Vision

Have you ever read the book of Daniel? That was a man who had many visions and was known for his wisdom and intelligence. His specialty? Dream interpretation.

I don’t think there is anyone alive today who has Daniel’s reputation. We have the concept of “vision” although it takes on a different meaning outside of Scripture. Daniel’s visions seem unlike those of any other.

We can think about our future with wisdom and discernment – even if all we see is difficulties around us. Sometimes what we see can give us an opportunity to envision something better, something that helps us not focus so much on our circumstances but to contribute to a greater good. Many people have been encouraged to fight some level of devastation or need by creating a platform for others in a similar situation to feel support and connection and learn how to cope with or prevent something. These types of visions can help us transcend our immediate circumstance and infuse us with hope.

Check out the sweet family behind Fritz & Friends. What a beautiful example of a family taking their own experience with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and creating a space for others to learn about it and create a support network for others. During difficult times, holding on to faith in God and His bigger picture and the hope we have in Him is so important. This world is full of difficult circumstances. Each of us has had challenging life situations at one time or another but clinging to God’s mercy and grace is what makes any situation bearable.

I am thankful God can knit together our past and present experiences, our strengths and inclinations and move us into action. It helps us sort things out and make some sense of it. And it can help us share God’s hope with others!

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. [Psalm 62:5-6, NIV]

My your soul find rest in Him!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: CONTEMPLATION

Desolate

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Some “barren land” in Picacho, New Mexico.

We have been on the road for the last five days (Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Phoenix) and we have driven through quite a variety of terrain and weather conditions. Some of the places were quite sparse. As we drove quickly by, it didn’t look like there was too much life out there but a good naturalist will let you know that indeed there is, even if there doesn’t appear that way.

And I got to thinking, sometimes we look at someone’s life (maybe our own) and we think there isn’t anything of value there. From the outset there seems to be not too much life, but we never really know what is going on in the heart.

I am one that has a tendency towards “hope”. If I lose something, I am hopeful to find it and if I am surrounded by situations that aren’t great, I am looking for hope to hold onto. So even as I look at this picture and it’s lack of color and seeming lack of life, I know better. I know there are things going on “behind the scenes”.

I am thankful for all the times that God has worked on my heart even when I didn’t know or understand it. How He has given me life and purpose even if it appears there is little life on the surface.

There are seasons that look desolate, but God is always working, shaping, encouraging, and tending to my soul.

We may look at someone and decide they are flourishing the way God wants them to by all outward appearances, but we may be completely wrong. So let’s not make a judgement either way — truly, only God knows the heart.

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV]

So don’t let appearing “all together” be your goal. Let God work on your heart and things will flow from there.

Heart work is hard work!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: IDENTITY

Shelter

Sometimes we hear the tornado warning sirens and we know it is time to take shelter and seek a safe place to be. But there are other times in life it might not be so obvious that we are in danger. Maybe we are too innocent to understand the situation. Maybe we are too deep in some mucky stuff. Or we don’t know where a safe place is. Maybe we stumble someplace for shelter and it is really just a place where the vulnerable are preyed upon. And there we are, again; it seems we are in a hopeless place.

_______________________________________________________________

Good shelter, even if it is temporary, can give someone hope. In my mind, shelter isn’t just a physical structure, it is also a mental or spiritual place that provides respite, encouragement, or some level of peace and calm so the heart and mind can think and make a plan. It may provide food as well as food for thought.

A place to be heard.

A place to be cared for.

A place to be renewed and strengthened for the days ahead.

Where do you seek your shelter from these busy days? Do you have a place you like to dwell when you need a break from this complicated life?

For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock. [Psalm 27:5, NIV]

May God enlarge your view of shelter!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: FORGIVENESS

Disappointment

There are many things to be disappointed about in this life. We are set up to strive for “more” with all of the promotions and ads and marketing that bombards us every day. We often chase after things, people, positions, experiences, or degrees hoping they will bring us happiness and are surprised when, after we achieve it we are still feeling disappointment.

Or maybe we have experienced disease, death of loved ones, and other things that occurred through no fault of our own and now we are left to deal with daily reminders of that loss. Life can be so hard.

What is our response when things don’t turn out according to plan? Where do we turn? Who can understand? How can our heart and mind accept the situation and move forward?

It is important to allow ourselves time to adjust to the new circumstances, of course. And that time of grieving and the process of grieving looks different with every person. Talking to a friend or counselor or pastor can be helpful. I also like to pour out my heart to God and ask for His peace and patience while I navigate through the “new path” that He is allowing me to travel. It may not be what I would have chosen but it can have beauty and peace all the same.

Sometimes I need to adjust the way I view my circumstances.

Instead of asking “What is going on here?” or “What am I doing here?” I can ask,

“God, what are You doing here?”

“God, open my eyes to see what You want me to do or see here.”

I don’t want to suffer or endure difficulties but those things can strengthen me if I am looking to Jesus for His strength and perspective. That strength not only allows me to endure future disappointments (because they will continue coming) but to be a source of encouragement to others. There are others who are also suffering and enduring difficulties and, sometimes, the only way for me to see those needs and share the Love and Mercy of God is to be in those hard places. I don’t love to be in “hard places” but I know God is there.

And He wants to be my Rock.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. {Romans 5:1-5, RSV]

May God bless you as you work through your disappointments!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TREASURES

Dwelling Places

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Another incredible view in Transylvania

Why am I here? …And why are you there?

Yea, yea, yea….some of it may have to do with the choices we made and all that, but sometimes we have done some of the exact same things and yet one of us is living out some challenging consequences and the other is not.

Sometimes where we are has nothing to do with our own choices. In fact, many times it has nothing to do with what we have done. We might experience the benefit or the consequence of someone else’s doing.

We didn’t choose the family or circumstances we were born into nor did we choose our ethnicity or our race. We had no choice about whether we were born into poverty or crazy wealth or a barely functioning family. We didn’t even choose the country we were born in.

And yet all these factors play into our early years, which, in turn, can create a path for our lives.

Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair.

Some “advantages” aren’t actually advantages but it takes some time to sort that out. And sometimes what we think we see isn’t accurate at all… our own perspectives are often skewed.

Good deeds go unrecognized. Bad behavior appears to be rewarded. Illness doesn’t care if you have the sweetest heart or the most meager of bank accounts or even if you live in a remote village, away from any modern medical services.

I can’t dwell there.

Loss and death and disease are universal and trusting in God’s provision and comfort is the only way I survive. Sharing God’s love and compassion in practical ways is one of the ways I cope and move forward in a positive direction. If I think too much about the injustices of life on Earth without a plan to give and serve, I dwell. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by your situation, I have included some Bible verses that are good to memorize. If you are going to dwell anywhere, God’s Word is the place to do it:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Tear Down

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A castle in ruins 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.


If you have ever done any home remodeling you know that there are times things need to be torn down or ripped out. Sometimes it is due to an invasive species (termites) or a natural disaster (flooding or tornado) and sometimes it is due to poor workmanship. Othertimes there is a change of vision and to make the change, things cannot stay as they are.

Have you ever invested your energy into something and found that the idea needs to be scrapped? Maybe it was an educational path or a relationship or a traveling itinerary. Sometimes you have to go back to the core of a structure, the core of who you are, or to the core of who God is and start again.

Did the builder stray from the original plan?

Have I surrendered some core beliefs?

Have I taken some liberty with God’s promises and met a crushing blow?

It is important to peel back the layers to see the original blueprint and evaluate whether the foundation is on solid ground. When I look at my circumstances and it seems hopeless and I am trembling, somewhere along the line I am sure I have shifted where my hope lies. I have added to the structure of God’s Word and promise and added in some “shaky ground”.

Have you found this to be true? We are only human, after all. It is so easy to be caught up in how things might look and if I do this then that should happen.

We live in a broken world there is death, disappointment, and disease. Sometimes we receive news that is devastating. Revisiting God’s promises and God’s character helps me regain His perspective and gives me fresh eyes to see my circumstances. And it gives me hope.

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn #370
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 1:1
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834, cento
Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr.
Tune: “Magdalen”

On the Way!

Liz

A Hope

mansmindwI am not a big planner but I can appreciate one. I have learned how to plan over time but it won’t ever be a natural part of my constitution. I am sure one can analyze my early years to come up with a theory but I naturally just try to go with the flow. It is possible I learned along the way not to hold tight to plans or expectations. Yet I still vacillate between being disappointed things aren’t how I imagined they would be or wildly blessed that an experience has far exceeded my expectations. While I have much less control over things that happen to me than I might like I can ALWAYS control my response.

There are times we might carefully plan things and there are times we wing it. Both approaches have their place. The person who loves to plan and follow it gains great fulfillment when it comes together perfectly. The person who can pull it together at the last minute or go with the flow and enjoy the ride can also find great satisfaction. Knowing which approach to have in the variety of life’s circumstances takes practice but being able to develop a plan and then be content when it doesn’t work out is an act of faith. How we respond is so very important.

I rest my heart on Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declare the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Throughout the course of my life there have been things that have not made sense at the moment but became clear as time moved along. I do completely trust God and the things He has allowed in my life because I have watched Him work things out.

He always works it out!

Even as we look to these heavy days prior to Resurrection Sunday, we see God working out His plan for humanity.

He gives us hope for the future!

On the Road,

Liz

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