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

Brain Storming

I am an idea person. But I know that when I get excited about something, I blurt out all the possibilities: the good, the bad, and the not-great.

And while I see “brainstorming” as a steady rainfall of ideas another personality might consider them a stormy onslaught of just too much, too soon, and too fast. If you have been a victim of my brainstorming, I apologize. My idea generator just automatically engages whenever there is something that is problem.

Don’t worry, I don’t think all of my ideas are amazing. I do, however, think that talking about potential solutions can help you get to your solution, which, may have nothing to do with any of the ideas I mentioned. By all means, let my suggestions move, push, or pull you into the direction you should go!

I do love how we are all uniquely created. Your gifts are important to this world! Share them!

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139:14-16 NLT

“You’ll Find Me at the Ocean”

I have always loved the ocean. I love that it is full of so much I can see and still so much that I can’t see. At the ocean, the world above the world is pretty amazing but there is so much more happening than I can even know beneath the waves. And, it is just such a refreshing place to be. The sounds, the smells, the sand beneath my feet. I love it all!

God’s promises are often tied to the water — from baptism to the charge to make “fishers of men” to many things inbetween.

And when I am feeling the need to rest and recharge, the ocean is a special place for me. Unfortunately, I don’t get there very often. I haven’t been oceanside in about a year and I am definitely overdue, especially after a year like this crazy year!

I was intrigued when I heard about the book, You’ll Find me at the Ocean by Martha Boggs-Black and couldn’t wait to read it. While it is a beautiful picture book written for children, it was a actually a gift for me to be able to read it! I love to see God at work in nature and in the smallest, often unnoticed situations around me. This book gives simple yet powerful reminders of God’s provisions and Martha recounts the promises of God so beautifully.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. – Psalm 32:8

We are all moving through the stages of grief about something and God’s promises are the only things that are worthy to cling to!

This book is a great resource for the classroom as well as home. This is perfect for a child who is grieving the loss of a loved one but also a wonderful opportunity to explore the emotions surrounding death and God’s promises. God’s promises in light of this story are sweet reminders for each of us!

Here’s a link to the book: You’ll Find me at the Ocean : A Journey of Grief Through the Eyes of a Child

You can learn a little more about Martha, the author, HERE!

Adjusting the Sails

I have only been on a small sailboat once. It was fun but, man, was it a lot of work. I am glad I had an experienced person with me because I definitely didn’t know what I was doing.

I had to trust the person I was with.

I had to allow for the changing wind direction.

I needed to work with the sails and the wind.

I needed to think ahead and anticipate the changes.

Have you been thrown off by the daily changes? I don’t have kids in school but I would go crazy having classes change from being online …

…. to being in person …

… to only two days a week …

… to all the screen time …

… to all the ups and downs of the kids trying to adjust and readjust …

… to all the daily change ups in decisions (like lunch and who is home and who needs to be home and who has the computer and do we need more computers in our home?)

All of that.

Who can adjust all their sails so many times in a day? Week? Month? Year?

Thinking about all of it makes me tired.

And when I am tired, I know I need to find rest!

We often laugh about our grandbabies who are just over a year and definitely both still need 1-2 naps a day. Sometimes they fight those naps like crazy. I am sure I did it too when I was little. Maybe it was FOMO (fear of missing out) and maybe it was just not accepting I had done what I could do and now I needed to rest.

What do you think of when you think of resting?

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-29 NLT

A Million Disappointments…

I can handle a few changes and reschedules. Situations come up, I get that. But this year has been a situation that has led to so many disappointments.

I am generally a flexible person. I can adjust and adapt. I go with the flow and roll with the punches so changes in my schedule do not throw me off. And it’s ok, really, that I am home more. I have lots to do here.

Lots of sorting — both in my mind and in our home.

Lots of purging — both in my mind and in our home.

Lots of re-organizing — both in my mind and in our home.

And I am happy to be getting these things done, but it feels awfully strange to now not have the freedom to do what I am used to doing. I think that loss of the freedom to travel without all the stress of the coronavirus is the main disappointment because it does impact my schedule.

I don’t like…

…all the time and energy it takes for extra precautions!

….not seeing my people!

…the ugliness of people’s attitudes!

…the pressure and stress that so many are under!

…the anxiety and stress and exhaustion my family and friends are experiencing!

I continue to hold onto my hope and faith in God. He is on His throne. I know He loves me and is working all of this out. Things are uncomfortable at the moment but this is earth. And while I do love my life here, this is not all there is!

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:1-5 NLT

I will be publishing some extra material on PrayerPoints over the next several days leading up to something I think you should know more about!

Changing it Up!

It has been 6 months of so much change. I consider myself a fairly flexible person, but there has been a lot going on. I am thankful that I have a lot of processing at home in my own space. However, new surroundings also influence my perspective.

I have been trying to change up my surroundings even though I am home, a lot. I have Zoomed and Skyped and FaceTimed with some precious people. I might ordinarily see them face-to-face but we aren’t living in ordinary times!

I am biking again and listening to podcasts. And now I can even claim my role as a podcaster, which is a big change for me but also not really. It really is just an extension of what I do for work, just in a different format.

My year+ of being a grandma has been full of so much fun. I love people of all ages and when I am in a good space, I can handle most stages too. But these babies — oh, these babies crack me up: their innocence, their trust, their demands, their antics — they hold nothing back at this point. Their emotions are straight out there.

I could learn a thing or two from these babies. They aren’t pretenders. When they are disappointed or sad or in pain, we all know it and we work to help them understand their feelings. I need to pretend less and share my disappointment and pain a little more. It’s not so important to share it with the world, but bringing it before God can do a lot for me as I process. Acknowledging my feelings is a healthy step. Whether I am in a high or low, God knows and He cares about my heart space and he can handle my big feelings!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:6-8 New International Version

Eyes on Him

Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus helps keep me steady. Knowing that He goes before me and hems me in gives me peace on the path.

If I focus on the ugly and let it suck me in and under, I will soon be gasping under the weight of oppression and the discouragement of defeat. Lord knows, there is ugliness. We have all been in it. But to focus on it is where the mistake is. God’s beauty and light can turn ugliness and darkness upside down and inside out.

Not focusing on the ugly is not the same as ignoring it. We can be in the thick of something ugly and also see God’s pure and beautiful, redeeming grace. Eyes on Jesus is not about pretending the darkness isn’t around us. It is about looking for where God is and where He is working. When I see Him at work then I know that is the place to be. Things might not be pretty at that point but there will certainly be glimpses of beauty, hope, and restoration.

May we fix our eyes on Jesus!

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8 (New International Version)

Lazy Days

Back in January I was thinking that things had become a little too busy. Of course, November – Mid January is an incredibly busy time for our business. And we had a short reprieve in February and then we started to move into the busy Hungarian festival season. And then add two tours to Hungary in the mix. I was wondering how I was going to pull it off and still stay sane. Don’t get me wrong — I love what we do. I love the opportunity to be innovative and responsive to the needs of the people who care about their Hungarian heritage. I love creating. I love to help people connect to their Hungarian roots in a variety of ways.

I also like time to think and process and plan. I am fairly introverted, too. And, we also have the blessing of living near our two grandchildren — we want to see them as much as we can.

There has been some stress as well as financial readjustments and reorganization of plans due to the current Coronavirus situation. But, I am welcoming these “lazy days”. Of course, I don’t really feel like we are being lazy, we are processing at a much slower pace than we typically do and it has been refreshing. This crazy pause in life and business has given me a greater freedom to think and dream and plan without constant interruptions.

My salvation gives me peace in the midst of the turmoil. I have also found rest.

I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future. God is steady. He is my Rock.

Have you found a new perspective in the last six months? Have you been able to find joy in something new? Have you been able to find new pathways to rest?

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Psalm 62:1 New International Version

All the plans…

This pandemic was a surprise to me, but it was not a surprise to God.

This has been a year of making plans and readjusting them about 97 times. I am ever hopeful that there will be a new normal that looks somewhat similar to the old normal. But, I confess, I am a little discouraged.

Why even bother to make plans?

I am thankful that I have been relatively calm through this season of unknowns, but I attribute it to my natural tendency to be flexible. I don’t feel the need to be in charge of a lot of things. I also have watched God work out even the yucky things in my life, so I trust His “long run” plan, even though I don’t know all the pieces and parts. And, honestly, I am pretty sure I won’t love all what is coming. But I will try to rest in His grace and mercy, trust Him to right the wrongs, trust Him to comfort me, and be with me as I move forward.

We have today, my friend. Hold your plans loosely and love generously!

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 New English Translation

Crushing Blows

You know those situations that are so devastating they take your breath away?

When you wonder “Where are You, God?”

And you are in a space for a long while before you can move even the tiniest step forward.

God is with you there. And He will be with you in each step as you gain your footing and get re-oriented. It all takes time and tears. I hate that this life, which was perfectly perfect by design, is has heartache. But we are not in Heaven. There are beautiful things here and they look even more beautiful against the pain and sin that we also experience.

God knows your pain. God loves you. Sometimes we are in a place where it is just God and us.

Lord, when I am in the place when everything and everyone is stripped away, let me have the faith and trust in you that you are enough. Amen.

Disappointments

We all have them, to be sure.

Sometimes ours loom large and we hear about others and we think, “What are they even complaining about?”

There are things we’ve done and things we haven’t done. There are things we miss and things we missed out on. It can be a challenge to navigate the emotions that come with disappointments and not get caught up in the spiral downward into “and there is this and that, too….”

Of course, God is big enough and cares enough to hear about our struggles and sadness. He understands our human condition because He created us. But, I think He also wants many of us to learn how to be satisfied. Many, many of us have more than we truly need to survive this body and life and, yet, somehow we are wishing and wanting and striving for more.

Oh Lord — Help redirect my thoughts away from myself and towards You and what You are doing. Help me remember to look back on the situations of my past and how You have used them to deepen my relationship with you or have used them to make a connection with others who so desperately need to hear Your Gospel. May I look at frustrations and disappointments as Divine Appointments where You pour Your perspective into my heart. ~ Amen!