“Your Focus Needs more Focus”

I was in charge of walking the dog this week. Not a big deal, he’s pretty good about walks now. There was a time, though… a time when that puppy of ours was a bundle of energy and was distracted by every person, stray dog, fluttering bird or swaying blade of grass. He’s older now and a little less distracted… but the odd time he loses focus. Just like the rest of us. Or as the next generation of karate kid training says “your focus needs more focus”. Love Jackie Chan.

Which had me musing this week. Focus. What are we really focused on? The center point. The hub. The nucleus of your world. Focus. The clarity in the situation. The distinct, well defined, finger-pointing “thing” that makes it, well, “it”. Some of us have a goal for a time. Raise our kids well. Focus on a career that will lead us to financial stability. Finish college. Buy a house. Many of my readers will note that I have had a #wordoftheyear for the first time in 2021. I chose it to bring a little focus into my life for the next 365 days. (You can read about it here).

FOCUS

Our physical bodies are often something we focus on as well. How many workouts target one or two “problem areas”. Buns of steel, anyone? Or calming ourselves down by focusing on our breathing, or pulse, or making each step deliberate. It helps keep us under “control”. The control is needed to keep us from going off on tangents, wild goose chases or as a friend puts it…rabbit trails. Alice got into a lot of trouble following a rabbit.

Clarity. Good clarity comes from the right focus. My glasses help me see clearly. Microscopes and telescopes bring clarity to objects our eyes simply cannot see without help. It brings a fuzzy, undefined image into something we can recognize and understand. And often learn from or learn more about with study.

So why focus on focus? It is a strong contender in our ability to keep going. It goes hand and hand with hope. When we lose focus, we easily become distracted… and then the journey is no longer enjoyable. Like our puppy walks. When we had to correct, refocus, pull on the leash and speak harshly to the pup… nobody enjoyed the outing. Sure, truth be told, all of us need a little distraction now and then to break the monotony of tunnel vision. Maybe breaks are even necessary. Yet, focus brings us back to the point.

The beginning of Hebrews 12 reminds us to not only to stay focused on the end goal, but shows us how Jesus was our perfect example of this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT

His love for us. Our weak faith. Our focus on the finish line before us. What about you, my friend? Does your focus need more focus? Are you pulling in all directions? I know I struggle with this all too often. May you be encouraged to “focus” along with me in the next few days, and set our eyes on the finish line, as we enjoy our walk together.

That Sounds Fun

It’s now been over a year since we were introduced to the infamous Corona virus, the dreaded Covid-19. The global menace of 2020. We’ve had time to reflect, contest, converse and contemplate all that we hold dear and special. Toilet paper notwithstanding. Annie F. Downs is no exception to those things, either. In her latest book, That Sounds Fun, she, too, reflects on her past experiences in light of the mix of her new experiences. What then, does it all mean in God’s plan? It’s a delightful compilation of thoughts and experiences from Downs’ life. Although this thirty-some-thing-single-Tennessee-gal is “embarrassingly easy to find” on the internet, she’s new to me. She currently hosts a podcast called “That Sounds Fun” and her book is an extention of that work. Now that I have read this book, I am eager to get a hold of her “100 Days to Brave”…especially in light of my #wordoftheyear. Downs also has her first children’s book due out in fall 2021. But let’s get back to the current. Here’s her little promotional to wet your appetite:

via YOUTUBE

Much like mittonmusings.com, Annie’s book is a collection of thoughts, gathered under three general premises: The Joys of Being an Amateur, The Power of Falling in Love, and Why you Need a Hobby. Her writing is witty, and well, “fun”, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Dotted throughout the book are lists of what her fans also think is “fun” and truly reflect what the world began to hold dear in this global pandemic: visits with friends, teaching and mentoring the younger generation, learning from the older, travel and family. These are the things that Downs calls our “return to Eden” moments. The pieces of our heart that are shaped by God’s perfect plan and what He originally intended for us as humans… connection and meaningful relationships, including bringing Glory to God through our actions and experiences.

Annie is openly personal in her conversations, and shares both her joys and sorrows. I was particularly touched by her story about Helen. If you know me, and read the book, you’ll see why. She shares her struggles about being single, her allergies, and I love how she has named the places she has lived. What would you name the place you are currently living in? Mine might just have to be the Castle of Chaos. She reminises about times spent on her grandma’s porch snapping beans… her little moment of childhood Eden. Country girl, indeed.

Originally, I picked this book for my bookshelf based on my thoughts about “fun”. My ideas of fun are vastly different from the thoughts my husband has, different from what my children find fun, and different from what many of my friends deem “fun”. I was looking to validate my own activities, and to trust that God made me special. In some ways, she does. God’s plans for Annie F. Downs are not the same for me. They are not the same for you, either. Does God want us to have some “fun” along the way? Of course. Maybe we could sum it up in this quote near the end of the book:

“So chase the fun, friend. Go after it. Find what sounds fun to you, and you will find what you are really looking for. Maybe you will find it in the places where you are an amateur (aren’t you glad to be an amateur!) maybe you will find it in love (I hope you are in love); or maybe you’ll find it that hobby you just found or returned to.”

Annie F. Downs in “That Sounds Fun” p.223-224

Have fun today, my friends.