Discernment

I often consider (rather over consider) what others think about what I am doing. This is a challenge in multiple areas of my life but definitely within the realm of PrayerPoints. You would think that after writing PrayerPoints for 12 or so years (I have totally lost count) that I would know my voice in this space. And if you have been following me for any length of time, you know that things ebb and flow — I come up with a plan to simplify things, but then I lose the spontaneity and, all the while, I am trying to be responsive to the most important voice in the matter — God’s.

But, I am this creature who responds to the rules of man, too. And the discernment of which is which is baffling me at present. PrayerPoints started out as a daily Lenten devotional and it was something I did every morning when I woke up. I would write what was on my heart — where God was working on me. And then, later, it became that thing that I was nervous about and I was thinking ,”Who am I to say anything?” and “Who am I, daring to speak something other than Scripture?” to “What if I am leading someone astray?” to knowing full well that God isn’t like that. He knows I am on this journey with Him. He knows I am growing and struggling and He loves me in and through all of it!

But then I struggled with the idea that I should be more organized and have a plan. And I have been trying spontaneously-planned Mondays — focusing on a verse for the month — being topical — writing more often — and all of the things you have noticed. But, I really think that PrayerPoints felt like the most natural communication was coming when it was a Lenten Devotional that each morning made its appearance in my heart. No planning ahead.

For now, I am going to take an intentional break from PrayerPoints outside of Lent. I am entering a crazy busy season and while I will still try to write down my thoughts on a regular basis, I won’t push the publish button unless something really feels like it should be shared.

I would totally love your feedback about all of this. And, please pray for my discernment!

I assume I will see you March 2nd, 2022 for the next PrayerPoints Lenten devotional series. That seems to be the rhythm that works. But, I am certainly open to what God has to say about that.

God’s peace to you as you navigate these days! I am thankful for God’s grace and care for me and my family. And I encourage you to look for where He is working in your life and heart!

In Him,
Liz

Guard Your Hearts and Your Minds

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We certainly must do what we can to guard our hearts and our minds. And going to God in prayer in every situation looks like the first line of defense. There are times that seeking God has fallen off my “to do” list. I get overwhelmed with the tasks ahead of me and I “save time” by plowing ahead — ungirded, disconnected, and underprepared.

We are in the world and we can fall prey to worldly things so easily. As we present every situation to God, He uses that time to send us His peace and protection. That peace of God can flood our conversations, our schedule, our tasks … our day.

Let’s do a five day challenge this week. 5 days of intentional prayer time. If you are in, let me know and send me one of your top verses via email to vospower6@hotmail.com. For the next 4 days we will start each day with a PrayerPoint.

For today, take time to present your day to God. What is on the calendar? How do you feel about what is on the calendar? Think of the mundane tasks as well as the overwhelming ones. Walk through your commitments, but don’t forget to pray for those gaps. Is there some space for God’s agenda? Are we booking each day so solidly that there is no room to move and be flexible?

I’ll see you tomorrow!

And the Peace of God…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding...

Have you ever visited with someone who, by any standard, has gone through some incredible suffering?

It often goes one of two ways — they are completely stuck in a cycle of despair and anger and overwhelm for years or they are in a place of peace. They know they cannot control others and the things they do, they know they can only control their response. And they trust God will work out the ugly details for His good.

I am always refreshed and amazed at the peace of God…it is unexplainable. To interact with someone who has God’s true peace is such an encouragement.

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