InstaFriday

This was my poor husband taking a conference call. The only quiet place in the house was out in the messy garage!

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On Saturday, the kids and I were hanging out in my son’s room and I asked about this little cardboard box. My son confessed to not knowing why he had it and said, “I’m a hoarder.” We all laughed really hard and decided it would be fun to make some more!

20131122-152209.jpgTwo of our friends got married. I was freezing because I’m a wimp, but it was a really sweet night. We are so happy for them.

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A bunch of the youth helped with the catering. They were guarding the dessert table, but a couple of guests got through, so they took this approach.

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Somebody kept distracting the servers with his ESPN app.

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On Sunday, we had a memorial for our grandmother/great grandmother. My son, who does not like being in front of a group of people, agreed to do one of the Bible readings. When my husband asked him, he just said yes, like it was no big deal. Then right before the service, I asked him if he was nervous. He said, “It’s just six verses, Mom. I think I can do it.”

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So, I opened an Etsy store. I wanted to find a way to raise money for all the mission organizations and world changers that I know. I made these cute headbands. After wearing them this week, I’ve learned that they need some tweaking. They hurt like heck! We’re still in product development. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.

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I’m linking up here:

life rearranged


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Day Thirty-One: When Trusting Brings Hope

31 Days Relishing Hope Button

Today is a new month, so 31 Days is technically over, but I’m going to add this one last post because it happened yesterday and speaks to hope.

This summer, my doctors found some nodules in my thyroid which were causing me some issues. They’ve been testing things and medicating me and then taking me off of medication. It’s been a really fun time. Well, yesterday was the big appointment we were waiting for. I was scheduled to have an ultrasound and biopsy.

They prepped me for biopsy and started using the ultrasound to find the largest nodule. They looked and looked and there were no nodules to be found! The doctor said,  “We’re not doing a biopsy today. There’s nothing to biopsy!”

She checked and re-checked. She had the medical assistant read the findings from my June ultrasound. It said that I had so many nodules, they were “too numerous to count.”

So, just to be sure, my husband asked the doctor, “Does this happen? Do they just go away?” The doctor, who was already pretty flabbergasted at this point,  was not quite sure what to say. She said that it is not normal for them to disappear like this.

While the medical staff was regrouping and shuffling papers, my husband and I just quietly looked over at each other and smiled. This was the gift we had been asking for. Friends and family had prayed for this exact thing and here it was! A gift straight from His hands.

Dear Friends, I know that life is hard. There are so many different kinds of hardships. There are very real reasons to hurt and feel hopeless.  But I echo Paul’s words in Romans 15,  “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Day Twenty-Seven: How Did You Get That?

One of the difficult things for me, about exploring hope this month is that I know it is a gift. It isn’t a result of some formulaic process. Through this month of reading, researching, and passing on what I have found. I have not yet found the miracle way to create and grow hope in any circumstance.

31 Days of Relishing Hope

I’ve felt a little like the kid at school, the first day back from Christmas break. Remember? Everyone would talk about what they did and what they got. Inevitably, there was the kid who would say, “Lucky! How did you get that?” How do you answer that confusing question?

It’s confusing, because getting that special gift has less to do with “how” than it has to do with “who.” Who gave it to you? Do you think they would give me one too?

I would love to tell you who gives me hope. He has endless supplies of it and would love to give you some too. His name is Jesus. Maybe you already know him, but find yourself needing a little hope-pick-me-up. Tell him about it. Take a little time out of your day to pour out your hopes and fears to him. Like any good relationship, you’ll need to be as honest and real as you can be. He can take it. If you’re angry, let him know that. If you’re hurting, tell him. If you find yourself doing something you know is wrong and will ultimately hurt you, tell him about that too.

The real truth about lasting hope is that it comes out of intimacy with Jesus. I can share the ways that he has helped me foster hope in my life, or you could get started figuring out your own ways with him today. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Most of the times that I go running to Jesus asking for hope, He gently points out how I’ve got the wrong focus. He shows me how the thing I’ve put my hope in is not him, and will ultimately let me down. He usually reminds me that he can give me that thing, but it will probably disappoint me. Yet, there is this thing in the intimate walk with Jesus that is so inspiring and full of hope!

31 Days of Relishing Hope

When we have cleared out all the stuff that wants to come between us. When I have listened and accepted his gentle correction. We are in that sweet communion. And he says, “Hey, do you want to come and do this thing with me today? Come with me.” I want to tell you that I then find myself doing things I never thought I could, and going to places I never would have imagined, and that is true. But the hope doesn’t come out of successes, or adventures, or even fun surprises. The hope comes out of the closeness to Jesus. And that, you can enjoy today!

31 Days of Relishing Hope

This is day twenty-seven of a thirty-one day series on Relishing Hope. You can find all the other posts here.

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Day Twenty-Four: We’re Squinting in a Fog

One of my favorite parts of the story, The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis, is when Shasta, one of the main characters, gets lost. He unknowingly chooses a dangerous road that winds its way up a mountain. The trees become more and more dense. The air gets chillier. The mist around him gets heavier and he is barely able to see. Then he has a very human reaction. He says, “I do think that I must be the most unfortunate boy in the whole world.” He starts into a list of all the bad things that have happened to him.  “And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.”

Then Shasta feels the presence of a “Thing,” a somebody, or a something, that is walking beside him so softly he can barely hear it. He hears soft breaths coming from the same side. And, Shasta realizes that he’s not quite sure when this “Thing” joined him because the breathing and the soft foot sounds started so gradually. He starts to freak out. He remembers stories of giants and starts imagining that one of these giants is with him. Then he almost convinces himself that he imagined all the noises. And, he hears a loud sigh and there is a warm breath on his hand.

When he can stand it anymore he says, “Who are you?”

“One who has waited long for you to speak,” it said.

At first, Shasta starts shooting questions at the “Thing.” He wants to know what it is and if he should be afraid of it. He starts begging it to go and says, “Oh, I am the unluckiest boy in the whole world!” The “Thing” asks him to share his sorrows. Shasta lists all of the awful things that have happened to him, like being chased by lions–multiple times and never knowing his mother and father because he was found as a baby by a fisherman.

“‘I do not call you unfortunate.’said the Large Voice.”

The Large Voice goes from life event to life event explaining the provision and protection that He brought. He explains that he was the lion that chased him all those different times, so that Shasta would be able to escape danger. He was the one that nudged the boat to the shore so that the fisherman was able to find him. Shasta has this incredible moment of clarity that ends in the worship of this great lion that had always been there for him.

I can’t help feeling like Shasta at times. It isn’t easy to walk blindly through an icy mist, or be chased by lions. It seems perfectly natural to lose all hope in those kind of moments. But like Shasta, we don’t have all the information. In 1 Corinthians it says, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

This is day twenty-four of a thirty-one day series. You’ll find the other posts here.

 

 

 

 

31 Days Relishing Hope Button

Day Fourteen: One Who Stands in the Thick of the Whole Thing

31 Days Relishing Hope

Today at work, I spoke with a very angry person. She was tired, frustrated, and couldn’t find a solution in the options I was giving her. Through our multiple conversations today, she repeated one phrase. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” She would try to explain one way, and then another.  Then she would repeat it again. It got to the point where I thought, “Well, do I understand her?” So I tried to listen even harder. In between the words that she was literally yelling at me, I started to hear hurt and weariness. I couldn’t change the options I had to give her, but I could hear her out. Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I really had no replies left, so I  just listened. I even left some lingering silences just to make sure I understood all that I could.

Isn’t that what we all want in those hopeless moments in life? Someone to understand us. Even in the hardship of that phone call, my fellow co-workers started rallying around me to give their support and find her a solution. (I think they could hear how loud she was.) The better I got at communicating my empathy with her, the more her anger dissipated.

In this life, there will be plenty of times when things look hopeless. Times when solutions are hidden so deeply behind bad news and inconvenient life options, that we don’t even want try looking anymore. Been there. I’m sure you have too. But we have a steady and unchanging hope in Jesus. In Matthew 12 it says,

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”

In his book, Disciples Indeed, Oswald Chambers puts it this way, “Jesus Christ reveals, not an embarrassed God, not a confused God, not a God who stands apart from the problems, but One who stands in the thick of the whole thing with man.”

So, if you find yourself in one of those hopeless moments where anger is your language and solutions are nowhere to be found, please remember our hope is standing with you. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.

Day Thirteen: When All Around My Soul Gives Way

31 Days Relishing Hope

Here’s some old school hope in the form of a hymn. I automatically sing along in my head, but even if you don’t know the tune, the words are encouraging. It’s easy to dismiss hymns, either because they are too familiar or are written in older language. It helps to think of the words as a prayer. Most of the old hymns, like this one, end on a really triumphant note so I like to think about joining in with all my brothers and sisters, past and present.

When I was in college, I got to attend Urbana, the YWAM missions conference. My favorite memories were of the worship services, singing along with over twenty-thousand brothers and sisters in the arena. Because there were people from all over the world, we sang familiar hymns in many different languages. It was a life changing experience. I knew that there were thousands of other believers all over the globe, but to see and hear them in one place was incredible! It was a small glimpse into what we get to enjoy in eternity. So when you get to that last verse, try to imagine the millions who have gone before, joining in with you.

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,

I rest on his unchanging grace.

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood

Supports me in the whelming flood.

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

O may I then in him be found!

Dressed in his righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne!

Rainy day thoughts and Lenten feasting

He is enough. Yet, I get distracted by shiny things. I see a friend walk by with something shiny and new. Or I hear about how a good, responsible person owns this, or that, and I get stuck with a mindset that is not my own. I’m left sitting with thoughts that have nothing to do with what I value in life. I start to rush toward these things, filling my life with work in order to afford them. Ordering my days around sales and expected coupons in the mail. I load up.

I load up my life. My hours, my days, my months are all full. Then in a moment of Lenten victory, my Lord asks me to sit and look at what I have loaded up on. Asks me if these things are worth my life. He says, “I am enough.” He shows me himself in the desert. He says, “Look at how I feasted.” “How you feasted? You had nothing.” my heart replies. “I had everything.” is the reply.

When Satan told Jesus to turn the stone into bread, his response was, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'” He was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, which says, “Yes he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that the people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but bread seems, to me, a very basic need. In fact, if I were craving food, I wouldn’t spend much time wondering if it was out of necessity or out of want. I would go get myself some breakfast.

But, what else am I doing this with? What else in my life is only a “basic need” because I have followed someone else’s mindset? God knows that we need bread, that is why he said, “People do not live by bread alone.” but if we are filling our lives with all the things that others say we need, will there be room? Will there be room for the feasting?

Or, is that where we should start? Today, when I sat listening to his words in scripture, all I could hear was, “I am enough.” When the Holy Spirit led him to the desert, we assume that he was being called away to do something difficult. But could it be, that the Holy Spirit was drawing him away from the stuff of life so that he could be filled with the real life giving stuff? Could it be that the Holy Spirit saw his real need was not for carbohydrates and water, but for the life giving water that lasts forever? (John 4:14) Could it be that when we are in our own deserts, the places that are more spare and lack the comforts we desire, the Holy Spirit is drawing us away to drink at the well of abundant life? Could it be that the most spare places are actually the places where we are richest?

I forget. I forget when my toaster breaks, or when the check engine light comes on in my car. I forget that He is enough. He is more than enough. He is my feast in this dry and parched land.

My favorite time of year and the voices in my head

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We are coming upon my favorite time of year, Lent. It feels like such an odd thing to say. To acknowledge that I look forward to forty days of sitting with the suffering and hardship that my savior went through. But, I do.

I love purposefully stripping away the things that distract me. To put small comforts aside, and remember. This is my listening time of year. 

I’m not always the greatest listener. I rush around and act like my agenda is so important, often racing against my own self. If you could get inside my head while I’m in “the zone,” as my family calls it. You’d hear ridiculous things like, “Finish this task, that task, then you can go to the bathroom.” or “If you do those three things, you can have another cup of coffee.” 

This competition with time fills my head with a busy conversation, that spirals deeper and deeper into self-centeredness. A child asks for help and I’m wondering why they are interrupting the voice in my head. Can’t you hear that I must put two loads of laundry in the washer before I can stop to put my sweatshirt on? 

I realize how crazy I sound. Your inner voice is probably a lot calmer. Your rewards are probably more exciting than sweatshirts and cups of coffee. But, don’t we all have versions of this? All the things we put on ourselves and then elevate to emergency status. 

During Lent, I feel permission to quiet the racing voice. She’s still there, and she makes crazy demands sometimes, but I just turn down her volume.  It is not her agenda I’m interested in.

I would love to stay in this listening place all year ’round, but I’m human. I get tired of contending with the things of this life. They crowd in, closer and closer. So close that they get a voice in my head, and let’s be real, a place in my heart. 

But, Lent is 40 days. 40 out of 365. That sounds doable. Will I fail? Yes. Will I put my own ridiculous agenda before my Lord’s? Yes. Will I get prideful when I do it right? Of course. 

But, every year as I commit to do these days with Jesus. He meets me there. Without fail, these are the sweetest of days. They are still full of all the annoying things of life that need to get done, but my perspective shifts. I’m aware of the company I keep. 

How about you? Do you celebrate Lent? What does Lent look like for you?

Top of the week to ya’

This sounds like a good word for a Monday morning:

If we are eating what we have out of our own hand, doing things on our own initiative without expecting God to come in, we are on the downward path, we have lost the vision.  Is our attitude today an attitude that springs from our vision of God?  Are  we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done?  Is there a freshness and vigor in our spiritual outlook? –Oswald Chambers

Join with me, by raising a coffee mug to a week full of goodness and “expecting God to come in.”  Happy Monday!

Beauty Will Rise

Through a really random course of events, I had the honor of catering for Steven Curtis Chapman this weekend.  It was really fun to shop and prayerfully make decisions about how to extend hospitality to both him, his band, and crew.  Of course, it was fun to meet him as well.  And, I only forgot the the dinner rolls!  An easy mistake to fix.  Thank you, Lord!

After all was said and done, and the all the dishes were washed, my husband and I sat on folding chairs in the kitchen and listened to the concert.  It was so lovely.  He wound life stories through decades of songs.  As he took us through the journey of years, we remembered high school and college days where SCC music was playing in the background.  Jon and I held hands as he sang I Will Be Here, one of his songs that was played at our wedding.  We squealed with excitement when he sang For the Sake of the Call.  I remembered belting out that song as a high schooler traveling through Europe, on a summer of missions.  It was such a sweet time and a lovely, random, gift from the hands of the Father.

In his honor, my Other People’s Words come from his album, Beauty Will Rise:

Out of these ashes

Beauty will rise

And we will dance among the ruins

We will see it with our own eyes

Out of these ashes

Beauty will rise

For we know joy is coming in the morning

In the morning

Beauty will rise

I can hear it in the distance

And it’s not too far away

It’s the music and the laughter

Of a wedding and a feast

I can almost feel the hand of God

Reaching for my face to wipe the tears away

And say it’s time to make everything new

Make it all new

This is our hope

This is the promise

This is our hope

This is the promise

It will take our breath away

To see the beauty that’s been made

Out of the ashes, out of the ashes

It will take our breath away

To see the beauty that He’s made out of the ashes, out of the ashes

–Stephen Curtis Chapman, Beauty Will Rise

By the way, if you want to see beautiful, sacrificial faith walked out, you should buy this album.  Regardless of what kind of music you listen to.  I have been balling my eyes out, reading the intro stories to the songs and listening to the lyrics.  Gorgeous stories of  the truth of hurt, God’s provision of faith, and the hope that is eternal.