Looking Out

Observing the world from the comfort of my own space is risk-free. I can stay within my walls.

The photo for today is from a castle I recently visited in Austria. The walls are so thick and for good reason. That is a part of what protects. The window can provide the opportunity to view what is happening, though it makes it difficult to engage.

Hurt people hurt people. And that is when walls are built and reinforced. If the wounds are never dealt with, simple barriers become a fortress. Living within a fortress doesn’t allow for much engagement with the world. It is a maze of stone cold passageways designed to protect the heart. But it also doesn’t allow a heart to grow in its capacity to love. Unfortunately, that is a form of captivity.

I am thankful that Jesus came to set the captives free. I am thankful for His healing, redemption, forgiveness and His heart-soothing love.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

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

Making Room

There are times I need to create the space for something that I value. If I don’t reserve or set aside the time, other things take over and the urgent trumps the essential.

The days that are so full that I don’t have time to think are often days that drain me. I appreciate having the time to contemplate and react with intentionality. I also like to have room for the mistakes, the “this is taking longer than it should”, and the learning curves that come with software updates or system failures.

When I allow for space for the unknowns, I have the time to think through them. Some unknowns are good, some are bad, and some are neutral but they all take some space in my head, my day, and sometimes, even in my heart.

When I think about making more room in my life for prayer and studying Scripture, it seems odd to put limits on the amount of time I have to offer to this endeavor. Of course, I could exclusively study for the rest of my remaining days and it would never be enough. But I also know that my calling is not to devote every waking moment to studying God’s Word and His ways.

Thankfully He walks with me and guides me and leads me. As I give Him more room to move and work within my life, I know He is using His Word to mold and shape me.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Clutter

When preparing for guests, I would prefer to eliminate clutter but, I don’t always get around to it. Of course, guests are usually coming to see me and not my home. But I know I relax more when things are calm around me. But if we have a strong relationship, it truly doesn’t matter.

I know some people think they need to clean up their lives before they respond to Jesus. But He loves us before things are, in our limited perspective, neat and tidy. Jesus comes into the mess and the stress of our lives and loves anyway.

I hope we all have friends who can drop in without an announcement and be welcomed instead of being mortified and embarrassed that things aren’t up to perfection. Those who know me know they are going to get a little clutter, even if their visit is announced. Jesus knows it, too. He comes to redeem, restore, and renew. He sees through the clutter of our hearts and lives and shows us what is essential. He isn’t looking for perfection, He is perfection.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

PrayerPoints are an opportunity for me to pause and consider where my heart is this holiday season. Thank you for reading along and thinking about it too!

Preparing

Advent is all about preparing for the Christ child.

At the moment, I am in Hungary with a Christmas Market tour group. It has been very interesting to be here at the start of Advent. The Christmas markets typically do not start until December 1st because that is the day that begins the countdown to Christmas. There are Advent wreaths all around. Many home and store windows are decorated but I have hardly seen any “Santa” things. I don’t feel quite as bombarded with the commercialization of Christmas. Some stores and towns use large windows for the Advent calendar and each day a window is opened to reveal something special. The preparation helps the anticipation of baby Jesus.

There is a lot of preparation we Americans do in anticipation of Christmas. Being involved in a retail business that does a lot of business during this season, I need to be intentional about preparing my heart, particularly when time is short and the to-do list is long. I don’t often have a rhythm or predictable schedule but I might need to start scheduling it in because I think I might enjoy something that is consistent and dependable.

It is time to take a breath and relax and remember what this time is all about. How am I preparing my heart? How am I preparing me? Am I letting God soften the callouses and refocus my distracted thoughts?

How do you prepare?

Come, Lord Jesus.
Liz

Me first….

I usually defer to others. Not because I don’t consider myself worthy of whatever it is we are deciding or doing but because I often do not really have a preference. When I do have a preference, I share it. But there are absolutely times when I need to be first:

in Confession: While I am not required to confess to others in order to be forgiven it does go a long way in relationships. It is good for me to be first to confess my wrongs. There are plenty of them, of course. But waiting for someone else to confess when I am in a conflict with them isn’t helpful. The longer I wait, the longer I am stewing and justifying my own behavior. Instead of digging my heels in and waiting, I should take the first step.

In Forgiveness: I should never hesitate extending forgiveness. It actually benefits me more than the offender. God knows the heart. And He certainly knows mine after all these years. He knows all I have been forgiven for. And while He casts my sins as far as the East is from the West, it would be good for me to remember just as a point of reference. It is a huge shame to withhold forgiveness. But when I do, the true damage is done to me and my relationship with God.

In Giving: When it comes to sharing, I can start things off: lead by example. Others may not follow along, but it should not dissuade me. Giving often does more for the giver than the receiver and the act of giving grows my heart and my compassion.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

As we prepare for Jesus in these days leading up to Christmas, PrayerPoints will be published daily. To learn more about the history of Advent and history behind the advent wreath and candles, CLICK HERE!

Hello Friend! Day Thirty

Hello Friend!

I know I have written about hospitality before but it is such an important offering to humanity. I find I have less of a capacity for it when I am in a rush, with a million things to do. That just isn’t acceptable. I want to do better.

Hospitality is a warm welcome. And, beyond that, it can look as different as the people extending it.

We all have areas where we work and play and wherever there are humans, there is a need for hospitality. A smile, an offer of assistance, a willingness to stop and greet someone and offer a word of welcome. That is hospitality in a basic, though essential, form. It is important for people to be acknowledged and welcomed, especially if they are in a new place.

Where have you felt the most welcomed? What have you done to welcome others?

Take note of hospitality you are shown in the coming days. And consider this post a challenge to be aware of others in your space and make an effort to be welcoming.

See you during Lent!

Liz