Our neighbor friends have a senior in high school this year. Every time I talk with her, she expresses disbelief that her baby is graduating. We saw a preview of his senior pictures online last night, and there are a few where he's standing on a dirt path, trees in vibrant colors surrounding him, with dried leaves lying on the ground. You can almost feel the chill in the air, watch another leaf falling. For a second, I thought, how pretty! I wonder where they took that photo?
I realized, of course, it's just down the road from us. That very path could be the one that connects our properties in the back. The beautiful picture was taken in my neighborhood. In fact, a number of friends have used our road to have professional pictures taken.
For several months of the year, I hang our clean, wet clothes on the line outside. Our children go up and down our dirt road, meeting up to go see the other neighbors' goats, kittens, chickens and ducks. Most summers, I grow a garden, freezing and canning fruits and vegetables so we can eat homegrown food all winter long. I'm a small town girl who lives a few miles outside of town in the country.
Please understand, I could also tell you what a pain it is to live on a dirt road. We'll never have have fancy cars, for whatever we drive, there's always a layer of mud caked on it. The dust, rocks and potholes really do a number on the underbody of a vehicle. I chuckle sometimes at the condition of cars going through a car wash in front of me. My vehicle really needs it. There's a lot of work to do out here. It takes 20 minutes to get to a grocery store. Most other places, you can estimate a 30-minute drive minimum, which helps explain why I'm often late, because I refuse to acknowledge the drive time.
One of my favorite parts of this series, #dwellonthesethings, is the reminder we need to be intentional about our focus. Dwell. We have a good life out here, and it suits us. When I dwell on the good things; about the choice we've made to live here, and the sacrifices we make that are worth it to us, it's lovely.
It's the same in your own life, right? At any given time; good things and bad things. There's one thing I've found to guarantee our focus will stay where it should be. When we focus first on Christ. Always first.
Let's go down a few verses from Philippians 4:8, the verse we're looking at for this series.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
Keep in mind Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. Bad. Where's his focus? Things that are lovely, just, pure, true, etc. He's learned to be content in whatever circumstances (take note, it's not because of the circumstances; sometimes it's in spite of). He reveals the secret to how we can do this too - through Christ who gives him strength.
We focus on the lovely by first focusing on Christ.
This is the fifth post in my October series, #dwellonthesethings. Here are links to the previous articles: