Category Archives: Managing Life

Distraction Detours

Two directional signs in the woods.by Lydia Floren

We all get distracted from time to time, especially those of us with ADD. Here is an example of what I call a “distraction detour” from my life recently:

I am finishing a task in the kitchen before I head out to run errands, and realize I need something from upstairs, so I run up to get it.  I walk into the spare bedroom, and immediately notice that it is a mess. I pick up a book and put it on its shelf. And then I rearrange the shelf a little. And before I know it I have completely organized the room.

And then I look at the clock.

 Two hours. I’ve been up here two hours. How in the world did I get started on this?  Oh yeah, I came up here looking for something…what exactly was I looking for?

I shrug my shoulders, and hurry back down to the kitchen.  As I enter, my eyes fall on a T.J. Max bag sitting on the counter. Oh yeah, the baby shower gift. That’s why I went upstairs: I needed a gift bag.   I turn around and climb back up the stairs muttering “gift bag, gift bag, gift bag” with every step, so I won’t forget why I came upstairs this time, and end up getting side-tracked all over again.

Sigh. Distractions happen. And occasionally–more for some of us than others– they sidetrack us. An unplanned two hour detour in a busy day, shoots a hole in our careful plans, and keeps us from accomplishing as much as we had hoped.  But we don’t have to let these DD’s ruin our day.   When my day is disrupted by a Distraction Detour, I get frustrated with myself for letting it happen. All too often, I will continue ranting at myself for the rest of the day every time I think about it.

What is wrong with you? Can’t you even go upstairs and find a stupid gift bag in under two hours?  Look at the time! Even if I hurry the rest of the day, I’ll never get everything done now!

Distraction detours impact our plans, but they don’t have to steal our joy.

So what’s a person to do when you recognize you have a DD?  And how do you keep a Detour from turning into a Disaster? Here’s a few things I have learned in my long experience with DD’s:

PUSH THE RESET BUTTON.

As soon as you realize what is happening, stop.  Take a deep breath. Give thanks. As my friend Denise often reminds me, “There is always always always something to be thankful for.”  Next, walk through the rest of the GRACE pneumonic we’ve talked about before (see Living GRACE)—Give thanks, Release, Accept, Continue, Enjoy.

Give thanks. Thank You, God, for my mind, no matter how scattered it gets. For Your love and patience, for the way You made me. Thank You that You multiply my time, and will help me to do what is most important without worrying. And thank you for what I got done these last 2 hours, even if it wasn’t on today’s to do list.

Release. I give all my time to you, and all my plans. I release myself from the expectation of perfection.   Please show me how to give myself grace, and lighten up a little (or a lot). And help me to quit “shoulding on myself.

Accept. Here’s where I am now, Father. It’s __o’clock. I have ___ hrs left in the day.  As I regroup, show me what is most important. Help me to eliminate and concentrate.  

[You might make a short to-do list, 3-5 things, depending on how much time is left.]

Continue.  Start out fresh, right where you are, as if it was the beginning of the day,

Enjoy  the rest of the day, free of worry and minus the self-guilt trip. God understands, and he loves us just like we are. So lighten up.  Laugh a little, and then a lot.

Distraction detours happen to all of us. Don’t let them highjack your joy. Be kind to yourself. Step back, regroup, handle them with GRACE.  Laugh a little (and then a lot) and move on!

Don’t remember the former things; don’t dwell on things past. Isaiah 43:18

Rejoice in the Lord always. Phil 4:4

Stepping Back

stepping backStepping Back by Lydia Floren

There always seems to be a lot going on in my life. Yours too, probably. Until recently I was working on a book project (Beloved Adventure), blogging, practicing medicine, helping to lead a small group, and preparing for a major house renovation. But a few months ago, I felt God leading me to put a few of these projects on hold and take some time for deep healing from some things in my past.

This is not on my five-year plan. Anywhere.

Yes, I have a past. We all do. I’ve dealt with it, prayed over it, experienced healing from it.  I really don’t want to go there again. Ever. “Besides,” I grumbled to God, “I’m too old for this.”

But God kept tapping me on my shoulder saying “You need to go here. It is important. It is your next step forward, for growth and healing. There are things that linger there, that  now you have the strength and understanding to deal with.  Things that still affect you, that cause you to be anxious, to over react in certain situations, to distrust. I want to perform a deeper healing, to give you a new perspective, to bless you with increased joy and freedom.”

It took a few such “conversations,”  before I acquiesced.  I reluctantly set aside (for the third time) the kitchen/bathroom project, the work on Beloved Adventure and a few other things.  And I began cautiously following My Loving Father in a different direction.

It takes a lot more courage and energy for me to step back than it does to step forward. It’s scary. There is rejection and hurt and mistakes and regret back there. It is a place I only dare go with my Loving Father at my side. And He has stayed close, protecting, providing, encouraging.  He led me to counselor that I trust, and a couple of friends I can decompress with.  He has given me a husband who understands and friends who are praying.

So far, It’s been messy and revealing. And yes, freeing and healing. But it has not been easy.

We can always know that God’s way will be one of healing and growth, freedom and joy. But what’s hard to grasp is that, on occasion, His way may also take us in an unexpected direction, a retrospective—even painful—one.  But He knows that difficult past experiences can seep through and stain our current perspective, despite many coats of paint-years layered on top. So, there are times God may (and probably will) ask us to dig deep. Unearth unpleasant memories. Allow Him to reprocess them in the light of His love.

Are you willing, no matter what your age or stage in life, for God to lead you to take a step back?  To set aside some projects, so that you have the time and energy to follow Him there? Are you ready to trust Him to create a new frame of reference, one untainted by past hurts? Even if the healing process will be painful at times?

If/when you are, I think you will find that stepping back can be remarkably freeing.  As God heals damaged emotions from the past, He enables us to claim more fully His loving embrace in the present.

You might find, as I have, that sometimes the best way–maybe even the only way—to move forward is by stepping back.

Those who wait for the lord will gain new strength…” Isaiah 40:31

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-34

sometimes stepping back is the best way to move forward.

Getting Away

12216-getting-awayGetting Away

by Lydia Floren

I  remember first getting away by myself when I was a resident in Jacksonville, Florida.  Medical training was pretty intense, and I found myself needing a true break. So, periodically, I would pack an overnight bag, and head to the nearby beach, where I’d rent a cheap mom-and-pop type hotel room for a night or two. Other than the usual essentials, I would take only my Bible and my journal.  I’d sleep for long stretches, take walks by the ocean, praying to the sound of crashing waves.  It was truly restorative.

A few years later, when I was married and mostly staying at home with little ones, I’d occasionally talk my husband into childcare duty and check into a nearby B and B.  I was amazed at how different a night or two would make me feel—refreshed, renewed, settled. Resting and reconnecting with God (and myself) did that for me. My husband noticed the difference too, and started to encourage me to take some personal time, on occasion. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago he pulled me aside and asked   “Hon, do you need to get away for a couple of days?”

The location and timespan of these little solo retreats has varied over the years, but some things have remained pretty constant.  Rest. Solitude. Silence (including all electronics). Prayer (both talking and listening). Bible reading. Journaling.

Until recently, I’d never met anyone else who did this sort of thing.  Well, Jesus did it.  And while writers such as Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning have mentioned their own such experiences in passing, I had never seen, much less read, a whole book dedicated to this topic.

Until now. My dear (and fairly new ☺) friend Tish just published a wonderful book about taking a personal retreat called Getaway with GodI met Tish at a writer’s conference (Write to Publish) a couple of years ago. I liked her immediately. Tish is a gentle, Godly woman, and her book reflects her heart. It also provides some great resources and insights into planning your own personal retreat.

Getting away with God–the Person who knows you best and loves you most. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Especially this time of year? Maybe it’s time to give yourself a gift.  Mark your calendar and make your own plans for some personal rest and renewal.  (And maybe pick up a copy of Getway With God while you are at it.)

Best. Christmas present. Ever.

PS. For the chance for a free signed copy of Tish’s book, just respond to this post on the blog Belovedlove.org/reflections, message or post on our Facebook page @ Belovedlove, or on Twitter @bebelovedlove!

p.s.  I took the above picture at my friend’s Northwoods cabin. The one below is from another friend’s low-country retreat in South Carolina.

12216-restores-my-soul

Overwhelming GRACE

0verwhelming GRACE

overwhelming GRACE

Overwhelming GRACE

by Lydia Floren

When life seems overwhelming, it is hard to wait on God. And even when we choose to be still,  our minds can continue to race, robbing us of this precious time to re-energize and refocus.

Praying GRACE is an awesome way to break free of swirling thoughts, and drink in God’s peace and love.

Give thanks:

Thank you, God, that you are here. You love me, and those Iove. You know exactly what is going on. You meet me right where I am and are leading me in the next step. You are powerful and have everything under control. I am safe.

Release:

Father, you know all of these things swirling around in my head. I just leave them one by one at your feet. You are in control. I don’t need to be, and frankly, I can’t be.  Thank you for helping me to see that. Forgive me when I try to take control instead of trusting you.

Accept:

Father, I accept the lighter load of following you, instead of trying to figure out everything on my own. I accept Your leadership and direction. Right now I choose to listen as you speak through your word, and your still small voice within me.

Continue:

God, I choose to continue moving forward in the way you have already led me, trusting you to make clear any changes that need to be made.  Thank you that even if/when things don’t seem clear, you will open doors, close others, helping me to see plainly which way to go.

Enjoy:

Father thank you that I can just enjoy the day in front of me, knowing that You’re with me–reassuring, guiding, loving. I can enjoy each moment knowing that you’re taking care of everything, and that you have the big picture in mind.

                This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

you are lovely, and loved.

God's grace is overwhelming

God’s Answer to Overwhelm

7:1:16 God's Answer to OverwhelmGod’s Answer to Overwhelm

by Lydia Floren

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do and not enough time? What a question! Of course you do. Life in the 21st century rolls along at neck-breaking speed. We can try to manage it (and that is good to do) but even with our best efforts our lives can get out of balance. We get exhausted. Malnourished. Crabby.

We “don’t have time” to exercise regularly, or eat healthy food. We sleep poorly, because we stay up late doing stuff, or we have so much on our minds that it’s hard to get to sleep, or stay asleep.

And how can we possibly afford to spend 30-60 uninterrupted minutes in our day for time with God? Our life is one big interruption!

When I was in medical school, I regularly experienced this sense of being overwhelmed. There was too much to learn. Not enough time to grasp it all. And the constant fear lurking in the back of my head: If I didn’t learn this, would some patient die as a result? How would I ever be a good doctor? I would pray, “God, what have you gotten me into? Or what have I gotten myself into? Did I hear you wrong, when I felt you leading me toward going to medical school?”

Isaiah 40:27-31 was my answer from Him:

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?””

Huh. That sure sounds a lot like me.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.” 

Yeah, I “know” this. I’ve heard it all my life. I guess I just don’t remember it or believe it very well. So, You DO know what is going on. You know exactly what my situation is. Good. [rub hands together] What’s the plan?

“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.” 

Sounds good. I am ready for some of that strength and power, especially the brain power.

“Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” 

Wait? Wait. You want me to wait? What do you mean “wait”?

[More next week.]

Share with Us: What have you learned when you find yourself overwhelmed?

Prepping for Success

3:9:16 Prepping for successby Lydia Floren

It is always soul-enriching, being with God. Why do I wait? What could possibly give me more life than spending time in His presence? Having those moments that soak into my soul?

Nothing.

Prepping for success

How can we be prepping for success? How do we minimize distractions first thing in the morning, and optimize our chances of success, in this all important meeting with The Person Who Loves Us Most? Here are a few thoughts that have helped me:

1. Restrict my daily “To Do” list to 5 items. I only allow 5 things on my to do list every day, and #1 is “Be loved by God, and listen.“

2. Plan and Prepare the night before:

  • Straighten up the night before, especially the area where I have my prayer/time with God.
  • Make this area inviting—soothing, peaceful. Pictures, flowers, music at the ready.
  • Get coffee set up to go automatically.
  • Have my journal/Bible/materials set out.
  • Go to bed on time, and set my alarm.

2. Keep a running task list handy. When things I need to do, or ideas I have, start crowding my mind, I can write them down and get them out of my head.

3. Continue reviewing my priorities and goals, so other things don’t creep into my life and
rob me of the most important things.

What do you do to stay focused in your daily meeting with God? Please share! I would love to hear from you!

A Recurring Struggle

3:3:16 Recurring Struggleby Lydia Floren

It happened again. I got distracted, and pretty soon two hours had passed and I still hadn’t spent any time alone with God. Once again, I let other things keep me from meeting Him at the first of my day: an unfinished project, a messy house, calls to make, emails to answer. It is a recurring struggle.

I am not alone in this recurring struggle.

C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,

“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving that all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in and so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussing and fretting; coming in out of the wind.

“We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system, because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.”
Wow. Moments of “letting that other, larger, stronger quieter life come flowing in.” . Moments of joy, of peace, of finding perspective, of talking to my best friend. The more I have of these, the more I hunger for them.

Everything really does fall into place once I take the time to really connect with God, soaking in His love and presence.

Worth the effort, I think.

What are your thoughts?

What Should I Do Now? Making Plans

2:25:16 What should I do Nowby Lydia Floren

Last week in “What Should I Do Next?”, I wrote about making plans. I’m not going to lie. Planning takes time and perseverance. It is hard to make myself take a chunk of time to pray through and decide what is the best way to spend my time and resources.

But tough choices aren’t just limited to making plans.

When we face dilemmas, we ask ourselves, “What should I do now?
Many times we are faced with dilemmas in life – difficult relationships, career decisions, parenting concerns. Everything seems muddled. We can feel totally at a loss about how to respond, or which way to go. And it stresses us out. We need wisdom beyond our own understanding.

Proverbs 2 has some great insight:
“If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Prov. 2:1-5

Here’s another way to say these verses:

Steps Toward Wisdom (paraphrase of Prov. 2:1-5)

  • Accept and store up God’s word:  make a practice of exposing yourself to the truth of God’s word and God’s presence every day. Respect it. Let it sink into your heart and spirit.
  • Listen: Pay attention to how God might be speaking to you in your situation. Do your best to try to understand what He is saying in your heart through His word and His presence.
  •  ASK HIM for His perspective on your situation. Plead with Him to increase your understanding beyond what you can do on your own.
  • Search for God’s wisdom. Actively look for His insight. Let that be the most important thing to you, more important than the facts that you have gathered, your own conclusions, or the opinions others.

When you do these things, you will find the knowledge you seek about what your next steps should be. And you will experience just how amazing God is.

Remembering our highest priority keeps everything in perspective.
When we make our relationship with God our highest priority, He helps us put everything in perspective, and gives us wisdom beyond our own understanding.

Is your relationship with God your highest priority in life? How do your choices of how you spend your time and resources reflect that priority? What plans/steps can you make to better accept, listen, ask and search for God’s wisdom?

“And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”  Jer. 29:12

What Should I Do Next?

2:19:16 What should I do Nextby Lydia Floren

Did you know that God is a planner? He said, “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” In my opinion, part of following God is learning to ask for His wisdom, and make plans.

Plans remind me of what is most important.
Every January, I take some time to pray about the coming year, review priorities, goals and commitments. and make some plans. This time of prayerful planning helps me remind myself of what is most important, and then set goals that align accordingly.

Plans keep me from getting sidetracked.
Making plans also helps me because I am easily distracted. I have lots of interests, and it is easy for me to collect projects like some people collect stray cats. I have learned that when I pray and plan at the first of the year, and then periodically revisit those plans, I am more likely to not get sidetracked. Later in the year when I am juggling a half dozen incomplete projects, and I am driving myself crazy (ok, others, too), I can refer back to this plan and have some guidance about which time commitments to continue and which to set aside.

Plans help in answering what should I do next?
Do things go according to plan? Not always – sometimes not at all. But having the reference point of a prayfully made plan really helps when I get mired down in everyday life, and keeps me focused on what is really important. It helps me answer the questions,  “What should I do next?” and “What should I do now?”

What benefits do you get from making plans? Have you prayed about any plans for this year?