Eyes on Him

Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus helps keep me steady. Knowing that He goes before me and hems me in gives me peace on the path.

If I focus on the ugly and let it suck me in and under, I will soon be gasping under the weight of oppression and the discouragement of defeat. Lord knows, there is ugliness. We have all been in it. But to focus on it is where the mistake is. God’s beauty and light can turn ugliness and darkness upside down and inside out.

Not focusing on the ugly is not the same as ignoring it. We can be in the thick of something ugly and also see God’s pure and beautiful, redeeming grace. Eyes on Jesus is not about pretending the darkness isn’t around us. It is about looking for where God is and where He is working. When I see Him at work then I know that is the place to be. Things might not be pretty at that point but there will certainly be glimpses of beauty, hope, and restoration.

May we fix our eyes on Jesus!

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8 (New International Version)

Lazy Days

Back in January I was thinking that things had become a little too busy. Of course, November – Mid January is an incredibly busy time for our business. And we had a short reprieve in February and then we started to move into the busy Hungarian festival season. And then add two tours to Hungary in the mix. I was wondering how I was going to pull it off and still stay sane. Don’t get me wrong — I love what we do. I love the opportunity to be innovative and responsive to the needs of the people who care about their Hungarian heritage. I love creating. I love to help people connect to their Hungarian roots in a variety of ways.

I also like time to think and process and plan. I am fairly introverted, too. And, we also have the blessing of living near our two grandchildren — we want to see them as much as we can.

There has been some stress as well as financial readjustments and reorganization of plans due to the current Coronavirus situation. But, I am welcoming these “lazy days”. Of course, I don’t really feel like we are being lazy, we are processing at a much slower pace than we typically do and it has been refreshing. This crazy pause in life and business has given me a greater freedom to think and dream and plan without constant interruptions.

My salvation gives me peace in the midst of the turmoil. I have also found rest.

I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future. God is steady. He is my Rock.

Have you found a new perspective in the last six months? Have you been able to find joy in something new? Have you been able to find new pathways to rest?

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Psalm 62:1 New International Version

Crushing Blows

You know those situations that are so devastating they take your breath away?

When you wonder “Where are You, God?”

And you are in a space for a long while before you can move even the tiniest step forward.

God is with you there. And He will be with you in each step as you gain your footing and get re-oriented. It all takes time and tears. I hate that this life, which was perfectly perfect by design, is has heartache. But we are not in Heaven. There are beautiful things here and they look even more beautiful against the pain and sin that we also experience.

God knows your pain. God loves you. Sometimes we are in a place where it is just God and us.

Lord, when I am in the place when everything and everyone is stripped away, let me have the faith and trust in you that you are enough. Amen.

Aligning

I am one of those people who can hear different perspectives on situations. I can be empathetic and see the why behind the what — and those whys only serve as explanations, not excuses.

Being empathetic can be exhausting, particularly when I am being asked to choose a side and take a stand. If I am asked to align myself with someone or a position, you can bet that I will be taking a close look at it and praying about it. And, sometimes, that takes time.

I can love people. My heart can be broken for people. But to align with them means we need to be on the same page. Unfortunately, a lot of times we aren’t even in the same book, let alone on the same page. I will not try to prove I care about a situation by surrendering my beliefs. I do care, but if I need to take action, it needs to be in line with what I believe.

Aligning my heart and behavior with God is a lifetime pursuit. Sometimes I am simply terrible at it. I mainly need to not rely on my own strength for change but on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. And I need to pray for the willing spirit to follow God’s lead to those places where I would not have wanted to go on my own. Whatever He has for me to do comes out of His work in my heart. His work has been going on for 50+ years and He clearly is not done yet. I will be a work in progress until I die, and then I will be at peace!

The closer I am aligned to God, the easier it is to see His work around me. Of course, I can choose to not participate but then that tells me that I am not terribly closely aligned with Him. Walking with God changes my heart to be more like His.

If you are in the midst of a relationship challenge, don’t underestimate the power of God to change the hearts of all parties involved. Pray for the one you are at odds with for 30 days. Start out slow and ask God to bless that person. Then, as the days go by, deepen what you pray for and ask God to bless that person in a variety of ways. Find Scriptural prayers to pray for that person, but you don’t have to mention it to them. Let it be a time between you and God.

This is a great way for God to align your heart with His!

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

 

 

S-t-r-e-t-c-h!

If I haven’t done the work, I won’t be ready.

Don’t worry, I don’t think my salvation depends on the things I do. It absolutely does not. But, since I am in a relationship with God, communication is important. Stepping out in faith is a part of the package and sometimes it is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

Stretching helps me be ready for what is next.

Recently, I tried to do something I have done many times before. This time, however, it took a lot more effort than I care to admit. What happened in the time between when I last did this activity and now? Plenty of nothing.

And just like that, I wasn’t ready for what I wanted to do.

It was discouraging and maddening. And a not-so-gentle reminder of how abilities can disintegrate when not used on a regular basis. It feels like I am starting over.

Of course, life is about starting over — a lot!

And it seems like faith works the same way. I have my core faith. My baptism promise. My confidence in God’s ongoing work in my heart and life. And when I abide in Him, my roots stretch and grow. When I don’t, I can’t expect to have a rich relationship. God always meets me where I am and patiently waits for me. But life will always put demands on me. I would much rather be stretched and molded into God’s perspective so I can choose to respond in a Godly way to the circumstances around me. I want to be sensitive to His guidance and leading and ready to do the next thing. If I always have to stop and start from square one, I won’t be in spiritual shape for what is next.

Naturally, God is there, ready for me. It doesn’t matter if I am two steps forward or ten steps behind. My story is His-story so He uses all of it and redeems it all.

His love brings about my response. Allowing Him to grow my faith and trust is a part of the process!

Even though Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians, it reminds us that growing in faith increases or capacity for other things.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

God’s blessings on your week!
Liz

Redeeming grace

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. *

In a world (and sometimes my heart) where resentment, discontent, anger, frustration, and ugly attitudes can abound, redeeming grace is an amazing gift that soothes my soul.

He redeems, renews, and refreshes …. God does it and then does it again.

and again and again.

God’s well does not run dry. He sent Jesus to restore, renew, redeem, remove, reveal, renovate, refresh, repair, reclaim, and replenish.

Some days I feel like I am a full time job for God! Of course, He is bigger than me and my flailings. He holds onto me while I argue and complain. He restores my soul. His redeeming grace is steadfast and true.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

In cloud and majesty and awe

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

I love reading the Old Testament. God’s patience with His people is abundant. If I was in a place to see some of the kind of activity He showed in the time of Moses, I surely would have been in awe at His majesty. But I particularly intrigued by how God moved His people with the pillars of cloud.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. [Exodus 13:21 ESV]

I am often in awe of the work that God does. And when I am still long enough to consider it all, His majesty comes through loud and clear. His ability to create, resurrect, release, and redeem can overwhelm me because I have seen it in my own life.

But those clouds —

I could benefit from seeing them. Sometimes seeing a very direct message or path is helpful. But, God probably knows it is better for me not to have such direct instruction. When I am seeking Him daily, my days go better. My life may not be smoother but I am more at peace. Even in the midst of some chaos, God calms my heart and gently leads me in the way I should go. With my eyes on Him, my direction is in His direction.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

The Essentials

I have been traveling quite a bit the last few years and I love exploring and learning about the world around me. But that also means I have to pack and unpack a lot. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget the “essentials”.

My essentials change from time to time. That seems weird to say but, depending on my hair situation, I either need mousse or gel. And, recently, I have taken to wearing a hat when I plan to shower a little later in the day. I guess you can say that some of my essentials are seasonal, at least for traveling.

But my core essentials — the things that make me me — continue to make their presence known. These are the elements of me that are difficult for me to suppress. Try as I might, they sort of erupt and are undeniable. It’s almost as if God said, “These are the foundational elements to Liz and watch me as I grow them and use them through the course of her life!”

Writing has always been, and continues to be, an important part of my life. While I still like the physical act of putting pen to paper, these days I do most of my writing on the computer. How I write as well as how consistently I write has changed and adapted with the tools available to me. I even utilize old envelopes and scribble all kinds of ideas on them! That will never change.

Listening to others is a part of my core. I even considered being a counselor at one point. Most often, people just need to know they have been heard. I have a lot to learn from others — and they don’t always share it verbally!

Encouraging others is also important me. I think providing consolation, comfort, and inspiration is sorely lacking in today’s world. The way people can talk to one another, especially when they are not face-to-face, astounds me. I make every effort to love people where the are, give them encouragement for forward progress if that is what they are looking for, and I pray for them. I can’t be the one to do what they need to do but I can pray for them as they take the next step.

Sharing my faith is one of those things that I cannot, nor do I want, to squelch. I certainly consider the receptivity of those around me and am open to where and how the conversation goes. I am called to share my faith. But this faith stuff is entirely God’s business. God’s work in my life is amazing. The details He has covered before I even knew they needed to be addressed, the opportunities He has created out of ugly situations, the gift of Jesus, the comfort and conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the forgiveness of my sins — my ugly and selfish sins. Sharing my faith is about what God has done for me but also what He has done for the sea of humanity. The sharing of my faith isn’t always through words.

What are your essentials — those core elements God has been developing in you over the course of your life?

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-one

Hello Friend!

Are you frustrated with people who don’t seem to care about people? Let’s talk about loving our neighbor and who that person might be.

Step out of where you live and look straight ahead and to your left and your right. Presto bingo! You probably have neighbors — even if you live on a farm in the middle of a big plot of land, you have neighbors. We all do! Start there.

Now, let’s look around at the people who are nearby and involved in our day-to-day lives. That is what I picture when I think of the word neighbor. But that list can expand to co-workers, the people we volunteer next to or go to church with. The coffee barista, the server, the salespeople we encounter during the week. These folks are our neighbors.

When I was growing up in Ohio, we were on a space of land that didn’t have immediate neighbors around the house like I think of a traditional neighborhood. I had always wished we did. When we lived in Nebraska, we lived in a neighborhood that had a yearly block party. That was very new concept to me and I loved it! We had amazing neighbors, some we are still good friends with today!

If you really want to love your neighbor, you can be very literal about it and start with the people across the street or on either side of you. If you live in a duplex or apartment complex, it is probably easier to be annoyed with your neighbors than to love them, but you are called to love. Start somewhere. Take the lead. Maybe you are the one who most recently moved in to your home and would have loved to been welcomed into the neighborhood but weren’t — show love to your neighbors anyway. Sometimes loving means taking the first step in a relationship!

Love your neighbor. You are welcome to expand on the definition of neighbor to include the whole world. That totally works too. Just remember there are a lot of people that need love and grace in this world and they are often right next to you in line, running the cash register, in your office space. As you practice extending love to those you bump into on a regular basis God will surely expand your opportunities to extend love and grace to a greater radius!

If everyone loves their neighbors, the whole world will be a different place!

Love more,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Nineteen

Hello Friend!

The moments of joy float in and out of my day. And sometimes the weight of the world and the day set in and try to steal my capacity for joy. Unfortunately, I can be a reactor to my immediate circumstances instead of looking at the big picture and God’s work in and through all of it.

When I am in the midst of a joy-less moment, I try to remember to think, “Lord, I can’t wait to see what you do with this!” If I don’t dwell on my circumstances and I just keep moving forward, time will pass and I will soon realize that I have made it through the muck and mire to a new place, a place where there is more.

More understanding.

More patience.

More love.

More true joy!

There is no law against it!

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Love,
Liz