Friday, July 31, 2015

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on...(what was that again?...oh yeah)...Forgetting

I almost forgot to post today. Seriously, I did. I mean, you probably think I almost forget every week since I post so late at night, but usually I'm thinking about Focus Friday most of the day and just put off writing it. Today I didn't remember it was Friday until about 4 p.m. Forgetting seems like a good subject to focus on this week. I forgot several other things today. 

I took the boys to get their physicals today and I couldn't remember if Blake had chicken pox as a kid. I vaguely remembered seeing a picture of him with spots, but I didn't remember a doctor's visit or lots of calamine lotion. I felt a little bit like a failure as a mom. Shouldn't I remember things like that?

This afternoon I was piddling around with some paperwork and the phone rang at 2:45. "Robyn, I have you down for a color at 2:30, did I mess up?" "No, I did!" I yelped and I assured my hair dresser that I would be right there. Luckily she only lives a few blocks away. I felt a little bit like a failure because I kept her waiting and wasn't responsible.

After supper I decided to read the end of "After the Leaves Fall" by Nicole Baart. It was great and I started to set the book down when I noticed a little lump. I opened the book and saw one Black Hills gold earring and I suddenly remembered that I had taken my earrings out at the salon and had stuck them in my book. Don't ask - I have no idea why I thought that would be a good place to put them. Anyway, I read my book for a few minutes while I was there so I checked my purse and then called Susan to see if was there. Yes, it was, so I ran back over to pick it up. I felt a little bit like a failure for losing something special to me in such a weird way.

I'm sure there were other goofs today, I just don't remember them. 

I really felt silly when all of these things happened, but as it nears midnight I'm realizing something very interesting. I forgot and goofed up, but life went on. The nurse didn't really care if Blake had chicken pox as a kid, he still needed a booster shot. My hairdresser wasn't upset with me being a little late, and she just laughed and said she was glad she didn't step on my earring before she found it. I moved on from each of these goofs pretty well. I felt "a little bit like a failure" but I didn't dwell on any of those situations.

The thing is, in the not so distant past these mistakes would have really upset me. I would have felt like a huge failure and probably would have cried a little about each of them, even if it was just by myself. Mistakes used to mean I was a terrible person and I wondered if I could ever do anything right. In recent years I've been learning to let mistakes go. (Maybe that's because I'm getting so much practice!) 

I'm learning to separate my worth from what I do. I've been reminded of that as I study "The Search For Significance" with a group of women on Mondays. God loves me completely and unconditionally. His love isn't dependent on how I act and it isn't taken away for the mistakes I make. It is always there. Now that's something I won't ever forget.

"But 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 3:13b-14 NIV)

Do you ever forget things? How can focusing on God help you to separate yourself from your mistakes so that you can remember that He loves you completely?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Thinking

Sometimes when you go on vacation, you leave something important at your brain. There's something about getting out of the normal routine that can trip us up and cause us to make silly mistakes we wouldn't normally make.

Once when we lived in Minnesota we left the key to the boat at home on top of the fridge and didn't realize it until the boat was in the water at the lake. Luckily, we lived about a half hour away and it just cost us some time and a little gas money.

When I studied in Spain I took a trip to southern Spain during Easter break and stayed with another girl at a friend of a friend's apartment. The family that lived there wasn't home when we arrived. We didn't think much about the light not being on in the refrigerator, we were only there for a couple of days and we didn't use it much. The family was pretty upset when they got home, though. They had forgotten to plug it in before they left and most of the food was spoiled by the time they got there. I'm still not sure why we didn't figure that one out...fridges should be cold no matter where you live!

This camping trip has been no exception. It's our first time out using the camper and boat this summer (I know, sad, right?) and we remembered almost everything we've needed. One year we forgot our striker and matches the first time we camped and had to borrow a striker from the camp host so we could start our campfire. We had fun boating yesterday and laid all of our towels out on the picnic table to dry when we got back. I didn't give them another thought and noone else did, either. I didn't even think of them when I heard it start raining in the middle of the night. I wish I had, though, because we have a bunch of sopping wet towels now. I didn't think!

So often our lack of thinking can get us into even bigger problems than a bunch of wet towels. It can get us into relationship problems, financial troubles, and messes that cause frustration and lots of time to fix. Let's focus on asking God to help us think, even when we're away from home or very tired. He promises to help us.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5 NIV)

Have you ever done something foolish because you were too tired or out of your normal routine and setting? How can focusing on God help you to act wisely even when you're in those situations?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sorry Saturday: Let's Focus on Spinning

     This has been a busy summer. I missed Focus Friday last week because we were vacationing in Tennessee with my family. We had a great time celebrating my parents' 50th anniversary and taking in some of the fun activities in the Pigeon Forge area. 
     On Friday we went to an amusement park together. Dollywood had lots of rides, shows, and attractions. Some of our group left midway through the day due to the sweltering heat, but our family and my nephew toughed it out until the park closed. We found lots of rides we wanted to go on and we wanted to see the fireworks at the end of the day.
     We went on all of the roller coasters and big rides early in the day. In the middle of the afternoon we figured out that we hadn't visited a section of the park that had lots of smaller rides like the scrambler. We headed over there and my husband found something really fun...the teacup ride.
     Now, that may not sound very fun to you. Pretty tame, right? Not for my thrill seeking husband. Gary rode it first with our daughter Erin. He got that teacup spinning as soon as the ride started and it didn't quit spinning until it stopped with a jerk when the attendant stopped the ride. It was fun to see Gary laughing and Erin trying to keep her head from going back from the force of the spinning.
     Next, he got right back on with Dylan and Allison. It was a little harder to spin it as fast with three people, but he still got it spinning like crazy.
     We rode a few other rides, then came back to do it again. This time I videotaped as Gary rode "Lemon Twist" with Allison. My son Blake and nephew Phillip were in another car, spinning like mad as well. We laughed from the side as we watched because Allison could not keep her head from flying back. They got off and I decided that I would be missing out on something if I didn't experience this ride. I knew I couldn't ride with my husband or I might throw up (I had almost lost it on the dizzy disk a little earlier). I grabbed my son and we ran to get in line. He got it spinning right away and we laughed as the world began to spin. Pretty soon it wasn't funny anymore. I started to feel a little sick but I hung in there. The whole world was a blur around us. I could not see one single thing outside of our little teacup. The only thing I could see clearly was my son, sitting right across from me. We endured the ride and I laughed as I walked shakily back to the rest of our family. I'm glad I tried it. 
     In the week since then, I've been thinking about spinning. Sometimes our lives seem to spin out of control, just like the "Lemon Twist" ride. Broken relationships, illness, frustrations, financial difficulties, and all sorts of other problems can leave us reeling. We hang on for dear life and try not to throw up as everything around us seems to be a blur. The only thing not moving, the only thing we actually can focus on, is God. He's the only constant in our lives, especially when circumstances seem unsure. We can fix our eyes on His loving face and trust that the rest of the world will still be there when we stop spinning out of control. He'll steady us as we move on, even if we're still dizzy and shaken. 
     Life can be a wild ride, but I wouldn't want to miss a moment of it, especially with my Savior right there with me. 

"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways." (Proverbs 4:25-26 NIV)

Does your life seem to spin out of control at times? How can keeping your focus on God help you to get through those times and keep moving on?


Friday, July 3, 2015

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Names

     "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...."
     How about it? Do you agree with Shakespeare and the quote above from Romeo and Juliet? It's true that roses would smell just as lovely if they were called something else, but when it comes to people, names are extremely important.
     Think about how many television reporters and politicians have been ridiculed for an incorrect pronunciation of someone's name, even though the majority of people would also have trouble with it if they just saw it and hadn't heard it before.
     My name is important to me. Robyn. I love that my parents chose to spell my name with a "y," even though I need to clarify that when I'm giving info to someone. I always feel the tiniest twinge of sadness when I get a card or email from someone and it's addressed to "Robin." I brush it aside and I honestly don't hold any grudges about it, but there's this little thought every time: They don't really know me.
     That's why I'm pretty careful about spelling people's names correctly. I know it can hurt a little when names are misspelled. 
     Even worse is when we call someone by the wrong name entirely. If your name is Eileen or Elaine, you may not hear me say your name very often because my brain refuses to keep them straight. I've resorted to picturing the secretary at school leaning at a 45 degree angle so I can call her "Eileen" as I should. I picture the Elaines I know screaming "Eeeeeee" so I can remember them. Sometimes that doesn't even work.
    The other day I was in a grocery store and I saw a friend from church. I smiled and said hi, but my mind couldn't come up with her name for some reason. Wessels, I thought. Yes, that's right. Her husband is Gerald. Her name? Blank. We chatted for a minute and then I mumbled, "Bye Wanda."
     I got exactly one aisle away and started kicking myself. Wanda? It's Karen! How could you call her Wanda? Maybe she didn't hear you. But what if she did? I picked up a couple of items, but when I saw her again at the checkout, I asked, "Did you hear me call you Wanda?" Of course she didn't, but we had a good laugh about it and I made sure to call her Karen a couple of times for good measure. I knew her name, but our brains malfunction at times so we all have to cut each other a little slack.
     Aren't you glad there's one person who always knows your name? He knew you before you were created in your mother's womb. He knows exactly how your name is spelled and he'll never forget and call you by the wrong name.
     Francesca Battistelli has a song on her newest album called "He Knows My Name." It's a wonderful reminder that we don't have to worry about everyone here on earth knowing our name. We don't have to be famous. God loves us and knows us completely. That thought can give us comfort and confidence when we might be feeling lonely or misunderstood. Try to brush aside the disappointment with not being known here on earth and draw on the joy of being known, completely, by the God of the universe. He knows your name!
     Oh, and if you aren't sure of someone's name when you see them around town, don't take a wild guess. Just smile and say, "It's so good to see you!" Right, Wanda?

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1b NIV)

Do you have trouble remembering names? How can remembering that God knows your name help you to live more joyfully and confidently?