Posted in Moments of grace

Lessons on focus from little ones

Photo by Joe Smith on Unsplash

I got invited to a virtual tea party the other day. I joined my grandchildren in Texas for a few moments as I had a cup of coffee and they ate homemade cookies and drank some tea with plenty of milk and sugar. As I watched them enjoy their afternoon snack, I was impressed by how focused they were on the task at hand. 100% of their attention was focused on eating freshly baked snicker-doodles. I sipped my coffee, chatted with my daughter-in-law, took note of a message that popped up on my phone and tried to snap a few screen shots of our long distance time together. For the little ones, though, it was as if nothing else existed except those cookies.

I am jealous of their youthful ability to focus. I think I’ll enlist them to be my productivity coaches! My world is filled with distractions as I try to get things done. I’m often trying to do too many things at one time. I eat while watching TV, clean while listening to music, talk on the phone while watching the dog. Even though preschoolers can have a short attention span, I took away these lessons on focus from that occasion.

Just have one thing in front of you. They had nothing in front of them except two cookies on a paper towel and a cup of tea. No crayons, books or toys. Just the snack. And they enjoyed every bite. It wasn’t till after they were done that we chatted.

Set a time. The tea party was scheduled for 4:30 pm, so that’s what we did. Block out the time. Put your task on the calendar.

Have a goal. Know what you need to get accomplished. Eat two cookies. Drink one cup of tea. For me it might be writing a certain number of words or making a certain number of phone calls or making a lesson plan.

When you’re done, you’re done. When the cookies are gone, it’s time to play. Or color. Or build legos. Finish one task, then move on to the next.

Be in the moment. They savored every bite and sip. They had just one thing to do: enjoy the snack!

I don’t know how many articles and books I’ve read about focus and productivity. I’ve learned a lot from many sources. But lately, I’ve learned even more from the little people in my life!

Posted in Sunday

Is it warm in here, or is it me?

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

As you know (or maybe don’t know) anything can happen on a Sunday morning. As a pastor, you want your Sunday mornings to be uneventful. Should the Holy Spirit choose to blow through and dramatically change someone’s life, I’ll go with it. But in general, I prefer no surprises.

Especially the physical plant surprises that might crop up at any moment. In Connecticut, the worst thing that could happen in the winter was no heat. In Florida, however, throughout the year, the one thing you don’t want to encounter is no air conditioning.

I arrived a little earlier than usual last Sunday morning. I was staving off high-pollen laryngitis and wanted to give my voice a little more time to wake up. It was gravely, but would endure the morning with lots of water and no singing. After running through my sermon, I noticed that the sanctuary was strangely silent as six-thirty AM came and went. Usually, the big AC units kick on at 6:30 to begin cooling down the room for worship. Especially on a humid February morning.

I checked everything I knew how to check. As I often tell my leaders, I barely passed my HVAC class at the seminary. I just knew it was going to be warm if something didn’t happen soon.

About 7 am I called the AC guys. I know that I woke up the owners wife who was handling the phone that morning. They would send someone out.

As the musicians arrived to warm up and early arriving worshipers arrived, the worship folders doubled as fans to cool a quickly warming room. About five minutes before worship was about to being, an AC tech showed up and pondered the mysteries of the box which controlled everything. All I could do was remind myself that it wasn’t that hot yet. Surely he would figure it out soon.

About 30 minutes later, I could feel cold air beginning to circulate through the worship space. Thank you, Lord! It’s not like we can crack a window or anything. We opted out of that when we built. As cool air began to course through the room, those fanning themselves soon put their sweaters on. Feast or famine. Sahara or Arctic, I guess. By grace alone we made it through the morning.

Today (Monday morning), I arrived at the church to begin another week, and noticed that all the big units were running. Still running. I looked at the status display, and it read, “Forced schedule.” Now what do I do? A little later a tech showed up and explained what the other guy did and what to do next time. It’s not an elegant solution, but it will work.

I have plenty on my mind every Sunday morning. I’d like to focus on preaching and teaching. In my dreams! I usually have to deal with electrical (the lights won’t come on), acoustical (my microphone is popping), atmospherical (it’s kind of cold in here, pastor) and medical issues (someone passes out in church). I hope you’ll forgive me if I lose my train of thought.