Tag Archives: hope

A YEAR FOR HOPE! (Week 50)

“Garden Spot of the Soul” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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.” 

(Proverbs 4:20-23)

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)

Psalm 138:2

“So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me void….”

Isaiah 55:11

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).

“Garden Spot of the Soul” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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!

That’s what I’m going to do.  How about you?

A Year for hope (wk 49)

“Garden Spot of the Soul” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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.  

“Garden Spot of the Soul” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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’m Your’s Lord.  It’s Your day.  Have Your way.

The Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 48)

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.

*sigh*

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 was time to get to work planting new seed, so that I could look forward to a different kind of harvest!

Seeds of FAITH!  Seeds of HOPE!  Seeds of BLESSING!  Seeds of JOY!  Seeds of FORGIVENESS!  Seeds of GENEROCITY!  Seeds of KINDNESS!  Seeds of FRIENDSHIP!  Seeds of FAITHFULNESS!

 

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.

WHAT?!?!?!?

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.

“Garden Spot of the Soul” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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.  

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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 Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 46)

It was 2013.  I was working at a company that I hated.   Or more accurately, it was the practices and philosophies of the management team that I objected to.  Foul language.  Temper tantrums.  Verbally berating employees.  To put it simply, I was miserable and it showed, in my actions and in my words.

Until the day that God cleared His throat.

“Ehh-hem!”

Let me explain.

Still single after divorcing “Mr T” some 20-years earlier, at age 50 I legally changed my last name to HOPEWELL … a name whispered to me by God, and which serves as a daily reminder to me to “hope well”.   (pretty cool, huh?)

In 2011, I was part of a downsizing event.  It was the first time in my working career that I’d ever been “let go” and it stung.  Thankfully, when it happened I was smack dab in the midst of a FAITH-quest, feeding and feasting on everything I could get my hands on that had to do with learning how to speak FAITH vs FEAR.   So when I was notified that Friday that my services were no longer needed, I calmly packed my belongings, and drove home speaking declarations like:

  • You know all my needs Lord, and I refuse to give way to fear about this.
  • Thank you Father, in advance, for the new job that You are preparing for me.
  • Every need that I have is met in you, Jesus.  I trust you to take care of me.

“The Word that’s abiding in you, that’s alive in you, is the Word that talks to you.  It’s the Word that leads you moment-by-moment as you go about your day.  The abiding Word will come up in your heart, much like words and notes of a familiar song might spontaneously run through your mind.”  ~Gloria Copeland, Putting Your Words To Work

The following Monday, I grabbed my ipod and went for a walk around the neighborhood -listening to Podcast after Podcast teaching on the principals of speaking words of faith over fear, saying what God says about any given situation, and the power of God’s words spoken out of my mouth with believing faith.   Over the following weeks, I’d walk and listen and build up my confidence in God’s ability to meet my needs in spite of negative looking circumstances.  And only after I felt appropriately filled up  –meaning my faith was built up sufficiently to swallow up feelings of fear and anxiety-  I’d come home and resume my job search.  As weeks turned into months, there were days that I’d log 6-10 miles around the neighborhood before I’d be ready to resume my job search.   And just before the money ran out, I got a new job!!

I started that job with such enthusiasm, strongly desiring to honor God in that position by being more bold about my faith at work.  By the end of my first week there, I had decorated my cubicle with calendars and posters that clearly identified me as a woman of faith and power.  I was going to do great things for God at that company!

The Word that’s in you in abundance is also the Word you hear coming out of your mouth, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. (Luke 6:45) … To conquer the challenges of the world, the flesh and the devil, you must have the spiritual strength within you that only the engrafted Word can provide.  You have to be so established in the Word that it automatically rises up within you in a moment of crisis.”

Sadly, by late 2013,  I’d taken most of those posters down.  I knew I wasn’t being a very good representative for Christ, but I honestly hated going to work -hated the way they treated people -hated the way they treated me -and that hatred had corrupted my mouth to such an extent that instead of speaking God’s words over the situation all I did was gripe and grumble and mutter to myself (pretty much from 8-5pm) about how much I hated my job.  You get the idea.

“Ehh-hem!   You are not living up to your name.”

I love when God speaks to me, but it’s no fun to be on the receiving end of His correction.  It was as though He held up a mirror, and my heart sunk at the reflection being returned to me.   Gone was the woman of faith and power, replaced by a woman of paste and flour.  Resentful and hard-hearted, critical of others and pridefully self-righteous.   I was representing the exact opposite of a woman who “hoped well”, and unless I wanted God to change my name to “Miss Pissy Pants” I knew what I had to do.

  1. I had to forgive.  period.  end of story.
  2. I had to change my attitude.

And I was going to start by changing my words.

I’ll be honest – it was hard!  Especially at the beginning!!!  So to help keep me on track, I taped to my desk (just below my keyboard, so that only I could see it) a little affirmation based on a quote I’d heard from Charles Capps.  When frustration threatened to overwhelm me, and I was tempted to gripe and grumble and internally cuss people out (*sigh*), I would instead make myself breathe and thank God that He was preparing for me “a perfect, well paying, and satisfying job”.

It didn’t happen overnight … but my heart changed … and relationships healed … and I regained a level of Christian influence with my colleagues … and then …. well, I’ll write about that next week when I reveal the finished painting.  (I’m so excited!!)

 

 

I still wrestle with discouragement.  I still have to guard my mouth.  And recently, the Lord is reminding me that “keeping silent” can be as destructive as speaking “careless words”.  Hmmm.

“As for me, this is my covenant with them”, says the Lord.

“My spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth…..”    (Isaiah 59:21)

If you would like to learn more about what the Bible has to say about the power of words, may I suggest this 31-day devotional  “Putting Your Words to Work”, Gloria Copeland    She is one of my favorite Bible teachers (probably because she reminds me so very much of my beloved Aunt Mac <3).

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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 Garden Spot of the Soul (AYFH wk 45)

I’m embarrassed to say that there was a time in my life (late teens-early 20’s) that I had quite a mouth on me.  No, I didn’t have a potty mouth (my mom would have literally washed my mouth out with soap  … and my perspective of God was that He was listening up there in heaven and would score me ‘negative points’ for cussing).  Instead, I had a mean mouth.  I knew how to use words to cut someone down to the quick in 3.5 seconds flat.   I was actually kind of proud of that – how skilled I could be with my words – and if you crossed me (especially in the work place) you were probably going to be on the receiving end of some pretty mean-spirited words, skillfully crafted to inflict pain and let you know (in no uncertain terms) not to mess with me again.

*sigh*

I’ve already written (see My Story category) about my abusive second marriage.  So I guess it was Mr. “T” that really helped me to understand how much words can hurt a soul.  As a result, I became a little more thoughtful about my speech.   Instead of just blurting out all the venomous words bubbling up, I learned to shut my mouth and first process my feelings/emotions … and then once I had control over my mouth (or at least thought I did), I would then try to speak my feelings.   Good practice in life, but unfortunately doesn’t accomplish much good when you’re married to an abusive sociopath.   Still, I learned some valuable lessons about the power of words during my almost 10-year marriage to him.

*sigh*

Garden Spot (rough sketch) www.puttinghopetowork.com)
Garden Spot (rough sketch) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

A single mom by age 31, my two young daughters provided me many (many) opportunities to practice managing my mouth. Countless opportunities to instill in their hearts the truth that words carry with them the power to build someone up or to tear them down … and our house rules (in my house, at least), were to speak kindly.

But it wasn’t until my 50’s that I began to study what the Bible says about the power of words.

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I’ve been working on my painting – and as I consider what the “Garden Spot of the Soul” might look like, I can’t help but imagine what the Adam and Eve might have experienced during their walks with God ‘in the cool of the day’.  (Genesis 3:8-9)

“In the beginning, God placed everything that man could use and enjoy in the Garden.  God saw to it Adam lacked nothing.  He lacked no good thing.  He was created in the image of God Himself, leaving nothing to be desired.

God furnished Adam with companionship, ability, abundance, and a kingdom.  He told Adam to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over every living creature.  Adam was the master of the Garden, and God was the master of Adam.  God’s man was free in every way!”

God designed a world in which His highest creation, mankind, would live in community with Him.   And similar to how God used His creative power to create time, space, and everything that was created (John 1:1-3), Adam was given a level of creative power in order to subdue and have dominion over a portion of God’s creation.   And the way that Adam exercised that power was through words … the very same mechanism that God used to speak the galaxies into existence.

“The Sower sows the word”   Mark 4:14

Adam’s words had power.  Power for Life and Blessing.   Power for Death and Cursing.

“He (Adam) knew no bondage until that fatal day when …

Every phase of Adam’s life came under the curse of his new god, Satan. He was driven from the Garden; abundance was no longer his to enjoy. He had to toil and sweat in order to survive. His beautiful life was overrun with thorns and thistles both in the physical world and in the spiritual world.”

And there we have it … the entrance of thorns and thistles.  They were brought into being by negative and contrary words spoken by Adam and Eve (words that don’t say what God says and don’t agree with God’s declared will), thus sowing seeds of death and cursing instead of seeds of life and blessing.

*sigh*

"Garden Spot" (work in process) www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Garden Spot” (work in process) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

 

I quickly snapped this picture to show my progress – the lighting is poor and clearly I’ve a long ways left to go.  But I’m trying to lay colors down in layers this time – to take it slow and let it evolve naturally.  Hopefully I can keep this going without having to start over again.  We’ll see. 🙂

Excerpts quoted are from the book “God’s Will Is Prosperity” by Gloria Copeland.

 

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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.