Hey Friend! Day Twenty-six

Hey Friend!

I love to be around people with high integrity. It always tugs at me to do better … to stretch myself a little more. I don’t always do the right thing, unfortunately. Sometimes, I am in a mood. Or distracted. Goodness doesn’t always seem to flow out of me naturally.

Of course, there is sin in the world. There is evil and ugliness and death and destruction all around us. And it is easy to let those negative things impact my behavior. Being able to be near goodness is something that inspires and encourages me. When I am around honesty and innocence and purity, it makes me thirsty for more.

I am blessed to be living near two little bundles of goodness. They are about as near to perfect as they can be and I get to see them quite a bit! Neither one is very fussy and when they smile at me or fall asleep in my arms, it feels like goodness to me.

When I get a glimpse of beauty on Earth, I know it is from our Creator. God is beauty, honesty, goodness, and true perfection. His Word is a consistent source of encouragement for me. When my roots are in God’s Word, goodness will grow!

Find spots of goodness and beauty. Cultivate it in your life as much as you can! Some have the gift of finding the beauty in their everyday life, and some have the gift of making beauty. If we bloom where we are planted, we can inspire others with goodness and beauty.

Love,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-five

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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 NIV

Hello Friend!

Sometimes I can be very harsh with myself. If I said the words in my head out loud, I wouldn’t want me for a friend. It’s true, there is a time for tough love but when I know the ins and outs of my days and my life and I can’t give myself a break then I know I am overwhelmed and I need to create some space.

When I create space, I get very focused and start kicking the troublesome things out of my life. I buckle down. I make decisions I have been waffling on (sometimes, time is not your friend). And I purge enough so I can breathe again. I take a deep breath and restart my devotional time. I find life giving verses and find a study that refreshes my spirit. I look to God for the answers and the peace and the forgiveness I am so desperate for.

And then it all starts over again.

When I am impatient with myself, I am impatient with everyone else, too! I go through seasons of being too patient and not patient enough. If I really like you, I can be ridiculously patient. If I don’t particularly jive with your personality and I happen to be in a bad space, I have zero patience and even less tolerance for shenanigans.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Hello Friend! If I am not intentionally in God’s Word and giving Him my day and seeking His face, you will know by my lack of “fruit”. It’s okay for you to point that out to me. When I am distracted and getting to the end of my reserves, all of these “fruits” are in jeopardy. I can see it happening so easily in others but I am not so fast to see it in myself. It’s like a slow fade until I hit the bottom and my reserves are spent.

This is a perfect season for a restart! What is it that has crept in and taken your prayer and Scripture study time? Sometimes we allow things to move into our lives but it means we need to move other things out. If you want to display the fruits of the Spirit in your life, time with God should not be the negotiable item.

Love,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-four

A church in Hollókő, Hungary.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:4-5 NIV

Hello Friend!

Are you coming from a broken place? There may be many things that are demanding your time, but time for healing is so important. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs require focus. And when there is a need for healing, other things may need to take a back seat for a while.

That’s okay.

When people are able to admit they have come from a broken place it seems they can share God’s love from the heart. I would prefer to hear about God’s provision in a messy life than hear about the perfect life any day! So don’t be fooled by Pinterest Perfection or Facebook Flawlessness or trying to present your life as the Instagram Ideal. God saves real people and meets them in the midst of their sins and brokenness. We don’t have to have to “pretty it up” for Him. God’s love can carry us through the healing process and it covers our multitude of sins. Let’s stop pretending that we aren’t wounded by the world but let’s not dwell in our wounds either.

If you find yourself dwelling in your situation then more healing may need to happen.

There is no timetable for grieving the losses we have endured in this life. But getting stuck for a long time in the grieving process is not a fun place to be either. God’s Word never fails to give me a fresh perspective on my circumstances. Finding time to be in His Word is essential for my healing and attitude. Being a part of a healthy congregation is important too! Identify those places that need healing and seek help through a trusted counselor or pastor. Let God’s love and forgiveness wash over you and rest in His grace.

If you take time to focus on healing, it may mean it is not your time for something else at the moment because we can’t do everything at once. Set the unimportant things aside and do the next right thing.

Love,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-three

Hello Friend!

I got stuck!

Somewhere between my sweet grandbabies and dealing with business details I have found myself thinking about PrayerPoints and not writing them down and fleshing them out. The “pause” in my day is not long enough for me to get things out on paper. As long as there is a pause, it’s ok. But there routinely needs to be more than that, too. I need time to dig deeper, even if nothing gets written down.

If I am looking for the peace that passes all human understanding, I need to go to the source and linger there and let all the words soak in. I need to revisit the recounting of provisions made throughout the generations. I need the time to be surrounded with the words of comfort and care and correction from my Creator. Now, that is a place worth being stuck!

There can be beauty in the mundane and repetitious. My goal is to identify a rhythm and pace that works for me, even if it changes with “seasons”. This is particularly important because I am entering a very busy work season. I need to practice turning off my “work” mind so it isn’t always processing ideas.

Do you like activity? Predictability? Flexibility? Are you stuck in a rabbit hole? Let’s head up to the surface together — we can spend 15 minutes in the sunshine, gathering up some Vitamin D and then we can embark on our day.

What’s that one thing you need to get done? Take your first step to get there. I’ll take mine.

May His peace be with you!
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-two

Hello Friend!

Each and every day we have many opportunities to be kind to those around us: we can open a door, allow a vehicle to merge without expressing annoyance, anticipate and meet a need.

Do we do kind deeds for a positive response or do we do a kind deed for the sake of being kind? It is worth thinking about. I think of kindness more as something for others even though it is one of those things that is a little bit for me too. I need to be more kind. It is good for me to give, even if I am not thrilled in the moment. But, most of the time, I like humanity and people and I don’t mind being kind.

Someone I know recently opened a door at a convenience store for a stranger whose hands were full. The stranger did not respond with a “thank you”. It would have been polite but it didn’t happen.

Sometimes I don’t even notice when someone is being kind to me because I am in my own little world!

The person who opened the door was annoyed at the lack of expected appreciation and snidely commented, “Well, you are welcome!” This lead to a few tense and explicit exchanges in the store in front of who knows how many people.

Folks, before we do something “kind”, let’s consider our motivation and expectations. While recognition for a kindness extended might be nice it is far better to offer it with no strings attached. It might go unnoticed and unappreciated. That’s can be okay. In doesn’t mean the kindness didn’t happen: it simply wasn’t acknowledged. When we do a kind deed for someone we don’t know, we really have no idea what is going on in their lives. I find it easier to not have expectations.

But for those people I do know? I admit, sometimes I do have expectations when I do something kind. But how often do I not even recognize or respond to a kindness extended to me. I think it is more often than I realize. I am often wrapped up in my own concerns. And to think I know what is really going on in lives of others. Do I really? I have a lot of things going on in my heart and mind that I don’t share all the time so I am sure the people I know also have things they have going on in their family and friend circle, with their health, with their faith….

The point is that it is good to consider our motivation when giving. If it is a gift, there should be no strings attached. Extending grace through words or deeds is a huge kindness that might not even be recognized until much later (if ever) but is a beautiful gift to give anyway.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

Love,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-one

Hello Friend!

Are you frustrated with people who don’t seem to care about people? Let’s talk about loving our neighbor and who that person might be.

Step out of where you live and look straight ahead and to your left and your right. Presto bingo! You probably have neighbors — even if you live on a farm in the middle of a big plot of land, you have neighbors. We all do! Start there.

Now, let’s look around at the people who are nearby and involved in our day-to-day lives. That is what I picture when I think of the word neighbor. But that list can expand to co-workers, the people we volunteer next to or go to church with. The coffee barista, the server, the salespeople we encounter during the week. These folks are our neighbors.

When I was growing up in Ohio, we were on a space of land that didn’t have immediate neighbors around the house like I think of a traditional neighborhood. I had always wished we did. When we lived in Nebraska, we lived in a neighborhood that had a yearly block party. That was very new concept to me and I loved it! We had amazing neighbors, some we are still good friends with today!

If you really want to love your neighbor, you can be very literal about it and start with the people across the street or on either side of you. If you live in a duplex or apartment complex, it is probably easier to be annoyed with your neighbors than to love them, but you are called to love. Start somewhere. Take the lead. Maybe you are the one who most recently moved in to your home and would have loved to been welcomed into the neighborhood but weren’t — show love to your neighbors anyway. Sometimes loving means taking the first step in a relationship!

Love your neighbor. You are welcome to expand on the definition of neighbor to include the whole world. That totally works too. Just remember there are a lot of people that need love and grace in this world and they are often right next to you in line, running the cash register, in your office space. As you practice extending love to those you bump into on a regular basis God will surely expand your opportunities to extend love and grace to a greater radius!

If everyone loves their neighbors, the whole world will be a different place!

Love more,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty

Hello Friend!

Where do you friend your peace?

There are times I associate peace with quiet. Or nature. Or alone time. But when I really am looking for true peace, I can only get it from God.

I see what is going on the world. I see what is happening in my community. I know my own struggles. I also know that there are many things out of my control. There is so much sadness, anger, death, disease, and destruction. There is evil in the world. There has been evil in the world for a very long time. If I dwell on all of that for too long, I can become anxious. But I remind myself I can only do one day at a time. And I ask God to help me; to breathe in and through this day and let me see the opportunities that are most beneficial for those around me. While it would be nice to cocoon and only deal with my own life, I know I am called to step out of my comfort zone and share His peace with others with a cup of cold water or words of comfort. Some days, it is just a matter of surviving the day. I pray God will guard my heart when there is turmoil — whether internal or external.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

I don’t know that perfect peace is achievable this side of Heaven. But I do know that the comfort of knowing Jesus has wiped away the sin that plagues me and the promise of salvation gives me a peace like no other.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:27-29 NIV

In the midst of stress, confusion, and intensity I feel safe and at peace.

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

Love,
Liz