Distractions

I keep getting distracted. I should be writing a blog but then there are the dishes in the sink, the dog is eating a pencil, a shoe, a new Lego set, fill in the blank, the children are fighting again over trivialities which may really be a cry for Mom’s attention, and oh look at that pile of laundry over there. But wait, we’re late for a play date, a haircut, a camp, a show at the library, the dentist, fill in the blank. When I get home, there are the chickens to deal with and the dog will need some play time too. I’ll squeeze in that email response and maybe check Facebook and then cook lunch, dinner, fill in the blank. The distractions are fast and furious (yes, even politics as the election cycle heats up are getting to be distracting because one must be an informed voter).

And then I sit down and read my Bible study material … the assigned letters from C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters wherein one agent of the Devil advises his nephew on the best ways to prevent his patient’s complete and total conversion to Christianity. Tactic #1? Keep him distracted and unable to act. If the nephew can keep the patient focused on the minutiae and never on the big picture, on the little idiosyncrasies of the person in the pew next to him instead of on the bigger view of the sinfulness of all men, on the future fears instead of the present joys, on the daily grind rather than the vastness of creation, then the patient will be mired in the Devil’s bog rather than walking freely in the light. Distraction. The Devil’s number one tool and I’ve got it bad.

Last week was Bible School week at our church and this year’s theme was “Daniel’s Courage.” Based on his faith in God, Daniel stood up to countless attacks on his character and his God as did his famous friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and not so surprisingly God came through saving the foursome from such things as fiery furnaces and hungry lions. What really struck me this go around for the book of Daniel was the discipline with which Daniel lived his life. His wasn’t some haphazard, willy-nilly religion that came into play when convenient. He was disciplined to eat God’s food, not the King’s delicacies. He was disciplined to continue prayer despite attempts to make such action illegal. He was disciplined to turn to prayer when times were going great and when times were dire. It seems to me, discipline must be the answer to distraction. Intentionality and focus chase away distraction.

As is often the case, this realization has been reinforced for me… this time through one of those email forwards we get from our friends. Titled “When you thought I wasn’t looking” this little email points out the importance of intentionality in our lives. I admit that when I first saw the subject, I thought, “Oh here we go. All the ways I’ve failed… that negative thought I uttered, the cynical moment I had, the discouraging muttering under my breath, the moments I lost my temper.” Instead, here is what it said:

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you hang my
first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you feed the
birds in winter, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make my
favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I heard you say a
prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make a
meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you take care
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you hold
the door open for others and heard ‘thank you’ and
‘you’re welcome’, and I learned respect for others.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come
from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it’s all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw that you
cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I learned most of
life’s lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I looked at you and
wanted to say,’ Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn’t looking.

Doesn’t it just make you want to cry? Seriously, though, there is intentionality in all of those actions and despite the littleness of some of them they do speak volumes to the state of the heart.

Now to tie this all into Compassion Tea and CompassioNow. I received an email this week, the minutes from a meeting of the board for Mission Medic Air in Zambia (www.mma-zambia.org). This organization flies doctors into the bush to host monthly clinics in places where there are no doctors. Mission Medic Air is supported by CompassioNow, who has provided funds, a new engine for the crucial airplane that gets the doctors into the remote areas of Zambia, and medical supplies, This past spring, Mission Medic Air hosted a Smile Train camp at a local hospital. During the six days of the camp, 45 patients were seen and treated. That number may seem low until you understand the scope of the camp. Smile Train (www.smiletrain.org) is a charitable organization dedicated to changing the world one smile at a time by providing free surgery to fix cleft palates and lips to families who can’t afford to have the procedure. According to their website, 170,000 children are born yearly world-wide with some sort of cleft. If it is left unrepaired, it can prevent a child from eating and speaking. In many parts of the world, the social stigma that follows a child with cleft is that he/she is cursed; some are even killed or abandoned immediately after birth. So, through the intentionality of Mission Medic Air and Smile Train, 45 children in Zambia were given new life as their clefts were repaired. Already, Mission Medic Air has about 20 other cases signed up in hopes there will be another such camp in the near future.

This made me think of the intentionality of my support of Compassion Tea. Sure, it would be easy to just grab a box of sub-quality tea at the grocery store while I’m there. Or I suppose I could choose to intentionally go to the mall and spend a wad of money at a very lucrative certain tea source there. But in signing up for a Compassion Tea membership I’ve added convenience (now my tea shows up in my mailbox), variety (I get to try teas I might not have thought to try), and that social justice element that only Compassion Tea offers… providing life-saving health care to people who need it desperately. When I don’t think anyone is looking, my children will see me baking with or drinking the tea. They enjoy it too. And they are growing up hearing the stories of children in other parts of the world that don’t have it so good.

I guess what I want to get across here is that in our world of distractions and grind, we can act intentionally in ways that have lasting effects on our own little corner of the world as well as on the wider world. It may take discipline, but the blessings that follow are immeasurable.

Just as a note… in the course of the time it has taken me to complete my ramblings, Winston the dog has shredded an inflatable ball and a gift bag and has emptied the contents of 2 trashcans consuming what he could ingest. Distractions.

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