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!

 

 

Blessings

Let’s take a quick inventory of our blessings!

We are in the midst of navigating a new normal. Lots of things are different and a little complicated to navigate. And there certainly have been some heartaches and disappointments along the way.

But, there have also been many blessings, large and small.

If you practice looking for blessings, they will be easier to see. I often say “You will find what you are looking for” and this definitely applies to blessings! I challenge you to make a list of them. Can you come up with at least three each day for a week? I hope you can, but if this exercise stretches you, that’s ok. In times of uncertainty, it is easy to see the unknowns and the difficulties and get caught up in the “What does this mean?” Let’s not lose sight of the blessings while we work towards overcoming the challenges in our daily lives!

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 NIV

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d and Ready!

This is Part II of a series!

There is nothing like a good stretch that gets the blood flowing. Physical stretching is important. And, as often is the case, the things of the physical world can help us make a connection to the spiritual realm.

We don’t know the twists and turns that are ahead of us — spiritually or physically — but, if we are a bit primed, we can weather them better.

Are you feeling out of shape? Starting with a marathon isn’t the recommended course of action. Building up stamina and strength, day by day, is the way to go. Unfortunately, that is not my general bent. I don’t like doing a little bit of something every day, I like to dive in and really focus. That is great for deep projects but it is terrible for those things that require a daily diligence.

Understanding my personal rhythm will give me the best chance at success. What are the things I can work on in large chunks of time? And what are the “dailies”? When it comes to faith and spiritual growth, there is a daily need to connect with my Creator. For me, it is a pretty consistent awareness of His presence in and through my day. It might not be formal, but I am not that kind of person anyway. But I also benefit from a longer, more in-depth time. A weekend retreat or several intensive Bible studies in a year.

Do you like to do tasks a little at a time? Or do you like to dig deep for extended periods of time? Does it change depending on the task?

I love that we were all created uniquely! Thank you, God!

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 NIV

Here is Part I: S-t-r-e-t-c-h

Aligning

I am one of those people who can hear different perspectives on situations. I can be empathetic and see the why behind the what — and those whys only serve as explanations, not excuses.

Being empathetic can be exhausting, particularly when I am being asked to choose a side and take a stand. If I am asked to align myself with someone or a position, you can bet that I will be taking a close look at it and praying about it. And, sometimes, that takes time.

I can love people. My heart can be broken for people. But to align with them means we need to be on the same page. Unfortunately, a lot of times we aren’t even in the same book, let alone on the same page. I will not try to prove I care about a situation by surrendering my beliefs. I do care, but if I need to take action, it needs to be in line with what I believe.

Aligning my heart and behavior with God is a lifetime pursuit. Sometimes I am simply terrible at it. I mainly need to not rely on my own strength for change but on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. And I need to pray for the willing spirit to follow God’s lead to those places where I would not have wanted to go on my own. Whatever He has for me to do comes out of His work in my heart. His work has been going on for 50+ years and He clearly is not done yet. I will be a work in progress until I die, and then I will be at peace!

The closer I am aligned to God, the easier it is to see His work around me. Of course, I can choose to not participate but then that tells me that I am not terribly closely aligned with Him. Walking with God changes my heart to be more like His.

If you are in the midst of a relationship challenge, don’t underestimate the power of God to change the hearts of all parties involved. Pray for the one you are at odds with for 30 days. Start out slow and ask God to bless that person. Then, as the days go by, deepen what you pray for and ask God to bless that person in a variety of ways. Find Scriptural prayers to pray for that person, but you don’t have to mention it to them. Let it be a time between you and God.

This is a great way for God to align your heart with His!

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

 

 

Discerning

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
    and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
    but folly brings punishment to fools. Proverbs 16:20-22 NIV

The wisdom in Scripture is right there for us. It always amazes me and I don’t know why because it has been true throughout my life.

God’s Word is timeless, relevant, and true. It’s reliable, instructive, and consistent. And it is sufficient to address our yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

As you seek to understand what is happening in your life, family, community, and world be sure to listen. There are endless perspectives and pain. In fact, it can be overwhelming. There is a lot going on in. But don’t forget to listen with a Biblical perspective. My heart needs to be aligned with God so I can see what He sees and be moved to do His work.

Lord, give me Your eyes!