Wounds & Scars

It’s been raining here in southern Indiana since Thursday. Sometimes it is a light rain and sometimes it is pelting and intense, but it has been pretty regular for days. It always feels right to me when there is rain during this part of Holy Week. It symbolizes the tears and anguish during the actual week as the events unfolded.

It also represents my own tears:

  • For the things I have done.
  • For the things I have left undone.
  • For the times I intentionally caused pain to others because of my own pain.
  • For the loss.
  • For the shame.
  • For the grief.
  • For the profound sadness.

The wounds and scars of Jesus remind me of my own, at times. Of course, He endured His for me, for all of us. He had no sin but was sin for us. My wounds and scars are just as real, but some were caused by my own sin in addition to the injury caused by others. Jesus takes on sin that isn’t His.  He wipes those tears and takes my guilt and shame as His own. His wounds are Holy and allow me to stand in front of the Holiest.

And then the tears fall again:

  • For the forgiveness.
  • For the relief.
  • For the thankfulness.
  • For the love.
  • For the saving grace.

All the tears for all the reasons.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV]

May you fix your eyes on Jesus — Sunday is coming!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: Inside/Outside

Mindfulness

I have been trying to be more mindful about a lot of things but it is exhausting. It takes a lot of thinking and planning to be more intentional. And since I can only be more mindful about a few things at a time, I need to choose wisely. What deserves my focus? I can’t possibly be intentional about everything. So I struggle with balancing what is vital with what would be nice as well as how to go about it.

Recently I have been working on mindful eating. I know, I know – this is a First World problem. For some reason, this is my challenge. And definitely a work in progress but I need to find a good groove for this because I do travel quite a bit these days and that can be a challenge if I have not given it some thought. So I have tried to break it down a bit. Maybe whatever you are being more mindful about can fit in these categories. Or, please feel free to share how you are thinking through and acting on the things that are important to you!

WHAT – having a meal and snack plan is important. I need to have healthy snacks as well as healthy meals but I also have a budget. Thinking through my meals and making s

WHEN – These days, I can’t have a meal late without feeling yucky so I like to finish my last meal by 7pm, and then no snacks afterwards. I like to be in bed around 9pm or so because my day starts early.

WHERE – I have to admit that there is quite a bit of snacking in the car, particularly if I am trying to stay awake. Once in a while we are trying to push through and we might even eat a meal while driving. I am sure this isn’t a great plan. The other thing I need to work on is since our dining room table always has work project on it, it isn’t always ready to eat on. I don’t like that. I need find a better system so I can eat at our table.

WHY – This might sound crazy but I do need to think a little more about why I am eating. Am I really hungry? Am I bored? Is everyone else doing it? Does it just taste sooo good? Or am I automatically doing it without any thought? Have you ever been to a nice, satisfying dinner and then went out for a movie and bought popcorn and had a bucketful? It’s crazy…but we do it. Somehow it seems like going to the movies automatically means having popcorn. Now, I don’t go to the movies except for, maybe, once a year but the above scenario is a great example of mindless eating!

HOW – I have a tendency to eat too fast – so building in time to relax and enjoy a meal S-L-O-W-L-Y is important for digestion but I have either waited too long (and then I am too hungry) or I have some other task I need to accomplish. Being mindful about pace is important for me. I love the idea of “slow food” cooking but maybe I just need to think about “slow food” eating???

HOW MUCH – For me, this is my extra challenge. But eating more slowly will help me eat less. Serving portions in restaurants are large and I need to be more mindful when ordering but also as I am eating. Leaving food behind (if I can’t take it with me for later) is better than just eating it so I don’t “waste” it!

Really now, bring mindful about food requires that much thought? Apparently, for me, it does.

What are you being more mindful about these days?

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:15-25, NIV]

May God bless your day!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: DIRECTION

Uprooted

Have you driven by a wooded area and noticed large trees, roots and all, just lying down? That would be an amazing thing to watch happen. It is interesting that something so tall and so old can just tip over. Ground saturation usually plays a role and I am sure there is a lot to it but it is such an interesting visual.

Have you ever felt like your life was uprooted? Maybe you were in a terrible situation and, even though the change was good, it was change all the same and was distressing.

Or maybe you made the decision to make the change. I always think that when the ball is in my court that it feels better. Or at least it was a bit within my control. But it still is a process and requires a lot of steps.

It seems harder to be completely uprooted these days – even if your “new” life is across the ocean there is an ability to maintain a connection. Sometimes that is good and sometimes it is not so good. You can be tugged back into the “old” when you need to venture forth into the “new”.

Ever try to break free of a particular sin and find it, seemingly, dragging you back into “service”? You try to cut it down, root it out, and then it sprouts up again. You try to leave it behind but it finds ways to catch up with you.

I know we all have sin in our lives – some of them we have just co-existed with over the years because we have numbed ourselves to the reality that it is sin. Today, focus on one area that seems to trouble you and ask God to show you where the root is. Put some time and intentional focus and prayer into this sin that seems to follow you to every job or friendship or place you live and see what you can do to root it out.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. [Colossians 2:6-8, NIV]

God’s blessings to you as you consider what needs to be uprooted in your life.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: THE LAW

Forgiveness

I opened my mouth the other day and something really ungracious came out. I realized it immediately and reminded myself, also out loud, that God’s grace for me has been unending. I, too, have behaved in ugly, hurtful ways and yet, He loves me. I need to extend that grace.

Sometimes my memory isn’t the greatest, but when I have been wronged, my memory is amazing. I can remember the circumstances, the emotions, the damage. It can put me on a sad path. Surely others I have known over my lifetime can remember my hurtful and selfish behavior that has impacted them. Maybe I am even someone they need to re-forgive on a regular basis.

In my ungracious moments, I need to remember that I took this situation to God and I gave it to Him. I asked him to help me see that person as broken, in need of forgiveness, and to help me not get stuck in a cycle of anger and resentment over the circumstances. I may have already walked through the process of forgiveness but some vestiges have hung on. I need to loosen the grip of my justification for my anger and forgive again.

The trouble is, these are some of the things I don’t seem to forget.  Remembering and walking through the steps of forgiveness and God’s provision in the process help me remember that I, too, have hurt others deeply and it keeps me honest about my own need for forgiveness. Every day I need to be reminded that I need of a Savior washed clean by Baptismal grace.

I am not proud of my ugly moments, but they serve a greater purpose. My mouth speaks what my heart is holding onto. And it is important for God’s Word to shine in my heart and change me, and my responses.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. [Matthew 12:34b-35, NIV]

An interesting thought from author Seth Godin today:

You made my day

When your day gets made, how long does it last? A made day–is that different from a normal day?

Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a made hour or, if we’re going to be quite truthful, a made minute.

When something bad happens, we can revisit the humiliation and anxiety for months. But the good stuff, if we don’t work at it, can pass right by.

We get what we remember, and we remember what we focus on.

May God bless you as you come to terms with your own sin and forgiveness as you process unforgiveness you may harbor against others!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TIME

A Time to Refrain from Embracing

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Saying goodbye to winter in Mohács, 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.


re·frain1    rəˈfrān/   verb

stop oneself from doing something.  “she refrained from comment”   “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”

synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoideschewshunrenounce;

informal swear off;
formal forswearabjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning.  There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

On the way,
Liz

 

Routines

When I am home, I have a few routines. Nothing fancy; they mostly involve how my morning starts and how my day ends. But when I am traveling, most routines are out the window.

Are there special ways you start and end your day?

Routines give birth to habits and can be great. Or not. Do I routinely criticize how someone does something? Do I regularly complain about every little thing? Do I have a tendency to give a harsh response to simple questions?

Have I developed some bad habits that I need to get rid of?

Disrupting routines helps me fall out of habits–both good ones and bad ones. But when I get back to regular life, I find that I easily return to the worn path. Those “ruts in the road” are hard to deny so I need to choose my ruts carefully because those will be the very things that pull at me as I am cruising through life.

When I switch up my routine, it helps reveal my habits. And when I find habits that need to change, it’s best to tackle that head on. First, I pray for the strength to go against my sinful nature. There will be numerous times to practice in any given day! Then I might find a friend and tell them what I am hoping to change. Verbalizing my intentions helps me stay the course because I have spoken them to another human and I really don’t want to report back that I have failed. That is because I have a tendency to be an “obliger” read more about the Four Tendencies here…

I have choices on how I can respond. Unfortunately, when I find myself in a “negative” situation I don’t always choose well and sometimes I try to justify my ugly response. But, with God’s help, a little practice, and outside accountability I can choose the better way.

On the Road,

Liz

 

 

Yours, Mine, and Theirs

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Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I worry. And sometimes I get anxious!

God’s Word tells us “Do not be anxious…” but there are times I am.

I know the truth of God’s Word but we are sinners living in a sinful world. Your sins, my sins, and their sins all can impact us and cause a lifetime of pain and consequences. Life isn’t all about rainbows and fluffy kittens. Some people are living in very hard situations. There are times I look at what some people are going through day after day and I have no idea how they survive except by putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on and clinging to their faith.

But there is more to this life!

Some people are bogged down in difficult life circumstances and others are caught up in the race of acquiring more and achieving more. Sometimes it is easier to hold onto the depths of God’s truths when we struggle because climbing the ladder of success and notoriety takes a lot of time and effort and often some very important stuff can easily be lost in the ascent. Whatever the circumstance,  it is easy to get distracted and disoriented when ugly things happen in life if not grounded in God’s Word and His gifts of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.

God’s words go against what we see in our world today. His promises and provisions don’t follow the ways of the world and I am so very glad! Posted below is the first verse of a sweet hymn. I didn’t grow up hearing this one but it is one I love to hear children sing! It is both simple and complex. As I look back over my life, I can see God’s gentle guidance and provision and I know that He will provide for me as the future unfolds before me!

I am Jesus’ little lamb,

Ever glad at heart I am;

For my shepherd gently guides me,

Knows my needs and well provides me,

Loves me every day the same,

Even calls me by my name!

   by Henritta L. von Hayn, 1724-1782

 

On the Road,

Liz