Friday, November 21, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Moving Forward

I spent last week in Michigan and I left to drive home to Iowa on Sunday morning. The roads were very slick when I left my sister's house in Wyoming. I drove below the speed limit because I felt pretty nervous. About twenty minutes down the road my windshield wipers stopped working and I really needed them.

Thankfully, God provided a shop that was open and right next to the McDonald's I had stopped at and after my wipers were fixed I got back on the road. The roads were still bad, the snow was coming down, and I was really afraid but I kept driving.

I stopped for some gas and I checked and I could see that a band of snow was going through but I should drive out of it at Benton Harbor. So, I got back on the road again. I couldn't see very well and I was very nervous but as I kept moving forward I finally drove out of it.

The roads were dry, it was a little bit brighter, the snow stopped and I felt confident and good again. If I had stayed in Zeeland it probably would have been snowing all day long and I would have felt nervous and anxious all day as I kept driving around on those roads, but as I moved forward I got to a good spot again.

That's what we have to do in life. We have to keep moving forward with the promises of God to guide us and trust that we will get to a good spot again even if we're going through something really difficult.

Don't stay stuck in the mess you may be in right now. Focus on moving forward. 

One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
                                                 (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

Are you driving around and around on icy, dangerous streets in your life instead of moving cautiously forward until you come to a better place? How can focusing on God give you the strength to move forward instead of staying stuck?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Little Things

Today I'm writing my blog post from snowy Michigan. I came out earlier this week to spend some time with my parents and a few other friends and relatives. It's been a relaxing time and I'm so thankful my boys back in Iowa were willing to be without me this week.

For Focus Friday I thought we'd focus on some little things: words. Pay attention to the words you use and the words you hear this week. They are little things but they can build up or tear down others in just a few seconds.

I'm a writer, so words are especially important to me. I tend to roll words around in my mind after I hear them. I look at them from every angle before I let them go. Kind words can lift me up and make me feel good. Harsh or careless words can get me started down a spiral that leaves me in despair. Unfortunately, I often assume that someone means things in a negative way when they really didn't. I'm working on that. I'm trying to not judge someone's motives and just hear their words objectively.

Little things like words can make a big difference. A couple of weeks ago I went to a meeting at the middle school and I was a bit nervous because it was the first time I was back at school since I had resigned from my teaching position. As I sat with Gary waiting for the meeting to begin, a woman came over and grabbed my hand and told me how good it was to see me and that she had missed me at school. That was so nice to hear. It helped me to feel more comfortable and loved.

Hearing "no worries" from a friend when you aren't sure how they're going to react to something you've done is a little thing but it can bring big amounts of relief to a worried mind.

A quick phone call to stay in touch is a little thing but it strengthens the bond between friends.

Sending a note or card in the mail takes just a little time but it can bring a big smile to the face of someone we love.

There's a quote I love to pass on whenever I can:

When we focus on the little things it can make a big difference.

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." (Proverbs 25:11 NIV)

Have you been encouraged by a little thing someone has said or done recently? What little thing can you do to encourage someone today? 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Control

I had most of my Focus Friday written a few minutes ago and then I deleted it all and started over. I had been rambling about control and started giving examples of things I want to control and then I realized that even this blog post is a control thing. I want to say just the right thing so that I inspire or challenge you. I want to control what you think of me.

I don't think you need examples. Either you don't have a problem with control and you can't understand what the problem is or you can totally relate.

Over the past several months I have sensed God pointing out that I don't trust Him when I have gotten quiet and honest enough to really listen to Him. Going into the teaching position I thought I trusted Him but I mostly tried to do everything on my own and things rapidly got out of control. I couldn't handle that. 

On this side of depression I have more peace because I have less stress, but I'm seeing more and more that control is a huge issue for me. I don't want to get into situations where I'm not in control. I don't want to give up control to other people, especially my poor husband. 

Most of all, I haven't been willing to give up my control to God. He's still asking me to trust Him completely. I say "I trust You" with my lips but my thoughts and actions often are exactly the opposite. They say "I don't trust You, God; I'll take it from here."

That's it for this week. Just a reminder about who's in control. We're fooling ourselves if we think we're in control of anything or anyone. We'll only have peace when we give up control and put our trust completely in the Lord.

I'm sorry my thoughts are a little scattered this week. I can't control what you think of me, but I hope you'll look past my words and think about where you put your trust and who is in control. If you want to read more about that you can go over to my web site and read about it in My Life Story. Or don't - I can't control you.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Do you have a problem with control? What do you do when you feel out of control? If you focus on God do you think it will help you give up control and feel more peace?