Perspective

Where I have been can inform me about where I am going. Of course, it isn’t always a sure thing. And that is a good thing.

If I come from a place of pain and I don’t process it properly, I might look for and anticipate pain in all parts of my life. If I come from a place of safety and security, my discernment might not be developed enough to perceive danger. Of course, personality tendencies play a role here, too. We all know a Tigger-type personality. And, we all know those who view the world like Eeyore does.

Oh bother!

Focusing on the negatives typically produces more negative. Experiences, both good and bad, leave their marks on us. How we process them is important. Those negative situations in my life can trip me up so keeping my mind and heart focused on God’s Word helps me be oriented!

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. [Philippians 4:8-9, NIV]

This will be a two-part PrayerPoint because we will be at the Grand Canyon later on today and I am sure it will provide some further insight.

PrayerPrompt: PERSPECTIVE

Forgiveness

I opened my mouth the other day and something really ungracious came out. I realized it immediately and reminded myself, also out loud, that God’s grace for me has been unending. I, too, have behaved in ugly, hurtful ways and yet, He loves me. I need to extend that grace.

Sometimes my memory isn’t the greatest, but when I have been wronged, my memory is amazing. I can remember the circumstances, the emotions, the damage. It can put me on a sad path. Surely others I have known over my lifetime can remember my hurtful and selfish behavior that has impacted them. Maybe I am even someone they need to re-forgive on a regular basis.

In my ungracious moments, I need to remember that I took this situation to God and I gave it to Him. I asked him to help me see that person as broken, in need of forgiveness, and to help me not get stuck in a cycle of anger and resentment over the circumstances. I may have already walked through the process of forgiveness but some vestiges have hung on. I need to loosen the grip of my justification for my anger and forgive again.

The trouble is, these are some of the things I don’t seem to forget.  Remembering and walking through the steps of forgiveness and God’s provision in the process help me remember that I, too, have hurt others deeply and it keeps me honest about my own need for forgiveness. Every day I need to be reminded that I need of a Savior washed clean by Baptismal grace.

I am not proud of my ugly moments, but they serve a greater purpose. My mouth speaks what my heart is holding onto. And it is important for God’s Word to shine in my heart and change me, and my responses.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. [Matthew 12:34b-35, NIV]

An interesting thought from author Seth Godin today:

You made my day

When your day gets made, how long does it last? A made day–is that different from a normal day?

Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a made hour or, if we’re going to be quite truthful, a made minute.

When something bad happens, we can revisit the humiliation and anxiety for months. But the good stuff, if we don’t work at it, can pass right by.

We get what we remember, and we remember what we focus on.

May God bless you as you come to terms with your own sin and forgiveness as you process unforgiveness you may harbor against others!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TIME

Fear

Fear can make us do some crazy things. And sometimes we pass our fearfulness onto others.

A long time ago, I had a friend who was a mom of five kids. When she was a young girl, some mean boy threw a cat on her and the cat (who was afraid itself) scratched her terribly. From that day on, she feared cats. And her five kids also feared cats because they had heard the story and they knew their mom was afraid of cats. Of course, what happened to her was scary and painful and very impressionable because she was young. But she never processed this fear, even as she was older. And she passed it on to her kids.

Scripture talks a lot about fear. God knows we fight it on a regular basis. Sometimes fear can be “catchy” and shared with others, unsuspectingly. But fears can also be paralyzing. Working through fears is important. I spent a lot of time “fearing” that Don, my husband, would die young – his father did and my father did. I could still function throughout the day but when I got to thinking, I did stress and worry about it. For nothing. It was a story I told myself based on what might seem logical (family history) and wrapped up in a lot of emotion.

What are you afraid of?

If we have a debilitating fear, it is a good thing to visit with a healthy counselor and explore it. But the first thing we need is a bit of awareness. Self reflection can help shed some light on what fears we have, if any, and maybe a little bit about the why behind it. Writing some things down might also help break the “spell” of a fear. I have also talked to a trusted friend and ask for their thoughts. In addition to these things, I pray for God to calm my spirit and my heart. He knows what leads me to a place of fearfulness but focusing on His truths and provisions help me to not get stuck there.

17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. [1 John 4:17-19 NIV]

Blessings to you as you explore “fears”.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: SERVING OTHERS

Renewing my mind

Window Flowers w
Flowers in Hungary

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  [Romans 12:1-2a NIV]

Even though Eccelsiastes 1:9 tells us “there is nothing new under the sun” I am seeing some things I didn’t imagine I would see in my lifetime. I know that makes me sound like an old person. I don’t feel old but I am saddened and shocked by some of the ugliness I see these days. There has always been ugly behavior and I can’t focus on it because I will get disoriented and discouraged. The patterns of this world are sad.

I am in control of what my mind feasts on. If I am looking for the ugliness, I will surely find it. And if I am looking for the beauty, I will surely find that too. I believe we will find what we look for. That critical person you know who is always looking for the wrong in the world? They will surely find it. The person who hunts for the good in every person? They will surely find what they are looking for.

If I am going to get caught dwelling, let me dwell in positive and encouraging worlds and stories and with positive and encouraging people.  Some of my spots for encouragement and beauty are:

  • God’s Word
  • Nature
  • Art
  • Music
  • Family
  • Good friends
  • Heartwarming stories of love, sacrifice, and perseverance

Where do you look for beauty?

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 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

Road Conditions

fogw
This was a great road, except for the fog.

Anytime I travel somewhere, I notice whether the roads are new, renewed, or in need of repairing.

If I am in a vehicle that has bad shocks and I am on a bad road, well, it can be an unpleasant experience. But set me on a well-maintained or new road with a well-maintained car and the trip might be pretty smooth. Of course, weather plays a role. On our recent trip we traveled through fog, rain, sleet, snow, and icy conditions. We also watched cars swerve, travel too fast or too slow, and many drivers just not paying attention. I am often doing more than simply driving when I am in the car; sometimes I am snacking or singing or even just thinking. When I think about it, there are so many factors that play into a safe and enjoyable road trip. Some of those factors have little to do with me while others are definitely in my control.

  • Do I do regular maintenance on my vehicle?
  • Do I know where I am headed?
  • Do I have my travel plans mapped out?
  • Am I prepared for weather challenges?
  • Have I factored in other delays?
  • Do I have resources for an emergency?
  • Do I have enough fuel (for both me and the vehicle) for the trip?
  • Am I rested?

I can feel I am as prepared as I can be but there are always outside factors that can make an impact. Put a well-maintained vehicle on a terrible road and in bad weather conditions and it is still going to be an unpleasant trip.

But if I can remain calm and steady, it definitely helps.

Life seems like that too.

The outside conditions can change – and do – frequently. What I have control of is my response and an accurate sense of my own “condition”.

  • Am I rooted in God’s Word?
  • Am I grounded in God’s spiritual truths?
  • Am I aware of His love for me (and others)?
  • Have I watched Him give me His grace and His perspective on difficult things I have experienced previously?
  • Do I adjust my course when I see myself headed down a dangerous path filled with temptations to sin?

As I was reading Ephesians 3 today, this was one of the verses stood out for me:

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16-17a

When God’s Spirit is strengthening my inner being, I can deal with quite a bit of junk. How I respond to circumstances can be evidence for His work on my inner being. I can definitely tell where I am rooted by the way I respond to circumstances.

Have you had your own response to a situation that was evidence of God’s work on your inner being?

When I have a response that defies human understanding, I know it is God working on my heart because apart from him, I cannot do it!

On the Road,

Liz