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Up a creek? No paddle?

Friends, it truly was/is my intention to post a minimum of twice a month – but there was a lot going on the beginning of the year and in particular in February.  And by the time I recuperated, well … here we are living through COVID-19.  What a different world it is since my last post!

What was going on, you ask?

One of my precious grandchildren was diagnosed with something as a small child (you can probably tell by the way that I’m writing this, that we are all standing in faith for her healing) and late last year she began to experience a new challenge in her health.  Back and forth for testing, starting new medications and experiencing new complication, then taking her off them again.  All the while fervently praying for God to show Himself strong and deliver her from the sudden attack from an enemy who came out of nowhere.

Take heart – the end of the story (this particular story) is good. Very good, in fact!  But at the time, it was emotionally-spiritually-physically challenging, to put it mildly.

Hmmm.  As I’m writing, something about that sounds very familiar to what we all are experiencing around the globe with the sudden attack from an unexpected enemy – COVID-19.

“I am the BREATH on your back….”

In hind sight, it is easy to see that while things looked chaotic and quite frightening at the time, just out of the range of our eyesight, God was carefully putting all the pieces of the puzzle together – exactly the right piece, at precisely the right time – so that in the end, it all worked together for her (my granddaughter) good as well as the good of her entire family.

But back in January and February, there was some scary stuff going on.  It was heart wrenching to see my granddaughter suffering so.  And as a mom, it pained me to see my daughter and her husband strain under the weight they were carrying as parents, trying to navigate the unknown with faith instead of giving in to the fear that stalked us all daily.

But what comforted me then, and what gives me comfort in this new season of “COVID-19 Chaos” is a word the Lord whispered to me while I was crying out to Him one morning.

ME:  Lord, I feel like I’ve followed you out into DEEP and STILL WATERS, and now here I sit … in a teeny little boat, without a paddle, and with absolutely no way to get myself to shore.   If you don’t rescue me somehow, I’m lost!

Lake Dennison
Early morning kayaking on Lake Dennison http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

HIM:  I am the BREATH on your back, moving you forward.

Isn’t that a powerful word!?!  It strengthens my heart and gives me courage that even though things look bleak at this precise moment in time, He is still moving me forward!  Always!   Even when my senses don’t register the movement or progress being made, He is still moving me forward!!

 

“I am the BREATH on your back, moving you forward into your destiny”

 

I’m working on a new piece of art (I haven’t painted in over a year!!) inspired by this Word.  I hope to have it ready on my next post.    Until then, take courage my friend.  He is present in our times of trial, no matter how lonely we might be feeling.  And He is still breathing!  He will see us through to the other side ❤

 

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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.

It’s just another day to live

It’s been a year.  It’s been a year, and I only realized it this morning.  Frankly, that was a little surprising to me, because for most of the spring, summer, fall and winter of 2019, I feel like I registered days and events as they correlated to the days leading up to Valentines Day 2019.

Three weeks since ….

Two months since …

Eight weeks ago …

Last year at this time …

… and so on, and so on.

If you’ve ever had the rug pulled out from under you, for whatever the reason (and we all have!), you probably understand what I’m talking about.

But today, I realized that I’m not doing that anymore!!  I’m OK with it just being February 13th, 2020.  And while tomorrow is Valentines Day 2020, it is no more or less significant a day than any other Valentines that proceeded it for the last 29 years since I’ve been single-again.  It will be a day for me to lean deeply into the embrace of my Heavenly Husband, the One who has been my Rock and Fortress since I left “Mr. T” in 1991.  It will be a day for me to show love to my children and grandchildren.  It will be just one day out of 365 days in 2020 that I choose to live my life with joy and passion and courage to be all that God has called me to be.  Yes, I’m OK … more than OK … I’m happy again!  Truly happy!

The twisted-knife-in-the-gut feeling is gone.

The ping-pong-balls-bouncing-around-my-brain feeling is gone.

"Gone Fishing" (2)  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Gone Fishing” (2) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

And the determined focus I applied throughout 2019 to getting out and enjoying my life “in spite of” payed off in dividends!  I found healing in the company of treasured friends who carried me when my heart ached beyond what I was able to carry alone.  I found peace and spiritual refreshment in the sounds of babbling brooks and the beauty of the morning fog rising off the waters of my favorite kayaking lakes.  I found God again … not that He had ever left, ever moved (He hadn’t).  But I had – I had withdrawn and pulled in.  I was angry and hurt, and I held back in my pain.  But as healing came, intimacy returned.  He is so kind like that!  Never holding a grudge, always ready to throw arms open wide to receive me unto Himself again.

“”Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed.” says the Lord who has compassion on you.”      (Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Life is not always blue skies and lolly pops, is it?  And when grey clouds gather, we need a tribe of like-minded souls to walk with us to brighter days ahead.

I wonder who else has been or is in the process of recovering from having the rug pulled out from under your feet?   Where are you in the healing process?  How can I pray for 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.

How sharp is your edge?

I read this out of my morning devotional, and it hit home.

“In some parts of the country there are Lumberjack competitions where the biggest and strongest compete by chopping down trees and sawing through thick logs.  In one such competition, there was a match between a young, strong ax man and an older, slimmer one.

By the end of the day of competition, the old man had cut down double the amount of trees that the young man had cut down.  Frustrated, the younger ax man finally confronted the older and said ‘I don’t understand.  I never stopped swinging.  I never stopped.  You know, I never stopped cutting down trees and yet you took two breaks every hour.  How could you cut down more trees?’   The older man, with humble eyes and a kind reply said ‘Every time I stopped, I sharpened my axe.”

You and I can chop until we’re blue in the face, but if our axe has lost its edge, it won’t matter.

I feel like I spent much of 2019 swinging and swinging and swinging … but with a dull axe.  How about you?

Praising God that He is always willing to “resharpen our edge” … strengthening us by His Spirit and sharpening us by His Word to make us productive again.

Axe Sharpening

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.”    (Isaiah 35:3-4)

How can I pray for you today? 

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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.

That was a low blow!

M-W1-cellblock of Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut
Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut

When I wrote my “Jail Break” post in April 2019, I was recalling a conversation I had recently had with a dear friend. As we shared our hearts and more than a few cups of coffee at her kitchen table, I prayed the Lord would give me the right words to inspire her with revived hope and faith for a jail break… but this time with help of the Escape Guide, Jesus Christ.

Little did I realize at the time that she was not the only one who needed a jail break.  I also needed a jail break, except that I hadn’t yet realized I was being held captive!!

Did you take some hard hits in 2019?   I did, and while the enemy of my soul was unsuccessful in his ultimate goal (to get me to deny my faith in God and turn away from the One who sustains me), he did land enough sucker-punches to have me “tagging out” and sitting on the side lines for a while.  A long while!

I was weary of soul. I was saddened in my spirit. I was low in my faith for certain areas and concerns of life. And so I sat; catching my breath, licking my wounds.  And the longer I sat, the more comfortable I was sitting in my small-but-known little resting place. My wounds healed, but there I remained in my now familiar and somewhat comfortable (or at least tolerably comfortable) surroundings.

I knew I wouldn’t (couldn’t) sit forever, but I was in no hurry to get back up.  And while I sat, perhaps mildly depressed in my self-reflection, the enemy built up bars around me!

Turns out I was actually writing to and about myself back in April!  I’m the one who needed a jail break!!!!

We all get sucker-punched from time to time, and when the hits are especially hard, we may need to take a little time to recover.   That’s what I have been doing, and maybe you are too.  But let us not stay there, seated on the sidelines!  And let us not get so familiar with being pressed upon that we forget that we have a Champion Friend who will not only help us bear up under pressure, but helps us through to the other side!!

“Do not be afraid-I will save you.  I have called you by name-you are mine.  When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.

When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.  For I am the LORD your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you.”    (Isaiah 43:1-2  GNT)

Thank God for the turning of a calendar page, for as 2019 drew to a close, a restlessness awakened in my spirit and a still small voice whispered to me “speak to the bones”.

The Valley of Dry Bones
“The Valley of Dry Bones” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Friend, God has called us (you and me) to a life that is full of purpose, joy and victory!  So let us speak to the dry and dead bones in our lives, and let us get back into the game!! There is just too much at risk if we don’t – victories that won’t be tasted, destinies that won’t be fulfilled, lives that won’t be changed by the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ!

“He said, “Prophesy to the bones. Tell these dry bones to listen to the word of the LORD … I am going to put breath into you and bring you back to life.” (Ezekiel 37:4 GNT)

Truth be told, I’m still a little weary of spirit – a little “wobbly” (wobbly-ness circles back to all of us from time to time).  And as much as I long for and pursue spiritual confidence, I am learning to appreciate wobbly-ness as well.  Wobbly-ness reminds me of my need for a Shepherd, a Shelter from the storm, and a Savior.

As I prayed about “getting back into the game” in 2020, among other things I felt prompted to commit to write 2 blog posts a month throughout 2020.  More as inspired, but at least 2/month.  So here’s the first.  I hope it speaks to you.  And I hope you come back to read one or two more (I will publish the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month), especially if you’re also a “wobbly” soul with “dead bones” buried in the backyard.

Not literally, of course!  That would be creepy!!

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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.

You need a “jail break”

What an incredible few weeks!  Once my heart recovered from a recent romantic break-up, I (again) began to seek out what God would have me do in 2019.   Twice last year, writing a book was spoken over me.  That resonates deeply with me, but since I’ve never done it before I put it on the “someday” shelf.  But in recent weeks, some things have happened to re-awaken this desire and prompting.  Hmm.  I’d appreciate your prayers on that.

But today, I’m writing for a friend … actually, a few friends.  You know who you are ❤

Dear friend,

We’ve been talking about your jail cell for a long time.  How hard it is to live there, how stifling and oppressive it is.  You want out, but you feel trapped – bound – unable to escape.

You’ve cried yourself to sleep there countless nights.  You ache to breathe the fresh air and wander open spaces you hear visitors talking about.   Oh, the stories they tell!

Your longing to be free (like them) is so strong that on a few occasions, you actually managed to  leave the confines of your small cell and sneak past the guards to catch a glimpse, a rare and intoxicating taste, of the freedom that belongs to those on the other side of the barbed wire fence.  But the Prison Warden and his Oppressors always manage to drag you back to captivity – and the repetitive and increasing punishment for your attempted escapes have eventually trained you to (more or less) resign yourself to your fate.  You have been charged (justly or unjustly) and found guilty.  You were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment.  You are a captive of the Warden, live with it.

M-W1-cellblock of Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut
Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut

And so you have.  You’ve killed your dreams (well, almost).  You’ve even managed to find slivers of contentment in this life of containment and drudgery.

Does that sound familiar?  I bet we’ve all been there … and more truthfully, we all have places in our lives where we are still imprisoned.  Imprisoned to fear of failure, to someone’s disapproval, to being alone, to self-doubt.

You need a jail break!

Friend, there is a way out, and you can leave that jail cell and be forever set free from the torment of the Prison Warden!!!   But to do so (and not be recaptured again) you’ll need a helper and guide – and His name is Jesus!  He’s has helped thousands upon thousands to escape, and He is easily able to do the same for you!!

Are there areas of your life where you still feel stuck or imprisoned?  Of course there are! Welcome to the human race (grin).   But there is hope, so please come back soon for the next post and an introduction to your Escape Guide, Jesus Christ.

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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.