Tag Archives: inspiration

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 1)

He wakes at 5 am, gets in a quick workout, and starts the workday by 7:30. He works hard and makes enough to keep the bills paid, sometimes with a little extra at the end of the month. His friends know him as a kind and well-adjusted guy, someone who has weathered some tough storms in recent years but emerged OK on the other side.

But there are things that he doesn’t talk about. Areas of his life so parched and dry that the aching for fulfillment eventually got to be too much for him.

He built a wall, to keep the emptiness contained.
He built a wall, so he could function.
He has routines, and the busyness keeps him distracted.
It keeps the ache at bay.

“He has besieged and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me live in dark places, like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot get out; He has weighted down my chain. Even when I cry out and shout for help, He shuts out my prayer.” (Lamentations 3:5-8, Amplified)

The blue light of the alarm clock mocks her, chiding her for being awake at this hour. She rolls over and pulls up the blanket even higher. She tries to push it away, but the emptiness from the other side of the bed swallows her. Finally, she gives in and her tears silently absorb into the pillow.

“My soul has been cast far away from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished and so has my hope and expectation from the LORD.””(Lamentations 3:17-18, Amplified)

Question:
What happens when you play a country song backwards?
Answer:
You get your wife back, your dog back, your truck back ….

 

The whole of Lamentations, Chapter 3 reminds me of a country song. It tells a miserable story of trial and disappointment, of deep pain and questioning.

We all have experienced the gut wrenching pain of loss, disappointment, and loneliness. We have all built walls, and wear facades so others won’t see what we’re hiding behind them. Maybe his walls are tall and mighty, built over many decades. Maybe hers are new and still fragile. Some people have walled off huge sections of themselves, while others portray an illusion of openness while managing to tightly guard their innermost selves under lock and key. We all have lost hope at some point or another and can relate to the Lamentations of Jeremiah on behalf of the people of Israel.  What a terrible feeling that is – to have reached a place of non-expectation in or from the LORD.

But what I find most remarkable about this passage of scripture is that even in all of the pain and hopelessness, there is a pathway back to hope.

“But this I call to mind, therefore I have hope. It is because of the LORD’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.”   (Lamentations 3:24, Amplified)

 

img_20180101_073941582_hdr1990495019.jpg
January 2018

How does one do that? How does someone have no hope (vs 18) and have hope (vs 24) at the same time?

I think the answer is hidden in seven little words, for immediately following the declaration of hopelessness in God, the writer calls to mind the lovinkindnesses (plural) of God  …

… and hope revives!

 

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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.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Prologue)

Have you ever lost hope?  If being honest, I know I have – at least for some things, or during long dry seasons.

I have lost hope for things longed (even prayed) for to have happened by now, and yet here I am … eyes weary from straining to see something emerge on the far horizon.

Dreams that I eventually gave up watering, that now hang sun-shriveled on the vine like snap peas I forgot to pick from last summers garden.

I think we have all lost hope, and yet hope is what is needed now more than ever!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.  ~Proverbs 13:12

In 2014, no – earlier than that.  In 2010, the Lord gave me a strong desire to start blogging.  I didn’t know what I was doing, so I started by writing about what was on my heart at the time.  I started again in 2014, testifying about the God who rescue me from an abusive past. And now, at the close of 2017, here I am ready to start yet again,  But this time, with some specific instructions:  a weekly post on the case for hope (not of hope) in 2018.

HOPE – a desire accompanied by confident expectation

Rough sketch for watercolor (December 2017)

Expectation for good.  Expectation for the thing desired.

A dear friend spoke something over me in 2017, which evolved into a word picture that I sketched and am now attempting to bring to life in watercolor (to be revealed in future posts).I hope you will consider returning to this blog series periodically throughout 2018, and I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I seek to speak the voice of hope to a heart-sick world. 

Until next year and the inaugural post of this 52 week series, praying God stir up in us the seeds of hope for greater things in 2018.

 

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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.

 

Little by Little

What are you dreaming about?  I’m not necessarily talking about sleepy-time dreams, but the dreams and aspirations that drive you to keep on pressing, keep on pursuing.

Maybe you’re dreaming of becoming a doctor.

Maybe you’re dreaming of becoming a home owner.

Maybe you’re dreaming about the day you will become debt free.

Or maybe, like me, you’re dreaming of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Just over two years ago, a dream was birthed in me to leave the comfort and security of regular employment, and launch out on my own.  (you can read more about that here).  Today, I am President of a small manufacturers rep firm, and I’m continually amazed at God’s faithfulness to me as I make this day-by-day walk of faith into the future I believe He has called me to.   But some days … well, some days I just wish things would happen a little faster, success would come a little sooner.

That’s when I like to go back to a few scriptures that “re-center” my perspective.

“I will not drive them out in one year – lest the land become desolate and the beasts too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased and you inherit the land.”   Exodus 23:29-30

Here I am reminded of the simple truth that the success I am believing for must first be prepared for. 

When I first started out, quite honestly I barely knew what I was doing.  I’ve never Incorporated before.  I’ve never been President before.  And it took a while to quit viewing myself as an employee under someone else’s management, and grasp the truth that I was now Captain of my own ship.  If it was going to happen, it was going to happen by my actions under the leadership and blessing of my Daddy God.  It was also going to require more of me – more dedication, more humility, more discipline, more gratefulness, more leadership

“Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.”  Proverbs 13:11

In my Bible, there is a note that the phrase ‘gathers by labor’ could be translated in Hebrew to ‘little by little’.   Not only does this tie the two scriptures together, but it reminds me that success done right takes time.

There are no short cuts to character building, and if we are dreaming God inspired dreams, we should expect that our character must be developed to increase in relation to the size of the dream we are pursuing.   And that takes effort, energy, and yes … time.

Now one last scripture, and this probably my favorite.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”  Zechariah 4:10

Little by little.  Success upon success.  Start where you are, and keep pursuing that dream under the leadership the favor of the Lord.  You’re gonna get there!