5 Minutes for Faith

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For today’s post, take a trip to 5 Minutes for Faith, where I am beginning my time as a monthly contributor on this site.

My post today is titled “What’s Your Secret?” and encourages a focus on God-awareness over what the world calls “self-awareness.”

Looking forward to chatting with you at 5 Minutes for Faith today and then next week back here on Struggle to Victory, where we will be discussing Chapter 5 of Bob Sorge’s book, The Fire of Delayed Answers, on Tuesday & looking at the topic of flexibility on Thursday with the post “Can you touch your toes?”

The Lord’s Obedient Servant

slide-0Obedience seems to invade my thoughts a lot lately, maybe because I have 12 and 14-year-old boys who sometimes struggle with obedience. Sometimes there’s outright resistance. Sometimes there’s physical obedience with mental disobedience. And, sometimes, there’s true obedience out of love and respect.

My boys know that we have zero tolerance for two things: Disobedience and disrespect. Separating outright disobedience and disrespect from general teenage boy stupidity presents a challenge at times, but we do our best as parents to not just discipline when our kids are disrespectful and/or disobedient but to explain the serous impact of those behaviors both temporally and eternally.

Almost every time I discipline my boys for disobedience or disrespect, the Holy Spirit gently reminds me of the presence of both issues in my own life, especially disobedience. To help with this understanding, Isaiah 40:5-11 gives a picture of the Lord’s obedient servant.

Just as God did with Isaiah, He gives new understanding of His will on a consistent and daily basis. He only asks that we diligently listen to Him, refuse to turn away from Him and avoid hiding from Him (v. 4-6).

In obediently paying attention to God, the benefits of obedience become increasingly evident.

  1. Courage. Dismay becomes dispelled, replaced by a stone-like, immovable quality (v. 7).
  2. Determination. His will becomes all that matters (v. 7).
  3. Confidence. Assurance of victory (v. 7).
  4. Presence. Always near His righteousness (v. 8).
  5. Certainty. Enemies destroyed and guilt erased (v. 8, 9).

Isaiah then goes on to describe two alternate realities that exist in opposition to obedience. The first reality involves being so steeped in darkness we are incapable of turning to the light, and we can’t bear to see the lit path of obedience.

The second reality involves existing in a false light, one where we create our own reality and our own truth to the point of no longer having an awareness of God’s light, which shows us the path of obedience. This reality is actually worse because seeing a light within a light is almost impossible.

The result of these alternate realities involves “great torment” (v. 11), referring to an eternal separation from God. When I realize the devastation accompanying disobedience as compared to the joy of obedience, I find motivation to seek His light in darkness and to rid my life of any false light leading me down the wrong path.

As a parent, I want my kids to focus on the paths God lights before them and not on darkness or any self-created light. That perspective as a parent gives greater understanding of the fact that my Heavenly Father wants the same for me as His child.

So I seek to teach my boys the benefits of obedience that exist now and that extend into adulthood and eternity. At the same time, I also seek obedience and its benefits for my own life on both sides of Heaven.

DISCUSSION: How do we seek obedience and its benefits?

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Vacation Brain

vacation brain

Last week I shared some Thoughts About Balance, which I wrote prior to leaving for a cruise vacation. As I write this post three days after returning from vacation, the topic of balance still draws my thoughts but in a slightly different way.

Literally, I still feel like I am on the cruise ship at times with its constant swaying. I even wake up in the middle of the night from what I can only describe as my brain trying to connect with my now shipless reality.

Having this swaying sensation in the absence of being on a boat led me to realize that sometimes our minds can get stuck cruising while the rest of our bodies struggle to go through the motions of life. This creates and out-of-balance state that I call “vacation brain.”

Defining Vacation Brain

The Urban Dictionary offers two definitions for “vacation brain.” First, “vacation brain” is “the 1-2 days before vacation when you can’t get much work done because your brain is already on vacation.” Second, “when you feel like you’re on vacation but you actually aren’t.”

Those definitions make sense, and I’ve experienced both, but allow me to offer a third definition. “Vacation brain” is “failure to live your life in a deliberate way that leads toward balance physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Let’s face it, if we live our daily lives the same way we live when we are on vacation, we’d all be in serious trouble. Oh wait… that’s how many people ARE living their lives. I wish I could say I have never lived that way but am happy to say that is not my current reality.

The Symptoms of Vacation Brain

The symptoms of “vacation brain” exist within what I call a “cruise ship lifestyle.” Here are the ones that stand out most to me.

  1. Increased comparisons
  2. God neglect
  3. Flesh focus

The posts, Understanding the Symptoms of Vacation Brain and “Are You Living a Cruise Ship Lifestyle?” will delve deeper into how this topic relates to the influence of culture and will also discuss the application to our everyday lives. For this post, let’s discuss some ideas to remedy this unhealthy state of existence.

The Remedy for Vacation Brain

The best remedy that I know of for “vacation brain” comes from Romans 12:2.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

When I came home from my cruise vacation and started feeling the shipless swaying sensations (they lasted a week after my last cruise), I knew that concentration and focus would be a struggle for me until the sensations went away. (On a side note, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome does not go away for some people.) Even when they do go away, I am keenly aware that “vacation brain” can easily become a part of my everyday lifestyle if I don’t deliberately choose to not let that happen.

To help keep “vacation brain” from becoming a permanent lifestyle, I focused in on the following:

  1. Renewing my routine. Vacations break routines, and returning to them quickly can help get thinking back on track.
  2. Reading a lot. I needed to get as much positive input as possible, so I read God-focused blogs in addition to my Bible. Reading is one of the best ways to reprogram your thinking.
  3. Reconnecting. While my husband and I connected a great deal on our cruise, I missed my friends and the rest of my family. Reconnecting can help refocus.
  4. Reviewing my pre-vacation status. I took a look at my writing notes prior to vacation remind myself of my various projects. I also reviewed my calendar a couple of months out as a reminder of what’s coming. Doing an inventory like helps direct focus and concentration.
  5. Refusing to be the same. Vacation was tremendously relaxing. I also came back with new perspectives and refuse to let the benefits of vacation be erased.

Almost immediately upon our return from vacation, we had to deal with some significant life issues that today remain unsolved. As I write this, I find myself wondering if the relaxation of vacation will quickly dissipate as a result. Then I realized that vacations don’t necessarily create a state of peace that will live on indefinitely; instead, they hit a reset button that helps us better deal with life’s coming challenges.

Over the life of this blog, the topic of vacations has come up several times, and I think that’s because they hold tremendous value for helping us to hit the reset button in our lives in so many ways. At least, that’s why I value them so much.

DISCUSSION: What other suggestions do you have for remedying vacation brain? Why do you think vacations are so important, maybe even crucially essential, for our lives?

Related Posts:

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Battling Boredom: My Struggle with Flat Faith – Series Summary

4-2-13 Bored

Thank you for taking this journey through my battle with boredom and struggle with flat faith. The list below provides a home base for the series, and this page can serve as a reference for passing this information along to others who might benefit from reading it.

Part I – Discovering the Role of Boredom
Part II – Understanding the Role of Connection
Part III – Understanding the Impact of Comparisons
Part IV – Diving Deeper into the Role of Boredom
Part V – My Battling Boredom Game Plan

Want to delve more into this topic of flat faith? Check out the guest posts Flat Spots Here and There – Part I and Flat Spots Here and There – Part II  by Kathy Howard, the author of Fed Up With Flat Faith.