Hope

The definition of HOPE-  A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

So often when we have a battle before us, we hesitate to declare boldly our expectation and desire for the end results. We are concerned that declaring boldly that the Lord will do as we ask and expect, He will look bad if that outcome is not as we were declaring, desiring, expecting, or hoping for.

The thing is we have a great gift, in the ability to walk in a feeling of expectation and desire for the things on our heart.  We get to experience that expectation bubble up inside of us. We have a vision and direction for what we wish to see.

God offers us the gift of hope in His word. We do not hurt his feelings if we are hoping for something that may or may not be His will. We have the right as His children, to declare the hopes and desires within our heart. He is that good of a father, that He wants to know and most often He is the one that placed that very hope there in the first place.

I look at my husband as an example of how declaring our hope works. As a young couple, he declared to me that he expected and desired a future with me. He declared and expected we would have a family. He was bold in these statements. God knew I desired a man that would be bold in his plans for our future. What if Dan never declared his love, his desire, his hope, his expectancy ? What if he was silent? Would the results of our future been the same? I highly doubt it.

Boldly petition and declare what you are desiring and expecting. No regrets, no apologies. He is good, no matter the plan and He is good enough to allow us to share our hearts.

Psalm 31:24
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Jeremiah 29:11

 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.

His love NEVER fails!!!!  This is a link to an awesome song! Click it 🙂 Blessings

Old Habits Die Hard

I started my job, worked for two months and then quit my job. I went in feeling strong, but each day tore me down physically more. I wanted to push through the fatigue and pain, I wanted to be the marathon runner that reached the end of the race. I felt like a failure to have quit.

It has been two weeks now and I have noticed, those two months working really were a training time. I now have even more energy at home in my days  than before I started the job.  I have stepped away from the job making me ill and harming my body and my strength is returning and pain filled days are lessening. I now am in pursuit of writing and photography, as well as a part-time job. There is reason to hope for my future!

I see so much that I had learned in that very short time frame. I would never replace my meeting the co workers  or my experience with the kids creating laughter and joy filled moments. The long drive to work in the AM listening to focus on the family on the radio had developed some extra wisdom and very healing God moments for me.

However even with a hope,  there is one problem amidst all my revelation that I am called to not work full-time right now, there is no money at the end of the month. We are making ‘exactly’ our bills and not a penny more. While I should be thankful for that and I am , I am finding myself wanting to worry about the ‘needs’. The needs list is never-ending; Explorer needs fixed, the kids need school fees, we are thousands behind from the layoff and on and on the list goes. Oh, and did I mention groceries that are needed for 3 teen boys?

I find myself wanting to pick up worry, stress, doubt, depression, anger, frustration, self loathing and despair. I try to figure it all out in my own head, but there is truly no earthly answer.

It has dawned on me that my old fleshy habits have not died and yet here I was so very thankful just a few weeks ago. I now bring these things to attention, because I do not want to stay in my habits. Because I see them for what they are; fleshy old yucky habits, they have been exposed and I do not have to stay wallowing in them.

The awesome thing about failures as a human being. We can give them over to the Lord and He will perfect His work in us. His presence is enough to calm the frustrated heart, to give strength, to leave peace where worry once dwelt.

Whenever the enemy wants to come back at me with how my situation looks, I can remind Him what the word of God says. My God is enough, He supplies all my need, I do not need to fear or doubt but trust. I have victory over those past habits and even though they want to rise up, I don’t need to let them.

As hard as it can be at times and I want to pick up that old habit, I need to kill it and make sure it stays dead. I am a new creation! That joy has bubbled forth in me once and I don’t want to let the first trials coming along take it away. My joy is not dependant on the what if’s. My joy is in him. That is a habit I want daily! The habit of joy!

Challenge this day my friend: Be aware of your habits. Be aware of picking up wrong thinking or sinning again and address it. Take it to the one that can give you strength to develop the RIGHT habits.

Ephesians 4:22- 24

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Here comes the bride

Image

I have spent the last two weekends at weddings. I have been in the background watching and observing,  often behind the lens of the camera. When I look at the face of the groom at the front of the aisle waiting for his bride, I see great joy and excitement in his face.  His hand is held out and ready to receive his bride as she approaches him.

As I see the bride walk towards her groom, she steps timidly at first but her eyes lock on his and each step becomes bolder and bolder. As she arrives at his arm, I see her face shines with adoration of him and her feeling of completion settles over her whole countenance.

It is at that moment when the two stand before the gathering, you can see that all their preparation was for this moment and they are embracing it with joy.

I don’t believe most brides or grooms that are ready to finally become one with their soul mate, stand before the congregation and plan to one day pull farther and farther away from their partner by seeking after their own selfish ways.  I don’t believe a bride or groom that has  prepared themselves, sit in front of all the witnesses with a plan to bail out at some point. Their ‘plan’ is to stay together forever, not to stay together until  the next best thing or distraction comes along. They do not go into marriage with a desire or plan to forsake their love. But sadly so often this is exactly what happens. The bride and groom that fail, have forgotten their  love and the setting aside of  themselves for that love.

I am reminded how great the anticipation was for my wedding. From the time I was a young girl I would pour over bride magazines, dance in my room in a pretend wedding dress and veil that was made out of a set of sheets or table-cloth, and set up my stuffed animals to be the attendees. I just knew one day I wanted to get married, and I was practicing and watching others around me as I prepared to one day take my own steps down the aisle.

This scenario reminds me afresh my FIRST love with Jesus. I just glowed with anticipation of one day seeing Him face to face. I looked forward to spending time in His word, with His church, in worship and prayer and prepared myself for him. This is something that I must carry on daily. I can not let my love for Jesus grow dim. I die inside if I drift away.

If I want to stay sturdy in my relationship with Jesus, I must cultivate the relationship, just as a bride and groom must. I can not forsake my first love.

I can’t get lazy, or complacent, or settle for good enough. If a bride and groom get lazy or complacent or settle, they don’t develop anything deeper or richer in their lives, and often the intimacy is ruined and the walls start building up and a separation of heart occurs.

Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, but if we as His children (The bride of Christ) do not seek to continually develop our relationship and grow with Him, it is then us that leaves Him little by little until we are carrying His name only with us. When we drift away we are not carrying the essence of who He is, in our being.

I have watched others, slowly drift away to the point that you have forgotten that they ever knew Jesus, let alone once walked with Him hand in hand. They let their love fizzle and die out, forgetting the excitement and anticipation of belonging to Him. I have seen others ready to take on the name of Jesus (Christian) but not actually be prepared to belong to Him, by fully repenting and turning away from self. It is so very important to take on not only the name of Jesus but to truly belong to Him. Just as a faithful bride takes on her husband’s name, she is doing more than brandishing his name, she belongs to her husband and forsakes others and the ways of living for herself.

We must remember as a bride of Jesus, we now belong to Him and should desire to please Him by letting His word become alive and real in our life.

If you can not lay yourself down, and belong to Him fully, it is time to re-evaluate my friends. Why take on the name at all?

Challenge this day my friend: Rediscover the FIRST LOVE you had with Jesus. That first excitement and joy that you are the beloveds and He is yours. You belong to the Jesus that died and laid His life down, giving of himself for you. This is the greatest gift; Love. Remember your position as the bride of Christ and don’t take your place lightly.

If you have not fully had a JOY over your relationship with Jesus, pray that it may be so. Pray that you may become closer and have a fuller understanding. Continue to prepare your heart.

Do not be as the modern-day mockers of marriage… do not forsake your love for Him.

Blessings~

Revelation 2:4

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

Finish the RACE

I just watched a very moving video where a teen helped carry a fallen competitor over the finish line of the state track meet. The ending was the most profound and I will be posting the link at the end of the blog for you all to see it and be blessed.

The actions of support for the one team member got me to thinking of the race in my own life.

I am called to complete and finish ALL that the Lord has for me to do. I am to stand in my faith and not waver. Often I get bogged down by my limits or life circumstances that can be dizzying, and want to give up, but God promises to be my strength and to be my aid as I finish what He has before me. When I am burdened He carries those burdens for me.

There are times I have put things on the shelf to refuel and that can be healthy, but never my faith in the moments of rest, always trusting that He will accomplish what He sets out to complete in me. I can not listen to the lies that bombard my mind that I won’t get there. I have had definite times that I just wanted to give up and not keep striving for that goal, but then He sends a reminder and I am lifted and ready to go on.

I want to reach the destination He has for me. I desire to touch the lives He has for my harvest. I want to remember to STAND in FAITH always and I want that moment when I can give a collective sigh and say;

” YES, I MADE IT! ”

Challenge this day my friends: Evaluate the races in your life that you are meant to complete but desire to give up on and remember, you are NEVER alone!

2 Timothy 4:7-

have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Psalm 68:19-

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah

The LINK I promised 🙂 Blessings!!!
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/ohio-runner-stops-state-final-aid-fallen-opponent-100722161.html

Before the storm and in it

Image

A few months before our first storm, in our everything is finally going smoothly again season, I had painted a picture. Now clearly I am not a great artist, but this picture represented praising God through the storms of life. I had decided I was going to praise Him through anything.

I had no idea how much I would need to remember those words and that initial feeling when the painting was complete that praise was my offering, no matter what.

I have learned that the praise from my lips brings me joy. I have learned focusing my eyes on greatness rather than the destruction around me brings me joy.

I have found that a God that cares enough to keep me in a home when income was cut by 2/3 for over six months now,  cares enough that my husband crashed a car and survived, cares enough that there are days of strength in the midst of illness,  cares enough that my children bringing me laughter after days that they make me want to pull out my hair, is a God that cares ENOUGH.

Life is not JUST what you see in front of your face or in your moment. There is a whole world going on around you despite that storm. There is ALWAYS something to find to praise.

When I was consumed with depression and despair, all I spoke out of my mouth was anger, frustration, hopelessness and turmoil that was inside me. It was bringing about death and destruction.

I decided it was time for a heart change when I sat in the shower dreaming of my blood pouring down the drain. I was awakened by the Spirit of the Lord stirring in me… “This is NOT what I have for you!”

The strange thing is, my despondent depressing days surrounding mostly my illness. Nothing tragically frustrating had happened in our life for  a few years at my darkest time. Things were quiet and mostly good, except I was physically sick and felt miserable. The pain was blinding and living in a fog had broken me…for a moment.

It is now that I can look back and see God was saying, you are stronger than this. He had a testimony for me to share, and the work had only just begun.

I decided at my worst that it was time to get my heart right. Out of the heart your mouth will speak. I had aloud despair to consume me and to be my heart condition and I would not settle for  it!

It was after that shower that I had looked up and saw the painting I had painted. I painted this painting by ‘accident’ I had no intention of a tree, or a storm or hands raised, I was painting and it took shape.

I decided looking at this picture that I wanted to WALK in a heart of praise. I wanted praise to consume me, I wanted praise to pour from my lips continually.

I have had these moments before, I have always been a worshiper, but God was doing something even deeper than I could imagine!

I had no idea the battle front I would be facing when I made that decision all those months ago to praise Him in every storm. But praise Him I have, and praise Him I will. I know that He has awesome plans for us, and while I blog and learn new joys every morning, you watch and see, He is going to do GREAT things in the midst of these storms. I mean my lands, look at what He already had done through my last blogs.

Challenge this day my friends: It is time for a starting place, I do not care how small it seems, praise Him this day for something. Praise Him for a sunrise, for a hope, for a moment, or for the simple fact that

He is GOOD.

Psalm 30:12

That I might sing praises to you and not be silent. OH LORD MY GOD, I will give you thanks forever!

(NLT)

Removing the mask

Today was a hard one for me. I hate to cry in front of people and had a whole audience this time (5 people!) The tears were contagious and others had cried as well.

Through  this heartbreak, I am reminded that I must walk in joy daily and choose joy for my life, but I do not need to walk around as if troubles never come my way.

If I walk around always saying I am fine when I am not, then I am putting on a mask and it is not healthy. Joy is mine because I choose it, it is inside me and Christ provides it, but I will face trials as will everyone else.

Often I have had Christians complain to me that they don’t feel like anyone wants them to be ‘real’. They feel that it is necessary to plaster a smile on their face all the time because nobody really wants to know what may be uncomfortable to look at. They hide their sin, they hide their pain, they hide their fears, and trials. They paste on a  smile and act like everything is wonderful.

There is a difference between sharing your heart and being a whiner, pity me party type person. Our hurts, our scars and our pain are REAL and we must deal with them.

I am not saying it is okay to run through life complaining all the time to everyone you meet about everything you are dealing with at every given opportunity. It is important to know who we can turn to with all of us, the good and the not so great. This allows people to share your burdens and be able to lift one another up in our times of trial.  When your testimony arrives, these friends, pastors or whoever it is that you had shared the full truth with, will be able to rejoice when you have welcomed the complete victory!

I am learning the balance between who I share with and who I do not, as well as spilling everything and keeping everything in. I will say it so important to not be a gloomy gus with everyone, everywhere you go. But when asked if you are okay, if you are not, do not lie, be truthful and say how you are. REJOICE that the Lord will turn your situation around for good, while being real.

I can allow friends and family to see my tears or know my hurts and frustrations, and I can still obtain joy in the midst of it. I can share it ALL with Jesus.

He knows my coming and going, I can shout out LORD I AM UNHAPPY AT THIS MOMENT! (most often that is when His peace will rush me ).

Sometimes the root to having joy, is to allow ourselves to be who we are with no strings attached. We are to grow and walk with Jesus daily and when we do that we shine with the glory of the Lord. We do not need to wear a mask covering up who we are.

Challenge this day my friends: Remove the mask you have hidden behind… Allow others to know you, to pray with you, to encourage you. Allow Jesus to remove your hurt and burdens. It is time to be free and allow those things to be revealed so we do not continue to harbor them!

2 Corinthians 3:16

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Silence is golden

 

A proverbial saying, that many take claim of its origion is ,”Silence is golden”. While I know the interpretation is meant to be, keep your mouth shut, I am reflecting on that fact how nice it is to be sitting in my quiet and still home at this moment with no noise and buzzing of activity going on around me.

Being an only child with  working parents had left me growing up with some  alone time. I had become comfortable with the quiet. The peace of no distraction and no noise was my friend.

Then one day came marriage and then baby one, two and three. Life has rarely ever been quiet again. My husband is also an only child, but one that thrived on the communication and busyness around him, and still does to this day. He has energy that makes a cup of coffee jealous. And his perpetual great morning attitude drives me crazy.

The boys have the stereotype energy of boys. They always have something to share and are always on the move. It is healthy for them but at times is mind buzzing to me how busy they all are.

I stayed home and home schooled my boys for much of their younger years. We had a meeting of one kind to go to or another almost daily; rehearsals, bible studies, home groups, play groups and church. I think it was literally years before I had a moment of silence because even nap time was filled with their lullaby music.

It was when we were  living in the country and  my children were in school for the first time that I realized afresh how a completely quiet moment can be a blessing. Oh, how I had missed the stillness of nothing. I learned in this season how to truly be still, and know who God is. It was time to exalt Him in a new way and keep the distractions at bay.

I often had let busyness  and life get in the way of just being silent and listening. I learned to use this time alone and quiet, to reflect on what the Lord was sharing with me or what my friends and family have most recently imparted in my life.

A quiet moment can be the most peaceful, joyfilled moment of our day. Simply being still and listening to the soft stirring of the Holy Spirit.

I now have an unemployed, energetic husband at home, and teens bursting in the door with their excitement of the day. But now that I know how important the silence is to me and the daily exalting of my God, I take a time for that. Even if it is set aside in only a moment, it is set aside.

I do have many aquaintences that feel like silence is their curse because they are alone. They hate the quiet, or may not see the sweet gift that it can be to have a moment of nothing. I pray they can embrace some of this opportunity to listen in the silence and even enjoy it. I also pray all their hearts desires come into fulfillment.

Challenge this day my friend; Look for the opportunity to steal a moment of golden silence.

Psalm 46:10

Be still and know I am God,

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.

(NIV)