Direction

My husband has an excellent sense of direction when we are traveling. He also loves to use tools to help him make the best decision on how to get where he is going. So if Google Maps shows a significant traffic issue, he will make an effort to go around it. He loves to plan ahead and make a wise move with up-to-date info.

On the other hand, I tend not to fuss with technology too much when I am driving alone. Our trusty vehicle, Luna, is a 2008 Highlander (240,000+ miles) with a map program built in and is a little clunky (we have updated her maps but I-69 to Indianapolis still isn’t in there). She sports an older model of map technology and isn’t hooked up to a satellite so she doesn’t show “real time” traffic. That is fine with me – when there is a slow down I can tell because the cars are all slowing down in front of me. I don’t get the latest information on traffic issues. I experience them.

Either approach is fine. Even a good, old-fashioned road map is perfectly fine.  Or, if you have no particular place to go, just taking off without a map is great too.

It all depends on if you have a place you need to get to within a particular time frame.

But, aside from how you get TO a specific place, how do you travel? Do you like taking direction? Do you like to blaze your own trail? Who or what guides your path? What fuels your journey? Is it anger or justice? Is it pain? Is it love or thankfulness?

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:3-8, NIV]

May your sense of direction come from True North!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: SOWING

Mindfulness

I have been trying to be more mindful about a lot of things but it is exhausting. It takes a lot of thinking and planning to be more intentional. And since I can only be more mindful about a few things at a time, I need to choose wisely. What deserves my focus? I can’t possibly be intentional about everything. So I struggle with balancing what is vital with what would be nice as well as how to go about it.

Recently I have been working on mindful eating. I know, I know – this is a First World problem. For some reason, this is my challenge. And definitely a work in progress but I need to find a good groove for this because I do travel quite a bit these days and that can be a challenge if I have not given it some thought. So I have tried to break it down a bit. Maybe whatever you are being more mindful about can fit in these categories. Or, please feel free to share how you are thinking through and acting on the things that are important to you!

WHAT – having a meal and snack plan is important. I need to have healthy snacks as well as healthy meals but I also have a budget. Thinking through my meals and making s

WHEN – These days, I can’t have a meal late without feeling yucky so I like to finish my last meal by 7pm, and then no snacks afterwards. I like to be in bed around 9pm or so because my day starts early.

WHERE – I have to admit that there is quite a bit of snacking in the car, particularly if I am trying to stay awake. Once in a while we are trying to push through and we might even eat a meal while driving. I am sure this isn’t a great plan. The other thing I need to work on is since our dining room table always has work project on it, it isn’t always ready to eat on. I don’t like that. I need find a better system so I can eat at our table.

WHY – This might sound crazy but I do need to think a little more about why I am eating. Am I really hungry? Am I bored? Is everyone else doing it? Does it just taste sooo good? Or am I automatically doing it without any thought? Have you ever been to a nice, satisfying dinner and then went out for a movie and bought popcorn and had a bucketful? It’s crazy…but we do it. Somehow it seems like going to the movies automatically means having popcorn. Now, I don’t go to the movies except for, maybe, once a year but the above scenario is a great example of mindless eating!

HOW – I have a tendency to eat too fast – so building in time to relax and enjoy a meal S-L-O-W-L-Y is important for digestion but I have either waited too long (and then I am too hungry) or I have some other task I need to accomplish. Being mindful about pace is important for me. I love the idea of “slow food” cooking but maybe I just need to think about “slow food” eating???

HOW MUCH – For me, this is my extra challenge. But eating more slowly will help me eat less. Serving portions in restaurants are large and I need to be more mindful when ordering but also as I am eating. Leaving food behind (if I can’t take it with me for later) is better than just eating it so I don’t “waste” it!

Really now, bring mindful about food requires that much thought? Apparently, for me, it does.

What are you being more mindful about these days?

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:15-25, NIV]

May God bless your day!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: DIRECTION

Fluctuations

A lovely beach in Florida!

Things change. You’ve noticed too, haven’t you?

Schedules. Jobs. Bank Accounts. Relationships. Health. People.

Some of these improve, some decline. Some of them have a cyclical feel about them while others are abrupt.

Have you had some changes in your life recently that have thrown you for a loop? I certainly have! I admit, I often welcome a change in routine.

Six years ago today, I wrote this on Facebook:

Always use a pencil when writing things in your planner!!!! You never know when God has a change of plans coming!

And it is just as true for me today! In fact, those of you who have known me for a while, know to keep our address in pencil! My physical location has changed and, hopefully, I have also changed (and grown) as a result of living this life.

Each move, each change, has been an opportunity to adjust the way I view the world. Have I been hardened? Grown in my compassion and service for my fellow travelers? Have I become more discerning? More intentional? More loving? Of course, there is always loss along the way, but there always is loss when engaging in the world.

Here is my confession: I get a little panicky when there seems to be relentless undulation. When I come up for air, I want air — not water. Rapid changes can make me feel like I am gulping air and desperately trying to get oriented!

Here is a link to a song that has a phrase I love to remember:

“Sometimes He calms the storm, but other times He calms His child.”

Do you have a favorite passage of Scripture, hymn, or Christian song that speaks to you about life changes?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. [Hebrews 13:8, NIV]

May you be comforted by the unchanging love, grace, and mercy of Jesus!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: MINDFULNESS

Success vs Failure

Why are so hard on ourselves?

Of course, there is always room for improvement. But something doesn’t have to actually be “perfect” to be a success. For me it takes work not to pick apart how something could have been better and just be thankful that it was good, even if it wasn’t perfect.

Why is it that our failures (real or perceived) are like flashing neon signs – always trying to grab our attention?

Maybe it is a good way to keep me humble. Typically things aren’t all good or all bad, I can look at things on a 1-10 scale. And even if it was a miserable experience, there is usually something I learned and, in that case, there was something redeemable about it.

What about when we do “everything right” and things still go awfully wrong. Are we really in as much control as we think? Everything hinges on something and not everything is in our power. We don’t have control over others. We only have control over our actions and responses. And even when we do things perfectly, there is no guarantee the outcome will be what we were hoping for.

Are there some days just getting out of bed and facing the day is an achievement?

I think so.

Success and failure are in the eyes of the beholder. What the world pushes us towards and what God is nurturing in our hearts are likely very different things. Who do you listen to when you are evaluating success?

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever. [Psalm 73:26, NIV]

May you view your activity with through God’s eyes!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: FLUCTUATIONS

Boxes

I have packed and unpacked a box or two in my life. I suspect that is just a part of my life. We ship out orders and we unpack product. We pack up for festivals and unpack and then repack. And then we do it again. I am a good packer though not a perfect one. When it comes to packing our vehicle for events or when we move, my hubby is the man! It seems he enjoys the challenge of playing “Tetris”. Even if he doesn’t really enjoy it, he does a great job so I back away and let him have at it.

Sometimes my boxes are a time capsule of memories.  Good, bad, fragile, pointless, expired, new, fat clothes, skinny clothes, things from my mom, things from my kids, a sweet note from my hubby.

When I die and there will be a number of boxes to go through, let it be known here that there are boxes of stuff that I just hadn’t thrown away yet. But hopefully less and less as time goes on because I am planning on going through a few between now and then!

It is good to put things in boxes those things that you think you want but you aren’t sure. If you wait a while, the decision might get easier later on – either you know for sure you want it or you can let it go.

Pondering what to carry through life is a pretty huge job. There are physical things that may have value (monetary or sentimental) but then there are emotional and spiritual things.  If we are too bogged down with things it makes it harder to get to the next place because we are lugging our “possessions”.

During Bible times, there was a lot of travel. Much of it was by foot but sometimes it involved an animal too. It seems we have so much stuff these days that traveling is a bit bogged down. Maybe living is a bit bogged down.

I am thankful we have thrift stores and missions where we can donate stuff. But I need to be better about not collecting it to start with.

How about you?

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [Colossians 3:1-3, NIV]

Purging and Packing!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: SUCCESS vs FAILURE

Reaction vs. Response

For some reason, those two words feel very differently to me. So I checked in with Merriam Webster to see what the distinction might be. I guess the difference is mainly that a response, as an action, is neutral but a reaction can be positive or negative. I don’t know. What do you think?

Definition of reaction

1athe act or process or an instance of reacting

bresistance or opposition to a force, influence, or movement especially tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy

2a response to some treatment, situation, or stimulus her stunned reaction to the news alsosuch a response expressed verbally critical reaction to the play

Definition of response

1an act of responding 

2something constituting a reply or a reaction: such as

aa verse, phrase, or word sung or said by the people or choir after or in reply to the officiant in a liturgical service

bthe activity or inhibition of previous activity of an organism or any of its parts resulting from stimulation

cthe output of a transducer or detecting device resulting from a given input

How do you respond to situations? What is your tendency? Do you rush to judgment? Collect the facts first? Are you willing to hear everyone out? Are you a “reactor” or a “responder”?

Of course, it all depends on the situation. Some do call for quick action. But for normal, everyday things that happen, do you have a tendency to be negative about whatever you are facing?

And are you happy with it?

Training ourselves to respond calmly to situations is important. Paying attention to the words that come out of our mouths is important. Along with that, habits like eye-rolling, heavy sighing, foot stomping, door slamming, needing to have the last word, and low-register grumbling are just as important to gain control of.

Here is a challenge for both you and me:

Let’s spend the next 24 hours without uttering a complaint. Will life be all rosy and full of tulips and puppy kisses? I doubt it. But we can still spend 24 hours not verbally complaining. If you really need to “complain”, write it down in a notebook and in 24 hours decide if you still need to present the complaint.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] [Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV]

Blessings to you as you consider reactions and responses!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BOXES

Complaining

It is so easy to fall into a rut with complaining but it casts a shadow on whatever the experience was, even if the problem was minor. Even “helpful suggestions for improvement” register as complaints to the other person. So be sure to exercise your mind and also come up with several positive observations to share.

Does every issue or annoyance need to be voiced?

I don’t think so.

I get it, life can be frustrating and things don’t always go smoothly. But that has always been the case. Adding fuel to the tension of the situation by eye rolling and grumping and slamming things around does not help anything work more smoothly and it opens the doors for other issues.

Honestly, some things are not worth complaining about.

And some things are.

The principle behind The Boy Who Cried Wolf comes to mind in a time like this. If you complain about everything, then people tend to turn you “off”, ignore you, or label you as immature. And when you have something important to say, they have been trained to blow you off.

Yes, there are times a complaint is warranted, but be careful lest complaining becomes a regular part of your personality emissions. It’s a habit that does not draw people in. It’s true, life is not all roses and buttercups – but, whatever your particular situation happens to be – there are people way worse off and dealing with much bigger issues and not making a huge issue out of it. Negativity might get you some action but you can compel more people into action when you choose your words and approach with care.

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.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

2Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. [Proverbs 16:21-24, NIV]

Want to address an injustice? Fight on behalf of someone who needs help. Don’t be so caught up in yourself and the inconveniences you experience that you miss the bigger picture.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17, NIV]

Complaining and grumbling are habits. Bad ones. You don’t have to gloss over bad behavior but as you look for your voice, find one that speaks Truth but also can be listened to. If you intersperse a tiny bit of truth in an angry and accusatory presentation, it will be lost.

What are you fighting for?

Liz

PrayerPrompt: REACTION vs. RESPONSE