?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Facing Our Fears

People are afraid of all sorts of things.




                            Even clowns. Especially this one.
(Oh great, now I'm going to give myself nightmares tonight.)

None of those really bother me that much. (Except Pennywise the Clown from the movie It. He bothers me.)

What am I afraid of? Silly things like writing a book.

I have at least six projects started. I'm not sure if all of them have the potential to turn into a published work, but a few of them do. I'm just afraid to sit down and put the time and effort into writing them. 

I like the idea of a finished book, but I'm afraid, and so I do other good things so I have an excuse for not writing. It's not even that I'm that busy with those other things. I have plenty of time to write, but my anxiety keeps me stuck in limbo. 

I'm unhappy with where I am, but I'm afraid of where I want to go.

I think I'm finally getting sick enough of my lack of forward motion that I'm ready to push ahead.

I had a little talk with my wise husband tonight. He must get so tired of repeating the same words of encouragement over and over. "I believe in you. I know you can do it, you just have to write the book."

I don't know what you're afraid of right now. Maybe it's a new job opportunity. Maybe it's a leadership role you don't feel ready for. Maybe it's a new relationship opportunity. Maybe it's a clown.

Whatever it is, you can do it. It's worth the risk to attempt it even if it doesn't turn out the way you hope. 

I realize that I've missed a great opportunity in recent months. When I've been sitting at my desk and my anxiety rises about writing I've turned to Facebook and Netflix to escape my fears. Instead, I could have turned to God and talked to Him about everything I'm feeling. I could've prayed until the anxiety passed and I was ready to tackle that writing.

I'm going to try that this week. How about you?                              

Is there anything you've been afraid of lately? How can focusing on God help you to face those fears and move forward in spite of them?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Extremes

What a difference just a few days can make. Earlier this week it was so nice outside. We were riding bikes and taking walks. It almost felt like spring.

I didn't think to take a picture then. (Credit:

Even as we enjoyed the beautiful weather, we knew it couldn't last. We heard the forecasts and shared the bad news with everyone we talked to. "We're supposed to get some snow on Friday." Hardly anyone was happy to hear that.

Our local school cancelled on Thursday evening when the forecasts ramped up to a blizzard warning. We went to bed on Thursday night wondering what we would wake up to this morning. We were all surprised to hear thunder, lots of rain, and some light hail late Thursday night, but during the night it did turn to snow and we woke up to a world of white.
I didn't think to take a pic today, either, so this is not Allison, Iowa.

A couple of days ago Gary was grilling brats for lunch and today we were without power for a couple of hours. Amazing. 

Our weather extremes got me thinking about the extremes we can experience in other areas of our lives.

The joy of a new birth. The sorrow of the death of a loved one.
The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat.
The excitement of a new adventure. The monotony of daily life.
The fun emotions of new love. The pain of a broken relationship.
The pride of accomplishment. The shame of failure.

We can swing between extremes, sometimes on a daily basis.

There is only one person who can keep us steady and get us through the ups and downs of life. God. He knows us completely and He cares about what is happening to us. 

He'll help us keep a clear head and humble heart during the highs of life. He'll carry us and keep loving us during the low times.

That should help us experience the extremes of life with grace and hope.

I know spring will be here for real in a couple of months, winter can't last forever. Neither can life's wintery seasons. Spring will come again as we hold onto hope.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." 
                                                 (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

Do you get thrown off by the extremes of life? How can focusing on God help you to remain stable and hold onto hope, especially in the low times?