Distracted Living

We’ve all heard about the dangers of distracted driving, but what about distracted living? Have you ever thought about the dangers of that? As a champion multi-tasker, it’s one of my constant challenges, but sometimes it requires a bit of a jolt to get my attention.

That jolt came for me a few weeks ago as I was driving back from a youth drama class that I was teaching. The class was held in a church about an hour away from my home and as I pulled out of the parking lot, in typical multi-tasker fashion, I decided that it would be a good idea to catch up with a dear friend living out of state as I drove along. I punched her number into the phone and soon after made my way onto the expressway.

As we chatted away, catching up on our lives, I noticed that my GPS was trying to talk to me, and it kept telling me to get off at the next exit. But having driven this same route before, I happened to remember how on some occasions the GPS had told me to get off of the expressway only to have me get right back on again a few miles up the road. A meaningless detour. So despite my GPS’ incessant pleading for me to get off at every exit I passed, I continued driving along and chatting to my friend, confident that I knew where I was going.

It wasn’t until I hung up the phone a good 45+ minutes later that I noticed a sign saying “Morrow County.” Morrow County? How could that be? I was supposed to be close to home by now, and having been to Morrow County on a couple of occasions with my storytelling work, I knew that it was nearly 2 hours from my home! That’s when it hit me! I had spent the last 45+ minutes driving in the wrong direction. I had gotten on the expressway going south instead of north. So now I was not 15 minutes from home, I was about 2 hours from home!

This time I did obey the GPS and got off at the nearest exit (which didn’t come for miles!) and turned myself around. I felt a mixture of anger, frustration and sadness at the impending drive before me after an already long day, but more than anything I felt mad at myself for being so stupid. It was almost embarrassing having to call my husband and tell him that I would no longer be home at 5pm, but 7pm instead. And of course, it was even more shameful when he asked me, “What happened? Didn’t you follow the GPS?”

For the next two hours, I thought about my own stupidity (I mean you would have thought that after 45 minutes of the GPS asking me to get off that I might have at least stopped to consider the suggestion!) But more than that I felt like there was a greater lesson to be learned. It was as if I could hear God saying to me, “How many times do you do the same thing to Me? Maybe I’d like to give you some direction or let you know that you’re headed in the wrong direction, but sometimes you’re so distracted that you can’t even hear Me.”

And it’s true. A lot of times I get so set on all that I’m doing that I don’t take time to stop and listen. I’m moving so fast and doing so many things at once that it never even occurs to me to consider if I’m moving in the right direction or not. Our culture has fed us the lie that more is better — more stuff, more activity, more all at once. Our enemy must smile just thinking about it — because he knows if he can get us so wrapped up in just moving and keep our eyes off of the direction we’re moving in, then he has won the battle.

In college I had a quote by Socrates posted to the bulletin board above my desk. It said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This was my reminder to not get so wrapped up in college life that I didn’t stop to ask myself: “Is this who I want to be? Is this what I want to be doing?” It was a reminder to pause. To reflect. To look and listen. Not to let life pass me by without considering how I was living it.

As you can see from my story above, I still need that reminder. And in a world that keeps us all spinning faster and faster, I think we all do. I hope you will not deduce from this post that I think all activity or even all multi-tasking is bad (although believe me, there truly is something to be said for single-minded focus!) Instead, I hope you will recognize the dangers of going full-speed ahead in the direction that you believe is best, distracted by a myriad of tasks and responsibilities, without ever once stopping to listen to your internal GPS, the Holy Spirit. Don’t do what I did and ignore His voice telling me to turn around because I was too distracted by another conversation to pay Him any mind. Rather think about the things that distract you and see which of those you might lay aside to be able to listen better.

You can be sure that I learned my lesson that day. After turning around and heading for home (in the right direction this time!), other than calling my husband to tell him I’d be late, I kept my phone turned off. I wanted to hear the GPS, see the signs, and be sure that I didn’t set myself up for any more lengthy detours. I’m still working this out in my day to day life, but I do know one thing — I don’t want the Holy Spirit to have to compete for my attention. I don’t want to be engaged in distracted living.

 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

In the past few weeks, through the wonder of ultrasound technology, I’ve “met” grandchildren #2 and #3 who will join our family later this year. Grandchild #1 (that’s him in the photo), who’s nearly five now, will get to be both a big brother and a cousin.

Yes, both of our daughters are expecting, and just six or seven weeks apart! We’re all feeling excited and grateful!

One of my daughters is using an app on her phone to learn how the baby is developing each week. As she read off how tiny the baby was (only as big as a blueberry) yet all that was going on in that tiny body, I thought of these verses:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.–Psalm 139:3-16

How completely amazing! And how comforting to know that God knows our family’s new little ones intimately already!

The Bible also says that “grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children (Proverbs 17:6). Well, I’m not aged–yet! But I hope for a long life and to be a good grandparent, to know all my grandchildren well, to pray for them and encourage them. And to pray for and encourage their parents too!

I want them all to place and keep their hope and trust solidly in the Father and in Jesus the Son, to be born of the Spirit and to stay in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), following the Lord’s paths all the days of their lives.

I want that for your children and grandchildren too. All of us here at Christian Children’s Authors do. It’s one reason we’re blessed to write books and teach and blog.

We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.–Psalm 78:4-7

Want to see something amazing? Watch this short talk and video from Alexander Tsiaras, “From Conception to Birth,” created with visualization software that enabled him to “paint” the human anatomy using volume data.

Scripture: NLT

DIANE

Visit Diane at www.abibleplace.com
© 2012, Diane Stortz

 

Avoid the “clean your plate” club

Has anyone ever encouraged you to eat past fullness? Perhaps as a child you had to eat everything on your plate before being excused. Or maybe you had to clean your plate in order to “earn” dessert. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned dinnertime rules teach us to disregard our body’s satiety signals and often lead to overeating.

God designed our hunger and satiety signals to help us give our bodies the right amount of fuel. It’s important for children to recognize and trust those signals. Here are tips you can talk about as a family to keep everyone mindful of eating “just enough, but not too much.”

Eat slowly. If you wolf down your food, you may overeat before your brain sends the “I’m full” signal.

Be aware of how your tummy feels. As soon as you feel the slightest bit full, stop eating. Take a break, look around, talk with your meal companions, or take sips of water. Use those minutes to decide whether you still feel hunger or are actually full.

Save it for later. It’s okay to stick your plate in the fridge and eat the rest at another meal or for a snack, when you’re truly hungry.

Mealtime is about fueling your body properly and interacting with your dining companions, not cleaning the plate. Enjoy eating with your family and friends.

 

Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD (registered dietitian)

5 Ways to Tell if Your Child is Ready to Accept Jesus

I’m a firm believer that God works in the hearts of children just as much as he works in the hearts of adults. And I believe a child can choose to follow Jesus and mean it for life. I also think children are capable of making this important decision on thier own and should never be pressured, guilted or coerced into it. 

That said, parents are their children’s primary teachers and they have a responsibility to share Christ with their kids. Hopefully, this will lead them to accept Jesus as their Savior. But how can you tell if your child is ready to take such a huge spiritual step? How can you be sure he isn’t doing it because his friend is? How do you know he didn’t get pressured into it at church or camp? These are valid questions and concerns. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure your child understands your church’s teachings before she takes that important decision to ask Jesus into her heart. But beyond that, here are some things to help you figure it out. 

Your child is probably ready if:

1. He exhibits a love for Jesus and growing closer to Him. This might be demonstrated by his enthusiasm for going to church, having devotions at home (with or without you), and if he has a prayer life.

2. He asks questions about spiritual matters and/or looks at the world from a spiritual perspective. Does he see a sunset and say, “Look what God did?” Does he readily turn to God when he needs help? Does he wonder where God is when he sees sadness in the world? These are examples of seeing the world from a spiritual perspective.

3. He wants to share his faith with his friends. Inviting kids to join him at church or special church activities shows he’s excited about his relationship with Jesus and wants others to experience it too. Or maybe he’s one who prays for his friends. That’s another way to include his friends in his faith.

4. He understands what commitment is. Accepting Christ is a pretty awesome lifelong commitment and your child needs to understand what’s involved. A commitment is something you don’t change your mind about. It is something to be taken seriously. It means, in this case, that you’ll love Jesus and live for Him forever.

5. You reassure him about his fears and concerns. Your child may be ready emotionally and spiritually, but he may have fears about doing it. When I was a child, accepting Jesus also meant being baptized, but I was afraid of being dunked in the water. Today, accepting Jesus starts with a prayer of repentance and commitment. Baptism may not follow for a few years. But a child sometimes has fears that hold him back from praying that life-changing prayer. He may fear ridicule from his family or friends, or he may be afraid of what accepting Jesus will mean in his life. He may be afraid he’ll fail as a Christian. Your reassurance of whatever fears or concerns he may have will smooth the decision-making process for him.

I encourage you to talk to your child at least once a year about this important step. Make it a part of your casual conversation. Let him know you’ll support him whenever he’s ready to give his life to Jesus and that you trust his judgment to do it when God tells him it’s time. Seeing your child grow in his faith is one of the sweetest things you’ll get to experience as a parent. And when he finally takes the step of accepting Jesus, it’s time to celebrate!