Making Time to Be Still

nomarginsawHave you ever read a book with minimal margins? I haven’t seen one and I don’t know for sure that one exists but just imagine one with me.

What about a life with minimal margins?

We all have different margin needs. All the things listed here are great things. But there are things missing too. And, likely, over time or in different circumstances our needs for margins change. I know mine have. Different stages of life have different demands. But when I am running from one thing to the next and I don’t have any space built in, I run ragged. I am definitely not as patient. And I am not as open to possibly wonderful things because they don’t fit into my schedule. I don’t have time to be sick or visit with a friend who might be unexpectedly passing through town or even notice God trying to get my attention.

I can’t live like that.

I don’t believe many people can. Making space in our day, in our week, and in our lives is important. Sometimes we need to space to regroup. Sometimes we need the space to recharge. Sometimes we need the space because it is important “to be” without any expectation of producing anything. And while God can work in any circumstance, there are times that a quiet space is where we are able to see Him working.  It clears my mind and cleanses my perspective.  Creating space to pray, play, or simply rest is so important!  If I have no margins, there is no room to move.

marginsawBut that isn’t exactly how our world tends to think. It is easy to get caught up in the gain, the advance, the conquer….and sometimes we lose ourselves in the process. Respite from the world’s demands and times to ponder and pray can make our days, our nights, and our responses more informed, more measured, and more calm.

When things are feeling a little crazy for me, I take stock of all I am trying to juggle and I usually see that I need to make some adjustments in my schedule. It is important to evaluate and adjust according to my current circumstances. So, here I am, still clinging to this verse from Psalm 46:10. It reminds me that I am not wonder woman and I am not God. I don’t know it all. I don’t have to do it all. It gives me permission to “be still” and rest in my knowledge of God!

On the Road,

Liz

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PrayerPoints ~ Sunday, March 13th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 102

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to you.

Do no hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.” Psalm 102:1-2

Do you know someone in distress? I am guessing you know a number of people who are in the midst of financial challenges, employment struggles, or health issues.

Will you pray for them this week? When someone shares their difficulties with me, here are some things I pray for:

  • Wise counsel
  • A growing faith
  • Creative and healthy solutions
  • Attentive and wise medical professionals
  • Self-discipline
  • Encouragement
  • Discernment
  • God’s peace

Being able to pray with and for others is such a blessing. This life is filled with struggles and knowing that someone is praying for us can make such a significant impact.

If you need prayer, I would encourage you to seek out a trusted friend and ask if they would pray for you. You don’t need to go into every detail, you can just say “Hey, I am going through a rough time right now and can use some prayer.” I think when we are a little transparent it helps others to be willing to share too. Allowing yourself to be a little bit vulnerable is sometimes difficult but it can lead to deeper and richer relationships.

May God bless your time in prayer this week!

 

PrayerPoints ~ Tuesday, March 1st

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 61

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to a rock that is higher than I.”  Psalm 61:1

There are times that life is just so hard.

Being faint of heart can be the result of many things: physical or mental illness, medical treatments, undiagnosable issues, job loss, divorce, death, or watching someone you love struggle with any of the above. And often, with the exception of prayer, we are powerless to take away the pain and the suffering. But we can pray, even when we don’t know what to say or what to ask for.

Do you know someone who is struggling with a situation? Have you prayed for them?

Sometimes it is easy for me to get caught up in the surprise and the details of a challenging circumstance that I don’t stop what I am doing and actually pray.

Lord, let that be my first response!

If you are a list maker or you keep a prayer journal, jot down the name of the person or people you want to pray for so you see it and it reminds you to pray on their behalf.  I am a very visual person, so a list helps me get refocused on my priorities as I typically have a lot of distractions in my day.

And then, consider following up with a quick personal note to let them know you are praying for them. It may take a little extra effort, but a note of encouragement can be a physical reminder of your support and prayers. Notes of encouragement are also very portable and can combat that feeling of loneliness and isolation that often accompanies trials and tribulations. If you live nearby, there may be a tangible act of service you can provide. Pray about your opportunities to serve.

If you are struggling and would like me to pray for you, let me know. You can tell me a little about your situation but if you are uncomfortable doing that, you don’t need to. As I pray, I will pray for many facets of your life, even ones you don’t particularly mention.

Even if you need prayer yourself, (and, don’t we all?) consider also praying on behalf of someone else. I find that when I am in a particularly tough situation (and I feel powerless in my circumstance) if I step out of the muck and mire of my situation to care for another through prayer, God seems to lighten the intensity of my situation.

God’s blessings as you dig into His Word this week and consider praying for a struggling friend!

 

 

Faithfulness

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Faithfulness

Maybe this has happened to you…one day you wake up to find that a very significant person in your life is gone…an accident, illness, by their own hand. Maybe it’s a job loss or the words “Our marriage is over”. It makes you want to throw up and crumble up in a ball and scream and plead with God that this not be your circumstance to walk through. Maybe the above happened to someone you care about. When someone close to me experiences significant loss, I often find myself simply stunned with the situation weighing very heavily on my heart and mind. The only thing I can do is pray for clarity, for provision, for peace, and for God to transform the circumstance in the way only He can. God will be faithful to provide!

Every day there are people coping with loss. Many are believers who need someone to pray with and for them and step in with a tangible provision. Others may not be believers but so desperately need to see the reason for our hope. Life is hard but God is good ~ even when the situation is a painful place to be.

If you want to, jot down the names of the people or circumstances that God brings to your heart. Journaling prayers is a great way to keep your mind focused. Or just stop what you are doing and lift the circumstances up. The point is to pray. And to pay attention to what God is putting on your heart. You may be in a position to offer some tangible support. Sometimes your faithfulness as a friend makes all the difference to someone reeling from some devastating news.

Being Ugly

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Being Ugly

Is there a person in your life you find hard to love? Could it be a boss, co-worker, sibling, child, spouse? Are they just a little rough around the edges? Are they frustrating to deal with? Do you find yourself being ugly when you are around them?

It’s not that I don’t like you…I don’t like who I become when I am with you.

Irritated. Agitated. Annoyed. Impatient. Grace-less.

Do you have the courage to admit that you become ugly when dealing with certain people? Willing to own up to your own behavior? Interested in seeking forgiveness and starting again?

God can work a change in your heart toward a person you find hard to love. Here are some steps:

Admit your challenge. Confess it to God. God sees it and others probably see it as well.
Pray for God’s heart and love and perspective for this person.
Pray for this person by name each day for three weeks.
Ask a trusted friend to pray for you concerning this situation.
Recall the times you have been hard-to-love and thank God for loving you even though you didn’t ‘earn’ it.

If you are really daring and really committed to changing, ask someone who knows you and the situation to give you their perspective and allow them to be honest. Ask them to hold you accountable if they see you being ugly.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3

May you sing a New Song of God’s love and forgiveness and grace as you deal with the harder-to-love people in your life!

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I Feel Your Pain

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ I Feel Your Pain

No, really, I do. And often literally.

Have you ever had your heart ache over a situation?

If you have shared with me a painful event in your life at some point over the last 30+ years, I have felt your pain. Did I know exactly what you felt or experienced? No, absolutely not. But I know me and I know my heart actually aches and is sometimes overwhelmed when someone I care about walks through a difficult trial.

Empathy is a good thing in relationships. Walking along someone who is struggling is a hard but an important element in friendship. But it is equally important for me not to be consumed by the pain of another.

When I have family and friends experiencing deep pain and loss it is hard for me to watch. It would be wonderful to be able to take the pain away but that is not my place. My role is to pray for and encourage them. There is only One who can truly take that pain and the yuck and rework it for His good.

Do you know a friend in a hard, hard place? Love them. Pray for them. Encourage them. And if you are in a position to offer your ear, listen to them. If you are led, do a little legwork for them to find some useful resources for their situation. You won’t likely be able to fix their problems and that is ok. Know your limitations and recognize that your ability to care for them may be limited by time, space, and healthy boundaries.

There are many difficult things that happen as we live our lives but walking through life with a friend makes it easier to get through some of those challenges.

This week, pray for your friends and the challenges they are experiencing!

Seasons….of Vulnerability

The very young, the elderly, and the infirm are the ones I think of first when I think of vulnerability. They each are dependent for someone else looking out for their needs and protecting them from dangerous situations. Or when people are battling illness–they are susceptible to other infections and their resistance is down. For some, it is the difference between life and death if they are exposed to the wrong germ.

But there are many other ways to be vulnerable and it seems for every vulnerability there is a predator looking for someone in a tender spot, accessible and with lowered defenses:

a lonely child
those struggling with depression
a widow or widower making sense of their new life
parents who have a child with a disability
anyone walking through a season of grieving
a motherless or fatherless child seeing a role model
anyone walking through a season of extended illness
a recent immigrant with limited language skills
those recently released from prison
a single parent looking for parenting help
those recently returning from active duty in our military

Looking back on your life you may be able to clearly see your moments (years?) of vulnerability. Maybe you were vulnerable due to life situations that were out of your control. Maybe you made some choices that left you open to some ugly stuff. Do you see any vulnerable people around you that could use your prayers for protection? An offer of friendship? A cup of coffee and a brainstorming session? Sometimes the vulnerable just need help knowing where to go for resources and sometimes they need a discerning ear to help them navigate through a difficult season. Surely there is someone you know who is struggling and vulnerable who at least needs your prayers!

The devil is a schemer. And we are often too arrogant to think we can fall prey to his antics. Oh, he is clever — using us against ourselves. How can we resist him? By being on our knees and with our nose in The Book. If we are standing on His solid ground then we are in a good position to help someone else get connected with what they need to navigate through this difficult life.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. [Ephesians 6:10-18]