Focus, II

Setting aside time to concentrate on a situation is sometimes difficult for me. If I am in a shared space it makes it even harder because I can get distracted with the other person’s presence and movement. Eliminating any extras is very helpful but not very realistic. We all share space with different people all the time. But I have found the quiet of the early morning is a great space for me and not often shared.

Having a list of what needs to be accomplished also helps my focus. I can easily get caught up in a task, which leads to another thing, and those are all fine items to tackle, but if I don’t have a list, the essential things might not get addressed. A list can help me prioritize the day.

Prayer can be a wonderful opportunity for focus. Talking through things with God helps me see what issues in my life are coming to the forefront or are hanging out in my peripheral vision but bothering me. What are those dreams or fears? When I put words to them it helps them go from ideas and feelings swirling around my head to something I put a spotlight on as I try to explain them. It is important to sort through them and allowing them to come into view aids that process.

When things are out of focus I seem unable to accomplish much anyway so it is important for me to figure out what is going on. If I focus too much on the past, I will not see where I am going. But if the past is causing me issues, I need to take some time to examine it. Even though the Bible is a really old book, it is amazing that God’s Word can offer so much insight for my life today!

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:12-14, NIV]

May God give you eyes to see those things that need your focus today!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: EFFORT

Bones

Have you ever broken a bone? If so, does it ache when the weather is changing? Do you have any lasting effects of your broken bone?

On a good day, our bones are tucked inside our bodies. They are protected but give strength and form to our bodies. If you have all your bones and they all work fine, be thankful. While we might think nothing of it, there are those who are adjusting to life because on ongoing issues with their bones.

On a difficult day our bones might ache;

they might be exposed;

they might be weakening;

they might need healing;

they may have been removed.

Working through chronic pain, injury, disability, the healing process, and the loss of bone or limbs takes a lot of energy and focus. Our bones are such an integral part of us and it is easy to see why God used it to help us make connections. Bones are a common experience even though ailments related to bones may not be.

Have you felt negative things “in your bones”? Have you felt things so deeply it felt like it was in the marrow of your bones? I love how God talks about bones in His Word!

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. [Proverbs 14:30, NIV]

Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. [Proverbs 15:30, NIV]

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. [Proverbs 16:24, NIV]

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. [Proverbs 17:22, NIV]

As your ears and eyes soak up Scripture, it will permeate your thought life and be visible in how you interact with others. It will deepen your understanding of His love for you and all the people on this planet! God’s Word changes hearts and lives. It digs deep and roots out the yuck that we have buried in our bones.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. [Hebrews 4:12-14, NIV]

God’s blessings as you surround your eyes and heart with His Word!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TOOLS

Meditation

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19:14, NIV]

We do a lot of traveling for our business. I love the people we meet but I also love the time my mind can wander around and explore different ideas. Of course, one thought leads to another and pretty soon I am way down a path and I couldn’t even tell you how I got there. If I don’t have a “plan” for my thinking time I usually wander, and that isn’t always a bad thing.

But, when I pray and meditate, I like to have a focal point. For prayer, I usually use a word or phrase and talk it over with God. Sometimes that word or phrase conjures up some interesting reflections and reactions from me but, more importantly, I want to learn what His thoughts are on it. When I meditate, I like to mull over Scripture – particularly an area where I need God’s counsel. Sometimes it is just a couple of verses of the Bible but other times it is a chapter in a particular book of the Bible. It’s also a good time for me to use music, particularly soothing music without words. But but hymns and other spiritual songs that fill my mind with God’s Word and Truth are a great way for me to step away from myself and explore the deeper things.

Spending time in prayer and meditation gives me the opportunity to pause and be refreshed with healthy thoughts and concepts. It helps me to uncover those things I might wish to keep covered. By letting God into my thought life I am allowing His truth to correct me and guide me and encourage me.

How do you like to ponder God’s Word?

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers. [Psalm 1:1-3, NIV]

May God bless you as you meditate on His Word!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: UPROOTED

Contemplation

The Lenten season is a great time to be introspective and examine the life I lead. Am I practicing what I believe? Am I being regularly infused by God’s Word and evaluating my thoughts, words, and deeds against that? Am I more concerned about what I think others should be doing that I am not spending enough time making sure I am in a spiritually healthy place?

When I travel I have a lot of time to think, reflect, plan, ponder, and pray.  I love the opportunity to get out of my space, observe people, and the changing scenery around me. I might see mountains, an ocean, streams, lush vegetation, and desolate deserts. And all these different views have my mind bouncing all over the place. As my mind moves from person to person and situation to situation the process of praying helps me pull all my thoughts together (even if they are a jumbled mess) and give them to God.

It is important for me to slow down from the busy-ness of these days and reflect. When I drive, I just pray but when I am a passenger, I always benefit from writing things down – it allows me to be reminded of things I have worked out — because sometimes I need reminded that I already worked through a situation. But, mainly, slowing down and spending time in prayer helps me to get out of my own situation and have a conversation with the One who knows me and knows the ones I care about.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. [Romans 12:11-13, NIV]

Blessings as you spend time contemplating during this Lenten season!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: HOSPITALITY

Perspective

Where I have been can inform me about where I am going. Of course, it isn’t always a sure thing. And that is a good thing.

If I come from a place of pain and I don’t process it properly, I might look for and anticipate pain in all parts of my life. If I come from a place of safety and security, my discernment might not be developed enough to perceive danger. Of course, personality tendencies play a role here, too. We all know a Tigger-type personality. And, we all know those who view the world like Eeyore does.

Oh bother!

Focusing on the negatives typically produces more negative. Experiences, both good and bad, leave their marks on us. How we process them is important. Those negative situations in my life can trip me up so keeping my mind and heart focused on God’s Word helps me be oriented!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. [Philippians 4:8-9, NIV]

This will be a two-part PrayerPoint because we will be at the Grand Canyon later on today and I am sure it will provide some further insight.

PrayerPrompt: PERSPECTIVE

Forgiveness

I opened my mouth the other day and something really ungracious came out. I realized it immediately and reminded myself, also out loud, that God’s grace for me has been unending. I, too, have behaved in ugly, hurtful ways and yet, He loves me. I need to extend that grace.

Sometimes my memory isn’t the greatest, but when I have been wronged, my memory is amazing. I can remember the circumstances, the emotions, the damage. It can put me on a sad path. Surely others I have known over my lifetime can remember my hurtful and selfish behavior that has impacted them. Maybe I am even someone they need to re-forgive on a regular basis.

In my ungracious moments, I need to remember that I took this situation to God and I gave it to Him. I asked him to help me see that person as broken, in need of forgiveness, and to help me not get stuck in a cycle of anger and resentment over the circumstances. I may have already walked through the process of forgiveness but some vestiges have hung on. I need to loosen the grip of my justification for my anger and forgive again.

The trouble is, these are some of the things I don’t seem to forget.  Remembering and walking through the steps of forgiveness and God’s provision in the process help me remember that I, too, have hurt others deeply and it keeps me honest about my own need for forgiveness. Every day I need to be reminded that I need of a Savior washed clean by Baptismal grace.

I am not proud of my ugly moments, but they serve a greater purpose. My mouth speaks what my heart is holding onto. And it is important for God’s Word to shine in my heart and change me, and my responses.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. [Matthew 12:34b-35, NIV]

An interesting thought from author Seth Godin today:

You made my day

When your day gets made, how long does it last? A made day–is that different from a normal day?

Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a made hour or, if we’re going to be quite truthful, a made minute.

When something bad happens, we can revisit the humiliation and anxiety for months. But the good stuff, if we don’t work at it, can pass right by.

We get what we remember, and we remember what we focus on.

May God bless you as you come to terms with your own sin and forgiveness as you process unforgiveness you may harbor against others!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TIME

Fear

Fear can make us do some crazy things. And sometimes we pass our fearfulness onto others.

A long time ago, I had a friend who was a mom of five kids. When she was a young girl, some mean boy threw a cat on her and the cat (who was afraid itself) scratched her terribly. From that day on, she feared cats. And her five kids also feared cats because they had heard the story and they knew their mom was afraid of cats. Of course, what happened to her was scary and painful and very impressionable because she was young. But she never processed this fear, even as she was older. And she passed it on to her kids.

Scripture talks a lot about fear. God knows we fight it on a regular basis. Sometimes fear can be “catchy” and shared with others, unsuspectingly. But fears can also be paralyzing. Working through fears is important. I spent a lot of time “fearing” that Don, my husband, would die young – his father did and my father did. I could still function throughout the day but when I got to thinking, I did stress and worry about it. For nothing. It was a story I told myself based on what might seem logical (family history) and wrapped up in a lot of emotion.

What are you afraid of?

If we have a debilitating fear, it is a good thing to visit with a healthy counselor and explore it. But the first thing we need is a bit of awareness. Self reflection can help shed some light on what fears we have, if any, and maybe a little bit about the why behind it. Writing some things down might also help break the “spell” of a fear. I have also talked to a trusted friend and ask for their thoughts. In addition to these things, I pray for God to calm my spirit and my heart. He knows what leads me to a place of fearfulness but focusing on His truths and provisions help me to not get stuck there.

17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. [1 John 4:17-19 NIV]

Blessings to you as you explore “fears”.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: SERVING OTHERS