Hope is Him…

The fact that I wrote about hope last year, on this Saturday – the in-between day – and that God is prompting the same topic on this Saturday – the in-between day – a year later shouldn’t surprise me.hope-is-not-a-philosophy

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks. I’ve been writing, but not really, a post about my man child leaving home for a couple weeks now. I just can’t seem to get it done. I can’t put my feelings of joy and sadness into words yet. I try. I can’t.

This week has been especially difficult. You see, I received some bad news on Monday. It sorta rocked my world, definitely shook my confidence, and just crumpled my spirits. I was sad, bummed out, and feeling pretty defeated.

It took me all of half the day to get over it, though. The defeat was momentary. I can only give praise to Christ for that. I have too much faith in His call and purpose for me to sit and question anything for too long. I have to trust that what He says and does is for my very best.

I am living out a year with victory in mind, a year of expectation, and big, big hope. When something comes before me, I get SUPER excited about it and have a hope that seems larger than life. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty all-consuming hope. Driving to work one day, a couple weeks ago, I was so overwhelmed with hope, joy, and expectation over this particular thing that I just sobbed big, fat happy tears for how GOOD God is to me!

Imagine my surprise when that door closed. God, remember that morning we were driving? Remember how happy I was that You WERE going to make this happen? Remember how excited I was about it? He remembers. And He knows better. He knows me better. His plan is always better than my own.

Where I was stumbling, though, was how to continue standing in hope and expectation when there’s a good chance defeat will be on the other end. How do we expect the Lord to do something and not be so sad when He doesn’t do what we’re asking? When I brought this up, in my small group, I received the best, most quiet reply. “At least you still have hope.” Ahh… I DO still have hope. Lots and lots of it.

Her answer reminded me how many people walk around feeling hopeless, never expecting their lives to change or become different. Even those who know and trust Christ, fall into the enemy’s pit of hopelessness. I think back to Joshua 1, when the Israelites were told to cross the Jordan – without any clue about how or what would happen next – they were told that all things promised to them would come, they need only take the first step without seeing the big picture. It’s Hope! And it’s Faith!

On a day like the in-between Saturday, we’re reminded that when things seem bleak or hopeless, we can’t even imagine what’s on the other side of this day.

Hope Risen.

Risen Hope.

If we have the ability to believe and know that Christ was slaughtered for us. Died on the cross for us. Was buried in a tomb for us. And then rose from the grave so that we might be able to have life and HOPE in Him, then we have to continue to stand in the promises of Him.

He is good.

He is alive.

He is our hope.

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Slow it down. Breathe it in.

A curling iron cord.

That’s what almost did me in the other day.

Really? A cord? A silly, long, tangled, un-obliging cord.

I had already used the curling iron, a couple hours earlier, and put it back away. Just as I was ready to leave, though, I noticed a piece of hair that I either missed or it decided to be unruly. Either way, it needed a quick turn in the iron. Because I was rushing, I didn’t unwind the cord like I should have and it turned into a mess.

Set it on the counter. Breathe. Try again.

It worked that time. I just had to slow myself down. The first time, my fingers were working too fast for their own good and created a bigger mess. Once I slowed down, I was able to detangle because I was taking the time to pay attention to the details of what I was doing.

Do you sense an analogy coming? =]il_fullxfull.298574146

I can’t say that any part of my own life feels rushed right now. In fact, everything seems to be stuck in a timeless warp of not moving. But, gosh… I’ve been that crazy person.  I’ve fought with cords, with friends, with myself. Always rushing, moving ahead, faster than, going – going – going.

To what? More frustration, bigger tangles, and useless arguments.

I was reminded while fighting with the curling iron cord that so many parts of our lives just need a little more attention. A bit more tenderness. And a lot less rush. We need to stop, set it down, breathe, and try again.

There are so many Scriptures that talk about slowing down, waiting on God, being patient. While those passages don’t necessarily apply to the “curling iron cord” incident, the premise is the same. We need to just slow ourselves down sometimes and be more thoughtful about our approach.

When we slow down, we gain a heart of wisdom.

                Psalm 90:12 (ESV)12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

When we are still, we can depend on the One who holds our future.

                Psalm 46:10 (a) (ESV) 10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

In Luke 10, Jesus gives us permission to sit at His feet and just listen.

               Luke 10: 38-42 (ESV) 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I was thankful that all I was doing was fighting with a cord and was reminded to slow down. The hope is, for all of us, that when we build a solid foundation with the little things, it will then develop into a well rooted foundation for when the big things do come along. When slowing down is crucial. When listening for direction, guidance, and wisdom is needed, we’ll have trained ourselves to be in less of a hurry and more dependent on Him.

Waiting and Hoping and Believing

When life doesn’t do what we expect it to do, as believers, we can only do one thing.

Hope.

Some people think hope is a dirty word. “I hope for _____” and “I hope I can accomplish ____” or whatever your hope might look like in your world. It is not bad to hope for things, friends.

Abraham hoped… Romans 4:18-21 (NLT) 18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”[a] 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Hope provides us with an opportunity to have faith. Abounding faith! Believing that what God has promised us will come through, in His time, is hard, but crucial to our walk with Him.

When I was preparing for my move to Texas, I had a great “feel” on a job with a local non-profit. My manager put in a call to their management and sent a recommendation letter on my behalf. I knew – I just KNEW – that the job would work out and it was perfect for me.

The job didn’t work out. I knew it was perfect for me. God knew it wasn’t.

I had a choice at that point; I could stop hoping and believing in God’s promises to me or I could move forward, in faith, that God wasn’t going to lead me into a place of despair and just leave me there. It was the perfect opportunity to allow my faith to grow even more. Figuratively, I could look at my resume and find that it’s “as good as dead” and that I would never find the place He has for me. But, like Abraham, I want to choose not to waver in believing God’s promise.

It isn’t easy. Sometimes I want to waver. I want to tuck my tail, and run home. I miss my friends more than I ever thought possible. I thought I would be working by now and have my mind distracted from the people, things, and places my heart longs for. All I have to lean on, hope in, depend on is God. And He has to be enough for me.

He is enough.psalm 130 jshih

Galatians 5:5 (NLT) 5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.


Psalm 130:5 (NIV) I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Whatever it is that you’re hoping for today, have faith. Believe in God’s promise to you. Hold on to that hope and keep walking the path He lays for you. His path is perfect. In obedience, we aren’t promised that the path will be without struggle – but we are promised that His plans are best.

Wait on Him. In His word put my hope.

Repeat.

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Repeat.

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Repeat…

Sayin “Bye Y’all” is Never Easy.

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It’s March 11th today. I won’t post this writing for probably a couple of weeks. And, honestly, it’s probably going to take me a couple weeks to write it. One because it’s hard and two because it keeps changing. There are a lot of things happening and it’s going to be a little bit of a whirlwind when it all finally starts to come together, and I might not find time to write this update in the midst of all of it!

Some people may have noticed a trend, between my Facebook, my blog, and another community where I write on occasion, that there are some changes brewing, happening, and coming along.

It’s all true. There are lots of things happening.

I’m moving.

Not just, like, around the way moving – I’m moving in a serious way.

To Texas.

*blink*

It’s okay. It’s taken me a while to get used to saying it, too.

There are a few reasons for this move, but the most important reason is God. He’s been preparing me in a big way over the last couple of years. As of today, I still don’t know the full picture. He’s very carefully giving me a couple steps to see at a time. I’m only trying to be obedient. My flesh wants to see it all. I want to see the BIG, HUGE picture He has for me. It’s just not possible. I need to rest in His peace and know that I’m doing what He’s calling me to do.

Another reason is my family. My aunt and uncle live in Texas and I miss them terribly. I’d love to be closer. I also have another uncle in the DFW area and a couple of friends. The big clincher for me, though, was my mom. She and her husband decided to sell their home in IL and move south! If I position myself in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I’ll be pretty close to in the middle of my two favorite women – my mom a few hours north and my aunt a couple hours south.

Another reason is little to no snow. Really. This winter about did me in. I’m over it. All of it. I’ve felt trapped more than ever, alone more than ever, and found myself making up for lost work days way too much. I’ve fought the winter emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I’m done. I’ll probably hate the summer once I’m there, but I think I hate the winter more.

I have a “drop date” set. What that means to me is that even if I haven’t been offered a job by the time that date rolls around, I’m going. It’s probably the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken. It’s risky, desperate, reckless faith in the reals. I’m holding on to God opening a job opportunity for me, but if He doesn’t, I know that I’m supposed to go anyway. Talk about being dependent on Him. Oi. And, my boy hasn’t yet decided what he wants to do. Granted, he’ll be 20 this year. He’s fully capable to take care of himself, but I’m his mom. I want him with me. He doesn’t want to leave his girlfriend. I get it. I really, completely, totally get it.

So, what I need from you, my friends, is prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. Prayer for my boy who will be looking for a place to stay and, once momma leaves, maybe a good, home-cooked meal from time to time. Or, momma’s secret prayer is that he just comes with me. Also, prayer for work. I’m gonna need it. I’ll be aggressively looking for work. I’m heading down, in May, for a work trip and I hope to find an apartment that will be available when I’m ready to go, for good, mid-summer. Finally, prayer for the trip itself. I’ve never moved myself across the country before. It’s a little scary to think about, but also so exciting!

Before I go, there are several things I need to take care of at home. First, I will be having foot surgery in early June. I would appreciate prayers for that to go smoothly. I’ll also be getting a full physical before I go. Many of you know the struggles I’ve had with my health over the last 9 years, and you also know that I’ve all but given up on the medical community to fix me. I’ve fixed myself pretty well, I’d say! While I still have some bad days here and there, it’s nothing like it used to be. Because of my uncertainty with most doctors I’ve been in contact with, I’ve stayed away from doctors for years and I really just need to have everything checked. There are also some things with the man-child that need to be lined up and taken care of before I go.

In all of it, I just want to hear God clearly. I want to know that the steps I’m taking are at His direction. My heart is His and I only want to be where He’s calling me to be. While I’ve spent the last 10 years maturing in my faith, learning to depend on Him, and trying so hard to be obedient, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position to be so completely “hands in the air” open to what He’s doing. This life is not my own. I give it ALL in surrender.

This song has been in my heart lately, as it speaks volumes to me. I remember it carrying me when I felt homesick moving here from Michigan so many years ago. And here it is, still having an impact on my heart.

Which way do I go?

largeIt’s fair for you guys to know… my word. You know, that one… the one that begs me to find “serenity?” Well, it’s breaking me. Stretching me. Changing me.

This reason is why I love doing the OneWord challenge so much. There are so many things in my world that can be wrapped up in that word right now.

God is pulling some rugs from under me, but quickly pressing His hand forward to keep me afoot. I love Him. He loves me.

There are a couple ways for me to look at my word this year. I can look at it like this:

Serenity here – finding peace, contentment, joy right here in this place I stand.

Or like this:

Serenity in change – being at peace with change, walking toward the music, being courageous in Him.

Here’s the thing, I feel like I’ve been doing the first “serenity” for a long time. I’ve been searching for my peace, contentment, and joy in this place. For a while, I found it. More than anything, I’ve grown here. I was planted and poured into here. I love who I became in this place. I love who God made me in this place.

Here’s the other thing, I’m not home here. I don’t know where home is for me anymore. It’s not here. I’m ready – I need – to create home. I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know where that road leads just yet. I don’t know too much of anything.

This is all a journey and you just happen to be on it with me while it sorts itself out in my head.

In the meantime, I stand in His shadow as He walks before me and clears the way for His daughter.

The God of peace will make me complete in every good work to do His will, working in me what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. ~ Hebrews 13:21

Jesus is all we need, right?

“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but let’s be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul, but fractures to put their love into is the most calming thing in this world.” ~ Emery Allen

A friend shared this quote with me last week. When she did, she also said, “I thought this was a good quote especially for my single friends who keep being told “Jesus is all you need”, as if Jesus doesn’t meet our needs through other people. Like he generally provides actual tangible food (not just spiritual food) to keep us from starving, he generally meets other needs in the physical realm too. So why do we get told our other physical and emotional needs should be satisfied fully in the spiritual realm?”

It’s been sticking with me ever since I saw it because, well… it’s true. My married friends, and some singles, too.. will often make comments about how Jesus is everything we need. And, before anyone gets twisted… I KNOW that I have no needs He cannot meet. I know that He is in complete control. I know that He walks with me in my deepest and darkest places. I know that He rejoices with me. He does always provide for me. always.

Should I remain single forever, Jesus will somehow find a way to meet that need in me. I know that.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I’m not longing for someone. That doesn’t mean it’s bad to desire physical contact. That doesn’t mean that I give up my dreams to find my love of a lifetime because Jesus is all I need.

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I do need Jesus. He is the very thing that I need. And because of Him, I have the strength to endure this waiting period. This very long season of singleness. This heart-crushing reality that “it” may never happen for me. 

Friends, please don’t lose hope. Don’t let someone make you feel bad for wanting more. Don’t allow someone to make you feel as if you’re not being a “good, Godly person” because you’re in need of something more.

I surrender all…

Let’s start by saying this…

I’m about as “uncheckboxed” of a Christian as one person can get. My pastor is big on not being a “checkbox Christian.” Not being that person who just goes down the list of “Christian things to do” checking off boxes on the way. He’s taught us all great lessons in that area. And get this… I even do things that some people may frown upon. *gasp* I do things that I’m sure some Jesus followers think will send me straight to hell – as a matter of fact, probably wondering why hasn’t it yet. *blink*

Just like them, Christ has a plan for me. Just like me, He has a plan for you. We, sometimes, have to work really hard to figure out what that plan is. And, the plan changes. The last thing God wants is for us to become stagnant. I don’t want to become stagnant! I thrive in change – it keeps me thinking, keeps me moving, and keeps me learning and growing.

As we know, from my explanation of my One Word, change is coming for me – it’s all around me.

If I could       just       put       my       finger       on       it…

I can’t.

But the good news is… I’m learning. I’m talking to people about dreams and ideas. I trying to unfold the lovely that God has created for me.

One of my checkboxes lately is church. And, friends from church who read this… it’s not YOU, it’s me. Truly. And it’s God working IN me. And it’s GOOD! I wish everyone could know my church family. I love each and every person there. God has surrounded me with the most perfect people for me. They love me, encourage me, support me, pray for me, and just keep me real. I love them!

With that said, I’m in this season where, suddenly, I don’t want church walls… I want church in the streets. I want church in a cafeteria feeding hungry people. I want church in a place with babes and dirty faces, hands, feet, and dirty, broken hearts that just need a hug and a little damn bit of hope. I need to get real. And dirty. And jump into the trenches. I need to know that I’m doing SOMETHING to grow the Kingdom. I need to tell one person who doesn’t believe that Jesus loves them that HE DOES!

What good are the lyrics, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me,” if we aren’t really willing to live it out? Does this mean that I’m just willing to walk away from everything I know? NO! It means that I am trusting God to use me – here, there, anywhere.

When I became a mom, my life changed. Suddenly, I had to be stable. I had to provide for someone. I had to keep my wandering nature in one place, for as long as possible. Inside, my heart has always wanted to do, go, explore, be, minister, etc… I didn’t know how to do that as a mom, a single one. I had to be grounded. It’s been GOOD for me. God has done SO much for me in these years. He has matured me, grown me, and filled me with an overflowing amount of love and faith. I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one.

Yet, here I am now. I have an itch. It’s one that I can’t seem to put my finger on. Do you ever get that?

I heard this song this morning… these words screamed at me – “If I’m under fire, I know it’s refining me. When I hear You calling out, I’ll follow now – wherever the road may go. I know You’re leading me home.” Later in the song it says, “I lift my life, lift my life up. I give it all in surrender,” but, sometimes, what we really mean is we give most in surrender. I want to be an all kinda chick. Please, listen to the song.

So, to wrap up this extremely long post, what am I really trying to say? I have no clue. The good news is that God does. He knows. And He is revealing things to me in little bits and pieces. When I learn more, I’ll share more. For right now, He is placing people around me who are encouraging me and, most importantly, praying for me.