It’s been almost a month since I wrote my last column; I had wanted to write this one sooner, but I kept getting distracted. Ahhh…distractions. The title of this column. “I gotta do this first. I gotta tend to that first. I’ll get around to it,” are common excuses. It seems the time I devote to spiritual matters and the “care and tending of my soul” (I heard that once and loved it) is often low on the totem pole of my daily priorities.
Yet, when we move busily through our daily tasks and work obligations—the ones that are higher on the totem pole—we find that soon the routine and mundane-ness of it all gets the better of us. We find ourselves just going through the motions. And then later, when we catch our breath, we yearn for more than thisin our everyday lives.
Allow me to backtrack for a moment. The name of this column is Everyday Miracles. But what is an everyday miracle? It can be something as simple as noticing the tingly energy and warmth of a bright warm sun on your face and arms, to getting a good parking space at the grocery store, to things more heartfelt like noticing yourself feeling compassion for someone you normally would find yourself judging.
I experienced an everyday miracle yesterday: My husband and I arrived at a sandwich shop for lunch; no other customers were in line. Shortly after we placed our order the parking lot was full and there was a line of people at the counter. I said to my husband, “This is an everyday miracle,” then turned to God and said, “Thank you Lord.” I appreciated the timing of our arrival such that we didn’t have to wait in line. And because of that opportune timing we arrived at a destination later that day where conditions were optimal. Let me share with you because it’s a cool story.
We had planned to soak in the Boiling River that afternoon. This is a place in Yellowstone National Park (I live near the park) where the hot thermal waters of the Boiling River, which are sourced beneath the earth’s surface, flow into the frigid cold Gardiner River. A section of the merging of the two rivers has been cordoned off with rocks to allow people to soak in the warm waters. However, because we’ve been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures around here, the snow is starting to melt and the normally clear Gardiner River was turning murky with silt, early signs of the spring run-off.
When we arrived the water wasn’t so bad. But just when we decided to leave after about an hour’s soak, the silt got heavier turning to brown mud. We both commented that because of the timing of earlier activities, including not having to wait in line at the sandwich shop, we were blessed with soaking in good waters. It was an everyday miracle that I noticed because I was in a non-distracted, non-chaotic-brain state of mind.Our day was effortless and optimal. We were in divine alignment as well, open to receiving whatever the Lord had planned for us that day.
If we are too busy going about our day, our minds moving at a frantic pace, or the opposite—we’re moving slowly but consumed with some crazy thought we can’t seem to escape—we’re probably missing the everyday miracles.
To see the miracles we have to notice them, but to notice them we have to be open to them; and to be open to them we must be in a place of mental calm, peace and gratitude. Or else we’ll miss them.
How to set yourself up to receive the everyday miracles:
One time a day, preferably in the morning, before the busy-ness and business of your day begins, take some time out to pray, meditate and open your heart. There are countless devotionals on the market that can help you find a place to start. But you say, “I can’t stay focused; the kids need me; my mom needs me; my phone is ringing with text and phone calls. I have emails to answer.” Hey, I can relate.
I would get distracted all the time. I’d make my morning tea and after one cup of my high-powered caffeinated tea, I’d get antsy and grab my cell phone right in the middle of a sentence I was reading to check my emails. Or I’d jump out of my chair to let the dog in or out and while I was up go to the bathroom, kiss the hubby goodbye and then grab my iPad off its charger and turn it on. Uh oh! The iPad! My window to the world. “Let me just check the news, the weather…or Facebook,” Id say. “ll just take a peek.” Thats it, Im toast!
Next thing I know 30 minutes of my precious morning time has gone by and there goes my prayer time. You get the picture. Prayer and meditation, calming the soul, is essential to “setting ourselves up” so we can notice and receive the everyday miracles that happen throughout our day. To expect to just hop out of bed, jump in the shower and mutter a few prayers along the way allwhile you are doing something else is shortchanging the process.
How to limit distractions:
1. Find a calm spot in your home where you can sit privately and be inspired. You might have to get creative moving furniture around so you can look out a window with some view of Mother Nature. Ive found it helps to be near a window. For urban dwellers, a small sliver of sky is all you need. If thats not possible, then face the direction of an inspirational image on your wall, be it a photograph, painting or a saying that means something to you.
2. Limit caffeine. I now drink low caffeine tea so it doesn’t make me so antsy. For you, it might be low caff coffee, or limiting sugar, or any other substance that turns up the volume in your cellular activity.
3. Turn off your cell phone and put it in another room so youre not tempted to grab it. I leave mine in the kitchen on the charger in silent mode until Im finished with my prayer time.
4. Use your iPad or tablet for digital devotionals only, not for checking the news, email, etc. Discipline yourself. Real discipline for me is not clicking on the Fox News or CNN app, or my email during my prayer time. And dont even click on your Facebook app—or Pinterest for those who use that—or youll be done in. Those are two of the biggest time-sucks—and addictions—on this planet.
5. Did I say limit caffeine or other high-powered substance? It’s worth mentioning again because when your body is calm it’s much easier to calm the mind and when the mind is calm it’s much easier to receive the messages.
Now, I want to hear from you. Do you have a way of limiting distractions you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.
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While I’m relatively new to the experience of traveling along my spiritual journey and struggle with identifying what God wants from me and for me, your article tells me I’m doing one thing right. I start each morning with a few enlightening devotionals, each one bringing something different, yet building on each other at the same time. I realize now that instead of moving on to the news, Facebook, etc., after my devotionals are done I need to spend a bit more time meditating on what I’m taking in. Thank you for sharing.
There is not a day that goes by that you don’t inspire me to be a better woman Genevieve. But your recent writing has done much more that that. To keep our eyes pointed to “True North,” our meditation time is so critical. Distractions can consume our lives if allowed. And at the cost of what God has intended for us to accomplish. Others lives can be affected. Thank you again for your wonderful direction.
What a wonderful article. In an effort to increase my receptivity to what God has to say to me, I have eliminated caffeine from my diet. It was, in no way easy. I couldn’t remember the last day I had gone a day without having my one strong cup of morning coffee. And a physician told me that it takes about two weeks for the caffeine to be completely eliminated from my system.Ten days later and it has been well worth it. It has allowed me to focus, remain calm, and free of stimulants that block my feelings and my conversations with God.
Someone asked me what I like about riding a bike, and I told them it was like my private “zen” moment. There’s no radio, nobody talking to me, just me focusing on being aware of the road, other drivers, and the sensations of the sun, the shade, the temperature. Finding that freedom from distractions, coupled with a sensation of awareness, is my everyday miracle.
I love this! Thank you Lyn. After I wrote this column I realized I didn’t make any parallels to motorcycling. I guess with it being so cold here in the throws of winter in Montana where I live, motorcycling is not on my mind. But you are so right. Motorcycling is one of the ultimate ways to enjoy freedom from distractions. I believe that’s why so many of us love it to our very core.
I do believe that your message is a nudge for me to get back to my quiet time with God! I have been sucked in to the non-gratifying world of social media. I did have a wonderful, quiet spot to do my devotions….I MISS that and MUST return to it. My husband and I are wrapping up a great vacation on our motorcycles (where we have embraced everyday miracles). I am desperate to carve out my time with the Lord once we get home, prioritizing my daily living once again!
Good for you Caroline! I am going to start praying for you—and all my readers—that they are moved by my words in only the way God has them to be moved. Thank you for “giving” that to me, that is, realizing the need to pray for those who read my words.
Thank you for these articles. Last week I had a major wake up call through a dear friend being suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was on a spiritual quest for many years, but life and circumstances propelled me away; life became too busy, even too busy to sit a while, no time for “me.” At 56 now, and at long last I’m open to actually setting aside that time alone for inner contemplation for the real “me,” not the world “out there.” Time to reconnect with that spiritual quest. I look forward to your posts.
Gen:I’m pretty sure I’ve told you about this but I’ve started about 90 percent of my mornings for almost 10 years now reading Jesus Calling and/or Jesus Today by Sarah Young. (In fact, Jesus Calling—get this—OUTSOLD 50 Shades of Grey last year! So much so that it’s sold in Costco! Yeah, baby!) For your readers, these books by an Australian missionary are unique in that instead of her writing HER words to the reader, she writes God’s words to HER. (Trust me, it’s not woo-woo. Just Holy Spirit stuff the likes of which many of us already hear when we’re…ummm…NOT “distracted” from God’s voice. Sarah just listens quietly and then writes it down and it is some of the most deeply soothing-to-the-soul writing I’ve ever read.)Keep up your own writing, my dear. THIS is good stuff.Hugs in Him, Ronna
I think you are so right in finding that time alone for prayer and meditation. I use my 30-minute drive to work to talk with God. I am away from my phone, iPad, computer and even though I have to keep an eye on traffic, I can still have that alone time I need.