Tag Archives: courage

Up a creek? No paddle?

Friends, it truly was/is my intention to post a minimum of twice a month – but there was a lot going on the beginning of the year and in particular in February.  And by the time I recuperated, well … here we are living through COVID-19.  What a different world it is since my last post!

What was going on, you ask?

One of my precious grandchildren was diagnosed with something as a small child (you can probably tell by the way that I’m writing this, that we are all standing in faith for her healing) and late last year she began to experience a new challenge in her health.  Back and forth for testing, starting new medications and experiencing new complication, then taking her off them again.  All the while fervently praying for God to show Himself strong and deliver her from the sudden attack from an enemy who came out of nowhere.

Take heart – the end of the story (this particular story) is good. Very good, in fact!  But at the time, it was emotionally-spiritually-physically challenging, to put it mildly.

Hmmm.  As I’m writing, something about that sounds very familiar to what we all are experiencing around the globe with the sudden attack from an unexpected enemy – COVID-19.

“I am the BREATH on your back….”

In hind sight, it is easy to see that while things looked chaotic and quite frightening at the time, just out of the range of our eyesight, God was carefully putting all the pieces of the puzzle together – exactly the right piece, at precisely the right time – so that in the end, it all worked together for her (my granddaughter) good as well as the good of her entire family.

But back in January and February, there was some scary stuff going on.  It was heart wrenching to see my granddaughter suffering so.  And as a mom, it pained me to see my daughter and her husband strain under the weight they were carrying as parents, trying to navigate the unknown with faith instead of giving in to the fear that stalked us all daily.

But what comforted me then, and what gives me comfort in this new season of “COVID-19 Chaos” is a word the Lord whispered to me while I was crying out to Him one morning.

ME:  Lord, I feel like I’ve followed you out into DEEP and STILL WATERS, and now here I sit … in a teeny little boat, without a paddle, and with absolutely no way to get myself to shore.   If you don’t rescue me somehow, I’m lost!

Lake Dennison
Early morning kayaking on Lake Dennison http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

HIM:  I am the BREATH on your back, moving you forward.

Isn’t that a powerful word!?!  It strengthens my heart and gives me courage that even though things look bleak at this precise moment in time, He is still moving me forward!  Always!   Even when my senses don’t register the movement or progress being made, He is still moving me forward!!

 

“I am the BREATH on your back, moving you forward into your destiny”

 

I’m working on a new piece of art (I haven’t painted in over a year!!) inspired by this Word.  I hope to have it ready on my next post.    Until then, take courage my friend.  He is present in our times of trial, no matter how lonely we might be feeling.  And He is still breathing!  He will see us through to the other side ❤

 

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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.

The wisdom of a 2-year old: “Put you glasses on.”

Pure Love!Recently, while visiting my oldest daughter and her two little girls, I had taken my glasses off so that I could better rough house with them a little.

One of my favorite things to do with these little munchkins is to swoop them up in my arms, swing them around a bit, and then bury my face in the crook of their neck and kiss them until they squeal with delight.  And as you can imagine, that kind of playing has bent my glasses out of shape on more than one occasion – and so I’m getting a little better at taking them off first.

But this particular Saturday, as I was drawing near to the two-year old (a miniature of her momma at that age) to gobble her up, she gave me a funny look, stuck her arm out pointing her little finger squarely at my face, and slowly issued to me a very specific instruction:   “Put you glasses on.”

 

Now maybe it’s one of those things that you just had to be there to appreciate, but it really was quite hysterical and had me chuckling for many days afterwards.  What a precious little darling she is!

But then as the days went by, her words began to ring in my ear for another reason.  Let me explain.

I have been leading a ‘small group’ through my church for almost 2 years now, the general theme of which is ‘the inherent power of the Word of God (as contained in the Bible) to address/satisfy every need and overcome every circumstance we face here on earth’.   And as one might suspect, we are continually referring to the Word of God (the Bible) for insight as to what God has to say about any particular matter of life.

We have studied ‘prosperity’ and provision.  We have studied ‘health’ and healing.  We have studied ‘wisdom’.  But whatever the subject of study, one thing is required in order to hear and comprehend so that you can experience change … that you ‘change your focus/perspective’ from that of the reader (i.e. the one stuck in the quagmire of a particular circumstance) to that of the Ruler (.e. the one who reigns over all).

 A change of perspective.   A change of vision.

 

And isn’t that what eye-glasses do?  They heighten and improve your focus so that what was once blurry is now easily recognizable and identifiable.  And with that empowerment (to recognize and identify) comes the ability to execute with wisdom and authority (where once was doubt and confusion).

Thankfully, when I take my glasses off to play with my grandchildren, I can still see well enough without do most things with competence.  I can still see and recognize people.  I can still drive.  I can still read … well, sort of.  But all those things require a lot more effort and eye-strain to do them as opposed to when I’m wearing my glasses.

It’s the same when facing the circumstances of life.  Natural reasoning can work, sometimes.  We’ve all experienced a certain level of success grunting through life on our own wisdom and strength.  But how exhausting!

What I really need when facing the circumstances of life – be it sickness, challenges at work,  relationship issues, or whatever – is a higher perspective.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
So you’ll go out in joy,
    you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.   (Isaiah 55:8-13, The Message)

And in order to obtain that higher perspective described in Isaiah 55, I need to exchange my thinking for His thinking.  For He sees future events as though they already were, and He is always leading and guiding me into His best … if I will just trust Him enough to follow His leading.   And it is far easier to trust and follow the leader (Leader) when you have confidence in their (His) vision, right?  (Especially when where He appears to be leading exactly where you don’t want to go!  Lots of stories to tell there!)

So here’s to putting on my “God glasses” (and keeping them on!) so that I can see things more closely to the way that He sees them.  And from that higher perspective, may I daily be empowered by faith to trust and follow Him into the “whole and complete life” that He has planned for me!!

Blessings,
Jenny

 

 

 

 

Battle weary? ADP!

This has been on my heart for a while now.  Perhaps like me, there are things you have been praying for – but as yet have not received your breakthrough.  Promises you’re standing on, but manifestation hasn’t shown up yet.   Declarations of faith that are beginning to sound a little hollow – even to your own ears.

For those who know me, I am pretty passionate about the Word of God.    Through teachings of trusted Pastors and my own personal studies, I have come to understand the power and authority placed into our hands as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, Ambassadors of the King of Kings.  Most days, my feet are firmly planted on the Word of God and I am a force to be reckoned with.   My philosophy is simply.  If the devil wants to mess with me on this or that area of life – He’s going to hear what Jesus has to say about it!

But in spite of my knowing that the Word of God is the power of God, there are days when I’m weary.  Or as I’ve shared before, a bit “wobbly“.   The last several weeks have been like that for me.  I’ve been pressing.  I’ve been declaring.  I’ve been believing.  And I’m still waiting.

I’m not discouraged, per se.  Or at least not discouraged in the way that one feels when they decide to ‘give up hoping’ and resign themselves to the situation.  No, I’m a bit too far gone for that.  I’ve walked long enough with God to know that He will always move on my behalf and deliver on His Word – even if it’s not within my desired timeframe.   Abraham waited 25 years for the promised heir.  Noah waited (while building the arc) 120 years before the flood came.  God does always not operate on our time tables.   But He IS faithful to His covenant promise – and I have His Word on what I’m praying/believing for – so I know if I stay in faith I will eventually get my breakthrough.   But the waiting is harder some days than others.  Right?

That’s why I’m so grateful that I’ve the Holy Spirit living inside me to speak to me on wobbly days.  And what I’m hearing loud and clear in my spirit is to “Apply Direct Pressure!”  Now that may not mean much to you – but to me it resonates very deeply and speaks clearly of two critical actions that are required on my part, and yours if you want to get your victory.

“Apply Direct Pressure!”

ACTION #1:  Keep putting pressure on the Word of God:  study the Word of God, read and memorize God’s promises as related to my circumstance or trial, speak them over myself and my situation, make a demand upon the promises of God by calling those things that be not as though they were … until they are!   In other words, don’t get discouraged and worn down by my situation – but instead keep my faith stirred up and keep putting pressure on the Word of God for my deliverance and breakthrough.  God’s Word is sure and my enemy will fall!

Yes, the fight of faith can be wearing at times – but it is a battle that has already been won by Jesus Christ!  You and I have got to remember that, or the devil will dupe us into thinking that the victory belt is still up for grabs.   It is not!

Pressure Gauge

More dangerous still is the temptation to think that the winning or loosing is somehow dependent on us … our fortitude, our strength, our skill.  Again, it is not!  The fight has already been won, and it is our job to put on the full armor of God and enforce the victory won by Jesus Christ!

ACTION #2:  Keep putting pressure on the enemy:  open my mouth and speak the promises of God to my adversary, refuse to sit down and shut up, man the battle stations and be ready morning/noon/night to enforce his defeat.  In other words, don’t be a passive opponent but rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit living within me, and remind the enemy at every turn that He is a defeated foe and is subject to the Name of Jesus – and Jesus left me (and you) His Name!    He is a defeated foe, but his defeat has to be enforced – not in my strength or authority, but by the authority of Jesus Christ!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks.  Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.  That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.   (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Thank you Lord, that’s just what I needed.  I’ve got my “grrr” back, how about you?

Let us not grow weary, but get back at the business of fighting the good fight of faith so that we can lay hold of all that God has provided for us through His Word!

In Him,
Jenny

 

Press on!

For the last several years, it has been my practice that in December I enter into a time of reflection on the closing year, and goal setting for the next.

They say that something like only 8% of New Years Resolutions are kept, and I’ve certainly made regular contributions to the 92% failure rate.  Yet in spite of all those ‘failed’ resolutions, I have made great progress towards the fulfilling of some of my recurring resolutions.  For example, while I still haven’t reached the level of physical and mental fitness that is required for me to run a 5K non-stop, I have discovered that I like to walk/jog – and I’ve completed at least five 5K’s since my first in 2012.     I’m now looking forward to restarting my C25K training this spring, but with a body prepared over the winter with strength and flexibility exercises.  Progress! 

Nor do I weigh what I want (and ought) to weigh.  Yet I have completely changed my eating habits over the last 6-7 years with even more changes being implemented in 2015, and as a result I am better positioned than ever to live strong well into my 90’s.   Progress!

As I vision cast for 2015, an image comes to mind … that of a seedling imprisoned by stone, yet pressing onward into life.  These wonders of nature are even more inspiring when they are seen growing out of the side of a vertical rock cliff.  The SeedlingOne can only imagine their journey from seed to seed-producing and bird-sheltering trees that survive season after season, decade after decade.

In my mind’s eye, I envision a lone seed being dropped by bird or squirrel, later washed by flowing currents of rain deep into the crags between opposing rocks.

In darkness, the seed finds a little pocket of dirt, just enough to enrobe itself with the necessary soil, moisture, and organisms required to initiate the transformation from seed to seedling.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”  (Luke 13:18-19, NIV)

Time passes and from the safety of its craggy entombment, tender tendrils of life emerge.  Against all odds, the seedling presses through dirt and rock to receive nourishment of the morning sun. Eventually, the seedling outgrows the confines of its home.  It is root bound and has used up every millimeter of space for its ever increasing trunk.  As a result, access to the root system has been blocked for rainwater and airflow.  What once was shelter has now become a prison, and the young tree is entrapped and compromised.  The situation appears hopeless.

Have you ever felt like that?  I have!

Now about this time I expect you are asking yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with new years resolutions?”

PerseveranceAnd the answer is PERSERVERANCE!

For with perseverance, even a 1-day old seedling can eventually force the rock to move out of its way so that it can grow into full maturity as an adult tree!

This truth gives me great comfort as I make New Years Resolutions for 2015 that are echo’s of 2014 resolutions, and 2013 resolutions and so on.  After so many failed attempts to _______________, the temptation is to either lessen one’s goals to something believed as more readily achievable, or to discard those dreams altogether.  I mean, who needs yet another reminder on 1/1/2016 of ones failure to _________?

But not this year!  I shall not quit pressing on for the dream of what is in my heart to do, for I know that with perseverance of faith and continued obedience to His leading, I will eventually see manifestation of what which I am presently believing God for.   The mountain WILL move!

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)

So here’s to 2015!  Let us dream big, and press on to take hold of all that God has put in our hearts to become, and to do for the glory of His Name!

In Him,
Jenny

Lead me on

Photo used by permission of TouTouke (Agnes Scholiers)
Photo by TouTouke (Agnes Scholiers)

I think that for the most part, I am a ‘half-glass-full’ kind of person.  Or as I like to call it – a “HOPE-filled” person.

I truly want my life to reflect the Light of HOPE that guides me, comforts me, inspires me.  I want the HOPE found in the promises of God to be the anchor for my soul [my mind, my will, my emotion].

But sometimes   …maybe for a few minutes, or maybe for several days… a feeling that is not hope-filled overcomes me.  David describes it as ‘downcast’-ness.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?  ~Psalm 42:5

I call these days my ‘wobbly’ days, for instead of being steadfast in my faith [firmly fixed, immovable], on these days I am ‘unfixed’, ‘movable’, and in some cases on the verge of ‘completely toppling over altogether’.   Clearly, on ‘wobbly’ days my focus is less on the Promise(s) and more on the present circumstances.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.  ~John 14:1 (Amplified)

One of my daughters recently shared the song “Steady Heart” by Steffany Gretzinger (of Bethel Music) with me.  It has completely captured my thinking, or more specifically – the image inspired by the chorus has captured my imagination, and speaks deeply to my soul and spirit.

Steady heart that keeps on going, Steady love that keeps on holding
Lead me on
Steady grace that keeps forgiving,  Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

~”Steady Heart”, by Steffany Gretzinger (chorus only)

To my hearing, the singer is speaking to Someone, who is intimately referred to as;  1) Steady Heart, 2) Steady Love, 3) Steady Grace, and 4) Steady Faith.    And in those four Names, I am reminded that steadfastness of faith (that continued HOPE-filled pressing-in and pressing-on towards full possession of the Promises of God) is not experienced by of lack of trials, but is the result of maintaining a fixed focus on the One who goes before us, Jesus Christ.  He is the Good Shepherd, and if we will simply focus our attention on listening, and following, and obeying His instructions, He will safely lead us through the storm and back into open spaces of peace and rest.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.  ~Psalm 42:11