A Time to Tear Down

Castle in Ruins w
A castle in ruins 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.


If you have ever done any home remodeling you know that there are times things need to be torn down or ripped out. Sometimes it is due to an invasive species (termites) or a natural disaster (flooding or tornado) and sometimes it is due to poor workmanship. Othertimes there is a change of vision and to make the change, things cannot stay as they are.

Have you ever invested your energy into something and found that the idea needs to be scrapped? Maybe it was an educational path or a relationship or a traveling itinerary. Sometimes you have to go back to the core of a structure, the core of who you are, or to the core of who God is and start again.

Did the builder stray from the original plan?

Have I surrendered some core beliefs?

Have I taken some liberty with God’s promises and met a crushing blow?

It is important to peel back the layers to see the original blueprint and evaluate whether the foundation is on solid ground. When I look at my circumstances and it seems hopeless and I am trembling, somewhere along the line I am sure I have shifted where my hope lies. I have added to the structure of God’s Word and promise and added in some “shaky ground”.

Have you found this to be true? We are only human, after all. It is so easy to be caught up in how things might look and if I do this then that should happen.

We live in a broken world there is death, disappointment, and disease. Sometimes we receive news that is devastating. Revisiting God’s promises and God’s character helps me regain His perspective and gives me fresh eyes to see my circumstances. And it gives me hope.

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn #370
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 1:1
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834, cento
Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr.
Tune: “Magdalen”

On the Way!

Liz

A Time to Kill

Two Horse Sleigh w
A two horse open sleigh!

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.


I was in Hungary for two weeks earlier this month on the Winter Traditions Tour hosted through our company, Magyar Marketing. We planned to participate in several activities that typically happen in the winter months, when it is cold in Hungary.

According to Weather Spark, daily high temperatures are 44°F with daily low temperatures of 30°F. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for what we were hoping to accomplish, which included a horse drawn sleigh ride in picture perfect snow, copious amounts of forralt bor (mulled wine), and a pig killing party.

Disclaimer: We, ourselves, did not kill the pig, but someone did. We did take part in the observation of the pig processing and several of our tour members participated in the kolbász (sausage) stuffing competition.

Why would we do this?

All but one of us in the tour group had Hungarian heritage. All of our Hungarian grandparents came to the United States in the early 1900’s and we were interested to experience a bit more about their lives and their traditions in Magyarország (Hungary) Of course, it is possible to have this type of party in the United States, but it is much more fun to have it in Hungary! I have traveled there a number of times over the last 6 years and each time I learn a little more of the language. I also learn more about Hungary, my relatives, and myself.

When I visit my relatives in Hungary, there are gardens, vineyards, and fruit and nut trees. And, there are chickens, ducks, and pigs in the backyard. These are not pets. The chickens and ducks produce eggs for a while and then they end up providing a larger meal for the family. The pig does a great job composting leftovers and then turning them into many wonderful meals, including a family favorite, szalonna (bacon). If you love bacon, you would love szalonna — it is flavorful and perfect!

When I was much younger, we were visiting a family in very rural Transylvania (the area of Romania that used to belong to Hungary prior to the Treaty of Trianon in 1920). There was a well and an outhouse and no running water. It was a memorable experience for me. I enjoyed running around in the yard and playing with the chickens. I even had a favorite. But the next day, my favorite was missing. When I understood what had happened, I couldn’t eat dinner. Farmyard-to-table has been difficult concept for me to wholeheartedly embrace and participate in.

My relatives in Hungary who have backyard animals for food waste nothing when it comes time to processing. Chicken feet are in the soup. The smoked meats in the house hang out in a special room. When we met our relatives for the first time in 2012, we met the wedding pig. The wedding was about 9 months away but the pig was being well fed and well cared for in order to provide important protein and nutrients for the wedding guests. The time to kill signaled the celebration, which is a much different concept than what I think of when I hear the word “kill”. I am just a few generations removed from that idea in my family, but those who are into farm life know there is a time to kill. It might be because of disease, it might be due to the time of year, and it might just be time to celebrate.

On the Way,

Liz

 

 

 

 

 

A Time to Speak

IMG_8438
Swans on Lake Balaton in Hungary.

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.


If you know me at all, you know that it is sometimes hard for me to discern when it is time to speak what is on my mind. I just naturally love conversation and am prone to speak in very small group settings. Sometimes the person who speaks often (quite possibly too often) might get passed by when they have something very valuable to share because their non stop verbiage is just too much for others to absorb. I think everyone has a different saturation point when it comes to words.

Allowing the space of silence in a group builds in processing time for those who can only absorb so many words. And I suspect those who benefit that extra time are also fairly thoughtful about when they might choose to speak. Maybe even too thoughtful. So it is important to create the space in friendships. families, the workplace, and other gathering times so everyone has an opportunity to speak and to be heard.

Allowing pauses in conversation requires practice. Sometimes silence can be uncomfortable.  Having a conversation is a bit like with reading a book (which is a conversation of the one sided sort): there are spaces (margins) in books that allow some visual space — allowing for a auditory space is just as important.

In a meeting, my husband is typically quiet and listens and then produces an incredibly thoughtful response or observation at the end. I have a tendency to ask clarification questions and provide feedback and thoughts throughout a meeting. I think that is because I am a verbal processor. I have to get it out in order to figure out what it is I want to say. Don can process all that stuff in his mind and then speak his thoughts very succinctly. I find it fascinating because I just don’t work that way.

Words are powerful and carefully chosen words are even more powerful. I have spent a lifetime learning that just because I think it doesn’t mean I need to share it with the world. Journaling has been an important way I have learned to process thoughts and speak them quietly, to an audience of One.

How do our words reflect our state of mind?

Have you been around someone who lashes out at every opportunity? Or around someone who speaks soothing and encouraging words? The first kind of person is hard to be around and the second type can be a balm to a weary soul. If you know someone who is very generally pretty loving but is having a moment of frustration it is good to keep in mind that they are likely having a moment. But those who are ugly, critical, caustic, impatient, and intolerant? Well, part of me has compassion for them because clearly their heart is troubled. But, honestly, the other part of me wants to run the other way. It isn’t that I never have those moments. I do. But I hope those who love and know me might allow me a small space for processing and then, when it has gone far enough, will nudge (push or pull) me in the healthier direction.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” [Luke 6:43-45 NIV]

In this world of pain, disease, death, and suffering it is important to share words of love and light and life. God’s Word is full of good words.

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. [John 6:63 NIV]

Speak Life!

On the Way,

Liz

 

A Time to Heal

Rest w
A babbling brook 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 it seems easier to push through the pain instead of taking time to heal. 

  • Have you ever found yourself so busy at work that you return maybe a little too soon from a bout with the flu just because you are so far behind only to find you have shared it with others or needed more time off again because you were so worn down?
  • Have you ignored a pain because you didn’t have time to be laid up only to find that things are much worse now because you didn’t take it easy or seek medical attention in the first place?
  • Have you ever rushed through the emotional and spiritual recovery of a huge life event only to find yourself face-to-face with it again…and again?

We live in a busy time with so many “to do” lists and things that have to get done. If you add that to a personality that is always “on the move” and add that to someone who is not interested in getting to “the root of the problem” it can be disasterous for that person as well as cause problems for those who are in relationship with them.

Any healing might involve physical rest but it also might involve some hard emotional or spiritual work which might not seem restful but is healing. Discerning what you need when you are on a path towards healing is important. Knowing yourself and how God created you is essential. Becoming aware of these things take time and reflection.

It takes time to heal.

There are times that I see so much that needs to be done that I have a hard time taking the time to be restored after a big event in my life. I am thankful for the times God “makes me lie down in green pastures” and “leads me besides quiet waters” [Psalm 23:2] because otherwise I am not sure I would.

I have always been intrigued by the stages of grief and how people process things because I often contemplate how I process things. Some people believe there are 5 and some say 7 and all I know is that there have been times I have floated in and through any of them only to be surprised that some seemingly unrelated situation brings me to a place that was resolved earlier. Was it? Most likely. But, as a “feeler” I can find myself with deep feelings again, though in a healthy way.  I found this interesting article from Psychology Today on Why The Five Stages of Grief are Wrong and it is an interesting perspective. I can’t imagine working through anything outside of the context of my faith in God. It is and has always been the cornerstone of how I process things.

Regardless of what it takes time to work through — health, death, disappointment, etc., it seems that there is always a need to address a soul that is weary and burdened.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Matthew 11:28-19 NIV]

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. [Psalm 62:5-6 NIV]

On the Way,

Liz

 

A Time to Build

A Time to Build wA 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.


My sweet husband loves to build things with wood and I love it when he has the time to create. He is precise and thoughtful as he constructs which means it often takes a lot of time. I am an impatient person, so the anything I plan and attempt to execute need to give me some good feedback pretty quickly, otherwise I get distracted or frustrated.

Building a house, a home, a family, a friendship, a career, a life, or a business takes a lot of time and energy. It requires a vision and the tools for the task. And it is important to have a healthy pace; enough to see progress but not too much to rush the job and cut corners. It requires a lot of planning and doing and effort on our part. There are also many stages and messes and situations that cause challenges to the building process;  things we might see as delays or distractions but can serve as an opportunity to refine our vision for the end goal.

As God works in our lives, weaving all situations and circumstances to show His grace and His glory, we can be sure that He, too, is planning and patient and has a vision for our future. It may look messy and we might be frustrated by detours and delays but His work continues, in and through us.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. [Romans 5: 1-5 NIV]

I know God is working on my character. And, He knows I need a bit of work. But even as I encounter difficult circumstances in my life, I don’t know that my faith in His goodness and mercy and grace has ever been in question. I have been frustrated. I have experienced disappointment. But my hope is secure.

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn #370
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 1:1
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834, cento
Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr.
Tune: “Magdalen”

On the Way,

Liz

A Time to Plant

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A beautiful sunflower field in Hungary.

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.


Even though we saw some beautiful and huge flakes of snow yesterday morning in southern Indiana, Spring is just around the corner. It is officially time to be thinking about what we will have in our garden this year.

Gardening is a great activity for many reasons and I am already looking forward to contributing my thoughts to the discussion. I love the harvest part but it really is Don who loves to plan and execute the gardening. I love the idea and I love the produce but I have a hard time getting motivated in the beginning because the plants start so slow and the weeds grow so fast.

Of course, whether or not we have gardens, we are planting seeds of something. What is in your garden?

Seeds of mistrust.

Seeds of anger.

Seeds of fear.

Seeds of disappointment.

Seeds of encouragement.

Seeds of faith.

Seeds of love.

Seeds of forgiveness.

Seeds of mercy.

Seeds of grace.

Seeds of friendship.

Seeds of health.

What do you hope to harvest? Are you planting and working towards those areas where you need to grow? Even before you can really get into the idea of casting seeds, it is important to look at where you are sowing. Sometimes there is a bit of pre-work that needs to be done.

Compromised soil can challenge the best of seeds. 

Consider what you would like to see more of in your life. Of course, Scripture is full of inspiration. We need all of God’s good gifts and while we think we can be in control of all we want to see, yielding to God’s work in our hearts and lives will reveal a bountiful harvest beyond what we can even hope for or imagine. As you think about what you are planting this year in terms of flowers or fruits or herbs or vegetables reflect on all that God is and has been doing in your life. What part of the process can you most relate to with the work God is doing in your heart and life right now?

Planning…the yield.

Preparing…the soil.

Sowing…the seeds.

Removing…the weeds.

Feeding and watering…the young, vulnerable shoots.

Nurturing…their growth.

Collecting…the fruits of labor.

Sharing…the harvest.

The Parable of the Sower

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”     [Mark 4:4-9 NIV]

Where is God working in your life to produce His harvest? Is He working the soil in order to yield a harvest only He can orchestrate?

On the Way,

Liz

 

A Time to Mourn

Stained glass 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.


In the Myers-Briggs world, I am most strongly an INFP so I am a “feeler”.  This explains why my heart has been grieving so much recently. It’s been aching for those who mourn. Many of my loved ones are facing some very difficult things and I am feeling it.

I would love to fix these painful situations all around me because it is uncomfortable to be in the presence of those who mourn but I need to allow everyone their space and time to process loss in their way. I can be with them by listening, praying, loving, and, sometimes, just sitting with them. It’s important for each of us to come to terms with the heartbreaking journey we each will travel in this life. Life isn’t easy and it isn’t fair.  That has never been a promise for us to cling to.

Sometimes we will be on smaller mourning paths. Everyone encounters different griefs in life, but there are lesser losses. Of course, it all depends on one’s perspective and previous circumstances and experience. Loss is loss. These smaller side roads help us practice the processing of grief in preparation for those biggies. The unimaginables. Those struggles that we want to run away from because they are so large and life challenging and life changing.

I was about thirteen when I distinctly remember running to God when I was in pain.

And my pain involved loss experienced a number of years before. I have been running to Him ever since for His peace, perspective, His healing, and His joy. I am not always patient in affliction and I don’t always automatically look to God first but, eventually, I do get there. He consistently delivers His hope to my broken heart.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”    Romans 12: 10-13 NIV

Our world, no matter how comfortable it can be, is full of a lot of suffering. But moving my focus from me to God and what He has done for me and continues to do for me in the midst of my struggles gives me hope. It isn’t that there isn’t a time to mourn because there is. But how I process my loss is incredibly important.

I have been through a few things in my life but there are other things I have not faced. I can’t always relate in a comparable way. But as I watch and stand alongside, I do feel. And feeling leads me to pray. I pray for God to be able to reach through the darkness and share His peace, love, and perspective with those who are mourning today.

On the Way,

Liz