Distractions – Stepping Off Your Path

God has a specific calling, a path for each of us to walk. But what happens when you step off of that path for just a minute?

Let me give you an example:

My path is writing, and I recently had an opportunity to write a short story for publication. So I prayed. (I’m FINALLY learning this is the first and most important step!) I had such wonderful peace and clarity. The words for the beginning of the story started even before I finished praying. I couldn’t wait to get to the keyboard.

And so I began typing, the story unfolding in crisp, detailed images. And I was enjoying the fellowship with the Holy Spirit as I was, once again, in awe of the delicate way He vividly paints pictures in my mind.

But then a tiny thought like a dandelion seed blew into my mind: I need to send a quick email.

Instead of staying on track and staying close to God in the moment, I stepped off the path just to send a quick email.

When I returned to the story, I tried to pick up where I left off. But text messages started coming in. Then someone stopped by. Then another visitor. The distractions became a whirlwind of dandelion seeds so thick I couldn’t focus on God’s voice or the painting He’d used the tips of my fingers to brush.

It all began when I let my mind wander. Just a quick email.

It was my own fault. If I would have stayed on track, I believe the story would have been finished before the first text came. God knew what my day was going to be like. (And I wouldn’t have been so grumpy with everyone the rest of the day!)

God narrows our path for His perfect reasons. We have divine moments of opportunity, blessings from Him. The timing becomes very specific. He knows the pitfalls to the left and the distractions to the right.

God wants us to keep moving forward with Him. He wants us to stay on track. Stay focused on the very touch of His hand in ours, the gentle guidance of His Holy Spirit, and our path of purpose. We don’t need to know the outcome. We just need to walk it.

Life is FULL of distractions, my friend. Don’t let your mind turn so quickly to see what all the noise is about. Don’t let the tickle of a dandelion seed pull you out of God’s presence.

Stay focused on God and the ever-narrowing path He’s leading you on. It only leads you closer to Him.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” (Proverbs 4:25 NIV.)

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a NIV.)

God Is Speaking

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I was sitting at my desk, surrounded by books and notepads with my laptop nearby and my cup half full of that oh-so-delicious afternoon coffee.

There’s something truly wonderful about preparing to write a new book, something so deeply intimate about spending time with God in the stillness of a room as He guides and teaches you about things you know very little about but are excited to learn.

Before I go on and on, leaving you to feel as if you’re in a vague fog, I promise there’s a point to all of this for you.

I can’t tell you exactly what I’m researching for my next book. (For those of you who know me, it’s the “purple elephant” all over again.) You see, if I were to tell you I’m writing a book about a purple elephant, you might look at me like I’m crazy and question why I wouldn’t make it pink or polka-dotted. Then I would start to doubt my purple elephant and question all of my work. Not only that, I don’t want to stick my purple elephant in a padlocked trunk (no pun intended) in case he needs to be rewritten in the middle of the story as a flying potato with antlers and chicken wings. (Can you tell my heart is yearning to write fiction?)

So I have to be all hush-hush about this book I’m writing, but I can tell you one thing about it – there won’t be any flying potatoes as far as “eye” can see. 🙂

But I can share something about this process that might help you if you’re working on something close to your heart or embarking on a new journey (could this be mine?!) – when you ask God to help you tackle something that is so far beyond your own knowledge, capabilities, or confidence, He will tiptoe into the room with you, pull up a chair, and gently whisper to you. He will teach you through His Holy Spirit.

All you have to do is ask, be still and listen, and takes notes the best you can.

And should God choose to speak through something visual like a rainbow landing right in your backyard on an unusually warm day in January and teach you how it connects to the very question you asked Him earlier, grab your camera and do your best to stop giggling so you can get the shot. Just remember, the lesson doesn’t end when you capture the image; God can reveal the hidden layers, the depth of His lesson even while you’re brushing your teeth the next morning.

God is speaking, my friend. And the Holy Spirit is teaching. Can you hear Him?

“And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:12 NLT.)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV.)

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV.)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV.)

The Story Behind the Christmas Stories

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I started writing fictional Christmas stories in 1996 just because I LOVED to write them.  And over time as I grew closer to God, the stories grew too, evolving from a fun tradition into something that deeply touches my heart and draws me closer to Him every year.

The stories began as printed and stapled copies I’d share with family and friends. (Hello to all of my P.C.C. friends! Thank you for the YEARS of support!) A few years later, I was hauling a bag of them around and recruiting my hubby and a few friends to help me pass them out in order to raise money for charity or families in need.

And by the grace of God, I’m humbled and so deeply honored to have seen them printed in The Outreacher for the past five years. Thank you to one amazing and lovely Editor/Publisher, Julie Schultz! And thank you to the talented Christy Bloom for layout and graphic design – you bring such visual beauty to my stories.

I’m truly in awe of God and how He takes these short stories to places beyond my own reach here at home and to various countries through this blog. Thank YOU, dear reader, for reading!!

I’d like to continue blessing others through these stories, but I’m doing something a little different this year. I’m giving a shout-out to a local bakery owner, Amanda, at Ginger’s Bakery in Uhrichsville, Ohio. If you are blessed by this year’s story, “One Cookie at a Time,” maybe you can give this wonderful bakery a shout-out of your own by ordering some of their delicious Christmas cookies – everything is made from scratch! To order, call (330) 691-7201.

And if you’d like to support The Outreacher as it takes the Good News of Jesus Christ into Tuscarawas County and beyond, you can email Julie Schultz at:  theoutreacher@hotmail.com.

Thank you!

I pray you enjoy this year’s story, “One Cookie at a Time.”

And I pray you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas as you remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.