Fearless

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. [Psalm 23, NIV]

Most days I am fearless. But there are some days, I am a puddle. Feelings drive me crazy. Sometimes my thoughts drive me crazy. Focusing on The Truth of God’s Word is such an important process for me. Sometimes I am in a place where I forget some really important Scriptural truths that would calm my heart and mind and spirit. No matter how much I know Scripture, as a visual person, I love to see it! I love words and it is important for me to see the words — even just a few — that bring me back to Truth.

The Lord is my Shepherd…

[I shall not want….]

I can’t see that without thinking about the rest of the Psalm.

Create in me…

[a clean heart o God….]

I can fill in the rest but the first part reorients and reminds me, especially when I am floundering.

If you are visual, like me, find a few of God’s truths and write them out. You can doodle or color them. You can make or buy a wall hanging that reminds you of God’s perspective. With all that is going on in the world today and the general exhaustion that we all seem to be under, finding and creating places of peace is important work. It is easy enough to get caught up into the negative because we are swimming in it. If you are seeking peace, it might be that surrounding yourself with some visual cues taken from God’s word can create that place of peace.

Blessings on your week ahead!
Liz

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

Under Pressure

Pressure can create some beautiful things. And it can also cause quite a bit of stress.

Here we are, most of the world anyway, on a bit of a lockdown. We are banding together to protect the vulnerable and to provide some sort of pre-emptive relief on the medical facilities all around the world.

We have seen some beautiful moments and heard some heart wrenching accounts. And we have experienced them around our own tables as well: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are all under pressure in one way or another. As we struggle with bills, meals, focus, patience, health concerns, and a little extra stress, I pray for God’s grace to carry us all through.

Have you found some new ways to cope with stress? It is always good to have a few “go to” stress relievers:

a brisk walk in the neighborhood
speaking a Psalm aloud
taking a nap
singing along with a favorite, uplifting song
chatting with a friend

What other suggestions do you have?

May God grant you His peace during this time of unknowns. He sees you and knows your needs. He loves you and will provide for you in ways you may not see yet. Ask Him to open your eyes to see His work and provision!

The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace
. Psalm 29:11

The Prince was born to bring your peace…

All you, beneath your heavy load,
By care and guilt bent low,
Who toil along a dreary way
With painful steps and slow:
Look up, for golden is the hour,
Come swiftly on the wing,
The Prince was born to bring your peace;
Of him the angels sing. *

Wow. The imagery of this verse is so strong. I see this person trudging along, weighed down by the situations and circumstances of life. All burdens are not created equal. And a heavy burden on the backs of two different people can look very different because everyone’s ability to carry burdens is different and how people “wear their burdens” is just as various. And, we don’t always know the whole story. We only see a small portion of the whole story.

But … the Prince was born to bring your peace!

Alleluia!

The sizes of our burdens vary greatly but they are burdens nonetheless. Even a small burden can appear to loom large depending on what else is going on. Today, I thank Jesus for being the Prince of my peace. He is the one who can calm the raging sea and calm the storm in me.

This life is always full of challenges and burdens. But I look to the one who came to give me His peace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*By: Edmund H. Sears

Solemn Stillness

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to all,
From heaven’s all gracious king.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
*

It is difficult for me to carve out a chunk of time for solemn stillness, especially during the Christmas season. Our retail business is so very busy in November and December. This year was especially busy which was why I decided to do PrayerPoints for Advent. It isn’t that I needed one more thing to do, I needed to do this very particular thing.

I needed set aside time to consider the coming “all gracious king”. I needed to find some peace and calm in my day.

It works!

What I gain from “giving up” this time (I could be working on any number of business things) is a peace that extends through me all day. And I do appreciate that I wake up each morning, anticipating where God will take this devotional time. What I say in PrayerPoints may not be profound to you because I don’t always find the best words to express what God is doing in my heart.

I am so very thankful for His peace in my life. I encourage you to make time to enjoy His gift of peace today.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* By: Edmund H. Sears

Bid our sad divisions cease

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

There are times unhealthy relationships are unresolvable. It can be an unfortunate, but sometimes there is a necessary division.

Any division is sad, but there are divisions over the smallest things: misunderstandings blown out of proportion, hearsay, conjecture, and assumptions — these are all a part of sad divisions. It’s sad because it is unnecessary. If people would just take time to clarify and understand and not jump to conclusions, probably a lot of heartbreaking divisions would not even be.

It is important for me to consider my role in relational divisions. How do I perpetuate problems? How does what I say or do cause a seed for division? Sometimes it happens and I am completely unaware.

As long as there is sin in the world and humans who operate in the flesh, there will be sad divisions. But I can still pray for peace and seek to share His peace with those around me. These divisions are just a part of a larger battle, but He is the King of Peace!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. [Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV]

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

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

Close the path to misery

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

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

There is a path to misery.

Sometimes I have been railroaded down it by circumstances mixed with the company I kept. Sometimes a bout with depression can send me on the path to misery, but it’s not a journey I wish on anyone. Sometimes, our life isn’t actually very miserable but we find ourselves feeling miserable and that is a often a choice. It would be important to get to the root of the misery.

I am not a psychologist. I know I have a positive temperament and I don’t know whether it is a nature or nurture thing. I watched my mom deal with difficult things and it was rare for her to show she was discouraged. Others I know take a tiny negative thing (yes, a very insignificant happening) and it triggers them to an outburst that makes it seem like their world is collapsing.

I do not get it.

I pray that God closes that path to misery for me. But He doesn’t promise that at all.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [James 1:2-3. ESV]

Joy in the midst of devastating circumstances is not something I have perfected. God’s Word says to count it all joy but I think the best I can wrap my head around is give me peace in these circumstances. We do all have different definitions of trials but I look at the difficult things in my life and it pales in comparison to the difficulties of others.

Lead me to the path that leads on high!

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-three

Hello Friend!

I got stuck!

Somewhere between my sweet grandbabies and dealing with business details I have found myself thinking about PrayerPoints and not writing them down and fleshing them out. The “pause” in my day is not long enough for me to get things out on paper. As long as there is a pause, it’s ok. But there routinely needs to be more than that, too. I need time to dig deeper, even if nothing gets written down.

If I am looking for the peace that passes all human understanding, I need to go to the source and linger there and let all the words soak in. I need to revisit the recounting of provisions made throughout the generations. I need the time to be surrounded with the words of comfort and care and correction from my Creator. Now, that is a place worth being stuck!

There can be beauty in the mundane and repetitious. My goal is to identify a rhythm and pace that works for me, even if it changes with “seasons”. This is particularly important because I am entering a very busy work season. I need to practice turning off my “work” mind so it isn’t always processing ideas.

Do you like activity? Predictability? Flexibility? Are you stuck in a rabbit hole? Let’s head up to the surface together — we can spend 15 minutes in the sunshine, gathering up some Vitamin D and then we can embark on our day.

What’s that one thing you need to get done? Take your first step to get there. I’ll take mine.

May His peace be with you!
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty

Hello Friend!

Where do you friend your peace?

There are times I associate peace with quiet. Or nature. Or alone time. But when I really am looking for true peace, I can only get it from God.

I see what is going on the world. I see what is happening in my community. I know my own struggles. I also know that there are many things out of my control. There is so much sadness, anger, death, disease, and destruction. There is evil in the world. There has been evil in the world for a very long time. If I dwell on all of that for too long, I can become anxious. But I remind myself I can only do one day at a time. And I ask God to help me; to breathe in and through this day and let me see the opportunities that are most beneficial for those around me. While it would be nice to cocoon and only deal with my own life, I know I am called to step out of my comfort zone and share His peace with others with a cup of cold water or words of comfort. Some days, it is just a matter of surviving the day. I pray God will guard my heart when there is turmoil — whether internal or external.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

I don’t know that perfect peace is achievable this side of Heaven. But I do know that the comfort of knowing Jesus has wiped away the sin that plagues me and the promise of salvation gives me a peace like no other.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:27-29 NIV

In the midst of stress, confusion, and intensity I feel safe and at peace.

The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

Love,
Liz

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