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Let us Hear the Sound…

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So this moment tonight… this moment touched my heart more than I could probably express, but I will try.

Lately I have been feeling a little heart sick. I hear from friends and loved ones going through some seriously hard things. I try to talk to share with them just how much God really loves them but all too often the response is, “I don’t really feel his presence.” One friend recently worded it this way, “There are so many things when I look back at my life, when I think of them, I know it had to be God. He helped me get through them. But I don’t know that I have actually ever heard his voice. I don’t feel his presence. I try to go to church. I have tried to read the Bible. I just don’t feel him.”

Been there. Many times.

And so tonight I watched our busy, little boy toddling all over the place. Then it came to a point where he came close to his daddy who was studying and in that moment my hubby took off the headset he had been wearing. He placed it on our son’s head and his eyes lit up so big. He heard the sound of the worship music. He heard what his daddy had been hearing all along but none of us could hear. He became practically entranced, staring awestruck at his daddy for some time like a whole new world had opened up in his soul.

His sisters tried to come by and take the headset and he aggressively pushed them away. And it struck me…

It became my prayer really… God, let us hear your song. Let us hear it so loudly that we hear and want nothing else. Let us be so awestruck with the sound of you in our soul that we aggressively begin blocking out those things that try to grab it away. God, let us hear what you hear…

Praying it silently, I walked away to tend to other things, came back into the room ten minutes or so later only to see our son still sitting with his daddy. He wasn’t budging. He was locked in, totally focused on what his daddy was focused on and totally at peace. Snapped a picture. Smiled. Snapped some more.

And so tonight my prayer is simple- for those who are so needing to hear your voice tonight, God… Would you put upon their soul the sound of your love? God shield out the sound of everything else. Let them feel your presence. Wrap your arm around them. May their thoughts be your thoughts. Help us to hear you, to aggressively fight in our mind against the things that try to grab away the sound of you. For you are real. And you are with us. Help us to wander close to you and stay at your side.

Amen.

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When Hope Dies

We were driving home as we usually do. Pulling down the last stretch of our street, I noticed a butterfly that appeared to cross our path. I hoped I hadn’t hit it.

We get home, the boys started to make their way into the house, walking past the front of our van. Suddenly they stopped. I heard a gasp. I became fearful, immediately thinking that I hit one of our children. I called out, “What is it? What is it?” The boys replied, “It’s a butterfly.”

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Our oldest son grabbed her from the grill of our van. “She’s hurt, mama. I think her legs got burned.”

Indeed she was hurt, and three of her legs were completely missing. He gently held her in his hands.

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He walked around with her on his finger for sometime. Her wings would open and close. Her head would lift up and down. “Do you think she will be okay, mama?” “I really don’t know. She has lost three legs and I don’t know if she can fly. I really don’t know if she will live, but she sure is beautiful..”

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Seconds passed then minutes, and after sometime of him being outside just holding her, our son came in the house with the butterfly in a box. “I named her Hope.”

And hope he did.

He stood there just watching her. “I wanted to shield her from the wind. The wind was knocking her over.”

She seemed worse off inside in the box. She was trapped and probably cold. Her little wings barely moving now.

I stood there watching her and watching our son. Tears filling his eyes his voice crackles, “I don’t want her to die, mama.”

It was then that it hit me so hard, the overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t just looking at a boy hurting for a hurt butterfly, I was catching a glimpse of a savior. Oh that we could only see how Jesus hurts when we hurt.

And so I asked him if I could take his picture while he cried, explaining to him how he reminded me of Jesus in that moment. He just nodded, and tried to wipe away the tears.

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There was our son. He was so much larger and so much more powerful than the little bug in the box. His lifespan would most likely far exceed that of any bug, let alone this bug. Why did he care? Why did he hope? Perhaps because Hope had touched him.

And perhaps it was Hope’s fault for crossing into where she shouldn’t cross. But that is what hope does. Hope intersects us. Hope collides with us. Hope holds on to us in the middle of the gravest conditions and makes us want to hold on longer to life. And when we feel the hold of hope, we feel the heart of God.

Hope was looking weak. I suggested our son take Hope outside back into the sunshine to warm up, and so he did.

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Our son gently opened the wire fencing that was placed to protect Hope from predators. He carefully coaxed Hope from the box onto his hand and removed her from her cage.
He held Hope once again in his hands.

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Our son knelt there next to her open cage with Hope in his hands. I stared at him for some time, moved.

Because isn’t this what Jesus does? He finds us in our brokenness, holds us, protects us, and then sets us free. I imagined Hope flying off right there from his hands. But Hope did not fly. All Hope did was hold on. And after nearly two hours of Hope holding onto our son, it became more and more clear, that Hope was dying. The slightest wind would knock her over. Dying hope is often knocked over by the slightest wind.

Our son placed Hope on a flowering bush in our yard. She rested there for sometime. Come evening she was still alive but hardly opening her wings anymore. Our son left her on the bush overnight hoping to find her gone in the morning.

In the morning, gone she was, but not as our son had hoped. Her body was lifeless. Hope had died.

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Our son began to cry. He began to question and get angry, “Why did she have to die? Why does everything here on this earth have to die? Why couldn’t she live?”

Oh, that I was wise enough to answer all of life’s mysteries. I closed my teary eyes and responded, “I don’t know. Sometimes the hurt is so bad, that the greatest way to be healed is to die. That is what the cross is all about. Jesus took on all our pain and shame, our sickness and infirmities, and there on a cross he died so we wouldn’t have to… At least not physically… But when it comes to people, the hurt we are stuck in has to die, in order for us to truly live. As for your butterfly, Hope isn’t trapped in a body that is suffering anymore.”

“You mean she can’t feel this?” He asked opening her wings.

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“No. She isn’t in that body anymore.”

He thought on the hard truth for sometime. I found myself thinking long and hard on it too.

There we were, the two of us, staring at a dead butterfly. And yes, I’ll admit it, I was also struggling a bit, “Lord, really? You let a butterfly named ‘Hope’ die? My son hoped so hard for it to live and still it died. How does that build his faith? How does that build his hope?”

His answer?

It was written long ago. I was reminded of it as I walked in our kitchen after watching our children bury Hope:

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Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
New King James Version (NKJV)

All the things we hold here will eventually flutter away.

And if we place our hope only in them, and make them the center of our joy, our hope and joy will flutter away as well.

All we can do is care for the things that have been placed in our hands while they are in our hands, understanding that eventually we will have to place them back in the hands of The Lord. In Him is our Hope. In Him is the promise of life eternal.

When Hoped died we placed her body back into the dust from which we all were made.

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We gathered rocks and a beautiful flower and laid them above where her body was laid to rest, as some small way to make a record of the gift that she was for the short time we had her… Some small way to say thank you. We imagined her flying in heaven above where true hope is found.

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Should something you placed your hope in be gone today… Should your heart be hurting and your soul wrestling, I am praying for you… Writing this to remind you, that when hope dies, hope still lives.

May you give those hurts to Jesus and make room for new life. May you be filled with hope today.

 

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When All Hell Breaks Loose

So today another plane came down… I believe they said there were 295 passengers… 295 living, breathing, heart-beating and feeling people who had plans and purposes and loved ones on the ground… And they are gone, just like that. And it hit the news hard, hit the ground harder… And for this pilot’s wife… It hits just too close to home.

And fear starts to creep in. Where did it happen? Does he fly over there? And let’s go ahead and include the obvious fact that he is so often one of those living, breathing, heart-beating people that is flying over our heads in an airplane. It is his job after all…

And somewhere a wife’s husband just fell from the sky and the sobering thought once again impedes that it could have been mine and what exactly do I do with that?

I will tell you what I have made up my mind to do: Trust God and live this life He gives us to its fullest. Thank Him for every day, truly every moment because you just don’t know when it all is going to come to an end.

And I stop and pray, allow my heart to feel and cry for a loss that could have been mine, but I don’t allow it to stop me from living. I don’t allow it to steal my peace or promote my heart to any further fear, because fear has no place in the presence of perfect love.

And I know that there is a God who perfectly loves me, my family, and my husband. I know that his plans and purposes transcend what I can grasp. And I choose to trust in his promise that he will work all things for good- All things- for those who love him and trust him.

And I pray that each of you would know that too- that God loves you perfectly. That you can trust him. When all hell seems to be breaking loose in this world, you can still be filled with heaven’s peace. You can still smile. You can still enjoy and praise him for all that is wonderful and good here because there is SO SO much that is wonderful and good. Too much to report.

Say a prayer for comfort and strength for those who are hurting tonight and at the same time please stop and thank God for all in your life and all in this world that is good. Thank him for his plans for your life- for the things he has done and the things he will do. Allow that praise to usher in peace and sleep well in that perfect peace.

That is my plan for tonight. I pray you join me.

You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

 

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There is Hope

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So this? This is a plant in our yard- one that I haven’t really tended to in the two years we have lived in our home as it is kind of in a tucked away place along our side yard- somewhat out of view.

As I took on the task of tending the plant a few things became very obvious. First, the plant is beautiful. Perhaps even the most beautiful plant in our yard except for one major thing. It is wounded, horribly wounded.

As I took a close look it became obvious that a very large and long vine with sharp thorns had grown to cover the beautiful plant. As storms came and winds blew the beautiful leaves would be torn by the covering vine.

All I could do to try and restore the plant was to first remove the vine and then remove the damaged leaves. And there were many damaged leaves. So many that from a distance the entire plant looked damaged. But deep down new leaves were growing that can now grow fully in the place of what was so badly hurt.

What thorns are covering you? What torn areas in your heart need to be removed for new life and love to grow? Is there bitterness? Is there worry? Is there an ongoing offender in your life that continues to leave you damaged? Are you slowly becoming plagued by thoughts and attitudes that are hiding your true beauty?

There is hope. Because God sees you. You aren’t off and out of sight. You are in plain view and his hands are reaching.

I pray today for anyone who may need it: that the thorns be lifted and the damage miracously removed from your heart. I pray your heart finds comfort knowing that God can see past the damage. He sees the beautiful you hiding and trying to grow. You have been hurt. But there is healing, and no need to hold on to the hurt. May you shed all that is dead and begin to grow with new, beautiful life.

 

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Flowers in the Mailbox

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I can’t remember if it was a birthday, an anniversary, or Valentine’s Day. All I can remember is being convinced, absolutely convinced that when my hubby told me to go check the mail, it was because he had hidden flowers in the mailbox. Red roses were my best guess. I just knew it. My romantic man was setting me up for another sweet surprise. I walked up our driveway with butterflies and a smile. Put my hand on that mailbox door, paused for a second and closed my eyes for added effect, and then opened my eyes and the door to find… Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I walked back down that driveway feeling pretty silly, mad at myself and mad at him. He should have known! And the poor, innocent, man spent the next few minutes under a bit of a cold shoulder, paying the cost of a crime he had no idea he had committed. Not that he even knew I was mad, I kept my disappointment to myself, kicking myself for even hoping. But then I could feel The Lord smiling at me, laughing truly.

I laugh thinking about it now. And just this summer I confessed my high hopes with my hubby, my mom and sis-in-law. We were all laughing. And now “no roses in the mailbox” has become our phrase to pin that feeling of disappointment.

But I share this today because I can’t get passed the feeling to talk once more about this idea of hope. I think many of us are afraid to hope. We are afraid of disappointment. I get it. Being married to a pilot and military man I really get it. It isn’t easy to hope especially in someone else. Hope can disappoint. So the tendency is for us to want to throw up the walls, stop hoping in others, put our hope in ourselves and our own abilities under the guise that our hope is in The Lord. Yes, I called it a guise. Because even though our hope is in The Lord where it should be, many of us I fear go there by default. We go there by disappointment. We go there as our fallback. We place our hope in Christ because truth be told we have been hurt and disappointed too much placing it anywhere else. But can I tell you something?

Love hopes.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always HOPES, always perseveres.”

What is love without hope? What is a marriage without hope in your spouse? It feels good, so good to hope. To hope for them to come home. To hope for them to be a part of your plans. To hope for their success. To hope for their future. It even feels good to hope for flowers in a mailbox . Hope is an incredible, God-given feeling. And we shouldn’t be afraid to feel it.

Hope.

And if your mailbox comes up empty. Guess what? There is still hope. There is still joy. There is still love. There is love and laughter …tears of joy from laughing so hard at your high hopes with your husband, your family and friends.

Hope.

Laugh.

Love.

Live.

 

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All is Well Here

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This little girl melts my heart. Our potted plant was not looking well. In an attempt to help it, our daughter and I planted it here in a patch of dirt by our back door. Sweet baby girl watched me planting it. As I kneeled there, gently folding new dirt around the fragile roots, leaning a rock against the stem that wanted to bend… she randomly took back off into the house. She returned with this little “Get Well” balloon in hand. The same balloon that was given to me when I needed to get well. She insisted we place the balloon by our little plant. Moved by the gesture, I agreed. I planted a balloon in our garden… Once again motivated by a child to do the seeming ridiculous. I watched her today as she whispered “Get well,” to the little plant, touching its flowers so gently.

I don’t know whether or not the little plant will get well. I hope it will… I hope it will live longer, grow stronger… But even should it not… This little, sickly plant, has caused compassion and hope to bloom in our little girl. Love has grown here- in our daughter and in me. Incredible purpose is felt here, flooding over all that is not well.

How is that God can do that? He can take all that is not well to birth all that is: Compassion, love, hope and a faith that leans on the Solid Rock.

All is well here.

All is so very well.

 

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Before the Promise Comes

As we draw near to the day of celebrating the birth of Christ, my thoughts keep coming back to the picture of Mary, heavy with child, riding on a donkey, led by a simple carpenter back to a town from which he came.

What a perfect picture of what it often looks like before The Promise comes.

Before The Promise comes- things tend to get heavy.

Before The Promise comes- things get uncomfortable and we get stretched.

Before The Promise comes- all we can do is follow.

Before The Promise comes- we are often humbled and brought back to the very places where we have already been.

Before The Promise comes- the road feels long, each bump stirs contractions and pains increase.

Before The Promise comes- there is a walk, a search, for a birthing place, and all too often that promise is born where we least expect it, where we would have never desired it. It comes.

Yet, before The Promise ever comes, God is in us and with us, growing and forming our life into something we can only imagine.

The Promise IS coming and God is already with us, strengthening us as we walk and wait.

Hebrews 10:36
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

 

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