Category: hope

 

 

It wasn’t the plant that not only survived but it thrived. The word that it couldn’t be killed was true. When it outgrew it’s pot we put it in a larger one and hung it from the ceiling in a macrame hanger. It fit perfectly with our bookshelves made of 2×4’s and bricks and peach crate album holders. It was the 70’s.

This philodendron did so well I bought other plants at the flea market. The prayer plant survived a few months but the creeping Charlie I liked so much was gone in 2 months. And so it’s been for us and house plants.
I’m not a plant person. When their leaves droop I water but apparently, it takes more than that. Their best chance of survival is to put them outside and let them rely on nature.
Our son was talking to his dad about the new year. They were talking about fitness goals and resolutions of sorts. My husband is going to add another mile to his daily treadmill walk and our son was talking about the benefits of his twice daily 15-min. cardio.
For some reason, I chimed in saying I don’t make resolutions. I don’t recall ever making them. When our son asked why I said because I won’t disappoint myself when I don’t follow through.
He didn’t like how easy it is for me to not try. I see it simply as being realistic. If I scratch the surface of that, I might admit it’s also a case of complacency, of comfort.
I’d rather wait for the magical day when I wake up wanting nothing more than to do a vigorous workout and eliminate sugar from my diet. I don’t want to work at it. Let’s face it, who does? Isn’t that why we don’t keep our resolutions?
Pastor and blogger Carey Nieuwhof writes one of the reasons our resolutions usually fail is because they’re essentially intentions with no strategy in place to accomplish our goal.
This is coupled with the vagueness of intentions to be healthier. In what way? By doing what? How can we measure our progress?
Instead, like my experience with plants, my intentions fail without even trying.
Because of my history with plants, I quit buying them and discourage others from giving them to us. It’s easier to accept my brown thumb than work through how to keep them alive.
However, I can’t compare plants to my health or relationships. I’m not willing to accept I’m just not good at exercising or communicating.
The best thing about resolutions or goals is you can start them anytime. I feel less pressure to start them at some random time like the middle of March or October. I also don’t berate myself for having off weeks or unexpected schedule changes. Reminding myself to keep trying is more helpful even with a good strategy in place.
I do want to do better at developing strategy and discipline to accomplish new areas of growth. I just don’t want to start them on New Year’s Day or call them resolutions.

hope

Four weeks of preparing, planning, shopping and decorating were over with the turn of the calendar.
This morning we took our kids to the airport and I started washing linens and making a new grocery list. The tree will be down and decorations boxed before New Year’s Day and just like that the reset button has been hit.
Reset? I need to rethink this.
When I power down my Mac I’m asked if I want to restart or shut down. When I restart things appear as they were. Evernote will be opened to this note, my mailbox will pop up and if I had a Google page open it will still be there. A shut down will close it all.
There have been many times in 2017 I wanted to shut down. The political noise is like a family feud with each side taking loud aim at the other.
The cry for firming up our gun laws should have been louder but seemed to get buried in familiar rhetoric. It’s like the traffic hum you barely notice because it’s always there.
Hurricanes displaced tens of thousands of people from their homes and wreaked destruction in the eastern part of our country while fires devastated acres and acres on the West Coast.
Hate, violence, war, slavery and worse are part of today’s world.
If a reset means going back to 2017 I don’t want it.
But what’s our choice? My voice feels small at best. How can one smile and one laugh grow into more?
It feels like treading water. You’re expending energy but going nowhere and I want to move forward toward more. More kindness.  More understanding and less name-calling. More grace and less shame. More love.
A friend posted on his Facebook, “Don’t tell me Merry Christmas, show me Merry Christmas. Don’t tell me keep Christ in Christmas, show me Christ in Christmas.”
We can blog, tweet and write all the words we want but if we aren’t acting out those words we’re treading water, hitting the reset button and going through the motions. Again.
As shut down 2017, I want to move forward with intention and hope.

How enduring is God’s loyal love;

    the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion.
23 Here they are, every morning, new!
    Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.
24 Have courage, for the Eternal is all that I will need.
    My soul boasts, “Hope in God; just wait.”

faith hope

We lit the second candle of Advent and we called it love.

We didn’t have a time of sharing in our service this week. It’s busy with the extra bits put in for the season. Richard came to me after church, excited to tell me about another message he’d heard the night before. He was all smiles as he said it was the same thing. It was about love too.

During that service, they’d invited people to write a word on stones and he’d written Love. That was his word for this year. I remember him telling me that but it seems like a hundred years ago, not eleven months. I remember Richard saying he chose that word because he needs to learn to love himself.

These guys are good. They listen to the messages poured into them here. Messages from counselors helping them learn new ways. Even messages from me at times, reminding them that God makes them enough.

Terrace danced to words that sang about God loving us in our good and bad. It’s something Terrance has had to work on too – accepting God’s love.

Love is one of those things we’re better at giving than receiving. We allow ourselves to believe we have to earn love. We’re always trying to get ourselves right, to clean up our mess but we have it backward. Jesus sets us right. His grace makes us clean.

Last week we celebrated the hope found in Jesus. Next week we will proclaim his joy. All of this in the motion of lighting candles. Small flames will flicker great promises in their light.

The old song chimed ‘what the world needs now is love, sweet love; it’s the only thing there’s just too little of’. Real love came down in the form of a baby. We remember it in the glow of a small flame. Maybe, just maybe, I can carry a spark in me. A love that is freely given, not earned. Love that wants to shine like a city on a hill for all to see.

Enjoy this video of Terrance and his offering of his talent to our Savior who came to be love.

 

 

 

faith grace hope Music Salvation Army

My hope was they wouldn’t find these poster-sized coloring pictures childish.

My hope was that the story portrayed in these pictures would help their understanding of the biblical Christmas story.

And I really hoped they do them one at a time in accordance with the 4 weeks of Advent. That one hasn’t worked out so well as they’ve nearly finished them all.

Hope is a desire or expectation for something to happen.

Ous is an audacious hope.

We have many hopes for the men entering this 6-month rehabilitation program. We want them to regain their health, for families to be restored. We want them to find jobs and respect. Our deepest desire is that they’ll embrace a program of sobriety and walk hand in hand with Christ as their Savior. We want to see them give back as they live this example.

Some days are hard in this work where disappoint happens regularly. Six photos hang on the Christmas tree in the chapel this year. Photos of men who’ve passed this year as a result of their addiction.

Friends and family have asked how we can do this day after day. It’s because we have an audacious hope. Hope that stares in the face of relapse and addiction and says we believe in a power greater. We look at hope eye to eye because flesh and blood is wrapped around this Hope.

This is bold and living hope expressed in new lives. This is the Hope of Jesus. He is our only Hope.

In memory of Pat, who found hope in this song.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

faith hope recovery Salvation Army

When God’s people haven’t seen a hint of light or hope of day, God will do something new.

The hologram flickered from R2D2’s projection lens. It was a desperate plea from Princess Leah as she says, “You are our only hope”. 
 
Her people are in peril. All she can do has been done. Hoping Obi Wan Kenobi will see her message and come to their rescue is her last resort. 
 
We lit the first Advent candle this week. Two residents read the scripture from Isaiah. It was a message of hope shared by the prophet Isaiah to a people who have been waiting. 
 
    There will be a new time, a fresh start.
Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
    a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. Isaiah 9:5-6 VOICE
 
Both of the men reading have been in our Center before. Like many others, this battle with addiction is a daily tug-of-war. Some come to us to stay off the street, some to make family happy, others because they’ve hit bottom. In their eyes, we are their only hope. 
It’s not hard to understand the despair that fills our world today. Our hopes of peace are met with Hawaii sounding testing alarms in the event of a nuclear attack. Anger and fear fill our politics and news reports. We seem to be cloaked in a darkness that doesn’t know where to find hope.
 
The Christmas carol says, “the thrill of hope a weary world rejoices”. Yes, oh yes, we are a weary world. We are tired of the Tweeting and shaming and finger-pointing. We’re weary of hearing about another shooting and the ongoing allegations of sexual assault. When do we get to the rejoicing part?
Writer, Emily Freeman, says,
 
We need the kind of hope that believes a young girl can bear the kingdom in her body and a baby really can save the world.
To some, this sounds crazy. It’s a lot to take in, this miraculous birth. But isn’t a miracle what we’re hoping for? Aren’t we placing our hope in this miracle?
This isn’t my last Hope but my first.
This is the Hope I know is sure, the promise that has been proven over and over. This Hope is the living word. It is Jesus.

We are merely moving shadows,

    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.
7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
    My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:6-7 NLT
When God’s people haven’t seen a hint of light or hope of day, God will do something new.
 

 

faith hope

When the words get lost because of complacency, when I’m looking for the extraordinary rather than finding gratitude in the routine of everyday life, it’s our community, the fellowship of the broken, who guide me.
 
Gratitude fills the empty spaces in our life. As our men demonstrate, we don’t have to have much to be grateful.
 
Some years, we’ve raised our Ebenezer and written words of gratitude on stones. We’ve built our small altar of thanks offering. 
 
We’ve written them on little cards pinned to the bulletin board. This year, we wrote them on pumpkins placed throughout the residence. 
 
But always, we share them in words and songs and the prayers of God’s people. 
Our broken hallelujahs are made holy morning by morning.
Great is God’s faithfulness.
Linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart

SaveSave

faith hope recovery

Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
Mark 12:41-44 Message

I am sitting in the back of the room scanning the men in front of me. There’s a former teacher, an electrician, a business owner, panhandler, a day laborer. George was a jockey and Ken was a lawyer. The young ones were caught up in drugs before they knew who they were or what they could do. Jobs came and went faster than seasons change.

Their resumes are sketchy. There are gaps and blanks where there shouldn’t be and, for some, too many words to answer the questions about criminal background.

Regardless of degrees, titles, or resumes, today they are broken. They are empty. They are former construction workers and former office managers. They have nothing but what is listed on their property list.

But they are not without wealth.

The collection plate is passed each Sunday in our chapel. From the assortment of residents and graduates who return to worship with us more than $100 will be collected. The money will be sent to help support a children’s home in Haiti. Their small coins will become the bread and fish Jesus enlarged to feed the crowd.

It’s the broken who rush to help the wounded.

It’s the forgotten who take in the abandoned.

It’s why we have two dogs and a cat as residents. It’s why when one of the dogs got an injury requiring a $3000 surgery they wanted to give.

And they did. The amount collected doesn’t come close to paying for the surgery but their example shames my small offerings.

Like the story of the woman giving her small coins, they aren’t giving from their surplus. They are giving from their heart.

I’ve seen them sneak food to one sleeping on the sidewalk. The ones with cars take others to meetings or to Walmart. They encourage each other with their words.

They believe in second chances because they’re on their third, or fourth.

Gratitude isn’t always saying thanks. It’s about giving from all you have.

“…she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

 

Linking up with Holley Gerth for a little coffee for your heart.

SaveSave

faith hope recovery Salvation Army

To walk into the bedroom of our 10-year old granddaughter is to be on sensory overload. Her room is littered, I mean arrnged, with stuffed animals, clothes, shoes, dolls, Legos, more clothes and shoes, drawings, papers, books….did I say clothes?

It takes a lot of coaxing to get her to clean out what she doesn’t need.

I know the differenc between need and want but it’s still something I struggle with myself at times.

Writer, Emily Freeman, recently talked about the essentials. That’s a word with weight. It means absolutely necessary; extremely important.  It’s a word that needs more than a 10-year old maturity to understand. American Girl dolls are essential to her like health insurance is to us. (Oh for the days of childhood!)

Our retirment date is growing closer each day. Two years from now. Lord willing, we will be in another city, another house, another life. Even now, I am considering what our needs will be. The obvious ones are easy. We will need furnishings for the house. We’ve lived in furnished parsonages the past 23 years so this is a big thing. We will need to learn when the garbage is picked up and become familiar with new street names and directions.

But what is essential?

That’s not easy to answer a year and a half away. So I turn that question, as Emily did, to today. In this time of year that schedules get packed and to-do lists get longer, what is essential?

The answer is harder than it sounds. It may vary day to day. Can it even be answered for more than one day at a time?

Today, it’s essential I go to my dental appointment. It’s part of health/self-care. It’s essential that I eat and more beneficial if I eat nutriously.

Our basic human needs are just that: needs. And they are essential.

What is absolutely necessary, extrememly important to me is to know I am loved. To know I have hope. That’s what I desperately need and what I have in Jesus.

 

Most Friday’s I link up with other writers for Five-Minute Friday a 5-minute free write prompt. And most weeks I take more than 5 minutes. Sorry, not sorry.

 

SaveSave

faith family Five-Minute Friday hope

Ask me, I’ll be your witness. I’ll shout it out when you try to get out of your way and let God in. I’ll testify that you’re a new person. I’ll let it be known that you are not the same person. Just ask me.

If it’s true, if I know it, I’ll be your witness because we all need one some days. The days when your strength is gone and you’re not sure you’ve got an ounce of faith left, I’ll remind you. I’ll tell you, you aren’t the same person who walked through those doors. I’ll tell you I remember the day you came in with a hollow face and soul. I saw you sitting in the day room with that vacant look. I remember.

 

But then, then, you got some rest. The good kind of rest that comes after a shower with the water streaming long and hot to wash all that you’ll allow slip down the drain.

Then you slept on a bed for you with clean sheets. You ate and your belly was filled with good food and the dope sickness begins to pass and your hands stop shaking and, miraculously, you feel more human than you remembered in a long time.

It’s taken a while. I saw it when you got anxious and thought you were going to leave again like you have before. That time you thought you felt human and could do it this time, all by yourself.

But you stayed. You listened to someone. Maybe God spoke to you through the big book or through a counselor or, maybe even from the sacred word you hear read each morning. Yes, God was talking to you, I saw that too. I’m your witness. You listened.

Everyone needs a witness and I’ll be yours because your life is a witness to a God who works miracles.

We are his witness. All of us who’ve let him in to reshape us. We’re witnesses to His restorative power, to His redemption and grace.

Everyone needs a witness. I’ll be yours.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1 NLT

faith hope The Church

There have been times this month that I wondered if I had one more story to tell. It was a fleeting thought because every day I look into the faces of Johnny, Blair, Chris, Matt, Jason, Jeff, David, Robert, the Steves, and Mikes, and Joe’s. There’s JoJo who never got one swing for the Mets, the team that drafted him before he injured his arm and eventually lost his teaching career at the grip of addiction.

Or Armstead who carried the label “black sheep” of his family. How did his alcoholism fit with his college grad siblings working their professional jobs? Today he holds a blue-collar job but his fleece has been made clean by God’s redemptive grace. He’s welcome at family reunions again.

Whether I look in our counseling wing, administrative office, warehouse, stores, kitchen, truck drivers, I will see faces of redemption.

The challenges some have overcome are nothing short of miraculous. How can one not see the hand of God when their lives have been touched by it?

There are the faces we see when they’re coming back to worship with us or as sponsors or to lead a group or chair a meeting. There’s Curtis, Alfredo, Jason, Jack, Joe and Richard and Dodd whose life wasn’t changed through our program but is no less a redemption story.

They are talented and brilliant. They are, as the old hymn says, once lost but now found.

 

But those aren’t the only stories of redemption. Most of our stories aren’t grand, they aren’t what miracles are made of except that God’s hand has made each of one of us a miracle.

There is a list of women’s names who are signs of God’s redemption. They haven’t come through the doors of our Center but their souls have been changed and their lives marked as God’s own.

Phylis and Joan, Betsy, Crystal, Ruth, Dawn, Beki, Janice, and Lisa….and more, so many more who share the light of Christ in a world stumbling in darkness. They are singing redemptions song. My life is touched by theirs and our awkward notes work to sing the song of hope.

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble[a]
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Psalm 107:1-3 ESV

We tell our stories to give thanks to our Redeemer. We tell them to speak light in a dark world. Because our redemption shows it’s available to everyone.

We tell them to speak light in a dark world. Because our redemption stories prove it’s available to everyone.

faith hope