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Keep your focus (Repost)

Note: This post was originally published on July 21, 2009. You will note at the end of the post that I mention Billy Coffey’s regular Monday post and a guest post every Wednesday. I’m taking a break from the Wednesday guest posts for now, but if you’re interested in sending in a guest post, email me at for more details. I’ll resume guest posts when this series re-run is complete.

How to Draw a Picture (Part 6)
(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

Keep your focus. It’s the difference between a good picture and one more image cluttering up a world filled with them
Some questions I have never answered to my satisfaction, but I have drawn my own pictures and I know that when it comes to art, it’s perfectly okay to paraphrase Nietzsche: if you keep your focus, eventually your focus will keep you.

Sometimes without parole.

It is a bit of a misconception that the ADD afflicted cannot focus. As a matter of fact, I have found myself so focused on a particular project that everything else simply goes undone. My struggle is not to stay focused, but to un-focus long enough at the task at hand to attend to all the other things that demand my attention.

I used to be an avid scrapbooker. The maternal instinct kicked in and I felt compelled to document every major and minor moment of my first born’s life. This just so happened to coincide with an invitation to a Scrapbooking home party invite given to me by a friend from church. I had never heard of such a thing, but once I saw it, I was hooked.

I had to stop scrapbooking. It consumed me. While everyone else was putting together entire scrapbooks in record time, I became so obsessed with creating the perfect page for a particular picture or set of pictures that I would literally stay up all night until I got it just right. While my friends simply found a few stickers and/or coordinating papers and called it a day, that just wasn’t enough for me. Mine had to be a perfect representation of my emotional connection to the moment in which the picture was taken.

I am mostly ADD with some shining OCD moments. Allow me to give you a couple of examples:

Those are just three examples. On almost every page, I painstakingly recreated one or more elements in the picture. They’re not even that artistic, but they were accurate! At the rate I was going, I would have my son’s baby pictures finished by the time he graduated high school. I just got overwhelmed by it. I still take pictures of my kids. My daughter wants to do her own scrapbooks. At almost 8 years old, she has given me every indication that her creative prowess puts her mother to shame. So, I’m all for that.

Fast forward to May 2008. I didn’t even know what a blog was until I read my friend and pastor Jeff’s blog. What a difference a year and a couple of months can make. What started as an outlet for my outright silliness and occasional prosperity gospel rants has turned into something so much more. It is a community. Some blogs are strictly informational. Mine could hardly be called that on my best day. My husband told me his favorite part of my blog is reading the comments. I tend to agree. I know I have many readers who rarely or never leave comments. I have some readers who only stop by on Mondays, and that’s okay, too.

So what’s my focus right now? Writing. My own and the writing of people who actually know what they’re doing. Because it’s not enough to be good or even great. You need exposure. And while this blog is not exactly breaking records for traffic, it’s nothing to sneeze at.

That’s why I have two guest posts a week.

Monday will be reserved for Billy Coffey until such time as he simply gets too busy to post here. Thank you, Billy. What a privilege it is to feature your work here every week, and what a pleasure it is to know you, my friend. I won’t even say something silly like, “Don’t forget me when you’re a famous author”, because I know you better than that. You’re a real class act and I’m thrilled that the rest of the world is about to be blessed by your words just as your regular readers have been over this past year.

Each Wednesday I will feature another new guest blogger. I have been really overwhelmed at the response to this. I thought I would be scrambling to find someone willing to write for this blog, but people have been so gracious, and the result has been some excellent posts and hopefully some new readers for my guest bloggers.

I know I joke around about shamelessly self promoting myself on twitter, but I’d much rather promote someone more worthy of attention than myself. It’s the least I can do. Because it’s not about me anyway…

One Touch at a Time (by Rebecca @ The Reluctant Homefront)

A very special guest blogger today. I found my way over to Rebecca’s blog via Billy Coffey’s blog. Turns out they are from the same neck of the woods. Rebecca’s blog is an outgrowth of her husband’s deployment to Iraq, hence the name “The Reluctant Homefront”. I asked Rebecca to guest post for me because a) she’s a great writer, and b) it seems all we ever hear about from the media is bad news when it comes to the war. I think we should take the opportunity to celebrate the good things going on over there. It’s also a good reminder to keep our service men and women in our prayers and be thankful for their sacrifices – for their country and their families. So, enough of me – here’s Rebecca:

The vehicle bounced and jounced down the dirt road. Rattling around the turret one could look out and see a steep drop-off to the first side, a muddy canal to the other. The mechanical hulk was only going 35 mph, but still the soldiers below were lifted several feet in the air and jarred their heads against the metal ceiling with each hole or rut the wheels hit. The sun scorched the land as the road stretched out as if going forever, a dusty tan ribbon running ahead of the convoy.

After passing more and more of the same dusty sand and rocks, the convoy drove up to a little hut in the middle of a field. It was little more than a hovel, sticks held together with mud and baked solid in the heat. The tussled soldiers filed out of the vehicles and smiled as children peered out the door at them and shuffled out, some shyly, others with excitement. These soldiers had been here before, and had noticed the poverty of the little family: a man; his wife and a mother, sister, or aunt; and five children like stair steps. They all lived together in the little mud hut barely the size of a bedroom back home in the States. The family was friendly, though. The children had waved at the convoys before, and the man was most welcoming in spite of the language barrier.

This little farm family had touched the hearts of the soldiers, and while out on a mission to detect those who set up the mortars which showered the base every night, they wanted to help however they could. The soldiers brought MRE meals, drinks and water, and two soccer balls to brighten the children’s day. Ever grateful, the man volubly expressed his thanks in his own language. The soldiers did their best to understand without the help of an experienced translator, wishing they had been able to bring one with them just to speak with this man. They wanted so much to help and to show that they cared. After each side struggled to express themselves, the soldiers had to move on. They filed back to their vehicles, one reaching a tanned hand out to tousle the hair of one of the little boys as they raced past the men and women to the fields beyond for an impromptu soccer match. Although the soldiers would have many other missions, this family would stay in their minds: the poverty, the gratefulness, and the gracious welcome to strangers from another land. They could have been seen as armed and dangerous. Instead they were welcomed as friends and protectors.


I didn’t witness this first hand. This sight formed in my mind as I smoothed cool sheets under my hands, straightened a coverlet, and settled on the edge of the bed to listen to my husband’s story. I relaxed into the mattress as he led me through that day, happy to share a good memory of helping others. I heard the satisfaction in my husband’s voice as he spoke about reaching out to the people he meets on missions now. A prior operation was training the civilian police force, something he found was often frustrating and repetitive. This new set of orders has enabled his unit to travel among the Iraqi people, and while there they are free to help in whatever ways they can. The soldiers are most fulfilled not in battles or taking down enemies (although they feel successful when those things occur), but in doing what they believe is their larger mission: aiding the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives.

I listen to these stories of the sun-baked desert from my rain-drenched house and feel more pride than ever in what we’re doing. Our family gives up its leader for a time, sharing his strength and care with another family thousands of miles away. No matter how the war was begun, the soldiers want to win it. One touch at a time.

To read more from Rebecca, visit her at The Reluctant Homefront