Managing Distractions

I can’t believe Christmas is just two days away – well, Christmas Eve is tomorrow.  I have been sort of a Grinch at home this year – no decorations until last Sunday but I did get some shopping done.  Yes, I squirreled but what else is new, right?

Last Sunday at church,  the first hymn was “Hark the Harold Angels Sing”.  I know it is “herald” but my grandfather always said it was his song and yes, his name was Harold.  I knew then, it was going to be a service I needed to pay attention to.  As we moved through the holiday songs, I found my thoughts drifting to the things I wanted to get done, the people I was missing (Belinda not being home for Christmas) and then BAM!  The sermon was on “managing distractions”.  I knew this was just for me.

The brain fog from MS causes me to get distracted easily, memory is short or sometimes nonexistent and sometimes I find it hard to concentrate.  But the reality is, even without MS, many of us have difficulty managing distractions.  Think about how you or your kids do/did their homework.  Do they need the music or TV on leaving you wondering how they can possibly concentrate?  Or do they need silence?  These days, I need silence.  I get easily distracted but there was a time when I could have the TV on or music and actually remember what I was supposed to be doing.  Do deadlines cause you to focus more?  Is one of your tag lines, I work better under pressure?

#1 Identify Inevitable Distractions

Distractions are going to happen – they always do.  So why not expect them – if they come, you are ready but if they don’t you are ahead of the game.  I can remember when I was a work at home mom, distractions happened and I was never really ready for them.  The TV was too loud or a million questions came just as I was working on a grant.  Then there was the “I’m hungry” cry.  Yes, I miss those days but the distractions are different now.  I start a project or work in the office and thoughts of 10 other things which need to be done in the house enters my head.  Before long, I have squirreled into the “this will only take a minute” project being completed distracted from the work I was doing.  I’m sure I am not alone especially during this busy holiday season.

#2 Learn to Discern the Main Thing

SMACK!  Distractions sometimes pull us away from our main focus – family!  We get bogged down in worrying about having lots of time with family while we miss out on enjoying the quality time we do have with them.  What is your main focus this holiday?  Is it buying the perfect gifts, planning the perfect meal or enjoying the moments with family and friends?  I always “talk” about family being the most important thing to me – tops on my list.  Yet, I find there are times when I place other non-important things before spending time with them.  My focus turns to working in the office to make money to pay bills or being busy in my business (notice I didn’t say working my business).  Yup, I am one of those struggling recovering workaholics….

We have identifying the distractions, so how do you manage them, right?  You got this, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem if you are intentional about it…

#1 Clear the Clutter

No, I don’t mean the clutter in the house!  I mean the clutter in our heads.  Maybe you need to write a list or delegate chores or maybe decide not to do certain things at all – however you do it, JUST DO IT!  Prune your schedule. Control spending.  Weed out the things which aren’t the main thing.  I am working on calendar blocking AGAIN so I block out time needed to work versus time I will spend with family.

#2 Don’t Let Distractions Distract You

We know distractions will happen BUT don’t let them distract you from your MAIN THING! If the most important thing for you this holiday season is family – spend time with them, enjoy them. STOP watching the clock.  STOP worrying about if the house is clean enough or whether there is enough food or how you look.  Enjoy the moments….

The main thing is to make the Main thing the Main thing

This Christmas is different for our family – Belinda in North Carolina, missing my Dad, hubby working so others can spend time with their little ones  has left me trying to figure out how to embrace the change so I can focus on my main thing – FAMILY!  Grateful to have dinner on Christmas Eve with my step-mom and half sister then spend Christmas Day with my mom and step dad as well as my hubby.

What is distracting you this holiday season from enjoying your “main thing”?  When the holidays are over, will you have wonderful memories of the moments shared even with the distractions or will you regret being too busy to have enjoyed your “main thing”?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

A Truth That Will Change Your Life

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

One blessing of being in women’s ministry is the friendships I have with other women in ministry. We are our own little band of sisters. Sisters with a mission! We cheer for one another, cry with one another, laugh with one another, pray for one another, and rejoice with one another.

One sister I’ve had the opportunity to lock arms with for the journey is named Renee. Renee is a talented God-fearing, Bible-teaching speaker and writer.

Several years ago, Renee traveled across the country to speak at a women’s retreat. When she got there, a few unexpected circumstances caused her to send out an “SOS, pray-for-me-now” email to her ministry sisters.

I got the email and hit my knees.

Early the next week, Renee sent us an email thanking us for praying and telling us what God did in the hearts of women at that retreat. She told us that she spoke about the lies that we believe as women and told personal and biblical stories that illuminated God’s truth. Then, at the final session, Renee asked the women to consider what they believed to be true about themselves.

Her challenge went something like this: “When you settle your soul long enough to simply be still—when you pause to listen to your heart—what do you hear? Are there lies that linger in your heart knowingly or unknowingly?”

She encouraged them to write down on a note card the lies they had accepted as truth, whether lies spoken by a parent, kids in the schoolyard, a friend, a family member, a spouse, a child, a pastor, or a stranger. She told them that some of the lies might never have been spoken at all, just believed.

When they finished she invited them to bring the cards to a wooden cross at the front of the room. Next to the cross she had placed baskets filled with promises from God’s Word, and after each woman nailed her card to the cross, she picked up a truth that would replace her lies.

Tears ran down cheek after cheek as the women brought their lies to the cross and embraced God’s life-changing Words. Guilt was forgiven and sorrows were traded for joy that day. Then a beautiful celebration went down. God, through his Holy Spirit, revealed His heart to those sweet women and shattered the lies of the enemy.

After the retreat was over, Renee looked through the cards that had been nailed to the cross. One card jumped out at her. Written over and over was one word: Worthless!

The woman who wrote that wasn’t the only one at that retreat who felt that way. That same word—worthless—was penned on many of the cards that weekend. It represents a lie that has been believed by most every woman at some point in her life. There have been days, weeks, and months that I’ve believed it myself.

It’s one of Satan’s favorite words to throw at us, and it is a big, fat, ugly LIE.

The Bible clearly shows us that we are valued in the sight of the Lord. When we allow God’s Word to flood our lives with truth we are changed by the height, the depth, and the width of His love for us.

“Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

God loves you with a personal love.

He knows your name.

He considers you highly valuable.

He adores you.

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith today to believe this one truth: you are perfectly loved by God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When Your Whole Life Stinks


Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

Do you ever have a hard time seeing the bright side of things?

I do. After pulling all of our luggage, pillows and boxes from the car, I plopped on the couch in my brand new home, in a brand new city.

It’s not safe enough here, in this neighborhood. They are doing construction right next to us. There are no families around.

The anxious thoughts were eating my moment of joy.

The previous night didn’t help. Our train ride to the new home was horrendous. We slept in the passenger car. My three-year old daughter pleaded in 30-minute increments for a tissue for her nose. The door rattled. The train leaned in, then out, as it went down the track. I slept for half an hour.

It’s easy for me to see what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Things that stress me instead of what God has put there to bless me. Everything annoying, disturbing and wrong instead of the things that are right.

“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.” (Philippians 4:8)

What about you? What does your mind go to? What do you reflect on?

You know, that morning after our horrendous night on the train, I saw a woman I’d met earlier. After smiling, I asked her, “How was your night’s sleep?”

Her answer? “Good, I got some naps in.”

She chose to speak what was good rather than sinking into what was bad. She still smiled, her eyes looked happy and her face seemed ready for the day.

Later, I passed by my cabin neighbor. She recounted the night by saying, “Last night, I was awake. So all I did was stare at the beauty of the wide-open skies. You should have seen the stars. They were magnificent.”

Again, this woman chose to find the find the good in the bad.

What is the good in your bad?

God has left it for us, if we choose to see it. We can see Provider God over our anxiety. We can see hope rise above uncertainty. We can see little lights shine out from our vast darkness. We can give thanks for spurts of goodness when everything else is blah.

We can always:

Praise God’s character.
Give thanks for eternity.
Remember the good times.
Dwell on God’s promise that He’ll always be with us.
Decide to truly believe God is our Provider.

When Jesus came into this dark world, He brought goodness. And even better, He left it. Our job is to search it out, to draw it near, and to return to thinking about it, even when we’re prone to forget. This keeps our head up and our hope strong.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Are You Content?

Mustard-Seed-Faith-by-CRI

It is the last day of November and the panic of the holiday season is about to start (if it hasn’t already).  My calendar is full with lots of business activity over the next 14 days which is exciting so this morning, I took just a moment to STOP!  A mixture of emotions have been flowing through me as the holiday approaches.  I am struggling with being content and not wanting more.  More money to pay bills.  More money to spend and give to others.  More time with my daughter.  More time to spend with family. More business.  More recruits.  More weight loss.  All of these things are attainable with prayer and thanksgiving.

I saw this and it made me think about my contentment…

Being content in our lives takes work. Contentment is not something which just happens. Far from it actually because we are a needy people. We always want something more. We always work harder to get the things everyone else has. We all have even been guilty of commenting on our lack of satisfaction of our life placement. It is once again one of those pesky human nature things.

We wonder why some people are successful or have what we want.  The grass is greener on the other side syndrome takes over in my case (more often than I would like to admit).  I forget to be content in God’s blessings. I forget to be content in the things God has given me. I forget to trust God is going to give me everything I need but maybe not when or how I want it. I simply forget.

Contentment is possible. It simply takes work. It takes commitment on our part to not complain about the things we do not have. Instead we need to focus on the things we do have. Focusing on the pure grace God has given each and every one of us. This contentment is important so that we can in fact continue to praise God the way that He deserves……

Today, as I reflect, I am content.  Content in my business.  Content in my marriage.  Content in my life.  I know God will continue to bless me if I remember everything I have is a gift from him.

Are you content in your life?  Are you struggling to find the positive when there only seems to be negative?  PAUSE and give thanks for everything – no matter how small.  You will be amazed at how this “gratitude walk” will change your outlook.  If we practice this each day, Negative Nellie will find a new home.   We will be content and happy in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Will This Matter A Year From Now?

Yup, it is Monday morning.  Even worse is the fact for some it is after a LONG 4-day holiday weekend filled with food, family & friends and lots of shopping.  Time to get back to work as we start to juggle the holidays with work.

Black Friday has passed.  Small Business Saturday is done.  Cyber Monday is in full swing.  But the question I have for you this morning is…

Will This Matter A Year From Now?

The countless hours spent rushing around for gifts?  The baking? The decorating?  The non-stop whirlwind of activity?  Some would say yes because despite the craziness, they are enjoying the moments.  For others, you are so busy racing around, you don’t even remember the moments.

Life is constantly changing…. just when you think you got what you were looking for, doubt starts to creep in.  Maybe this year you have more money (or less) for gifts.  Maybe you are working countless hours missing out on time with family and friends.  Maybe you have lost who you are as you spend time pleasing the rest of the world.

If you answer to the question above is a resounding NO!  Then “let it go”…. (here the music for Frozen playing in the background)

Why do we spend time worrying about things we can’t control or fighting for things which don’t deserve our energy?

Did holiday celebrations with family trigger a button inside?  You know the one of self-doubt, fear, or anger.  Did the inner gremlins rear their heads because you allowed someone to push your button? Now you are spending your time on things which are insignificant in the big picture of things…

Maybe it was fussing with a rude store clerk during holiday shopping, or making a point with a trouble-making co-worker, or nitpicking over every mistake your child might make. The reality is some things simply are not worth it.

Fighting every battle leaves you little energy for the ones which really matter. In the process, you can damage relationships and stress yourself out. When you are intentional about which battles to engage in, you are more effective in resolving those challenges. After all, if you let go of the small stuff, it becomes clear the battles you choose are important. As a result, the people in your life or more likely to take notice and listen.

As we head into what is probably the craziest time of the year, I challenge you to let go of at least one battle this week. Enjoy the drop in your stress level.

What battle(s) did you engage in over the long weekend? Will it matter a year from now?  If it won’t matter a year from now, are you willing to drop similar battles when they arise?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!