Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hopeful Happenings


Hope comes in many moments, in many faces, in many words.  I thought about hope this week as someone I love provided me a bit of hope.  As our high school was having a drive for "Locks for Love", they invited those that did not have enough hair to donate to shave their heads in memory/honor of someone who has struggled with cancer.  My son came home with this beautiful bald head, in honor of my struggle. Yes, I cried.  Yes, I smiled. Yes, I shared.  Yet, it got me thinking of the many faces and moments of hope.

I believe  hope is something that we have when we need to see past today, in any given situation.  It may be hope for healing, hope for forgiveness, hope for restoration, hope for love.  When I was diagonsed with cancer (almost 15 years ago - this fall), hope seemed close and far away, all at the same time.  As I progressed through treatment, all of the surgeries, the chemo treatments, the loss of hair, the sickness, the radiation, the tiredness, etc., there was hope.  I had my Jesus to rely upon, to comfort me, to love me, to heal me.  Even through that, I had hope happenings.  There was hope in Krystina's hugs.  There was hope in Sarah's smiles.  There was hope in Mom's words.  There was hope in Dad's silence.  There was hope in my friends' acts.  There was hope around me - even when I didn't think the hope would still be there.  These hope happenings were incredible moments when I realized that there was hope in my future.  It was those happenings that got me through that time in my life and move forward.  It was that hope that no matter what would happen, my hope was rooted in my Jesus and the paradise He promised me.

Since that time in my life, hope happenings have found their way back into my life on many occassions.  Wonderful hope in my marriage, engaging hope in my job, joyful hope in my children, and everlasting hope in my Savior.  The beauty of these hope happenings is when I focus my issues/problems/concerns towards God's hope, the happenings occur more often.  The hope that I need to pull me through a situation becomes clear - becomes life-changing.  Hope in God is just that, the faith that we know we have a future with God that will be forever, that will be wonderful, that will be joyful and full of love.

The best part is that by simple faith, pure faith, our hope in God is secure.  Faith in God provides a certainty of our hope.  We know that the things we look forward to, here on Earth and in heaven, are there for us.  God provides all our needs when we hope for the things He desires. Our selfish needs are not what God wills for us.  When we put our faith and our hope in God, the hope happenings show through.  It is an amazing feeling to know your hope is in God, who will always provide.  

Despair can lurk around any corner.  We have all felt it - I know I have.  Even with a greater faith, there are still days when despair can overcome me.  Yet, with a solid eye on His Word, I know that God will provide.  I can hope in Him, and with a strong and simple faith, He will provide.  Hope may come in  hugs, smiles, words, or a bald head!!  Hope is rooted in Christ.  Know that hope for your future is embedded in God.  Go to Him for healing, for restoration, for forgiveness, for love.  Here are to many hope happenings in your future.  Here is to a lifetime of simple faith in God!!

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  (NIV)  Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Running Into His Arms


Remember the feeling?  Of a parent or loved one waiting for you with open arms?  Maybe you were running towards your parent for a big hug after a tough day at school.  Or maybe you were jumping off the side of a pool into their arms.  Perhaps it was more recently, returning from a trip apart from a loved one.  Whatever the situation is, there is something safe, something comforting about running into someones open arms - the anticipation that someone is waiting for you and actually WANTING you to join with them.

Today is our blessed Easter Sunday.  I pray that all of you enjoyed time praising our Savior for his triumph over death - the death that all of us should have endured.  This entire week can be emotional as we ride the roller coaster our Lord did from shouts of Alleluia on Palm Sunday to the somberness of the upper room on Maundy Thursday.  We then move into the agony Jesus suffered on Good Friday to the rejoicing of Easter morning.  This past week reminded me much of the highs and lows we all endure in our own lives and the journey we are on.  

Our lives can be filled with times of joy.  These monumental times throughout our lives can be encompassed with happiness and smiles.  Similar to the joy that we had on Palm Sunday.  There are also times when we become reflective and somber.  I know this has happened in my life, times when I think about what I have, where I think God wants me to go - and all too often, where "I" believe my life should go.  It can be those reflective times when we ponder about what is happening on our journey.  

These times can sometimes lead to much suffering, much agony.  This suffering can come in the face of physical dilemmas, or relationship ones.  The suffering can come through great emotion and can even test our faith in God.  Those times of suffering and agony can lead us in many directions.  As I remember those times in my life, the memories are difficult to endure.  They were filled with physical pain, they were filled with emotional distraught, they were filled with doubt.  Have you felt that type of agony?  Maybe you are feeling it now?  That type of suffering seems to be overwhelming and can drive us to difficult decisions.  

What is important is that we keep walking through those times - that we keep striving to move forward.  Whatever that journey has in store for you, it is important for you to keep moving through it.  Why?  To seek what is on the other side of that suffering!!  The joy that comes with welcoming arms is what we have to look forward to.  The love that is felt on the other side of a difficult moment is what we long for, what we focus on.  Think of those times when someone has waited for you with open arms.  Do you remember that feeling?  The safety, the security, the love, the hope that comes from that moment is what I know I long for.  The difficult moments in our lives seem to last forever.  Yet, if we keep on walking through them, learning and growing all the way, we come out on the other side of those moments.  I know that I have come through those moments a different person - each time closer to my Lord.

You see, He is the one waiting on the other side with open arms. He is the one that has endured more than we can ever imagine.  His Heavenly Father was waiting for Him, just like Jesus is waiting for us.  Jesus, enduring death for our lives, is waiting for us in paradise.  He is waiting there with open arms.  Yet, it isn't just in heaven where we can feel His love and security.  His arms surround us here on Earth as well.  You might feel those arms from a friend or loved one.  Maybe you feel those arms in a smile or words of hope.  Those strong and faithful arms of Jesus are around us.  

As you cherish those monumental times in your lives, the somber moments as well, remember to walk through the agonizing moments to the arms that are waiting for you on the other side.  Remember that Jesus is here yesterday, today, and forever.  We are God's children; He has called each one of us to be with him, yesterday, today and forever.  His arms are always open for us.  Whatever moment you may be in right now, know that Jesus has been there too.  He has felt physical pain; He has endured emotional distraught.  He has walked into the arms of His heavenly Father.  Jesus raised from the dead so that our trials and tribulations would be moments of learning, moments of growth, and moments that bring us closer to Him.  So keep walking, straight into His arms!!

"And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." 
 (NIV)  Mark 10:16

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Our Humble King

Palm Sunday - an incredible day when we, as Christians, take time to praise our Savior.  It was the day that people actually hailed him as King.  With shouts of Alleluia and Hosanna to the Highest, our dear Jesus was celebrated for the incredible Savior he had come to be for us.

As I prepared for worship today, I was overcome with a sense of the man our Jesus was, the man that we were able to identify with, the King that not only he was here on Earth, but even greater - the King that reigns in heaven.  Throughout Jesus' life, there was always a sense of humbleness.  The Son of God, who humbled himself to be born to a young woman and her carpenter husband in a lowly manger.  The Son of God, who walked through towns healing and performing miracles for the truly needy of his time - those that needed His grace and mercy the most.  The Son of God, who humbled himself by surrounding himself with ordinary men throughout his ministry; not men of gold and silver, but fishermen and a tax collector.  The Son of God, who when finally received shouts of praise was riding on a lowly donkey.  The Son of God, who humbled himself to be a man and die a horrific death that He so didn't deserve, to fulfill prophecy and take all of our sins - so numerous to mention - on His shoulders.

The humbleness of our Lord is incredible to take time and think about.  We search, every day, on how we can walk in the path of our Lord.  There was so much he taught us during his time here on Earth - compassion, love, kindness, gentleness, discipline, hope.  I believe one of the greatest qualities He shared with us is an true example of how to be humble.  

I reviewed my life this past week, and there were times when I wasn't humble, at work, at home, with family..... and I realized the incredible journey I still need to make when it comes to walking with my Lord.  Humble, not to be proud or arrogant.  Through words and actions, I did not live that out.  There were times when My way was the best way, there was no room for other opinions, and I was proud of my personal efforts.  Yet, my ways, my personal efforts, my . . . . all come from God.  None of it is me, none of it was done on my own.  It is God, guiding, directing, orchestrating a life for me that will honor Him.  How about you?  Did you share a life of humbleness this past week?  Is there room for improvement?  The week ahead is a PERFECT week for us to realize the humanity of our Lord and the humbleness of our lives.

The week ahead, Holy Week, is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  It is a week filled with deep emotion.  The discipline of our Lord through his actions in the temple.  The compassion and love showed at the Last Supper.  The humility of Jesus washing his disciples feet (an incredible picture of humbleness).  The pain and suffering from the Garden to the Cross that Jesus took - for us.  For each one of us that has difficulty showing His discipline, His compassion, His love, His humility in our daily lives, the greatest part is that He is not asking that we show that in order to gain forgiveness of our sins.  For Jesus, who did all of those things for us, He just wants us to believe in Him~~  Simple Faith in our Lord.  With that, He will deliver us all that we need.

As your week unfolds, let Jesus guide you through His actions, your actions.  Keep Jesus close to your hearts always, but especially this week.  Be with Him, the one who saved you - who gave so much for you.   In thought, in words, in deeds - let Him know how thankful you are that you are saved by Him.  Blessings to all for a Holy Week filled with humbleness.  May love and adoration be a part of your day with Him, forever.  

"They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"  (NIV) John 12:13  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Resting Place

  White Mountains, NH

My resting place is the picture above.  When it is time to truly rest, to lay back and just relax, this is the place I come - the White Mountains of NH.  The mountain beauty, the gracefulness of the trees (even though they are still bare), and the calmness of the world at this particular place is one I have treasured to bring me to a state of relaxation over the years.  I enjoyed this past weekend with my husband, who also needed rest.  It has been a nice time.  Life had gotten crazy for us - new job for Juan, crazy schedule and lots of work for me, thinking of all the things that need to get done, etc.  I am sure you all have been there at one time or another.

This weekend got me to think about my day to day life.  How I run from one task to the next.  I wake up early to arrive at work.  Then 9.5 to 10 hours later, I leave work for home.  Then it is make dinner, clean up, and start the beginning of making the next day's dinner (so we aren't eating at 10pm).  The next couple of hours are either filled with more work, catching up on tasks at home, and then looking at the clock to realize I need some sleep before the next day. I KNOW I'm not the only one amongst all of us that feel this way.  You know what I am talking about!!  Then we move into the weekend - that's when the real work begins.  The laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, etc.  Believe it or not, I enjoy all this busyness.  I used to see these things as chores, but I do enjoy getting my house in order and providing good meals for my family.  

The missing ingredient is rest - time to sit back and enjoy the beauty that God provided for me, for all of us.   There are days that I believe rest is a "bad word".  Does God really want me to sit down for a few minutes when there is so much to be done?  Let's face it people - God did not create us so we can be exhausted.  Even work in The Lord deserves a time of rest - a time to rejuvenate so we can be the best for our God. It is time, for all of us, to take the days that we have and build in the resting time - time for us to be with our families, time for us to share time with God - listening to what He has to say to us, time to just be quiet and rest.

Some of us will find this a difficult concept to wrap our heads around.  Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my weekend away, it shouldn't take leaving our homes to find times of rest. Spring can be a busy  time for us.  A time to get our houses in order, to make plans for the summer, to get the kids off to all their practices, to celebrate Easter and the wonder of our Lord.  So you say you'll get around to true resting in the summer (and we know what that season brings).  One season rolls into the next and finding time to rest is scarce. 

We need to do this NOW. We need to find the time to rest.  Maybe it is a half hour sitting on your front porch.  Maybe it is time away from it all in a special room of your home. Maybe  it is a cup of coffee at your local coffee shop.  The opportunities are endless - God wants us to rest.  He wants us to come to him and lay our burdens on him and rest. So find the time - it is there.  If you actually need to schedule a rest time, then do so. If you are more "spur of the moment" then find that time.  It is there.  Relax, rejuvenate, and move forward in God's journey for you.  The rest of the stuff will get done.  Have some simple faith.  God is here to guide all of us. Here's to rest (and thank you Juan, for a restful weekend).

"Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest - you must rest."  (NIV) Exodus 34:21

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.