Reset. Focus. Prioritize. Encourage.

Reset

When anyone’s cell phone seems to “glitch” as my oldest son calls it, my husband immediately says, “Did you turn it off and back on?” He knows that will reset the phone and usually result in a return to normal functioning.

In computer terms, a reset clears pending errors or events and brings a system to a normal or initial state condition, usually in a controlled manner. (Reset (Computing), Wikipedia)

Recently, I found myself reviewing the basics in every area of my life. A significant life trial has turned me back to the foundations of my operating system. I can’t exactly turn my whole life off and then back on again, but I can return to the basics in a way that sort of works like a system reset.

Focus

Every trial over the past 7 years has brought me back to a truth the Holy Spirit revealed to me when I entered what I call the beginning of the end of depression’s hold in my life.

“Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

This verse serves to refocus me on what God is doing and is going to do. Yes, we need to remember what He’s done for us, but only in a way that reminds us of what He will do for us.

Prioritize

When life gets overwhelming (busyness, concern for loved ones, hard times financially, etc.) the basics provide stability. They exist as automatic priorities that can remain consistent even when all else seems unstable and falling apart.

For me, prioritizing involves letting three simple truths keep my mindset focused on what God desires.

As God reminds me of the power I am yet to see Him display, I return to these truths knowing they are guiding principles to give my life stability. All the details of my life flow through these basics.

Encourage

Let the basics guide and direct you. They provide a foundation on which you can build and move forward, and they can encourage you when you feel defeated. The basics provide a system reset that might not erase the trials you need to endure, but they will allow you to operate from a place of stability.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Even though I don’t fully understand why these basics serve to encourage me so much, especially during really tough trials, I choose to trust in the future God has planned.

Because he has faithfully brought me through so many trials already, I know he will do so again. Because he has done the impossible over and over again in my life, I wait for the impossible to spring forth again.

A Detailed Life

Ever had your car professionally detailed? I have not, technically, but it was done to the “new” cars I have purchased. The pre-owned vehicles once moved and breathed in other lives but transferred into my life with the previous owners detailed out.

Neither have I detailed a vehicle myself. Why? Because it’s tedious work. Detailing involves getting into cracks and crevices and digging out accumulated grime. It’s taking out the floor mats and vacuuming. It’s reaching way under seats and getting all the crumbs and forgotten pencils, papers and water bottles. Sometimes, it results in “that’s where that is” or “I forgot all about that” or “Eeewww!”

Detailing sort of hits a reset button. It reorganizes and renews. Changing outside appearances in most areas of life really isn’t all that difficult, but making lasting change where our inner life matches our outer life, where the details of life balance with one another, can be a real struggle. Detailing our inner lives means digging into the cracks and crevices and reaching way underneath the surface to hidden places to find the forgotten, lost and unsavory.

2014 Word 365 – Details

Details 4Detailing my life, which I consider focusing in on the details as much as the Holy Spirit leads, in 2014 will lead me to do everything I do “simply, slowly and clearly,” in essence, to get into the cracks and crevices in a way that allows for hitting the reset button in some areas and discovering new direction in others. Specifically, focusing on the details of life will help me…

  • Simplify. My natural tendency involves complicating everything. If I don’t deliberately think of keeping the details of my life simple, I get overwhelmed easily. Focusing on the details will better establish a habit of simplicity.
  • Slow down. When I read, I move quickly to reach the end in order to move on to another book. But I miss out on the processing and applying. When I write, I also do so quickly and fail to carefully consider every word. Listening, too, often involves forming responses instead of truly hearing. Slowing down will amplify the quality of the time I spend in my favorite activities and with the people I love most.
  • Clarify.  Focusing on the details will also help clarify my focus. If I can find ways to stay clear in my focus (God’s will for the details of my life), I believe my life will be simpler. I also believe I will be more productive the clearer I can get and keep my focus.

Focus Determines Reality

In Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, Qui Gon Jinn tells Anakin, “Your focus determines your reality.” Unfortunately, Anakin’s focus continually drifted toward fear, resulting in him choosing the path of darkness.

As I choose to focus on the details of life in 2014, I too realize that my focus will determine my reality. If I fail to detail certain areas in my life, I may continue down a hurried and complicated path. I may continue to find myself increasingly confused and less productive. But if I guard my focus, I can walk the path of an amplified life that produces and inspires depth of character.

Details 5So once again, as I refocus on the two verses in Isaiah given as a focus for my life almost four years ago, I realize the necessity of creating a detailed life, one that exists in immediate and thorough obedience.

DISCUSSION: How’s your focus?

Want help with your goal setting?
Check out the terrific resources offered in
New Year’s Bible Study” at Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer.

God’s Perspective on Time Travel

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As established in The Benefits of Time Travel, the kind of time travel we see in the movies or read about in books remains as of today, impossible. However, many people still spend much of their time dwelling in the past or focused on the future. And, unfortunately, they do so at the expense the present.

Isaiah 43:18-19 tells God’s perspective on time travel and gives specific instructions for making the most of the present.

“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (AMP)

These verses in Isaiah give five pieces of advice on how to balance our past, present and future.

  1. Don’t purposefully or intentionally give serious attention to the past. Earnestness involves purposefulness, intentionality and seriousness. Isaiah directs us to let memories surface and acknowledge them when they do, but avoid lingering in the past and certainly dwelling there on purpose.
  2. Make a point to observe God’s current activity. Isaiah says to “behold,” which means observe, regard, gaze upon, view; watch; discern. In other words, notice the “new thing” God promises to do. So often, we fail to see God’s current activity because of our focus on what happened or on what might happen.
  3. Identify and acknowledge what you observe. Start by observing God’s activity but move on to becoming aware of it to the point of naming it in a way that amplifies His presence. Acknowledging often forces action.
  4. Give careful attention to what He’s doing. Now comes committing because “giving heed” requires focus. No longer can our attention be divided. God’s activity now becomes the center of our thoughts as it gains our “careful attention.”
  5. Get ready to see the impossible happen. Once you see, acknowledge and focus on God’s activity, you gain a sense of direction of where He’s going. You may not know specific details, and His plans likely seem impossible. But never forget that God masterfully authors the impossible.

Time travel stories always express the dire importance of not altering any event in the past because doing so causes severe and unexpected consequences. Just think of yourself disappearing from photographs in your own time if you change the past when you time travel to understand this principle.

In reality, traveling through time in our thinking – dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future – also involves consequences. Namely, we miss out on being happy and doing good (Ecclesiastes 3:12) and on taking hold and making the most of opportunities presented to us (Ephesians 5:16).

Dwelling on the past and obsessing about the future takes our focus off God’s promises. Instead, let the past live as applied present lessons, and allow the future to exist as today’s motivation. Focus on God’s plan for the present and the role He wants you to play as you move toward eternity with Him.

DISCUSSION: What else does the Bible say about God’s view of time that helps us understand how we should view time?

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The Benefits of Time Travel

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Even though time travel Men in Black, Back to the Future and H.G. Wells style only exists in science fiction doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, a recent travel through time brought me significant and much-needed perspective.

The Past

While visiting my dentist, I realized the office remains stuck in the 1980s. While he uses up-to-date equipment for the actual dental work, the office lacks any semblance of modern décor.

The high school office, 1980s style phone sits on the receptionist’s desk next to the cardboard record cards and spiral schedule book. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard her typing on an electric typewriter reminisce of high school typing class. And all of this happens within the walls of a modified 1980s ranch house.

Going to my dentist reminds me of “the good ‘ole days.” It reminds me of pre-internet, actually pre-computer, times when instant access meant using the telephone. Those days involved more face-to-face conversation in what now seems to be a much simpler time.

The Future

After leaving the dentist, I visited my grandma who now lives with my mom. While visiting her brings back fond childhood memories, my potential future grabs my attention. I know genetics only loads the gun and life choices pull the trigger, but I still wonder how much of myself I see when I look at my grandmother and receive only a distant stare and sometimes an irrelevant comment.

Will I someday walk in circles with my hands doing what they did 40 years ago? Are my kids facing a future where they must care for me as I cared for them when they were young? Am I going to one day forget half of my life and only remember bits and pieces that make no sense put together?

The Present

In just one hour, thoughts of the past and my potential future collided in a way that propelled me to actively consider how I got where I am today and where I seem to be headed tomorrow. I needed to note the positives and negatives and consider how both created my current reality and what needs to happen for me live an increasingly deliberate present.

God’s Promises

Knowing the timelessness of God and that He was, is and always will be (Revelation 1:8) brings a sense of purpose to my past and a hope for an abundant future. Studying His promises, which extend through time and still live for you and me to grasp today, creates intense motivation to increasingly know His presence in my present.

Consider Isaiah 43:18-19 and the wisdom it provides for how we should view our past, present and future.

 “Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (AMP)

These words encourage me to not linger on the past with its mistakes and could-have-beens. They help prevent an obsession with a future that only He knows and that I must simply let Him hold in His hands. And they refocus my present on what He’s doing now and on what He wants me to “give heed.”

In bringing these promises to mind, God re-establishes my heart where He wants it. Thursday’s post,  “God’s Perspective on Time Travel,” takes a deeper look at how to balance our perspectives on our past, present and future.

DISCUSSION: How does reflecting on your past and considering your future impact your present?

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Amplify

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Understanding the Word

To help understand the meaning of “amplify,” consider the purpose of audio amplifiers. They aren’t about adding volume; instead, they are about control. Through control of sound, amps give extra power, which leads to more detail and better sound quality. In other words, a sound amplifier produces a more powerful and detailed version of an audio signal.

To amplify in any way involves deeper analysis and further illustration. Amplifying also means increasing in amount and strength.

As I focus on amplifying in 2013, I want to create better understanding within each of my goal areas, which I’ll talk about in Monday’s post. I want to take my time to go deeper and create more detail. I liken this to becoming an expert in fewer areas rather than a generalist in many.

With amplification in 2013, I want to expand the basic meaning and purpose of what I am already doing and give them increased depth. I want to discover more power, power that is “immeasurably more” than all I could ask or imagine, “according to His power that is at work” within me (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Already Prepared

As I meditated on and studied the word “amplify,” I realized that the Holy Spirit had been cultivating the concept in my spirit for a while already. Let me explain.

Isaiah 43:18-19 has been a sort of theme verse for me for the past three years

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

After choosing “amplify” as my focus for 2013, I realized how well Isaiah 43:18-19 fits with that focus. When I choose to give control of my life over to my Creator, I know that I will experience increased power and depth in ways beyond what I can even imagine. In other words, He is the amplifier!

Another avenue leading toward my “amplify” focus came through a quote by Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Final Battle.

“Come further up, come further in.”

Another way to say it is to go “deeper down and further out.” (I was reminded of this quote after reading If You Started a New Community, Where Would You Begin? by Tom Tarver at A Curious Band of Others.)

My accountability partner and I have been talking a lot these past few months about application of “deeper down and further out,” which I now realizes can be summed up in one word – “amplify.”

So really, I started to “amplify” about halfway through 2012 but didn’t realize it until participating in my family’s annual goal setting. God prepared my heart for this focus, and His timing remains perfect.

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What’s next?

On Monday, I will go into more detail on how I plan to integrate “amplify” into different goal areas for 2013.

For what it’s worth, I had no idea when writing Vacation Reflections: Resolutions that I would be writing today’s post going into details on the meaning behind “amplify.” I also had no idea before writing this post that I would decide to continue the topic in “How to… Amplify” in my next post.

Perhaps that illustrates well part of the process to “amplify” as I allow the Holy Spirit more control. In that, I realize that to “amplify” for me involves increasingly more of Him and less of me as 2013 progresses (John 3:30).

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on the word “amplify”? 

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How to… Develop Wisdom

As stated in How to… Be Victorious, there’s a big difference between knowledge alone and knowledge with understanding (Proverbs 4:7). But what exactly is that difference, and how do we move from having knowledge to living with wisdom?

In my health journey, I obtained a lot of knowledge from a lot of different sources. This knowledge led to several lessons, which I detail in How to… Obtain Knowledge, that I still use today as I struggle through to victory in other areas of my life.

Yet, I remain aware of the fact that knowledge means very little without application that demonstrates understanding and that also shows the growth of wisdom.

When I was very sick over 2 ½ years ago, I crashed. For me, this meant that I could not handle my life as it was at the time, and something had to give. I was simply physically and mentally spent and exhausted. My body gave up on me. We had also just adopted our youngest son, and this took an added toll on me mentally and spiritually. He needed things from me that I just didn’t have to give.

So, my husband and I made some tough choices, the first of which was me quitting my job. Not an easy decision considering the extra money it brought in and that it was offering even more… a move from ¾ to full time. We did this so I could focus on getting healthy.

My two top priorities then became my own physical health and the mental health of our new son, who also had a great deal of healing of his own to do.

So where does wisdom fall in all of this? The following points detail the growth of wisdom during this time in my life, aspects which continue growing still today.

  1. Wisdom sometimes comes through wise counsel (Proverbs 13:10). Not all the advice I received was wise even though it came from knowledgeable sources. Several doctors simply got the diagnosis wrong, but one godly source got it right and gave me a tremendous amount of wisdom that led to the health I now experience today.
  2. Discernment plays a huge role in going from knowledge to wisdom. How did I know when advice I received was truly wisdom for my life? Discernment. Discernment comes from God (James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:10) and from His Word (Acts 17:11) as we go to Him on a consistent basis and not just to put out fires.
  3. Fear of the Lord can be a tremendous motivation. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that wisdom begins with fearing God. I knew that being constantly sick, tired and irritable was not only not God’s will, but it also took me out of following His will in almost all other areas of my life. Being healthy and strong to be able to please and serve Him to the best of my ability pushed me toward healing

Over time and through small revelations that added up to make a big difference, the Holy Spirit led me to a place of understanding and wisdom with regard to healing in my life. About the time that journey began, I was lead to read the book of Isaiah. One portion of Isaiah is not only highlighted but also has the date “Spring 2010” next to it.

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Every time I read these verses, their truth resonates in my spirit. I felt and still feel like God was giving me wisdom by saying to me, “I will show you the way through. I will refresh you along the way.” That was my turning point. That was the place where I knew I was on the right track for healing.

DISCUSSION:  What advice can you add regarding obtaining wisdom?

Related Posts:

A Father’s Wise Advice

Overwhelmed with God

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A New Vision for My Life

Well, today’s the day. TODAY is the 11th Anniversary of My 29th Birthday. I’ve finally reached an age that no longer sounds young to me. I have reached “middle age.” (Is that anything like Middle Earth?)

I have been attempting to come to terms with my aging for a while now, and I think I am starting to believe that there is a new vision for my life. This point did not come in the form of an epiphany by any means; instead, it came gradually and through unexpected paths.

About two years ago, I began to feel that God was leading me on a quest (hey, this is getting to be more and more like Middle Earth) to discover His vision for my life beyond 40. That realization began as I was reading the book of Isaiah.

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the dessert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Part of that quest involves my health journey, which I talk about in How to… Be Victorious. About a week ago, through comments in the post Approaching Halftime, several of my online friends encouraged me in another aspect of my quest with the following pieces of advice.

“The best is yet to come.”

When I look back over the past 40 years, that statement has held true for sure, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue to do so. So even though a part of me wishes this life involved immortality (if I could be any mythical creature, it would be an elf), knowing that “the best is yet to come” adds an excitement to life.

“We are not guaranteed tomorrow.”

Because any of our lives could end in a blink of the eye (just watch the news if that fact isn’t clear), enjoying the gift of today provides tremendous motivation for discovering and living out the vision God has created for my life. Thinking on this statement encourages me to truly “make the most of every opportunity” that God gives me within each and every day (Ephesians 5:15-16).

“Celebrate the gift of life.”

The gift of life includes the joy of family. It’s thankfulness for successes achieved. Knowing that life is a gift means realizing that God allows dreams and goals to unfold when we don’t even realize it and in doing so creates something to celebrate that is bigger than our greatest imaginations. Celebrating this gift of life has to involve not letting birthdays burden you. And certainly it also means sharing that gift, and more importantly the Giver, with others.

A New Vision for My Life

I do not know specifically what God’s “new vision” looks like for my life, but I do know that it involves better than I can imagine, more joy in my life and celebrating His goodness and mercy. Even though my thoughts sometimes dwell too much on the past or too often on “what ifs,” I know that He is creating a roadway for me to follow and rivers that will bring refreshment along that journey.

Sometimes we will wish parts of our lives did not happen and that we could erase them. And too often, perhaps, we pretend they really didn’t happen and fail to ever really deal with them.

Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

(Fellowship of the Ring)

But instead of living in regret, the birthday present I am giving myself, is to now decide how to live out the time that has been given me and to age gracefully. And even though I may not know the specific details of that living, I do know that it involves a tremendously hopeful future (Jeremiah 29:11).

DISCUSSION: If this post reads like I struggled through writing it, that’s because I did. Do you have any recent struggles that you have made public to allow others to come along side you in your journey?

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