On of my treasured memories from my tweens and teens was walking down the hall in the morning to see my mom sitting in her favorite chair, Bible on her lap, and cup of coffee on the side table.
My next most treasured memory is the remembrance of her voice singing hymns in the kitchen as she worshiped her Lord and Savior while washing dishes.
It was late 1986 that we all drove up to visit my family in Oregon, and staying several nights with my mom. It felt so wonderful to walk down the hall again in the morning to see her reading her Bible while sipping coffee. It was so nurturing to my spirit to listen to her softly sing while cleaning house.
While out with my sisters, I found a small book in a consignment shop that reminded me of my mom. Published in 1889, the book is a collection of poems inspired by Scripture and is entitled “Fullness of Joy” by Cecilia Havergal and others. I gave the book to her as a thank you for letting us stay, and I wrote on the inside cover:
Thank you for opening your house to “T” and I and the kids during our visit. You’re a wonderful mother, and an even better friend. I love you, your daughter, Jenny”
When my mom passed, this book was found amongst her things and returned to me as a remembrance.
But now when I hold it, I feel a tear in my heart … for not only does it remind me of the occasion when she loved me in 1986, but it also reminds me of the first time she disowned me as her daughter. I know that the onset of dementia was at least a contributing factor to her increasing mean-spiritedness in her later years. It’s as though in the fog of dementia, she lost her ability to “filter” out the venom in her heart when crossed or otherwise angered.
“So the LORD answers, ‘Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.'” ~Isaiah 49:15 (GNT)
For those of us who have had parents that have wounded us in word or in action, let us not ascribe their shortcomings and failures to the character of God, our Heavenly Father. Where human love fails, God’s love never fails and it never gives up (or abandons)!
And true to His Word, God brought people into my life who would fill those gaps in my soul and spirit – spiritual parents, mothers and fathers, I’ve many of them over the years. The love and nurture that my own parents were unable to give because of their own brokenness, others gave me – teaching and training me (healing me) so that in time I could be a better parent to my own children.
He will do the same for you!
“God places lonely people in families. He leads prisoners out of prison into productive lives..” ~Psalm 68:6 (God’s Word Translation)
Thank you Daddy-God, that Your love is unconditional and utterly unshakeable. You are a kind and loving Father to the parent-less (fatherless / motherless), and You place the orphaned into new families!
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.
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 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.
For the 13 weekly posts in which I shared my testimony with many personal details (Weeks 20-32) I had created some rather dark art pieces, to match the darkness of what was taking place in my life during that timeframe. As I neared the end what I felt prompted to share as “my story”, I wanted to create a new piece – a victory piece. I can’t tell you how many versions I tried … probably nine or ten … none of them conveyed what I wanted to convey. After another failed attempt over the weekend, I was getting discouraged.
And then Sunday night, I got another idea. I actually got out of bed and sketched it out before I forgot. In the morning, I wet my paints and started framing it out. Later in the afternoon, I did a little more. By the following evening, I thought I messed it up and almost tossed it … even began working on a second piece … but a little voice said “keep going” and so I painted a little more and set it aside to see how it looked in the morning. Surprisingly, it looked far better than I expected so I kept going …
(there’s a lesson in here)
… and much to my surprise, what looked like such a mess “in the moment” actually dried into something quite lovely.
Would you do me a favor? In your minds eye, would you change the image of Miss Hope so that it is instead YOU who are kneeling down on the plateau … YOU robed in purple, YOU encircled by the Breath of Heaven.
“He said, “Prophesy to the bones. Tell these dry bones to listen to the word of the LORD. Tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them: I am going to put breath into you and bring you back to life.”” ~Ezekiel 37:4-5 (GNT)
“Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”” ~John 20:22
What do you hear the Spirit say to you? Is He speaking to you through the remembrance of certain Scriptures? What loving words is your Heavenly Father speaking to you, over you?
Please share in the comment section what you heard and let it not only be an encouragement for you today, but let God encourage others through 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.
“Go take for yourself a wife of harlotry”…”for the land (Israel) has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” ~Hosea 1:2
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Nah, don’t bother. Because if you’re breathing I know you have the same problem I do. You are unfaithful. So am I.
My attention waivers.
My loyalties wear out.
I often like to do what I want more than I like to do what I ought.
I don’t keep my vows.
This morning while reading Hosea I see too much of myself and his Harlot bride. The Mirror of the Word reflects back to me a willful and undisciplined child, who hears the instruction of the Father yet thinks she can disobey with no consequences. Fool. There are always consequences.
But continue reading…
“And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to start all over again. I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. I’ll give her bouquets of roses. I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She’ll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt. ~Hosea 2:14-15 MSG
Thank you, Father. Thank you that you are always calling me back to you, cleaning me up, and re-extending to me the promise of Hope contained in your love for me.
She slowly walks up to the front of the room, smiling as she moves past the familiar and unfamiliar faces monitoring her progress. She tries to steady her breathing. Everything rides on this, her entire future! As she turns, the room quiets and all eyes are on her. She silently prays her voice to calm, and then she begins to deliver the most important speech of her 18 year life.
I should know better, for I have been here -in this place- countless times before. Dreaming, pursuing, preparing, envisioning my success.
• The powerful delivery of a presentation or speech
• Hitting my weight loss goal
• Landing that promotion
• Winning back territory from the enemy
• Making the final payment on an old debt
• Arriving at a place of financial security
• Residence in ‘the land overflowing with milk and honey’
At the beginning of the process … the dreaming, pursuing and preparing part … enthusiasm is high. My imagination soars with visions of what life will be like when ______. And usually, if I really pause to examine my thought life, there is an undertone or underlying theme in my visions of victory and success: “Then I’ll be able to rest for a bit.”
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!” ― Jim Henson (The Labyrinth)
And yet time and time again, even though I know full well it’s not true – I continue to set myself up for the inevitable disappointment that will be when reality smacks me in the face and I’m reminded once again that there is always going to be another presentation, another goal, another challenge, … another mountain/valley/ocean to cross over!
Can anyone else relate?
Admittedly, I was in a bit of a funk the end of last year. There was a lot of change taking place in my day-job, and it was quite stressful. And so I did what I always do … or what eventually I always do. I took my battle-weary heart to the Lord, and received HOPE from Him that 2018 would be a year of favor and blessing. That’s why this particular blog series is entitled “2018: A Year For Hope” … because I knew He was instructing me to keep blogging, and I needed a reminder (and anchor) for the HOPE that He had given me in December.
“I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.” ~Psalm 32:8 (The Passion Translation)
In January I spread my wings and took flight on this series, I even began painting again. I had gained a little altitude in February. I soared for a little while in March, until I hit the turbulent winds of April. Some personal disappointments got the better of me and I lost altitude.
Sounds rather like a recurring theme for me, doesn’t it?
And as I’ve been making my way back to the starting place these last 2 weeks, I asked myself “What in the world makes you think life is going to be gumdrops and lollypops when ___ happens! You should know better!”
Sometimes I write my blog posts for you – to encourage you like we were friends sitting across from each other over coffee.
But most times, my write blog posts are for me – something I’m working through and/or need to be reminded of. Yup, I’m a HOPE-filled blogger in desperate need for another shot of HOPE!
And today, the encouragement I’m clinging to comes from the women’s event I attended at my church this past weekend. Through the story of Gideon, our lead Pastor’s wife and guest speaker shared a one-liner that really resonates with me. “God wants us to be Brave so that He can write our stories.”~Ginelle Payne
Oh yes, that’s right Lord. My story is still being written, by You!
And there is no finish line this side of heaven (because I have an enemy who is always sabotaging me by moving flags and markers, setting traps, etc), and so it is a waste of energy to pine for the day when I can ‘put my feet up and rest a bit’.
Instead, I need to keep coming back (hourly if necessary) to the starting place of Rest & Refreshment so that You can revive my Hope, give me Vision, build my Expectation, make me Fearless, increase my Boldness, with greater Persistence! And when fatigue comes, I would do well to return to the starting place A.S.A.P. rather than waiting for wobbly-ness to set in. (I tend to get into trouble by making poor decisions when I’m wobbly.)
Regarding that enemy – the one who is always sneaking around to steal the Word from me, kill my dreams, and utterly destroy God’s plan for my life? In the words of Jim Henson … let me loudly declare this!
“You have no power over me!”
I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside. Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.