Distracted and Consumed

I am chief among sinners. 

I thought about Paul’s words as my pastor spoke the words “Distracted and Consumed” yesterday. I felt the arrows of conviction hit straight and true as he continued on with his sermon, knowing those three words had struck at the heart of a problem. One that I know many wrestle with, even as a society and culture we are suffering from the very disease of distraction and consummation.

I get the irony of writing about this on a platform (and sharing it on other platforms) because it’s the very thing which is distracting and consuming this heart, this mind, and this time. I like to say “well it’s to keep up with this or to share my writing.” Unfortunately though it’s to the detriment of my heart and my focus.

Maybe it’s not so much social media that distracts you, maybe you don’t get consumed by the words, the actions, and the thoughts of others in such a divisive culture we are living in. Maybe the distraction is binging on the newest release from Netflix or your kids’ ballgames (this one I saw first hand last weekend y’all). It is whatever is consuming your time and distracting you from the very thing which God desires of you.

What is consuming your heart that it’s not allowing Him in? What is distracting you to the point you cannot hear Him? I am the first to admit that I willingly would choose those over time with Him, time digging in to His Word, time spent in silence with Him, waiting on Him. I would rather be consumed with distractions than allow Him space in my life…that’s what I am telling Him when I “scroll for just a few minutes.” Or when I say “just one more episode” or let someone else take up residency in my heart.

When I am distracted and consumed, I am more prone to worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, and control. I find that peace and stillness are commodities in short supply. The quiet filling of connection is negated with an empty longing to be known when we are consumed by anything other than the God who desires to know us more.

Maybe it’s time to stop the fighting for our attention and our hearts by simply giving them solely to Him. Not a screen, not the success or failure of our child’s pee wee league team, and not some fictional characters we enjoy.

 

Begin Again

So here we are a week into 2017. How are those resolutions treating you? Or better yet, how are you treating them? I know all the statistics surrounding the people who keep their resolutions is staggering at best. It reminds us of failure and best laid plans.

Shoot, even I indulged in cheesecake yesterday and thought “well, here you are ya failure.” But then I remembered it’s my choice. I chose to grab that deliciousness (and it was delicious) with the same choice I made to get in good health this year. One doesn’t nullify the other but it can overshadow it if I let it.

I can allow the weight of one poor decision to counteract the good intentions and focus I had the other six days of the week. Or I can say that this was a choice today, that has no effect on what I accomplished the other six days this week and will have zero bearing on the next six days following.

new-years-resolutions-calendar

Recently I was listening to a friend speak about beginning again…something we all often like to do in January each year. We have come off the indulgences (and some over indulgences) of the holiday season that lasted well over six weeks. We have said “come January” more often than we would care to admit. In my friend’s sermon I couldn’t help but think about how we reserve January 1 as a do over day. We hit reset, wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

But what about April 18? Or July 24? Or October 1?

I think we put far too much emphasis on the date on the calendar than we do the intentions and purpose of our hearts and minds. We lump in so much, put alot of pressure on a new year, on January 1 to bring about some radical shift in our lives that when it’s a week later and we’ve not seen much we grow discouraged. Or when we slip up because we’ve lived for the last eight weeks, eight months, eight years, a lifetime a different way that we chalk it up to us being failures.

What if instead of letting one slip up damage the whole focus of your determination, preparation and focus, you allow it to give you another reset? What if instead of focusing on the location of where you find yourself on January 8th, you focus on the people you get to interact with, what you can learn from them, how you can bring brightness to their day?

Maybe you do need to begin again today. It’s a new day, full of new mercies. It’s full and waiting for you. Maybe it’s about not letting the date on the calendar or one poor choice dictate how your life is structured and lived out. You get the choice. You get the decision. You get to tell failure that it had it’s time, you have learned and you are utilizing that to move in the direction you feel led. That it’s not about where you are in location, job, relationship, hardship or joy but it’s about choosing to begin again with yourself.


You can listen to my friend’s sermon here. (And you should)

Courage, Dear Heart

“Courage isn’t natural;  it’s a choice.”

Angie Smith, Bring the Rain

It is a strong belief I have that we think courage is reserved for those who have it lying dormant within themselves. A select few who are gifted it at birth and use it best when under immense strain.

But my mindset on that is shifting.

When I stumbled upon this quote from fellow Nashvillian Angie Smith I couldn’t help but pause and think on it. Think about how I have viewed courage, and that I frankly lacked it because I wasn’t gifted it.

I have to choose courage in the face of life, in the face of competing priorities and heart-longings. I have to choose to be courageous instead of quiet when it matters, when I know my voice is needed. If I waited for courage to come, it would lie dormant.

It is choosing to be strong in the face of it all. Courage to get up off the couch and do the thing. Courage to start something that frightens you. Courage to pursue better, for us all. Courage to face the diagnosis and the daily pain of chemo. It’s a choice to pick it up each day and wear it with joy and strength.

For so long I saw it in so many others, instead choosing for myself to believe that it wasn’t available to me. But that’s just not true. I hope that in this new year you too find the truth that courage isn’t natural but a strength we hold as a choice, one that we choose to use and live into. One that we know we can have for ourselves and that it’s just not for others.

A Lover, Not a Fighter

Yesterday I shared on Twitter that each day you get the immense responsibility in choosing what it will be. You can either see the day as an obstacle to be overcome, holding a fighter’s mentality with it and seeing how you can be the victor. Or you can choose to see it as an opportunity, one that can be relished and fulfilling.

So much in life we find we want control and rarely have it. This one thing we do control, the choice we make in how we approach each day. It is amazing when you embrace the day full of opportunities instead of mounting obstacles. Because the day is just that, embraced. It is not fought against, or pulled at, it is enveloped by you.

It is also not just choosing at the start of your day but continuing to see the opportunity the day affords you. You have the opportunity to make someone’s day brighter, rather than darker. You can bring joy or you can bring aggravation. Ultimately that is your choice as you see your day unfold.

Photo courtesy of meganhelstone.com
Photo courtesy of meganhelstone.com

Life, for many of us, has taught us to be fighters. To fight for what we want, to fight for our way, to fight to have our voices heard. Maybe that is the greater issue. I was not created in the image of a fighter. I was created in the image of a Lover, a Creator, an Author…Yes He goes before me and fights for me, but that is a small part and it comes out of love, not the other way around.

I challenge you today to see your day not as something to be fought with, but to be loved. To love it for the opportunities it affords and the blessing of having it from the Lover of our souls, God. He’s given it today for us to have the choice of seeing as an opportunity, not as an obstacle.

The Chemicals Between Us

As much as we have distractions these days, we also have choices. They are everywhere, including gluten free, fragrance free, and peanut free just to name a few.

Today you have the choice on what you let affect you. Today you have the choice on how you process and how you respond. Instead of reacting to someone, or their actions, choose to respond. There’s a stark difference in reacting and responding. Far too often we make the choice to react. It’s in our chemical nature to automatically react to a situation or an individual. Dr. Henry Cloud points to the difference in the two:

When I react, they are in control. When I respond, I am.

Do you give into the reaction and allow the control you have on your emotions to be let loose? I know I do alot of the time. I am a reactor. Unfortunately the example of such a thing is a nuclear reactor that many fear when the alarms start blaring. But when I look to an example of a responder? That’s easy, I see a first responder to an emergency scene. They are calm, collected, and assessing the scene before them with poise. The difference is so drastic but it comes from work, learning, and time.

Today is a good day to start the lesson of responding instead of reacting…we all have the choice. For you, which will you choose?

Choosing Life

477833_4033098107556_136732115_oOn Friday evening, I watched as my oldest nephew questioned what happened in Connecticut. You see, he didn’t know anything about it until we were at the Hits Deep Tour concert at Bridgestone Arena. Several of the musicians brought up the tragedy and lead the arena in prayer. Unfortunately my sister had to explain to him between acts what had transpired while he was in his own elementary school that day. I watched as a little more of his innocence was taken by the knowledge that this world is not our home and he is not secure in his own school. Minutes later though I was able to see him dancing and singing praises to Me Without You and I almost cried. I saw him enjoy his first concert, one that brought glory to God with thousands of other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sunday at Cross Point Church, Pete Wilson said the very thing I had been trying to grasp at all weekend…

You don’t get to choose how you die, but you do get the choice in how you live.

 

My question for you today: How are you choosing to live today? You were given new mercies. You were given life. You were given passion, joy, hurt, pain, and most of all, you were given a choice. Choose today to live.