Boundaries and Perfection

There are things we have control over and things we don’t.

Learning about my own boundaries (or lack of them, in some cases) is a very good thing. Sometimes it takes an intense situation to recognize where a problem is and, oftentimes, the problem is with me. I want things to go a certain way and they aren’t going that way and then what? I have to decide my next move.

I am not in charge of everything, but I am in charge of my behavior.

First I need to figure out if I really should be calling the shots on a particular thing. Then I need to determine if “my way” is truly the best way. There is usually more than one way to get somewhere.

It’s a lot to sort out and it’s a lifetime of learning for me!

We each have unique gifts and I trust God is refining all of us in His time. I know He is refining me. He is working out those details in my character and in my life. I still have a lot to learn and I do have to do my part, but I also need to trust that God is working out the details, weaving together the different aspects of my life to create something beautiful. It might not be my idea of perfection, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.

Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of my faith!

Unfortunately, it is so easy to get caught up in what we want and are looking for. It is way too easy. Boundaries are healthy and important and we all have a lot to learn about being healthy in relationships, but if the focus is always on us and our ideas, the results will not be eternal.

Instead, let us fix…  “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV]

May He grant you His perfect peace!

On the way,

Liz

You might be able to find all of these books on boundaries through ILL (Inter Library Loan) if you want to brush up on the concept. I plan to!

 

What’s in YOUR bag?

packed bagRecently I was asked what was essential to have along for a two week trip to Hungary so I have been mulling that over a bit.

Of course, everyone has their different idea of what is absolutely necessary for a trip. So I can offer what I think is important but we all come from such different needs and experiences that it is hard to come up with that comprehensive packing list.

Overseas trips and trips within the United States are two similar scenarios yet different enough to require a bit of thinking.

 

What do you consider absolute essentials?

Some of the things that impact what we pack involve:

  • weather forecast
  • anticipated activities
  • the length of time of the trip
  • our accommodations
  • our mode of transportation
  • our dietary preferences or restrictions
  • our medical needs

I am a pretty flexible traveler but here are a few of my non-negotiables:

  • Q tips
  • emery board
  • fingernail clipper
  • extra emollient night cream
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush/toothpaste

But even more important than what we pack to take along, I think of a few other things that important to have on any trip as well as in life:

  • a sense of adventure
  • flexibility
  • grace
  • good attitude
  • effort
  • love
  • faith

I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have those essentials along with me. Above all, traveling throughout life without faith would really impact my journey. I just can’t imagine where I would be without knowing Jesus and God’s promises!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9 NIV]

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11 NIV]

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV]

 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 8:28 NIV]

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]

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 through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. [Romans 8:26-17 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

Photo credits to my sweet friend, Annette, who would be a blast to travel with!

Old Doors and New Views

 

olddoorwsSometimes we don’t notice the things around us until we see them in a different context or from a new vantage point. How we see things and what we see are very dependent on where we are at the moment and where we are looking. Knowing that about ourselves is important.

When it comes to matters of life and faith, it is important to have a few solid Christians to talk with and get their perspective on tricky matters. We might not be able to see our options. We might not be able to understand how someone we care about could make such terrible choices. We might be unwilling to consider a different perspective on a matter without the help of someone we trust to show us another way of looking at things. We can benefit from one another’s life experiences and perspective, particularly if we are navigating through a difficult time.

It is even more important to consider God’s perspective through His Word and through a healthy, trained pastor. 

Sometimes the very things that have been around us for many years have been overlooked because they have always just been a part of the picture. As you travel through life, look around. Look up. Look down. Take time to absorb where you are. Be open to seeing situations from a different point of view.

Ask God to give you fresh eyes for your circumstances.

And if you chose a verse to ponder, I would love to see it!

On the Road,

Liz

People Watching…People Praying…

I love people!

I have always been fascinated by the variety in people–hair and skin color, sizes and shapes but I also love (and sometimes hate) the dynamics in relationships and what makes people tick and personalities and where they have been and where they are going! It seems to be easier to observe the sheer variety of people here in New York because I feel pretty anonymous and pretty average. Grand Central Station is a great place to people watch but so is the train, the subway, the doctor’s office, the coffee shop. And, to be honest, when someone looks or behaves in an interesting way, most people have a tendency to take note. I think that is the point behind out-standing looks or behavior ~ the desire to be seen.

Do you ever find yourself wondering about everyone’s story? Or is it just me?

I am one of those people that tries to give people the benefit of the doubt and that is much easier to do when I am in a good space. I really have no clue what most people have been through and why certain things affect people in so many different ways. I only truly know me and what goes on in my brain when I am making a decision.

And sometimes I clearly was not thinking when I made some wild decisions but that is a post for another day.

When I have a moment to observe and ponder, I often pray. I pray that God blesses, comforts, and provides for that person and meets them at their need. I pray God brings people into their lives that are encouraging and uplifting and supportive. I pray for the people in their lives. I pray that God reveals Himself to them through the gift of Faith.

Next time you are out and about, there might be someone like me near you. And if they are anything like me, they will wonder about your life and what brought you here to this moment and how this journey is going for you…

They might wonder about the hard places you have been and wondered what brings refreshment to your soul and if you have someone you can call when life is hard…

If everyone picked out a “stranger” to pray for just think how it might change their perspective towards them. That really frustrating person in line might have a back story no one could even possibly imagine, let alone live through. Sometimes it is easier to pray for someone we know less about because their questionable behavior doesn’t affect us quite so personally and the disconnect provides us with a perspective and a patience. And might I offer that there are plenty of people in the world that no one is praying for…of course, we don’t know who those people are but it stands to reason that not everyone has someone praying for them.

If all the People Watching were People Praying what a kind of place would the world be?

Hungarian Soup

Hungarian Soup

The other day I had some soup bones I needed to use up and so I decided to make Hungarian soup. The Hungarians make many different soups so to call this one item ‘Hungarian soup’ is kind of crazy but that is what it affectionately came to be known as in my family when I was growing up.

Naturally, I was thinking about all the tips and tricks my mom would mention as she was cooking the soup and I tried to execute it in a similar fashion. I felt pretty good about it but my kids like heartier, thicker soups so they were questioning how they were supposed to eat it (the carrots and potatoes were whole) and it wasn’t as satisfying to them.

There are times when something that is meaningful to you isn’t as meaningful to someone else. I don’t think it diminishes the value, but it does make it harder to create or enjoy something when others don’t really appreciate the effort. And yet, it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t make the effort.

Maybe you find yourself trying to share meaningful events during the church year with your children and they seem or state they are uninterested. Don’t lose heart. Some things are worth the effort. You likely have a connection to children in your life so take advantage of the opportunity you have to share with them. There are many ways they will catch on to the things of God without you delivering a 20 minute sermon. Let them see how you live and walk in faith. And while they may not adopt every practice you introduce to them, it is worth the effort to share with them. Their faith walk may look a little different from yours but that is ok.

When I have grandchildren, I will start them on this soup when they are young so they are used to it and grow to love it as much as I do!

Is it Spring yet?

We have had a bit of a taste of beautiful weather in southern Indiana the last couple of days and it is a welcome reprieve to our winter, in my opinion. There are some seasons that last a bit too long for me. Maybe it is the cold, maybe it is the requirement of bundling up, maybe it is the shorter days or lack of sunshine, maybe I am just getting old but after about eight weeks of winter, I am done.

I have noticed my faith seems to have seasons, as well. Does yours? Sometimes it is obvious the Holy Spirit is growing in me a deeper understanding and trust of God.  Other times I feel as though I am resting in His grace and basking in His love. And still other times are situations of harvest.

And then those times when it appears not much is happening.

It could be I am distracted, depressed, disturbed, or disconnected from God and the body of believers. It could be that I am smack in the middle of a season of rebelliousness and unconfessed sin.

Sin always drives a wedge between us and God. Sin causes growth to stop and eventually we find we are a branch that dries up, a faith that almost withers away.

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1: 1-3

Lord, help me to be connected to you. When my faith seems to be withering, keep me accountable as well as encouraged to move forward by putting my trust in You!

The end of the season