Dwelling Places

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Another incredible view in Transylvania

Why am I here? …And why are you there?

Yea, yea, yea….some of it may have to do with the choices we made and all that, but sometimes we have done some of the exact same things and yet one of us is living out some challenging consequences and the other is not.

Sometimes where we are has nothing to do with our own choices. In fact, many times it has nothing to do with what we have done. We might experience the benefit or the consequence of someone else’s doing.

We didn’t choose the family or circumstances we were born into nor did we choose our ethnicity or our race. We had no choice about whether we were born into poverty or crazy wealth or a barely functioning family. We didn’t even choose the country we were born in.

And yet all these factors play into our early years, which, in turn, can create a path for our lives.

Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair.

Some “advantages” aren’t actually advantages but it takes some time to sort that out. And sometimes what we think we see isn’t accurate at all… our own perspectives are often skewed.

Good deeds go unrecognized. Bad behavior appears to be rewarded. Illness doesn’t care if you have the sweetest heart or the most meager of bank accounts or even if you live in a remote village, away from any modern medical services.

I can’t dwell there.

Loss and death and disease are universal and trusting in God’s provision and comfort is the only way I survive. Sharing God’s love and compassion in practical ways is one of the ways I cope and move forward in a positive direction. If I think too much about the injustices of life on Earth without a plan to give and serve, I dwell. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by your situation, I have included some Bible verses that are good to memorize. If you are going to dwell anywhere, God’s Word is the place to do it:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

On the way,

Liz

A Time for Peace

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Sunset in Vermont

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.


At one time or another we have all surrendered our “right” or our position or our opinion in order to keep the peace.

Of course, there are some who are more than willing (maybe too willing) to give in. And on the other end of the spectrum there are others who act like every discussion is a hill they are willing to die on.

Ever notice that some people stoke the smallest disagreement so it develops into a huge battle? These situations may be based on a small misunderstanding but one party cannot back down or have a reasonable discussion. Sometimes this happens with friends but it is particularly devastating when it happens within families. The rift in the relationship grows so large and involves so many people that it impacts generations of relationships. Some of these issues last decades and lifetimes.

And then hardship strikes.

Often death, diagnosis, or disability comes along to remind us all how fragile and precious life really is. Life is short. Life can be really hard. Ideas and principles are important but people and relationships are even more important.

There are times a tragedy can be a catalyst for healing in relationships.

Don’t wait for some disaster to offer the olive branch of peace in a strained relationship. If you feel you have been wronged, let the Lord avenge it. Your interpretation of the situation or what “offended” you might, actually, be a bit off base. Feelings often lead us astray. And there are many sides to a story. We are, hopefully, changing and growing every day and learning more about ourselves and the world around us. What was worth battling about five years ago might just be a blip now, considering the circumstances. Lost time cannot be recovered but we can move forward together and in peace, making memories along the way.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV]

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold. [Ephesians 4:25-27 NIV]

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Die

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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.


As a young child, I experienced a bit of trauma when my father died. I was only six years old and I don’t remember a lot about his illness or death but I do remember watching my friends have dads and wondered what that was like. Of course, because the main wage earner was not around, we experienced financial hardship. And sure my mom was exhasuted by the four of us! As I moved through different stages of life, I knew I missed out on something. But, it was simply a fact in our family and we moved forward in life.

Years went my and I married a great guy and we started having our own children. When we were pregnant with precious child #3, I started to get nervous. When my husband’s mom was pregnant with her third child, her huband died of a heart attack. I thought for sure that would be my future. Of course, I was wired for something like that since I grew up without a father in the home. My mom raised four kids by herself and I figured that was going to be my lot in life. I actually thought far more about the day I would be raising children on my own due to my husband’s death than I ever thought about my mom leaving this earth.

Moms are immortal, aren’t they?

It didn’t happen that way. Don’s still here and my mom died ten years ago. (She was the best!) And it has been so much fun to watch my kids have their dad in their lives! Watching my husband be such a great father to our kids has been a great thing. So many of the things I feared would happen, in fact, have not happened. But they were fears I simply had to face and move through.

There are days we feel like we are dying because of the agonizing heartache or the anticipation of pain or paralyzing fear of the future or the prospect (or certainty) of a challenging treatment plan. And yet, those are not the days our bodies die. We are all marching toward that final day but we don’t really know the circumstances surrounding our final breath.

We know it will come, eventually. It always does. Are you working on those things you’ve hoped or dreamed about? If you knew you had a short time left on this earth, what are the things you would focus in on and do?

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom. [Psalm 90:12 NIV]

I am at least halfway through my life. When did that even happen? I don’t fear death itself as much as I wonder about the pain that might be involved in the process of dying. But, no matter, I don’t know any of the circumstances surrounding my final breath.

But what if this is what I am facing in my remaining days?

  • Life without a special, precious someone
  • A difficult diagnosis
  • Financial hardship
  • Disability
  • Chronic Illness

I will cling to His promises. He is the God of all comfort. He sees the bigger picture. He knows this life is temporary. He knows and uses every trouble and trial for faith building  either in me or in others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.        [2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV]

I trust that God is with me, strengthening and upholding me! And I trust He is with you too!

On the way,

Liz

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His strength. His peace.

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There are so many people I know and love in the middle of situations that are very challenging and yet they persevere. I know it is because they are relying on God as their source of strength even if it is just one step at a time, one day at a time.

How easy it is for us to think, at least initially, that our strength, education, bank account, or resilience will get us through every situation. “The world” chides us for being weak or dependent both directly and indirectly. If we are indoctrinated by that garbage for too long it can seep into our souls and cause some problems. We might try to “power through” or “make it on our own” but it really can only get us so far.  We might look down on others for needing assistance but, if we live long enough, we will eventually find ourselves in circumstances that can bring us to our knees:

Aging parents. Disabilities. Death. Broken Relationships. Job loss. Natural disasters.

When I am on my knees it seems I am better able to see and hear the things from God that I need to know. I am not quite as distracted by the other nonessential things because my focus is on seeking the strength for the day. In some situations we might find we need assistance from others and it helps us get along. In other situations, we might find ourselves completely alone, with utter dependence on God and His provisions.

When we are smart or strong or physically able or have “enough” do we let God be our strength and our salvation?

strength1wThat is a challenge for me. Sometimes I get confused about how I am making it through life or a certain situation. It is very difficult to shut out the world’s way of thinking that everything is up to me and my efforts. The more resources I have at my disposal the easier it is to think that I am handling it all. Once I think it is all about what I am achieving, I get frustrated when things don’t pan out according to plan. But have I really dreamed up the best plan? It seems rather empty to chase after physical things and try to control all the things that happen in my life. The thought that I have control (and even make the best choices in situations when I can exercise control) is an illusion. Life is not all about me. Life is not all about you. My life is not my own. And neither is yours!

Have you been in a place where the outcome is out of your control and you just need to trust God to give you His strength?

Heavenly Father ~ give us your strength for this day and bless us with your perfect peace! Amen.

On the Road,

Liz

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PrayerPoints ~Wednesday, March 16th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 49

“Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.” Psalm 49:16-17

People often pursue success relentlessly.  There are many different perspectives on what is considered successful and many of them have to do with money, position, and power. It is very easy to get caught up in the world’s definition of success because we are bombarded with so many messages about what the world considers successful.

Think for a bit about what you consider successful. Then take a few minutes to evaluate the path your are on and how it aligns with what you value. Then take some time to be in prayer and God’s Word to see if there are some adjustments you need to make. For me, it is easy to be swayed to believe what the world says about success because there are so many images and messages that are out there, trying to influence me.

Riches are not the problem….but riches at the expense of others definitely can be.

It is easy to look at others and think about how I would live my life differently if I was in their shoes. It is much more difficult to consider where I am and what I have and how to align my path to the things God considers of value.

I will be praying for God’s wisdom and discernment as I think about how I define success.

 

 

 

 

 

CrossRoads

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ CrossRoads

Every day I find myself at intersections where I am called upon to choose how I will respond to my day and to my circumstances. Are there challenges? Of course there are. But I do not want to be accused of blowing momentary troubles out of proportion by whining and complaining. Much of what I deal with is momentary. It’s just that some moments last longer than others! Every day I see heartbreaking stories of really difficult circumstances. I have lived through a few myself as I am sure you have. Life on Earth has joy and pain. Thankfully, as we trust and serve an amazing God we also have the opportunity for His perspective and His life transforming work in our every day.

We all come up against crossroads. Sometimes we travel through accident-prone crazy intersections and some of our journeys take us to easy and relaxed places but each crossroad leaves us with a choice — not necessarily in the outcome of a situation but our response to the circumstance. Unfortunate and disheartening struggles are common in this life — death, disability, abuse, job loss, unplanned pregnancies, critical illness, violence, financial crisis, family feuds, etc — and while they may shape a perspective, they do not have to define a person. It is understandable for it to take time for people to work through difficult situations ~ grief and healing are not processes to race through. God’s work in my heart is more like a crock-pot than a microwave. It takes time for me to work through things.

Here is how I would ultimately like my crossroads to define me ~ that I would be found trusting and relying on my Heavenly Father to meet my every need. That I would follow His lead, rest in His love and provision, and let Him infuse any circumstance with His forgiveness, grace, mercy, and peace.

Do you know someone at a crossroad that needs prayer? Have you considered quietly but deliberately praying for them and their decision-making during this time? Sometimes we see people at a crossroad before they realize they are there. If you have been given eyes to see that kind of situation I would encourage you to lift them up in prayer!

See you at the CrossRoad!
Liz

PrayerPoint ~ The Heart ~ February 28

PrayerPoint ~ The Heart

Chronic unemployment, job loss, unplanned pregnancy, prodigal child, prodigal spouse, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, divorce, cancer diagnosis, autism, fatal accident, school shooting…..
My heart is brimming with empathy and intercession for others these days. Of course, there are always difficult things in life, but there are some times I look around and all I see is heartbreak after heartbreak. It is so difficult to watch another person as they writhe in pain over their situation. Powerless to change any of it, sometimes all I can do is groan and be a compassionate friend. I am so glad the spirit intercedes for me during these times.
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 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 8:25-28 NIV

Are there families and circumstances that God has laid on your heart for intercession? Stand in the gap for these precious people. Whether or not they are believers at this moment intercession on their behalf is so very important.

Lord, please wrap your arms around those who are undergoing tremendous grief. I am sure they feel as though their heart is broken beyond repair. Please bring them to a place of healing–in Your time and in Your way. Remind them that you can bring blessing from unimaginable heartbreak and pain. Only You can heal a broken heart and broken dreams. In Jesus’ name…
Lifting up the broken hearts,
Liz