Reality Reflection: making an effort

I don’t know if you’ve been following the presidential impeachment story at all, or if you’re only aware of it going on and trying to avoid the details, but it’s clear to everyone how much effort is being put into this and how much attention it’s being given. If you believe that the president has really done something worthy of being impeached, it’s important to make sure he is held accountable and here in this country we believe in due process, so all of the effort going into it makes sense. If you don’t think it’s worth all the effort or don’t think that he did anything wrong, you may feel that all of this is a huge waste of time and effort.

What I’ve really paid attention to is the amount of effort and attention being given this situation. As we’ve established if it’s all true then yes, it should be given attention and effort. But there are lots of other things in the world that much of the population has no idea about or doesn’t realize how serious it is or what the impact on our future could be. Thanks to the internet and number of mobile devices we’re able to spread the word much easier than before, but with the sheer amount of information shared each day, it’s very hard to get something to go viral or really alert many people to a situation.

On a much smaller scale, if we all invested the effort we put into following the impeachment proceedings or some other news-worthy situation into our lives and the challenges we face or things on our to-do list, could you imagine how much less stressed or frustrated we might be? Could you imagine how many good ideas would be created and implemented that could help solve some of the big problems people in the world are facing? Maybe for the first time we can remember in a long time, we might be confident about the state of our world and the relationships we have with the people we share it with, and the future we’re creating for our successors.

I encourage you to think about the effort you’re investing in different parts of your life and if your investments are really producing the results you desire, or if there are better ways for you to invest your time, energy and resources.

A Choice of Burdens

I read a quote recently that I think really lines up well with the Biblical passage of Matthew 11:28-30 but also sheds light on it. Let’s start with the Bible passage:

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””

It’s a very well-known passage, one that is repeated and turned to during times of stress, fear, confusion, challenge and weakness, maybe one you yourself have said or read recently.  It’s one that we turn to because Jesus is clearly saying that although there will be burdens in life He is here to help us with them. Which is where the quote I mentioned comes in:

“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” Lou Holtz

It’s very rare in life that we truly are out of option or that we have no choices. Typically we just can’t think of them or don’t like the ones that we can think of or see. But both the passage and the quote remind us to rethink that and be encouraged that the burden we bear doesn’t have to be the burden we see it as, and that there are options and hope, if only we would open our eyes.

Today I would encourage you to not only bring your current situations to God in prayer, but also take the time to really do your research and consider your options.  You’re only out of options and hope if you believe it is so or stop looking.  Maybe the one you’ve been avoiding is the answer.  Maybe it’s something you haven’t heard of before.  Maybe it’s something a friend has heard about and would be able to share with you if you share your burden with them.  Maybe today will be the day that brings hope back into your life.  But even if it isn’t, I know that God has everything under control and has a plan for everything, and He is here to carry your burdens with you.

Time to Save Time

This week we’re a little more sensitive about the topic of time because Daylight Savings time happened on Sunday, which means we lost an hour. I enjoy the extended daylight we’ve got now but as for everything else, I’m not a fan. It’s just confusing and extra work and even though we don’t have to as much work as we used to because most of our devices update themselves, it doesn’t mean our bodies are able to make the adjustment as easily.

Whether or not you care about the time change or if we’ll ever be able to get rid of it or not, time is a topic that’s often on our minds. So today I thought I’d share a few tips on managing your time and making the most of the time you do have.

Schedules: I love freedom as much as the next person, and as important as it is to be flexible, having a schedule can really help keep you on track and help you get stuff done. This is especially true when it comes to social media and email checking. For email, it’s rare that whatever message comes through is important enough to need to be dealt with immediately, more likely it’s something that can wait until your next scheduled check in. As far as social media, it’s impossible to keep up with everything that is shared or going on even if you were on social all day every day, there’s just too much happening, so it doesn’t make sense to push yourself into over checking.

Learn to say no: I get it, we don’t really like the guilt trip we sometimes get when we say no to someone or something, and sometimes we feel that we can’t say no. But when you don’t say no it may mean that you don’t really respect yourself and your time, you don’t really understand how long things take (or care), you don’t always commit to giving your best effort to each activity or person, or you feel you have to be in charge of everything. Saying no means you respect your time, other’s time, and are committed to giving your best to yourself and your family.

Purge: I like my stuff and my information as much as the next person, but there’s something satisfying about being able to get rid of something you don’t need or use anymore or doesn’t work. The same holds true for the emails we’re subscribed to and all other subscriptions we have (audio, music, TV, movies, boxes etc.). There’s no reason to pay for something or get updates about something if you’re really not using it and aren’t going to be in the future, and if you need it in the future you can always resubscribe.

Time is one of the most limited resources we each have, I encourage you to treat your time with respect and make the decisions that will help you get the most out of it.

Focus on Being a Blessing

This month one of the things we’re talking about is our focus.  Throughout a typical day we focus on tons of things from the car driving in front of ours to the person talking to us to the child we’re playfully chasing to the partner we love to the dinner we’re cooking.  There are lots of things that demand our attention and care, and that’s normal for many people today.  Part of our job as adults is to learn how to manage all those responsibilities and how to focus when we need to on what we need to.

Sometimes we also have to focus on the scary things in life or the sad things.  I know of several people who have passed away in the past few weeks, and many people around the US are dealing with loss of their belongings or livelihoods due to natural disasters.  It’s important to take time to process those fears, scary experiences and losses, they’re part of life.

But today I want to challenge you to do something different: focus on being a blessing.  This is something that everyone can do in hundreds of different ways.  From sharing a kind word to helping get something off a grocery store shelf to holding the door to sending a ‘just because’ gift or card to donating winter coats at the local food pantry or shelter.

It’s not necessarily a huge labor-intensive activity, doesn’t always require a lot of time, and doesn’t have to cost anything other.  All it takes is for you to be willing to focus your attention from yourself to others.  And not only does it mean that you’ may making someone else’s day, you can be blessed by being a blessing too!

How will you be a blessing today?

The Double Edged Sword of Focus

One of the keys to not only victories but living a fulfilling life is having focus. Would you say you’re a focused person some of the time, most of the time or very little of the time? As I was thinking about focus and victories today I was reminded that there are two sides to focus: we can have a strong focus on the right thing or the wrong thing. So focus can be a really good thing, and it can be really detrimental in your life and health and to the lives of others too.

On one side focus can help you move on from a disappointment because you can choose to direct your focus onto something else. Focus can also help you get a lot done and be really productive.  You can have a broad focus for a long time (getting healthy) or a very narrow and specific focus for a short time (), and with both you’ll get things done.  Using a narrow and specific focus can help to ease some of the pressure off of you if you’ve been stressing out over getting something done or have been procrastinating doing it because you can set a time limit for working on that activity or project and just do it for that set, limited period of time.

But on the other side, you can be stuck on focusing on something that’s hurting you or upsetting you. You can also be focused on hurting others or being mean and rude or just ignorant. Typically on the negative side of things focus is more of a choice or habit, but sometimes it sticks around just because you haven’t chosen to move your focus onto something else.  If it’s just sticking around it can feel like your mind is a hamster wheel and it just keeps returning to that hurt and stays thinking about it.  In these times it’s good to either talk it through with someone or to take a break and do something you really enjoy like reading, watching a TV show, watching dog/cat videos, playing video games, or crafting, just to name a few.  You may not think you have time for that activity right then, but it can be one of the best things for you because it will help break that cycle.

So today I encourage you to do a check of your focus throughout the day and make sure that you’re good with where your focus is and how focused you are at different points in time.  What are your focus challenges?


A Focus on the Season

October has arrived! Although autumn officially arrives in September, I always feel like October is really the start of autumn because that’s when we typically see the leaves change, the weather really gets cooler and stores are all selling autumn inspired foods and decorations, and people start thinking about Halloween and the other holidays that happen at the end of each year.

Sometimes it seems like autumn comes up on us slowly, that there’s a small number of trees in beautiful color and a couple stores have a pumpkin display and one TV channel is talking about holidays. This year that’s how I’ve been seeing it: that there’s one tree on one street and then I have to go miles before I see another in brilliant color. It kind of seems like it’s nature’s way of easing us into this change of seasons, a change that will ultimately lead to winter and likely snow. But it’s also God’s way of reminding us how important it is to be paying attention, and the rewards of doing so.

If I wasn’t aware of my surroundings as I was driving along and was only focused on the other drivers on the road I wouldn’t see those trees. If I wasn’t paying attention to what’s going on around me as I walk down the sidewalk past a store, I might miss a chance to open a door and help a mother with a stroller. If I wasn’t paying attention to everyone around me at the food store, I might miss out on the chance to get something off a top shelf for a senior citizen.

What is your focus on? Are you missing out on the little blessings God is sending your way? Are you missing out on opportunities to help other? All because you’re not focused on God’s plan for your life or the world around you?

“He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:21