Root Canals & Guinea Fowls

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For the past few weeks I was in denial that my tooth had cracked and I was in pain. The kids were sick, the dentist fees to much, but eventually I could not bear it any longer and visited the dentist. Now I am halfway through a root canal treatment (Ekk for pain & for wallet!). But that first night after the initial treatment was bliss – no pain. How wonderful. Yet last night I realized that I had a dull ache again – how come? I forgot to take my antibiotics at lunchtime and I also left them at work – I had missed two doses. This morning I observed the sticker on my medicine: (Finish the Course). So now a few hours later having taken my medicine I am pain free again.

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Previously I have compared my daughter to a Guinea Fowl – she gets easily distracted and changes course often. If you send her to her room to find shoes you will find her playing with a toy that go her attention while on the way to her shoes. I think I am pretty much the same – sticking to the same course can be tricky.

Proverbs 15.21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

My medicine has reminded me again of the need for consistency and sticking to a straight course – a long obedience in the same direction. But going off course I ended up in pain that was not necessary. Distractions, sin habits, can through us off course, especially when we lose focus of Jesus and the life he has called us to.

Hebrews 12.1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lord, help me keep on course for you and minimize my distractions – the often end in needless pain.

Spying on the neighbour

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I love people watching. Yesterday I happened to be in our local mall on two occasions and both times I observed a lady working at the hairdressers standing at her shop door staring (possibly glaring) at the lady working across the mall at a clothing shop. Both times she was busy watching whatever was going on in the shop. My imagination perhaps ran away with me – was she wishing she worked in that shop, was she watching her very pregnant friend working in the clothing shop for first signs of labour, was she watching a skirt she wanted to buy to make sure no one bought first, was she a spy from the clothe shop owner to make sure the other lady was doing her job?

Whatever was happening the lady in the hairdresser was really busy watching the other shop and was totally oblivious to what was going on in her own shop.

It made me ask myself how much of my time do I spend looking at what other people are doing and being involved in their stuff – do I do it to the point that I neglect or that I’m ungrateful for my responsibilities or life. They say the grass is always greener – perhaps this hairdresser has a longing to work in a fashion store. But she was missing out on all that was going on in her shop. Especially when it come it marriage and parenting it is so tempting to focus on what is happening in other peoples’ lives.

It reminds me of the parable of the talents:

Matthew 25:14-30 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 

I wonder ff the guys with the talents discussed their plans together – I think if I had been one of them I would have spent a good deal of time trying to find out the other guys’ plans – perhaps even spying on them,

How much time do I waste focused on what other people are up to instead of dealing with my responsibilities?

Lord, the grass is often greener looking and more interesting at my neighbours. Help me Lord to look after the grass you have given me and to be thankful for it.

One, two, three… Go!

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I won a race yesterday – I’m sure that comes as a shock to those who know me as I’m not at all athletic. It was a race at the checkout line at the supermarket.  I spotted someone I knew a few tills up and mentally raced her to see if I would be finished first. I thought I was losing until her checkout lady hit the buzzer to call for help; I caught up with her and finished paying before she did. Of course the race was only in my head – still I enjoyed the  minor victor.

I have been thinking since then why do we always look to see how other people are doing in their race and try to pit ourselves against them? I don’t think I’m the only person who races people mentally. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is guilty of weighing up my neighbour to see how they are fairing and if I am doing better or worse. We like the boost of knowing that we are somehow ahead of someone else. Yet in actual fact measuring other people’s race is actually distracting us from our own goals.

Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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.  2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The goal of this race is not to beat others, but to finish – it is a race of endurance, a long distance race, not a competitive race.

Acts 20:24  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Who are you racing against? Is your focus on your neighbour of on  the prize – Jesus?

Help me Lord to keep my focus on you and not to get distracted by racing against others.

A new sport?

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We found a new sport on the weekend – to play it you need good planning, a team strategy and determination – sharp elbows also help. The sport is called ‘House Clearance Sales’. You arrive 15 minutes before the sale starts, having briefed your team as to what to go for. The more on your team the better it seems. Each person is given a number and then we wait as random numbers are drawn – once your number is called you have to elbow your way into the house through the crowd. This is why the more on your team the better – you need to appoint a chief buyer. By being a big team you get more numbers and the more chances your number will be called early on – pass the first matching number to chief buyer and the second number to the second in command etc. Once you squeeze into the house run in circles like a mad person trying to locate the pre-selected items so that you can have a quick once over and then rip the purchase tag off before a competitor does – you have to decide quickly.

Needless to say at our first attempt we were unsuccessful. We thought we had come to shop, not realising that this is a competitive sport. We also discovered the need of focus and planning – at one point having failed on our mission I found Ramos eyeing up an old Dictaphone, turning it over lovingly in his hands thinking it might be fun for the kids in the village at home. The problem was the Dictaphone came in a random box of electrical junk and also the Dictaphone was not on our ‘list’. Common sense won the day (without my interference it must be said) and we left the sale empty handed but wiser.

Watching the people at the sale reminded me of the need for dedication and devotion in our walk with God also. We often walk without purpose and lose out on great things God wanted to do through us. We get easily distracted by stuff along the way. Paul tells us to keep our focus and keep our eye on the goal:

Philippians 3:15-16  So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision–you’ll see it yet!  16  Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. (The Message)

What do you have your eye on today?

I’m linking up this post today with the One Word Blog Carnival – to read other post on Goals click here.

What are you chasing?

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Last night we did battle in a big mall (well actually I have seen it worse!) – our mission was to buy a bike for a bike chaser. A little boy we know, whose late Dad was my husband’s best friend, is apparently driving his family mad up in a village in Malawi – every time someone goes past on a bike he runs after them. The kid is obsessed with bikes. Everything in that little five year olds heart comes alive and causes his little legs to run hard when he sees a bike. So my big hearted hubby at the last minute, when the shops are close to closing, set out on his mission to make a wee boy called Blessing happy.

Interesting my husband is a bit similar to Blessings. When Ramos sees a truck or a big pick-up his head is turned. We can be driving along chatting away when he goes silent or the head turns and I know he has spotted a truck without looking. Sometimes he say to me, “Wow, did you see that?” and frankly I didn’t! At least I can be assured that his head only turns for trucks and not beautiful women!

What makes my head turn and distract me from what I’m doing? Sometimes it feels like we live our lives life Guinea Fowl – have you ever seen a flock of Guinea Fowl? They run all in one direction and then suddenly on changes and they all run in the new direction. They repeat this all day and you can get tired and dizzy just watching them. The promise of get fit fast, the latest book to boost your blog, the ten things you must do to be a super-dooper Christian, the got-to-haves and the got-to-does; so many things to distract us and send us running in another direction.

As the business of the Christmas season closes in around us it gets harder and harder to focus on Advent – the coming of Jesus, our Saviour. We are so easily distractible that we need to make an effort – it is not something that comes naturally to us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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.  2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We need to keep our focus and put on spiritual blinkers. Lord in the midst of the chaos and distractions help me to keep my eyes on you – that I may see Jesus this Christmas time.