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Look for Beauty in Seasons of Death

Look for Beauty in Seasons of Death

We are in the dead of winter here in the Northeast. It’s cold, and the skies are gray most days, and there is not much joy in being outside UNLESS you look closely. When you search for beauty in the barren landscape, you can usually find it, but it doesn’t necessarily catch your attention as it does in the spring or summer when the colors are eye-catching.In spring and summer, beauty is natural to find with the vibrant colors tied to those seasons. On a recent winter walk on a wetlands trail, I saw myself prompted by God to look for beauty instead of looking at everything that was dead. When I forced myself to look for beauty in the winter landscape, I found it in the shapes of intricate weeds, winter berries, rocks, streams and a myriad of tree shapes. This is a perfect analogy of what is happening during dark seasons of your life. You can choose to look at the death of the season and/or you can also choose to look for beauty. I am not suggesting that we operate in fantasy regarding our reality ( which is another blog); however, I am suggesting that when you look for beauty, you tend to have a greater awareness of the creator. All of us have the need to have a greater knowledge of the creator’s presence when we go through dark phases of life otherwise we will feel more hopeless and powerless. Our challenge as we move through the dark season is to look for beauty. We need to look for points of light because even when a room is entirely dark a single flame of a candle can change your perspective of the darkness and give you the vision to move through the night. It’s cold and dark out there. Choose to look for beauty and light.

 

Meet Joy

Joy is trying to break into my house over the last several weeks. A little yellow goldfinch has been knocking on various windows in my house daily, and while I am not exactly sure why he is trying to enter my house, I smile every time I watch him cock his head in confusion when the window panel prevents him from entering my house. I am coming to the realization that he tends to visit when things are emotionally heavy and so I have named this bird Joy and believe that Joy is trying to break into my house. I have been talking to a lot of people lately who feel stuck in a hopeless and joyless cycle and find themselves focusing on all that is without hope or joy instead of all that contains hope and joy. Each day we have the choice as to whether we focus on moments of joy (or a bird named Joy) or moments of hopelessness. I choose the former but don’t get me wrong; I grieve, too, yet if I only focused on the losses, I would only see the losses. Each day I have to look for where Joy is trying to break into my life, because I will tend to see Joy when I look for it. Ask God to show you where joy is today and hope will follow on its tail.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Five Ways to be Focused Throughout Your Day

I have started using timers for everything. I already used the timers for cooking and laundry, but as of late, I have been using timers as a means to stay on task. I become frustrated with myself or with situations when I find myself distracted from what I wish to focus my energy. In the short 10 minutes since I sat down to write, my dog has visited me, the dog began to bark at children playing, I looked up two definitions of words on the internet, a toilet overflowed, and two children asked me questions.

Distraction is one of the plagues of western culture. No longer are people trying to figure out time management because the ability to focus is more of a problem. The largest problem with lack of focus is that our relationships are suffering the strain of our lack of attention and many are feeling devalued. Here are five ways to be more focused in your day so you can do what you want to do with your time and the people in your life instead of directing your energy to all the other things that are vying for your time.

1. Do not go on electronics during the first hour of your day and the last hour of your day. Your brain needs to focus so that you can plan out your day and remember what you need to remember. When you choose to not use electronics at the end of your day you are better able to relax, pray and plan for tomorrow so that you enter a more restful sleep.

2. Take notes throughout your day of things you wish to come back to later, but not at that moment. By taking notes you will stay on your current task instead of getting sidetracked.

3. Take breaks. Every hour of task focus requires a ten minute break so that your brain can rest and refocus. You will be able to complete a task faster if you take a break. Most people assume if they just stay on task they can finish faster but science has proven that breaks make task completion easier and more efficient. When at work, change up your task for 10 minutes each hour so as to reset your concentration.

4. When having a conversation with an individual, focus on their face. If you are having trouble staying focused when they are talking you can use several tricks to keep you attentive. You will find conversation more stimulating and relaxing when you focus.
A. Focus on all the aspects of their head: their eyes, eyelashes, skin, creases in their faces, etc.
B. Repeat to yourself (inside of your head) what the person is stating every couple of minutes. What are they feeling? What are they saying? If you are thinking about what your reply will be, you are not focused on listening. Keep your attention on what the person is stating.

5. Set timers for yourself so that you stay focused on something you have traditionally allowed to steal your time. For example, if you find yourself staying on Facebook longer than you wish, set a timer before you go onto the site. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and then get off the site when your timer goes off. You will come to see how much time you waste on things that you do not wish to focus upon.

Today I used a timer to keep myself on the task or writing. I knew I had one hour to write and by using a timer I stayed focused on the task. My challenge was to write as well as I could in one hour and edit what I needed to change during another time slot. When we focus our attention on things that we value as important instead of those that are not, we tend to find ourselves much more energized at the end of the day.