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

What’s in YOUR bag?

packed bagRecently I was asked what was essential to have along for a two week trip to Hungary so I have been mulling that over a bit.

Of course, everyone has their different idea of what is absolutely necessary for a trip. So I can offer what I think is important but we all come from such different needs and experiences that it is hard to come up with that comprehensive packing list.

Overseas trips and trips within the United States are two similar scenarios yet different enough to require a bit of thinking.

 

What do you consider absolute essentials?

Some of the things that impact what we pack involve:

  • weather forecast
  • anticipated activities
  • the length of time of the trip
  • our accommodations
  • our mode of transportation
  • our dietary preferences or restrictions
  • our medical needs

I am a pretty flexible traveler but here are a few of my non-negotiables:

  • Q tips
  • emery board
  • fingernail clipper
  • extra emollient night cream
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush/toothpaste

But even more important than what we pack to take along, I think of a few other things that important to have on any trip as well as in life:

  • a sense of adventure
  • flexibility
  • grace
  • good attitude
  • effort
  • love
  • faith

I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have those essentials along with me. Above all, traveling throughout life without faith would really impact my journey. I just can’t imagine where I would be without knowing Jesus and God’s promises!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9 NIV]

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11 NIV]

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV]

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28 NIV]

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. [Romans 8:26-17 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

Photo credits to my sweet friend, Annette, who would be a blast to travel with!

A Time to Give Up

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A road in Pécs

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.


Have you ever found yourself trying too hard? There are times in situations that you overwork yourself or take on more responsibility for something, just to make it work. And, in the end, it doesn’t really work and you are exhausted from the attempt.

My Achilles heel is relationships.  When I perceive I have made a good connection with a person, the relating comes easy and is very comfortable, even if there are years between seeing one another face-to-face. But there are some relationships that are challenging. As the years have gone by, those are rarely friendships I have initiated, of course. The challenging ones are the ones where I have people in my life because of life, not because I have chosen to be in relationship with them. It might be a work colleague or another volunteer in a church or civic group or a family member and the connection takes an inordinate amount of effort.

It might be okay to surrender the relationship. If you decide to stop working so hard to make it work it is possible the other person will then step in and make the effort. Or not. And then, is it really a relationship worth pursuing?

There are relationships we have to be in and there are relationships we choose to be in. I pray you have a few solid relationships where you can be carefree and encouraged and know you are loved and appreciated. If you have a majority of relationships that are so exhasuting they throw you off kilter, it might be time to consider giving up one or two. Instead of working as if you are the sole contributor to the relationship, “give up” and see if the other person picks up the slack and also invests in it. If they let it go too, it might be an indication that it is time to be done.

Life is short. Be deliberate about where you spend your time and energy. And while all relationships go through bumps in the road, if you are always thrown out of alignment when interacting with some specific people, you might need to rethink how often you want to go down that road.

The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Keep

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Flowers 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.


There are so many moments I want to keep fresh in my mind. But as I get older I find they are increasing and so diverse. It’s hard to store them all away! That is a blessing of having cameras and being able to record special times. Although, sometimes the documentation can get in the way of the moment. I often struggle between being in the moment and making a record of it.

What moments in your life are you keeping? Are they worth the storage space? As you reflect on them, do they bring you joy or pain?

I love this quote about friendships but I think some of it is appropriate as we consider our lives and experiences  but my focus in this quote is the bolded words:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”  (attributed to a couple of people)

I only have a limited capacity for remembering. I don’t want to squandered it on things not worth keeping but sometimes my heart is on automatic pilot, for good and for bad.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. [Proverbs 4:23 NIV]

Our capacity for keeping is limited. Choose carefully!

On the way,

Liz

Charm is Deceptive

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I have been mulling over the word “charming” lately.

Often Prince Charming is seen as a good guy — he sweeps a gal off her feet and takes care of her for the rest of her life. But being charming isn’t always a good thing. When someone wants something they  might manipulate by “turning on the charm”, batting their eyes, or somehow communicate that they want something from you.

Have you ever been charmed by someone? While I don’t always recognize it immediately, I often am able to sniff out that person who is working the crowd (or a vulnerable person) for their own gain. I can’t stand to watch it but it seems to be one of those things people need to learn how to recognize for themselves. Unfortunately, being burned once or twice by this type of person is the best way to learn. In fact, the sooner one learns the tricks a sycophant plays the better because when someone knows what you long for be it recognition, prestige, devotion, etc. they will be sure to create the opportunity to deliver it to you. And that makes one very vulnerable and compromises discernment.

Some things to think about:

Where are you vulnerable? Have you ever sensed someone trying to take advantage of you?

Have you ever been guilty of exploiting someone else’s vulnerabilities for your own gain?

As you ponder these questions, ask God to open your eyes to where you might be susceptible to be snared as well as when you may have manipulated someone else for your own benefit. And be cautious around those who are exceedingly charming. I suspect they are not up to much good.

On the Road,

Liz

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A Hope

mansmindwI am not a big planner but I can appreciate one. I have learned how to plan over time but it won’t ever be a natural part of my constitution. I am sure one can analyze my early years to come up with a theory but I naturally just try to go with the flow. It is possible I learned along the way not to hold tight to plans or expectations. Yet I still vacillate between being disappointed things aren’t how I imagined they would be or wildly blessed that an experience has far exceeded my expectations. While I have much less control over things that happen to me than I might like I can ALWAYS control my response.

There are times we might carefully plan things and there are times we wing it. Both approaches have their place. The person who loves to plan and follow it gains great fulfillment when it comes together perfectly. The person who can pull it together at the last minute or go with the flow and enjoy the ride can also find great satisfaction. Knowing which approach to have in the variety of life’s circumstances takes practice but being able to develop a plan and then be content when it doesn’t work out is an act of faith. How we respond is so very important.

I rest my heart on Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declare the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Throughout the course of my life there have been things that have not made sense at the moment but became clear as time moved along. I do completely trust God and the things He has allowed in my life because I have watched Him work things out.

He always works it out!

Even as we look to these heavy days prior to Resurrection Sunday, we see God working out His plan for humanity.

He gives us hope for the future!

On the Road,

Liz

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In and Out

integritywOnce we are school aged we are often aware that there are some things we need to do to fit in. Some of those are fine things to require. There is a place for order.

Some people comply and “fit in” more easily than others and that has always been the case for any number of reasons. It always depends on the “group” needs and goals. As we get older and enter the work force we typically want to fit into the work culture yet also stand out in a way that shows our contributions are unique and beneficial to the team.

There is a delicate balance to fitting in yet standing out.  

But don’t be too surprised when the qualities, strengths, and perspectives that comprise you are not appreciated by everyone. If you are in a work environment that does not appreciate integrity and honesty, you might need an exit strategy. If you volunteer for an agency that asks you to compromise your core values, find a better fit. If you serve on a church board that does not behave in a healthy way, step away. While it is true you can change a system from the inside, it cannot be done singlehandedly. Sometimes the culture of a system is unhealthy and fighting against something so ingrained is like beating your head against a wall.

But don’t forget to look inward and evaluate if you are being too hard-nosed about things that may not really matter. Even though we may be wired a bit differently and may approach a task differently than the next person, it can be a matter of preference. And the difference in approach is what makes life and relationships interesting.

If you know someone who is working hard not to compromise their core values, be supportive by praying for a better fit for them. Be willing to listen as they process and brainstorm. Give them the gifts of encouragement and laughter and unconditional love.

On the Road,

Liz