A Time to Embrace

AZ Cactus w
Arizona Cactus

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


There is nothing quite like the it-has-been-so-long-since-I-have-squeezed-you hug, the I’ve-missed-you hug or the I-don’t-know-when-I-will-see-you-again hug. Those are some serious embraces and there is so much packed into them! Even though they are embraces from different points of view they are embraces that say Now, here we are, together! Hooray!” And that is where we must focus — on today!

If you are anything like me, you might want to know what the future holds, but there really aren’t any guarantees that we will take a breath tomorrow and there are no promises our dearest family and friends will either, so please hug the ones you love while you can. Embrace today.

I don’t believe this means we should live in fear but we should embrace our people and each day as the gifts they are. When our heart and arms are open to God’s gifts they are easier to receive. There are times we are left to wonder “what is God going to do with all of this?” but that is His job and will be revealed in His time.

But what about embracing the really ugly stuff? What about the “cacti” in our lives? Those pokey and uncomfortable and painful situations that have been inserted into our lives by way of our own sin, someone else’s sin or the sin and death that we have in this world. What then? Often we have no choice except to ask God for the grace and mercy to move forward.

His grace is sufficient!

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 2:8-10 NIV]

 

No matter the circumstance, God can and will redeem it for His purposes. I am not to the point where I delight in insults and hardships and persecutions and difficulties but I have seen God’s grace time after time in my life and yet I still need reminders! It’s a part of my human condition.

Lord, I don’t know my future but I trust You will provide me for the grace and strength to get through it!

On the way,

Liz

 

A Time to Keep

Flowers in Transylvania w
Flowers in Transylvania

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


There are so many moments I want to keep fresh in my mind. But as I get older I find they are increasing and so diverse. It’s hard to store them all away! That is a blessing of having cameras and being able to record special times. Although, sometimes the documentation can get in the way of the moment. I often struggle between being in the moment and making a record of it.

What moments in your life are you keeping? Are they worth the storage space? As you reflect on them, do they bring you joy or pain?

I love this quote about friendships but I think some of it is appropriate as we consider our lives and experiences  but my focus in this quote is the bolded words:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”  (attributed to a couple of people)

I only have a limited capacity for remembering. I don’t want to squandered it on things not worth keeping but sometimes my heart is on automatic pilot, for good and for bad.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. [Proverbs 4:23 NIV]

Our capacity for keeping is limited. Choose carefully!

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Weep

Sun over Torockow
Sunrise in Transylvania

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Sometimes there are no words that can be said about a particular circumstance.  There is no solution, no possible change or fix.

It is what it is.

Our response may start off with a deep sadness and tears, but when the magnitude of what this means hits us and there is weeping.

The “here I am, facing the biggest heartache of my life” situation is here to stay and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it from barreling down. The grief comes in waves,  there is a deep sadness over what is or will be lost, and there are many, many tears.

There is a time to weep.

I am so thankful God and His people throughout the generations know these deep emotions. It helps take the edge off the pain a little to know that when we are feeling so deeply, we are not alone — even if we feel that way.

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.[Psalm 39:9-10 NIV]

God knows and sees us in our grief and weeps with us. He created us with the capacity for a range of emotions and we are created in His image. And when we think we are facing the circumstance alone, it is important to remember that God can and will carry us through. It doesn’t mean there won’t be sadness or weeping. It means He is alongside us, leading us, carrying us, tending to us, providing for us, and showing His grace upon grace.

The Psalms are filled with believers in distress. There is just a sampling below. I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone when my grief is profound. I have His Word to remind me of His love and provision from the beginning of time.

Psalm 4:1  Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 18:6  In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

Psalm 20:1  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

Psalm 31:9  Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.

Psalm 55:17  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.

Psalm 81:7  In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 

Psalm 86:7  When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

Psalm 102:2  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

Psalm 102:5  In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.

Heartache is never fun to walk through. If you are challenged with fresh or long-standing grief, I pray that you find comfort in God’s promises and His Word. Ask a friend to pray with and for you. And please don’t hesitate to find a healthy pastor to visit with.

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Uproot

Garden w
How does your garden grow?

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Have you ever moved to a new place and tried to get to know what plants are in your yard? If you don’t know much about plants, it can be confusing because as things start to green up in Spring it is exciting. But not everything that is green is good. Sometimes the weeds masquerade as something useful but soon they choke out other plants you actually do want. Getting rid of noxious weeds isn’t always fun. But, left unchecked, they can overtake a large area in a short amount of time.

Root them out!

And while you are in the business of getting rid of those unwelcomed guests, think about other things you might need to dig out and eliminate. Allowing things like

  • impatience
  • anger
  • suspicion
  • lies
  • resentment
  • fear
  • hatred
  • assumptions
  • selfishness
  • envy
  • jealousy
  • perfection

to be a part of your life can cause an unwanted invasion. And those things can quickly choke out the good things God wants to grow in you. Digging out this junk can be a bit of work. It takes a conscientious effort to uproot and eliminate those weeds. But doing so brings more space and freedom for the other, more Christ-like, qualities to grow and flourish.

Take stock of what is growing in your life today. Sowing seeds that produce patience, love, trust, honesty, appreciation, peace, joy, kindness, goodness, faith, mercy, and gentleness will result in an amazing harvest for you and those who are in your presence. Be deliberate about what you allow to remain in your life.

Life is too hard and too short to be growing all that ugly stuff. Be intentional about what you are growing in your heart and life. As you radiate God’s good gifts they will be a blessing to those all around you!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Die

Sunset w

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


As a young child, I experienced a bit of trauma when my father died. I was only six years old and I don’t remember a lot about his illness or death but I do remember watching my friends have dads and wondered what that was like. Of course, because the main wage earner was not around, we experienced financial hardship. And sure my mom was exhasuted by the four of us! As I moved through different stages of life, I knew I missed out on something. But, it was simply a fact in our family and we moved forward in life.

Years went my and I married a great guy and we started having our own children. When we were pregnant with precious child #3, I started to get nervous. When my husband’s mom was pregnant with her third child, her huband died of a heart attack. I thought for sure that would be my future. Of course, I was wired for something like that since I grew up without a father in the home. My mom raised four kids by herself and I figured that was going to be my lot in life. I actually thought far more about the day I would be raising children on my own due to my husband’s death than I ever thought about my mom leaving this earth.

Moms are immortal, aren’t they?

It didn’t happen that way. Don’s still here and my mom died ten years ago. (She was the best!) And it has been so much fun to watch my kids have their dad in their lives! Watching my husband be such a great father to our kids has been a great thing. So many of the things I feared would happen, in fact, have not happened. But they were fears I simply had to face and move through.

There are days we feel like we are dying because of the agonizing heartache or the anticipation of pain or paralyzing fear of the future or the prospect (or certainty) of a challenging treatment plan. And yet, those are not the days our bodies die. We are all marching toward that final day but we don’t really know the circumstances surrounding our final breath.

We know it will come, eventually. It always does. Are you working on those things you’ve hoped or dreamed about? If you knew you had a short time left on this earth, what are the things you would focus in on and do?

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom. [Psalm 90:12 NIV]

I am at least halfway through my life. When did that even happen? I don’t fear death itself as much as I wonder about the pain that might be involved in the process of dying. But, no matter, I don’t know any of the circumstances surrounding my final breath.

But what if this is what I am facing in my remaining days?

  • Life without a special, precious someone
  • A difficult diagnosis
  • Financial hardship
  • Disability
  • Chronic Illness

I will cling to His promises. He is the God of all comfort. He sees the bigger picture. He knows this life is temporary. He knows and uses every trouble and trial for faith building  either in me or in others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.        [2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV]

I trust that God is with me, strengthening and upholding me! And I trust He is with you too!

On the way,

Liz

Isaiah41_10

A Time to Mend

Torocsko Fence w
The view from Torockó in Transylvania

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


When I think of the word “mend” I think of sewing a button on a shirt or fixing a hole on a beloved shirt. We can also “mend fences” which can be quite literal but can also refer to restoring a relationship.

It takes two to revive a relationship. Often one party is ready sooner than the other and needs to wait patiently for the other person to be in the space for rebuilding. I think it would be rare for two people at odds to both “throw down the hatchet” simulataneously but once both parties are open to restoration, God can work a beautiful, though often different, thing.

With fences, and relationships, if issues are addressed when smaller, things can be stabilized. But if there are many unhealthy situations that go unchecked over a period of time the day will surely come when the relationship cannot stand. Of course, there are some relationships that cannot and should not be mended. That takes a bit of thinking, praying, and wise counsel.

Life is short, so let’s mend fences where we can. God can help us discern which ones to restore and which ones to let go. And if you wish to repair something, remember, the other party may not share your desire just yet nor ever. Plant the seed. Extend the hand of peace. You are only responsible for your actions and that can lead you to peace even if the relationship is not one that can be restored. Even coming together to decide that the relationship is not healthy and won’t move forward is a mending of sorts and can leave you with peace.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]

On the Way,
Liz

A Time to be Born

A Porch in Transylvania w
A porch baluster in Transylvania.

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Have you ever jumped the gun and rushed something?

  • a meal that needed more time for the flavors to blend
  • a response in the heat of the moment
  • a relationship
  • an education
  • a project
  • an important decision
  • death
  • a process

We often think we have control of all of our circumstances because we can make so much happen these days. But everything is not in our control. There are things that simply take time. It is important to recognize that rushing and pushing for something to “be born” or “to happen” is not always the best way.

A time to be born.

When babies are in the womb, they need their time in that environment. The best amount of time is about nine months. Being born too early often leads to some challenges. Being born beyond that time frame can also cause complications. There is a time to be born. I remember being pregnant and thinking I just want to meet this precious little person and then we can tuck them back in so they can continue growing in their special spot. Of course, that was silly, but no matter how anxious we are for something or someone, there are times we need to wait for the appointed time.

As we are waiting for whatever it is we are waiting for it can be hard to be patient. Our heads may know that we need to wait for the certain, optimal time but our hearts have been on stand by for long enough. What are we supposed to do?

“Wait patiently.” [Romans 8:25]

“Be joyful in hope.

Be faithful in prayer.” [Romans 12:12 NIV]

Keep in mind “…. in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28 NIV]

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. [1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV]

The time is coming. Trust in God’s timing.

On the Way,

Liz