PrayerPoints 2020

Hello! Hello!

Happy New Year! I love the freshness a new year brings, don’t you?

Each time there is a new season in the calendar year it signals new sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences. I enjoy the refreshment of the “new” when I am expecting them, but there are other seasons that catch me by surprise! Sometimes I am in a “new season” for a while before I even realize it! You may have felt similarly as you have traveled through the various seasons of:

  • Life
  • Employment
  • Parenting
  • Education
  • Marriage
  • Health
  • Family Life

We are all traveling through seasons, though not necessarily the same ones or in the same order, and certainly not in the same way. Sometimes I think I would love to have 2020 vision in what God is doing in my life or when I am in a difficult season but, really, I don’t. He asks me to trust in Him, no matter the season. He never promised that I will see, know, or understand it all!

The seasons of the church year are relatively consistent, if you pay attention to them. They can be a way of being united together in the course of a year with people all over the world, particularly if you are from the same church body. Of course, the church year “seasons” are a manmade sort of thing, but they are based on significant happenings in Scripture, organized in a way that helps us remember better while also providing a little structure.

Instead of just taking a deep dive during the Lenten season, I plan to post a new PrayerPoint each Monday. If you have been following PrayerPoints for a while now, you may have noticed that I shared a lot more this year than I have in previous years. This year I am aiming for a steady rhythm. While I seem to learn better with more intentional focus, I need to grow in my consistency. For 2020, each weekly PrayerPoint will include a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song that will correspond to the church season and highlight something that caught my heart. The rhythm of the church year will help me be a little more grounded and give me a little focus. I encourage you to contemplate the posted words each week and see what stands out for you and write it down. I love that God’s Word is so relevant to our lives and that God uses the Holy Spirit to personalize what we hear! We can each “bump into” the same piece of Scripture and take away a different application, depending on what God is working on in our hearts.

Feel free to join me on this journey. If you sign up to receive my posts in your inbox you won’t miss a week. Otherwise, Facebook algorithms (and whether I remember to post the link) will determine whether or not you see the weekly PrayerPoint.

I am looking forward to the growth God has in store for me this year. I hope you are looking forward to your growth too! If you have a favorite hymn you would like me to see in a post, send me a message at vospower6@hotmail.com and I will consider it.

Blessings and Peace!
Liz

S-t-r-e-t-c-h!

If I haven’t done the work, I won’t be ready.

Don’t worry, I don’t think my salvation depends on the things I do. It absolutely does not. But, since I am in a relationship with God, communication is important. Stepping out in faith is a part of the package and sometimes it is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

Stretching helps me be ready for what is next.

Recently, I tried to do something I have done many times before. This time, however, it took a lot more effort than I care to admit. What happened in the time between when I last did this activity and now? Plenty of nothing.

And just like that, I wasn’t ready for what I wanted to do.

It was discouraging and maddening. And a not-so-gentle reminder of how abilities can disintegrate when not used on a regular basis. It feels like I am starting over.

Of course, life is about starting over — a lot!

And it seems like faith works the same way. I have my core faith. My baptism promise. My confidence in God’s ongoing work in my heart and life. And when I abide in Him, my roots stretch and grow. When I don’t, I can’t expect to have a rich relationship. God always meets me where I am and patiently waits for me. But life will always put demands on me. I would much rather be stretched and molded into God’s perspective so I can choose to respond in a Godly way to the circumstances around me. I want to be sensitive to His guidance and leading and ready to do the next thing. If I always have to stop and start from square one, I won’t be in spiritual shape for what is next.

Naturally, God is there, ready for me. It doesn’t matter if I am two steps forward or ten steps behind. My story is His-story so He uses all of it and redeems it all.

His love brings about my response. Allowing Him to grow my faith and trust is a part of the process!

Even though Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians, it reminds us that growing in faith increases or capacity for other things.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

God’s blessings on your week!
Liz

Good Space

Things are headed into the direction of new normal. In the midst of this world-wide craziness, there are personal events living in the shadow of the coronavirus: births, deaths, marriages, job loss, graduations, anniversaries, and more. Time keeps on moving forward. But, with all the changes, I feel a little stuck.

There are so many adjustments! I consider myself a fairly flexible person, but this has been a lot of adaptation — for everyone! There may be people to care for all around you but be sure to care for you! You won’t be much help if you are not in a good space!

When I think of a “good space” I most naturally think in the emotional and spiritual realm. But, I would add physical in here, too. What are the tasks you are gearing up for this week? Can you create space in your week to…

Get encouragement from God’s Word?
Do you have a verse you can ponder and pray over for this week?

Do some form of regular exercise?
Even a quick walk around the block can help!

Plan healthier meals?
Or make sure you are having healthy snacks and extra water…

Journal your thoughts and concerns?
There is something about the act of writing things down that helps them leave my brain.

Find a few energizing and encouraging songs to help you get motivated?
Music is powerful. What is the soundtrack of your day?

Connect with a friend?
Write a letter, make a phone call, or plan a Skype chat!

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:9-10 NIV

May God grant you “good space” for the tasks ahead!
Liz

The Gift of Time

It’s a new day, a new week, and a new plan for us. We are getting closer to our new normal as our youngest two moved back to their apartment. All of the activities we carefully made for this year are in the circular file and we are back at the drawing table.

For those of you who, like me, are experiencing a schedule that looks something like the wide open west, this is a unique opportunity to look over your schedule. As you look to planning the next month or so, an important clue is to think about what you are longing for — what have you missed during this time of restriction? What are the things that are you are relieved are off the table?

So many of our days are outlined by things we have to do and that is definitely a part of living life here on Earth. But, we do have a lot of choices in our day and today is a great day to invest in a relationship that you value. Reach out! Make a connection. Send a card. Make a phone call.

For those of you who are juggling so much that you are exhausted and you collapse in bed every night, better days are on the way. Hang tight. Reach out for help. And, hopefully, you are experiencing some positive things along the way.

Resting in His Grace,
Liz

You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

Is it Saturday?

In some ways, it feels like it has been a year of Saturdays. Our youngest two have been staying with us and we have not been traveling. Our schedule is not at all the same. And we continue to wait for what is next. New things have become regular and many “regular” things have disappeared from my day/week.

It is hard to predict what will be next. How differently will things look? How differently will my life look? And, in the midst of all of the changes and disruptions, can I still give praise and honor to my Creator?

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6

Everyone has some changes to adapt to and that means everyone is expending energy getting used to them. We are all a bit depleted — and maybe not accomplishing as much as normal. We will all need some extra patience in the days to come.

But, as long as we are breathing, we can give praise. The circumstances of the day may change but Jesus does not:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Thank you, Lord, for being the constant in these crazy days! Praise you for all you are doing! Amen!

Disrupted

I had just discovered a daily routine that I could base off of when my travel schedule interrupted. And then, the coronavirus hit. And just like that, every routine I had was disrupted. There are a lot of unknowns. Things are not going as I had planned. And it seems we still have a long way to go. I think this is just the beginning.

We all go through times when our lives are disrupted:

  • a diagnosis
  • a pregnancy
  • a run-in with the law
  • moving
  • an accident
  • a new job

And we make adjustments. We grieve. We do what we need to do to move forward. It’s more on a personal level and our people circle around us and support us.

But, sometimes there are regional, collective disruptions – things that affect multiple people in your circle or location

  • a death or diagnosis in your family
  • tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, or flooding in your neighborhood
  • your workplace shuts down

More people experience the stress. Those who might have encouraged you in the midst of your personal struggle are caught up in this group catastrophe. You work together to figure it out but everyone is in various stages of grief. It’s a time to support one another and walk together.

And now, nearly everyone is impacted in such a variety of ways with the coronavirus pandemic — people all over the world. If they haven’t been exposed to the virus they are feeling the effects of it. Supply chains are impacted. This is huge. It’s like coming to the scene of a really bad accident and trying to make triage decisions but without the blood and twisted metal.

How do we start reconnecting and deciding what is a part of our new routine? How do we make sense of the disruption? How do we find peace in the midst of all of this? Will those times on our knees become a part of the new normal? Will the breath prayer “Lord, I have no idea what this day is going to look like but walk with me,” continue to be the start of our days?

For me, I can’t even say what the new normal will look like but I do have today. And that is a fine place to start. I may not know what tomorrow will look like so I will just be present today:

 I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.
Psalm 59:16-17

Saturated

Sometimes too much is too much.

It is easy now, especially now, to be surrounded by opinions and conflict and impending doom. I have to be careful what I intake lest I am saturated with all the dread and stress of the world. Sometimes it is exhausting trying to discern what is accurate.

It feels like the unending spring rains of Evansville, Indiana. At least it feels like they can be unending. Our first year here I bought everyone a pair of rain boots because it seemed like it was always raining.

Always raining….

The ground was often squishy. There were always puddles to navigate on the sidewalks and in parking lots. There were often flooded streets because the rain came so hard and fast the sewer system could not keep up.

Saturated.

Today, I am thankful for the sunshine. I love the sunshine-y days; the ones when I need to pull out my sunglasses to navigate the bright world. I am thankful that God’s Word cuts through the darkness and gives me light. Meditating on a passage of God’s Word can be a great way to have an inflow of Truth and Light!

What is one of your favorite verses? I find new favorites all the time. I am thankful God sent His Word to me and it is always relevant and always just what I need!

Under Pressure

Pressure can create some beautiful things. And it can also cause quite a bit of stress.

Here we are, most of the world anyway, on a bit of a lockdown. We are banding together to protect the vulnerable and to provide some sort of pre-emptive relief on the medical facilities all around the world.

We have seen some beautiful moments and heard some heart wrenching accounts. And we have experienced them around our own tables as well: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are all under pressure in one way or another. As we struggle with bills, meals, focus, patience, health concerns, and a little extra stress, I pray for God’s grace to carry us all through.

Have you found some new ways to cope with stress? It is always good to have a few “go to” stress relievers:

a brisk walk in the neighborhood
speaking a Psalm aloud
taking a nap
singing along with a favorite, uplifting song
chatting with a friend

What other suggestions do you have?

May God grant you His peace during this time of unknowns. He sees you and knows your needs. He loves you and will provide for you in ways you may not see yet. Ask Him to open your eyes to see His work and provision!

The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace
. Psalm 29:11