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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PrayerPoints ~ Saturday, March 26th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 130

Today we wait and pray but we know Easter is coming. I am always waiting for the good and bad of this life but may my focus be on anticipating what God is doing (and has done) for my eternity!

Here is a collection of Psalm 130:5 in several different translations. Sometimes waiting is the hardest part!

New International Version
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

New Living Translation
I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.

English Standard Version
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

New American Standard Bible 
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.

King James Bible
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I wait for Yahweh; I wait and put my hope in His word. 

International Standard Version
I wait for the LORD; my soul waits, and I will hope in his word.

NET Bible
I rely on the LORD, I rely on him with my whole being; I wait for his assuring word. 

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I have hoped in Lord Jehovah and my soul has waited for his word.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and with hope I wait for his word.

This is NOT What I Expected!

“Hope for the Best. Expect the worst. Life is a play. We’re unrehearsed.” ― Mel Brooks.

It’s funny. You dream of a day, a meal, an experience, a career and it doesn’t turn out the way you expected AT ALL!

Now what?

Sometimes we aim too low on our expectations and we are pleasantly surprised. Other times, and likely much more frequently, we expect too much from something or someone and it doesn’t happen the way we hoped.

Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin!

Expectations can be the death of a relationship (and sometimes that is ok) but a dose of reality is always important.

Take my most recent haircut, for example.

I always agonize when we relocate because it surely means two things: I need to find a new mechanic I can trust and I need to find a new person to cut my hair in a way that looks good on me.

Ugh on both points!

What I was going for....
What I was going for….

I have been avoiding a haircut since September when we moved. I did break down and get a trim in February but that is all I had the courage to do before yesterday. And by yesterday I was already way overdue for a haircut. I called in the morning and she could take me at 1:30 the same day. Wow! I was excited! I even had this photo as an example of the cut and style I was interested in.









What I look like now!
What I look like now!

Granted, I was not going to wear makeup and I was not dressed quite as fancy and I don’t have the same smile BUT this is what I walked out with:








I guess it is close, but not close enough to what I was hoping for. This experience reminded me of some important truths:

We are working with people who most often do not always see things from the same perspective or we have more confidence in them than is warranted.

And let’s take it a step further: We are dealing with people who have some deep wounds we don’t know about or they think have been healed or ____________ (fill in the blank)!

Working with human beings is pretty tricky stuff. When we are deep in a relationship with someone we sometimes experience some very difficult things with them. Other times we miss things that are very important for others because we are in the middle of our own stuff. All of that messes with expectations: yours, mine, and theirs.

Pay attention to your relational expectations. Even if they are truly justified and reasonable, sometimes the other party is not in the same book as you, let alone on the same page.

I do believe God’s grace covers a multitude of sins. I have a multitude of my own sins to worry about. So while I might want to stomp around being ‘justified’ about my irritations or aggravations I most often need to move along and let God work on me and my attitude. As I ponder His grace poured out on me and my life, it feels pretty stingy to withhold it from others.

Are you struggling with expectations today? How do you work through those times of disappointment when you or others have “dropped the ball” or intentionally challenged your hopes and dreams?

When I am in a good space, I tend to seek God on the matter. When I struggle with it the most it seems I have drifted a bit from God’s perspective.

As for my hair, I just have to wait for it to grow out. I suspect that strategy of waiting (and praying) works well with a multitude of unmet expectations. I trust that God will work it out even when I can’t possibly see the solution.