Where are you going?

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Night Flight! 

Recently I have needed to travel quite a bit. I appreciate a good but flexible itinerary and I also like time to explore on my own.

The most important thing to keep in mind when I am “on the road” is that things often change. A flight might be delayed or cancelled. If I am traveling by car there might be a traffic delay or a problem with my vehicle. There may be a detour that allows for an unusual adventure, if I quit stewing about the delay.

Life can be like that too! You’ve got a plan and you seek to execute it but something interrupts the itinerary. Maybe someone else inserted their agenda. Maybe your destination changed because you made some choices that took you on a detour.

This is life.

There are some things we have control over but not everything. You might think you are going one place but things aren’t adding up to that.

Where are you headed?

This seems to be the better question. If you think about what you are hoping to accomplish, are the things you are doing now heading you in that direction? Are the people you are spending time with encouraging you in your goal? Have you asked God for His insight on the matter? Sometimes He speaks through prayer and Scripture and sometimes He uses people in our lives to influence us.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. [Psalm 119:105 NIV]

Lord, face me in the direction I need to go and direct my footsteps and clear my path. Amen.

On the way,

Liz

Where are you from?

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Steps in Siklós Castle 

“I love your accent, where are you from?”

I can’t help myself when I hear an accent; I want to know where people are from and I try to ask in a loving way. I know of people who have worked to perfect their speaking so their accent is nearly undetectable. They don’t want to stand out. I love to hear accents because so much of my early years I spent around people who were learning English as a second language and while we all have unique stories, I am sure that someone with a heavy accent has something fascinating to share.

Where are you from?

At first I might be inclined to answer the question from a physical standpoint. I am originally from Youngstown, OH but then I spent quite a few years in Nebraska and then in Indiana. There were a few other places in there but they’re not really worth mentioning. But the truth is all the places along my path made a bit of an impact on my journey, one way or another – even those brief side roads. They are a part of my story.

From where do you come?

Don’t think so much in terms of the physical space but the experiences that describe your childhood or youth or young adulthood. Do you allow them to have their space as descriptive? Or are these experiences defining? Do you rest on them and remember them often? Do you try to bury them? Are they good things? Or bad?

Are you stuck in that hard place?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in where we have been that we miss the places we can go. Being stuck in our history isn’t helpful. But if there are some things to work through and resolve, burying those things isn’t the answer either. There are times it takes years to understand or process “where we have been”. For some of us it has been a very bumpy road with diversions that have brought a lot of pain. Others of us have come from something much easier and carefree and we struggle to understand the pains and needs of others who have come from a place where there was a lack of stability or an abundance of junk.

Where we have been does not need to define who we are and where we are going. I may not have loved every place I have been but I know God can use each of them to grow my prayer perspective for others who may be experiencing something similar. God can and will all of our life experiences for the encouragement of others so it is important to process what needs to be processed. Let God recycle what can be used and transform our trash into His treasure!

On the way,

Liz

Blessed…be…

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Window flowers in Hungary

The Beatitudes 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Matthew 5:3-12 NIV]


We are blessed in countless ways but the blessings listed above are not what the world considers to be blessings.

It is always a challenge for me to remember God’s definitions when I am in the middle of living in this world. Even if I am not contemplating my own situation I still see others and consider material wealth as a blessings.

Of course, it can be used for good and to bless and all that. It can also be a curse. Those things that the world values that are not of God can easily become the things we seek and strive for and we can lose so much in the process.

Have you ever been caught up in chasing something meaningless? Something that, if you caught it would actually catch you and try to put a stranglehold on your faith? God’s blessings are so different from what the world considers a blessing.

Lord, help me to receive your blessings without always looking for the next one. Let me savor the gifts You have placed in my life — the blessings the world doesn’t value but You use to grow me into the person you need me to be.

On the way,

Liz

A Time to be Silent

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Looking up in Arizona!

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 is no fixing a situation.

Have you ever been in a situation where no words could possibly do any good. There are times to be silent and pray like crazy.

For some reason, silence troubles me. I think some of it is because I am a verbal processor. Or maybe silence is uncomfortable when something is wrong or uncomfortable and I feel pressure to fill up that “space” in a conversation that has a pause.

Silence can be a sign that everything is fine or that nothing is or something in between. But it is okay and sometimes it is even preferable over a barrage of words that are tossed haphazardly, littering a conversation. When I do not know what to say it is fine to say, “I am so sorry, I don’t know what to say.” and then get on with the business of just being present.

Sitting in silence is sometimes a very valuable gift.

In order to listen best, one must be silent. Is there someone who can benefit from your presence this week, with or without words? Even if there isn’t a conversation that takes place between the two of you, you can always silently pray, “Lord, be in this moment and fill the needs of this person I am with.” Look for His strength in every situation!

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Dance

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A Hungarian dance group from Pennsylvania

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’m dancing as fast as I can.”

“Dancing with the devil.”

“Do the hustle.”

Dancing is a great metaphor for relationships and expectations. It can also be an expression of joy and release.

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. [Psalm 149:3 NIV]

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever. [Psalm 30:11-12 NIV]

When was the last time you danced?

I like to dance a little here and there but I don’t dance nearly enough. I am more inclined to dance alone because my heart for dancing and my skill set are so woefully unmatched I know I will be embarrassed. I am just too uncomfortable knowing that others could be watching me or, worse yet, filming me! That’s unfortunate because dancing is good for you in a variety of ways. And it wasn’t designed to be a competition that intimidates people.

I have danced a few steps in response to a victory of some sort. I like a slow dance with my husband. And I would like to learn more Hungarian folk dancing. But I really don’t consider myself a dancer and I certainly don’t know much about dancing in a technical way.

Dancing is closely related to joy for me. Even though I don’t dance often when I do it is typically because I am feeling pretty excited about something. It’s a fun way to celebrate and express joy.

I do know a bit about the relief and release that comes after a period of mourning and the permission or sense of release that it is ok to dance. The mourning time has ceased and it’s a new day and a new situation and I can dance in spite of the mess I just walked through. I might dance in the middle of my circumstances because I know God is working out the details or because I know time is short and life is short and I can wallow about this or that or I can dance to pass the time.

Dancing while on the way,

Liz

A Time to Tear

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The dome in the Indiana Statehouse

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 is time to mend but there are times we need to tear ourselves away from a situation or a person.

When I was in high school I had a “friend” I  kind of got along with and had fun with in an OK sort of way but she wasn’t really someone I could spend a lot of time with. We had very different interests and very different friends and the friendship took a lot of work for me and quite a bit of compromise. If I spent some time with her, she always wanted more. Our lives were definitely headed in different directions and I wanted to stay on my path. She wanted me on hers.  I tried to explain that I needed some space but then she would threaten me with suicide. Man, that wasn’t a burden I was ready to bear so I hung around a bit longer until I could direct her to some help and extricate myself from the situation. It isn’t that I didn’t care about her life but that is a biggie and difficult to know what to do about at any age, let alone 16.

I had to tear myself away.

A friend of mine was recently telling me her story. Her husband had serious mental health issues but she stayed with him because of the kids. He refused to see any counselors. He was very controlling. After 25+ years she finally had enough and left. He begged and pleaded and said he would kill himself if she didn’t come back. He finally agreed to go to counseling. When she returned he was much nicer and tolerable for three months. Then he started buying new guns and new ammunition. When she talked to her counselor, they told her this was not a good sign and that this often leads to a murder/suicide. She made a difficult decision.

She had to tear herself away.

And thankfully she did. Unfortunately, he killed himself but she likely saved her own life by removing herself from the situation. And, of course, both she and the kids are left to process the tragedy.

Sometimes it isn’t a person who tries to have an unhealthy hold on you. Sometimes it is a habit or a tendency that we need to make a conscious effort to step away from. Sometimes it is more than that, it is a sin we are harboring and catering to and if we can’t simply step away from it then we need to tear ourselves away.

Make a break for it!                   

If someone or something imprisons you, please find wise counsel. Pray for discernment. Some situations are extremely complicated and dangerous and require assistance to be extracted from. Other times we only need the encouragement of a friend or the conviction of Scripture to come face-to-face with where we are and the road we need to take.

The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out. [Proverbs 18:14-15 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Search

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A chapel in a salt mine 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.


Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.

I often think about this song by Brandon Heath  — I only added the chorus above but you can give it a listen here.

Give me Your eyes!

How much would change in our behavior and relationships if we would have God’s eyes for a person or a situation? Are we using God’s perspective as we consider our circumstances? Are we seeking His face so we can reflect Him more accurately?

Each time we seek His face, He shapes our vision to be more like His. My own vision is faulty. It is clouded with my sin, my sinful nature, and the sin of the world. At this time in my life I need reading glasses as well as glasses that can give me better vision at a distance, and, to top it off, I even have astigmatism which means that my eyeball is not a standard shape [per dictionary.com]. So I have three things working against me for 20/20 vision. And yet I have never had restrictions on my drivers’ license in any state in which I have lived. A little wacky vision is acceptable to the state and even within our world and that makes it fairly easy to stray from what is acceptable in God’s eyes if we are distant from Him.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek. [Psalm 27:7-8 NIV]

Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. [Psalm 105:3-4 NIV]

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33-34 NIV]

I like to use “Give me Your eyes” as a quick prayer when I am coming into an uncomfortable or unknown situation. Staying tethered to God is essential for improving how I see things around me!

On the way,

Liz