A Time to Give Up

Down the road w
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

A Time for Peace

Vermont Sunset w
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 Laugh

pansies
Spring pansies!

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.


There is nothing like a good laugh and you can get a lot of laughs from one funny memory!

One of my favorite memories is when we were with my hubby’s family for Easter and the kids were all pretty young. As we were gathered around the communion table with kids in tow, one of ours piped up “Can I have one too?” which brought about a lot of stiffled laughter from our family of adults during the Lord’s Supper. On Easter Sunday. Thankfully it was not our home congregation but I am sure we looked like a bunch of irreverent worshippers. It was a really funny moment for us and very hard to keep it together.

I hope you have a funny situation that you and your friends or family relive on occasion. With all the seriousness in life, a good hearty laugh is necessary. Find a comedian you enjoy or a sitcom that cracks you up. The “I Love Lucy” show is so ridiculous it’s funny. Find something or someone you love and makes you laugh and spend more time there. It’s good for your heart, your body, and your soul!

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. [Proverbs 17:22 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Embrace

AZ Cactus w
Arizona Cactus

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.


There is nothing quite like the it-has-been-so-long-since-I-have-squeezed-you hug, the I’ve-missed-you hug or the I-don’t-know-when-I-will-see-you-again hug. Those are some serious embraces and there is so much packed into them! Even though they are embraces from different points of view they are embraces that say Now, here we are, together! Hooray!” And that is where we must focus — on today!

If you are anything like me, you might want to know what the future holds, but there really aren’t any guarantees that we will take a breath tomorrow and there are no promises our dearest family and friends will either, so please hug the ones you love while you can. Embrace today.

I don’t believe this means we should live in fear but we should embrace our people and each day as the gifts they are. When our heart and arms are open to God’s gifts they are easier to receive. There are times we are left to wonder “what is God going to do with all of this?” but that is His job and will be revealed in His time.

But what about embracing the really ugly stuff? What about the “cacti” in our lives? Those pokey and uncomfortable and painful situations that have been inserted into our lives by way of our own sin, someone else’s sin or the sin and death that we have in this world. What then? Often we have no choice except to ask God for the grace and mercy to move forward.

His grace is sufficient!

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 2:8-10 NIV]

 

No matter the circumstance, God can and will redeem it for His purposes. I am not to the point where I delight in insults and hardships and persecutions and difficulties but I have seen God’s grace time after time in my life and yet I still need reminders! It’s a part of my human condition.

Lord, I don’t know my future but I trust You will provide me for the grace and strength to get through it!

On the way,

Liz

 

A Time to Keep

Flowers in Transylvania w
Flowers 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.


There are so many moments I want to keep fresh in my mind. But as I get older I find they are increasing and so diverse. It’s hard to store them all away! That is a blessing of having cameras and being able to record special times. Although, sometimes the documentation can get in the way of the moment. I often struggle between being in the moment and making a record of it.

What moments in your life are you keeping? Are they worth the storage space? As you reflect on them, do they bring you joy or pain?

I love this quote about friendships but I think some of it is appropriate as we consider our lives and experiences  but my focus in this quote is the bolded words:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”  (attributed to a couple of people)

I only have a limited capacity for remembering. I don’t want to squandered it on things not worth keeping but sometimes my heart is on automatic pilot, for good and for bad.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. [Proverbs 4:23 NIV]

Our capacity for keeping is limited. Choose carefully!

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Weep

Sun over Torockow
Sunrise 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.


Sometimes there are no words that can be said about a particular circumstance.  There is no solution, no possible change or fix.

It is what it is.

Our response may start off with a deep sadness and tears, but when the magnitude of what this means hits us and there is weeping.

The “here I am, facing the biggest heartache of my life” situation is here to stay and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it from barreling down. The grief comes in waves,  there is a deep sadness over what is or will be lost, and there are many, many tears.

There is a time to weep.

I am so thankful God and His people throughout the generations know these deep emotions. It helps take the edge off the pain a little to know that when we are feeling so deeply, we are not alone — even if we feel that way.

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.[Psalm 39:9-10 NIV]

God knows and sees us in our grief and weeps with us. He created us with the capacity for a range of emotions and we are created in His image. And when we think we are facing the circumstance alone, it is important to remember that God can and will carry us through. It doesn’t mean there won’t be sadness or weeping. It means He is alongside us, leading us, carrying us, tending to us, providing for us, and showing His grace upon grace.

The Psalms are filled with believers in distress. There is just a sampling below. I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone when my grief is profound. I have His Word to remind me of His love and provision from the beginning of time.

Psalm 4:1  Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 18:6  In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

Psalm 20:1  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

Psalm 31:9  Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.

Psalm 55:17  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.

Psalm 81:7  In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 

Psalm 86:7  When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

Psalm 102:2  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

Psalm 102:5  In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.

Heartache is never fun to walk through. If you are challenged with fresh or long-standing grief, I pray that you find comfort in God’s promises and His Word. Ask a friend to pray with and for you. And please don’t hesitate to find a healthy pastor to visit with.

On the way,

Liz