Category Archives: Faith & Hope

It’s just another day to live

It’s been a year.  It’s been a year, and I only realized it this morning.  Frankly, that was a little surprising to me, because for most of the spring, summer, fall and winter of 2019, I feel like I registered days and events as they correlated to the days leading up to Valentines Day 2019.

Three weeks since ….

Two months since …

Eight weeks ago …

Last year at this time …

… and so on, and so on.

If you’ve ever had the rug pulled out from under you, for whatever the reason (and we all have!), you probably understand what I’m talking about.

But today, I realized that I’m not doing that anymore!!  I’m OK with it just being February 13th, 2020.  And while tomorrow is Valentines Day 2020, it is no more or less significant a day than any other Valentines that proceeded it for the last 29 years since I’ve been single-again.  It will be a day for me to lean deeply into the embrace of my Heavenly Husband, the One who has been my Rock and Fortress since I left “Mr. T” in 1991.  It will be a day for me to show love to my children and grandchildren.  It will be just one day out of 365 days in 2020 that I choose to live my life with joy and passion and courage to be all that God has called me to be.  Yes, I’m OK … more than OK … I’m happy again!  Truly happy!

The twisted-knife-in-the-gut feeling is gone.

The ping-pong-balls-bouncing-around-my-brain feeling is gone.

"Gone Fishing" (2)  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Gone Fishing” (2) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

And the determined focus I applied throughout 2019 to getting out and enjoying my life “in spite of” payed off in dividends!  I found healing in the company of treasured friends who carried me when my heart ached beyond what I was able to carry alone.  I found peace and spiritual refreshment in the sounds of babbling brooks and the beauty of the morning fog rising off the waters of my favorite kayaking lakes.  I found God again … not that He had ever left, ever moved (He hadn’t).  But I had – I had withdrawn and pulled in.  I was angry and hurt, and I held back in my pain.  But as healing came, intimacy returned.  He is so kind like that!  Never holding a grudge, always ready to throw arms open wide to receive me unto Himself again.

“”Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed.” says the Lord who has compassion on you.”      (Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Life is not always blue skies and lolly pops, is it?  And when grey clouds gather, we need a tribe of like-minded souls to walk with us to brighter days ahead.

I wonder who else has been or is in the process of recovering from having the rug pulled out from under your feet?   Where are you in the healing process?  How can I pray for 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.

How sharp is your edge?

I read this out of my morning devotional, and it hit home.

“In some parts of the country there are Lumberjack competitions where the biggest and strongest compete by chopping down trees and sawing through thick logs.  In one such competition, there was a match between a young, strong ax man and an older, slimmer one.

By the end of the day of competition, the old man had cut down double the amount of trees that the young man had cut down.  Frustrated, the younger ax man finally confronted the older and said ‘I don’t understand.  I never stopped swinging.  I never stopped.  You know, I never stopped cutting down trees and yet you took two breaks every hour.  How could you cut down more trees?’   The older man, with humble eyes and a kind reply said ‘Every time I stopped, I sharpened my axe.”

You and I can chop until we’re blue in the face, but if our axe has lost its edge, it won’t matter.

I feel like I spent much of 2019 swinging and swinging and swinging … but with a dull axe.  How about you?

Praising God that He is always willing to “resharpen our edge” … strengthening us by His Spirit and sharpening us by His Word to make us productive again.

Axe Sharpening

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.”    (Isaiah 35:3-4)

How can I pray for you today? 

=====
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.

That was a low blow!

M-W1-cellblock of Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut
Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut

When I wrote my “Jail Break” post in April 2019, I was recalling a conversation I had recently had with a dear friend. As we shared our hearts and more than a few cups of coffee at her kitchen table, I prayed the Lord would give me the right words to inspire her with revived hope and faith for a jail break… but this time with help of the Escape Guide, Jesus Christ.

Little did I realize at the time that she was not the only one who needed a jail break.  I also needed a jail break, except that I hadn’t yet realized I was being held captive!!

Did you take some hard hits in 2019?   I did, and while the enemy of my soul was unsuccessful in his ultimate goal (to get me to deny my faith in God and turn away from the One who sustains me), he did land enough sucker-punches to have me “tagging out” and sitting on the side lines for a while.  A long while!

I was weary of soul. I was saddened in my spirit. I was low in my faith for certain areas and concerns of life. And so I sat; catching my breath, licking my wounds.  And the longer I sat, the more comfortable I was sitting in my small-but-known little resting place. My wounds healed, but there I remained in my now familiar and somewhat comfortable (or at least tolerably comfortable) surroundings.

I knew I wouldn’t (couldn’t) sit forever, but I was in no hurry to get back up.  And while I sat, perhaps mildly depressed in my self-reflection, the enemy built up bars around me!

Turns out I was actually writing to and about myself back in April!  I’m the one who needed a jail break!!!!

We all get sucker-punched from time to time, and when the hits are especially hard, we may need to take a little time to recover.   That’s what I have been doing, and maybe you are too.  But let us not stay there, seated on the sidelines!  And let us not get so familiar with being pressed upon that we forget that we have a Champion Friend who will not only help us bear up under pressure, but helps us through to the other side!!

“Do not be afraid-I will save you.  I have called you by name-you are mine.  When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.

When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.  For I am the LORD your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you.”    (Isaiah 43:1-2  GNT)

Thank God for the turning of a calendar page, for as 2019 drew to a close, a restlessness awakened in my spirit and a still small voice whispered to me “speak to the bones”.

The Valley of Dry Bones
“The Valley of Dry Bones” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Friend, God has called us (you and me) to a life that is full of purpose, joy and victory!  So let us speak to the dry and dead bones in our lives, and let us get back into the game!! There is just too much at risk if we don’t – victories that won’t be tasted, destinies that won’t be fulfilled, lives that won’t be changed by the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ!

“He said, “Prophesy to the bones. Tell these dry bones to listen to the word of the LORD … I am going to put breath into you and bring you back to life.” (Ezekiel 37:4 GNT)

Truth be told, I’m still a little weary of spirit – a little “wobbly” (wobbly-ness circles back to all of us from time to time).  And as much as I long for and pursue spiritual confidence, I am learning to appreciate wobbly-ness as well.  Wobbly-ness reminds me of my need for a Shepherd, a Shelter from the storm, and a Savior.

As I prayed about “getting back into the game” in 2020, among other things I felt prompted to commit to write 2 blog posts a month throughout 2020.  More as inspired, but at least 2/month.  So here’s the first.  I hope it speaks to you.  And I hope you come back to read one or two more (I will publish the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month), especially if you’re also a “wobbly” soul with “dead bones” buried in the backyard.

Not literally, of course!  That would be creepy!!

=====
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.

Spring Cleaning of the Heart

I’ve not been writing much this year – in part because I was unclear if I was to be writing on a particular subject (or using a particular format) like I did in 2018, but also … and perhaps more truthfully, because I was heart weary.

For the first time in many (many!) years, I started dating again. It was delightful, and I’m so grateful for the awakening that took place in my feminine heart during that time. In many ways, I liken it to the re-opening of an old house that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It may look a bit of a mess at first, but as you remove the sheets that covered fine furnishings, polish up the woodwork and light fixtures, etc … your eyes behold a beautiful and inviting home filled with character and memories that welcome you in.

This was my experience. Rooms of my heart have been re-opened, spring-cleaned, and are now ready to welcome the man that has been praying for such a woman as me (just like I’ve been praying for him).

And I learned something amazing about myself through this recent experience of discovering attraction, engaging in vulnerability, lowering the drawbridge of my heart, moderating emotions, engaging in honest communication, and practicing prayerful discernment.

I’m absolutely NOT the woman I was!

That might not mean much to some of you … but if you have read some of my older posts or dared to read my story (see sidebar category), then you know that there was a long season of my life when I was making need-based relationship choices, and those need-based choices nearly were the end of me!

FacelessFather www.puttinghopetowork.com
FacelessFather http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

But this time, I experienced something different!! I experienced dating from the place of emotional health and wholeness!!

I’ve never done that before! Ever! (seriously, ever!!)

“Better late than never’ they say, and at 58 years old I finally dated without handing over my value and worth to be weighed and measured by another person (as I have done countless times in the past). Instead of offering my Identity (worth and value) to a person … my Identity remained nested throughout my river-walk with this gentleman in whom the Lord says I am His beloved, His daughter, His bride.

“I will lift up my eyes [and my heart] to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121: 1-2 (MEV)

What a delight to my soul and spirit!!! To experience the transformation that I have worked so hard for all these years!! Not that I’ve ever run a marathon (and believe you me, I never will!), but I imagine it’s kind of like the difference between training for one, and actually placing in one!

“I Lift My Heart To The Hills” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

God is so good, isn’t He?! If we will just keep with Him, keep surrendering to His gentle regenerating and healing work within us, He is faithful to complete the work He has begun!! Amen and so be it!

If you have had a similar epiphany or experience, I’d love to hear about it. So, I’m sure would others.

=====

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.

Who Am I (AYFH wk 34)

Believe it or not, I have enjoyed writing my testimony (categorized under “My Story”) the past few months. Not only has it reconnected me with and given clarity to a calling God gave me years ago, but it has also allowed me to connect with some amazing people!

Through comments as well as private conversations, God has opened doors for me to use my voice and experiences to encourage others who are still walking “through their valley of the shadow of death”.

“What happens to you in life does not change the Word of God; but if you will hold fast to your confession (profession) of the Word, it will change what happens to you in life.”  ~Charles Capps

I recently sat with a friend who wept with longing for the “seemingly accomplished” deliverance she sees in my life and testimony (while she is still in the process of laying hold of hers). She might be surprised to know that I wept into my own pillow that night … because there are still many areas in which I struggle with unfulfilled longings and (yet) unmet needs.

Breath of Heaven - Robed In His Righteousness www.puttinghopetowork.com
Breath of Heaven – Robed In His Righteousness http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Last week I revealed my “Victory Painting”. I think it’s easy (especially, I think, on the heels of my testimony) to look at “Miss Hope” with head bowed down in worship, enrobed in Christ’s Righteousness, being spoken over by the Spirit of God … and think to ourselves …

She made it!
She conquered!
She has arrived! (at the place of rest and rejoicing)

To which I think she might say, “Please don’t look at me that way.”

And to all of you reading this post I also say, “Please don’t look at me that way.”

Meaning please don’t look at me like I’ve now living a life without challenge, without disappointment, without heartache. If you do, not only will you be disappointed when you find out the truth (when you find out that neither my life, nor I (myself) am “all that and a bag of chips”), but it will also short circuit your faith for what God is doing in your life … right now … today!

But neither let us focus on our (neither yours nor mine) shortcomings and current struggle points (or ‘messy spots’).

“Faith is confidence that God’s Word is true, and conviction that acting on that Word will bring His blessing.”   ~Warren W. Wiersby, BE: Mature

Instead, let us look into the mirror of the perfect Word of God, and see ourselves how God sees us. If you are a Christ-follower (have made Jesus the Lord of your life), then guess what … this lovely image of Miss Hope robed in Righteousness, breathed upon by the Breath of God … that’s you too!

Perhaps even more importantly, let us say about ourselves what God says about us! Let us put in the work to “true up” our internal image of our true Identity.  

To the lie that says you are a broken mess and always will be, open your mouth and respond with this:

I am healed and whole in Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

I am complete in Him Who is the head over all rule and authority—of every angelic and earthly power (Colossians 2:10).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression and will not live in fear (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I am the righteousness of God—I have right standing with Him—in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I have been rescued from the domain and the power of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

My life is rooted in my faith in Christ and I overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done for me (Colossians 2:7).

My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19).

To the lie that says you are fearful and fragmented of mind/spirit, open your mouth and say boldly:

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

The Spirit of God, who is greater than the enemy in the world, lives in me (1 John 4:4).

I am born again—spiritually transformed, renewed and set apart for God’s purpose—through the living and everlasting word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

I have received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my heart enlightened, so that I know the hope of having life in Christ (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I am merciful, I do not judge others, and I forgive quickly. As I do this by God’s grace, He blesses my life (Luke 6:36-38).

The light of God’s truth has shone in my heart and given me knowledge of salvation through Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

I am not ruled by fear because the Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me His power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through me. I have authority and power over the enemy in this world (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).

To the lie that says you are never going to change – never going to gain the victory, open your mouth and shut that voice up by declaring:

I am renewed in the knowledge of God and no longer want to live in my old ways or nature before I accepted Christ (Colossians 3:9-10).

I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ Jesus who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

In Christ, I am dead to sin—my relationship to it is broken—and alive to God—living in unbroken fellowship with Him (Romans 6:11).

As I hear God’s Word, I do what it says and I am blessed in my actions (James 1:22, 25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I have everything I need to live a godly life and am equipped to live in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

“Stand up to your full height; worry can not do for you (grow and mature you) what only faith can do.” ~Jeremy Pearsons

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the head and not the tail, and I only go up and not down in life as I trust and obey God (Deuteronomy 28:13).

I am strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (Colossians 1:11).

I humbly submit myself to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on each day to fulfill God’s plan for my life because I live to please Him (Philippians 3:14).

“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” ~Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified)

And all the people said …… Amen!

=====

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.