2018: A Year For Hope (Week 8)

My Pastor used a term on Sunday to describe the world that we live in … “uncertainty”.    There most definitely is uncertainty in the world, and across the globe there are terrible things that happened this year, this week, this hour.

“Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own.  No one can share them with you.”  Proverbs 14:10

Earlier in the week my daughter asked me to share with her a Scripture that really helped stabilize me when my own world was topsy-turvy.

That conversation reminded me of a compilation I put together a few years ago … a collection of Scriptures that met me where I was and spoke the cry of my heart.  

Tears2,Sunscreen

“If I’m going to cry,
let them be tears shed before my God.”

Proverbs 14:10 tells us that ‘each heart knows its own bitterness’, which to me means that sometimes you just need to cry it all out.  I think that’s why I collected the Scriptures I did.

Some gave words to the depth of my pain.
Some were cries for mercy and deliverance.
Some spoke deeply to my soul of  irrevocable promises that God would see me through it and work all things together for my benefit in the end.

“You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they all listed in your book?” Psalms 56:8

And that is why I call them Love Letters for they were -and still are- love letters from Him to me, letters of strength and comfort to my (still*) hurting soul.  I hope they bring comfort to you as well.

*Disclaimer alert!  I’m saved and I’m greatly changed from the broken girl I was in my teens and wrecked woman I was in my 20’s and 30’s.  But by no means, have I “arrived” at that place of wholeness or perfection.  Can we ever, this side of heaven? 

Nope, I’m a work in process, just like you.   Whatever God did for me, He is more than able and willing to do for you too … even more, in fact.  But it will require your faith (confident trust and expectation in His goodness) and your pursuit of His face.   Oh but friend, it is a worthy pursuit indeed to seek the presence of God, and He is SO willing to be found by a heart hungry to know Him.

What are Scriptures have that special place in your heart?  Please comment below with the passage, and if you are willing a bit about the why behind it.

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If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture. There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts. My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.

 

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 7)

In a prior post (week 3), I shared a few definitions of hope, as well as a definition for what I call Bible-HOPE. The latter is a far better kind of hope, for Bible-HOPE (HOPE) is rooted in the Promises contained in the Word of God, and most often to a covenant Promise made between Himself and we, His people.

To hear His voice and receive His deep love for us, this is the very birthplace of HOPE.

But sometimes, life sucks the hope right out of you! And then what, my friend?

How is one to respond when you’ve been smacked upside the head by the frying pan of life, and had your hope knocked clear across the floor?

I’ve experienced both, and no doubt you have too.

Jennifer Arimborgo authors the blog Feeding on Jesus. I think her post “Can You See Him?” beautifully and artfully speaks to this very type of situation, and she has graciously given me permission to share it with you. as follows:

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“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13, NKJV).

Do you believe you will see the goodness of the Lord in this life? According to these words from Psalms, being convinced that you will is the antidote to discouragement.

What comes to mind when you read the phrase, “seeing the goodness of the Lord”?

Probably most of us start to imagine desirable outcomes to our current circumstances. These are some concrete ways His goodness could manifest in our lives:

• The healing of a family member struggling with chronic illness
• Sudden, unexpected financial provision for paying off debts
• The restoration of a rocky marriage
• A child being born after a long journey battling infertility
• A loved one delivered from drug addiction

Yes. All of these are most definitely overt expressions of how good He is. Each of them showcases His kindness in a dramatic way. However, I’d like to share with you a deeper nuance of this Scripture than what may be apparent upon first glance.

To do so, I’m going to bring in another passage to help illuminate this one. It’s from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see…” (Matt. 13:15a, ESV). He spoke these words to the disciples, contrasting them with multitudes of people who could see with their physical eyes but had no real perception happening at a heart level (vv. 13-15). He was pointing out to them what riches were theirs because they could perceive truth.

Do we have eyes that see? To see with our spirit means to discern, to recognize, to ascertain, to be aware, to understand. If we do have heart’s eyes that function this way, blessed are we! This is why Paul interceded for the Ephesians’ spiritual power of sight. This was so crucial that he never stopped praying this prayer: “I keep asking… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:17a, 18a, NIV).

Like them, we, too, desperately need eyes that can supernaturally ascertain and absorb real hope. Now, let’s look at Psalm 27:13 through the lens of this vital truth. David says, “…Unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord…” Do you hear what Holy Spirit is expressing? “Unless I had believed that I would perceive His goodness… that I would profoundly recognize how good He is… that I would discern the true character of His heart, how pure, how kind, how faithful is His very nature… that I would become aware of how tender His intentions are toward me… that I would comprehend with every fiber of my being how much He loves me… I would have lost heart!”

This, my friends, is where hope is born: when we can see Him. When our heart can understand who He really is. When we can truly see His goodness, then we don’t ever, ever, ever lose heart. Blessed are our eyes when they can pierce the fog of adverse circumstance and perceive Daddy’s kindness and love in the midst of it.

How we need such eyes! I would encourage you to pray Ephesians 1:18 and Psalms 17:13 over yourself right now, and then every day for the rest of your life!

Daddy God, I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened, that I may know the hope to which You have called me! Out of Your great, merciful love, allow me to see Your goodness in the land of the living!

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What a lovely word picture this is to me. To have ears that hear and eyes that see with the heart (spirit).

But I think this type of engagement requires a willingness to look outside ourselves and above our circumstances so that we can attend to (focus on and interact with) the loving countenance of our Daddy God. And to hear His voice and receive His deep love for us, this is the very birthplace of the HOPE we so deeply long for and desperately need.

In my current watercolor (below, and still a work in process, but I’m going to be revealing more within the next week or three), I like to imagine “Miss Hope” as lifting her arms in complete surrender, as an offering to her Lord. Some days arms are raised in prayer, other days in worship, and still other days in sorrow. But whatever her emotion, there is intimacy and intention to her interaction with God. She knows to Whom she has sought out, and has called upon, and to Whom she is now kneeling before. His voice is comforting and familiar to her ears, and she is able to be restful and surrendered in the sacredness of this moment with Him.

Dear friend, if you have been ‘smacked upside the head by the frying pan of life’, my prayer is that you would take some time to seek out your Daddy God, and allow His voice become familiar to you. If you will seek Him, He has sworn by His own Name to be found by you.

And HOPE can revive again!

“His voice is so sweet and heavenly
Although I can’t really hear Him

I can feel Him speaking to me
Assuring me, calling me near Him

He is watching over me
Always loving me
Always there for me

I will listen with the ears of my heart
For the voice of the One who loves me.”

(poem written by my beautiful daughter L.V. in 1994)

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untitled – a work in progress, PHTW 1.15.18

If you enjoyed Jennifer’s post, I bet you’ll enjoy her other writings too (I know I do!). You can find her at: https://jenniferarimborgo.feedingonjesus.com

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture. There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts. My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.
_____________
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 6)

Is it just me, or did 2016 and most of 2017 seem to be particularly nasty and mean spirited? I actually “un-friended” people on Social Media because I just couldn’t stomach the negativity of what they were posting. And I’m talking about my Christian friends.

“I am King. I will lead.” ~King of Siam

Oh, don’t get me wrong … I was a negative contributor too. Front page stuff! No doubt I got unfriended by a few of my better friends, good folks who didn’t sink as low as I did in the cesspool of Facebook and Twitter. I was “letting my voice be heard” only to figure out that nobody was listening!

Anyways, I just can’t take another year like that! Can you? So, the blog series is really a cry from my own heart.  I want 2018 to be different!

I want 2018 to be a year filled with better things!

Like encouragement instead of sarcasm.
Like love instead of hatred.
Like patience instead of intolerance.
Like Jesus instead of … well, instead of me.

“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?”    Romans 7:24 (Message)

My church has a practice of Fasting at the beginning of the year, and I joined with several friends for a 21-day Daniel Fast. It’s amazing what happens when you quiet the noises of your life (TV, phone, etc) and dethrone “King Stomach” for a while.   Intimacy with God.  Clarity of vision.   Answers to prayer.

For those 21 days, I felt increasing strength and victory. When I had my devotions in the morning, I didn’t feel the need to look away from the woman staring back at me in the mirror of the Word of God. I was the beloved daughter, dressed in the beautiful robes of His Righteousness, dancing with Jesus in the courts of the King.

And then “she” showed up. With clumsy feet and hands full of things “she” shouldn’t be carrying.  “She” tripped, and fell, and spilled and ruined my gown.  Again! For the 9-billionth time!

And there is the problem. Wherever I go, “she” is always bringing up the rear!!

“I myself walked up to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a very sorry figure next to him. Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with a dear yearning in my voice: “Dress me.”

He dressed me, my Lord, he put new rags on me, and I am a wonder beside him.” ~Walter Wangerin, Ragman and Other Cries of Faith

FaithFood.Net does a beautiful job describing a beautiful scene from “Anna and the King” and so I’ll just quote them below (and encourage you to read the whole article):

There is an old film called Anna and the King where the heroin, Anna, serves the King of Siam by teaching his children. In one scene there was a banquet that was given by the King. It was a very proper setting with many of the guests being cultured English people. The King suggested that they finish the meal by dancing a waltz. He arose from the table and put his hand out to Anna. She is taken by surprise and does not know quite what to do. The English guests looked shocked and the Siamese were horrified.
Reluctantly, she stood to her feet. How could she refuse the King? As they walked down the steps to the dance area she looked at him apprehensively and said, “It’s been a long time since I have done this, I hope we don’t end up in a heap.
He replies, “I am King, I will lead.”
http://faithfood.net/index.php/browse-articles/1169-dancing-with-the-king-

 

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untitled –  a work in progress, PHTW 1.15.18

This is what I want, Lord.

I want to take off my dirty rags, and be dressed in your beauty.

I want to receive your invitation, and twirl on the dance floor with you. I want to be secured in your strong arms, and I want to let you lead. Not just for a song, or for a 21-day fast.

I want you to lead every hour of every day, knowing that in your embrace  … even when I trip and stumble (or am tempted to try to lead the dance) … you will stabilize me and keep me from “ending up in a heap”.

 

“May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

 

 

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture.   There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.  
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts.  My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.
_____________
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 5)

I recently re-read one of my older blog posts and thought it very appropriate for the subject of this blog series “2018: A Year For Hope”.  So today … we’re going back a few years to what was originally posted as “Teathered To Hope“.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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HOPE:  a) to wish for something with expectation,  b) a desire accompanied by confident expectation.

I started blogging about 3 years ago and was greatly enjoying posting hope-filled blogs in which I shared my testimony, a few funny stories, and talked through challenges faced.  But then I got too busy with other things for regular posting.  I let my hope-filled blogging slip, and that wasn’t the only thing I let slip.  My attitude took a fall, and instead of ‘hoping well’, I was doing other things well.    Complaining.  Groaning.  And worse.

About the only thing I know for sure about boating is that unless you want to get wet, the general idea of being in a boat is to stay out of the water.  And the general idea of casting anchor is to keep you tethered to a select and stable place.

After a little time passed, the voice of condemnation spoke up (rather loudly in fact) telling me how hypocritical it would be to blog about hope when it seemed as if I was scraping from the bottom of the barrel most days.   So I put off blogging for a month, then three, and ultimately I allowed that voice of shame and condemnation to silence me altogether.

Hebrews 6:19
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

Of course, the voice of hope was also calling out my name all those months of silence – but I wasn’t really listening.  I was way too busy hanging out with my old and familiar friends jealousy, envy and pity.

Truth be told, about the only thing I know for sure about boating is that unless you want to get wet, the general idea of being in a boat is to stay out of the water.  And the general idea of casting anchor is to keep you tethered to a select and stable place.   How grateful I am that my hope in God and in the promises of God (His Word) is the anchor to my soul!   Or perhaps more accurately, God’s hope, living within me by the power of the Spirit of God, keeps me anchored to hope.  Eventually, I looked away from my circumstances, caught a glimpse of the eyes of my Father, and let Him fill me again with hope for better days.

“With your very own hands you formed me.  Now breathe your wisdom over me so that I can understand you.  When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad.  I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what’s true and right.”  (Psalms 119:73-75)

Well, obviously I’m blogging again.  Not because my life is now without challenges, but because through the challenges of the last few years I have learned a few things about hope.

1)  that hope is not a feeling, it’s something I choose
2)  that I have to seek out and maintain (as in guard & protect) hope on a daily basis
3)  that real hope (strong, unshakable hope) comes from God

I think Romans 15:13 says it best.   Only the God of hope can fill me with what is required to have hope.  The kind of hope that is an anchor to the soul.

May the God of hope fill  you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There have been some tough days these past few years.  But bless God, I am getting better about staying tethered to that anchor of hope as though my very life depends upon it … because it does!

Today, again, I choose hope!

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author
and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 4)

What are some of the lies the enemy tells you?  A friend of mine asked this  last week to a Facebook group.   The answers are honest, revealing, and familiar to us all.

You can’t outrun your past. | You are not enough.
You will fail. | You are unlovable. | You are a fool.
You will never succeed. |You’re too (insert insult here).
You are ugly. | You are stupid. | No one wants you.
You never finish what you start.
It’s too late.

I see a common thread … all intended to short circuit the promises of God.  They are all intended to strangle out the voice of HOPE.

Why is it that the voice of fear always seems to be so much louder than the voice of HOPE?  And at the end of the day, isn’t that really the only weapon the enemy of our soul uses against us?   “Did God really say that”? he asked Eve in the Garden of Eden (meant to instill fear in the credibility of God, or in best case the accuracy of her hearing).  “If you are the Son of God” he touted to Jesus in the dessert.  If we did a root cause analysis for every challenge or attack against HOPE, I think we would find fear is at the heart or origin of it.

The voice of FEAR always seems to be so much louder than the voice of HOPE.

She had almost forgotten about it, but something a friend said recently brought it back to her remembrance.  It was so long ago that she had last held it in her hands. Just the mere thought of seeing it again stirred up so many emotions – the disappointments still cut deep.

And yet, here she was.  Up in the attic, opening one dusty box after another to find it.

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It was as she remembered, although the felt exterior was worn and perhaps a bit moth eaten. 

Her breathing became fast and shallow, and her hands trembled a bit as she slowly began to lift the lid.

Can she?  Dare she?  

Fear grips her and won’t let go.  She can’t breathe.  Slowly she fits the lid back into place and places the box with it’s precious contents back into storage.  Maybe another time.

“Oh my soul, you are not alone. There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know.

One more day. He will make a way. Let Him show you how you can lay this down. You’re not alone”

~ Oh My Soul, Casting Crowns

 

It can be terrifying to risk change.  To dare to dream, even if it means to risk failure … again.  To dare to love, even if it means to risk rejection.   To dare to trust, even if it means making yourself vulnerable to disappointment.   To dare to HOPE … hope that the promise of God is actually true … even if it means ….

 

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untitled –  a work in progress, PHTW 1.15.18

Well here is the thing my friend. All the promises … ALL the Promises … ALL … every single one is TRUE! (2 Corinthians 1:20).   And it is from a position of knowing that, that’s ‘the place where fear has to face God’ ... AND FEAR WILL BOW!

As you listen to this song (and I hope you do), imagine yourself lifting up your hands … perhaps lifting up a certain situation or need … perhaps empty hands, empty of hope but ready to receive HOPE. Lift your hands and lift your heart in surrender to the One who loves you. He is faithful and will show you how to move forward into all that He has for you … a life that is limitless and free from the chains of fear.

 

 

 

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture.   There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.  
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts.  My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.
_____________
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

I'm on a journey to better understand the intertwining of FAITH & HOPE.