If the Shoe Fits…

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Check out these boots!!!

I remember my mom taking us to the specialty shoe story because we all had wide feet and she believed in good shoes for growing feet. I am sure she had sticker shock every time she dragged us in there. The shoes had to fit us now but also be ready for us as we grew. Of course, it was anybody’s guess when the next growth spurt would happen and the hope was to be able to get several months out of the new footwear.

I always like to have a few different kinds of shoes, depending on my activity for the day. So I have my summer sandals, my zories, water shoes, walking shoes, dress up shoes, casual shoes for jeans, and rain boots. And I confess that I bought a pair of shoes because I thought they would be fun to wear in the summer with capris. Now I am embarrassed that I have listed off all those shoes; eight seems a little over the top!

Relationships can be similar to shoes. You likely have a number of them. Each relationship might have a different emphasis – one might be your walking buddy and one might be a work friend and one might be your “play” mate. Some fit in certain settings but not in every setting. And you might meet someone and hit it off immediately but after spending all day together you realize it isn’t a good fit after all. Or you find there isn’t any room to grow. Or they only like to party and you can’t do that all the time.

Chose your shoes and your relationships carefully. It is OK to be cautious on the front end and it is definitely OK to think it over if the relationship doesn’t seem to be a good fit. Others may try to warn you if it is obvious. And if that is what you hear, take heed. Every relationship takes time and energy. And not every relationship we find ourselves in is a good fit. That’s ok. In life there are many opportunities for healthy friendships but sometimes it takes time – trial and error, like trying on shoes at the shoe store.

The righteous choose their friends carefully,
    but the way of the wicked leads them astray. [Proverbs 12:26 NIV]

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity. [Proverbs 17:17 NIV]

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. [Proverbs 18:24 NIV]

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses. [Proverbs 27:6 NIV]

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
    and the pleasantness of a friend
    springs from their heartfelt advice. [Proverbs 27:9 NIV]

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. [John 15:12-14 NIV]

I pray the relationships you’re in help you grow and remind you that you are His treasure!

On the way,

Liz

Sabotage

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Jesus in Tarcal, HungarDonDon’t be your own worst enemy!

Don’t be your own worst enemy!

If you have a lot of things in your life that you pull the plug on before anyone else does, you might want to dig a little deeper into the why. The time spent on soul searching is valuable. You might be chipping at it daily with devotions and study but sometimes it takes a bit more to uncover what is going on.

Participate in a Christ-centered weekend retreat: you will find you are not alone in your struggles and you might gain some useful tools and insights. God has a lot to say through others.

Schedule your own Christ-centered private retreat: if you get distracted by others and are at the point where you know you need to dig in on your own, do it! God has a lot to say all by Himself! Scouring Scripture can help you see where the “who I want to be” and “who I am” struggle is and you might better understand the “why” behind it.

Talk with a Christ-centered and trustedworthy friend and ask them what they see: but be prepared to hear some observations that surprise you. Their insights might be useful. You don’t have to agree with everything they have said and you don’t have to change everything the point out. But if you are ready for a little soul searching, a true friend is golden: they can see our intentions, our failures, and help us see how we are missing the mark.

We all struggle.

Ignoring it never works. If you are in a space where you don’t want to be and there seems to be a looming path ahead of you, it is likely time to set aside the time to work it out.

God forgives, renews, and restores but there is still consequences that we have to deal with. But knowing His forgiveness, restoration, mercy, grace, and renewal is there can give us the courage to face things we have been avoiding.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

The Broken Road

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The path through a bog in Transylvania

As sinners in a sin full world, we all find ourselves on a broken road. I have a tendency to put good shoes on so I don’t get hurt even though I know I will need to travel down a road. But there are others who fling off every possible protection and run down that broken road, ignoring the glass shards and rusty nails.

These days, I am more cautious…or maybe it is just that I don’t like extra pain.

Do you know someone who seems to always choose the broken road? Be sure to pray for them regularly. If you are in a healthy space yourself and in a position to connect with them, consider that too. They likely need a friend like you, even if they won’t admit it. But you really have to be in a good space to do that so be careful. And know your limitations.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the cycle of brokenness until everything and everyone around us is destroyed. Addiction can do that. Unfortunately, one bad move can jetset us “down the rabbit hole” into chaos and confusion.

Jesus heals the broken — which is each and every one of us and coming to terms with our own brokenness allows us the compassion for others in theirs. It might be easy to think, “I never would have chosen that road.” Except you might have, had your life had a little different look to it.

I am thankful that God is in the business of healing brokenness. Understanding my own need for His mercy and forgiveness helps me be more patient with others in their time of need.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar. [Psalm 51 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

 

 

Snapshots: just a moment in time

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A snapshot never tells the whole story. It just records a moment in time:

  • That Pinterest post you admire doesn’t reflect the hours and hours of orchestration.
  • The financial picture that may not look good to likely doesn’t tell the story of how far someone has come.
  • The family that struggles so much but paints on a smile at just the right moments.
  • A miserable moment for someone who is more often a genuinely positive person.
  • A glimpse of a bank statement that looks like success doesn’t show the big picture of many failed relationships.
  • The meager bank account that doesn’t reflect the family love and unity.
  • The smile that might hide a diagnosis but also reflects a renewed sense of joy for deeper things.

A picture can only say so much, so don’t let it fool you. And more importantly, don’t make rush judgments. Pray continuously. We never know what someone is going through at first glance..

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. [1Peter 1:22 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

In the queue

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Waiting for church to start in Transylvania

Sometimes I look at my phone to pass the time when I am in line and not interested in engaging with the world around me. I can get impatient when I am waiting.

Who am I to think I don’t have to wait for things? When I look at Scripture, there is so much waiting – years and years of it. Check out Psalm 5, Psalm 27, Psalm 33, and Psalm 37 and pretty much all of Scripture. There is a lot of waiting.

Waiting is a part of life.

And sometimes there is even a purpose in waiting. The “delay” allows other pieces to fall into place. Sometimes the delay prepares us for the next step. Waiting is natural and there is no point in complaining about it. I have found that I can increase my impatience just being so caught up in the frustration of the waiting. That’s ridiculous. I am not above waiting.

What are you waiting for?

While I am waiting I can still live my life. I don’t want to let waiting steal my joy. Whatever it is I am waiting for, I can be sure that God is working on my heart while I wait.

On the way,

Liz

What’s in YOUR bag?

packed bagRecently I was asked what was essential to have along for a two week trip to Hungary so I have been mulling that over a bit.

Of course, everyone has their different idea of what is absolutely necessary for a trip. So I can offer what I think is important but we all come from such different needs and experiences that it is hard to come up with that comprehensive packing list.

Overseas trips and trips within the United States are two similar scenarios yet different enough to require a bit of thinking.

 

What do you consider absolute essentials?

Some of the things that impact what we pack involve:

  • weather forecast
  • anticipated activities
  • the length of time of the trip
  • our accommodations
  • our mode of transportation
  • our dietary preferences or restrictions
  • our medical needs

I am a pretty flexible traveler but here are a few of my non-negotiables:

  • Q tips
  • emery board
  • fingernail clipper
  • extra emollient night cream
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush/toothpaste

But even more important than what we pack to take along, I think of a few other things that important to have on any trip as well as in life:

  • a sense of adventure
  • flexibility
  • grace
  • good attitude
  • effort
  • love
  • faith

I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have those essentials along with me. Above all, traveling throughout life without faith would really impact my journey. I just can’t imagine where I would be without knowing Jesus and God’s promises!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9 NIV]

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11 NIV]

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV]

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28 NIV]

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. [Romans 8:26-17 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

Photo credits to my sweet friend, Annette, who would be a blast to travel with!

Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?

Pecs cross wHave you ever found yourself in the middle of an unsavory situation — your behavior is less than ideal and you are wondering “What am I doing here? Who am I? This isn’t even me!” Or maybe you have reacted with an incredibly intense response to a situation that doesn’t normally elicit such emotion. Or maybe you are feeling stuck in a circle of circumstances.

When I am caught in a place that feels to me as if satan is walking around and poking me about my past or my present or my future I have to work hard to remember that I am not who he says I am. Why do I even give him the time of day? Why on earth would I let the father of lies tell me anything about me?

The better question is “Whose are you?”

I am God’s…a dearly loved child of God!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. [Ephesians 2:4-10 NIV]

Every day (and sometimes every hour) it is important to revisit who God is and whose we truly are. So many other labels are thrown at us and we often even create our own. Of course, we sin but with His forgiveness those things do not need to define who we are.  When we look to God for His protection, grace, mercy, provision, love, and forgiveness it defines whose we are.

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.  [Luther’s Morning Prayer]

On the way,

Liz