Day 3 : Thankful for Understanding, Focus & Courage

I start the day like every day. There is creamer with a dollop of coffee … x2 huge mugs. My mug is potter’s-wheel thrown and handsome … and I wonder, “WHY did I gift this to my man/child to be used – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? – as pencil holder?  I guess those were my Pre-Cambrian … I mean, Pre-Columbian days. I’m glad he moved out and  left that yard sale find. I’m thankful that I needed a pencil one afternoon and ventured into his old room to find a writing implement. I spied the mug and snatched that sweet puppy right off the shelf.  I picked the pencils I wanted and left the rest with the dregs of room contents that he has left behind. psh  …..

Okay … where was I?  (goes back to read first paragraph ….)
… day starts like every other day with coffee and
bed making, blog post, email, Facebook, vitamins, escorted by breakfast to move those horse-pill-sized vitamins into my belly. I skipped exercise … ’cause it’s fall and I’m not feeling it and so I allow myself to talk myself out of exercise (stupid. stupid. stupid) so I jump right on to a bath, getting dressed and make up application.
But, I did veer slightly from the “every day” path by taking the time to cut my hair after I got out of the tub. I was in bad need of a cut. If not now … when? Right?
Ok. Ready to tackle the day! Let’s go!

I have six months worth of activities and “irons in the fire” going on in a period of two months. When there are TOO many things to do, I tend to get distracted a bit more easily. I have realized that it’s always easier to wash the dishes than … say to …. embark into unknown territory … something I’m afraid of or feel I might not do well … especially anything creative that I am doing for some.one.else. See …. there’s this pressure to do it JUST  right. And what if … when I’m finished they don’t like it? Or it doesn’t turn out like I had envisioned? OR worse yet, it turns out JUST like I envisioned and they don’t like it! *crushed spirit falls to floor*  So, I procrastinate. Do you do this with things in your life?

My awesome friend Julie paid me such a high compliment the other week. We’ve only known each other for a few short months and I just had the chance to really get to know her at the ladies retreat in the mountains.  She’s a dreamer and a visionary. She has a heart for God and a passion for people. She has a deep desire to get people journaling to get them thinking about what’s going on between them and God. And she knows fear. At the retreat, she saw me taking a majillion photos. She added me on Facebook. She’s been reading this blog. I told her about some of the projects going on in my life. And her comment the other day was, “You get so much done! You say you’re going to do it and you just do it. It takes me forever to get a blog post written and posted and you go off on our trip to North Carolina or to Savannah for a race, take photos and immediately post the photos and tell the stories!!” And I BELLY LAUGHED to her.  “But, Julie, if I don’t do it i.m.m.e.d.i.a.t.e.l.y, I’ll FOR.GET the stories!! … They’ll evaporate… vanish … *poof* … be gone!” So, yesterday, I laughed at myself and thought about Julie …

as I dug the dirt from around the inside rim …
:: just a minute  …. my feet are cold. i need to take my sticky breakfast plate and empty coffee cup to the kitchen, run to the restroom & put on my bedroom shoes. i’ll be right back. ::
:: okay. thanks ::
*picks up where left off*  …. as I carefully ran the screwdriver around the lip of the underside of my Rainbow vacuum.
See, after I left the rear of the house (bath/dress/make-up/make up bed) yesterday, I jumped full force into a few projects that have nearby deadlines. But, like the bird-cage cover that I put off FOR.EVAH … I’m hesitant to really dive into these projects. So, I allow myself to be distracted by what is comfortable and doable with ease.
It looks like this: Dishes. “I’ll do dishes,” I tell myself.  Oh, there’s Smudge. “He’s hungry.” Feed the cat. “Oh, my. I haven’t fed the birds.” Feed and water the birds. Notice that their cage still hasn’t been cleaned. I HAVE to do that …. because “What if someone comes over … at 8:30 at night … when I’m covering the cage … and they want to see my new bird-cage cover that they read about on the blog? And I’ll want to show it to them beCAUSE I’m so EXcited! I need to clean the bird-cage.” But, the vacuum is full of dirty water (Rainbow. Remember?). So, I dump the water that was left in the bowl after Joy (reluctantly) vacuumed the day before. I decide to deep clean the inside of the water bowl, because it needs it. I bring it in and see that the vacuum attachment shelf is really dusty. No. Seriously. It’s a mess. So, I take it off, throw it into the sink and use a toothbrush to clean it. And I realize that the filter hasn’t been cleaned in a while. *reach for butter knife* I tip over the body of the machine, remove the filter with the knife and begin to clean the filter. Because … if you don’t clean the filter, the motor will burn up! I don’t want the motor to burn up. There is dirt accumulated on the lip beside the filter’s indentation. I find a screwdriver and begin to clean. Spray with 409 to loosen dirt. Realize I never have taken off that second bolt. In fact, I’ve never even noticed the second bolt there under the filter cap. Go outside to find a socket wrench. The man/child evidently took all the working, smaller socket wrenches, because there are only two left in the rolling tool cabinet. One is broken. “Thank you, James.”  The other … works … but there is no adapter in the drawer of 83 sockets to make the FAT wrench work on the SKINNY sockets. In fact, it appears that all the sockets are tiny. Well, not all of them. There are at least 15 the size of a SPARK PLUG! “Fine.”
I walk back inside the house … frustrated … then ….
I recognize this as a blessing. God has just stopped.me  from dismantling my entire vacuum cleaner
in the name of necessary cleaning and impending doom (death by heat for my motor)
so that I am busy doing something “important”
that doesn’t need to be done NEARLY as much as my pressing, deadline projects …
kind of like He loves me and throws popcorn all over the floor
(ie, makes me drop the whole bowl!) when I insist on making it but
KNOW I’m not really hungry. psh.
I head back inside to begin finishing the cleaning the filter.
And there, bent over the kitchen sink … cleaning the vacuum filter with a baby bottle brush and 409
I laugh out loud. I wished Julie could have been there. I wanted her to know that …
I don’t always get things done. Sometimes I allow myself to become distracted.
Because, you know, as I was going about the not-as-urgent things in life yesterday morning,
I realized that I was not just being flitty and distracted … I had made the choice to operate on co-pilot
and do the things that I KNEW how to do … the things that I wouldn’t be critiqued on … the “easy” stuff like
laundry, personal care, dishes and cleaning bird cages …
rather than doing the thing that really took courage: an art project.
Even though God has been working in my life for weeks … and months …
forcing me to look at my cowardice … showing me my lack of courage  ….
I’m not brave enough yet. I still let the little voices whisper to me.
Some of those voices are audible. I hear from certain friends
who say they are trying to help me,
but I don’t f.e.e.l  love in their voices. They offer correction and direction
that hurts much more than it edifies.
Their “help” sounds more like criticism … like I’m not doing “it” the way they would
so I’m not doing it “right.”
Between the fear in my heart already well-established
and the audible voices I continue to experience,
sometimes I find it hard to be courageous.

So, I know that I struggle with focus. I have recognized this propensity for quite a while. At least a year or two ago, I asked a few of my closest friends if we could be a team. We would text each other when we need prayer. I only ask them to pray when I need focus. But, I ask them probably about once a month for this gift from them. And even if they only pray for me once, knowing that they will pray or have prayed encourages me.  And when I get distracted, I pray for a return of focus AND I pray for them, also.

Yes, this scattering arises almost ALWAYS
when I am doing  jobs that are difficult for me … the ones that I don’t want to find myself a failure.
Maybe we are all built this way.  I am not sure.
But, God is showing me that my lack of focus
is DIRECTLY linked to fear.
What a gift!! *throws silver glitter in the air, twirls pink and white ribbon batons and spins with joy*
The pathetic driving force of one more conflict is unearthed.

When we can see our struggles, we can dissect them
and figure out their motivations. THEN we can get to their root
and destroy them.
That is my prayer … that I will allow God to help me
through His power and direction,
to see my struggles, figure out their make up
and dig deep into the earth of my soul
to remove them … roots and all.
Today, I am thankful for understanding,
for focus
and for courage.

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