Tag Archives: recovery

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 8)

My Pastor used a term on Sunday to describe the world that we live in … “uncertainty”.    There most definitely is uncertainty in the world, and across the globe there are terrible things that happened this year, this week, this hour.

“Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own.  No one can share them with you.”  Proverbs 14:10

Earlier in the week my daughter asked me to share with her a Scripture that really helped stabilize me when my own world was topsy-turvy.

That conversation reminded me of a compilation I put together a few years ago … a collection of Scriptures that met me where I was and spoke the cry of my heart.  

Tears2,Sunscreen

“If I’m going to cry,
let them be tears shed before my God.”

Proverbs 14:10 tells us that ‘each heart knows its own bitterness’, which to me means that sometimes you just need to cry it all out.  I think that’s why I collected the Scriptures I did.

Some gave words to the depth of my pain.
Some were cries for mercy and deliverance.
Some spoke deeply to my soul of  irrevocable promises that God would see me through it and work all things together for my benefit in the end.

“You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they all listed in your book?” Psalms 56:8

And that is why I call them Love Letters for they were -and still are- love letters from Him to me, letters of strength and comfort to my (still*) hurting soul.  I hope they bring comfort to you as well.

*Disclaimer alert!  I’m saved and I’m greatly changed from the broken girl I was in my teens and wrecked woman I was in my 20’s and 30’s.  But by no means, have I “arrived” at that place of wholeness or perfection.  Can we ever, this side of heaven? 

Nope, I’m a work in process, just like you.   Whatever God did for me, He is more than able and willing to do for you too … even more, in fact.  But it will require your faith (confident trust and expectation in His goodness) and your pursuit of His face.   Oh but friend, it is a worthy pursuit indeed to seek the presence of God, and He is SO willing to be found by a heart hungry to know Him.

What are Scriptures have that special place in your heart?  Please comment below with the passage, and if you are willing a bit about the why behind it.

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If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture. There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts. My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and 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.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 7)

In a prior post (week 3), I shared a few definitions of hope, as well as a definition for what I call Bible-HOPE. The latter is a far better kind of hope, for Bible-HOPE (HOPE) is rooted in the Promises contained in the Word of God, and most often to a covenant Promise made between Himself and we, His people.

To hear His voice and receive His deep love for us, this is the very birthplace of HOPE.

But sometimes, life sucks the hope right out of you! And then what, my friend?

How is one to respond when you’ve been smacked upside the head by the frying pan of life, and had your hope knocked clear across the floor?

I’ve experienced both, and no doubt you have too.

Jennifer Arimborgo authors the blog Feeding on Jesus. I think her post “Can You See Him?” beautifully and artfully speaks to this very type of situation, and she has graciously given me permission to share it with you. as follows:

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“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13, NKJV).

Do you believe you will see the goodness of the Lord in this life? According to these words from Psalms, being convinced that you will is the antidote to discouragement.

What comes to mind when you read the phrase, “seeing the goodness of the Lord”?

Probably most of us start to imagine desirable outcomes to our current circumstances. These are some concrete ways His goodness could manifest in our lives:

• The healing of a family member struggling with chronic illness
• Sudden, unexpected financial provision for paying off debts
• The restoration of a rocky marriage
• A child being born after a long journey battling infertility
• A loved one delivered from drug addiction

Yes. All of these are most definitely overt expressions of how good He is. Each of them showcases His kindness in a dramatic way. However, I’d like to share with you a deeper nuance of this Scripture than what may be apparent upon first glance.

To do so, I’m going to bring in another passage to help illuminate this one. It’s from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see…” (Matt. 13:15a, ESV). He spoke these words to the disciples, contrasting them with multitudes of people who could see with their physical eyes but had no real perception happening at a heart level (vv. 13-15). He was pointing out to them what riches were theirs because they could perceive truth.

Do we have eyes that see? To see with our spirit means to discern, to recognize, to ascertain, to be aware, to understand. If we do have heart’s eyes that function this way, blessed are we! This is why Paul interceded for the Ephesians’ spiritual power of sight. This was so crucial that he never stopped praying this prayer: “I keep asking… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:17a, 18a, NIV).

Like them, we, too, desperately need eyes that can supernaturally ascertain and absorb real hope. Now, let’s look at Psalm 27:13 through the lens of this vital truth. David says, “…Unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord…” Do you hear what Holy Spirit is expressing? “Unless I had believed that I would perceive His goodness… that I would profoundly recognize how good He is… that I would discern the true character of His heart, how pure, how kind, how faithful is His very nature… that I would become aware of how tender His intentions are toward me… that I would comprehend with every fiber of my being how much He loves me… I would have lost heart!”

This, my friends, is where hope is born: when we can see Him. When our heart can understand who He really is. When we can truly see His goodness, then we don’t ever, ever, ever lose heart. Blessed are our eyes when they can pierce the fog of adverse circumstance and perceive Daddy’s kindness and love in the midst of it.

How we need such eyes! I would encourage you to pray Ephesians 1:18 and Psalms 17:13 over yourself right now, and then every day for the rest of your life!

Daddy God, I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened, that I may know the hope to which You have called me! Out of Your great, merciful love, allow me to see Your goodness in the land of the living!

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What a lovely word picture this is to me. To have ears that hear and eyes that see with the heart (spirit).

But I think this type of engagement requires a willingness to look outside ourselves and above our circumstances so that we can attend to (focus on and interact with) the loving countenance of our Daddy God. And to hear His voice and receive His deep love for us, this is the very birthplace of the HOPE we so deeply long for and desperately need.

In my current watercolor (below, and still a work in process, but I’m going to be revealing more within the next week or three), I like to imagine “Miss Hope” as lifting her arms in complete surrender, as an offering to her Lord. Some days arms are raised in prayer, other days in worship, and still other days in sorrow. But whatever her emotion, there is intimacy and intention to her interaction with God. She knows to Whom she has sought out, and has called upon, and to Whom she is now kneeling before. His voice is comforting and familiar to her ears, and she is able to be restful and surrendered in the sacredness of this moment with Him.

Dear friend, if you have been ‘smacked upside the head by the frying pan of life’, my prayer is that you would take some time to seek out your Daddy God, and allow His voice become familiar to you. If you will seek Him, He has sworn by His own Name to be found by you.

And HOPE can revive again!

“His voice is so sweet and heavenly
Although I can’t really hear Him

I can feel Him speaking to me
Assuring me, calling me near Him

He is watching over me
Always loving me
Always there for me

I will listen with the ears of my heart
For the voice of the One who loves me.”

(poem written by my beautiful daughter L.V. in 1994)

img_20180111_203901963_hdr854888339.jpg
untitled – a work in progress, PHTW 1.15.18

If you enjoyed Jennifer’s post, I bet you’ll enjoy her other writings too (I know I do!). You can find her at: https://jenniferarimborgo.feedingonjesus.com

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture. There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts. My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.
_____________
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 6)

Is it just me, or did 2016 and most of 2017 seem to be particularly nasty and mean spirited? I actually “un-friended” people on Social Media because I just couldn’t stomach the negativity of what they were posting. And I’m talking about my Christian friends.

“I am King. I will lead.” ~King of Siam

Oh, don’t get me wrong … I was a negative contributor too. Front page stuff! No doubt I got unfriended by a few of my better friends, good folks who didn’t sink as low as I did in the cesspool of Facebook and Twitter. I was “letting my voice be heard” only to figure out that nobody was listening!

Anyways, I just can’t take another year like that! Can you? So, the blog series is really a cry from my own heart.  I want 2018 to be different!

I want 2018 to be a year filled with better things!

Like encouragement instead of sarcasm.
Like love instead of hatred.
Like patience instead of intolerance.
Like Jesus instead of … well, instead of me.

“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?”    Romans 7:24 (Message)

My church has a practice of Fasting at the beginning of the year, and I joined with several friends for a 21-day Daniel Fast. It’s amazing what happens when you quiet the noises of your life (TV, phone, etc) and dethrone “King Stomach” for a while.   Intimacy with God.  Clarity of vision.   Answers to prayer.

For those 21 days, I felt increasing strength and victory. When I had my devotions in the morning, I didn’t feel the need to look away from the woman staring back at me in the mirror of the Word of God. I was the beloved daughter, dressed in the beautiful robes of His Righteousness, dancing with Jesus in the courts of the King.

And then “she” showed up. With clumsy feet and hands full of things “she” shouldn’t be carrying.  “She” tripped, and fell, and spilled and ruined my gown.  Again! For the 9-billionth time!

And there is the problem. Wherever I go, “she” is always bringing up the rear!!

“I myself walked up to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a very sorry figure next to him. Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with a dear yearning in my voice: “Dress me.”

He dressed me, my Lord, he put new rags on me, and I am a wonder beside him.” ~Walter Wangerin, Ragman and Other Cries of Faith

FaithFood.Net does a beautiful job describing a beautiful scene from “Anna and the King” and so I’ll just quote them below (and encourage you to read the whole article):

There is an old film called Anna and the King where the heroin, Anna, serves the King of Siam by teaching his children. In one scene there was a banquet that was given by the King. It was a very proper setting with many of the guests being cultured English people. The King suggested that they finish the meal by dancing a waltz. He arose from the table and put his hand out to Anna. She is taken by surprise and does not know quite what to do. The English guests looked shocked and the Siamese were horrified.
Reluctantly, she stood to her feet. How could she refuse the King? As they walked down the steps to the dance area she looked at him apprehensively and said, “It’s been a long time since I have done this, I hope we don’t end up in a heap.
He replies, “I am King, I will lead.”
http://faithfood.net/index.php/browse-articles/1169-dancing-with-the-king-

 

img_20180111_203901963_hdr854888339.jpg
untitled –  a work in progress, PHTW 1.15.18

This is what I want, Lord.

I want to take off my dirty rags, and be dressed in your beauty.

I want to receive your invitation, and twirl on the dance floor with you. I want to be secured in your strong arms, and I want to let you lead. Not just for a song, or for a 21-day fast.

I want you to lead every hour of every day, knowing that in your embrace  … even when I trip and stumble (or am tempted to try to lead the dance) … you will stabilize me and keep me from “ending up in a heap”.

 

“May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

 

 

If you have been following along, above is the initial sketch for the word picture along with it’s progression to the current state in the larger picture.   There are components of this piece that are going to be revealed as this blog series continues, so please keep coming back to watch the image in my head/heart come to life on paper.  
What do you think would be a good name or caption for this particular word picture?
Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the word pictures in this blog series, or any other of my posts.  My prayer is that they will speak something unique to your heart/spirit, and I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.
_____________
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.

 

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

 

The heart knows it’s own sorrows

At the time of this writing I am on vacation … a much deserved break, and an unexpected blessing for me and my adult children (and their families).  We are all staying together in a beautiful log cabin rental in Trenton ME (just mainland from Desert Mountain Island – home of Acadia National Park).  It is BE-U-TIFUL here, and this simple snapshot from the back deck just doesn’t do justice to the view nor peacefulness of the home.   After such hardships on my last job, and then all the excitement of starting my own business – this time of ‘decompression’ is a delightful balm to my soul and has given bandwidth/margin for my creative juices to start flowing again.

2014 VacationSo while grandkids get their tubbies, and their daddies take charge of the BBQ, I stepped upstairs to work on the ‘vacation puzzle’.  We are 4 days into a 7 day vacation and it is about 2/3 complete.  (Don’t be overly impressed – it’s only a 500 piece puzzle, and so far, it is kicking our can’s … but I am hopeful we will win this challenge before the vacation is over!)   Anyways, while working on it, I started singing a familiar song I used to sing to my daughters as a lullaby at night.    Maybe you heard of it …. “Songbird” made famous by Barbara Streisand?  Gosh, I have always loved her artistry, and this was such a hauntingly beautiful melody in it’s time, and a much requested ‘goodnight song’ from my daughters even into their early teenage years.   But as they became mothers themselves, one of my girls commented on the actual lyrics of the song … something to the effect “geez … it’s a really depressing song, mom”.

And here I am again, singing it on a family vacation??  Of course, now I am singing it primarily because I think it is a beautiful song.  But there is also a place in my heart that is comforted by the song because it reminds me of days gone by – those difficult and heartbreaking days when I grieved a broken marriage, and was learning what life would be like as a single parent.  Back then, even as I sang the song as a soothing nighttime lullaby to my girls, the lyrics brought a ‘secret comfort’ to my own heart  – and singing of the unfulfilled loneliness of the songbird was rather like making a silent admission of my own pain and sorrow (behind the brave face I put on for my children).

When I’ m all alone
I sing my saddest song
Lonely, and no one can see
This time the song is for me

Thankfully, those days are long behind me now and as I consider the lyrics of the song from my ‘2014 log cabin vantage point’, I am now reminded of this scripture:

Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own. No one can share them with you.  (Proverbs 14:10)

And in the same way that someone might struggle to understand the familiar comfort of such a sad song (even decades after the tears of sorrow have been transformed into tears of great joy!), I think that too often I have been too quick to dismiss someone else’s pain because from my vantage point – they are just making too much of this or that.  [Yuck!  What a horrid admission to make.  But it is true].

But who am I to judge? 

WHO ELSE CAN KNOW (besides Jesus) the bitterness or depth of pain experienced by another heart?

Lord, help me be more tolerant of others pain!  Empower me be gracious and show your love!  Help me extend mercy and walk with them through the process of healing, without becoming impatient if they don’t heal as quickly as I think they ought to.  [again – yuck!].

Well, that’s about as much self examination and yucky admissions as I can take today.  I will close with this quote from my most favorite blogger in the entire world … who also happens to be my daughter!

Life is a dare to love, everyone”   (from her blog “Life Is A Dare“)  http://www.lifeisadare.com

 

Goodnight and be blessed,
Jenny