Dwelling Places

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Another incredible view in Transylvania

Why am I here? …And why are you there?

Yea, yea, yea….some of it may have to do with the choices we made and all that, but sometimes we have done some of the exact same things and yet one of us is living out some challenging consequences and the other is not.

Sometimes where we are has nothing to do with our own choices. In fact, many times it has nothing to do with what we have done. We might experience the benefit or the consequence of someone else’s doing.

We didn’t choose the family or circumstances we were born into nor did we choose our ethnicity or our race. We had no choice about whether we were born into poverty or crazy wealth or a barely functioning family. We didn’t even choose the country we were born in.

And yet all these factors play into our early years, which, in turn, can create a path for our lives.

Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair.

Some “advantages” aren’t actually advantages but it takes some time to sort that out. And sometimes what we think we see isn’t accurate at all… our own perspectives are often skewed.

Good deeds go unrecognized. Bad behavior appears to be rewarded. Illness doesn’t care if you have the sweetest heart or the most meager of bank accounts or even if you live in a remote village, away from any modern medical services.

I can’t dwell there.

Loss and death and disease are universal and trusting in God’s provision and comfort is the only way I survive. Sharing God’s love and compassion in practical ways is one of the ways I cope and move forward in a positive direction. If I think too much about the injustices of life on Earth without a plan to give and serve, I dwell. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by your situation, I have included some Bible verses that are good to memorize. If you are going to dwell anywhere, God’s Word is the place to do it:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

On the way,

Liz

If the Shoe Fits…

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Check out these boots!!!

I remember my mom taking us to the specialty shoe story because we all had wide feet and she believed in good shoes for growing feet. I am sure she had sticker shock every time she dragged us in there. The shoes had to fit us now but also be ready for us as we grew. Of course, it was anybody’s guess when the next growth spurt would happen and the hope was to be able to get several months out of the new footwear.

I always like to have a few different kinds of shoes, depending on my activity for the day. So I have my summer sandals, my zories, water shoes, walking shoes, dress up shoes, casual shoes for jeans, and rain boots. And I confess that I bought a pair of shoes because I thought they would be fun to wear in the summer with capris. Now I am embarrassed that I have listed off all those shoes; eight seems a little over the top!

Relationships can be similar to shoes. You likely have a number of them. Each relationship might have a different emphasis – one might be your walking buddy and one might be a work friend and one might be your “play” mate. Some fit in certain settings but not in every setting. And you might meet someone and hit it off immediately but after spending all day together you realize it isn’t a good fit after all. Or you find there isn’t any room to grow. Or they only like to party and you can’t do that all the time.

Chose your shoes and your relationships carefully. It is OK to be cautious on the front end and it is definitely OK to think it over if the relationship doesn’t seem to be a good fit. Others may try to warn you if it is obvious. And if that is what you hear, take heed. Every relationship takes time and energy. And not every relationship we find ourselves in is a good fit. That’s ok. In life there are many opportunities for healthy friendships but sometimes it takes time – trial and error, like trying on shoes at the shoe store.

The righteous choose their friends carefully,
    but the way of the wicked leads them astray. [Proverbs 12:26 NIV]

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity. [Proverbs 17:17 NIV]

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. [Proverbs 18:24 NIV]

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses. [Proverbs 27:6 NIV]

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
    and the pleasantness of a friend
    springs from their heartfelt advice. [Proverbs 27:9 NIV]

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. [John 15:12-14 NIV]

I pray the relationships you’re in help you grow and remind you that you are His treasure!

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Search

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A chapel in a salt mine in Transylvania

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.


Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.

I often think about this song by Brandon Heath  — I only added the chorus above but you can give it a listen here.

Give me Your eyes!

How much would change in our behavior and relationships if we would have God’s eyes for a person or a situation? Are we using God’s perspective as we consider our circumstances? Are we seeking His face so we can reflect Him more accurately?

Each time we seek His face, He shapes our vision to be more like His. My own vision is faulty. It is clouded with my sin, my sinful nature, and the sin of the world. At this time in my life I need reading glasses as well as glasses that can give me better vision at a distance, and, to top it off, I even have astigmatism which means that my eyeball is not a standard shape [per dictionary.com]. So I have three things working against me for 20/20 vision. And yet I have never had restrictions on my drivers’ license in any state in which I have lived. A little wacky vision is acceptable to the state and even within our world and that makes it fairly easy to stray from what is acceptable in God’s eyes if we are distant from Him.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek. [Psalm 27:7-8 NIV]

Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. [Psalm 105:3-4 NIV]

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33-34 NIV]

I like to use “Give me Your eyes” as a quick prayer when I am coming into an uncomfortable or unknown situation. Staying tethered to God is essential for improving how I see things around me!

On the way,

Liz

 

 

A Time to Hate

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Lake Balaton 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.


Just like the word “love” we tend to throw around “hate” fairly liberally. I know for me it is more a habit. Instead of saying “I hate that”, I may start saying “That bugs me” or something with a little less intensity. Then people won’t be confused and assume my dislike of something is stronger than it really is.

When we truly hate something, there is intensity in our feelings and it often propels us into action.

  • We fight.
  • We argue.
  • We band together to address the issue.
  • We protest.
  • We focus on “the problem”.

There is a place for all of those things. But let’s not get so wrapped up in our “hatred” with such a focus on the “hated” that we forget to see what is right in this world. Of course, there is pain, disease, death, and injustce, etc. And there are definitely things that are classified as evil and it’s easy to be jaded when evil has touched your life. It might be around you but I encourage you to not let that be the place where your mind dwells.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  [Romans 12:8-10 NIV]

Cling to what is good!

What are you thankful for? What makes you smile? What warms the cockles of your heart? What “good things” have you received from others? What “good news” did you read in God’s Word? What promises has He made to you as His child?

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the ugly stuff, I challenge you to speak about those people and things you are thankful for. You can journal them too. Have you had some great experiences? Shared some wonderful moments with people you treasure? Watched a beautiful sun rise? Enjoyed a spectacular sunset? Let this be the place your mind dwells!

Cloud

Tell someone what you are grateful for! It might even help them by helping them change their focus.

Hold tight to what is good!

On the way!

Liz

A Time to Gather Stones

Stone building in Eger, Hungary w
Stone Building in Eger, 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.


Do you have a collection? It might be something you need or maybe it is just something you care about.

While I don’t have anything I officially collect, there are times I have to gather up courage or strength for a task. Sometimes I need just a little more of something to help me get through an unpleasant responsibility.

God’s Word has so much to offer when I am lacking in strength. His Word reminds me He has strengthened others in their time of need and that He is there in my time of need as well.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” 2 Samuel 22:33

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” I Chronicles 16:11

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” Psalm 18:32

On the way,

Liz

A Time for Peace

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Sunset in Vermont

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.


At one time or another we have all surrendered our “right” or our position or our opinion in order to keep the peace.

Of course, there are some who are more than willing (maybe too willing) to give in. And on the other end of the spectrum there are others who act like every discussion is a hill they are willing to die on.

Ever notice that some people stoke the smallest disagreement so it develops into a huge battle? These situations may be based on a small misunderstanding but one party cannot back down or have a reasonable discussion. Sometimes this happens with friends but it is particularly devastating when it happens within families. The rift in the relationship grows so large and involves so many people that it impacts generations of relationships. Some of these issues last decades and lifetimes.

And then hardship strikes.

Often death, diagnosis, or disability comes along to remind us all how fragile and precious life really is. Life is short. Life can be really hard. Ideas and principles are important but people and relationships are even more important.

There are times a tragedy can be a catalyst for healing in relationships.

Don’t wait for some disaster to offer the olive branch of peace in a strained relationship. If you feel you have been wronged, let the Lord avenge it. Your interpretation of the situation or what “offended” you might, actually, be a bit off base. Feelings often lead us astray. And there are many sides to a story. We are, hopefully, changing and growing every day and learning more about ourselves and the world around us. What was worth battling about five years ago might just be a blip now, considering the circumstances. Lost time cannot be recovered but we can move forward together and in peace, making memories along the way.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV]

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold. [Ephesians 4:25-27 NIV]

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Laugh

pansies
Spring pansies!

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.


There is nothing like a good laugh and you can get a lot of laughs from one funny memory!

One of my favorite memories is when we were with my hubby’s family for Easter and the kids were all pretty young. As we were gathered around the communion table with kids in tow, one of ours piped up “Can I have one too?” which brought about a lot of stiffled laughter from our family of adults during the Lord’s Supper. On Easter Sunday. Thankfully it was not our home congregation but I am sure we looked like a bunch of irreverent worshippers. It was a really funny moment for us and very hard to keep it together.

I hope you have a funny situation that you and your friends or family relive on occasion. With all the seriousness in life, a good hearty laugh is necessary. Find a comedian you enjoy or a sitcom that cracks you up. The “I Love Lucy” show is so ridiculous it’s funny. Find something or someone you love and makes you laugh and spend more time there. It’s good for your heart, your body, and your soul!

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. [Proverbs 17:22 NIV]

On the way,

Liz