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

The Judas Kiss

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:48-50

Have you ever been connected with someone who flattered you with kisses (or something similar) only to have them turn on you later?

If you have ever experienced it you know it is quite unpleasant. When I have been in this type of situation I wonder where was my discernment? Why was I vulnerable to fall for something like that?

Who does that to people?

Plenty do.

But knowing that this happened to Jesus helps. Betrayal happens.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Of course, our betrayal experiences do not compare with those of Jesus but it is good to know that pain we feel – He can relate. And God can use it for a greater good.

The sooner you can forgive a betrayer the better off you will be. But just don’t expect that to be something you can do without Jesus. He is the one who makes forgiveness possible.

On the Road,

Liz

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Good Words

Anxietyw. copyHave you noticed the challenge of anxiety is discussed more openly than in years past? I don’t know if there is more anxiety or if we have just come to a greater understanding of it recently. But if you know someone who lives with anxiety you know it weighs him or her down.

It is so easy to critique and criticize. There is a world just waiting for the next great zinger or some clever sarcasm. It is also easy to get caught up in my own situation. I know that I can be lost in thought and miss an opportunity to encourage with something even as simple as a smile.

But good words….those are desperately needed.

Don’t discount the words you share and the impact they make. Make a point of sharing God’s Word, which has so much good news for a weary soul, or other good words with those around you today. It can be as simple as:

“I appreciate you!”

There are some wonderful social media images with good words. I have a folder on my desktop that is titled Inspiration and I put them there. When I don’t find what I need, I make it on canva.com because I find that it is good for me to see the good words. Creating good words is therapeutic for me!

Make the time to share some good words today. You might find that the words you share with someone else are the very words that soothe your soul!

On the Road,

Liz

Step By Step

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I love Proverbs! We have this great reminder in our home and I wondered if it might be a good reminder for you today! Just for fun, I looked this verse up in The Message. It isn’t the version I typically look at but I wanted to see at Proverbs 3:5-6 from a different angle because sometimes a look through a different lens gives new insight:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all. [Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message]

There are times I want answers for life challenges. I know quite a few people in the middle of some pretty big stuff and I wonder what God is going to do with all of it. I know He will do something because He doesn’t waste any experience. He doesn’t want crummy things to happen to the people He loves but there are always consequences to sin. Of course, we each have sin in our lives. But there are many times our lives are impacted by the sins of others. Sometimes I try to figure it all out but it is beyond me. I don’t know it all. I don’t see the bigger picture just yet. I may never know the bigger picture of things. Ever. I just need to trust God. I need to pay attention to His words and follow in His way.

Some days it isn’t easy. Other days it is. Staying “in step” with God is the key.

How do you stay “in step” with God?

Heavenly Father ~ I know that you are working in my life. I trust you are working out all the details. I don’t need to know it all, I just need to know the next step. Help me to do what I need to do today so that I am ready for the next part of the process tomorrow.

On the Road,

Liz

Children, Parenting, and Pride

Do you know or parent a child who is very compliant?

NEWSFLASH: It’s most likely a personality trait. Your awesome parenting did not create a compliant child.

Do you know or parent a child who is strong willed and likes to buck at every turn?

NEWSFLASH: That is also mostly a personality trait. Your parental mistakes (and friends, we ALL make loads of them) did not create a child who insists on blazing their own trail!

Do your remember Adam and Eve? Created by a perfect God, living in a sinless world, and no “good” excuse for their choices. Even they did not follow God’s directions!!!

NEWSFLASH: You will never be a more perfect parent than God!

If your kids are compliant (or obedient) most of the time, don’t take the credit for it. Compliance is most often a God-given personality trait.

Don’t be prideful in your parenting. You can learn all you can and do the best you can but don’t put your kids and their behavior on a pedestal. Whenever you see kids put on a pedestal, it is because the parents want to be on the pedestal but this is a more accepted way of getting the accolades. I think we can all agree though, it is obnoxious and exhausting to be friends with people who always need to talk about the amazing things their children accomplish. By the same token, there is no need to humiliate and shame your children for mistakes. Quite honestly, there are a ton of natural consequences that come with risky behavior, even some that we have to live with. While we would like children to learn these hard lessons sooner rather than later and with as little pain and embarrassment as possible, sometimes it takes a lifetime of learning. They will learn as they grow. We all do.

“Pride attaches undue importance to the superiority of one’s status in the eyes of others; And shame is fear of humiliation at one’s inferior status in the estimation of others. When one sets his heart on being highly esteemed, and achieves such rating, then he is automatically involved in fear of losing his status.” Lao-Tzu

While I am not a big fan of Lao-Tzu, there is some great insight in that quote. Pride and fear are very interconnected. Pride can mess up quite a bit of stuff. I have seen it cripple people, families, congregations, and ministries. Be careful! It can creep up on you. If you consider yourself above accountability, then you have some issues with pride. If you do not ask for accountability and allow people to hold you accountable for what you do and say, then be ready for that ugly day when it all comes crashing down. It is important to take this issue of pride seriously. It is often something we can see in others more quickly than we can see it in ourselves. Ask God to reveal your areas of pride. Take the risk and ask an honest friend too.

Every time I land in Proverbs I am reminded that I need to spend more time there:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.

[Proverbs 16:18-19]

Lord, You know me inside and out. You created me. You love me. You desire for me to learn and grow. Pride is not a part of what You desire for me. Bring me to a greater place of dependency on You. When You see pride in me, You also see fear. Replace that fear with trust in You. Let me be real, accessible, and accountable. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!