Tag Archives: focus

A New Calendar

11 Jan

I lift up my eyes to You,
to You whose throne is in heaven…
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till He shows us His mercy.
Psalm 123:1-2

 

Cole and Lillianne

Cole and Lillianne

Halloween - cowboys!

Halloween – cowboys!

One of my favorite gifts this year is my 2013 calendar.  Its pages are unique and unlike any other calendar in the world…it was custom designed just for me!  With the flip of each new month, another special picture is highlighted to view, reminding me of many loves, special occasions, and God’s hand-picked blessings that are mine.  Then with the addition of my own personal notes on specific dates, the New Year is off and running…ready or not!

In anticipation of the New Year, I posted a status on Facebook asking my friends for suggestions of something new to add to my daily devotional time.  How fun to read the variety of responses, including 14 different recommendations and a promised gift in the mail!  Sure enough, a few days later I received a package from my dear friend in Long Pine, Nebraska, with a copy of one of her favorite devotionals inside, Every Day Light by Selwyn Hughes.  The reoccurring message in the first few days of this book is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

The green one-eyed Monster

The green one-eyed Monster

I often write about God’s very personal and intimate communication with me … well, He can also be very humorous.  Last Saturday, our kids in Baltimore moved from their townhouse of 2 ½ years to a much larger home that they are purchasing.   Mimi and Papaw spent the entire weekend with them, helping where needed.  After two marathon days of cleaning, packing, and the actual move of house and home, we all fell into bed late Saturday night.  Tim and I always take up residence on the futon, which is located in the basement / play room, this time next to a bin of toys that the previous owners left behind.  Sometime in the dark wee hours of Sunday morning, a man’s voice broke into our sound sleep and very clearly said, “Whatcha looking at?  I’ve got my eye on you!”  Jumping out of bed, not having a clue where I was or what I was doing, I began to realize our surprise visitor was coming from the bunch of toys next to our bed.  By the light of my iphone, I began to dig through the playthings until I found the culprit, who must’ve settled in his resting place just enough to apply pressure to his “PUSH HERE” arm which makes him talk.  When Tim and I retrieved our unwanted guest, we laughed as we pushed his arm repeatedly to hear all of the silly things he can say.  I looked for the on-off switch, put him back with his friends, and crawled back into bed.  A few days later after I opened my package from Nebraska and began to read the devotional, I thought of our green one-eyed monster friend who said …  “whatcha looking at?  I’ve got my eye on you!”

One of my most loved Bible stories is in 2 Chronicles 20  ~  King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah were facing large armies which they could not possibly destroy.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard  and said:

 

    “O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.  O our God, did You not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?  They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for Your Name, saying,  `If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us.’

 

 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.  See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession You gave us as an inheritance.  O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”


All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

 

Did you read that?!  All the men with their wives!  And children and little ones!!  All of their lives were at stake here … even the little ones!

 

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.


 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to You: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not Yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ “

 

Oh!  You must pick up your Bible and read the rest of the story!!  God does deliver them and does so without them even having to fight!

What’s going on in your life today that has you afraid and discouraged?  What big army is lurking in the distance, ready to crush and destroy you?   I know several people who have recently lost loved ones while others are quickly losing their battles or are suffering with long-term illnesses.  The unstable economy leaves us all with realistic questions of concern.  The escalating  violence in our communities put us all on guard for the safety of our families. Everywhere we look, there are problems, heartaches, and concerns.

As written by Selwyn Hughes in Every Day Light,

“The reason our problems often seem overwhelming is because we allow the things of time to loom larger in our gaze than the things of eternity. The tiniest of coins, when held close to the eye, can blot out the sun. Let’s begin to lay hold on the truth that life works better when we know how to glance at things but gaze at God. Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly.”

In the beginning of this New Year, in the midst of all the legitimate concerns of life and death … Above all, won’t you join with me in keeping our gaze Heavenward?  Today is January 11th.  In just a few tomorrows, the calendar will flip to February, and then on to March. Before I know it, my calendar will have the Halloween Cowboys up, quickly closing in on Christmas again.  Time does not miss a step on our journey called life.  Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the One who never disappoints and will be with us all to the end.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

Until next time,
Debbie

 

 

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Distractions

18 Apr

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith
Hebrews 12:2

They are everywhere.  I find them lurking around the corner or out in plain view.  Some are quite intentional and are by choice, while others catch me off guard.  Seasons seem to always attract them, as do holidays and special occasions.  I can almost always count on time crunches to reveal them, but then so does a lazy summer afternoon or a cold blustery winter evening.  The sight of something familiar will trigger their appearance, or a glance at the calendar and a specific date or a particular time on the clock will take me to another place and another time.  They can bring a peaceful diversion or a stormy interruption to a calm soul.  They can be quite untimely, causing disappointment to my expectations.  Some lend to our sanity while others seem to steal any good sense we might have left.  They can brighten a dark situation or leave a cloud that hovers over a sunny day.  Sometimes they get very loud and noisy, drawing attention away from the immediate, while other times their silence is so deafening that it pierces the quiet. Some are good.  Some are bad.  Some are a blessing.  Some may lead down the wrong path.  No matter where you and I are, there are distractions.

Cole's haircut

Just recently, Cole was spending the weekend at our house and needed a haircut.  We got out the trimmers, the little stool, a bath towel, and a clothes pin.  Once he was settled and ready to go, Papaw turned on the clippers.   Hair began to fall on the towel that was draped over Cole’s little body, with a few wispy pieces tickling his face along the way.  He started to get antsy, so I grabbed my iPhone for a much-needed distraction.   Knowing that our grandson loves to watch himself on videos, I quickly flipped the switch and began to catch his little antics as he sat there squirming.  Mimi got an idea and asked Cole to sing his ABCs … then to count.  This ploy was a great success as his busy little mind was diverted away from having to sit still and instead to enjoy singing and performing for the video camera.  Needless to say, he has pulled up this clip and sang along with himself many times.  You also can click below and sing and count along with Cole.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QMbQBpbkeI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

An ice-cold can of Cherry Coke instead of a healthy bottle of water.  Family pictures scrolling across the computer’s screen saver.  A text message alert on the cell phone disrupting the present moment.  An afternoon of playing in the crisp fallen autumn leaves instead of raking them up and disposing of them.  Making mental lists of things to do the following day instead of focusing on the disagreeable at hand.  Going to the grocery store when hungry and buying far more than what is on the list.  Santa bringing gifts or an Easter bunny hopping in to leave baskets filled with tasty treats and little trinkets … and absolutely no emphasis on Jesus, His birth, death, and resurrection.  Reciting the alphabet and counting to 20 instead of squirming during a haircut.

We can all come up with our own list of distractions, and that list would not only be endless, but different from person to person.  The one common denominator between your list and mine is our focus.  Our focus determines the level of interruption that is allowed in our thought processes in order to truly define the distraction and its purpose.  Some things we only see out of the corner of our eye so they never become the distraction that is potentially possible … good or bad.  This is because our focus is already set and committed.  Obviously, distractions take place a gazillion times every day … but won’t you join me in keeping focus where focus belongs when it involves the important things of life?  Whether the distraction is a blessing or a hindrance … Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Until next time,
Debbie

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of a spring tree ~ April 2012

 

Tractor

27 Oct

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose
mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.
Isaiah 26:3 

 

The tractor that pulled the wagon to the pumpkin patch

Not quite sure how it happened, but our little grandson loves tractors.  Perhaps it was the John Deere tractor book that sat among all the other children’s books…a tractor tire at each corner so it could roll around on the shelf.  Maybe it was because his Grandpa Arndt took him for rides around their property on their lawn mower tractor, or … just because.  For whatever reason, Cole loves tractors.

Cole really enjoys anything that has wheels, moves, and makes noise.  He becomes quite animated with the various sounds that vehicles make and he is pretty good at differentiating between them all.  Our home sits along a very busy road and he will always respond when he hears something loud that goes down the street.  His eyes will get big, he’ll sort of gasp with excitement, and then make the appropriate noise that matches what he heard. His favorites are motorcycles, loud trucks or cars, and fire trucks.  He loves to stand at the window in our bedroom that faces the busy road and watch the traffic as it comes and goes.  Excited bounces up and down, gasps of delight, motor noises from his cute little lips, and fingers constantly pointing … all the while saying CAR, TRACTOR  ~  with an occasional ‘HOOO  HOOO’ when he thinks he sees a dog over at the neighbor’s house. 

Cole's favorite toy tractor at Grami's house

Cole has a lot of toys and he plays with a great variety of things.  He loves music, so if a particular toy will sing for him, he’ll twist the knob, push the handle, or pull the string that is required to hear the melody.  He has monkeys, tools, balls, and other little kid toys, but if you were to set it all out on display and let him go pick his favorite, it would be a tractor.  He has his tractors at his house and he has his tractors at Grami’s house.  Both grandpas have yard tractors, and he always gets to take rides with them … I wonder why it seems that he loves THESE guys so??  

Cole enjoys a lot of things, but he most certainly has one focus.  A tractor brings a smile all the way from Cole’s heart.  I’ve thought a lot about this during the past several weeks we have been able to get to know the personality of this little guy and to enjoy his antics.  What is my focus?   What is yours?

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 
Colossians 3:2

 

Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
 For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

 

Life is busy for all of us.  There’s always work to be done, bills to be paid, places to go, and things to do.   But dare we get so caught up in the duties that demand our attention that we fail to truly focus on why we are able to even take our next breath.  God our Creator desires the TRACTOR in our life to be Him.  He loves us.  In the midst of our busyness, may we fix our eyes, our thoughts, and our hearts on Jesus.  Just like Cole, may Jesus be our last thought as we fall asleep and be our first thought when we awake. 

 

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
 and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
 so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

 

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling,
fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Hebrews 3:1

 

My prayer is that as this little 19 month old boy continues to grow up and learn more and more about tractors, ABCs, and life, that we as grandparents will partner with this young family in teaching Cole about the love of Jesus. 

 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;
 tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,
 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD
 swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Deuteronomy  11:18-21

 

Won’t you join me in allowing the TRACTOR of our lives to be Jesus?

Till next time,
Debbie