I am a Christ follower, entrepreneur, small business owner, blessed mom and proud Nana. Life hasn't always been easy (I had some real challenges growing up and made some bad choices as a result), but God has given me beauty for ashes. I now enjoy sharing what I've learned about faith and hope on my hope-filled blog, and putting my Bible-HOPE to work in the marketplace on a daily basis.
We have never met (true for about 99.9% of my readers), but we are the same in a lot of ways. You feel a stir in your spirit, or perhaps you receive a promise through the Word of God, and you set out on an adventure of faith with great hope and expectation for the “new and good thing” that you are expecting to happen as a result of this prompting or promise.
“Let us go across
to the other side of the lake.”
But time drags on.
Discouragement begins to weigh on your shoulders.
Weariness begin to eat away at hope….
and you begin to fear.
One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they started out. As they were sailing, Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a strong wind blew down on the lake, and the boat began to fill with water, so that they were all in great danger. The disciples went to Jesus and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master! We are about to die!” Luke 8:22-24 (GNB)
I’ve set out on many such journeys of faith over the years, and am still on many of them.
I am still waiting for the long awaited and much anticipated answers to many prayers.
I bet you are too.
And sometimes you probably feel like I do … like you’re sitting out in the middle of a big lake, at dusk, being battered by waves of fear and doubt, with the shoreline so far away you can’t even see it.
But here is what the Holy Spirit speaks to me through these few verses of Luke 8.
If Jesus is in the boat with me (with you), we WILL get to the other side … just as He said!!
Friend, if Jesus says we are going to the other side, we are going to the other side! Maybe not as fast as I would like, and maybe we will encounter some turbulence along the way … but we are getting there! He will make sure of it, even if He has to pick me up and carry me on His shoulders while He walks across the water to bring me to shore!!
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that he should lie…”
I hope that brings comfort to your spirit as you meditate on this simple truth. He is in the boat with you. He will get you to shore, just as He promised.
Have you ever been hoodwinked? I know, I know. It’s an old term that no one uses anymore, but I like the sound of it.
hoodwinked: bamboozled, duped, hoaxed
Of course you have! So have I! I’ve lost count of how many pieces of exercise equipment or magic pills or other resources I’ve purchased over the years that promised to help me loose 10-15 pounds in four weeks while burning away belly fat like it was wax thrown into a raging fire. Or what about that “very reliable and in excellent condition” used car that seemed like such a wise (even frugal) purchase at the time but turned out to be a money pit of repairs! Snookered! Hornswoggled! Deceived!
Generally speaking, “hoodwinked” isn’t a term used in the context of something positive. But when GOD is doing the hoodwinking … well that’s another story.
And that’s exactly what I feel happened to me this year … I got hoodwinked by God!
This same time last year, as is my practice, I was talking with Daddy God about the ups and downs of 2017 and questions I had about 2018. In truth, I was a little bit discouraged on a few fronts – particularly the blogging front. I’d been inconsistently posting throughout 2016 and 2017, in part because I was very busy launching a WOSB, and in part because I was discouraged by a low readership. Questions like “who am I writing this for?” and “if no one is reading this, why am I still writing?” were at the forefront of my mind. I asked the Lord if I should just shut down the blog altogether – and obviously, His answer was no. In fact, I’m pretty sure I heard Him clear His throat (ah-hem) and say “I never told you to stop writing”. Ouch! And that’s how I came about committing to a weekly blog post throughout the year 2018 – and since HOPE was what I needed to experience, I chose the subject “2018: A Year For Hope”
HOPE: a desire accompanied by confident expectation
Fast forward to April 2018. Readership was increasing (what a balm to my heart!) and I was painting again. “OK Lord, I think I can keep this up … what is the next subject?”
“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Wanting to honor my commitment to Him to post weekly, I did my best to listen to what He was impressing on me and then post about it … but I still felt there was a bigger subject, something that would take a few weeks to cover (like some of my 2014 and 2015 posts). But I wasn’t hearing what it was … so I just kept doing what I was doing.
And then, after a chance encounter with a young woman at a BigBox store, the Lord impressed upon me to tell my story (top to bottom) in chronological order. There was a part of me that quickly said “Yes, Lord. If that’s what you want me to do, I’ll do it.” But then there was another part that was slightly less enthusiastic about that whole idea. I mean it’s one thing to reveal all your warts and bruises within the context of a known audience (be it a group of trusted friends, or a group of fellow believers, or in a setting where there is still some level of intimacy and perhaps even anonymity). But to put the whole mess out there in cyberspace for anyone to read?? That caused me to pause, and to prayerfully think about it.
I have shared bits and pieces of my story many times over the years, but rarely (if ever) from start to finish. Lets face it, it’s a long story! 🙂
I started sharing my story in week #20 and it took to week #34 to get my story out, and to week #41 to wrap up some loose ends. That’s 21 weeks … about 5 months! That’s a lot of time to be digging around in the dirt of the backyard of your life. But I did it. I obeyed.
When I wrote the prologue for this blog series last December 2017, I had absolutely no idea what God was going to ask of me in May. If I had known, I might not have been so quick to say yes – might not have said yes at all – but by May 2018 I had already committed to writing a weekly blog post and was in desperate need of new subject matter.
Funny, God! Really funny!
He pulled the old bait-and-switch on me!
I got hoodwinked!
And how glad I am about it! As a result of this blog series, and more specifically the posts between #21 and #41, I’ve connected with many amazing people (some still walking through their journey, some on the overcoming side of the fence) who were blessed and encouraged by my candidness in sharing about a neglected and abuse childhood which set the stage for my disastrous choices as an adult. I never would have made these soul-spirit connections if I hadn’t have obeyed.
I also think God has an incredible sense of humor! He must have been smiling big when I prayed for multi-week subject matter in April! (Oh don’t you worry, daughter. I’ve got a subject in mind for you alright!!!!)
He is also extraordinarily kind to me, because never in a million years would I have imagined how healing (even after so much healing already) it would be to chronologically lay out all these pieces of my life. But it was, and in doing so I was able to put some pieces of the puzzle together in a way that I had never seen or understood before. Thank you for that Father!
My prayer in December 2017 was that 2018 would be a year for hope to come alive again in new and exciting ways. That dormant areas of my life would spring to life. That victories prayed and believed for would manifest. That breakthrough would swallow up constraint, and that my eyes would behold in 2018 the marvelous works of God in my life and that of my family.
It truly has been an year of hope for me and I pray it was for you too!
And where we need more hope still for 2019, let us be encouraged that He who began a good work is always (and I mean ALWAYS) faithful to complete it, through Christ Jesus! (Philippians 1:6)
Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year. See you in January 2019, writing about … well, I’m praying about that now 🙂 God bless!
As this blog series “2018: A Year For Hope” winds to a close, and thoughts turn towards the shiny new year of 2019 quickly approaching, I find myself chuckling at how quickly I forget things and have to be reminded and re-reminded periodically.
I’m a journal-er. Not every day, but often enough that I have a stack of journals going back at least 8 years or so. This morning, I came across one that covered late 2017 into early 2018 and by chance I opened to read the following entry:
“I am returning my focus to ‘attending to your Word’.”
I got a chuckle out of that. No doubt, if I pulled out my older journals, I’d see that same theme repeated over and over again.
“My (daughter), attend to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are LIFE to those who find them and HEALTH to all their body.”
Seems like there are recurring seasons when I am so hungry for God, so desperate to understand His heart, that unknowingly my time of coffee and morning devotions extends well beyond the allotted time (like those long conversations with a dear friend). I love those times ❤
But there are other seasons when my reading plan seems dry and burdensome. When my mind wanders and I tend to return to familiar Scriptures instead of allowing the Word to speak fresh to my heart. It is during these “other” seasons, especially if they go on for very long, that I find myself being un-attentive to the Word, which generally means that I’m not living up to God’s best plans for me.
why? Because when my mind and spirit are un-attentive to the Word of God, I find myself more inclined to listen to the lies of the enemy instead of silencing him with the Promises of God. I tend to worry more instead of casting my cares upon Him who cares for me. I tend to speak fear instead of faith. And that’s when I realize … I NEED TO GET BACK TO ATTENDING.
“Keep your heart (mind/will/emotion – inner man – spirit) with all diligence, for out of it are the issues (offspring, outcomes, aftermath, consequences) of life.”
I flipped my journal over a few more pages, and see meditations on Psalm 138:2 and Isaiah 55:11.
“You have exalted Your word over all Your name.” (NJK)
“You have made Your Word (even) greater than the whole of your reputation.” (CJB)
“You have exalted Your Name and Your Promise above everything else.” (CSB)
“So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me void….”
I distinctly remember the day (February 2018) when the Lord knocked my off my feet with this revelation … allowing me to ‘hear’ for the first time the full weight of the power and authority assigned to His Word, and even when it is spoken out of my mouth instead of His (or more accurately, my mouth on His behalf)!
And so shall my (Jenny’s) word be when it is spoken in accordance with the will of God (revealed in the Word of God) and spoken in faith (that the Promises of God as revealed in the Word of God are true and faithful and will come to pass just like He said) …
… they will not return to me (my ears) without having accomplished the purpose for which they were sent (the purpose for which He said them in the first place).
Doesn’t that just blow the socks off your feet!!!!!
Your word! My words! When they agree with (mirror/mimick) His Words, and are joined up with hope (confident expectation that the Promises of God are true and trustworthy) … our words have POWER!!
Power to bring a wayward child back to the Lord!
Power to bring provision where there was only lack!
Power to reverse a doctor’s diagnosis!
Power to over-write and over-rule the unchangeable!!!
Friends, we all have (or will) at various times face giants that seem so overwhelming and threatening that they cause our throats to constrict to the point that we loose our voices. Let us not be silent. No! Instead, let us be so filled with the Promises of God that when we are “squeezed” by the enemy or by the circumstances of life in a broken world, we open our mouths and say what God says about the situation. When we speak His Words, He is faithful to honor His Word and power is released by faith to overcome!!
So keep on praying!
Keep on speaking words of faith in His Promises!
Keep on trusting and keep your heart in a state of peace! His Word will not return void!
I’ve been talking about weeds in the garden. Not my flower beds, nor in my vegetable garden. After eight years of springtime chutzpah – fearlessly daring my shade-filled yard to produce vegetables for me – I have finally been beaten. I actually tilled under the garden this summer. I have accepted defeat and will be replanting grass next spring. But I digress.
I’m talking about weeds in the “Garden Spot” of the soul. That place/space where the human spirit and the Holy Spirit reside together.
And how did I get weeds? Especially after working so hard to replant Word-Seed in recent years – guarding my mouth to speak words of hope and faith (instead of fear and doubt), filling myself with the Word of God to the point that when I get poked or squeezed, it is Scripture (not cuss words) that come to mind?
I think familiarity has a lot to do with it. Several years ago, when I was learning about the power of words … and more specifically the power of speaking Gods Words out of mouth, I was a voracious student. I had a few note books going, and whenever I found a Scripture of promise that I wanted to hold onto (wanted to remember and find easily), I write it out in one of my notebooks for quick reference.
I created notebooks for Scriptures related to health and healing.
I created notebooks for Scriptures related to provision and the blessing of God.
I created notebooks for Scriptures that had quick reference guides to specific topics, so that when I felt pressured, I could just go grab one of these notebooks and quickly feed myself on Scripture after Scripture, and Promise after Promise. And no time flat, my faith was built up and I’d be right back on top again.
But over time, those little notebooks became familiar. Once they were completed (no more room to add to them), they got picked up less and less often. Eventually, they had other books stacked on top of them.
It’s the way of things, isn’t it. In 2016-2017 I lost 33.5 lbs on Weight Watchers. I celebrated last Christmas at my lowest weight in recent memory – I even brought my own “WW friendly” deserts to Christmas dinner (they were horrible! LOL). But by 2018, WW had become routine, common, and familiar. I thought I had it all figured out and mastered. By spring 2018, I was up a few pounds … but hey, I was still within range of goal. It wasn’t that big a deal. By summer, a few more. Hmmm. And here we are, 12 months and 10 lbs later. Geez!!!
In 2015, I was praying at the start of every work day, desperately seeking God’s blessing upon my efforts because I desperately needed His blessing upon my “barely-making-enough-to-pay-the-light-bills” little company. Throughout 2015 and 2016, He regularly spoke to me, giving me instruction for how to “water walk” out on the deep waters with Him. Unfortunately, by 2017, more often than not I walked into my office and just dove into the demands of the day. Oh, I still recognized God as the CEO of the business, and knew that His favor was the only reason that I was enjoying the success I was seeing. But I also had work to do. (can you hear the stupidity of this reasoning?)
And here we are … the end of 2018 … and just like with Weight Watchers, or my Golds Gym membership, or with those live-giving business practices I had once been doing … I’m now seeing that I’ve lost momentum. I’ve lost ground. I’ve lost victory. I’ve lost because I’ve not been tending my garden!!!
Praise you Lord for revealing to me these little weed patches that have sprung up throughout 2018. Give me wisdom and courage to do the work of yanking them up by the roots, and re-seeding these areas with diligence of faith. And as I begin vision-casting for 2019, help me lay the groundwork for establishing patterns and habits, familiar or new, that will carry me through 2019-2020 with strength and vitality and Your blessing upon every area of my life.
I didn’t post last week. Instead, I celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. I hope you did the same!
In my last post, I was telling the story of when I heard God “clear His throat”, calling me on the carpet for my attitude. I had been moaning and groaning and complaining … having a very un-Christlike attitude towards my coworkers and managers. (If any of you are reading this, it’s an ugly confession that I’m not proud of, but you know it to be true regardless if admitted or not).
“You are not living up to your name”, He said.
It was sobering moment, like having the mirror turned towards me so that I could see my own reflection … and I did not like what I saw!
“The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart.” Luke 6:45
Instead of speaking out hope for the goodness of God to be seen in my life (in spite of temporary negative circumstances), I was speaking out words of failure and oppression and mean-spiritedness of the overflow of negativity that I had stored up in my heart as a result of being uncomfortable and frustrated by circumstances and the behavior of others.
So after apologizing to God (for being such a lousy representative of His character in the workplace), I committed to doing some repair work on my heart … because if my heart (mind and spirit) weren’t filled to the point of overflowing with the live-giving promises of God that are well able to turn around any situation I might ever face in life, then there was absolutely no hope of my ever speaking anything but fear and death and failure over my life. And I’d already experienced enough of that!
It didn’t happen overnight, but God is so kind!! He will always make Himself easily found to those who sincerely seek Him. He graciously met me where I was, and as I fed myself on Scripture and scripture-based teachings to encourage my faith, not only did my attitude elevate but my circumstances began to change. And not in the way you might expect.
My Pastor had recently preached a message and in it asked “What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?” He encouraged us that the answers to these questions would help provide insight into the way God had wired us individually to serve God and serve others, and were often were indicators for the profession God had uniquely equipped us for.
I’d long been dreaming about becoming self-employed, so I prayerfully tried to answer those questions with hopes God would reveal a new career path for me. Knowing that I’m hard-wired to help other people, at first I thought to try offering coaching services for professional development on LinkedIn. I led a few workshops within my church, and started envisioning how I might transition that into a part time career.
In the meantime, pressure in the workplace was mounting – and it was evident that something had to give. I had been looking, and had a few positive interviews under my belt – but I was still waiting for a formal job offer.
Then came a women’s weekend event at my church, and my prayer and expectation was that God would give me instruction during the event on what to do. Do I stay (and risk being pushed out of the organization), or do I leave (even before I secured a new job). And in ways that only God can do, He spoke to me through multiple means that weekend (through whispers of the Spirit during worship, through conversations with women during the event, and from the podium from the guest speaker) and I was absolutely confident that He was inviting me to quit my job and take a leap of faith out into the deep waters of the unknown and trust Him to make the way for me.
So I did! The next Monday, I went in and gave my two weeks notice!
“What you ‘SEE’ is where you will go; change your vision, change your life!” ~Bill Winston
And He did! Before the two weeks had run out, He whispered to me to call one of my old managers and ask about representation. Honestly, I really didn’t understand the implications of that at the time … I was simply responding to an inner prompting by the Holy Spirit. I made the call, and within just a few days I had a verbal agreement to become an Independent Sales Rep for them. BOOM!
Which necessitated my incorporating under an LLC.
Me: “I can’t do this Lord. I’ve never owned my own company before. I don’t know anything about how to do this.”
The LORD: “Can you learn?”
And this is how HOPEWELL Companies LLC was born. It’s been 5 years since my first steps towards self-employment, and over 4.5 years since incorporating as a WOSB. What a journey of faith this as been!!
“Your words are the forerunner of the events that are to come.” ~Charles Capps
But back to the painting (completed piece below). Back to the garden spot. Back to the power of the seed sown to either bring life and blessing, or death and cursing into my life. I’ve been so busy trying to run my business, and blog, and lead small groups, and pursue a few personal interests that I’ve become a sloppy gardner. I gotten tired, and distracted, and have been burning the candle at both ends … and as my reward I’ve now got weed-seed growing in my garden.
Time to go back to the basics! Time to pluck out those nasty old seeds of fear and doubt and discouragement and fatigue … and instead plant Living Word-Seeds like PERSISTANCE OF FAITH, DILIGENCE, HOPE IN THE PROMISE, and LOVE.
“Faith is what keeps those dreams alive, even when it seems as though they are dead and buried. That is the very nature of seeds. They go underground. They disappear. And while it may seem like they are dead, they are not. They’re just germinating, beneath the surface.” ~Mark Batterson, Draw The Circle
Have you been tending your garden? Are you harvesting what you want (because you’ve been sowing what you want to reap), or have you been harvesting what you don’t want (because you’ve not been mindful to guard your heart and guard your mouth)?
It is out of the overflow of your heart that word-seeds are planted in the garden spot of your soul. What’s growing in your garden?
It would greatly bless me to hear from you. Please take a moment to comment, encourage, or ask a question below.
======= 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.