Flip side

There is a flip side to every story, even a bad one. Last night our women’s bible study group was discussing offenses. The passage was:

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26‭-‬27

The conversation turned towards how our words and actions cause others to take offense. I have had the conversation with countless people, family, friends, clients. It is a common theme, people wanting to take responsibility for how others feel.

I do not believe other’s feelings are something people should take on for themselves. I am responsible for my actions, if I wrong someone I have responsibility in that. If by my actions someone takes offense, I am responsible for my actions, not their offense. I am responsible for how I feel, not how others feel. If my actions make me feel a certain way towards someone, then I need to address it. If I am feeling convicted, I need to make it right; not because I caused someone to feel offended, but because I am convicted. I need to make things right, so I am right with God.  My actions are not based on their feelings, but mine.

flipsideThe flip side of being responsible for someone’s negative feelings, is that I would  also be responsible for their positive emotions. Trying to control someone else’s moods is too much responsibility.   It is a full time job. Multiple it by every person that you have chance to offend, and the job is insurmountable.  We can not take on responsibility for other’s emotions, good or bad.  Trying to control my own emotions is enough responsibility.

This is one of those areas where my career field backs up my point-of-view.  I have seen too many abusers use the line “if you hadn’t made me mad.” Or blame their feelings caused by another to manipulate a child into actions that no child should have to do.  Control is something that is given.  When we take on responsibility for other’s emotions, we are giving them a way to control us.  Learning that we are not responsible for another’s emotions, helps create a boundary that people with abusive tendencies can not use to be given control.

Helping others take responsibility for their own emotions, and knowing that we are responsible for our emotions helps develop a clear boundary.  It helps to prevent enmeshment.  It helps to easily define where one person starts and the other begins emotionally.

We all have times that we feel the need to take on another’s emotions or feel responsible for them.  However, we should not take on that responsibility.  It is too much for one person to carry another’s feelings.  It can lead to abusive relationships and negative issues of power and control.  It also helps to define clear boundaries in relationships.

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Focus Close {#Write31Days}

close

When all else fails, or even better before you start your journey, realize that if you seek God first, He will guide your path right where He wants you to focus. If you are feeling discontent, look at how close you are drawing to Him. If you are feeling lost, look at how close you are staying to Him. At the darkest times in my life, He has been the one that I have drawn close to out of necessity and desire to get through it. When I was a teen parent, I drew close to God. He carried us through.

When my husband left right after our son was born, I drew close to God. I needed His guidance and direction because I had no idea what to do. He taught me what it meant to depend on Him.

When I was homeless, I drew close to God. He directed me to the support system that could help me and that would help me get back on the right path.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, I drew close to God. When he died, I was so angry at God. I didn’t draw close to Him, but His right hand still held me.

When I remarried, I drew close to God. He had to be the center of our relationship if we were going to make it.

When I pursued a college education away from all my support system, I had to draw close to God. This was probably my favorite time as I learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him. I was saved at an early age, but no one had taught me about pursuing Him for myself.

When my best friend died tragically, I drew close to Him. I got to see God work miracles for me and encouraged me throughout that time.

When I started working as a Social Worker, I drew close to God. He taught me what it meant to carry other’s burdens and how to release them to Him. I have seen Him work mightily in the lives that I have worked in, direct answers to prayers that only He could answer.

Throughout my marriage, I have drawn close to God. He has taught me so much about myself, changed me in ways I didn’t know needed changing.

As a parent, I drew close to God, I needed His wisdom and guidance because they didn’t come with instruction manuals.

As I think about the plans and purposes that God has for my life, I know that the only way that I can focus on what He wants for me, His perfect will, is to draw close to Him. To seek His voice, I have to be close enough to hear Him. To allow His hand to guide me, I have to be close enough for Him to touch me. To find my purpose, I have to focus on Him.

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This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Focus your Voice {#Write31Days}

What you say about your dreams, visions, and goals is more important than what anyone other than God says  about them.  Because of this, it is important that you focus your voice to speak life into your purpose.  None of us can stop the thoughts from coming into our mind, but you don’t need to meditate on them or give voice to the negative thoughts. 

VoiceYes, there are going to be obstacles, instead of focusing on the obstacle, focus on the solution. Instead of saying “I don’t have the funds for this.”  Say “I need wisdom for how to finance this part of my dream.”  It is about reframing statements into a positive mindset.

I believe wholeheartedly that we were made in God’s image.  He created the world with spoken word and our voices have creative power too.  It is important that we focus our voice to create the right environment for our dreams to thrive instead of speaking death to them.

Our voice must align with what God says about our dreams.  He is not a God that will give you a dream that is impossible.  He will give you a dream that requires that you trust Him and that challenges you to rely fully on His understanding not your own.  That is why your voice must mimic His.  You have to give voice to the impossibilities that on your own can not be done, but with God the impossible says in His voice “I’m possible.”

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This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Focus Together {#Write31Days}

Much of my married life was spent chasing my own dreams and goals and my husband chasing his.  To say that we are completely different in our thinking is an understatement.  The things we like to do are different, as our are taste in music, movies, activities.  Our interests are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Our personalities are similar, we are both a Five on the Enneagram.    While what drew us together has changed, we are both committed to our marriage and love still runs deep.

TogetherDuring times of struggle in our marriage, it seemed like only one of us would be focused on making our marriage stronger.  The other seemed to at least resist, and sometimes downright fight against it.  There have been many times were we were two people living under the same roof, more like roommates than husband and wife.  Other times, out of desperation from one party or the other, we would be in counseling and for brief periods focus together on our marriage.  Probably more often, we glide through things with the familiarity and comfort that come from twenty-six years together.

Relationships take work. Whether it be a marriage, a friendship, dating, parenting, etc.  They will grow stronger when both parties are focused on building, maintaining or deepening the relationship.  Focus on quality time together.  Focus on communication with each other.  Focus on commitment to the relationship.

We have just within the last five years, as our children started moving out and doing more on their own, realized how little we had focused on our relationship.  We had date nights, we had physical intimacy, but we hadn’t really talked about what we wanted for the future or how we saw life as empty nesters. We were just letting life happen around us.  We communicated about what was going on in the immediate or from the past, but hadn’t really planned for our future.

We realized we had to focus together on common goals in our relationship.  Not that we magically developed the same interests as the kids moved out, but without needing one of us to be with the children, we could pursue things together.  I still believe that there is a plan and purpose for our marriage that we will pursue together.  It may draw from our individual strengths and interests, but it will be for a greater good and have an impact larger than either of our individual footprints.   I still believe that there is more for me to learn about focusing together with my husband, but it is a journey that I am interested in taking. 

 

2018Write31DaysThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

 

 

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Focus Song {#Write31Days}

When I have a hard time focusing and nothing else works, I turn to the power of music.  Songs have always played a powerful role in my life.  When I find things to be more difficult than I can handle, music tends to be an outlet for that pain.  I can connect with the words on a level I generally can not tap into any other time.  Throughout my life there have been songs that spoke to the depths of my soul, songs that even to this day still can bring me to tears.

songThere was a song from a performance that my older sibling’s youth group did at our church called “Dreamer” about the life of Joseph.  The song was called “He Will Carry You.”  I have very few memories that are clear as a young child, but I still remember most of the words to that song.  It is a powerful reminder when I feel overwhelmed, that God will carry me.

Then there was a song by Michelle Pillar (1982), who came and sang at a community crusade.  I was pretty young when this song was introduced also, but I feel like my mother bought the cassette tape which reinforced the song.  The one that spoke most powerfully to me was called “You Were There All Along.” Those words came to me even as I walked away from God, because He was there all along.  When I came back to God, I would often sing this song as a special at church, but I added my own words to it because I had more to the testimony of the song.

As I have grown in my walk with God, I go through spells where certain songs speak louder than others.  At times, I can listen to a song with little interest, even singing every word.  Then one day, something will click and the words of the song tap into something that needs ministering too.

Music has a powerful way of ministering to the soul.  It doesn’t have to be Christian music.  Although that is what I listen to now, there are times when I pull from my past and listen to some music from REO Speedwagon, The Cure, Poison, Def Leppard, Kiss, Metallica, Garth Brooks, or John Michael Montgomery, just to name a few.  It just depends on the mood and emotions that I am trying to tap into.

 

 

2018Write31Days

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Whole Focus {#Write31Days}

I probably feel least qualified to write about being wholly focused. I have attention deficit disorder. Only recently have I allowed the doctor to put me on medication to treat it, in part because I hate taking medications of any kind. In other part because I was concerned it would change the essence of me. However, I tried a medication to help with binge eating, and the focus I had while taking it was amazing. I allowed the doctor to do an official test and then I started trying a few different ones until we found the right one with right dosage. It has helped with both my attention and binge eating.

I digress. I am one of those people who multitask. Up until recently I rarely gave 100% of my focus to any one thing. Research is mixed, but more recent research shows that multitasking is not really productive. I am learning this to be true.

WholeIf something is important, aka like your purpose, your family and friends, God, etc. It deserves your whole focus. Not that at times there might not be interruptions, but every attempt should be made to give your undivided attention, on a regular basis for an allotted period of time. Nothing else should get your attention when your focus is something or someone that is in a place of priority in your life. It should be a rare occasion, not a regular occurrence.

2018Write31DaysThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Moments of Focus {#Write31Days}

If you capture your focus and it is just for a moment, is it worth it? Yes! Moments add up, they build, they expand. Those moments will get you to your goal eventually if your consistent.

In June, I joined several people in a Run For God program at our church, similar to a couch to 5K program, but with a focus on God being why we take care of our bodies. The end goal for us was October 6 as we completed a community 5K.

On June 16th, I had never really run even in school. I am active, but running has never been for me. I signed up because my husband used to run and it was a hope to connect him to some men in the church. I had completed a 5k before. I walked it, slowly. Had I not had my keys with me back in 2014 when I did the first 5K, I would not have completed it.

That first day in the Run for God program was a 30 second run like 4 times in a 30 minute period with 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down. The moments of running were difficult for me. Thirty seconds seemed like a moment of eternity.

I kept with the program, but anything more than 2 minutes of running at a time and I turned into a walk because I couldn’t breath. When the group started running 5 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 30 I really wanted to quit. I didn’t, but I also never reached the running time goal.

On my best run day, I was able to run 6 rounds of two minutes for a total of 12 minutes of running, with 90 seconds of walking and the warm up and cool downs of 5 minutes. I prayed into every one of those two minutes for God to speed up the moment in time because I wanted to quit running. I have not found that I love or even like running, but I do like how I feel after.

MomentI completed the 5K. I finished in under an hour which was my goal. When I set out, I really had hoped to run more of it. I finished last, which was not my goal. Other people complained of body aches, mine was breathing. I walk a 5K most days at work.

I wanted to be negative after. My husband reminded me of that first day I ran. He pointed me to the progress made during that time and encouraged me to keep going. We have done just that.

I started a new program walk to run 1 mile. Day 2 I realized that I don’t like treadmill running and that I would have to alter the speed they wanted if I wanted to succeed. I could not breathe. I was cleared by the doctor before I started the 5K program, but I haven’t learned how to control my breathing.

My husband and I started back running on the trails for nice days. We have different goals, it that is okay. I have a goal in my mind that I’m working towards, a straight run. I am working on endurance, he is working on speed.

I realize that it will for now happen in moments. My goal is to increase those moments until I can run from the start of the trail to the first road. It is a little under a mile. Then I can increase the goal to run back.

Building a habit happens in moments. My moment of running has increased from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. I am not where I want to be, but I am making progress. Those moments of progress will eventually get me to my goal if I keep focusing on them.

 

2018Write31DaysThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Captured Focus {#Write31Days}

One of my favorite moments in the day is when I am able to be completely captured in focus of my purpose.  Sometimes, I can flow in that captured state for hours.  Other days it is just a passing moment that I have to fight for to have.  Regardless I try to focus daily on the things I feel called to do.  At times that can be challenging.  The reality is that if you will make your passion and purpose a priority, you will make time to capture some focused time daily to work towards it.

One of the reasons I love the October writing challenge is that it challenges me to capture a few minutes of my day for 31 days to write.  I feel like writing is something I am supposed to do.  It brings me a release that I have not found in other places when I really get in the flow.  However, writing is the first thing to go by the wayside when I am busy with life.

CaptureThis morning while I was getting ready for work, another author captured my attention with how important it is to write daily, consistently.  Not just for 31 days, but to set aside time daily for that purpose.  I have heard it again and again, but today it just captured my focus.  I have several writing projects that have been sitting for way too long.  I need to allow  a period of time in my daily schedule to chip away at it, just as I do with other things of purpose.  I need to continue this habit, even outside of the #Write31Day challenge, even if it doesn’t go on this blog so that I can finish the projects deep inside my heart.  I have to capture the moment, instead of just waiting for it to happen.

2018Write31DaysThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Brief break of focus {#Write31Days}

There are times in life when you think that everything is going great, and then it all gets pulled out from underneath you.  I had that happen about four and a half years ago.  I was walking along, pursuing a career that I enjoyed and felt like I was focusing on the things that I was suppose to be doing.  And then in an instant (or at least it felt like it), it was all gone.  I took a brief break from things (a few months) and then I got refocused.   It would be very easy to get bitter about what happened; reality is, that brief break showed me what was really important.

briefSometimes the dream gets stolen from you.  Other times you burn out just trying to make it happen.  Still other times a dream feels lost just by circumstances that are surrounding you.  Regardless of the cause, it is important to be productive if you need to take a brief break from your focus.  It serves nothing to take a brief break and allow yourself to have a long pity party or to engage in destructive behaviors during that brief time.

The first day was hard, I wanted to have a pity party.   But, I pressed in to God and allowed Him to heal the hurt.  I allowed myself quality time with Him daily.  I got lost in Him at times.  It is something that I have never taken the time to do on a consistent basis despite the habit of spending time with Him daily.

I took time with my family that I had neglected pursuing my own focus.  I realized that in pursuing my goal of helping others, I had left my family to help themselves.  While they each gave grace because they know my heart, I realized that the damage was deeper than they wanted me to know.  It helped me see that my family, regardless of my focus has to be a priority.

I took time to really explore what my focus was.  I realized that although I was doing something I love, my focus was not on bringing glory to God it was on giving glory to a program.  God does not share His glory.  I also realized that although what I was doing did not look like what I thought it would, I was doing exactly what God called me to do.  I had lost focus chasing my own vision of what my purpose should look like.

My brief break taught me more about myself, helped me draw closer to God and my family, and allowed me to refresh the focus of my vision.   

2018Write31DaysThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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Common Focus {#Write31Days}

I love to be around people who have a common focus as myself. It stirs a passion that can not ascertained any other way. The flow of ideas that feed off each other and grow the vision. The exploration of possibilities, barriers, and potential solutions all flows freely when others have a common focus.

It isn’t that everyone has the same idea of how to do something, but it is that those with a common focus have the same overall goal in mind. When people start flowing with how they see that goal being met, it spawns creativity. It makes one think of challenges that maybe hadn’t been considered before. It makes the vision grow with possibility and expand beyond one person’s ideas.

CommonIf you don’t know people who have the same focus as you, it is worth finding them.  Pert of the fun will be the search, because just because others are in the area that you are interested in, does not mean they have the same focus.  I have worked with people, in the helping field, who had a totally different focus than I did, despite working with the same population.  Keep searching until you find your tribe, you will know when you find them.

At the same time, I also appreciate the one who can see the goal but brings up barriers that those with the same focus might not consider. Especially if it is someone who has knowledge of the true plight of the area I am focusing. I loved working with persons experiencing homelessness, because despite having been homeless before, things change. Barriers change. Resources change. Perspectives change. Those things have to be kept in mind, because my one experience is not a voice for all experiences.

Find someone who is willing to challenge your status quo.  My son is someone who will challenge for argument’s sake, much like his mother at times.  My younger daughter, if she is challenging all guards have to be up because she, like her mother goes into full attack mode if she believes her side.  My oldest daughter, she presents the facts, she doesn’t generally engage the argument.  My husband, he avoids the challenge up to a point.  You have to find the type of challenge that works for you and know that at the end of the day, that person still has your back and it isn’t going to ruin a relationship.

2018Write31DaysThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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