When I Am Distracted

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I’ve been distracted lately. Like…faraway distracted. Like my mind is a million miles away. So many things seem to detour my affections, divert my attentions, deflect my aspirations. What is this all about, anyway?!?

I’d like to play the name game and rattle off some excuses, but I know I can’t. Can’t blame it on age. Can’t blame it on hormones. Can’t blame it on the bills stacked in my great-grandmother’s secretary or the unfinished walls in my partially renovated kitchen. Can’t blame it on the weeds in my back yard or the dead tree dropping branches all over the newly paved street that runs along my house. Can’t blame it on a new job or an old physical ailment. Can’t blame it on anything or anyone else.

Yes, I could make a mountain of excuses, but I know I can’t. Sometimes God will allow me to see the reasons why I am the way that I am, why I feel the way that I feel, why I do the things that I do, but rarely does He say they’re to be excuses…

excuses to be lazy. Excuses to be indifferent. Excuses to be unmotivated or unproductive, frustrated and…well…distracted.

The thing is…I’m not famous for being easily distracted. In fact, I had an audiologist tell me one time that I have a VERY high tolerance for noise. She gave me a test in the sound booth where she cranked the volume up on certain tones. I was to tell her when the sounds became so unbearable I couldn’t tolerate them anymore. Evidently, she recorded some off-the-chart decibels  in my file. I’ve been known to tune out some of the most unpleasant sounds, ignore some of the most chaotic messes, block some of the most ridiculous sights. I’ve been known to find peace and calm in some of the busiest locations…like supermarkets, airport terminals, and busy city streets.

Sometimes I just live in a world of my own. I guess it’s one of the advantages of being hearing impaired, but lately my world has been noisy. Not in the literal sense. More in the spiritual sense. I’ve just been plain preoccupied. What can I say? It happens sometimes. Not just to me. It happens to all of us. Life just gets distracting.

So…what do I do when my world is spinning way too fast leaving me breathlessly overwhelmed? What do I do when I need my brain to slow down and my thoughts to clear out?

I do the only thing I know to do…I go sit. (literally)

I go sit on the floor. (boldly)

I go sit on the floor at some feet. (unashamedly)

I go sit on the floor at the feet of Jesus. (expectantly) 

Sometimes I think I just forget to put my brain in park. Like a spinning top barely grazing a smooth wood floor, my thoughts turn a mile a minute and I have to force myself to shut them down. It’s not always the physical body that needs rest, you know? Sometimes the brain needs it, too. The part of me that feeds off the heart, the soul…the seat of all my emotions, all that I feel. Yeah, that place. It needs rest. And since it’s Spirit-fed I have to feed it with more of what the Spirit wants to give me.

And sometimes that means I just need more Jesus. Sometimes when I think I’ve got enough of Him I really don’t. The truth is, sometimes I can’t get enough. I say that with as much humility as I can. Because I think someone else needs to hear this. Because I think sometimes we try to satisfy ourselves with just a little bit of Jesus and whole lotta everything else. We fool ourselves into thinking that a little bit of Jesus will go a long way. But I happen to think that sometimes life’s distractions are indications that we’re not getting enough of Him, the One necessary thing we need.

In fact, my online dictionary tells me that a distraction is a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else; extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Hmmmmmm…..

Food for thought.

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but be reminded of a very well-known story in Scripture:

“Now as they were traveling along, He (Jesus) entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said,

‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’

But the Lord answered and said to her,

‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'” Luke 10:38-42 (Bold italics are mine)

Oh. My. Goodness. I think I hear the voice of Jesus in my heart,

Nina, Nina…you are distracted by many things, but only one thing is necessary…choose the good part. 

Choose Me.

Yes, Lord. I think I will.

When The Eyes Aren’t Enough

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There’s a reason why there are five senses: Sight. Hearing. Taste. Smell. Touch.

They help us to experience life in the every day.

When I lost my left eye in an accident as a child I was never told there was anything I wouldn’t be able to do. I didn’t grow up thinking I was any worse off for the loss. I adapted. I didn’t just cope, I carried on.

Truthfully…I had a wonderful childhood. Thanks to parents who didn’t fuss over me. They wanted me to have pleasant life experiences.

No one told me early in life that my depth perception would change. I didn’t even know what depth perception was. I grew up learning to sew in a 4-H class one summer and didn’t seem to fret over threading needles. And I played sports in high school. I ran track, played field hockey and wore a cute little cheerleader’s uniform. I did get hit right smack in the eye socket one time by a fly softball playing on the church lawn. That was pretty painful, but without the peripheral vision it was an accident waiting to happen. But, you know? Even people with two good eyes have shared the same pain.

Probably more problematic for me than the loss of depth perception is the loss of peripheral vision. Because I also have hereditary, degenerative hearing loss I am now severely hearing impaired. Which means…if someone comes up beside me on my left side I don’t see them, neither do I hear them. Scary, huh?

My boss at the small town cafe where I worked for three years got a BIG kick out of coming up on my left side and giving me a tickle at the waist. No lie…I jumped every single time. I even let out a squeal. One time he surprised me when the floor was packed with customers having a pleasant dining experience. Let’s just say, after that, he usually waited until there were fewer patrons for fear of starting a stampede. Seriously, if you ever want to run people off just give me a call. You give me a scare and I’ll scream for you.

I guess working at a restaurant wasn’t the most suitable place for a visually and hearing impaired person, but the funny thing is…no one thought of me as ‘disabled.’ Part of the beauty of being able to experience life is not to focus on what I don’t have. I focus on what I do. I still have some of my sight. I still have some of my hearing. I can still taste. I can still smell. I can still touch. Working around all that food at the town cafe certainly brought out the best in my remaining senses.

Did you know there are five basic tastes? Sweet. Bitter. Sour. Salty. Umami. Umami? That’s a new one for me. Had to look it up…it’s a savory taste. Had to look that up, too…it’s an aromatic plant of the mint family, used as a culinary herb, but technically it means it’s full of flavor, delicious.

Whew. You didn’t know this was going to be a culinary lesson, did you? Actually, I have a point. I promise.

Every day life shouldn’t be something we just do. It’s something we should experience. Half the time we don’t even realize how our senses work overtime in helping us get the most out of life. Not just to live like a mindless drone, but live it wonderfully and well. Even when life is hard to understand it’s possible to get clarity and perception when we keep our eyes on the goodness of God.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good, how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

I like it in the New Century Version, too: “Examine and see how good the Lord is. Happy is the person who trusts Him.”

Is it possible to taste God’s goodness? I believe it is.

But… here’s the million dollar question…how will I know what something tastes like if I don’t put it in my mouth and see for myself?

“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16

I can see something with my eyes. I can suppose what it might taste like. I can imagine what it might taste like. But, until I taste it, I won’t know for sure.

And that’s a very powerful thought. I want to experience the presence of God. I want to practice the presence of God. I don’t want to hear about Him from someone else. I want to see Him for myself.

I was sitting at a large family-style dinner table in a large dining hall many years ago with eleven other people. In the center of the table was a little bowl with some creamy-looking white sauce. No one seemed to know what it was. So me, being the most curious and quite possibly the bravest, decided to taste it. I didn’t just put a little on the tip of my finger. Oh, no. I took a spoonful. Horseradish. For real. I nearly died of asphyxiation.

Just because something looks good and is pleasing to the eye doesn’t mean that it is.

I can’t just sit back and wait for God’s goodness to reveal itself. Oh, I know it will. I don’t have to do anything to be a recipient, but I do have to choose to see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, even touch it. God’s goodness is part of His character and it can’t be taken out of Him. His good gifts are always raining down, even when I don’t see them, even when I’m not paying attention. But, when I sit up and take notice, my senses come alive and I don’t just think God is good. I know.

Because I experience God.

Because I take refuge in God.

Because I trust in the God of my salvation.

YES! The Lord is good. He is pleasing to all five senses. He is beautiful to my eyes, music to my ears, savory to my mouth, aromatic to my nose, and tender to my touch.

Because of Jesus, my eyes can see the goodness of God clearly. My ears hear perfectly. My mouth tastes pleasantly. My nose smells sweetly. My hands touch softly.

Whew. Thank You, Lord, for the culinary lesson. You add the umami to my life. Because of Your presence I can carry on…