Attention

When was the last time someone gave you their full attention?
Mind scurries. Eyes shift. Body rocks. Foot taps. 
People are often not good at it. This can hurt.

When is the last time you gave someone your full attention?
Mind scurries. Eyes shift. Body rocks. Foot taps.
We’re often not good at it. We can hurt others.

Sometimes we get lonely; not because no one is around but because we have not really been with anyone for a long time. Being with people requires focus; distractions laid down, attention zeroed in on the person in front of us.

Question: What if you gave someone your full attention today? Who would that person be? How long could you last?

Eyes shift. Body rocks. Foot taps.

Life is in these small moments; the very moments we miss by mentally racing into whatever is next until whatever is now is dust.

How? How to be present?

Its a muscle, a mental muscle. Start small. Ten minutes of “Hi, I’m here for you; to see you, to know you, to understand you.”

In time that ten minutes will roll into fifteen and then twenty. In time, that muscle will become very strong and you will find yourself lost for two hours in the art of another’s life. And that is when you will realize, rather suddenly, that you have just become an eye-witness to Holy Spirit working something beautiful for that person through your unbroken gaze into the heart of their life.

Worth it.

Friends, let’s learn to focus our attention, especially with people.
It’s simple. It’s a muscle. Start small. Build from there.

Mind stable. Eyes locked. Body rested. Foot still.

Attention – present.

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Ruby Joy

July 10, 2009 was the beginning of a magnificent journey. Ruby Joy burst out of the arms of heaven and in to ours. Her tiny frame of four pounds four ounces was saturated with miracles yet to behold. The doctors believed she’d only live 7 days – but as each day passed, we knew that Ruby had a life – a very full life – to live.

In spite of the cruel onslaught of disease, Ruby embraced each moment more deeply than most of us have dared. Before the age of three, Ruby’s toes tickled sand. Her lungs breathed – really breathed – the air of the mountains. She swam in the Deep South, belly laughed with her daddy and wept with her mommy. Being born blind was a part of her that simply needed to awaken. At two months old, Ruby’s eyes blinked wide open to life, and from that moment forward, she relentlessly locked her gaze to every challenge set before her.

Ruby mastered the art of contentment, regardless of her circumstances. She somehow lived separate from the pressure of what had come against her body – while we worked desperately to stand beneath it. In the midst of ongoing hospitalizations fighting for life, Ruby delighted us with her ever-evolving personality. She was strong, happy, and enchanting. There was a stubborn, invincible spirit in Ruby that steadily convicted us to believe not only for her – but with her, bonding us to her in a deep and unique way. It was the bedside way of loving, where you know and embrace wholeheartedly – what really matters.

Ruby lived a bright life inside of a dark space of disease, and in so doing, taught us what love looks like. In these last few months, more difficult challenges surfaced in her body. She was suffering. Intensely. We despised the disease, ran from it, tried to duck it, curse at it, throw things at it – but it chased us – hard. Ruby never stopped smiling – and we never stopped embracing, but seemingly at a moments notice, Ruby’s tenacity to live this side of eternity lessened, and we sensed that she was struggling. She wanted to go Home. And after a short and courageous fight with pneumonia, she did.

There are certain things that can only form in darkness, among them gems, rubies – and they are the most valuable. Ruby: the greatest privilege of our life, greatest gift of our life, greatest calling of our life, greatest teacher in our life, greatest person in our life – our daughter, our hero, our friend, Ruby Joy. Truly, the prized gem of our own flesh.

Eulogy written by Becki Phillips & Katie Luse for Ruby Joy’s memorial service commemorating her Home-going on March 14, 2012.

Be Still

Sometimes its hard to be still. Usually its hard when we have growing internal needs that have been kept under wraps through business and task. To stop means to face what we feel; to give in to our internal reality, to listen to our own heart. This can be scary, daunting, unwanted.

And so … we bustle onward and keep busy, not wanting to find out what would emerge if we were to truly stop and be still.

The problem is that the needs of the heart do not just go away. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that internal restlessness dissipates from lack of attention. Its just not true. In reality it increases its’ noise until attention is granted, and time is not always a friend in this matter.

Suggestion: STOP.

Stop trying to drowned out the voice of your heart through distractions. It will only cry louder, and not always kinder. Take the subtle cues instead of waiting for the explosive demands. I’ve lived out both, the latter is a disaster.

Do you know that what you feel matters?

Life happens in and through the heart. What’s in you matters. Dare to be still and process what you honestly feel. Find some space. Give it some time. Express. You must. Soon.

You’re couragous. You can do this.

Be still.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Grumpy

Last night I tumbled into a bad mood. I call it “grumpy,” its less committal. I huffed and puffed in the bedroom and then dove under the covers and frowned myself to sleep. Mild case of the blues. I’m not proud of it, but let’s be real – it happens.

This morning I woke up happy and then remembered, “I’m not happy, I’m grumpy.” I then felt a strange sense of loyalty to my grumpiness.

Question: Why do we do that?

Isn’t there anything better to be loyal to than a bad mood?

Surely there is.
Gotta find it.

Last thing I want to do is find myself ten years from now; ever so loyal – and ever so stuck – in a bad mood. I wonder if that’s just how that happens to people; a bad day turns into a bad year, turns into a norm of depression.

What we are loyal to today is what we bring with us into tomorrow. I’m convinced.

Permission granted. Have another thought. Embrace a different feeling. Find something you want to stick around, and stick to that.

Grumpy happens.
The least we can do is make it short-lived.

🙂