Tag Archives: vision

2018: A YEAR FOR HOPE! (closing post)

Have you ever been hoodwinked?  I know, I know.  It’s an old term that no one uses anymore, but I like the sound of it.

              hoodwinked:  bamboozled, duped, hoaxed

Of course you have!   So have I!    I’ve lost count of how many pieces of exercise equipment or magic pills or other resources I’ve purchased over the years that promised to help me loose 10-15 pounds in four weeks while burning away belly fat like it was wax thrown into a raging fire.    Or what about that “very reliable and in excellent condition” used car that seemed like such a wise (even frugal) purchase at the time but turned out to be a money pit of repairs!    Snookered!  Hornswoggled!  Deceived!

Generally speaking, “hoodwinked” isn’t a term used in the context of something positive. But when GOD is doing the hoodwinking … well that’s another story.

And that’s exactly what I feel happened to me this year … I got hoodwinked by God!

This same time last year, as is my practice, I was talking with Daddy God about the ups and downs of 2017 and questions I had about 2018.  In truth, I was a little bit discouraged on a few fronts – particularly the blogging front.  I’d been inconsistently posting throughout 2016 and 2017, in part because I was very busy launching a WOSB, and in part because I was discouraged by a low readership.   Questions like “who am I writing this for?” and “if no one is reading this, why am I still writing?” were at the forefront of my mind.  I asked the Lord if I should just shut down the blog altogether – and obviously, His answer was no.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I heard Him clear His throat (ah-hem) and say “I never told you to stop writing”.  Ouch!  And that’s how I came about committing to a weekly blog post throughout the year 2018 – and since HOPE was what I needed to experience, I chose the subject “2018: A Year For Hope”

               HOPE:  a desire accompanied by confident expectation

During the first few weeks of 2018, I often included internal/external dialogs of fictional characters to set the stage for a subject that was on my heart (perhaps inspired by something I or a friend was going through).  And over the course of those first 12 weeks, I struggled to complete an art piece to illustrate my heart in response to a dream someone had for me (posted in week #12)

Fast forward to April 2018.  Readership was increasing (what a balm to my heart!) and I was painting again.  “OK Lord, I think I can keep this up … what is the next subject?”  

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wanting to honor my commitment to Him to post weekly, I did my best to listen to what He was impressing on me and then post about it … but I still felt there was a bigger subject, something that would take a few weeks to cover (like some of my 2014 and 2015 posts).  But I wasn’t hearing what it was … so I just kept doing what I was doing.

And then, after a chance encounter with a young woman at a BigBox store, the Lord impressed upon me to tell my story (top to bottom) in chronological order.    There was a part of me that quickly said “Yes, Lord.  If that’s what you want me to do, I’ll do it.”   But then there was another part that was slightly less enthusiastic about that whole idea.   I mean it’s one thing to reveal all your warts and bruises within the context of a known audience (be it a group of trusted friends, or a group of fellow believers, or in a setting where there is still some level of intimacy and perhaps even anonymity).  But to put the whole mess out there in cyberspace for anyone to read??   That caused me to pause, and to prayerfully think about it.

I have shared bits and pieces of my story many times over the years, but rarely (if ever) from start to finish.  Lets face it, it’s a long story! 🙂

I started sharing my story in week #20 and it took to week #34 to get my story out, and to week #41 to wrap up some loose ends.   That’s 21 weeks … about 5 months!  That’s a lot of time to be digging around in the dirt of the backyard of your life.  But I did it.  I obeyed.

When I wrote the prologue for this blog series last December 2017, I had absolutely no idea what God was going to ask of me in May.  If I had known, I might not have been so quick to say yes – might not have said yes at all – but by May 2018 I had already committed to writing a weekly blog post and was in desperate need of new subject matter.  

Funny, God!  Really funny!

He pulled the old bait-and-switch on me!  

I got hoodwinked!

And how glad I am about it!  As a result of this blog series, and more specifically the posts between #21 and #41, I’ve connected with many amazing people (some still walking through their journey, some on the overcoming side of the fence) who were blessed and encouraged by my candidness in sharing about a neglected and abuse childhood which set the stage for my disastrous choices as an adult.  I never would have made these soul-spirit connections if I hadn’t have obeyed.

I also think God has an incredible sense of humor!   He must have been smiling big when I prayed for multi-week subject matter in April!   (Oh don’t you worry, daughter.  I’ve got a subject in mind for you alright!!!!)

He is also extraordinarily kind to me, because never in a million years would I have imagined how healing (even after so much healing already) it would be to chronologically lay out all these pieces of my life.   But it was, and in doing so I was able to put some pieces of the puzzle together in a way that I had never seen or understood before.  Thank you for that Father!

 

 

My prayer in December 2017 was that 2018 would be a year for hope to come alive again in new and exciting ways. That dormant areas of my life would spring to life. That victories prayed and believed for would manifest. That breakthrough would swallow up constraint, and that my eyes would behold in 2018 the marvelous works of God in my life and that of my family.

It truly has been an year of hope for me and I pray it was for you too!

And where we need more hope still for 2019, let us be encouraged that He who began a good work is always (and I mean ALWAYS) faithful to complete it, through Christ Jesus! (Philippians 1:6)

Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year. See you in January 2019, writing about … well, I’m praying about that now 🙂 God bless!

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.

The wisdom of a 2-year old: “Put you glasses on.”

Pure Love!Recently, while visiting my oldest daughter and her two little girls, I had taken my glasses off so that I could better rough house with them a little.

One of my favorite things to do with these little munchkins is to swoop them up in my arms, swing them around a bit, and then bury my face in the crook of their neck and kiss them until they squeal with delight.  And as you can imagine, that kind of playing has bent my glasses out of shape on more than one occasion – and so I’m getting a little better at taking them off first.

But this particular Saturday, as I was drawing near to the two-year old (a miniature of her momma at that age) to gobble her up, she gave me a funny look, stuck her arm out pointing her little finger squarely at my face, and slowly issued to me a very specific instruction:   “Put you glasses on.”

 

Now maybe it’s one of those things that you just had to be there to appreciate, but it really was quite hysterical and had me chuckling for many days afterwards.  What a precious little darling she is!

But then as the days went by, her words began to ring in my ear for another reason.  Let me explain.

I have been leading a ‘small group’ through my church for almost 2 years now, the general theme of which is ‘the inherent power of the Word of God (as contained in the Bible) to address/satisfy every need and overcome every circumstance we face here on earth’.   And as one might suspect, we are continually referring to the Word of God (the Bible) for insight as to what God has to say about any particular matter of life.

We have studied ‘prosperity’ and provision.  We have studied ‘health’ and healing.  We have studied ‘wisdom’.  But whatever the subject of study, one thing is required in order to hear and comprehend so that you can experience change … that you ‘change your focus/perspective’ from that of the reader (i.e. the one stuck in the quagmire of a particular circumstance) to that of the Ruler (.e. the one who reigns over all).

 A change of perspective.   A change of vision.

 

And isn’t that what eye-glasses do?  They heighten and improve your focus so that what was once blurry is now easily recognizable and identifiable.  And with that empowerment (to recognize and identify) comes the ability to execute with wisdom and authority (where once was doubt and confusion).

Thankfully, when I take my glasses off to play with my grandchildren, I can still see well enough without do most things with competence.  I can still see and recognize people.  I can still drive.  I can still read … well, sort of.  But all those things require a lot more effort and eye-strain to do them as opposed to when I’m wearing my glasses.

It’s the same when facing the circumstances of life.  Natural reasoning can work, sometimes.  We’ve all experienced a certain level of success grunting through life on our own wisdom and strength.  But how exhausting!

What I really need when facing the circumstances of life – be it sickness, challenges at work,  relationship issues, or whatever – is a higher perspective.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
So you’ll go out in joy,
    you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.   (Isaiah 55:8-13, The Message)

And in order to obtain that higher perspective described in Isaiah 55, I need to exchange my thinking for His thinking.  For He sees future events as though they already were, and He is always leading and guiding me into His best … if I will just trust Him enough to follow His leading.   And it is far easier to trust and follow the leader (Leader) when you have confidence in their (His) vision, right?  (Especially when where He appears to be leading exactly where you don’t want to go!  Lots of stories to tell there!)

So here’s to putting on my “God glasses” (and keeping them on!) so that I can see things more closely to the way that He sees them.  And from that higher perspective, may I daily be empowered by faith to trust and follow Him into the “whole and complete life” that He has planned for me!!

Blessings,
Jenny

 

 

 

 

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