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 Search

Transylvania Salt Mine Chapel w
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

 

 

A Time to Hate

Lake Balaton w
Lake Balaton in Hungary

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.


Just like the word “love” we tend to throw around “hate” fairly liberally. I know for me it is more a habit. Instead of saying “I hate that”, I may start saying “That bugs me” or something with a little less intensity. Then people won’t be confused and assume my dislike of something is stronger than it really is.

When we truly hate something, there is intensity in our feelings and it often propels us into action.

  • We fight.
  • We argue.
  • We band together to address the issue.
  • We protest.
  • We focus on “the problem”.

There is a place for all of those things. But let’s not get so wrapped up in our “hatred” with such a focus on the “hated” that we forget to see what is right in this world. Of course, there is pain, disease, death, and injustce, etc. And there are definitely things that are classified as evil and it’s easy to be jaded when evil has touched your life. It might be around you but I encourage you to not let that be the place where your mind dwells.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  [Romans 12:8-10 NIV]

Cling to what is good!

What are you thankful for? What makes you smile? What warms the cockles of your heart? What “good things” have you received from others? What “good news” did you read in God’s Word? What promises has He made to you as His child?

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the ugly stuff, I challenge you to speak about those people and things you are thankful for. You can journal them too. Have you had some great experiences? Shared some wonderful moments with people you treasure? Watched a beautiful sun rise? Enjoyed a spectacular sunset? Let this be the place your mind dwells!

Cloud

Tell someone what you are grateful for! It might even help them by helping them change their focus.

Hold tight to what is good!

On the way!

Liz

A Time to Scatter Stones

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Clean air in the Bükk Mountains in Hungary

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.


Apparently I am in a season of life where there is a lot of traveling. I enjoy it, most of the time. It is definitely different and sometimes I feel scattered. Sometimes I am scattered because the trips are back-to-back and I am bound to forget something.

Scatter(ed) can certainly be a state of being, but it can also be a state of doing.

Are you actively dispersing things as you travel through life? It might be physical things, of course, but it can also be thoughts or ideas or faith or encouragement or courage or love or a smile. If you are out there, sharing with the world, have you considered that your contributions might be neutral yet are more likely negative or positive?

Sometimes I am super grumpy or overtired or guilty. Unfortunately, those are not generally the moments when I am “feeling the love” so I scatter seeds of negativity. If I am in a really bad space, I not only embrace my own habitual skepticism, I give it away to everyone I come in contact with whether I know them or not. Those seeds can land on fertile soil and become a nasty weed, seemingly overnight. Like a virus, it can quickly pass from person to person until the space where I am (and the trail from whence I came) is littered with negativity.

When I am in a good space, I can be reckless with my giving. I share without reservation. I am patient and can hear and see and feel and can give all day long, fueled by a grateful heart. I am full of love and grace and peace. Those things can also be quickly passed along and affect those all around me.

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. [Luke 6:44-46 NIV]

It is important to think about those things you are storing up in your heart because those concepts will come out in the way of words and actions; it will be what you scatter! Breathe in the good and exhale it. If you intake bad, interrupt the cycle by putting out good.

You might find you need to go into a place where the air is pure, particularly with all the toxicity in the world today. It’s true, there is nothing new under the sun but the rate negativity can be spread is astounding.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4:8 NIV]

Our focus fills our heart and then comes out of our mouths and through the work of our hands.

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Refrain from Embracing

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Saying goodbye to winter in Mohács, Hungary

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.


re·frain1    rəˈfrān/   verb

stop oneself from doing something.  “she refrained from comment”   “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”

synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoideschewshunrenounce;

informal swear off;
formal forswearabjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning.  There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 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. 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 a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

On the way,
Liz

 

A Time to Give Up

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A road in Pécs

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.


Have you ever found yourself trying too hard? There are times in situations that you overwork yourself or take on more responsibility for something, just to make it work. And, in the end, it doesn’t really work and you are exhausted from the attempt.

My Achilles heel is relationships.  When I perceive I have made a good connection with a person, the relating comes easy and is very comfortable, even if there are years between seeing one another face-to-face. But there are some relationships that are challenging. As the years have gone by, those are rarely friendships I have initiated, of course. The challenging ones are the ones where I have people in my life because of life, not because I have chosen to be in relationship with them. It might be a work colleague or another volunteer in a church or civic group or a family member and the connection takes an inordinate amount of effort.

It might be okay to surrender the relationship. If you decide to stop working so hard to make it work it is possible the other person will then step in and make the effort. Or not. And then, is it really a relationship worth pursuing?

There are relationships we have to be in and there are relationships we choose to be in. I pray you have a few solid relationships where you can be carefree and encouraged and know you are loved and appreciated. If you have a majority of relationships that are so exhasuting they throw you off kilter, it might be time to consider giving up one or two. Instead of working as if you are the sole contributor to the relationship, “give up” and see if the other person picks up the slack and also invests in it. If they let it go too, it might be an indication that it is time to be done.

Life is short. Be deliberate about where you spend your time and energy. And while all relationships go through bumps in the road, if you are always thrown out of alignment when interacting with some specific people, you might need to rethink how often you want to go down that road.

The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Gather Stones

Stone building in Eger, Hungary w
Stone Building in Eger, Hungary

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.


Do you have a collection? It might be something you need or maybe it is just something you care about.

While I don’t have anything I officially collect, there are times I have to gather up courage or strength for a task. Sometimes I need just a little more of something to help me get through an unpleasant responsibility.

God’s Word has so much to offer when I am lacking in strength. His Word reminds me He has strengthened others in their time of need and that He is there in my time of need as well.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” 2 Samuel 22:33

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” I Chronicles 16:11

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” Psalm 18:32

On the way,

Liz