Saturday, February 18, 2017

Super Sorry Saturday: Let's Focus on Better Late Than Never

We went to Rock Rapids yesterday to celebrate Gary's birthday with his mom and siblings. It was nice getting together with them and enjoying a nice meal at Pizza Ranch. 

We stayed at Denny and Holly's and stayed up late talking after we got home from supper. I had planned to do my Focus Friday around ten or eleven (as usual), but I looked up and it was 11:45! We went to bed and I decided to make it a Sorry Saturday.

Well, it has become a Super Sorry Saturday because I didn't sit down to write during the day today, either. So that's our focus for this week: getting something done even if it's late.

It was tempting to just say "Oh well, I'll just skip my blog this week" but I didn't want to disappoint my loyal readers and break my streak of posting every week.

I think we can apply this to other areas of our lives, too.

Just because we feel like we've missed the right time to do something, it can still be worth it to complete the task or project.

I have a pile of Christmas letters that I am going to send out this week. I know it's very late. It would be easier to just forget about them, but I did that last year and I really want to connect with my family and friends. They will probably sigh and shake their heads at my tardiness, but hopefully they will be glad to receive it.  

Maybe you've been putting off a project because you are uncertain about it. What if it doesn't turn out like you hope it will? What if people don't like it? What if....? What if...? What if...? If you have been prompted over and over to do something, it's time to get at it, even if it feels like you're too late.

Send that birthday card even if it's a month later. Write a short letter to go with it. Your friend will enjoy hearing from you.

Read a few days from your One Year Bible, even if you're not caught up to today's date. Over time, reading two days' worth each day will get you back on track.

Most of all, show yourself grace when you realize you've missed getting something done on time. We're all busy and we do the best we can. 

Sometimes you have to do something late (pay that overdue bill you found in that stack of papers), at times you can choose to do something late (send the birthday card you wrote out and then misplaced for a while), and other times you can let something go (household chores don't always have to be done every single week).

Doing things on time is a good goal to have, but doing things late can bring blessings, too.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

What have you put off that you feel like finishing even if it's late? How can focusing on God help you to get things done and show yourself grace when you miss a deadline?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sorry Saturday: Let's Focus on Growing Old Together

Yesterday was our anniversary. Twenty-seven years. How does the time go by so quickly?

It seems like such a short time ago when we looked like this:
I look at that picture and I recognize the two of us, but I realize that we are essentially different people now. We've known each other longer than we didn't know each other. We've grown in knowledge, maturity, and waist size.

We've laughed, cried, traveled, celebrated, fought, made up, prayed, worked, and played together.

We've also done this together:
Allison, Blake, Robyn, Dylan, Gary, Erin
                                       
I turned fifty last March. Gary will turn fifty on Valentines Day. We're getting old, but at least we're growing old together.

Some couples don't make it to twenty-seven years. Some don't make it to twenty or even seven years. They get frustrated by the changes in their spouse and they decide they've had enough.

I understand, but it makes me sad. They're missing out on so much joy they could have if they would wait out the hard times, work through the rough days, and walk alongside their spouse even when they would rather run the other way.

My friend Myrna and her husband also were married on February 10. She wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that captures beautifully some of the ideas I'd like you to focus on this week. One of the most important aspects of loving someone well is commitment. It's hard some days, but keeping God intertwined with the two of us will make our marriage strong enough to last as we grow old together.

Happy Anniversary, Gary! I love you and I'm glad God brought us together so many years ago. It's been a wild ride and I look forward to what He has in store for us in the years ahead.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-13 NIV)

How many years have you been married (if you are married)? How can focusing on God help you to stay together and keep loving each other even through the difficult times?

(A note to my divorced readers: I am not trying to make you feel guilty or ashamed if your marriage did not last. You did the best you could, I'm sure. Everyone's situation is different and we can't judge from the outside. I just want those who are currently married to do everything they can to stay married, and hopefully learn from God so that it is a happy marriage most of the time.)   




Friday, February 3, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on our Life Calendar

This week I watched a video about procrastination (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU) (I think I was putting off doing something I really needed to be doing at the time). It was funny and hit a little too close to home, but Tim Urban ended with the sobering thought that all of us are procrastinators in some ways. 

We may not all push up against actual deadlines, but we put off doing many things in life that don't have a tangible deadline. We don't do what we've always dreamed of doing because it's scary or uncomfortable to step out and try something new. We keep going in bad relationships because it's easier than dealing with whatever is going wrong. 

He showed a picture similar to this one that shows a ninety year life in weeks:


I'm fifty years old. Over half of those little squares are gone already. I can't even be sure I'll make it to ninety, so that adds even more urgency. What am I doing with all of my remaining squares?

I guess I've been thinking about that a lot this week. Am I going to just keep letting the weeks fly by and never accomplish the things I say I want to do? If I make it to ninety, am I going to look back at all of those little squares representing my weeks here on earth and have little to show for them?

My friend Joan shared a great quote at our writers group meeting last month:

Begin doing what you want to do now. 
We are not living in eternity. 
We have only this moment, 
sparking like a star in our hand-- 
and melting like a snowflake. 
~Marie Beynon Ray

Isn't that beautiful?

I hope it can inspire all of us to be much more deliberate about what we are doing with the moments God gives us. We aren't going to live forever. Let's get busy with the things God is prompting us to do: Write that letter, call that friend, write that book, start that business, take that vacation, finish that project, give your time or money to that organization that stirs your heart so much, love the people in your life well. 

We only have so many "boxes" left. Let's not waste them.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

Have you been procrastinating because there is no specific deadline for something you've been wanting to do? How can focusing on God help you to use your time wisely because you realize that your time here on earth is limited?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Alligators

At the risk of turning my blog into a place to bore you with my latest vacation photos, I'm going to share a few more this week. Gary and I took a trip to Florida this week to visit my parents. We took a two-day road trip with my dad to see the Everglades and Key West (My poor mom had to stay home due to some health issues).

Shark Valley was the first part of the Everglades we visited. We wanted to see alligators and we were not disappointed.


We hadn't even made it to the entrance gate and we saw two alligators along the road. We jokingly speculated that maybe they put a couple of plastic ones near the entrance to get everyone excited, but a sign later said that everything we saw there was real.

(Here's the second one.)
My dad treated us to the two hour tram ride through the park. It was definitely worth it as "Tammy from Miami" told us so many interesting things about the alligators, birds, and plants we saw.

Many alligators were lying right along the road we took.

 One thing I can't stop thinking about is what she said about how the alligator often gets his prey. All along the way we could see paths in the water. Tammy explained that the gators would make these paths and then sit and wait patiently out of sight until some unsuspecting fish or other animal used the path. When the prey got close enough, the alligator could snap them up and get a good meal.

I didn't get a good shot of the alligator paths, but this gives you an idea of the paths left by the gators.
( Credit: http://nancyandbillblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/florida-trip-shark-valley-part-i.html )
I can't stop thinking about that, because I think that's how Satan works many times. Sometimes a little sin seems harmless so we keep doing it. Satan clears a path so we think we're going somewhere, but he lies in wait, ready to pounce and devour us because we haven't been diligent or vigilant.

We need to be careful as we go through life. We need to spend lots of time in God's word so we know which way He wants us to go instead of just taking the easy way. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment as we move ahead and we always need to be ready to run the other way when we realize we're heading for danger.

We saw about sixteen alligators in one place on one of the trails we took. 

I realize Gary and I actually went looking for alligators and we were really happy to see them, but in our daily lives we need to stay far away from sin and the dangerous situations it produces.

By the way, we went to the Circle B Reserve in Lakeland, Florida this morning, but we didn't see "Humpback," the enormous alligator spotted there recently and made famous on YouTube. 

"The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death; but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked....Hope in the LORD and keep his way." (Psalm 37:32-34a NIV)

Have you ever been "attacked" by some sin that you thought was harmless at first? How can focusing on God help you to be vigilant and ready to turn around when you realize you are heading in the wrong direction in life?