Tag Archives: Fear Not

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 24)

When I started this series “2018: A Year For Hope” in December 2017, chronicling my story was definitely not what I envisioned doing. And yet here I am, picking over and kicking over memories like rocks that haven’t been disturbed in decades. Truth be told, all this wondering down memory lane has been a little exhausting.

But I’ve also been rejoicing in the recognition of all that God has brought me through. He redeemed the pain of my childhood, rescued me from cruel and abusive husband, healed my/my children’s hearts, and completely re-directed the spiritual trajectory of my seed line. All that would be plenty enough – but He didn’t stop there. He also blessed me with a successful 20+ year career that I love, inspired me to Entrepreneurship in 2014, and continues to lead me into new and exciting adventures of business as a ministry including a side-gig that launches this month. He alone has transformed my life and truly given me beauty for ashes.

For those readers who know me personally, you can attest to the fact that I work hard at being a “glass-half-full” type of person. Occasionally, life will kick the stuffing out of me and leave me a bit ‘wobbly’, and I may take a while to rally back. But give me some time, and I’m gonna get back up, dust the dirt off my boots and hat, and get back at living life with a positive attitude. I’m gonna “take another swing!

Hey, I bet you have ‘wobbly’ days too. We all do.

So today I’m going to take a short break from my life saga to share something else. A revelation or epiphany. I’ve had it before, but I had forgotten it (as we are prone to do).

Buckle up and get ready for another spaghetti trail story. 😊

A few weekends ago I went camping – the first time I’ve camped in probably 20 years. And along with a car load of borrowed gear, I took my rarely-used fishing pole and the saddest little tackle box you ever saw in your life. I was living the dream, baby! I fished Saturday morning. I fished Saturday afternoon. I even fished Sunday morning before it was time to tear down the campsite. It was liberating and refreshing, and I had such a great time I committed to going again in a few weeks.

Take A Swing, PuttingHopeToWork.com
Take A Swing!

I returned home on Sunday and by Monday afternoon, my right shoulder started hurting – and I mean REALLY hurting. Can hardly move my arm hurting. Winced and yelped a few times hurting. Can’t get to sleep hurting. By Tuesday, I seriously considered cutting my PJ’s off because I couldn’t manage the shoulder movements.

“PAIN IS LIKE A MIST”

Now most of you probably know where this is headed and what was going on. But I’m a little slow on the trigger sometimes, and I’ve also got an enemy. Oh wait – you do too!

Well that enemy (of my soul) was busy whispering into my ears everything that could possibly be wrong with me:

• I got a mosquito bite and am now suffering the initial effects of West Nile Virus
• I somehow dislocated my shoulder while sleeping on the hard ground for 2 nights
• Tent camping triggered a family history of arthritis and I’ve not got arthritis in my shoulder
• I’m an old woman and my body is starting to decline
• I have tendonitis in my shoulder that will take 8+ months to heal (that’s how long it took for my hand to heal after a gardening incident last year – but that’s another story)

And on and on and on. Taunting me. Ridiculing me. Trying to make me afraid. Trying to get me to open my mouth and come into agreement with him.

I’d like to say that I’m much too spiritual to fall for that old trick. Basically, it’s the same old trick he’s played me with about 5,497 times over the course of my life. And unfortunately, he’s had a greater than 50% chance of my taking the bait (pun intended) … at least for a little while. It was no different now. I’m not going to embarrass myself by telling you how fear-filled my response was, but I will tell you that at one point I broke down and cried a little for the frustration that my body isn’t doing as easily (and painlessly) in my 50’s what it could do in my 20’s and 30’s.

 

img_20180614_080136538_hdr614949423.jpg
My Tackle Box and Catch of the Day

 

Eventually, I figured out that I had overworked some unused muscles with all that casting and reeling I was doing to haul in my ‘big fish’ pictured above! Pfft!

By day number six I was settling into a pattern of icing and muscle rubs and pillow cradling at night when the miraculous happened. I woke up one morning and my shoulder didn’t hurt.

And here is the revelation. My epiphany.

Pain is like mist. The more attention you pay to it, the more it closes in on you. Blinding you. Choking you. But if you will just relax into it, and breath through it, the wind will carry it away.

Isn’t that so true? Not only about physical pain (such as a fishing-shoulder injury) but true about emotional and spiritual pain. Our tendency when hurt is to recoil, withdraw, self-protect. But friend, you and I make lousy protectors of our own hearts and souls. We are easily duped and confused and misdirected to people and circumstances that are not really the source of our pain.

But there is One who is a most excellent Protector. One who will give you the strength to “breath through’ the pain of transitioning from the place of hurt and fear to the place of forgiveness and liberty.

In hind sight, I realize that what brought me to tears wasn’t the actual shoulder pain itself. It was listening to the voice of fear tell me that my life was going to be “less” because of this. That I would have “less” healing and mobility. That I would have “less” joy because I would be able to do “less”.

Grrr – I fell for it again!

But thank you Jesus, it was not very long before the Voice of HOPE spoke up in a louder (and more familiar and loving voice) and said “Not so, daughter. For I’ve purchased an abundant life for you, and you are Mine.”

I hope this truth (of knowing who you are and whose you are) is as much an encouragement to you as it is to me.

And hey – guess what? Yup, I’m going fishing again in a few weeks!

I’ll resume my the continuation of my childhood and testimony next week. Until then, be blessed and do this. Pray, Trust, Breathe.

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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.

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

Leaping or Deeping, it’s all a test of faith!

Here’s the thing about taking ‘a leap of faith’.   In order for it to qualify as a ‘leap’, there has to be a period of time that you are in a free-fall of some sort or another.  That exciting, but often very unnerving span of time between when you left Point A, but haven’t quite reached Point B.   That is, assuming you even know where Point B is!

Well, like I shared a few months ago, I recently felt called to take a leap of faith; but in my case it felt less like ‘leaping’ and more like ‘deeping’ (sorry – I couldn’t resist the urge to rhyme!).

Have you ever felt like that?  Felt the prompting to leave what was known and comfortable, and instead take a leap?   Or heard the Lord inviting you to step off the shorelines of safety trust in Him to elevate you over the depths of the unknown?

And if you have, how did you respond?

Did you leap?  Did you deep?   Are you still deciding how to respond?

Water Walking
Water Walking

So much has happened since I wrote the post Water Walking.  I am still very much “in the deep of faith” stage of things, but I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the deep, and neither are you!  Let me say that again … YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.

Just because we don’t yet see the full manifestation of what we are praying for, we can press on during the ‘water walking’ stage of the journey with confident expectation  – knowing that He who called us out into the deep waters of faith will be as faithful to us as He was to Abraham God will not leave His promise unfulfilled!!

May that truth be as comforting to you as it is to me, and may we both soon make it to the other side of the waters and into our very own ‘promised lands’.

Blessings,
Jenny

Seeds planted, with high expectations for the harvest!

I love to garden – to slip on my gloves and green rubber boots, and get out there to play in the dirt.  Especially in the spring, when gardening energies run high.  The blackberry patch invites me in to cut back last years fruit vines, and stake the canes that will bear this summer.  My Weigela is already budding out and is sure to be overtaken with blooms by late June.  And this year, I am absolutely certain I have cracked the code for a high-producing vegetable garden.  The seeds are planted, and I am anticipating a bounty large enough to keep my daughters and their families fully stocked with berries and vegetables for most of the summer.

But I like gardening for more than just the fruits and vegetables.  I like it because it reminds me of two beloved passages that have transformed my life.

Luke 8:11-15
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

 

Faith Like A Seed
My “Faith Like A Seed” craft project (summer vacation 2011)

Mark 4:26-29
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.
  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.

In these two passages, I’m reminded that the Word of God is a like a seed that a farmer plants into the soil of his heart, which if it is held onto and tended will produce of its own kind.   In other words, just like those Kentucky Pole Bean seeds I planted are guaranteed to sprout green bean and not orange trees, I can be certain that all those “Word-of-God Seeds” that I have planted into my heart over the course of my lifetime, and most especially over the last few years, will produce for me from the type of seed sown.   It’s the way the Kingdom of God works, just like Jesus said it works.

And so as I carefully planted my zucchini, green beans, beets and other veggie seeds a few weeks back, I was also reminded of the “Healing Seeds” I’ve got in the ground for the healing and full restoration of family members.  Oh, and over there, I’ve got some “Provision Seeds” for financial blessing upon my income and retirement accounts.   I’ve even got me some “Husband Seed” planted, and I’m waiting in faith for that godly man to come along.

And guess what!  The “Career Seed” I planted two years ago is just about to start producing fruit, just like those berry vines will later this summer.   Yes indeed, for two years I’ve been callin’ in my harvest for that ‘perfect, well paying, and satisfying job’ to manifest … and in May 2014, after months of prayer and multiple confirmations from the Lord, I launched my own small business!   Turns out my perfect job wasn’t one that someone else was going to give to me, but one that the Lord Himself called me to create.   I’m a small business owner! 

Friend, if you’ve got some “Word of God Seed” in the ground … don’t give up on it!  Keep on tending to it by making sure you keep those ‘pesky critters’ of doubt and fear out of your garden and off of your seed.  And keep your seed watered, by continually reminding yourself of His faithfulness to you, and His faithfulness to His Word .

It may not look like anything is happening right now … but you can’t see all that’s going on underneath the ground.  So keep taking care of your seed, and believe (trust in) God.  With faith, patience, and a little TLC … that seed will produce!

Blessings,

Jenny

 

Water Walking

In a previous post, I spoke of having a recurring stream of thoughts, ideas, and scriptures for the last several months.    It’s been rather like something is trying to be birthed within me … but how does one go about giving birth to something when you don’t yet know what it is?  As I opened my heart to new possibilities, I also opened my Bible and began to look for instructions in His Word.  After all, if God is truly leading me down a certain path, that path will be in agreement with His Word.

I am still in the process of seeking out those answers in full, opening my heart and my ears to receive instruction for the birthing of this new thing, this new season.   As I do, I discover that I am most surely being led out into the deeper waters of faith.  And eventually the time for investigating, praying, and consulting culminates with a decision.

Recently, the song “Oceans” by Hillsong UNITED has taken on a whole new meaning for me, especially the first two lines.  We’ve been singing it at church for many months, but it was during a women’s event a few weeks back that the lyrics really clicked in my heart.  I felt that I was most clearly being invited to step out onto the waters.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a risk taker, but lets face it – the bigger the risk, the harder it is to take that first step.  Especially if that first step is off the dry land and onto the wet!

And as we worshipped to this song, the Lord began to speak to my heart in images – something He often does (images which are frequently inspiration for my watercolors).  And this is what the conversation He and I had during worship that night sounded like.

Water Walking
Water Walking

 

LORD:  “Daughter, you are a delight to my heart and I am thrilled that you are putting your foot out over the waters for that bold first step.  But if all you do is hover your foot over the waters, you will never reach the destination I’m calling you to.  No, my daughter, you must actually put your full weight on that foot and begin to move forward, or you will remain at the shoreline.”

Me:  “But we both know I can’t walk on water, Lord.”

LORD:  “Look down, and tell me what you see beneath your feet?”

Me:  “Dry sand, that eventually gives way to wet sand, that eventually gives way to water above the sand.”

LORD:  “Give thought to that very fragile line of delineation, the very point of transition when the water ceases to be below the sand, or even equal to the sand, but is now above the sand.   The water is only a few centimeters deep, but the water is above the sand line, correct?”

Me:  “Yes, Lord.”

LORD:  “Can you walk on water, daughter?”

Me:  “No, Lord.” 

LORD:  “And yet, if I stood directly in front of you, and called you forward from dry land to stand upon even as little as 1 centimeter of water, would you believe me for it and take that first step?”

Me:  “I believe I would Lord – I would respond to Your invitation.”

LORD:  “Daughter, if you were able to walk on top of even as little as 1 centimeter of water, the limitations of your mind and body would not even be able to register or perceive such an infinitesimal elevation.   You have the faith to trust me for 1 centimeter of water-walking power, but what I want you to remember is that once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water is irrelevant.  I’m asking you to take the first step from dry to wet.  Do that, and leave the ocean to me.”

On my own, I know without a doubt that I am completely incapable of walking on water, regardless how shallow the water is.  But in Him, I know that all things are possible … even walking on water (a symbol of walking in His empowerment over the circumstances of my life).   And so are you!

In the weeks since that dialog, I’ve taken the first step forward out onto the waters, and then another after that.  And this morning, as I pondered again the insanity of this journey, the Lord reminded me of other times when I’ve dared to trust Him and “water walk”.  I first read the following scripture some 20+ years ago when I dared to “water walk” by leaving an abusive marriage.  There were some mighty big waves in that ocean, let me tell you … but here I am, safely resettled on the other side!

I will bring the blind by a way they do not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.   (Isaiah 42:16)

There have been many other “water walking” occasions since and in all of them, true to His word, He led through ways I did not know and has made dark places light before me, and crooked places straight.  He has not forsaken.

And He still leads!

I would love to hear your thoughts and read about your stories (from either side of the ‘water walking’ adventure).  Please take a moment to post a comment below.

Blessings,

Jenny