Focus on Help {#Write31Days}

There are two things in life that I admittedly really struggle with: 1) My weight and 2) Asking for help.  When it comes to needing help with my purpose or where I am needing to focus, I am not good at asking others for help.  I know that at times I need someone else; I have already stated that when you are focusing on your purpose it is always bigger than yourself.  Yet, I still struggle with the ask, especially when it is personal.  I can do the public speaking and engage with an audience to ask them to give to a bigger cause.  I struggle when the focus is help personally.

I think in part it is because I was raised to be independent.  Independent people are taught asking for help makes them weak, insufficient and dependent.  I have grown out of that thought pattern, but I have to unlearn the behavior.   I admire people who can quickly go to someone else and say “I need this from you.”  I am working on it.

Another problem with me asking for help, is that unless it is something very specific, I have a hard time knowing what I need help with.  If someone can say “Jackie, I want to do___ for you.”  I am generally open to it.  If someone says “If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.”  I won’t because I don’t know what to ask them to do.   I have the mindset that if it will take me longer to explain what I need, how I need it, and how to do it, then I should just do it myself.  If I can just say “Go do this.” then I generally have no problem asking for help with it.  If I can’t, then I will not generally ask unless I am feeling extremely overwhelmed.  If I am overwhelmed, I can ask for help because I want to be able to focus on the things that are most important.

Another reason I struggle with asking for help is that I am afraid of the rejection factor.  As a child, although I was spoiled, I didn’t ever feel that anyone cared what I wanted or needed.  The youngest of five children, I was  ten years younger than my oldest sibling.  My mother went back to work during my early childhood.  My dad went to jail when I was in first grade.  I don’t remember how old I was when he came back or how our home functioned in his absence.  I heard a lot of “no” from my parents and my siblings.  So I learned to manipulate to get what I needed.  It is hard for me to not move into that mode when I need something. Manipulation is an immediate response when I am concerned that no one will step in to meet that need.  I have to consciously choose to not start manipulating, because at times I don’t realize that is what I am doing.  I don’t want to manipulate others, so at times I  decide I don’t need help.

helpWhat I am able to do well is going to the Lord for help.  I learned at a very early age that my help comes from the Lord.  I have never lost that focus, even in the darkest times in my life.  I didn’t lose that focus even when I walked away from Him.  I know that He has always been there, is always there, and always will be there.  He is able and willing to meet my needs, He desires to bless me, He wants to answer my prayers.   He knows my heart, even when I don’t have the words.  I love to see Him move someone else to meet my ask for help when I haven’t even been able to acknowledge the need.  He’s knows me so well, it is His favorite way to bless me!  It reminds me He is not finished working on me.

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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Starting your Focus {#Write31Days}

It can be difficult to start anything new, but when it comes to finding your purpose and focusing, you have to start.  So many times being scared about missing the mark keeps us from getting started, but God’s Mercy is new every day.  If we miss the mark, we will quickly find out and will be able to start fresh.   Start.pngToo often we miss the mark by not starting at all.

We have to start because God is waiting on us to take a step.  You can not direct a stationary object.  It is not until we take that step in faith and start something that we can be told what next step to take, and then the next, and the next. God rarely gives us the full path in sight before we start.

Another reason to just go ahead and start something is because if you are not moving forward you are loosing ground. Every day that passes that you are not moving towards your God given purpose, are souls that are not being reached.  It may not be that you are the one that will lead them to Christ, but what if you are the person who needs to invite the one who will?

I always said “I will never be a Billy Graham, but I can be a Albert McMakin.”  I am not a preacher and I don’t believe that I have the calling on my life that Billy Graham did.  But I can be the one that invites someone to church, like Albert McMakin did to Mr. Graham.  I might just invite someone who does have that calling on their life.  Without reaching the one, someone else may never reach the multitude.  We all have to start somewhere.  Only we can chose where to start our focus.

 

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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Focus on Audience {#Write31Days}

Just as it important to know who you are, it is also important to know who your audience is as you begin to focus your life. I have a grandson that is just a ham. He does some of the cutest things when he is performing for one person. However as soon as someone asks him to do it, or he sees a phone come out to record his cuteness, he stops. He will only perform for the audience of his choosing.

AudienceSo how do we choose our audience? Well scripture provides the answer: Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23‭-‬24 HCSB

My audience is not my spouse, my children, my boss, my friends or my critics. My audience is the Lord. If my focus is on pleasing to Him, then regardless of what others say, I have done well. He is the one that I have to answer too for my actions. He is the final judge. If I can go to sleep at night knowing that I did right by Him, that was me well focused.

I am reminded of something I watched once and the boss asked for the person to do something wrong. I don’t remember if it was illegal, but it was definitely morally wrong. He gave the same task to multiple people all shooting for the same promotion. The following day, only one came back to the boss saying “I can’t do it. I realize I will miss out on this opportunity, but it’s wrong. I have nothing but my integrity and even if I didn’t get caught, I would know.” At the end of the time, all the employees were brought forward. The one who declined the immoral act was promoted. The employee knew that the audience wasn’t just the boss, there was a higher moral compass.

We will always have the opportunity to try to please another audience.  We have to keep our focus on the audience of One, The Lord.

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 on Who {#Write31Days}

My house was a bit noisy yesterday, so I didn’t have the quiet I need write. The idea was there, just not the environment. I will also in full disclosure say, this post will take me over five minutes to write.

Who I believe I am, has a great deal to do with focus. It is hard to do what needs to be done when the world around me is trying to define me. It can quickly get me to focus on the wrong things.

Usually it is the voice of critics, but at times it can be the enemy, or even someone who means well. When I allow others to define who I am, I become preoccupied with trying to be that person.

WhoMy actions and inactions become influenced by who “they” define me as. I have to consider how “they” will respond to my actions. I have to consider their critiques or inputs even if it is positive. I spend more time trying to be who “they” say I am then being who God created me to be. (End #FMF)

This is something we all struggle with from time to time. Some struggle more than others. However, I know that when you are listening to other voices it is hard to listen to the One that matters. And that voice isn’t even yours. We have to know who God says we are. We have to pull our worth and value from what He says it is. We have to judge right and wrong by His standards, not the worlds.

So how can we know what He says? The first place to start is His Word. I spent months daily journaling who God says I am. When I am feeling like I don’t amount too much that is where I return.  When I feel lost as to who I am, I return to His word.  The Creator is the only one who can define purpose.  People may use created things for other purposes, but only a creator can define its purpose.  When I come across others who are struggling to live up to someone else’s expectations, I share with them who they are in Christ.

Here are a few truths I use to combat the lies about who God says I am:

I am forgiven: I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I John 2:12 

I am chosen: You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. John 15:15

I am loved:  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. John 4:10

I am saved.  I am called.: who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 2 Timothy 1:9

I am known: O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. Psalms 139:1-4

I am free from sin: But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. Romans 6:22

I am a child of God. I am an heir with Christ.:  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:16-17

These are just a few scriptures, that I focus on when I am attacked at a level of who I am.  When my sins are brought against me, past and present I can repent and know that I am forgiven and that I am free from sin, I do not have to succumb to it and allow sin to have power over me.   When I feel left out and unwanted, I can remember that God chose me.  When I feel unloved, I am reminded that God loves me.  When I feel without purpose, I can remember God called me.  When I feel like no one knows or understands me, I can be reminded God knows me.  When I feel like I don’t belong, or am reminded that I am an orphan, I am reminded that I am God’s child.   I am His heir.

There are truths to combat most any lie that comes to attack who you are.  There are a lot of great resources out there, but I have found that going to the Scriptures for myself and reading them, writing them, and meditating on them makes the Truth more real in my own life.

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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Searching for Focus {#Write31Days}

SearchWhat do you do when you just can’t find your focus?

What do you do when you are searching, and searching without success and just can’t focus?

I take a short break and stop trying to focus completely.  I take time to frolic.  I do something mindless.  I do something that I enjoy doing and completely free my mind.  I distract myself with something else.   I go for a walk.  I listen to some music. After that short time,  I go back to what I need to focus on.

Other times instead of searching for something to clear my mind, I look to limit my focus.  I set a time frame and say “I am going to do this activity for …”  and then I let myself do that activity for that allotted amount of time.  If I get lost into the activity, great.  I keep going.  If I am still struggling after that time frame.  I will change activities.

When I moved out on my own, I was a little (most people would say a lot) spoiled.  I had people in my life that would come to my house and clean.  My mother, my boyfriend, my best friend were all quick to come to my home and start cleaning or cooking.  My mom would add doing the laundry.  When I was a child, I had the same thing; if I didn’t clean, my mother would quickly .  Then I moved away, I didn’t have that anymore.   I had three children and had no idea how to really clean.  I had to train myself to clean.  I started in short spurts because I didn’t know how to focus on cleaning.  I would set an alarm and see what I could accomplish in a specific time frame.

When you are searching for your focus there are many things you can do.  Try to put a time limit your focus.  If you are able to focus, stay there.  If you can’t focus move on to the next task.  You can also choose to take a break and then try to refocus yourself.

 

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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Pausing to Focus {#Write31Days}

pause

I am really bad about filling my day up with busy working and getting nothing accomplished. I often have to pause to reflect on why I am doing what I am doing. Pause to prioritize what I should be doing.
There are times I have to pause five or six times in the course of an hour, to consider my actions. There are other times that I am driven with such passion and purpose that I don’t need to take time to pause. In those times the real me has already risen to the occasion and I am moving with such focus that nothing can deter me.

It takes pausing for a moment for me to question, “Am I doing something with a purpose?” and “Am I doing something on purpose.” If I can’t answer yes to at least one of those two questions, then I likely need to reprioritize my activities. If I can answer yes to both, then I should probably allot more time to the activity.

When I can only answer no, then I have to consider what is the purpose of my action. Is it for someone else? Is it because someone else didn’t do what they should have? Is it out of obligation? Maybe I need to have conversation with someone instead. I might need to hand them back their responsibility. I might need to consider why I shouldn’t take it on. I might need to determine if it is a real obligation that no one else can or should fulfill, or if I am taking it on as a martyr.

If what I am doing really has no purpose, then I might need to consider stopping it completely. I might need to pump the breaks and take a longer pause to see if it is even something that needs doing. It is easy to get into autopilot and waste so much time that what needs my attention doesn’t get it.

If you find yourself busy, but feel like you are spinning your wheels, pause. Ask yourself “Does what I am doing have a purpose?” It might be in meeting a need – whether basic need or somethings like safety or security. The need might be your own, or for someone else. It might be in producing personal growth, like learning new information. It might be on building a connection, a new relationship or a deeper relationship.

Then ask, “Is the action I am taking on purpose?” Some things we do on auto piolet, but life is not lived there. We need to be deliberate in our actions. We need to be mindful of the things we say. There is nothing wrong with having margin in our life, as long as it is intentional. There is nothing wrong with being busy, as long as the actions are intentional.

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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Prayer of Focus {#Write31Days}

Lord, Its me again.  Thank you for always being there for me when I come to you.  I know you want me to come more often.  Thank you for the grace that covers me even as I try to do things my own way.  I want to come to you first, but I usually get in the way.  Thank you for understanding and being more faithful than I could ever imagine.

You said I could come to you with my needs.  Me, I need focus.  I need to know what you Praywant me to do.  I have been trying far to long to do things my own way, and I just spin my wheels.  So give me eyes to see how You see this mountain in front of me.  Show me what steps I need to take.

You said to lean not on my own understanding, well I don’t understand at all.  I put my trust in You because You understand everything.  I acknowledge that Your way is the only way and ask You Lord to direct my path.

You said I could ask and You would give me wisdom.  Lord, Give me wisdom.

Lord help me to love others like You love them.  Give me Your eyes for the people and circumstances that are around me, so that I can be Your hands and feet to those You have entrusted to my influence.

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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When you need to change your focus {#Write31Days}

We live at the end of a cul-de-sacWhen.  Our neighborhood was built in the 70s and there are not a lot a street lights, although there are lamp posts in most of he yards.  When I am outside, it feels terribly dark if the house lights are not on.  It is hard for me to see anything.

Yet, when I am in my house, even at midnight there seems to be a soft light outside, making the outside seem brighter then my dark bedroom.   I prefer the dark when I sleep, but for some reason it is the light that draws my attention as I try to drift off to sleep.

When things are dark around us, it can be very hard to focus on anything else.  We start to feel surrounded by our circumstances instead of in control of them.  When we feel that way, we need to turn our focus on the good around us.  When things are dark, we must focus on the light.  We can learn to get out of the funk as we start to turn our focus on what is going right around us.  The more you focus on the light, the more you will begin to see it.

 

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 on the Ask {#Write31Days}

“Ask and you shall receive.” John 16:24Ask
It is a scripture I know quiet well, yet often have such a hard time doing for myself. Growing up I didn’t feel like I could ask for anything. I felt unimportant, despite being considered spoiled. by my siblings I learned how to manipulate to get things, but I had such a hard time directly asking for anything I wanted or needed. It is a hard habit to break, and one that God has had to deal with me on in many levels. At times it is because I don’t really know what I want. Other times, I become so immobilized at the possibility of being told “no” that I fail to ask, even though the answer could realistically be yes.
I have learned to focus on asking God for what I need. I still have a hard time asking others, but if there is really something going on in my world, and I need something, He is my “go to God.” I am great at asking for others, regardless of the need or want unless I am completely against it, I have no problem putting myself out there because it is not personal if I get told no.
But I also have to be willing to ask God for what will motivate me into action. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to complete the plans and purpose God has for me. Guess what, God wants me to too! He knows what to burden me with to bring me to my knees. He know where I need to struggle to being about His promises. And He knows where I need His grace. I just have to focus my ask!

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 on Stopping Talk {#Write31Days}

Talk is cheap. There are times that I can focus more on talking than actually doing anything.  I talk about the things that I want to do, but I don’t take any action towards accomplishing those things.  I admit the things I talk about are generally the things that I am most passionate about, but then I will talk about it so much, or I get lost in research on a topic that I don’t make forward movement on what I’m interested in doing. 

Part of the research thing is a personality thing.  I love research, facts, statistics and learning. Knowing that is who I am, I have to set some limits and set timers so that I am aware of how much time is passing when I start looking into facts and information and opinions.  I have to limit myself, or I will never move into action.talk

However, when it comes to talking, I also have to learn to focus myself.  I need to share my passion, ask my questions, and then I need to get moving.   The world is full of good intentions, but if I am going to capture the perfect timing for my purpose, I have to move into action.  Talking has a purpose for connection, but when it comes to focus I must talk less and act more. 

I remember early in my Social Work career I participated as a board member for a nonprofit and they loved to talk.  Meeting after meeting we would talk about action items, but little progress seemed to get made.  It frustrated me beyond measure because I know I could not “save the world” by talking with the same people week after week about the same thing.  I was so antsy, I took on a project of compiling all the county resources into one location because I needed to do something.  

Yet there are other times, that I have joined in with the talking and allowed myself to complete little to no actions in making progress.  Too many opportunities can pass me by if my focus is on talking and not on action.  I have to be willing to talk with others, because my purpose is bigger than myself.  I also have to follow-up that talking with action.  And the action should be equal to or greater than the talking.

 

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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