Tag Archives: focus

Gaze or Glance?

Problems are part of life. We have them in our families, jobs, country and world. We have health problems-mental, physical and spiritual. We have neighborhood problems and church problems. The problem list is long.

I have a tendency to glare at the problems that come my way, usually angry, frustrated and dismayed that they are happening. I over analyze them. I then bring my best resources to the eliminating of those problems. I’m a good fixer.

Just this morning as I walked, I mulled over the Problems of the day. I played out different scenarios and solutions. I pictured myself addressing and repairing what seems broken. All this a familiar and comfortable pattern for me. I was in my element.

The only difficulty in what happened today was that I had just read a devotional from Jesus Calling Evening by Sarah Young. Yes, I read the evening entry in the morning. I’m a 100% morning person.

Sarah Young’s writing always cuts to the core of my very real issues of the day, surprising and sometimes convicting me. Today’s words: Gaze at Me; Glance at problems-this is the secret of victorious living. I have called you to live supernaturally, and I have empowered you to do so. Ask My Spirit to help you fix your gaze on Me. p. 395  And this, 1 Corinthians 4:18 We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.

As I walked, I kept thinking about the Problems. And then I refocused. I kept having to repeat the mantra and asking myself, “Are you going to gaze or glance? What are you going to focus on?”

I found myself complaining internally because this gazing verses glancing directive was hard. Then, I realized that’s why it requires God’s supernatural assistance.

Gaze at God? Glance at Problems? or will you Gaze at Problems? Just Glance at God?

Problems are a part of life. Where we focus is the secret to everything.

My prayer today: God, I need your help. I cannot, on my own, keep my eyes off my problems and on you. Help me to refocus so my gaze is on you. Amen    

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and part-time problem solver.

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Yoga, Babies and Marriage

When the year turned new, I adopted a  word for the year. It is the word “new”. The purpose of having a word is to increase one’s focus. So I’ve been trying to be alert to all things new. I’ve also been trying to embrace new experiences and trying to learn new things.

So far, the word has led to me taking a Facebook Business Page class. For those of you who know me that last line should come with an exclamation mark because I don’t even really do Facebook. My daughter and I have continued to embrace the new world of repurposed and vintage treasures with our antique booth, Mimosa Rose. Every day,  on my to-do list, I now have a category  “new”. I make myself learn something or do something new before I do all my comfortable old things.

So a couple of weeks ago when a friend texted me that she was taking yoga twice a week and I needed to be there, I said yes. I’d dabbled in yoga before and I knew people had been doing it for centuries with good results. But,  people I’m here to tell you the whole yoga thing is awesome. Mind, body, spirit, relaxation, stretching, peace, love, personal challenge all rolled into one. I love this new old as time practice.

My other new is just watching our almost 8 month grandson experience “new” every day. Foods, mobility, sounds, textures, laughter, love, boundaries…the world is before him and it is pure wonder to see it through this eyes.

And marriage…I’ve been married to the same guy since 1985. I’ve loved him since we were 18. When I’m with him, we are still 18. In fact, we always say these days, “Can you believe we are grandparents?” We can’t. In order to be new, marriage needs attention and focus and taking time to just look in each other’s eyes again. We just finished a few days away together. Away matters. Away is different than home. I can’t explain it, it just is. Away makes all things new. A wise counselor told us once that couples need to be away every quarter together. This seemed very over the top to us and we have not yet managed it. But, I know he is right.

New things require focus, attention and time. Precious things do too like babies and relationships. I cannot do the downward dog or the dancer’s pose in yoga without focusing every ounce of my being.

What a gift to focus on new. Yesterday, I drove across Texas and saw new green grass, budding leaves and our precious state flower, bluebonnets beginning to emerge. What’s getting your attention these days?

 

New

For several years now, I’ve chosen a word to guide me in prayer, study and focus. This was not my idea. It is a different kind of Spiritual Discipline suggested by the work of Rachel Olsen and Mike Ashcraft. You can read more about it at http://www.myoneword.org.

At the end of each year, I start making a prayerful list of words that simmer to the surface of my consciousness. I believe God guides this process.  Past words for me have been Radiance, Enjoy…last year’s word was Release. That one was powerful. I released a ton of clutter, my overbooked schedule, a ministry position I’d held for almost 2 decades. I released stress. In the wake of all that releasing, I found so much room to concentrate on the gifts and joy in my life.

My word for 2017 surprised me. It is so simple; so short. I chose the word New. When I told my husband my word, he just stared at me blankly. At first I thought he was thinking, “new? As in new year? new month? new? How boring!” Actually, now that I’m writing this I don’t at all know what he was thinking because I didn’t ask. For all I know he was just trying to figure me out yet again.

As happens when you choose a word, things start catching your attention. Today is only January 2 and already several scriptures have danced in front of me, aligning themselves with my word. Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!.” And this line in a devotional, “I am working newness into your life.”  Jesus Calling Evening by Sarah Young.

This morning I did a word study on this little word, New: fresh, what has not been known or seen before, unfamiliar, untouched.

Yes, it is simple, easy, short and I’m so excited about it. It will be my guiding word. Where will it lead? That is yet to be revealed.

This morning when I walked, I noticed how fresh everything was after our morning storm. I stopped and watched the water rushing by in a creek. The sky was the brightest shade of blue. Everything around me, new. 2017…new.  Yes! .

 

Attention

If you read my last entry, you are aware that last week I had to move almost everything from inside the house to the garage to get ready for ceiling and floor work at our home. I ended the week sore, bruised and really sick of my stuff. It was particularly difficult in the pantry, finding foods that were at “their best if eaten by 2012.” Yeah.

The man overseeing phase one coached me on how to get the house ready. When I asked him what I should do while they are working he politely said, “Go on vacation?” He laughed but I can take a hint. Thankfully, we have friends that are very generous with their lovely lake house in Oklahoma. They let me squat there whenever I need silence or time away. I once asked them what they would do if I never left. They only laughed nervously and said “You are welcome to stay as long as you want.” Yes, these are the best of friends.

I’ve been here since last Saturday just soaking in fall at the lake. The leaves are contemplating their fall colors: red, gold or orange. The weather is crisp at night and never hot in the daytime. I’ve seen lots of deer, all kinds of birds and of course the squirrels are having the time of their life with a generous helping of acorns everywhere. Right now, I’m on a screened in porch while it rains and gently thunders all around me. It is delicious. Oh, and also I have coffee.

The election is really scarring/scaring me. I’ve been beside myself, addicted to Twitter in a “gawking at an accident kind of way.” My husband even told me, “you’ve got to disconnect from this stuff.” Here, it is easier. First, the wi-fi is non-existent. Secondly, my focus has changed. Here, it is more about the rhythm of the day than of the news cycle. Sunrise and sunset anchor the morning and evening. Walks are longer and without headphones. I’m reading actual books, on my fifth now. My journal entries and prayer time are elongated in a slow and gentle way.

I’ve been reading a book called “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle, a technology professor at MIT. She is like a voice in the wilderness lamenting our addiction to our phones and all things electronic. Our attention is fractured, splintered, shot. We are losing the art of long slow talks and just being able to sit in silence or watch the sky or look out over a body of water.

I’m no better than anyone else. I’m addicted. I can’t seem to pull away from my phone, even here. But, I am aware that I want something different. I am aware that my soul is fed and even anchored by nature, by quiet, by stillness. When I put my attention in the right place I’m assured in powerful ways of God’s goodness and nearness. This morning I was comforted by this old hymn line running through my mind, “Though the wrongs seem oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.”

I have no answers for anything except this: what we attend to matters. I’m going to do my best to attend to creation and the One who creates.

Radiance

It’s been on my mirror for almost a year now; in pink script letters, the word “Radiance”.  It is there to remind me that in 2014 my one word was radiance.  I chose it because I wanted God’s light to shine in me, through me and reflect off of me.

I was inspired by the book, My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen.  The book challenged me to choose just one word to focus on throughout the year.

As I focused on that one word, some amazing things happened.  I became increasingly aware of how many times scripture speaks of light.  Like in Psalm 34:3-5, Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt God’s name together.  I sought the Lord and the Lord answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  They looked to the Lord and were radiant…. Or, Jesus words in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5, The Message translation: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I’m putting you on a light stand.  Now that I’ve put you on a hill-top, on a light stand–shine!  Keep open house; be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God.

 I noticed that focusing on the word radiance started shaping my other goals. It transformed me physically, emotionally and spiritually.

My prayers changed.  I stopped asking so much for what I wanted and started asking God just to let me shine.

People started encouraging me.  Friends found out about my one word and gave me little gifts, a trinket for my desk, note cards and a bracelet that says “shine.”

I met a new friend in 2014.  Her non-profit business is called “The House of Shine.”  She is all about helping people discover their strengths.  We partnered together on a project writing curriculum to help middle school students shine for God.

I started being able to see how God shines healing light on each of us and asks us simply to share that light with someone else.

Albert Schweitzer wrote, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame in us.”