Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Am I A.D.D. or just A.W.D.

* Repost from 2009...

Today in worship, I became acutely aware of God's presence and I thought about how often I go through my days wishing I could sense His presence more. That's when I started thinking about how A.D.D. I tend to be and decided that in spiritual matters, perhaps I suffer a bit from A.W.D. - Attention to the World Disorder.

Since I am a teacher, I am well aware of how difficult it can be for a child who has A.D.D. to focus on what is important in the classroom. An overload of stimulus makes their brains take a detour from what they should be concentrating on to just about everything else. They often become frustrated and act out...or they withdraw from the very things that could help them. I heard the lead singer from Casting Crowns say he suffered from dyslexia and ADD which meant it was hard for him to read well and if he somehow managed to read well, his ADD still messed things up. I wonder at times if I am not undiagnosed ADD myself. I find I am easily distracted from what I need to get done, but over the years I have learned techniques to deal with my "random thoughts".....such as using them to write a blog. :)

Back to today's random thought. As I contemplated the fact that God is always with us, but somehow we don't sense it, our pastor began to talk about the very same thing! I was so excited I wanted to raise my hand and say, "I was just thinking about that!" To quote our pastor, "It's wonderful to know God is everywhere, but being in a place where you are AWARE of his presence is a whole other thing. When we focus, we become less aware of our surroundings and more aware of God." Yep, there it is. We are all a little A.W.D. 

A.W.D. is being ADD when it comes to God. Instead of being able to focus on Him, we are so easily distracted by the things of the world. We have allowed the things that are not eternal, things of this world, take our focus off of God....and we start to sink under the weight of it all.

The Bible is full of stories where man got his focus off God and onto the things of the world with disastrous results. One of the most evident was when Peter stepped out of the boat and tried to walk toward Jesus. He did just fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but the moment he lost focus and started looking at the waves (the things of this world) he started to sink. 

It happened to others as well. Different things pulled their focus from God...sometimes they were problems, sometimes they were things we'd think of as blessings, but once they lost focus - their troubles really began!

To paraphrase today's sermon, when our focus is right, we sense His presence and with that we find Purpose, Power, Protection, and Provision. With these come the greatest benefit - Peace. The key is to FOCUS!!!

I tell my son all the time...Focus Levi, focus! He's a lot like me, easily distracted by the shiny and new, or overly occupied with the one little thing that seems wrong. Once our focus is off, it's really tough to get us back to where we need to be. We're a little like the dog on the movie "UP" who could barely finish a sentence if a squirrel ran past within a hundred yards of him. Before you know it, we're off chasing something that is irrelvant in regards to what we're supposed to be doing! Unfortunately it doesn't take much to shift our focus from Sunday morning worship when we felt God's presence, to a place where all we can see are the things and problems of this world.

Yep, I admit it. I have A.W.D. but the good news is, G.O.D. is much bigger than any other letters of the alphabet combined! He is patient and willing to help me focus on Him. His GOODNESS OVERCOMES DISTRACTIONS....(G.O.D.)

When I wonder why I don't sense His presence, I can check to see, have I just lost focus. Am I seeking Him in the every day of my life? In His presence there is fullness of joy!(Psalm 16:11) If I'm not sensing His presence, I'm not experiencing true joy! It doesn't mean that life will suddenly become a big picnic, but it does mean that nothing the world uses to distract me can separate me from Him or His joy if I will keep my focus right....if I'll keep my focus on God.

Psalm 51 gives us a prayer that we can use to help us "re-focus". "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And renew a right spirit within me.

I don't mind being a little A.D.D., but I surely don't want to have A.W.D. As the old song says: Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

He is with might just suffer from A.W.D. Take time to focus today. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A battle of the mind...

* I needed to be reminded of this today...repost from 2009.

Today was a beautiful morning in South Mississippi and a great day for a race. That's what I should have been thinking, but truthfully I just wanted to pull the covers back over my head and get a couple hours more sleep. Still, I got up because I had promised friends I would be there to support a good cause. 

When the run began, I found my usual place in the back. I had no illusions that I would have a great race...I simply wanted to finish. The whistle blew for us to begin and I took off at a fairly slow pace. This would be the first time I'd run in weeks and I didn't even have time to warm up...guess I'd just consider my first mile the "warm-up."

I was surprised at how good those first few steps began to feel. I had a bit more "pick up" in my feet than I thought I'd have and even though the race began with a slight incline, I quickened my pace just a bit. When I finally allowed myself to check my distance, I'd covered half a mile. Not bad. I just might be able to pull out a decent run after all.

It was at the one mile mark that the random thought hit me. I had just had an "argument" with myself about whether I should stop and walk or keep running, and I realized, it wasn't that I was out of breath or in pain. I was tired, but not to the point of exhaustion. If I stopped running and walked, it was because I'd lost the battle in my mind. 

I started thinking about "battles" we fight in other areas of our lives and it occurred to me that most of them are won or lost in the mind. It is in our mind that we either quit or endure.

There is a verse in Titus that ties in with this and it caught my attention. It is Titus 2:2:"Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance." I never really thought about the fact that it is the older ones among us who need to be reminded to endure. Perhaps it is because we have convinced ourselves that since we are older, we should have an excuse to tire more stop before the race is done. For some, it is even an excuse to not begin the race at all. Think about how many times you have heard, "I'm too old for this." Just because we are older does not mean that we should no longer endure. Romans 5:4 says: "For everything that is written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." When we look to the scriptures we can find that encouragement that helps us win the battle of the mind.

Caleb was 80 when they entered the promised land. When it came time to divide out the land, he asked for the hill country! That would be the most difficult to settle, but he was ready for whatever challenges might come. Caleb had long ago won the battle of the mind. When he went in to check out the promised land, he believed not what his eyes saw, but what God had said. He didn't worry that the promise had "expired" like some out of date coupon. He did not consider his age in whether or not God could do what He had promised. It wasn't even a factor. God had promised it, and that was enough.

I finished the race today, a bit slower than I would have liked, but I finished it all the same. I can't say I completely won the battle of my mind, but hopefully I learned a few things along the way. It is time to turn more to the scriptures to find the encouragement that I need to endure...not so much in races, but in the spiritual battles I face. If I am following the promises of God, then He will be faithful...the question is, will I endure? This is a battle of the mind that I want to win.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

When life gets hard...

Sometimes life just gets plain hard. You don't understand. 

Yesterday I reposted on Facebook a blog I had written years ago about being tired. (A different kind of tired...) and I had no idea how appropriate it would be for that day.

It was just a day of....disappointment. 

We all have those days. Life just doesn't seem to be going according to our plan. (Does it ever?) Or perhaps it IS going according to our plan, but the dreams that looked so shiny from the outside now seem a little less "perfect" now that we are living them. 

Perhaps you have had one of those days recently and you know what I mean. Those days are hard when they happen to us, but when they happen to our children - well, that is an ache that goes deep. It's an ache that just weighs on your heart like a lead blanket. You want to kick it off like a heavy quilt, but you have no idea how.

Just this week I'd been having a conversation with a friend about a disappointment her son was facing. I reminded her of the promises God has given us - that He uses all things for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. I reminded her that God loves her son more than she does, which to a mom seems to be an impossible statement. I even found a familiar quote that spoke to me: "God has a plan for you that's if it's not good yet, He's not finished." The cake is still baking, the picture is still developing, the quilt is still being sewn..... He's not finished yet.

Then I think of times when I need to call someone and ask them to repeat my own words back to me. 

I think of those nights whenI lay awake underneath that "lead blanket" and pray, asking God to please show me how to help my child deal with "life" that doesn't always go the way we thought it would. How could I help them see that God truly does work all things for our good?

I have to admit, I had to examine my own life and things that were a little difficult...make that, things that were HARD! How do I get my heart to believe that God will work those hard things not only for His glory but for my GOOD? How could I look at what lay in front of me as a blessing? How could I thank God in all things, apart from simply an act of will? I'm a little older (make that a LOT older) than my children and even I have a hard time doing this at times despite YEARS of experience seeing this to be true.

Then this morning, I had a verse come across my screen that gave me a way I could pray for my children (and myself.) A way I could help them see and understand that God is up to something that will eventually work out for them that is GOOD! 

2 Corinthians 2:16 - Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit. (Emphasis mine.)

There it is. I can pray that my children understand what is happening because THEY HAVE CHRIST'S SPIRIT in them. I can pray that Christ's spirit will greatly increase in them so that no matter what disappointment crosses their path in life, they can trust that God has got this. He has a plan for them that was written before their first moment of life, and it is a GOOD plan. 

Now I have something I CAN do. I won't lie and say it's easy - it's never easy seeing the hurt in your child's eyes...but I know that even in that, God is working to draw them closer to Him and the plan HE has for their life - that GOOD plan. He is teaching THEM the lessons He taught me through the years - that He can be trusted even with their dreams.

I love my babies - but God loves them even more. Thank you, Lord, for that and Your good, good plans even when life gets hard.

Footnote: After posting, I thought of something I saw just this week. A gecko was after a moth and the one he "wanted" got away...then shortly after another moth, a much BIGGER moth, settled right in front of this gecko. You can figure the rest. (Yes, I realize it wasn't so good for the moth, but still, it started me thinking.)

The gecko was on my mind that day and I remembered the verse about God seeing even a sparrow that falls. So here's my "adaptation" of that verse. "If God sees and cares for a tiny gecko, will He not also take care of you?"

John 15:15
I don’t call you servants any longer; servants don’t know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends.

Matthew 10:29-31The Voice (VOICE)

29 Look, if you sold a few sparrows, how much money would you get? A copper coin apiece, perhaps? And yet your Father in heaven knows when those small sparrows fall to the ground. 30-31 You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear.