Updated: Jan 18, 2021
In the fall, I had a huge change in ministry roles. After years of being a Women’s Ministries Director for a region of 40+ churches in South Texas, USA, I resigned to pursue new and very specific things the Lord had been asking of me for a while. It was difficult to let go and now awkward to find new footing out here ‘on my own’.
By this time each year, I am accustomed to having a calendar already filled for the year ahead, all planned out — events, services, mission trip(s), speaking engagements, lunch meetings, calls, leadership training, Bible studies, conferences, even the social media was planned out, assigned, and scheduled.
Yet, here I am — It’s already January 11 and I haven’t even decided on a 12-Month Planner to purchase for the year, as my needs have changed.
I do have specific actionable projects and ideas but nothing on paper and planned out in a schedule. I know me and I know I need a planner to hold my thoughts, ideas and plans all in one place.
I feel much like a fish out of water.
That’s what happens when you’re in a one-way lane for so many years. You coast through a routine and each year it gets easier and easier. And, I must say, it sure was a good lane. A growth lane. A secure lane... fruitful and sure. I will never forget it.
This... this lane is unknown, unfamiliar, and a little terrifying.
I NEED A ‘FOCUS RESET’
I need help.
Hearing from other women who have trailblazed a path, at His direction, fills me. It encourages my heart and edifies my spirit.
When I saw the promo for Christine Caine’s 5-Day Focus Reset Challenge I signed up immediately. I’m so glad I did. This is a woman I admire and has tested the path with endurance.
This is just the first day of the challenge and I already feel built-up in my spirit and nudged to move, now.
As I type here, immediately following today’s session, this is what I’m feeling and is welling up inside me...
Yes, I may be a fish out of water, but it’s on purpose and for a purpose. I’m a fish out of water because I’m jumping to different waters... new waters... a different current... a new flow.
With change comes the need for fresh focus. I must take my eyes off the fully-planned-calendar of the past to embrace the times and the path ahead.
Here a few of my notes from Christine Caine’s,
5-DAY FOCUS RESET CHALLENEGE
DAY 1 – Monday, January 11, 2021
"Where you focus is where you’ll go.”
The verse for today’s session was:
“...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Christine asked us to write the verses out in our own words. I urge you to try this as well. We may have varying responses but two points will likely be the same:
Focus on Jesus.
Focus for the long haul.
My own words
I need to let go, or avoid, all that gets in my way from fulfilling my specific purpose and to avoid sinful things and wondering or debilitating thoughts that entangle my mind and heart, deflecting my focus. If I can do that, in His will and His way, I can run toward Jesus as I focus on Him and the task that He has called me to. I can do this with enduring strength — through Him.
I felt a nudge to list out specific declarations. It may help you to do the same.
I will immerse in this new stream He has for me.
I will follow this unfamiliar current, with His direction.
I will make a plan for this Calendar year, and long term, as I focus on Him.
I will notify my accountability partners of this plan (tomorrow actually).
I will allow grace for my short comings, but not too much.
I will accept new, and yes, scary challenges.
I will encourage others along the way.
I will be who I was made to be.
I will live how I was made to live.
She ended today’s video session stating two points that she says to herself, helping her stay focused:
God called me to this.
God has equipped me for this.
I immediately thought, if we can say these two things about anything that we believe He called us to do, then we can be sure He will help us with the plan. He will whisper, He will send helpers, supporters, and cheerleaders along the way. He will provide the wisdom, the know-how, and the strength. All we need to do is ask Him, and seek to find it.
The next task was to list three specific things that God has asked us to do. What three things would you list? You may have one or five things to list. If it helps, think, “What has God asked me to do and what has He equipped me to do?”
Maybe it’s a specific project.
Maybe it’s more time with family.
Maybe it’s to further your education.
If you would like to share your list with me, I would love that! You may comment below. Or, to personally share them with me, simply email me at email@example.com or go to the “Let’s Connect’ page here on my website and I will reply to your email. I will even share some of my list with you, if you would like.
I pray for God to give you direction and show glimpses of things to come for you and what He’s calling you to that will serve those around you.
Let’s focus on where we’re going.
Lord Jesus, light the way!
DAY 2 – Tuesday, January 12, 2021
"Embrace your current season”
I left this session reminded of what I know to be true – I have no need of anything. I lack nothing… in regard to human standards.
I have shelter, food, clothes, money, friends, loving family, and a fairly healthy body.
There was a time I toiled long and hard hours to put food on the table and a roof over our head, as a single mother for years. The gift of my husband was that, a gift – in so many ways – Emotional support, companion, someone to dream and plan with, and yes, financial stability to the point that after a few years I no longer needed to work to help sustain the way we lived. For years now, I have been free to volunteer in many capacities and to be extra present for my family. I do not take that for granted and I understand that not everyone’s lives and circumstances are the same.
As mentioned earlier, I am now embracing a new season.
The takeaways for this session:
Pour ourselves into every season.
He is always and eternally faithful.
Practice gratitude, daily.
We reflected on 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV"
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
We may not all be where we expected to by now in our lives, and maybe some are. The fact is, we will all have seasons of struggle throughout our lifetimes. Christine reminds us that, “Focusing solely on life’s detours and complications will magnify them and hold you back.”
She’s right – they sure will.
Our worksheet states, “God’s Word promises that these troubles are temporary, and through him, they can serve an important purpose, even if it may not seem like it now. Today, let’s embrace our current season—the highs, lows, and everything in between—by adopting an eternal perspective. Our Heavenly Father, now and forever, has the power to comfort and strengthen us through any struggle.”
She then asks us to reflect again and write out 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, using our own words.
What is God saying to you?
My own words
Some would say that suffering is to gain eternal glory. That maybe true for some, depending on God’s path for each of us. As Christine stated in the video for today, there is much opportunity here for bitterness and more. We are not to deny that we are suffering. If so, it can destroy us, making us bitter and self-focused. We must focus on God through them.
This verse reminds me of Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me all who are weary …”. It reminds me of the importance to focus on Him. Our burdens are weighty but focusing on Him allows Him to carry them. In exchange, we receive His easy yoke of direction, causing the load to seem light.
What we face here is nothing compared to eternity. The freedom. The joy, peace, and wonder we will attain if we hold on and keep our eyes on Him. Our minds cannot even comprehend how that could be. Even the matter of ‘time’ and all the things that are far above our ways.
It would be good to remember that seasons build character and endurance. In many ways we are better off for difficult ones. Yet, that is easy to say and hard to grasp.
We were asked to, “Let go of the worries that rob your focus and hold you back. Write a prayer giving these cares to God and praising him for his victory!
Lord, help me to give you my all, including my insecurities, fears of inadequacy and failure. Help me to embrace this journey and this process and to follow your lead. Even if it is through a valley or in mountain heights, may my focus be on you alone and your eternal glory, not my own.
On Day 1, we listed some of the distractions that rob our focus. Christine reminds us today, that being aware of these distractions can help us set our course right.
Rewrite your ‘FOCUS THIEVES’ on a sheet of paper on the left side, then on the right side write the ACTIONS you will take to set your focus.
I found this exercise very helpful. I even thought of more ‘focus thieves’. I listed relatable and realistic actions I can take that were things that I already value or enjoy doing. One Example:
Focus Thief – dwelling on and distracted by unfinished tasks.
Action – break these tasks/projects into priority groups and make a plan, in a calendar, and depending on their priority I notify my accountability group, my husband, and kept the remaining for my own accountability. If I remain focused on the Lord, as if I were doing these for Him, than I can do this!
I like what Christine had to say here, “Both men and women can become frustrated with their current stage of life. As students, we can become preoccupied with our life after graduation. When we’re single, we can obsess over finding a spouse. And when we’ve been in the working world for a long time, we can become absorbed by the prospect of retirement. It’s too easy to lose sight of the fact that every season is a gift.”
In the video portion of the session, the panel discussed the weight of single parenting and the feeling of being a working mom, single or married. They discussed the guilt sometimes associated with not ‘being there’ enough. They even discussed how the church has a responsibility here, to be more inclusive to these mothers/moms. I applauded. Literally.
In conclusion, Christine reminds us that, “No matter what season you’re in, practicing gratitude is a God-honoring way to redirect your focus. You can always rejoice that the Lord is faithful in every season. Even when you find it difficult to connect with God or feel as though you can’t hear his direction in your life, he has not left you or forsaken you… even when you can’t yet see what he’s doing.”
She then asked us to think about the blessings in our lives and write down three (or more!). Think about how grateful we are for them and thank God for them.
Take a few minutes to write down your thoughts.
Let’s pour ourselves into this season, staying focused on Jesus. Allow Him to come along side us and to even carry us when the struggle is all too real. Keep good friends close. Don’t deny our pain or hurt, but to look at them through eyes like Jesus. One day soon, He is all we will see.
DAY 3 – Wednesday, January 13, 2021
"Practical tips to calibrate your heart”
What are some tools that you can think of that need regular maintenance or calibration?
Scales. Compass. Thermometer. Brakes on a vehicle. Stays for the mast/sails of a sailboat.
If not calibrated they cannot function to their full potential and in some cases rendered useless.
Christine asks us to, "Think of our heart as a precious instrument, designed by God for an intended purpose.”
She asked us to think upon this verse, Proverbs 4:23. Say it out loud and then write down what it means to guard your heart and why it is important to do so and how focus can help.
Don’t allow things in my heart that throw me off balance. Don’t store in my heart things that hold me off course and uncalibrated. Things like: bitterness, hate, love of unhealthy things, jealousy, lust of possessions, unhealthy desires, unforgiveness of others and myself, pride, arrogance, …
It is important to guard your heart because like Proverbs 4:23 says, "Everything you do flows from it.” It needs to be in constant recalibration – the more guarded the less calibration required.
I like to think of my heart as an internal well. When I dip from my well, what will I get – love, acceptance, kindness. Or, will I get hate, bitterness, longing for the wrong things. Then imagine passing that cup to someone else – what would be the impact? Imagine also, your well overflowing, what will spew out from your innermost being … jealousy, hatred, arrogance, pride, lust, harshness, cruelty. Let it be love, kindness, peace, patience, understanding, and things that are good, pure, and helpful.
As our worksheet states, “As imperfect people, we have a tendency to get caught up in and upset by the trying circumstances in life. It’s easy to do. However, if we allow upset to fester, our hearts can turn toward anger, bitterness and shame. More than distractions, these can cause our hearts to harden so that we have difficulty hearing God’s loving whispers to us.”
In the video, the panel discussed how they recalibrate their hearts.
Our worksheet then asks, “In the past, how have you kept your heart open and in a posture of worship and gratitude? Have you found ways to get back on track when you’ve lost focus or felt discouraged? … List what has worked for you in the past, and add any new ideas that come to mind for the future.”
Phone Management (turn of notifications, keep on silent/no vibrate - You may see more phone tips in the previous blog, click here)
Start the day in the Word of God
Spend quality time with my hubby (and other family)
Music, worship, singing, dancing
Talking with someone
Doing courses and challenges like this always help me learn and grow
Christine encourages us to, “List two practices that you can do to focus on Jesus at the start of your day, and commit to them. If you already have a morning routine for spending time with God, is there something new to try that may deepen this time with him?
I always listen to worship music when I am in the mood, which is most often later in the day. Instead, I should listen to worship music to help SET the tone for the day, in addition to my regular morning study time. I thought to myself, why have I never thought of that before.
Christine said, “Depending on the translation, the word “heart” is used in the Bible somewhere between 500 and 830 times. Your heart is important to God!”
The worksheet includes four scriptures and encourages us to choose one to focus on today and memorize it. Then ponder on it throughout your day.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NIV
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 NIV
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7 NIV
I am feeling encouraged! Are you?
DAY 4 – Thursday, January 14, 2021
"Fueled by passion”
The main takeaways:
Have a 'Get-to spirit' not a 'have-to'.
Passion is the fuel that keeps us going.
Hype does not equal passion.
Christine states that, “Passion enables us to do what we never thought we could, and enables us to keep going when we want to give up.”
Life is not merely about surviving.
She continues, “When you are fueled by passion, living the life God has called you to live won’t feel like an obligation. You’ll genuinely love others, the Church, reading your Bible, praying, giving, and serving. You’ll love what God loves and desire to do what he wants you to do. You’ll be all in!”
We must be willing and excited to intentionally seek God every day. It is key to keeping motivated and focused. It fuels our focus.
Today’s first question was: “When do you feel most passionate? Write down your thoughts here. Knowing what fuels you can help when you feel distracted.”
Daily time with him; studying the Word, worshipping, singing.
Writing fuels my passionate living.
Hearing others’ stories.
Helping others (who have questions or have basic needs).
Being outside, sitting on the front porch, watching His creation. Walking the property and out in the sailboat on the water.
”Hype is that fleeting, external validation we receive from the world, that can get us temporarily excited—like a compliment or pay raise. … hype has the power to distract us if we let it serve as our motivation in life.”
Next question was to write down a few examples of fuel we respond to in our culture right now. For example, are you motivated by people’s recognition and praise, or perhaps the prospect of financial gain? Do you find yourself filling up with any of these fuel sources on a regular basis? Are any helpful? Are any hurtful?
I don't always struggle with these but many do, and I have my moments for sure.
Social media likes, followers, shares
Affirmation (from others)
Having a title
Making a good income
They can be hurtful because they can let you down. These can be biproducts of fulfilling your purpose but we are to be 'working as unto the Lord'. If that were true, our attention and focus would be on the obedience and not the result.
I balance fairly well, most of the time. The phone, social media mainly, feeds into the top three for sure. So I had to learn a long time ago to manage it, as I had mentioned earlier. Most of my time is spent in research, studying, and writing - or time with my hubby. I feel these are important to me and when I lose track of that I falter, in almost every area of my life.
Colossians 3:23 ESV says,
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men...”
Christine reminds us to, “Fan the flames of your passion by going beyond just knowing facts about Jesus. Actively center your life on an unabashed love for him and an abiding enthusiasm for his plans for your life. This is not hype! Putting Jesus at the center of all you think, plan and do will help you persevere through the road ahead."
Let's hold on to passion. Endure.
Last question for the day was, “How does this truth fuel you and set your focus for the road in front of you?”
I keep Him ever before me, in my thoughts throughout the day (well, at least I try my best to).
This is what fuels my passion and helps me make good choices.
Removes the ‘people-pleasing’ focus thief.
This means I am more likely to start my day right, with Him.
More likely to keep Him at the center of my life and daily living.
More likely to not give-in or give-up, but endure for His sake, not my own.
Lord, help me to hold to this fuel and live passionately for you.
I pray God reveals the answers to you and makes the day ahead light and the path clear as you focus on Him and honor Him with your passionate loving heart.
DAY 5 – Friday, January 15, 2021
“Focus on your fruit”
Right at the start of Day 5, in our worksheet, we are reminded that, “When your heart is open and inclined toward Christ, he will fill you with hopes and dreams that align with his plan for you. As Christians, our goal should be to have the fruit of the Spirit living in us, as well as flowing through us.”
I like what Christine had to say in the video, “This is not about keeping up with the Joneses. This is about stepping into the unique plan and purpose for your life. This should be our greatest focus. Not the next cutest biker jacket or the possessions we own.”
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
“Which fruit is growing strong in you in this season?
“Which fruit of the Spirit would you like to focus on and develop through prayer, Bible reading and other spiritual practices? List them.”
I appreciated these statements in our worksheets:
“You are fruitful whenever you bring honor and glory to God.”
“While we all want to become more fruitful for the Kingdom, we cannot do so by our own efforts alone.”
“Good fruit in our life flows from an enduring focus on Christ.”
“Only Jesus can shape us into the kind of loving, willing and passionate people he can use to fulfill his good purposes. As we read and apply the Word of God, we allow his power to transform us. A woman whose focus is centered on Jesus is empowered to lead a life that can yield a harvest far greater than what she has sown.
1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."