Tag: Finding Focus

FINDING FOCUS: Mentoring

Mentoring is God’s plan for passing along Christianity and the example of Jesus Christ himself.

This month, the blog will take a closer look at this important calling. As in the study book (no longer available for purchase), the study starts with a Portrait.

Mentoring is becoming a lost art. As you’ll see in the Bible study segment, we should be more serious about this focal point of Christianity.

What follows is my attempt to paint a portrait of one of the best examples of mentoring given in scripture. Because the details of the arrangement aren’t spelled out in scripture, plenty of license was taken in the fictionalizing of the account.

Air stagnates in the women’s section at the rear of the Ephesian synagogue. I open my mouth to join the recitation and nearly gag when the body odor of an elderly woman in front of me wafts my way. Lord, help me!
Yes, that is a prayer. I find myself uttering three- and four-word petitions all day long. And the gracious Lord I serve hears and answers.
In this moment, I don’t heave the contents of my stomach onto the women around me. Nor does a retching sound emerge in place of the scripture. God has answered again.
My tongue forms the ancient words from Deuteronomy. Feminine voices embrace me on every side, joining and blending with the deeper tones from our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.
I tilt my head to the side, searching for my husband Aquila. My father is dead, my brother remains in Rome, uninterested in the Way, and the Lord has never blessed me with sons, only two daughters, both married.
Aquila is more than enough. We serve Jesus Christ together, just as we make tents together.
A male voice begins the first song of degrees. Other voices join in. I twitter out the high part my mother taught me so many decades past. The soprano notes complement the lower voices of both women and men.
A woman behind me joins on the high harmony. My heart leaps as I’m transported back to childhood, learning the part with my younger sister.
I turn my thoughts toward the Lord, voicing each word from my lips to his ears.
“The Lord is thy keeper,” we sing (Ps. 121:5). Praise Him for keeping us safe when Caesar evicted us from Rome.
“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil” (Ps. 121:7). Yes, Lord, you have preserved Aquila and me too many times to recount.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1).
Tears clog my throat. King David, author of this psalm, wrote of the tabernacle, but I have never seen the temple in Jerusalem. I squeeze my eyes closed to ease the burning.
When the singing ends, several men pray aloud. Their voices make a tuneful backdrop to my own thanksgiving and supplication.
The rabbi reads from Isaiah. It is one of the three books outside of the Torah that this synagogue has available, along with sacred scrolls.
A stranger, dark skin naming his origin from parts to the south, perhaps even Egypt, stands and speaks. The tone of his voice is cultured, smooth like cream. His words are fine. He expounds on the passage from Isaiah’s prophecy before speaking of other prophecies.
I nearly topple over when the man mentions the teaching of John the Baptist. I straighten against the hard seat, nothing more than a plank of wood set atop cinder blocks.
He speaks of the Messiah. My heart thrums in my throat until his honeyed words are nearly drowned by the pounding. Does this man know of the Way?
Many members of the synagogue are believers, but others claim Jesus of Nazareth was not their Messiah. The topic is dangerous to discuss in this Jewish place of worship.
I couldn’t discern whether the young man knows the Way. His focus seems to be validating John as the forerunner, the prophet to make straight the path before Messiah.
A chorus of murmurs from the men interrupts his fine speech, keeps me from hearing what more he says.
Several other men stand to read or recite scripture. No one else expounds on the passages. After another hymn and prayer, the rabbi dismisses the gathering with the traditional Shalom blessing.
Outside the domed building, I breathe deeply, watching the men file out. Aquila comes, head bent close to Benjamin, one of the members of our house church. Aquila’s leanness makes him appear taller than the stout cobbler. They exchange nods before Aquila extends his hand to me.
I take it, amazed that it can be cool and warm all at once. I press my back against the wall of the synagogue, raise on my toes to speak directly into my husband’s ear.
The crowd leaving the worship service is quiet, but the street around us teems with commerce. It is Ephesus. The trading never ceases.
“Who was that man? The one who spoke of John?”
“Apollos, an Alexandrite Jew.”
“Does he follow the Way?”
Aquila shakes his head, a slight move. I stare into his rich, brown eyes and see the motion wasn’t a denial. He thinks the younger man might be a believer, but it is dangerous to assume this. Apollos hadn’t spoken openly of Jesus, like Paul the Apostle had done when he visited here a few months past.
“We should invite him to break bread with us.”
Aquila nods. He scans the trickle of worshipers still emerging from the synagogue. A royal blue cloak swirls at the doorway, and the dark-skinned man emerges. Behind him, the rabbi shakes his head vociferously. My stomach clenches at the sight of the synagogue leader’s stern visage.
My husband shuffles toward the two men, waiting a respectful distance apart. The rabbi looks at him expectantly, but Aquila nods toward the stranger. Apollos stands half a head taller than my husband. Their lips move, but the bustle of the city and my distance from them makes hearing the conversation impossible.
Soon, Aquila is nodding. Both of them step toward where I’m waiting, hands folded over my queasy stomach. Lord, don’t let this be a mistake.
Trivial conversation follows us through the crowded market and into the quieter trade district. I fall behind the men, trying to listen to snatches of their conversations.
Lord, protect us if this man is not sent from you. Grant us wisdom to teach him Your Perfect Way. Move in his heart. Touch our tongues and lips. You promised your Spirit’s aide.
I could not hear much from the men, but I know the Lord hears every syllable of my fervent prayers.
A faint odor of tanning hides greets us when Aquila swings open the door to our home. It is nearly impossible to keep the stench away when our trade requires us to handle cured hides and skins every day.
The men sit on the couches in the center court of our small shop. My feet glide soundlessly across the mosaic and into the storage room. I fetch a skin of new wine and three cups. I place some bread and olive spread onto a large platter beside the cups, and carry all of it to the men.
I pour wine for both men, meeting Aquila’s eyes when I hand him his drink, ducking my head when I pass a cup to our guest.
Aquila swallows before asking, “What do you know of John’s baptism?”
Apollos sips his beverage, reclines on the pillow-covered arm of his couch. “His immersion of believers in water prepared men and women to become part of something greater.”
They discuss this subject. I swallow a mouthful of drink, but the knot in my stomach won’t allow more than that. I continue to pray until I feel a nudge from the Spirit.
“What of Christ?” I say.
Both men turn to stare at me. My husband’s eyes widen. Apollos holds my gaze, sipping from his cup before setting it on his thigh.
“Has Messiah come?” The dark man’s eyebrows press together, creasing his wide forehead.
I keep my eyes pinned on our guest, but I still see the slight shake of Aquila’s head. The witness of Christ within me prods me to ignore the wordless warning from my spouse.
“Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ. He called an assembly from the body of those baptized by John. We were baptized by Paul the Apostle in Corinth a few years past.”
“I heard rumors about this Jesus. Why do you say he was the Christ?”
Aquila and I take turns quoting prophecies of old which Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled. Prophecies everyone agrees spoke of the coming Messiah.
Aquila asks questions and nods at our explanations. His attendance on my words sends a flush to my cheeks. This man is a powerful orator. If he follows the Way, many people will turn from the path leading to eternal destruction.
Light fades. I bring a lamp from an inner room and light the wicks floating in pots encircling the terrace. A sense of peace envelopes me, a blanket of assurance as real as the curtain of darkness falling around us.
Today I have discovered another way Aquila and I can serve the Lord together. A young man will be saved from destruction. In turn, his persuasive speaking will convert many more to the Way.
Thank you, Lord.

You can still join the LIVE study in my Facebook Group by clicking here. That’s where you can download a FREE copy of the book and interact with others who are interesting in finding their God-given focus for life.

***This excerpt was first published in 2016 in the first edition of FINDING FOCUS THROUGH THE LENS OF GOD’S WORD, copyright belongs to Sharon Hughson

Writing on a Whim

More poetry from my vaults today. Hopefully, my writing whims aren’t spotlighting the whimsy within me.

(Yes, I do love my alliteration.)

Today’s offering is quite whimsical. I played with the words and penned them on the page.

Background: On this day, I had been brooding about the lack of new ideas and inspiration I’d been feeling. In the wake of National Novel Writing Month, I often find my creative soul a little parched. But I read a few turns of phrase in Proverbs 30 and an idea for a superhero-quest story spilled from nowhere.

Or somewhere. But us writerly types can never really pinpoint the exact source or motivation.

This untitled poem was only written a couple of months ago, December 30, 2016.

Ideas
spin through my pen
spurred by a word
inspired by a title
Wind in his Fists
Not the first time it called to me.

Notes
scribbled in dribbles
scattered by tatters
indulging a whim
Water in Garments
Superhero meet Elemental: A Trilogy

Heroes
stutter what they utter
strange what they arrange
involved with others
End of Earth
A quest against an unknown enemy.

Since this time, I’ve figured out who the villain is for these books. I know what he wants and why. Which means this could be a project that eventually comes front and center during my writing office hours.

All those pages of scribbles might find their way into a story after all.

Do you like to make notes in long hand? How do you get your best ideas? What process do you use to refine your ideas?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. Those reviews are the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Do you have to be Sarah Connor to be a Tough Woman?

Sarah Connor faced down The Terminator. And went to the loony bin where she worked out a plan of escape.

If you’ve watched any of the Terminator movies, you know the story. Sarah’s son John Connor is the one who unites humanity in the future war against machines. Machines that somehow achieved sentience and began destroying their human creators.

How’s that for gratitude?

Sarah Connor is one tough mama. In the original movie, she’s on the run like crazy from the Terminator. This is the only movie wherein her son sent a human back in time to preserve the time line make sure he would even be born. Yeah, I like the twist of that first movie the best.

In Judgment Day, we see an older and much more buff version of the scared blonde from the first movie. This is the Sarah Connor everyone identifies as someone too tough to be messed with.

I mean, check out those arms?

sarah-connor

How many pushups and pullups does a girl have to do while locked in a room at the funny farm to get those guns?

And Sarah is good with all kinds of guns.

But that’s not what makes a woman tough.

My Tough Gal Checklist

Let’s face it, if we met Sarah Connor on the street, toting her assault rifle, we wouldn’t be in awe. We’d be terrified.

So how can we be tough without being scary? (Unless scary is what you’re going for)

Here’s what it takes to be a tough woman:

  • Stand for what you believe in
  • Don’t back down from protecting others
  • Avoid confrontation if there’s a better way to solve the problem
  • Solve problems rather than complaining about them
  • Put your family’s safety first
  • Speak the truth with a loving tone (and never with the intent to wound)
  • Push back without pushing buttons
  • Work hard for what you want
  • Take care of your responsibilities
  • Ask for help when you need it (hey, tough women know they can’t do it all on their own)

What things would you add to this list?

How Average is Amazing

Too many times, women blow up their ideal role model into something larger than life. And then feel like total failures when she doesn’t measure up.

Sarah Connor is a fictional character.

You are a real person.

I’d rather be around the real you. Average is nothing to scoff at.

In fact, most of the time the average mother is nothing short of amazing. The average homemaker is a wizard of accomplishment. The average teacher is underpaid but doesn’t give her students any less because of if.

Average can be amazing when we decide to keep moving forward.

How many things on the checklist above describe you? If even five of them do, I’d say you’re pretty amazing.

Let’s face it, none of us want to have to protect our family from a machine-gun toting robot that can’t be destroyed. The models that can reshape themselves into any form and mimic voices? We wouldn’t even know if we met up with those terminators.

What do you think makes someone tough? What do you admire most about Sarah Connor?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one of more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.


	

How is that Year of Gratitude Coming Along?

If you follow my on social media, you know that I’ve been posting and tweeting everyday about gratitude. Some of those memes have gotten a little more toward the “refecting on life” side of things.

And since my brain is just as fried this week as it was last week, I thought I’d share some of this months memes. You know, for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

(The truth is, I’m so busy working on several writing projects at once that I don’t want to spend the time previewing videos I think you might enjoy. I just want to get this post written so I can get back to work on the novel, short story or nonfiction project).

Gift I’m Grateful for this Month

Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.
Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.

Something Small to Make me Smile

Day 275: Feeling super thrilled to have another fantasy story debuting this month.
Day 275: Feeling super thrilled to have another fantasy story debuting this month.

Words of Wisdom

Day 282: One of the motivating saying from my video trainer. What excuse is holding you back?
Day 282: One of the motivating saying from my video trainer. What excuse is holding you back?

Kit-Spiration

Day 286: Rain pattering on the glass makes me so so sleepy. No driving in the rain for this girl.
Day 286: Rain pattering on the glass makes me so so sleepy. No driving in the rain for this girl.

A Little Sunshine

Day 288: I am not ready to say goodbye to the sunshine.
Day 288: I am not ready to say goodbye to the sunshine.

Truth to Seize

Day 291: Everyone needs a hand up at some time or another.  Remember to pay the kindness forward.
Day 291: Everyone needs a hand up at some time or another. Remember to pay the kindness forward.

What are you feeling especially grateful for this month?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one of more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.