Focus

Reflection Collection

By Lindsay Dryer

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A Valuable Lesson From Paw Patrol

I have to believe I’m not the only mom who sometimes feels like Paw Patrol is the soundtrack of my life. I’m not even a huge fan of my kids watching a lot of tv, but if it’s on, there’s a 90% chance Paw Patrol is playing. My kids love it so much that I finally got smart and set the DVR to record every episode of the show so it would be available anytime I need 25 minutes of quiet kids on the couch. C’mon. You know what I’m talking about.

Last night before bed, the kids requested “just one episode” of Paw Patrol, and so I sat on the floor folding mounds of tiny laundry and listening to the narrative of another grand rescue by those brave pups. Except, two minutes into the episode, I realized it was the one…the one that drives me absolutely CRAZY.

In this episode, there’s a villain named Lady Bird who loves all things shiny. Throughout the episode, she is on the hunt for anything that shines, and she steals it as her own to put in a lair of sorts. (Honestly, it kind of reminds me of that show Hoarders, but that’s a different issue.) She calls this shiny stash her “reflection collection.”

I never thought the Holy Spirit would speak to me through a Nick Jr. show, but He is pretty creative, so I guess I’m not surprised! As I was cringing listening to Lady Bird’s annoying voice, those two words hit me like a ton of bricks. Reflection collection. She is so obsessed with herself that she spends her days collecting items that will allow her to stare at her own reflection. All at the expense of other people.

Do you have a reflection collection, Lindsay? I love the way He prods so gently to get my mind thinking and my heart stirring.

I began thinking of what this “reflection collection” might look like in real life for a person like me. No, I’m not running around town stealing shiny things from innocent bystanders (thank goodness!), but is my life a collection of moments that are focused inward?

Let me just be really transparent with you for a moment: 

  • When I’m frustrated because my kids are fighting with each other for the 99th time in three hours, is it because I want them to be best friends and I want them to show the love of Jesus to one another? Highly doubt it. It’s most likely because they’re driving me crazy, and I don’t want to hear their arguing anymore, and I’m trying to get something done, so they need to stop.

  • When I’m scrolling through social media, and I see something that strikes a jealousy cord in my heart, is it because I want the best for my friend and I’m celebrating with her? Of course not! It’s because I feel like I’m missing out or that I deserve more than what I already have.

  • When there are challenging circumstances in my life and I begin to cower in fear, is it because I’m placing my full trust in Jesus? Absolutely not. It’s because I’m considering my own strength instead of His.

INWARD OR UPWARD?

I’m realizing that so often we are faced with the option to either look inward at our own reflection or look upward to Christ. Sometimes we don’t even make the wrong decision out of selfish or impure motives. I think sometimes we just get so lost in our own navel-gazing that we forget to look up.  

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We’re encouraged in Hebrews 12:2 to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” In the Greek, that literally means to turn your eyes away from other things and fix them on something (in this case, Jesus). It’s really easy to walk through life focused on ourselves, but it takes intentionality to focus our attention on Christ.

I don’t know what this looks like for you in your current season of life. It might mean fixing your gaze on Christ while the chaos of life feels too much for you to carry alone. It might mean holding on to hope when you receive devastating news from the doctor. It might mean literally taking your eyes off things that are causing you to focus inward (social media, tv, etc.).

All I know is that there is only One who is worthy of a reflection collection. Only One who can stand to have every eye fixed on Him. Only One who won’t crumble under the weight of our attention. Only One whose reflection can change our hearts and lives. That’s Jesus.


Be Still

By Lindsay Dryer

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Keeping Your Eyes on the Father

A friend of mine recently shared a somewhat traumatic experience of hers. Her daughter, who is a toddler, has had a habit of tugging on her hair since she was just a little baby. It wasn't really anything to be concerned about until one day, my friend went to get her daughter out of her car seat, and the little girl had wrapped her hair so tightly around her finger that her finger was blue. This was quite alarming for my friend, so she sought advice from her pediatrician, who recommended having her hair cut in an attempt to break the habit (and save her fingers!).

Off they went to the hair salon, and this little almost-2-year old girl went from shoulder-length, wavy hair to an adorable pixie cut. My friend was heartbroken for her daughter. She didn't imagine her first hair cut being under these circumstances or being this short. I can only imagine how I would feel if it was my own daughter.

It never would have been my friend's preference for her daughter's first hair cut, but she was doing what was best for her. A few days after the haircut, she shared the most precious photo on social media that her husband had snapped while they were at the salon. As the tiny girl sat in the big chair getting her hair cut, her mama is bent down, face to face, holding her face in her hands, keeping her still while the stylist cuts, looking into her eyes and showing the sweetest smile to reassure her that it will all be okay.

I literally cried when I saw the picture. I immediately imagined it as me and Jesus. Or you and Jesus. Isn't that the way He cares for us?

When we're facing something really hard, something that would have never been our idea of a good idea, there He is holding our face in His hands, looking us in the eye, and whispering to us, "I know it's hard. I know it's not comfortable. But it's for your good. Lock eyes with Me and trust Me."

There's something powerful about locking eyes with Jesus; about standing still long enough to hear Him speak. It's easy to become so overwhelmed by or anxious about the circumstances in front of us that we forget to look up at our Savior and recognize that He's working for our good. It's easy to get so busy fixing things and covering our bases that we miss out on letting HIM fix it. It's hard to really listen if we aren't standing still.

I love what God commands us in Psalm 46:10. He says,

Be still, and know that I am God.
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Being still almost seems like a foreign concept to us in this day in time. We are a culture of go-go-go. We work nonstop, we fill our schedules, we do everything quickly. It's hard to be still! But that's the only way we're going to really be able to listen to His voice. Look what it says in the CSB version and MSG version.

“Stop your fighting, and know that I am God." (CSB)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God." (MSG)

Stop fighting for yourself. Step out of the crazy traffic of life. Be still. Look up. Take a long, loving look into His eyes, and know in your heart that He. Is. God. He's in control.

He sees the giant you're facing. He's bigger.

He knows the battle you're fighting. He already won the victory.

He wants to look you in the eyes and tell you, "I see you. I'm here with you. This is not easy, but it's for your good. Lock eyes with me and trust me."

What area of your life keeps you moving nonstop? Where do you feel like you need to focus on being still, locking eyes with Jesus, and listening?

Mom Tip for Holding Your Child’s Attention

Have you ever tried to have a serious conversation with your little one? In my experience, that can be quite a challenge because kids don't like to stand still for very long. When I try to discipline my 4-year old or explain why hitting her brother is not okay, she's more concerned about making sure he doesn't get that toy she was playing with. Her eyes are everywhere but on mine, and her ears might be hearing what I'm saying, but it's highly unlikely that she's listening.

I learned something really helpful a couple of years ago. When I need to speak an important message to my daughter, I will tell her, "Put your hands on Mommy's face." This kind of forces her attention to be on my face. Every once in a while, her eyes will veer off, but for the most part, she has her eyes on mine, and she's not so easily distracted. I can't remember where I even saw this taking place, but I remember seeing it and thinking, "That mom is a GENIUS!" And ever since then, I've been so grateful to have that one in my bag of tricks!


Looking Up

By Joy O’Neal

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Happy first week of Spring! The irony of this publication and its content falling on the first week of Spring makes my heart sing. If you are like me, then your heart is desperate for a seasonal change. This beach bums heart currently feels semi stuck in an eternal Narnia over here in Colorado Springs. Although true in my physical surroundings I am also currently experiencing a bit of a spiritual Narnia of stagnant faith. So today, I’d like to take a moment to share with you on the topic of looking up.

As a planner, I am the queen of wanting a glimpse at God’s bigger picture. According to StrenthFinders, I am an activator, which means getting things going is my specialty. What’s next? and What are we waiting on? are just a few of the questions I battle with daily.  Although great qualities in certain arenas, spiritually these questions can cause frustration.  Even as my flesh continually battles for the reigns my God brings gentle reminders inside of the mundane that beckon me to release my grip and once again look up to Him.

Many years ago, while helping facilitate a weekend beach retreat for women, I shared about an eye opening practice that transformed my heart around looking up. During this retreat I had a very short speaking opportunity so I asked the women to engage in an experiment throughout the day. Their instructions were simple! Each time they entered a new establishment they were to look up. For me, this experiment was shocking! I realized that out of almost every establishment that I frequently visited I had NEVER seen the ceiling. My Spirit shifted around this simple practice and once again a deep impression by the One who loves us most was written on the walls of my heart. Just as I had experienced, many of the women came to me with similar shock realizing they had in fact never looked up inside of these various establishments that they had visited more times than they could count. 

If you are like me and currently in a stagnant season then you too have possibly forgotten the power that hides inside of simply shifting our eyes upward. As moms are days require us to repeatedly keep our eyes directly on each passing step. Making sure our little ones don’t fall down the stairs, the piling laundry gets washed, that project gets done and the biggest one of all--WHAT’S FOR DINNER (which I fully think should be a forbidden question). They cause us to keep a fixed focus.

Aside from writing and playing mom to my tribe I am also a preschool teacher to the worlds cutest class. Each week my partner teachers and I rotate on teaching Bible to the precious souls we are blessed with. This week was my turn to lead chapel and by no coincidence the Bible story just happens to be my most favorite of all! Doesn’t our God love us so well?

John 3: Jesus Teaches Nicodemus.

Sitting low to the floor with twenty something preschoolers looking up at me, I was reminded how the story of Nicodemus became my favorite. As I shared with you earlier, I am full of questions. I love learning and will be the first to raise my hand. During a hard season in my life I was plagued with questions. Because of my personal pain, I questioned everything. Why did this happen? God, where are You? How did I miss the mark? Did I hear You wrong? These are just a few of the questions I asked daily.  

This is when Nicodemus and I became best friends. I found Nicodemus tiptoeing through the dark night towards Jesus with his questions. I know theologically Nicodemus was keeping quiet and unseen by coming to Jesus in the night but I like to also believe that he couldn’t sleep without getting his questions answered. Just as the answers Jesus gave Nicodemus that night, I too have wrestled with the confusing answers I’ve received during each season of questioning.

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Only when I take my eyes off each step and shift them upward do I start to see the true answer. I can’t image the level of confusion Nicodemus felt as Jesus told him about rebirth. For Nicodemus, the words of Jesus must have seemed like a sci-fi movie scene. Reading through the text of John 3 I wondered how Nicodemus must’ve felt when he heard that Jesus had been crucified. Possibly Nicodemus felt the same way we do when we feel a dream or promise that God has given us has died.  I imagine Nicodemus full of questions again. But where we find Nicodemus next in scripture is the exact reason I share this story with you.

John 19:38-42: The Burial of Jesus

Nicodemus accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to prepare and bury the body of Jesus. I have to believe that Nicodemus was once again full of questions as he wrapped and anointed the lifeless flesh of Jesus. What was right in front of him didn’t look like eternal life. It didn’t look like the answers Jesus’ had previously given him. Nicodemus’ fixed focus looked like death. Oh, but if Nicodemus could’ve looked up into the heavens and seen the war that was being won for eternity in those exact moments!

Mamas, I know--BELIEVE me, I KNOW--that each day requires us to keep a fixed focus on the task ahead, but can I challenge you to look up? There is a battle being won over your dreams and family too! Trust Him with your questions and trust Him in His answers. And while you are at it, see if you’ve ever noticed the ceiling in Target!