Find Your Focus

What does God Have for me?  We struggle to find the answer to this question and then feel guilty when we hear others say things like, “God told me….”  or “God put me here…..” or “I know God wants me to do this……”  Do you feel like God is talking to everyone but you?

We are living in a world that has so many distractions, so much negativity, so much hate,  so much information, television – with hundreds of channel options, social media, so much “noise” that it is very difficult to hear God.  He doesn’t seem to be up there competing with it all.  Why doesn’t He “speak up?”

Romans 15: 5-6 ESV    May the God of endurance and encouragement  grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Find you focus.  Concentrate on Him whenever you feel overwhelmed by all of the distractions.  When we focus on the negativity, violent language, name-calling, violence, it becomes more and more difficult to be at peace, and to hear Him.  Practice keeping your attention on the things you know will glorify him.  We won’t always be successful.  But if we practice not allowing all of these distractions steal our peace and joy,  it will help.

Revelations 3:20 NIV     Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.

Here I am!  Wow!  How cool is that?   And we are so distracted, so busy, so barraged with negativity, we can’t hear Him knocking.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to find ways to avoid the negativity and distractions.  Help us listen for Your knocking.  We know You are standing at the door, but sometimes all of this information is so tempting and so easy to tap into.  Help us remember…….

Philippians 4:8 ESV     Finally, brothers and sisters,  whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

FindYourFocusTitleSlideSQ-450x450

Advertisements

Fasting from Negativity

When I began the 21-day fast this year, I was overcome with the hatred and negativity I was seeing on the news, on social media and even from some of the people with whom I have been meeting.  Negativity can sweep though organizations, through workplaces, through neighborhoods and, yes, even through churches like a virus.  I know there are so many times I have participated in negativity and been caught up in it.   I am somewhat of a critical thinker.  I am always looking for a better way to do things.  If I am in a meeting, I am always a ready participant when  we are discussing “what went wrong”, but when we are discussing “wins”, not so much.   So just how was I going to fast from negativity?  Do I isolate myself from everyone and sing happy songs?  Not likely.

Our Bible reading for today is Psalms Chapters 3 & 4.  3:3 But you. Lord are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I realized my goal in the fast was to be more cognizant about what I was saying to people. I needed to put a lid on my negative thoughts.  I had to make myself more aware of the negativity I may be thinking or saying and immediately ask God to help me, shield me and lift my head high.  It was and is difficult.  I know I failed miserably so many times.  But each time I caught myself thinking negative thoughts and went to God, guess what?  It brought me just a little closer to Him.  I began thinking of ways to encourage people and lift them up.  I approached 2 or 3 of the most negative, unhappy people in my neighborhood and tried to make them feel a little less sad.  Psalms 4:1:  Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress…….

So far this whole process has brought me so much peace.  I was skeptical, but can tell you, depending on God when you are facing something new or difficult works.  I truly believe and know He wants us to depend on him, yes even though there are some of us who like to always be in control.   Psalms 4:8:  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

You Never Know……..

Revelation 3:20:  20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

On Thursday of this week I went to the Fair Trade Cafe at 6:00 am as I always do on Thursdays to make the coffee, do the preparations and open.  When I was finished  I unlocked the door at 7am.  I was thinking about why I was there when it seemed there were so many other tasks I had on my plate.

In came a man who looked very tired and wanted some coffee.  He was looking around and decided he wanted some oatmeal and a muffin.  We chatted while he was preparing his food and I found out he had just come from Bismark, ND.  He said he was a truck driver and travelled cross country often.   He told me that he was looking for a place to get coffee and someone directed him to our cafe. They told him it was run by a church.  He thought that was pretty neat.

“I think I would like to get close to God,” he said.  “I am alone so much and don’t have a chance  to ever go to church”.

I asked him if he knew about Jesus and that He died for our sins.  He said he did so I prayed with him and he smiled at me with tears in his eyes and was out the door, muffin and coffee in hand.

You never know when God is going to bring someone to you – when He is going to speak to people through you.   Be ready. Don’t miss it.  I believe this time of fasting and prayer can help us clear our thoughts and listen more closely to Him.  And pray for Gino, whom I will probably never see again. But I am praying God continues to show him ways to get to know Him.

I don’t have any doubts in my mind now why I was at the cafe that morning.  God was there waiting for me.

Message for Sisterhood

Recently I was asked to be a part of the message for the Sisterhood Spring Brunch.  The other speakers were my granddaughter, Cassidy and my daughter in law Holly.  We were to speak on what each one of our generations are going through, what we have to offer and what we need from each other.  I must say it was a little overwhelming following Cassidy, who is a worship leader, and Holly who is one of the best speakers ever.  Especially since it has been at least 15 years since I have done any public speaking at all.  But I muddled though:

What is it like to be the oldest in the family.   What is it like to be a matriarch?  Did I ever think I would be this old?  Most of you know I now go to the gym and lift weights.  Why?  Well for one thing, my son owns a gym – and I have been told it will make me feel better.  I would like feel as healthy as possible in my older years. But secretly you all gotta know that deep down in my flesh, I expect to start looking more and more like Jane Fonda instead of Maxine.  Ha!  Never gonna happen.  How silly.

Being older – It is difficult sometimes to feel useful in your family, in your ministries and in society in general when you become older.  My grandson Dillon and I had lunch not long ago and we were talking about feeling useful and listened to.   We agreed that older people and young people like him have one huge thing in common.  No one listens to us.

I have always tried to be this “hip” grandma, because I thought my grandkids would be more likely to want to be with me.  It was a losing battle.  Oh, when my older grandkids were little, I had no trouble being hip.  My granddaughter Chelsie was always sleeping over and telling me all her trials and dreams, My grandson Dakota and I would play cribbage for hours.  I worked with computers and kept up with most of the latest gadgets.  But every year it got harder and harder to compete with and keep up with the electronic age and social media.  So, although I have some knowledge of all of this, I really don’t even try.  It’s a different world. Instead I try to learn from the younger generations and listen to them.  And I have learned so much. I have learned volumes from my sons and from my daughter in laws. Dillon has taught me so much about the young people’s needs in the church and worship.  Cassidy has shown me such maturity and insight into worship and her ideas of ministry.  All of my grandkids have been such lights to me.  And after hearing Cassidy speak, and after seeing what the younger people are willing to do with ministries, you gotta know that even though we hear all kinds of scary things that are happening in our world – it’s all gonna be okay.  We are going to be just fine.  How can we want to do anything but encourage them, give them some space and some leadership room.  Let them step up to the plate.

I think the most important thing an older person can do in their families, in their churches, in their dealings with others is to listen.  Most people don’t want advice, but they want someone they can trust to listen to them.  In today’s world, no one has much time for listening.  But we older people do……..so this becomes a huge gift that we have to offer.   If you ask my advice or opinion about something, I will usually be happy to give it.  But you need to ask. But I am always willing to listen.

I can remember when I was young I didn’t have a grandma I could talk to, and my mother was very reluctant to talk about anything personal or touchy.  But I had an Auntie Mil.. She was my dad’s older sister and never married.  A woman who was independent, self sufficient, a Christian, and who had a heart of gold.  From the time I was very little all the way up to the day she died, she was the person whom I could talk to about anything.  She was the best listener ever.  She gave her opinion when I asked for it.  I trusted her with my inner most problems and issues.  She was always there.   I would love to be like her in this respect.

So my needs as part of the older generation, are to be included whenever possible, not to be forgotten in your busy lives – be asked for my opinion when you really want it, and to be given grace when I can’t hear you very well – you know they say it is always safe to tell an old person something.  They either can’t hear you or will forget it very quickly.

I can tell you that I feel this last 10 years have been the most beautiful years of my life.  I have gotten to be close to at least one of my sons and his family and I have learned a little more about grace and love and peace every year I have been here.  I no longer have the all of the pressure, anxieties and crazy busy stuff  that  I had when I was working – and if I do, it is of my own making.    This alone can be a beautiful thing.  And now more than ever before I can truly follow the verse “Abide in my and I will abide in you.”

Can You Hear Me Now?

In the past couple of years I have been experiencing progressive hearing loss. I am not unfamiliar with the issues of being deaf, as my grandparents were both deaf and raised my mother and her two sisters. Until I experienced hearing loss first hand,however, I never realized what a life-changing experience it is. People ask me questions or say hello and think I am ignoring them, when in fact, I just didn’t hear them. I often times miss out on so many conversations or presentations because of the simple fact that I cannot hear them. I have gotten hearing aids, and they definitely help with hearing people one-on-one and hearing in small groups. I no longer have to have the television on so loud that the neighbor down the street has to listen to it. And I can actually hear my doorbell ring, But hearing aids also make it almost impossible to stand being in a large group of people for any length of time. They pick up background noises and every single conversation so you can’t hear the person talking to you. Those people often get annoyed when you can’t hear them. “Turn up your hearing aids!” I am trying to learn how to “hear” people without actually hearing their words. I am concentrating more on their expressions, trying to read their lips and actually saying “what” even though they get annoyed. lol
Fortunately, we don’t need our ears to hear God. He finds ways to communicate with us that are so very perfect. So when we say, “listen for Him to speak to you” or “listen for what His dream is for you” it doesn’t matter if our ears aren’t functioning too well. What matters is, are we listening with our hearts, watching what He is doing around us, and understanding His language. I know he has a dream for all of us,
I have a song that comes to mind each and every time I get frustrated and too busy and it has helped bring me back to where I want to be:

“I want to sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hand
Lay back against You and breath and feel Your heart beat.
Your love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand
I melt in Your peace, it’s overwhelming.”

Draw closer to Jesus, lean against His strength, and He will show you where He wants you to follow.

James 4:8