Caution: Distractions ahead!

I was going to ask the question “Have you ever been distracted?” but that would just be silly. Everyone has experienced distractions in one form or another all our lives.

dis-trac-tion: noun 1. a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else. Synonyms: diversion, interruption, disturbance, intrusion, interference, obstruction, hindrance

Sometimes distractions are things we set on ourselves. These can be to avoid doing something we don’t want to do. When I was a teenager, my dad made a desk for my bedroom for me to do my homework on. But then he put a mirror on the wall over it. Yes, I used to talk to myself in that mirror. What’s a girl to do?!

Maybe you have distractions that you don’t even realize are distractions. Case in point. My husband and I were at a popular restaurant in Houston some time ago. At a nearby table was a couple on a date. Beautiful girl, handsome guy. She had her cell phone out. the.whole.time. I felt like going over to the table and whispering to her, “Look at this handsome man across the table from you. He wants to spend time with you.” Don’t let relationships or potential relationships fail by your inattention and distractions.

Or distractions can be good things. When you’ve been working really hard on something and aren’t getting anywhere, a distraction can help you take a break and refocus on the task ahead. My sis-in-law is a writer and one of her distractions to get her refocused is working a jigsaw puzzles.

Sometimes distractions are things Satan throws at us. Things to keep us from doing what we are supposed to be doing or from giving something our full attention. Little things like constant ringing in the ears, eye floaters, sinus infections. (Yes, all those are affecting me right now.) And sometimes not so little things like cancer (that one too) or relationships breaking apart.

When you’ve set goals for yourself like reading your Bible everyday, prayer and fasting, dieting and exercise, distractions can wreak havoc on those plans. Things like chocolate (you know like Valentine’s Day candy–then Easter is right around the corner, sheesh!) food commercials, rainy days, Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube can all be destructive distractions.

“So, how do I get around the distractions?” you may ask. Good question but I’m not sure I have a good answer for you. For me, I have to discern whether they are good distractions or destructive. Whether they are those I put on myself or from Satan. Knowing where they’re coming from makes a big difference in how you should handle them.

Starve your distractions, feed your focus.

Anonymous

In determination vs. distraction, determination wins every time. Focus. And when you cannot seem to get that focus, look up. God will help you get your focus back.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…

Hebrews 12:1-2

Lay aside every weight. Those distractions. It takes training to run a race. It takes training to stay focused on the prize.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is right for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and if we don’t give up

Galatians 6:9

What are you being distracted by? Is it destructive or an escape? Is it helping you refocus?

And what is your prize? Think about it.

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He Knows

A popular song on the radio these days, both Christian and secular, is Lauren Daigle’s “You Say.” Lyrics say that we are loved, strong, held, Yours (God’s) and all that is true. I’m not knocking the song but most of the song is convincing self that these things are true.

Here is the truth: God is who He says He is. God will do what He says He’ll do. But sometimes you’ve got to call Him out on what He has said to you. “You said…!”

Is your marriage on the rocks?
Child not behaving or turning the wrong direction?
Do you have a relationship that is in crisis mode?
Have you recently lost a loved one?
Have aging parents?
Maybe a devastating diagnosis from the doctor?
Husband (or wife) who won’t go to church with you?

Call Him out. Tell Him what He said.

“Lord, You said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old…'” (Prov. 22:6)

“Lord, You said, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives…”‘ (1 Peter 3:1)

But understand. He also said we would have tribulations. (John 16:33)

Tri-bu-la-tion: noun, a cause for great trouble or suffering. Synonyms: trouble, worry, anxiety, burden, affliction, ordeal, trial, adversity, hardship, tragedy, trauma, setback

…shall I go on?

But He knows! He knows your hardships, rejections, problems, needs, all of them! And He is your heavenly Father who loves to give good things to His children. And He will see you through those hard times and you WILL come out victorious on the other side.

When Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray, He says that “your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matt. 6:8) Before that He has said, “…and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” (Matt. 6:4 & 18)

“For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matt. 6:32)

He sees!

He knows!

To know and be known. Isn’t that what we all really want?

And He supplies all our needs. In the ESV, Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will supply EVERY need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine) Every need. All your needs.

~Even those you don’t talk about with anyone else.~

All.

Every.

What are you in need of today?

I do it for me

The ink barely had time to dry from my last post when WHAM. Felt like I got hit in the head with a rock-laden snowball.

So many times when we are supposed to do something, REALLY supposed to do something, the doing is followed closely behind by a fall. The higher you are when you’ve done it the farther down the fall.

That’s what happened to me. I knew I was supposed to begin blogging again and had been contemplating it for several months. God downloaded what I was supposed to write about and I put it out there. Now I’m putting this out there.

I was not prepared for the hit, though I know I should have been. The accuser will use whatever your weakest points are to bring you down. He’ll whisper things in your ear, all lies of course but, in your weakness, you believe.

For the past couple of years in my personal life I have tried to be the most positive person. 2017 was 365 days of gratitude–even the little things. A lesson I learned during the time my husband was going through cancer treatments was that I am the favored daughter of the Most High God. I know that as clearly as anything and have never doubted it since. My posts on social media are meant to be uplifting, a balm. I do not post anything political or even like a post, even if I agree with it, if it is said in a negative way. I do this for my friends. I do this for me.

I do this for me. Life for me is not perfect and there are things about me that only my closest friends know, as it should be. But if I were to post anything negative, it would not help anyone. It would not help me. I do this for me.

I do this for me. To keep me sane. To keep myself looking up and not down. To make my struggles less of a fight. To keep me from sinking to the bottom, feeling sorry for myself. So many people see just the good side of me. I do that on purpose. But you need to know that’s not all there is to me. No, I’m not ready to share yet what the struggles are although some may already know one or two. Just wanting you to know that I’m not always the happy person you see me as in public. I’m human.

God is God and I’m not. So glad for that truth. So I set my mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2) I don’t want to be like the one “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:25)

I strive to be the one whose “adornment is the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (My paraphrase of 1 Peter 3: 3-4) I do it for you. I do it for me.

My verse for this season, this year, is Hebrews 12:1:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

It’s a choice to lay aside those things but it’s a choice I must make daily. A discipline, if you please, so that I can run the race. And not just run that race but to win!

We’ll run together. You and me. Who’s game?

p.s. check out the link above: “looking up”

run the race

Why I want to live a marginal life…it’s not what you think.

Marginal: adj. 1) life on the edge 2) minimal 3) just barely adequate or within a lower limit (2&3 from TheFreeDictionary.com) 4) social disadvantage and relegation to the fringe of society (Wikipedia) 5) at the outer or lower limits; minimal for requirements; almost insufficient. (dictionary.com)

It has a very negative connotation in all these previous definitions. But let me give you another couple of definitions from Webster’s Dictionary.

Marginal: adj. 1) written or printed in the margin of a page; 2) of, relating to, or situated at a margin or border.

Living life on the fringe of society or being a minimalist is NOT what I am talking about when I say I want to live a marginal life.

Last January as I began my 3rd year reading the Bible through chronologically, I decided to read a real in-hand Bible instead of through the app on my phone as I’d done the two previous years. (Don’t get me wrong—the YouVersion app was great and it kept me accountable.) Along with my Bible I kept a daily journal where I would write verses that spoke to me that I wanted to remember or write my thoughts and questions about a particular passage. Sometimes it involved further research on a name, place, or word. I found myself underlining passages and writing in the margins of my Bible especially in Psalms and all throughout the Old Testament. Sometimes it was rephrasing a verse or getting to the bare bones of the passage. For instance, Psalm 63:1-8 (NKJV) says

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

In my margins: “Seek Him early, praise Him constantly, follow Him closely.” Things I need to be doing.

Psalm 106: 3 says

Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!

In my margin: “righteousness is not a state of being—it’s something you do.”

Aussie Dave (Dave Adamson), a pastor I follow on Instagram and YouTube gives us the Hebrew definition of righteousness as “charity—to help people in need. Chasing after opportunities to serve people.” Another thing I need to be doing.

And later on in Psalm 106:15, the psalmist is talking about how the Israelites asked for meat in the wilderness – “And He gave them their request but sent leanness into their soul.” Margin: “I don’t want a lean soul.”

1 Kings 8:30 is in the middle of King Solomon’s Prayer of dedication of the temple, “And when You hear, forgive.” Verses 38&40, margin: “When each one knows the plague of his own heart…”—“You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men.” Such a powerful prayer.

This is where I want to live—where scripture comes alive for me and I can ask the hard questions and the not-so-hard questions written in the margins of my life. To learn from what others did or did not do or experience; to know where I came from and know the end of the story and how it all goes together and that restoration of things that were lost will come.

And live in knowing that the lawless one will be consumed with the same breath from His mouth that gives us life.

To live in awe and wonder of it all.

That’s where I want to live.

Will you come to?