On one of our cross-country road trips, we ended up on a red dirt road in nowhere Arizona without a sign in sight. Why would there be a road sign when what we were driving on barely qualified as a road?
For the last 25 years where we live hasn’t been our decision. Our denomination transfers its clergy. They decide when and where. The moving usually takes place in June but which June? This year or next? How long we stay is never a guarantee, never known.
We gave this over to faith that even though the decisions of man are imperfect, God will use it for His good.
We are in our last appointment. Our next move is into retirement. The location has been decided by us, our retirement home purchased and occupied by renters.
I am living in the in-between stages of what is and what is to come. We’re looking at boxes of stuff we’ve moved too many times. We’re remembering people and places, happy and sad. I am trying to choose wisely where I will live mentally and emotionally from now until then.
One place I’ve chosen not to live is in regret. I have plenty. If asked if I’d change anything in my life I’d say yes. There are decisions I’ve made I would readily change if I could. I could use a few “do-overs”. What I can do is decide not to allow space for regret in my life.
Regret is a thief. It steals joy and peace. It hangs heavy like steel gray clouds rumbling full of thunder. When I see storm warnings, I can shift my thoughts to the assurances of God’s grace and forgiveness. I choose to walk in hope.
Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Psalm 131:3
Writing on the word prompt: regret with Five-Minute Friday.
We know why.
We live in a broken world, a fallen world.
Our gun laws are too lenient, not enforced enough.
Mental health care is lacking.
Money going to gun lobbyist and not mental health care.
We put individual rights over rights of our children.
Tell me anything you want as to the why but what remains is once AGAIN we are mourning the loss of children.
This time it is playing out in our backyard, in a community considered the safest in our county, in an A-rated school. Collectively, all of these schools are in our community, our country.
I watched the local coverage of breaking news with a numbness of disbelief. The tears came a day later and now my anger is at the surface. Does the why even matter anymore when it takes more than two hands to count the numbers of our children being shot down in their schools?
It’s the what that we argue and fight about. It’s in doing something more than ‘thoughts and prayers’ that will make a difference but we’d rather have a debate. We’d rather wave our amendment while our children are waiving their lives.
Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I don’t understand our fascination with guns. What I really don’t understand is that, again, we seem to be choosing guns over children and teachers, over sons and daughters and fathers and coaches and friends.
We know the why. What are we willing to change? What are we going to do?
The back row in church is where the teenagers want to sit. Once their parents let them sit with their friends they hurry to nab a seat in the back row. I remember sitting there trying to hide the notes we were writing to one another behind the hymnal. Today the kids just put their phones on silence and text.
The week brought us another relapse. We’ve watched the struggle for years and were trying to be hopeful this time was the time he’d make it. But he didn’t it. He’s alive but so are his demons.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
When God’s people haven’t seen a hint of light or hope of day, God will do something new.
There will be a new time, a fresh start.6 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
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.
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