Sunday, January 25, 2009

How’s Your Focus?

What are you comfortable paying attention to? I’m usually more comfortable paying attention to a lot of things—both inside and outside of my head. I like taking in information about the what’s going on within and around me. I also like connecting dots in my head to make sense of all of the pieces of information I’ve gathered. Therein lies one of my biggest challenges. Because I’m so comfortable attending more broadly, it takes a lot of discipline for me to narrow my attention when dedicated focus is necessary. In fact, when I have to do it, I often feel like a toddler on punishment. I try to find all sorts of excuses and “work arounds” to move on to something else. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy what I may be doing; I just don’t like having to only focus on that one thing. And, here’s the real kicker: when I am more intentional and purposeful about focusing my attention, I reach my goals much faster, deadlines are met, and I’m much less stressed. Perhaps, you’re really great at narrowing your attention and focusing in on details…only to find that you’ve analyzed every detail of the bark in front of you but missed the giant fact that you’re standing in front of a tree…in the middle of a forest.J Fear not beloved, there’s hope for all of us.

Like Ezra in the Bible, we can apply the kind of attention necessary to see our goals and dreams come to fruition. In Ezra 7:10, we see that Ezra “set his heart to study the law of the Lord….” The Hebrew word for “set” carries with it the meaning, “to attend to, to direct, and be fixed.” Ezra narrowed his attention, focusedhis heart on studying the law of the Lord so he could do it and teach it. His commitment to do so was necessary for his leadership role in Israel. It’s interesting that earlier verses in the chapter tell us Ezra was skilled in the law of Moses and that the good hand of God was upon Him. While he apparently had been blessed with the necessary skill set and God’s favor, he still had to make a decision to “set is heart to study.” This week, I had to make some decisions about effective use of my time. I’ve been working on two major projects that should have been completed months ago. They aren’t complete because I haven’t really focused my attention or dedicated the time necessary to see them through. As I did things differently this past week, I was encouraged by the major strides I was able to make.

The fact is we can’t do everything all of time. We must make choices. Ideally, we seek the Lord’s guidance regarding direction and priorities. We keep things in proper order when we trust His leading. Like Ezra, I want to consistently “set my heart” to study God’s Word. I’m impressed that Ezra was able to stay focused. Talent and gifting can sometimes be distracting. We forget that everything we have comes from the Lord, and we can’t do anything apart from Him. I also want to steward well over every responsibility my heavenly Father entrusts to me. I want to be found intentionally and purposefully doing God’s will.

What are you focused on in this New Year? What dream, ministry, or vision needs more of your attention? I encourage you to set your heart to accomplish the necessary activities to see it through. Blessings in Christ, Marvita

"Our first Circus event"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Aiming for the goal...

Have you set goals for this year?  I have a few I’ve committed to, but I’m still clarifying others.  In past years, I came up with my goals by early December and had them all ready to go by the new year.  Sometimes I'd list too many, and even though I accomplished a lot, I'd feel overwhelmed because I was running hard after them or failing to make them happen.  I would end up doing but not experiencing.   My lists might be complete, but I could barely remember why I made it a goal in the first place (it even sounds goofy as I write it J).

As we enter the third week of the New Year, I’ve narrowed my goals to a significant few and have been very intentional about taking my time to really consider what matters most right now.  Launching this blog is one of my goals for the year.  Starting it was one objective—timely maintenance of it is another.  One sketch, one layout, one pondering per week isn’t difficult, but I’ve certainly figured out (in just three weeks) that I need to have a plan; then, I need to follow-through!

While my goals do include other projects and books I want to complete in the coming year, my number one goal this year is to be more responsive to God’s leading.  I want to hear Him more clearly.  Like the children of Israel in the wilderness following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, I want to move when I see Him move and rest when He says rest.  If He says hug someone, I want to hug them.  If He says share a meal, make a phone call, stop and pray, or stop and listen, I want to do that, too.  Slowing down to hear doesn’t always come natural for me.   I have to be very intentional about valuing and protecting those moments in my day that allow me to be still, reflective, and contemplative Otherwise, I find myself subject to being sucked into the vortex of busyness and stress.  I’ve learned over the years that it’s much easier to be vigilant about protecting the things I value in the first place, than it is to get them back once they've been stolen--especially my time. 

I’m excited about the coming season. I look forward to growing with God this year—and being transformed from the inside out.   What are you looking forward to this year and what goals will you set to help make it happen?  Living out loud, Marvita!


My dd this summer during our vacation.  I used GS and IA for this layout.  I also added some stickles & chalking.  Paper is by Heidi Grace.  

Monday, January 5, 2009

Write the vision down...

Vision is a powerful thing. It allows us to see ideas and dreams come to fruition and can establish legacies that impact future generations. In Habakkuk 2, God tells Habakkuk to “record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.”

In 2008, I began the practice of recording my project ideas in composition books. I maintain a separate book for each major project I’m working on. This has been very useful for me. I’m a multi-tasker who loves dreaming and jotting down notes on post-its, napkins, old envelopes and anything else that’s handy. I can also be an "oohhh, look at the pretty bird..." person as well. Left unchecked, my imagination would have me singing worship songs from the tops of mountains and dancing around like Julie Andrews in the "Sound of Music" (my favorite movie btw!). The composition books give me one place to cast vision, write it down and make it plain. It’s also a safe place to re-think, re-work, and re-envision the idea as it moves forward.

I’ve been blessed to see how the Lord has used this new discipline in my life during the past year. While I can occasionally over-think and over-complicate projects, I’ve seen major growth when it comes to moving from the conception of an idea to its completion.

The new year before us presents a great opportunity to “cast vision” for the next season of our lives. What dreams do you have? What idea or project of yours is waiting to be birthed? What passion has God placed in your heart that pleads for your attention? Have you written it down…have you made it plain? I love Dawson Trotman’s quote at the top of this web page: “Thoughts disentangle themselves as they pass through our fingers.” Take time this week to think about the dreams that lay dormant in your heart. Dare to dream them again, write them down, and entrust and commit them to the Lord’s care—you’ll be amazed at what awaits you. Blessings, Marvita

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Beginnings...

I love fresh starts!  Lamentations 3:22, reminds us “it is because of God’s mercy that we are not consumed; His compassion never fails.  They are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.”  It’s a pretty AWESOME truth--with each new day, the dawn reminds us that God’s mercy and compassion begin anew for us...we get a do over or, better still, a do again.   We get another chance to pursue deeper, more intimate relationship with our heavenly Father.  We get another shot at manifesting His love in us toward others in more random and amazing ways.  We get more opportunities to say “thank You, Lord for (fill in the blank).” 

New Year is also a new beginning.  In 2009, we again have an opportunity to start fresh—with new goals, new ideas, and new clarity….  New can be good.  New can be intimidating.  New can be scary.  I’m so thankful that in all that is new, God remains faithful--to love us, provide for us, guide us, and surround us with His amazing grace. 

Blogging is new for me!  It’s an outlet to focus my own desire to leave “tangible legacies” for my family and friends.  And, at the same time, it’s a place where I hope to encourage others through the grace of Jesus Christ. I’ve chosen to focus on scrapbooking here, but I’m also a journaler—I love the clarity it can provide as well as the opportunity it gives me to articulate everything in my head and heart that may not make sense until I’ve worked through it on paper. 

The themes will change from week to week, but the desire of my heart will be the same:  to encourage you to create, inspire, dream, and record your own tangible legacies and to share my own ponderings about the matchless wonder of our awesome God! 

While the sketches and layouts may often be tied to the weekly theme, they are certainly open to various interpretations and iterations.  I decided to make a layout about the beginning of 2nd grade.  Be creative, enjoy, and share your creations through comments with direct links to your work!  Serving Christ with you and looking forward to this year’s journey, Marvita