The Gift of Time

It’s a new day, a new week, and a new plan for us. We are getting closer to our new normal as our youngest two moved back to their apartment. All of the activities we carefully made for this year are in the circular file and we are back at the drawing table.

For those of you who, like me, are experiencing a schedule that looks something like the wide open west, this is a unique opportunity to look over your schedule. As you look to planning the next month or so, an important clue is to think about what you are longing for — what have you missed during this time of restriction? What are the things that are you are relieved are off the table?

So many of our days are outlined by things we have to do and that is definitely a part of living life here on Earth. But, we do have a lot of choices in our day and today is a great day to invest in a relationship that you value. Reach out! Make a connection. Send a card. Make a phone call.

For those of you who are juggling so much that you are exhausted and you collapse in bed every night, better days are on the way. Hang tight. Reach out for help. And, hopefully, you are experiencing some positive things along the way.

Resting in His Grace,
Liz

You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

“Separated…

Until the veil was torn….”

“Light of the World by darkness slain.”

It’s a beautiful day here in southern Indiana. It is a good day.

It is Good Friday.

And we are headed into the Easter weekend on Day 20 or so of restricted activity. I actually stopped counting because keeping track is just a bit much for me.

And while I am separated from some of the ones I love, I am pretty thankful for the extra time I get with the others I don’t see on a regular basis. Our two youngest have been staying with us for the last three weeks and it has been a good thing for all of us!

So, while I am separated from some of those I love, I haven’t been separated from all of them.

And I wonder if that is a bit of how God feels….

The sadness of not being a part of the lives of some of His Creation…

The longing to have them recognize His great love for them…

The burden for them and the pains and losses they have endured…

The desire to help them…

The hope of the day that they will come to know Him…

The delight in the relationships He does have…

Each person is unique… each one important… each one loved… even if they don’t realize it!

Below are two songs. Enjoy them. Rest in His grace and hope. The world is changing and we are here to witness it. How we share God’s love and grace is important but how we understand it on a personal level is essential.

Go forth in God’s love and grace!

All of Creation ~ MercyMe

In Christ Alone

As with Gladness Men of Old

by William C. Dix, 1837-1898

1 As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led by Thee.

2 As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to Thy lowly bed,
There to bend the knee before
Thee, whom heav’n and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

3 As they offered gifts most rare
At Thy cradle, rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,

Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.

4 Holy Jesus, ev’ry day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

5 In the heav’nly country bright
Need they no created light;
Thou its light, its joy, its crown,
Thou its sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King.

Scripture references: Matthew 2:1-11; Isaiah 60:19; Revelation 21:23

We are in the season of Epiphany!

Who is leading your way into this New Year?

So, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led by Thee.

I know that God is leading — that isn’t a problem for me. My challenge is in the following — am I truly willing to be led?

Sometimes I am waiting for the perfect moment. When life is comfortable. The time when it works for me and feels right and good. Sometimes I have to run out of my own ideas and finally be desperate enough to challenge my own thoughts and ways in order to surrender myself to His service. I hate to admit that, but it is true.

Being led is so hard — especially when you have your own ideas on how things should go.

Following God isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun. It may take me places that I am not quite sure that I want to be. Who wants to be in the middle of hard? Who wants to be in the midst of pain?

But being led by a gracious Lord means that there is grace along the way. It is important for me to remember that and re-remember that!

Lord, thank you for graciously and lovingly leading me. Give me a heart that is willing to be led by You. Amen.

For your consideration: Write out or print out these verses for contemplation this week. You might find that each day there is something different that resonates with you. If you play piano and you have a hymnal, play the song. Do you love to draw? Sketch out one of the images described. You can also check out the Scripture references. Or even dig into the details on the author. There are a lot of ways to make connections with the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs I will be posting in a way that deepens your understanding and connection with God’s love and provision for you. I love that God created us each with different interests, skills, and abilities — enjoy exploring yours!

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-two

Hello Friend!

Each and every day we have many opportunities to be kind to those around us: we can open a door, allow a vehicle to merge without expressing annoyance, anticipate and meet a need.

Do we do kind deeds for a positive response or do we do a kind deed for the sake of being kind? It is worth thinking about. I think of kindness more as something for others even though it is one of those things that is a little bit for me too. I need to be more kind. It is good for me to give, even if I am not thrilled in the moment. But, most of the time, I like humanity and people and I don’t mind being kind.

Someone I know recently opened a door at a convenience store for a stranger whose hands were full. The stranger did not respond with a “thank you”. It would have been polite but it didn’t happen.

Sometimes I don’t even notice when someone is being kind to me because I am in my own little world!

The person who opened the door was annoyed at the lack of expected appreciation and snidely commented, “Well, you are welcome!” This lead to a few tense and explicit exchanges in the store in front of who knows how many people.

Folks, before we do something “kind”, let’s consider our motivation and expectations. While recognition for a kindness extended might be nice it is far better to offer it with no strings attached. It might go unnoticed and unappreciated. That’s can be okay. In doesn’t mean the kindness didn’t happen: it simply wasn’t acknowledged. When we do a kind deed for someone we don’t know, we really have no idea what is going on in their lives. I find it easier to not have expectations.

But for those people I do know? I admit, sometimes I do have expectations when I do something kind. But how often do I not even recognize or respond to a kindness extended to me. I think it is more often than I realize. I am often wrapped up in my own concerns. And to think I know what is really going on in lives of others. Do I really? I have a lot of things going on in my heart and mind that I don’t share all the time so I am sure the people I know also have things they have going on in their family and friend circle, with their health, with their faith….

The point is that it is good to consider our motivation when giving. If it is a gift, there should be no strings attached. Extending grace through words or deeds is a huge kindness that might not even be recognized until much later (if ever) but is a beautiful gift to give anyway.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

Love,
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

Inside/Outside

As we look to the empty tomb we are confident of God’s work in and through our lives. We are on the inside — receiving and thankful for His gifts.

But are hearts are heavy for those who insist on remaining on the outside. They are skeptical, hurt, angry, confused. They have had some difficult things to live through and they don’t trust or believe in Jesus. We may not understand their perspective but we pray for them. We all know and love those who have rejected God’s gift of grace.

And there are others who don’t know at all. They have not heard about the Jesus we know. Even though the heavens do declare, it is important for us to also proclaim our faith in a way that opens doors for conversation. Jesus died for all.

May we be loving to all — those on the inside the walls of faith as well as those who have stepped away or truly have never known Jesus. We don’t know the whole story. Our love and compassion can make an amazing difference in how they view God.

May we love generously with the love that has been given to us!

He is Risen!

He is Risen, Indeed!

Alleluia!

Historical & Personal

It isn’t too often an event that happened 2000 years ago has such an impact on our lives today as the events of Holy Week does.

It’s life and death…..and then life again.

Each year we walk through these steps and remember. We see re-enactments and we attend church services and we review the course of events of this week. We see ourselves as the

  • betrayer,
  • sleepy disciples in the garden,
  • denier,
  • grieving mother,
  • curious observers,
  • chief priests and elders,
  • governer’s soldiers,
  • thieves on the cross.

What Jesus endured seems unfair and unimaginable. His suffering is almost incomprehensible. And God’s provision for our eternal life, through Jesus, is inconceivable.

But the course of events is the only way to

  • be forgiven for our many sins.
  • know the depth of God’s love for us.
  • be renewed in His mercy.
  • be saved by His grace.

Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection is the only way for our guilt and shame to be taken away.

PrayerPrompt: WOUNDS & SCARS