A Cluttered Desk, a Cluttered Mind

Vol. 20 No. 05 | January 29, 2018

I almost always keep my desk and study area clean and free of clutter. I find an orderly desk provides less distractions.

But when I got to the top of the stairs this morning and saw what was in front of me, chills went down my spine. (For picture go to www.anorvellnote.net)

I hate it when my desk is like this- covered with papers, bills, receipts, a water bottle with one good swallow left, yellow sticky notes stuck on top of other sticky notes attached to my computer monitor, gift cards, tax forms, pens and highlighters, and of course my Bible (this does not fall into the ‘clutter’ category, obviously.)

Everywhere you look- on the floor, the filing cabinet, and the bookcase behind my desk- are folders, stacks of papers, files, textbooks, a plastic crate filling up with 2018 receipts.

Have I mentioned that I hate it when clutter collects like this?

“Tom, oh Tom, why have you allowed your desk and study area to get in such a condition?” you might ask.

The answer is reasonably simple: because this is a lot like how my life looks right now.

But I will say, although most of the stuff piled up on and around my desk looks like clutter, it’s not entirely. With the exception of a few of the sticky notes, most of the stuff scattered about has a purpose. (Okay, five pens may be a little much.)

Like the desk clutter, the things piling up on my list of what I need and want to do in my life are also important. There are people I try to stay connected to (you are one of those people); I am currently involved, to some degree, in four writing projects; teaching part-time; counseling; trying to develop my practice or perhaps find a full-time position; working part-time in a department store; trying to be a good husband, Dad, Papa, friend and all that’s wrapped up in trying to live as a follower of Jesus.

On some days, when I sit with my journal and reflect on all that exists within the boundaries of my life, I have the same feeling as when I arrived at the top of my stairs and looked into my study. Ugh! Where do I even start?

So as I sat amidst of all the clutter, I turned to the words of Jesus:

You are blessed when you get your inside world — you mind and heart —put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

I read those words three or four times, took several long, deep breaths and closed my eyes, sitting quietly for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes, I took one of the five pens on my desk, (the one with brown ink) made a short list of the most important tasks for the day, and one by one, started removing the yellow sticky notes.

I probably won’t get all the clutter cleared from my desk today. And when I climb the stairs tomorrow, most of those important tasks I jotted down will likely still need to be checked off. But one by one I will deal with them.

As I clear the clutter from my desk and my mind my inside world — my mind and heart — will be put right again. Then, I can see God all around me.  

When I’m able to see God all around me, the clutter seems to disappear and I’m able to see more clearly what I need to do to serve Him and fulfill my purpose.

Maybe you need to do a few things to clear your mind and heart this week. If I can help, let me know.

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2018 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

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The World is Beautiful or Terrible. The Choice is Yours.

Vol. 20 No. 04 | January 22, 2018

There were some bad things, sad things, and downright awful things that happened this week.

But there were also some beautiful things that happened this week.

One man went to the doctor and received bad news about his health. Another man, expecting the worst, found out he was going to be fine.

One couple who didn’t want to be pregnant found out they were. Another couple who’d been praying for months to get pregnant also found out they were.

A school where the children didn’t have enough to eat received hot meals from a group of caring adults in the community.

A political leader disheartened the public with his mixed messages and disrespectful comments. Another leader uplifted his constituents with dignity and gratitude.

A sports team responded to their loss with excuses and blame. Another team acknowledged they didn’t perform their best and the other team deserved to win.

An employee found out his company was downsizing and he would be the first to go. That same employee was offered a higher paying job the next day.

One author received another rejection letter. Another author signed her first book deal.

One family gathered around a casket to pay their last respects. Another family gathered around a crib to marvel at the miracle of birth.

On any given day there are plenty of terrible things that happen. But on that same day, plenty of good things happen, too. We can choose to focus on what is tragic and become despondent and pessimistic. Or we can focus on what is inspiring and positive and let it lift our spirits. At the end of the day, where we focus our attention and how we respond will determine what we see and how we live.

The choice is ours.

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2018 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

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When You Care

Vol. 20 No. 03 | January 15, 2018

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.” (Matthew 5:7, The Message)

When you care, it hurts to see a person standing in the intersection selling papers on days when it’s too hot or cold to be outside. (or any day, for that matter.)

When you care, it’s disturbing to see news reports of an a 5-year old or 68-year old being killed in a neighborhood shooting.

When you care, it’s upsetting to learn that people who survived deadly storms from months ago are still struggling to find shelter, food, water, and medical care.

When you care, it’s maddening to hear the leader of our nation use disrespectful and bigoted language when speaking about people of the opposite sex or who have a different skin color, economic status, from a poverty-stricken country, or political view than his.

When you care, it’s upsetting when another person reveals they’ve been subjected to abuse and harassment by someone in a position of authority.

When you care, it’s disappointing when you learn someone you loved, admired, and respected did something to hurt you or someone else.

When you care, it offends you to see Christian people, or anyone for that matter, treating the server at a restaurant with disrespect.

When you care, it infuriates you to hear about a child who has been sexually abused, beaten, neglected, or abandoned.

When you care, it breaks your heart to learn about a woman who has been abused by her husband and is too afraid to leave.

When you care, you feel the pain of those around you…and it hurts.

There are times when I wish I didn’t care so much. There are times when I wish I could tune out all the pain and suffering and not have to deal with it.

But the fact is, I do care…as do you. And yes, it hurts, and I sometimes want to escape it. But then I revisit Jesus’s sermon:

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.” (Matthew 5:7, The Message)

Life might be easier if we stop caring, but if we do, we’ll miss out on the care and love He promises us…and the care and love we receive from those we care for.

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2018 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

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Lord, Where Are We Heading?

Vol. 20 No. 02 | January 8, 2018

The first full week of the new year provided me with some time to reflect on the past year. I journaled about the lessons I learned and the things that happened, both good and bad. There was a lot of good and some bad, but overall, it was a year full of learning and growing.

I’ve always heard that time seems to move faster as we get older. If that’s true, I must be much older than my driver’s license says: these first weeks have flown by.

So today, I’m making it a point to pause and pray:


Where are we headed this year? What adventures will we experience together? What new lessons do You have planned for me to learn? What new people will You send into my life and allow me to help on their own adventures?

Will this be another year of learning to trust You? I ask that, knowing full well it will be; that always seems to be a part of our journey.

Will the lessons be difficult because I sometimes can’t see or hear You? Or will this be the year when trusting comes easy because I can hear You above all others and see You in front of me showing the way?

Lord, where are we headed this year? How will I handle the challenges I’ll face? Will I be strong and courageous? Or will I be weak and fearful? Will I be alert and attentive to your bidding, or will I be easily distracted and miss opportunities to help someone who needs me?

Lord, I do not know where we are headed this year, but I do know is this:

Although there will be times of fear and weakness and confusion and times of joy and accomplishment (when I may be tempted to forget about you), I will always be safe, I will always be loved and I will always find hope to share with others…

Because I will always choose to follow You.

I will be safe, I will be loved, and I will find hope to share with others.


A Norvell Note © Copyright 2018 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

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