Tag Archives: perseverance

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 20)

It’s not something I think much about anymore, but in recent weeks the Lord has brought to my remembrance the great tragedy that was my second marriage. Take courage, male readers – this is not a post trashing the male species. Rather, this post is a reflection upon my own brokenness at the time. For sure, my ex was a terrible person (ever see the movie “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”? Yea, it was a lot like that). But had I not already been such a walking-talking-emotional-and-spiritual-train-wreck, I would not have been such easy prey.

In fact, I remember saying something along those lines to my sister years after my divorce. Oh, she was so made at me!… because she witnessed all of what he had done first hand, and most siblings would, she hated him for the way he mistreated me and our children. To her ears, my acknowledging I had some part to play in the insanity that took place was akin to giving him a pardon. No so. But we all have to own our stuff, and I brought stuff to the table too.

This is not an easy subject, nor a pleasant remembrance for me. I’d much rather stay focused on HOPE and FAITH and maintaining a positive outlook even in the mist of difficulties. But I am feeling prompted to reveal a little more of my story – in a more complete way than I have in the past via little bits and pieces.

“You said, ‘Now shalt thou see what I will do,’” she answered, and then, looking at him reproachfully, added, “But I never dreamed you would do anything like this! Lead me to an impassable precipice up which nothing can go but deer and goats, when I’m no more like a deer or goat than is a jellyfish. It’s too-it’s too-“ She fumbled for words, and then burst out laughing. “Why, it’s too preposterously absurd! It’s crazy! Whatever will you do next?”

The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing more than another which I should enjoy doing at this moment is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That’s my special work,” he added with the light of great joy in his face. “Transforming things – to take Much-Afraid, for instance and to transform her into-“ He broke off and then went on laughingly. “Well, we shall she later on what she finds herself transformed into.”

It was a really extraordinary scene. In the place where just a little while before all had been fear and despair were the Shepherd and Much-Afraid, sitting on the rocks at the food of the impassible precipice, laughing together as though at the greatest joke in the world.”

Hinds Feet on High Places, Hanna Hurnard

My story – and transformation – from a wounded young girl trying to survive a dysfunctional and abusive home, to a young woman looking for love and acceptance in the arms of all the wrong men, to a young wife-turned-single parent desperately trying to rebuild a life, to today. Wow. As I write that, I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to tackle all this. It really is the material for a book or a movie 😊. But that’s not my objective! I just want to share enough of my story so as to encourage others who might be on a similar journey, and I want to give praise and honor to my BIG GOD who transformed me from Jellyfish to Mountain Goat, and from complete brokenness to a woman who learned to Swing Again!

Hope you come back next week to take the journey of remembrance with me.

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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 (Week 19)

As mentioned in my last post, I recently attended a women’s event at my church.  Shayla McCormick of Coastal Community Church was our guest speaker.  On Day 2, still gleaning from the story of Gideon, she shared that she often feels both overwhelmed and underqualified to do the thing(s) that God has called her to do.  I totally relate to that, and I’m sure you can too.

We hear the whisper of God prompting us to do something new.  Something totally out of the character with our usual way of acting or reacting. Something brave and daring and exciting.  And while our spirit may be quick to say “Yes, Lord.  If you say so”, our awareness of our own shortcomings (with fear along for the ride) speaks up and says “Uh, Lord … I think you have forgotten who you’re talking to.  The person you probably want for this job lives three doors down to the left.”

Right?

Which is probably why this particular bullet point really caught my attention … as well as my imagination.

Building up strength requires exertion of strength.”  ~Shayla McCormick

Or as I rephrased it in my notebook:  You won’t experience your victory until you step up to bat.

And that got me thinking, and as usually happens, one thought leads to another.

We know from Judges, chapter 6, that Gideon was called by God, from his hideout in a winepress, to rise up and lead the Israelites in battle.

cropped-gravitar-image.jpgSpaghetti Thought #1: The fact that Gideon was threshing wheat reminds me that the promise of Deuteronomy 28:12 is that He will “bless the work of my hands”.  Therefore, my hands are required to actually be doing something practical in order to be blessed.   To state the obvious, wheat can’t get threshed until someone first puts in the work to plant the seed, and later harvest the crop.  And last time I checked, if no one goes fishing, no one eats fish.  But a garden hoe doesn’t catch fish, nor will a fishing pole till the ground.  So if I want to enjoy the reward, I had better be putting in the work and using the right tools for the job.

Mighty WarriorSpaghetti Thought #2: When Gideon went into battle, he would of course be wearing armor.  You and I need to wear armor too, spiritual armor, every day.   And in the same way that Nehemiah counseled the Israelites to rebuild the wall with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other, we greatly increase our success when we are not only busy doing the work, but are also wearing the Armor of God to keep us protected (offensively and defensively) from that rascally old devil who is always trying to steel, kill and destroy God’s plan for our lives.

“From then on half of my men worked and half stood guard, wearing coats of armor and armed with spears, shields, and bows. And our leaders gave their full support to the people who were rebuilding the wall. Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a weapon in the other, and everyone who was building kept a sword strapped to their waist. The man who was to sound the alarm on the bugle stayed with me.”   Nehemiah 4:16-18 (GNB)

But it’s not the image of Miss Hope wearing the Armor of God while tending her fields with rake and wheel barrel that stirred in my imagination that day.  It was the thought of her with a baseball bat.

 

Take A Swing, PuttingHopeToWork.com
“Take A Swing!”  http://www.puttinghoptowork.com

 

Spaghetti Thought #3:  Sometimes you just have to “take a swing“.

Life can be hard sometimes.  Disappointments will come.  My heart will hurt.  But no matter how hard the fall (be it of my own doing, or from circumstances completely outside my control), because of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to stay down.  I can be washed clean of the gunk all over my face and clothing.  I can return to the well of HOPE for refreshment when I’m weary of spirit.  I can release my pain into the care of Jesus and instead choose to forgive.  I can, in His strength, get back up and take another swing.

And another!

And another, and another, and another, and another!!!

Friend, what is your faith swinging for today?  Healing?  Finances?  A new job?  A spouse?  Deliverance from an addiction?

Remember that “building up strength requires exertion of strength”, so exert those spiritual muscles and take another swing!

And keep on swinging until you get your victory!!

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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 (Week 16)

We have been hit by sickness this week … my special needs granddaughter came down with Strep and it’s been an all-hands-on-deck kind of weekend.   Praise God she is feeling better today, even perking up enough to eat a bit of dinner tonight.  But it’s been a busy past couple of days and … well, I didn’t have the time (or desire) to break out my laptop until just now.

So we go to Plan B.

And Plan B is to share from another’s blog post that touched my heart and complements the theme of “2018: A Year For Hope”.   So without further adieu, please allow me to introduce you to “Beauty Beyond Bones“.

I was taken aback by my own daughters eating disorder in her teens.  Through a wonderfully terrible beautiful collision of heartbreaking circumstances, I overheard her mentioning to a doctor that she had been throwing up her food after meals.  How was this happening?  How did I not know?  

“I know that God’s standards are spiritual, but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin. I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate.”  Romans 7:14-15 (GWT)

Maybe you’re the mom, brother, sister or friend of someone with an eating disorder.

Maybe you are the one wrestling with these demons.

Or maybe the issue isn’t food, it’s something else.  Another inner suffering.

“But if there’s one thing that shows, it’s that “desert periods” will occur in life. We will go through the desert. We will feel alone. And forgotten. Maybe inadequate. Possibly despairing. But our suffering doesn’t negate the Father’s love, as hard as that is to believe. And when we find ourselves in the middle of that desert, it’s even harder to believe that one day, we will ever be whole, or useful, or thriving again.”   ~Beauty Beyond Bones

My world turned sideways that night, in more ways than one. And thus began our (hers and mine) journey back to honesty, forgiveness, acceptance and finally healing. But it was a process. And that’s just from my side of the fence … I’ll probably never really know how difficult the journey was from her side … I’m just grateful that she made it through.

So did Beauty Beyond Bones, and this is Her Unseen Recovery

 

 


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside.  Come back next week to watch the word-picture emerge.
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 (Week 15)

Have you ever noticed that just about the time that the seas calm, the winds still, and the fog lifts … so that you can finally see the destination for which your eyes have been straining so hard to see … up comes another wave!  Of course you have!  We all have.  Countless times.

The scenario usually plays out something like this:

He has a good job but it does little more than pay the bills each month.  Six months ago, he had an unexpected medical bill and had to put it on a credit card.  That really bothered him because after attending Financial Peace University at his church, he made a decision to operate his finances in a way that honors God and he is trying hard to stay out of debt.  So he put in some overtime, cut back on the grocery budget, swapped lunches out for PB&J sandwiches in a brown paper bag, and just sent payment in full to the credit card company so that he’s no longer paying interest.  He’s thrilled.  He praises God.  He feels on top of the world, and is back on track.   Until he gets his tax returns back a finds out he underpaid by over $3000.

Splash!

It happens all the time!  In finances.  In relationships.  In health.  In work.  Why?  Well at the risk of sounding like a 5-year old, I think it boils down to two simple factors:

  1.  We live in a broken world (one that does not operate according to God’s original design for it).
  2.  We have an enemy (who is always… ALWAYS… seeking to steal, kill and destroy).

Over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced that the devil only has a few game plans in his play book.   Bearing in mind that the Word of God reveals the will of God, almost every situation we come across in life that contradicts the will of God for our lives can be bucketed into a few basic categories (objectives) of game play.

Objective #1:
get us to doubt the Word (the Promise and instruction) of God.

Objective #2:
get us so distracted (by enticements or troubles) that we don’t hold onto the Word of God

Objective #3:
get us to disbelieve the Word of God, in whole or in part

The Word of God says that every need you have is met in the riches of Christ Jesus.  That all the work of your hands has a blessing upon it, and that you are blessed at your job, in your bank accounts, in your family, in your health, and that you are blessed so much that you have enough extra to be generous with others.   That’s the Promise of 1 Timothy 6:17, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Psalms 25:12-13, Proverbs 11:24-25, and many others!

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  Romans 10:17 (NIV)

But your check book says …. err … nope!  You’re as broke as the Ten Commandments!  You’re job is a dead end job, for all your efforts your savings account has less than $50 in it, and every time you make any headway at all, something comes along and completely rips the rug out from under your feet!!

And this is where things fall apart … at the intersection of FAITH and FACT.

FAITH says you’re rich, an co-heir with Christ Jesus of the cattle on a thousand hills.

The FACT is that you need to pay $3000 for income tax that you don’t have.

And when you find yourself at that intersection, it’s critical that you pause (often) to examine what you’re looking at.  What your vision is focused on.  And who’s voice your listening to!

Don’t go by what you see, but go by what you hear.  Because what you hear (from the Scriptures) is what will determine whether or not you can overcome.   ~ Jentezen Franklin

Wave, 04.09.18, puttinghopetowork.com

Are your eyes looking beyond the current situation (of lack) to the destination God has promised (abundance)?

Are your ears tuned to the Promises of God (who says He will lead and guide you through every circumstance to a victory that glorifies His Name), or are you focused on the cries of your empty bank accounts?

Are your eyes locked on the emerging manifestation of what you have been praying and believing for … or are you overwhelmed and thereby overtaken by a time-limited storm and unexpected wave?

Friend, God has good plans for your life!  The devil doesn’t like it and he’s got a game plan and strategy to get you to distract you from, get you to doubt, or convince you to disbelieve the promises of God for your life …  but God’s ways are higher and superior to the strategies of the enemy.   Who’s voice are you going to listen to?

WAKE UP YOUR FAITH by listening to the following message by Jentezen Franklin.  Give it a good shake-up, and then open your mouth and start telling your circumstances what God’s word has to say about them!

Here is a link to My daily confession written in 2014 when launching my business.   That was a HUGE leap of faith, and I needed to make sure that my ears were finely tuned to the Promises of God more than the screams of my half-starved bank account.   It’s scripture based, and I declare it over myself and my family on a regular basis.   

Faith comes from hearing God’s Word for your life, and if you are not in the practice of speaking God’s Word over your circumstances, please take this and begin speaking it over yourself and your family on a daily basis.   And tell me what happens!  Because I guarantee you, if you hold fast to the Word of God … stuff will happen!!


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside.  Come back next week to watch the word-picture emerge.
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 (Week 10)

She is so very tired. Another weekend ends just like the 102 weekends proceeding. Slamming doors, wounding words, accusations and allegations, and tears. The tears are hers, and she wonders when the day will come that she has no more of them to offer. Her friends tell her to pray, to “Let go and Let God.” Geez, hasn’t that been what she has been doing? Others tell her to cut him off, that the boys high-risk lifestyle will likely kill him one day, and if she doesn’t take protective action, she risks going down with him.

Truth be told, there are days she wishes she could. That she could just say; “You can’t be a part of my life until you confront your addictions and clean up your life.” Just write him off as a bad seed, cry tears of closure, and move on. But then she remembers the vision God gave her when he was 9 years old; the promise that one day her son would be called into the ministry and that many lives would be changed because of his testimony. And so she prays again.

Last week, I wrote about the The Wait of Faith. That uncomfortable waiting period between the time we pray about something to the time the answer manifests in the natural world … when our eyes can see it, our arms can wrap themselves around it, and our lips can shout praises to God for His faithfulness to hear and to do!

These are my most common responses when my prayers aren’t answered within the time I’ve allocated to God for their manifestation.

• I get impatient, frustrated, even downright angry with God.
• I resign myself to the situation – often out of fatigue, or by concluding (this, it) must be part of God’s will.
• I doubt God’s willingness and/or His ability to perform.

And I’m not alone, for the Bible is full of people daily wrestling with the same responses while they lived in the tension (sometimes hundreds of years long) between the promise given and the possession of that promise.

“The Lord Said: Ezekiel, son of many, you’ve heard the people in Israel use the saying, “Time passes, and the prophets are proved wrong.” Now tell the people that I, the Lord, am going to prove that saying wrong. No one will ever be able to use it again in Israel, because very soon everything I have said will come true!” Ezekiel 12:21-23

I am reading Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson and throughout the book he paints a number of word pictures that really speak to me. But perhaps my favorite (at least so far) is this:

“Faith is what keeps those dreams alive, even when it seems as though they are dead and buried. But 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, Day 12: Sow a Seed

That really speaks to me.

I don’t know about you, but my spiritual backyard is littered with tomb stones of hopes and dream-seeds I’ve buried over the years. Some graves I visit periodically to mourn over their loss. Some I have so completely forgotten about that I must kneel down and read the headstone just to remember what they were. And when God brings one of those long dead dream-seeds back to life … Wow, there is absolutely nothing like it! I’ve had it happen more than once and I am currently living it out now in my small business. Something I counted dead decades ago – in fact so deeply forgotten about that it was my sister who reminded me I used to talk about doing this someday – mysteriously emerges from the ground as a seedling and beckons to be cared for, re-invigorating soul and spirit with the majesty and faithfulness of God!!

Still there are other dream-seeds of things to be (or you could call them prayers, promises, or visions) that won’t stay underground no matter how hard I try to bury them. They won’t stay underground, but neither do they appear to be growing. In fact, sometimes they sprout, die, and then sprout and die again. Over time, repeated disappointment combined with deep emotional fatigue beg me to just give up, dig up the seed, toss it in the compost pile and move on! But I just can’t bring myself to do it! Using Mark’s analogy, my FAITH in the promise of God (in His willingness to fulfill His Word) has planted seeds of HOPE in my spirit, and those seeds of HOPE are germinating.

And just like no farmer would ever plant just one seed of corn at a time, neither does Daddy God plant just one seed of HOPE at a time. He plants redundant seed, so that if one accidentally gets stepped on or plucked up, there is more dream-seed at work just beneath the surface, to bring the dream into manifestation just at the right time.

“Have faith in God! If you have faith in God and don’t doubt you can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will. Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if only you have faith. Whenever you stand up to pray, you must forgive what others have done to you. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.” Mark 11:22-25 (CEV)

“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 (AMP)

 

Lord, I thank you that you are the ultimate HOPE-giver, and that You (by your own Holy script, Isaiah 55:11) have declared that no promise of God ever goes without fulfillment!

img_20180111_203901963_hdr854888339.jpg
untitled, PHTW, 1/15/18

When we get impatient, comfort us with the knowledge that Your timing is always perfect and give us peace to wait in faith. When fatigue and disappointment beckon us to give up and accept things as they are, stir up in us a hunger to see heavenly justice and help us persevere in faith. And when doubt whispers that You are not able, or unwilling … let us be quick to cast down those faulty imaginations – recognizing them for what they are, lies straight from the pit of hell. Help us to stay grounded in our trust in Your willingness and ability to fulfill every promise and every Word spoken. If You said it, You will do it!

 

Have you ever been in a Wait of Faith?   How did God keep you encouraged, or refresh your weariness, during the waiting period.  Please feel free to share below – your own experience might be just what someone else needs to hear today!

Does God ever speak to you in word-pictures?  My prayer is that the humble paintings contained in my blog posts will speak something unique to your heart/spirit.  I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.

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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.