Tag Archives: slow down

Rain on a a Canvas

Sometimes it is interesting to just sit around and watch. To observe people, happenings, or just nature. Watching wind blowing the trees. Acorns falling from the limbs. Clouds traveling across the blue sky. Dogs running across the yards.

The other day, as I took my lovely wife to Missions BBQ for salmon, it began to rain … and rain pretty hard. We sat inside and I listened to the impact each little rain drop made on the windows. And then, as I stared at the patio umbrellas through the windows. They were out there on the empty outside eating area and just being pelted by the falling droplets. But the cool display was even better for I got lost watching the droplets descend the canvas … they streamed down the canvas, smaller droplets joining together to make larger droplets … like little rivers coming down the mountainside and falling off the canvas forming picturesque waterfalls descending to the patio below.

My mind just ponder the simplicity of the image, the beauty of nature, the essence of the moment.

In life, sometimes things just happen. Nature is a beautiful display of the creativity of God. It’s not that it has a message to proclaim, or a truth to challenge us, or a principle to ponder. What it does have is just a simple beauty, a simple repetition to get lost in.

Nature is like that. Find something to just observe, simply get lost in the wonder of life. Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy life.

On a closing note, I am not sure what my wife was doing during all this … I think she was watching me and appreciating the beauty of her great husband.. Actually, I think she was just eating and enjoying her salmon, collards, cornbread and cherry cobbler. I am not sure she knew I was there after I paid for the meal.

Open the blinds … Look outside … Enjoy the view.

Life would be a better is people would slow down ever so often and chill!

8 Seconds

What’s your attention span? Can you give a hour long TV episode your full attention? 30 minute show? How about a 60 second commercial? Have I lost you just reading this?

Microsoft, yes that Microsoft, did an infamous study and determined humanity has a shorter span than a goldfish. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about the attention span of a goldfish, but I guess that’s about me. (they have a 9 second span by the way)

From National Geographic

So, I have e.i.g.h.t. short seconds to grab your attention before you click somewhere else.

Ads have 15 seconds. Movie trailers need to get you quickly.

I now have six seconds.

I want to share some ways to slow down and pay more attention. Maybe you can share other ways too.

Think about the consequences for short attention spans. Harder to learn/teach. Shallower content. Fallow conversations. Broken relationships. And when it comes to church, leaders feel they have to cater to this as well. And in the social media world … news articles have to be reduced to tweets, life changing experiences have to be confined to 12 second TikTok or Instagram posts, and Facebook articles have to grab you in an instant or the user continues the scroll on down the timeline.

But don’t cater, don’t give in. Worship/Ministry leader – go deeper, demand more, expect sacrificial lifestyle. Jesus does.

Teach them … My phone is a window into the worthless and the worthy, the artificial and the authentic. Some days I feel as if my phone is a digital vampire, sucking away my time and my life. (Tony Reinke)

Teach them … spiritual growth doesn’t happen over night. The Bible uses gardening as a metaphor very often. And as any farmer or gardener will tell you, this takes time. Get past instant gratification.

Teach them … God demands more, or less. Surrender, not convenience. All your life, not just part. Discipline, not distraction.

Teach them … Jesus. His love, His commitment, His eternal passion for each and every one of us.

Soooooo ……… what do we do? How do we train ourselves to pay more attention?

  • Stop rushing. Slow down in taking your input.
  • Take breaks (seems counterproductive) … but allow some ‘think time’ like 5-7 seconds to focus. These pauses help us stay on a topic.
  • Exercise. Discipline of a body will carry over to discipline of mind.
  • Get rest.
  • Get help. I mean help in your tasks. Sometimes being overwhelmed makes you jump around mentally. So if you need help, get it.
  • Sharpen mental functions through brain exercises.
  • Prune. Get stuff out of your life that you don’t need.

These are just some. What do you do?

I Didn’t Have a Car – 48 Hours of ?

In my tiny little corner of the world – there are no buses, no Uber, no Subway (except the one that serves my 12-inch rotisserie chicken sub.) I’m not even sure that a taxi could be found. I can’t get Uber Eats, Grub Hub, or even Dominos Pizza to deliver. We have a Walmart and they will do curbside pick-up but not delivery. It’s not as bad as when I lived in way-rural Louisiana where the paper USAToday always got delivered a day late (kind of a USAYesterday – thank God for online news.) I don’t live in San Francisco or Portland or DC … the top three places to live without a car. The train goes through our town – but I am not sure it even slows down. We built a tunnel under the tracks for cars and tractors, and originally for cows. The tunnel even gets tagged with art ever so often.

I have plenty of neighbors that will see me walking somewhere and force me into their car … in a good way. I can walk to the office or can work from home. That’s not an issue. One time I was walking and the fire chief put on his flashing lights, pulled off the road, and gave me a ride. Small town America is great.

So, this week, my car started having some front end vibrations at higher speeds. I took it to the tire store and had them balanced, aligned and a rotation done. I walked to and from the diner to eat while the shop worked on it. Still had issues, so I took it to my mechanic to go a little deeper. 48 hours later, I got it back. This article isn’t about the car, its about the 48 hours.

Many authors have given benefits to not having a car. There are the savings (no insurance, no gas, no repairs, etc.) There is the exercise. I can get into this – I love to walk – bit I prefer mountains and trails and wildlife sounds … not asphalt, and car fumes and honking of horns. Another benefit is it slows down life in this fast-paced world. Another reason, you never have to worry about parking. I don’t get this in my town where bad parking is having to walk a 100 extra yards away. Even Walmart’s parking lot is rarely full. Here’s a few more … going green (reduces pollution) and never having to wait at the DMV and not worrying about riding on snow.

These are all fine and good if you had to adjust life and lived in a metro area. But I don’t. However, I did take advantage of the past 48 hours. I had some wonderful benefits that I think many of us could use …

  • It gave me some forced mental downtime. Often I just drive looking for something to do or somewhere to go. Slowing down was good.
  • And slowing down allowed me to catch up on things I’ve put off – like laundry. I didn’t enjoy the laundry, who does, but I enjoyed getting it done. I even got to separate and count my beanie-babies as I need them for props in the next few weeks.
  • It gave me appreciation for mobility, especially in a small town. Just to go get milk or grab breakfast, having independence is still something for which we should never lose appreciation. I can go a couple of days, but it would drive me crazy to be completely without a vehicle.
  • I got to read more. Reading while driving is a no-no. I can walk and read. These two days, I got to sit inside, drink coffee and dive into some printed works.
  • It created a deeper bond with my friends. I truly needed them to give me a quick ride or run an errand. I normally am pretty independent and don’t desire to be dependent on anyone. And we need to have relationships that we know we can trust to be there in good and and bad.

Hurrying kills the goodness of the moment. We need to enjoy the basics more with joy and appreciation … shared with people.

So, don’t wait until you have to put your vehicle in the shop to slow down a bit. Learn to pause, breath a bit and enjoy life more. Here are a few suggestions to help …

  • Put your phone away.
  • Spend time around nature – get away from concrete and metal
  • Savor a meal – stop eating in your car (oops, did I talk about myself there?)
  • Open a book
  • Exercise a little
  • Spend time with people – just hanging out, no agenda
  • Write a letter – old school, with pen and paper

What would you suggest to help others slow down? If you had 48 hours, what would you do?

What Stops Your Scroll?

Baby pics. Cute dogs doing neat tricks. Bisons sending bystanders scrambling. Political mudslinging. Artistic renditions of scripture and sermon tweet worthy bylines. All of these may be a reason you ‘stop the scroll’.

This is a phrase that means you will just mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, news feeds, or whatever platform finds your fancy. Then at one point something grabs your attention so you stop scrolling, hover over the entry, click on the link, and pay attention.

I discovered there is a new software for businesses that will monitor computer stations of employees. Realizing they are losing so many work hours to employees checking their personal pages, they determine something needed to be done. The new software/device will allow personal surfing, but only so many minutes an hour. It will ping-ring-buzz-ding or whatever to get the person back to work. I guess if you can’t stop it, you might as well try to minimize the impact.

But this is a symptom of something bigger in our world. We often just go through the motions of mindlessly journeying through life until something grabs our attention. We have the tv or radio on, until we hear a song or person we like, then we perk up. We go to worship and count lights, tiles, colors on stain glass, or whatever. We perk up when a buzzword is said or a passionate pastor kicks into screaming, crying, or is silent. We drive mindlessly taking it all for granted what passes by around us.

Stop a bit …

  • Have a random slowdown and notice something.
  • Stare at a flower and see the beauty.
  • Notice how clouds drift, cross, and transform in front of our eyes.
  • See the uniqueness in individuals around you. Laugh lines to various eye colors. Weathered hands that show labor.
  • Appreciate the hours that go into planning little things in a car design. Think about the persons who planned and impacted small details.
  • Talk to someone, hear their story, share your story.

Stop the scroll of your life and appreciate the creative diversity right here. And do this off of FB … do it in real life.

  • For me, on FB and I-gram, I stop at hiking, National Park, nature scenes. And as glorious as these are, I also need to see it is right around me as well.
  • Be blessed.