Simplify Your Focus: Five Minute Fridays

This time of year there seems to be a plethora of self-improvement choices around the internet (and elsewhere). We are bombarded with choices for courses to take, books to read, or programs to join in order to better ourselves in some way or another. Some of that is good. It is helpful for us to have training and accountability in pursuing our goals. At the same time, though, sometimes all this amounts to is more noise, more comparison, more ways to feel like we aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough.

A few weeks ago, this was how I was feeling—as if all the noise from social media, books, blogs and podcasts was just cluttering my brain and heart to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything. It dawned on me that I needed to simplify my focus. After all, I can only do one thing really well at a time. I needed to quiet all the noise so I could focus on what was really necessary and important. And it helped, as it always does, to clear my head and pray and take a break from scrolling the internet.

As I was thinking back over my goals for 2018, I noticed a common theme, especially in terms of my “whys” for setting those particular goals.  I could boil it all down to two questions: what will help me better serve my family, and what will help me better glorify God? I may have many different goals and ideas for how to accomplish them, but if I really simplify my focus to those two things, God and my family, I will always be headed in the right direction.

This post is part of Five Minute Fridays. To read my other FMF posts, click here, or on the tag #fiveminutefriday at the bottom of the page. 

What Motivates Me? #fiveminutefriday

I will be the first to admit that I am not easily motivated to do things that are not easy, comfortable or enjoyable for me. And I am not naturally very self-disciplined. I need outside deadlines and accountability to really stay on task over the long haul. The new year has been a good time for me to renew my motivation and to set goals for action, but what will keep my motivated to follow through on these goals? I hope that having come up with my “why” for all my goals will be what keeps me coming back over and over to keep making progress. And I know that the more I let other people in on my goals, the more accountability I will feel to continue growing, bit by bit. Most of all, I want to become a better person, and that motivates me to keep moving forward, even when I don’t feel like working hard. Some people need reminders to slow down. Not me. I need motivation to keep going when the going gets tough. So, if you notice a few more posts this year about how I am making progress toward my goals, consider yourself part of my personal accountability group! And thanks for keeping me on task!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 3:12-14

What motivates you to buckle down and do hard things? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

P.S.-It’s been a long time since I participated in Five Minute Fridays, but I am making it one of my goals to write one of these posts at least once a month! So, welcome back to my FMF blogger friends! I hope we’ll see each other around more often in 2018. 

This post is part of Five Minute Fridays. To read my other FMF posts, click here, or on the tag #fiveminutefriday at the bottom of the page. 

What Do I Need? #fiveminutefriday

Thinking about “needs” today, I was struck by how many things I think I need on a daily, or at least a regular basis:

I need quiet.
I need personal space.
I need my morning tea.
I need to write.
I need to read.
I need to create.
I need to connect with my husband.
I need to connect with my kids.
I need time outside in nature.
I need water.
I need wholesome food.
I need to feel understood.
I need prayer.
I need a plan.
I need a to-do list.
I need sleep.
I need structure.
I need flexibility.
I need peace.
I need a clean house.
I need the internet.

Most of all, though, I need the grace of God to get me through the day.

Some of my needs are healthy things. Others may be less than healthy. Some are things that are easy to get on a daily basis. Others are more challenging for me to get right now. Some of my needs are filled by means of self-discipline. Others are filled as a simple matter of habit. And still others are actually out of my control. All my needs, in the end, are ultimately fulfilled by God’s provision, either directly or indirectly. And to Him I offer thanks and praise at the end of the day for giving me what I truly needed.

And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

This post is part of Five Minute Fridays. To read my other FMF posts, click the tag #fiveminutefriday at the bottom of the page. 

Trusting the Author: #Write31Days Day 6

I have have been keeping up with the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, but not all of them have been worthy of posting for various reasons. I am also writing them all out long hand, which means they are all pretty short. I could probably type faster and write more. But I feel like it is a good exercise for me to have to be very concise since my time is so limited. This post is from yesterday’s prompt, but I only got around to doing it today. We will see if I get any better at staying on schedule next week! 

When I read this prompt, Francesca Battistelli’s song “Write Your Story” immediately came to mind. But then quickly following that thought came the question, “What if I don’t like the plot twists in this story He is writing, this story of my life?” Truth be told, I sometimes have a hard time accepting my role in this story. So how can I learn to accept His plans and trust that it fits into His greater anthology of human history and eternal destiny? It doesn’t do me any good to fight it. He is the Author, after all. I only make myself (and everyone around me) miserable when I try to fight against Him.

I must remember that the Author loves me. He takes delight in me. He is for me. He even says He “works for the good of this who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV) I know He has called me to be used by Him, so I believe He can use even the hard, broken parts of my story, not just the easy, lovely ones, for His purposes. All I have to do is surrender to Him and let Him write the healing, too.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days

This post is also part of the Five Minute Friday Link-up

Depend on Him: Five Minute Friday

There really isn’t much we can depend on these days. Sure, there are plenty of things we take for granted in modern American culture–electricity, running water, a strong wifi signal–but nothing is really certain to last. The power does go out. Water mains break. And we might move to an area without good internet service (ahem).

The only thing I can truly depend on is God and His amazing grace. Even though I mess up and fail, even though everyone else flakes out on me, he is still there, waiting for me to stop panicking and to seek Him.

He is Dependable, Constant, Faithful, and Unchanging. And He love you. He sees you. He knows you. He is for you.

Depend on Him.

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday Link-up.