Aligning

I am one of those people who can hear different perspectives on situations. I can be empathetic and see the why behind the what — and those whys only serve as explanations, not excuses.

Being empathetic can be exhausting, particularly when I am being asked to choose a side and take a stand. If I am asked to align myself with someone or a position, you can bet that I will be taking a close look at it and praying about it. And, sometimes, that takes time.

I can love people. My heart can be broken for people. But to align with them means we need to be on the same page. Unfortunately, a lot of times we aren’t even in the same book, let alone on the same page. I will not try to prove I care about a situation by surrendering my beliefs. I do care, but if I need to take action, it needs to be in line with what I believe.

Aligning my heart and behavior with God is a lifetime pursuit. Sometimes I am simply terrible at it. I mainly need to not rely on my own strength for change but on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. And I need to pray for the willing spirit to follow God’s lead to those places where I would not have wanted to go on my own. Whatever He has for me to do comes out of His work in my heart. His work has been going on for 50+ years and He clearly is not done yet. I will be a work in progress until I die, and then I will be at peace!

The closer I am aligned to God, the easier it is to see His work around me. Of course, I can choose to not participate but then that tells me that I am not terribly closely aligned with Him. Walking with God changes my heart to be more like His.

If you are in the midst of a relationship challenge, don’t underestimate the power of God to change the hearts of all parties involved. Pray for the one you are at odds with for 30 days. Start out slow and ask God to bless that person. Then, as the days go by, deepen what you pray for and ask God to bless that person in a variety of ways. Find Scriptural prayers to pray for that person, but you don’t have to mention it to them. Let it be a time between you and God.

This is a great way for God to align your heart with His!

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

 

 

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

Hosanna

Another great song — click on the link Hosanna (Praise is Rising)

Hosanna to the King of Kings!

It is Palm Sunday!

This Lenten season has been so different for the entire world. And it looks like Easter will be different as well.

One of the unexpected benefits to this crazy time in life is that the rituals we have created have been disrupted. Sometimes we create rituals and we are nearly immovable when it comes to changing them.

But many of those rituals we have previously insisted on…they can probably go. Sure, they are our little opportunity to maintain some sense of control over our lives. And they might bring comfort. But are they essential?

What is essential? What is it we truly need? Is our identity wound up in how we celebrate? In how we worship? In how we serve? In how we love?

I think it is natural and ok to be disappointed in the losses we are experiencing but I think it is important not to let these things define us. Many of us have gone on for so long being able to do what we have wanted and achieved the things we were hoping for. We’ve made our plans and have had a false sense of security because they have come to pass.

Now is a great time to pay attention to what God is doing and join Him in His work. I know we are all being asked to do things differently. I know it isn’t always fun. But the whole world is on this journey. And He is with us every step of the way.

Pray for those who are in situations of abuse and addiction. It is harder to find help with all of the restrictions in place and financial strains only add to the tensions and stress.

A bonus song — The Blessing

PrayerPoints for Advent

I love the seasons of the church year because they always give me a fresh focus for the days ahead. They can startle me awake and get my heart and mind back where they need to be.

It is so easy to be sucked into the daily grind and not take the essential time to dwell with God and soak up His presence in Scripture. when I am feeling weary it is most often because I am doing too much “doing” and not enough “being”. Join me as I explore this Advent season with some prayers and pondering beginning December 1st.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Liz

Hello Friend! Day Eight

Hello Friend!

I stepped out from regular life for a couple of days. I was in a prayer zone while awaiting the birth of a new little baby in my life.

Have you ever stepped away from life for while?

All those regular routines and typical things that fill my day were cast aside. I holed up and hunkered down. Sometimes it is easier to be distracted by regular tasks while waiting but I was only really able to watch and pray.

And then pray some more!

I think it is important to change up routines. It helps me think about what is truly essential. It helps me re-evaluate what is important and how my time and efforts should be directed. And, when there is a huge change in routine, like when waiting in a hospital, prayer is one of those important opportunities that comes to the surface! There is nothing like knowing you are not in control and giving it all to God.

And there is nothing quite like a new baby to remind you how beautiful and fragile life is!

Love,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Five

Hello Friend!

I have a favor to ask you!

When I complain about the same thing, over and over again, will you ask me what steps I am taking to resolve that situation?

I know I can get stuck because I have been stuck before. When a situation comes up and blows my mind so much that I have no clue how to move forward – then I am stuck; even if I can’t verbalize it. It’s my own, personal wilderness.

I am sure you have been there, too. It isn’t a fun place to be. It might be the result of:

  • addiction
  • a broken promise,
  • a death of a person,
  • a death of a dream,
  • an issue that just doesn’t seem to ever get resolved.

When I seem to be on “repeat”, please get my attention and ask me if I plan to wallow in this place forever or If I am I interested in moving forward with my month, my year, my life.

Then duck!

I might not like being challenged like this. I might get angry with you. But they are words I need to hear from you, if you are my friend.

Sometimes I don’t even recognize I am stuck but those who are around me surely do. My prayer is that I lovingly receive your words of concern and take action, but I might not be ready to. If I am resistant, please be patient and keep praying for me. I am not sure how long I will be stuck. I don’t know how much of life will pass me by as I wander in the wilderness – let’s hope it isn’t 40 years!  The truth is, I don’t want dwell in a place of loss and confusion. That is not how I want to spend my days.

I want to dwell in the Lord! But I may have just gotten stuck.

Love,
Liz

Tools

There is nothing quite like having the right tool for the job. But, new things and new ways of doing things come out of not having the right stuff, too!

I feel like the word “tools” has taken on new meaning or application. I really tend to just think of tools in a very physical sense – hammer, radial arm saw, drill, wrench, etc. But I have heard talk about tools as creative ways we can use to tackle a situation – the skill set and/or resources available to us for problem solving. This might be a useful way to look at things.

There are many, many tools out there but sometimes we need to invest in a new one for a particular need. Learning new ways of dealing with relationships can be extremely beneficial. The skills needed to work with so many others with such varying needs are only becoming more and more complex.

If you find yourself running into the same problem over and over again, it might be time to solve it more thoroughly so it doesn’t keep popping up. For example, if one is always running out of money before the end of the month there are some ways to solve that problem: find a better paying job, add a part time job, create a more restrictive budget and stick to it, sell some items, or ask for a raise. These are just an example of brainstorming and looking at the tools/ideas that are available to possibly solve that particular problem.

Sometimes you have to dig around and pull out your courage, your ingenuity, or your determination. Other times it is important to have the feedback from a supportive friend, a counseling session, a walk to clear your mind, or to hone a particular skill that is needed for the challenge.

Some people start off facing any challenge with prayer. They seek God’s creative solutions. They consult His Word.

For others, seeking God is the last resort, after every human effort has failed.

I don’t know what tools you have, need, or want in your tool chest. Prayer needs to be my first response to a situation because it puts me in the right mind frame to work on the solution. It reminds me my place in the universe and Whose I am. And I need God to give me His insight and help me see the path.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 
have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead. [Psalm 86:1-13, NIV]

May you consider prayer an essential tool for daily life!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: THE WEEK OF THE HOLY

Contemplation

The Lenten season is a great time to be introspective and examine the life I lead. Am I practicing what I believe? Am I being regularly infused by God’s Word and evaluating my thoughts, words, and deeds against that? Am I more concerned about what I think others should be doing that I am not spending enough time making sure I am in a spiritually healthy place?

When I travel I have a lot of time to think, reflect, plan, ponder, and pray.  I love the opportunity to get out of my space, observe people, and the changing scenery around me. I might see mountains, an ocean, streams, lush vegetation, and desolate deserts. And all these different views have my mind bouncing all over the place. As my mind moves from person to person and situation to situation the process of praying helps me pull all my thoughts together (even if they are a jumbled mess) and give them to God.

It is important for me to slow down from the busy-ness of these days and reflect. When I drive, I just pray but when I am a passenger, I always benefit from writing things down – it allows me to be reminded of things I have worked out — because sometimes I need reminded that I already worked through a situation. But, mainly, slowing down and spending time in prayer helps me to get out of my own situation and have a conversation with the One who knows me and knows the ones I care about.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. [Romans 12:11-13, NIV]

Blessings as you spend time contemplating during this Lenten season!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: HOSPITALITY

Generations

A new baby means a new generation: and an opportunity to intentionally pass along those things that are important. Some of those things you may have had in your family of origin. But parenting a new generation also means you have a chance to try parenting the way you wish you were parented. It isn’t always easy being parents and deciding what is important to pass along to the next generation. It is worthy of thought and conversation. When two people come together to have a child, they each come with a set of experiences that they would love to share as well as others they do not want repeated, ever.

God works with the long term in mind. “His faithfulness continues through all generations,” Psalm 100:5. I am so thankful for that truth. He always sees the bigger picture. He hears the prayers of His people.

Since the beginning of time parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents have prayed over future generations. I don’t know the prayer life of my grandparents of great-grandparents but I know they were people of faith. They knew God. And here I am. My life has had interesting paths and it feels like I have always known of and been confident in God’s love for me. And that love reached through to me in even my most unlovable moments.

I love praying for others. I have always prayed for my siblings, friends, children and their friends. But I don’t think I have thought too much about praying for the generations beyond them. I think I was too distracted by the immediate to think that far forward. But, here I am, awaiting a couple of precious grand babies to be born and my husband and I have been praying for them and their parents. The next generation is in the works. We are counting on God’s faithfulness!

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations. [Psalm 100:1-5, NIV]

 

May God give you His insight into generations!

Liz

 

PrayerPrompt: SHELTER

2019 PrayerPoints for Lent

 

Florida Beach wHello! Hello! and Welcome!

It’s time for PrayerPoints again!

One thing I have discovered about myself is that I like to employ a variety of perspectives when I am in a learning mode. It helps me round out my view and see things from different angles. I also need to focus intently if I am going to move forward. Otherwise, I get distracted.

In 2019, PrayerPoints will take a little different approach compared to other years. It might not be your thing, and that’s ok. I won’t be offended if you choose to find another way to prepare during this Lenten season.

This year, my encouragement to you will be to reflect and journal your thoughts as you contemplate the verse and writing prompt provided each day. If you don’t like to write, you can choose to video or audio record your thoughts. You can also simply pray all around the topics with no “record” of your thoughts. Feel free to adapt it to your needs. But don’t be afraid to try something new. It is important to not get so caught up in perfecting the process that you miss the chance to step away from your regular routine, create some space,  and do some honest reflection during this Lenten season. Writing things down helps me gather my thoughts and it might be a useful tool for you as well.

Each day, starting today, I will provide you with a prompt that will serve as your PrayerPoint for the day. I will write my responsive prayer/thoughts and you will write (or otherwise consider) yours. On the following day, I will share what I have pondered/prayed for that prompt and I will also assign the next prompt. If you want to email me your response, I would be privileged to read it. But if you want to keep it between you and God, that is completely fine. There is no requirement to share, but the option is available. Some people, like me, benefit from outside accountability.

Where you have been in life will absolutely inform and impact how you see and hear Scripture and each experience you go through. If you have been an underdog, you will likely have a huge heart for a fellow underdog. If you have watched addictive behaviors in your home, you may (or may not) have compassion for others who struggle with addiction. Allowing God’s Word to cast light on how and what we process as we go through life is a way to grow in our understanding of our experiences, particularly in the light of God’s Word. We each come with our own prayer perspective. I encourage you to allow God to shape and mold your prayer perspective because it will help you make sense of your trials and tribulations. Remember, your words can comfort, love, and support others as they journey alongside you through this life.

So much of what we walk through in this physical life has a spiritual correlation. You might be able to make that connection with these PrayerPoint prompts. If you are in the midst of processing the physical realm of these things, the spiritual connection may not be apparent and that is okay. The connection may come later.

This time during Lent is for contemplation and reflection and might include things like:

  • Where am I in my relationship with God?
  • Am I stuck somewhere on the road toward healing?
  • Am I in a place of repentance?
  • Am I struggling with pride?
  • What has God done for me through Jesus?
  • How does Jesus’ death and resurrection impact my daily life?

PrayerPrompt: INHERITANCE

May God bless you as you discover more about His love and provision for you in the weeks to come.

Liz