Hearing

I have a tendency to ignore a lot of auditory input unless it is what I have chosen.  I just tune it out and, if I can’t tune it out, I leave the room. There are things I don’t like hearing because they pull me in to listen and, sometimes, it isn’t good stuff to listen to for whatever reason. Also. sometimes listening is hard work.

Let’s take the coronavirus news as an example. At first, I was hearing so much that I had to stop and listen a bit. In the initial days of the coronavirus, when there was so much conflicting information, I had to weigh some things against my mind and heart. I heard a few illogical things. Things that, when I heard them, I thought — that makes no sense.

But then, it was front and center all day long. If the news was on, I tuned it out. The conflicting reports. The ever changing recommendations. And the variety of responses from the public. Hearing from all of the available sources on the coronavirus: from the CDC to the medical field to the state officials to other nations to business owners to struggling families is a lot to hear.  The perspectives are never ending. And there are not enough hours in the day to hear it all. It isn’t that I don’t have compassion or care about what this means, but I cannot solve this problem.  I can support those close to me who are struggling. I can pray for the vaccine makers to find what they need to find. I can pray for people to love one another, share their resources with those in need, and help in the ways they are called. I can do those things, too. I can listen to my friends as they process and grieve what this means for them. I can do what God is calling me to do.

In the end, here is what I do to limit my exposure to the coronavirus — I wash my hands more. I wear a mask when I am out in public. I don’t hang out in big gatherings.  I had to find a sustainable path for myself.  Mind you, I may get it Covid-19. It seems to be lurking everywhere — all across the world. And whether I live or die, it’s ok. I have peace. I have the blessed assurance of Heaven.

Scripture does not address the coronavirus but it does address the fear the coronavirus brings. Yes, there have been heartbreaking deaths — people dying alone with their families unable to be near them but who desperately want to be there. There have been a lot of hard things from livelihoods being completely disrupted to serious financial challenges. Of course, this situation has made my life uncomfortable and stressful in a few ways, but I am thankful that I have God’s peace. God’s promise is not that we will have an easy life. This is Earth, after all, not Heaven.

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 am so glad that verse is tucked into my heart. I even know it set to music, which is a bonus. Music always helps me memorize!

When there are sounds all around me, disrupting my day, I need to investigate them. I’ll talk more about Listening next time.

God’s blessings on your week!
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

Reaction vs. Response

For some reason, those two words feel very differently to me. So I checked in with Merriam Webster to see what the distinction might be. I guess the difference is mainly that a response, as an action, is neutral but a reaction can be positive or negative. I don’t know. What do you think?

Definition of reaction

1athe act or process or an instance of reacting

bresistance or opposition to a force, influence, or movement especially tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy

2a response to some treatment, situation, or stimulus her stunned reaction to the news alsosuch a response expressed verbally critical reaction to the play

Definition of response

1an act of responding 

2something constituting a reply or a reaction: such as

aa verse, phrase, or word sung or said by the people or choir after or in reply to the officiant in a liturgical service

bthe activity or inhibition of previous activity of an organism or any of its parts resulting from stimulation

cthe output of a transducer or detecting device resulting from a given input

How do you respond to situations? What is your tendency? Do you rush to judgment? Collect the facts first? Are you willing to hear everyone out? Are you a “reactor” or a “responder”?

Of course, it all depends on the situation. Some do call for quick action. But for normal, everyday things that happen, do you have a tendency to be negative about whatever you are facing?

And are you happy with it?

Training ourselves to respond calmly to situations is important. Paying attention to the words that come out of our mouths is important. Along with that, habits like eye-rolling, heavy sighing, foot stomping, door slamming, needing to have the last word, and low-register grumbling are just as important to gain control of.

Here is a challenge for both you and me:

Let’s spend the next 24 hours without uttering a complaint. Will life be all rosy and full of tulips and puppy kisses? I doubt it. But we can still spend 24 hours not verbally complaining. If you really need to “complain”, write it down in a notebook and in 24 hours decide if you still need to present the complaint.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] [Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV]

Blessings to you as you consider reactions and responses!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BOXES

Perspective

Where I have been can inform me about where I am going. Of course, it isn’t always a sure thing. And that is a good thing.

If I come from a place of pain and I don’t process it properly, I might look for and anticipate pain in all parts of my life. If I come from a place of safety and security, my discernment might not be developed enough to perceive danger. Of course, personality tendencies play a role here, too. We all know a Tigger-type personality. And, we all know those who view the world like Eeyore does.

Oh bother!

Focusing on the negatives typically produces more negative. Experiences, both good and bad, leave their marks on us. How we process them is important. Those negative situations in my life can trip me up so keeping my mind and heart focused on God’s Word helps me be oriented!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. [Philippians 4:8-9, NIV]

This will be a two-part PrayerPoint because we will be at the Grand Canyon later on today and I am sure it will provide some further insight.

PrayerPrompt: PERSPECTIVE

For a moment…

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A moment on a flower

I always wondered why the chemical process to curl hair was called a “permanent” but it really only lasted about three months. No wonder we are a confused society.

There are times when things are permanent, of course. Sometimes that can be a relief and sometimes it is overwhelming. It depends what it is and it depends on our perspective. Sometimes I get all cozy and comfy in a place – so much so that when it is time to move along, I might stomp my feet a little. I liked it “here”.

But it is all temporary, particularly in light of eternity. The relaxing beach vacation, the place you live, the job you have, the routine of your day…it can change so quickly.

So, for the moment, see who and what is around you. Don’t fret about the future, don’t get stuck in the past, find things to enjoy about where you are and what is happening around you right now. You are in a place where God can teach you so much.

Be present. Be teachable.

We will only be here for a moment.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:5-7 NIV]

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39 NIV]

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [Colossians 3:1-3 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Scatter Stones

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Clean air in the Bükk Mountains in Hungary

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.


Apparently I am in a season of life where there is a lot of traveling. I enjoy it, most of the time. It is definitely different and sometimes I feel scattered. Sometimes I am scattered because the trips are back-to-back and I am bound to forget something.

Scatter(ed) can certainly be a state of being, but it can also be a state of doing.

Are you actively dispersing things as you travel through life? It might be physical things, of course, but it can also be thoughts or ideas or faith or encouragement or courage or love or a smile. If you are out there, sharing with the world, have you considered that your contributions might be neutral yet are more likely negative or positive?

Sometimes I am super grumpy or overtired or guilty. Unfortunately, those are not generally the moments when I am “feeling the love” so I scatter seeds of negativity. If I am in a really bad space, I not only embrace my own habitual skepticism, I give it away to everyone I come in contact with whether I know them or not. Those seeds can land on fertile soil and become a nasty weed, seemingly overnight. Like a virus, it can quickly pass from person to person until the space where I am (and the trail from whence I came) is littered with negativity.

When I am in a good space, I can be reckless with my giving. I share without reservation. I am patient and can hear and see and feel and can give all day long, fueled by a grateful heart. I am full of love and grace and peace. Those things can also be quickly passed along and affect those all around me.

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. [Luke 6:44-46 NIV]

It is important to think about those things you are storing up in your heart because those concepts will come out in the way of words and actions; it will be what you scatter! Breathe in the good and exhale it. If you intake bad, interrupt the cycle by putting out good.

You might find you need to go into a place where the air is pure, particularly with all the toxicity in the world today. It’s true, there is nothing new under the sun but the rate negativity can be spread is astounding.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4:8 NIV]

Our focus fills our heart and then comes out of our mouths and through the work of our hands.

On the way,

Liz

Unforgettable Moments

sunsetwIf you are on Facebook, you might have caught a posting or two of adults in the stands at a ballgame snatching a ball out of the hands of a young child and being very satisfied that they had scored the prize. Caught on video, this “moment in time” of someone being jerky gets replayed and replayed and replayed for the world to see.

Ever been so caught up in the moment you cannot believe how you behaved?

I have.

And while there might not be actual footage of it posted on Facebook to watch over and over and over, rest assured, I often hit the replay button in my own mind.

atonewSometimes it is so hard to remember that I am forgiven!

And if I don’t make a point of surrounding myself with reminders, well, I get caught up in the memories of my sins. These painful reminders can be good because they nudge me to be humble and gracious to others who may be struggling because there are times I have a tendency to forget my own sins and get really frustrated about someone else’s. But, if I get stuck in “replay” mode on my own situation, it can be disastrous.

I have some memories that I won’t soon forget. As long as I don’t get stuck there, it can be a good thing.

On the Road,

Liz

Prizew

PrayerPoints ~ Monday, March 21st

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 131

“My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 131

Do you have a stilled and quieted soul?

With everything that is going on in the world at this moment (even though there is nothing new under the sun) this is impossible without God. I find that I am in a better position to have a stilled and quieted soul when my heart and mind is guarded.

 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Spending time in God’s Word and in prayer as well as being connected to a healthy Christian congregation are ways to keep God’s peace and path in my presence. This Holy Week, there are multiple opportunities to walk along with Jesus and consider His pain and suffering and God’s provision for us through Jesus’ sacrifice.

May your private time in God’s Word and your connection with a fellow believers this week strengthen your faith!

 

PrayerPoints ~ Sunday, March 20th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 16

“Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. ” Psalm 16:1-2

There are always difficulties. Since the Fall of Man, there have been wars and disease and sin.

Theirs…Yours… and Mine.

And God continues to offer His grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. Along with those good things, He reminds us:

“Finally brothers,

whatever is true,

whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is commendable,

if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things.”   Philippians 4:8

Now, more than ever, I wonder where things are headed in our world. There is so much corruption, pain, illness, and death that I need to reorient my thinking multiple times a day. As Scripture says,

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9

Life is hard. God is good. And God’s goodness is not dependent on my circumstances.

PrayerPoint ~ Excellent or Praiseworthy ~ April 3

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

God’s breath and creative work is evident and excellent–even if you just consider nature! The intricacies, the incredible detail, the range of color, the sizes and shapes and all of the inter-dependent relationships. I am just talking about people. Now think about things on the land and now consider things in the ocean. And what about things in the Heavens? Talk about a license for creativity. God is simply amazing.

 The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,  their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Creation–though it has been tainted by sin, there are still glimpses of breath-taking beauty that reflect His excellent and praiseworthy work.

Seek the excellent. Ponder the praiseworthy. Let’s not get ensnared in the sin that so easily entangles us. It starts with God’s gift of faith–tucked away in our  heart, soul, and mind and plays out in the way we allow Him to live through our lives.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Thanking Him for the Cross!

Liz