HOPE – Heaven Occupying this Place called Earth

Have you ever walked outside or even inside in the dark? I mean the kind of darkness where you are so disoriented and don’t feel confident you can find your way. And then you encounter the smallest, microscopic speck of light that completely illuminates your surroundings. You realize where you are. You can now see. The darkness seemed so vast, it caused a fear and a lack of hope. Yet it only took a small glimmer of light to break through and usher in Hope. In the beginning there was a vast darkness, yet the Spirit was there, hovering over the earth. The very first thing God spoke into the darkness was Himself, light. He spoke Himself into creation. He is light, and light reveals Himself in the midst of vast darkness. The first thing He wants us to “see” is that He is here. He is the source of the light breaking through the darkness.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Hope is not just a feeling or desire for something to happen….Hope is a person and He has a name, and His Name is Jesus. I read something interesting in the Wiley Online Library about hope. They were describing hope from 2 different perspectives. From a common perspective, hope is like a wish and its strength relies on the extent of the person’s desire. But biblical hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in the faithfulness of God. So good! It doesn’t depend on me. I can walk here on earth knowing that the God of Hope is occupying this place, and I have the assurance of that because of His faithfulness not mine.

….Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.

Hebrews 6:18b-19a NLT

As we all know, an anchor is a strong device attached to a ship and used to hold the ship in a certain place. Hope keeps me “attached” to the Father and keeps my soul (my mind, will, and emotions) focused on things above. As I seek Him and wait for His voice, I know that my “longing fulfilled will be a tree of life” Proverbs 13.12.

Anchor of Hope

hope candleHebrews 6:8b-10 “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”

An anchor, something heavy attached to a vessel to keep it in place, and hope, a desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.  These two combined are why Jesus came.  He is the heavy, mighty, strong anchor that God sent to earth so that His plan would be fulfilled, for man to be reconciled to God!  Christ lives in us, he attaches Himself to us, His vessel, and keeps us in the place where God wants us to be.  The waves crash, the wind blows and tries to steer us off the path, but our faith is convinced of what we hope for and certain of what it cannot see (Hebrews 11:1)  all because He came.

Our hope ushers us into the very presence of God where Jesus, our anchor, is waiting, watching, and interceding on our behalf.  Without Jesus there is no hope, nothing to long for or be confident in.  Without Him we are tossed by the waves, blown off course by the wind, and oppressed by the darkness of this world.  Our hope comes from a desperate place, deep in our soul, that is calling out to the light.

The words below are from the heart of our 16 year son, Parker.  This is what the Holy Spirit has revealed to him after the death of one of his best friends, Gray Godwin.

“We have hope in eternal life because of Jesus’ death and especially his resurrection. I don’t think a whole lot about the hope we have until something happens that makes me think about the future. The future is a very scary subject, in that it feels unknown and out of our control. With the death of my friend Gray this past week, I for one have definitely thought about his future and mine. Knowing that Gray loved God so much, reminds me that he is happier now than he has ever been. By his death, he has entered into the gates of heaven, and is living out what we are all hoping for, eternal life. Once I wrapped my mind around that concept, I was jealous that I was not in heaven yet. I wouldn’t say I was suicidal at all, but simply put, I was ready to get out of the corruptness of this world and be with Jesus. But that also made me think of how selfish it is to think like that. Though the world is corrupt, it doesn’t have the hope that I possess. Holding onto what I knew and not sharing the great news of Jesus Christ is not right. If keeping Jesus to myself was satisfying me, then my heart is not in the right place. My number one job as a Christian is to get closer to God, and grow in Him. So many people die, who are unlike Gray, in that they are fearful of what will happen to them before, during or after death. We need to bring those people hope so they are no longer anticipating or fearing death. The Word of Jesus Christ is that hope.”

IMG_1048Parker, Gray, Hudson, Hammond

The Lenses of Justice and Compassion

Safe in Mommy's ArmsBack in September my best friend went on a retreat for a few days.  Upon her return, she was not only refreshed, but it was like God had breathed on her.  As she was sharing one night, we got to talking about the specific way God designed each of us uniquely.  In discovering some of her gifts and the perspective she sees life from, there was a test involved.  The more we talked, the more discouraged I got.  You see, I so wanted to walk through her experience, but I am the worst test taker.  I wanted to know my personality traits, gifts, perspective, etc., but I knew if I tried to take that test it would be disastrous.  During test taking, I get locked up and feel like I am desperately searching for the right answers.  I just want someone else to tell me all these things about myself:)

Well, that’s exactly what happened.  A few days after we talked, I sat down and asked the Lord, out loud, to begin to show me the unique gifts He has given me.  As I was going through my day, the words Justice and Compassion kept coming to my mind.  The Holy Spirit was answering my question! I went home and looked them up, of course cause I’m the word nerd, and I had understanding almost immediately.  Compassion, in my own words, is relating to the emotions of others and being moved by that.   Jesus was moved by compassion in Matthew 9:36.  Justice is basically wanting things to be “right” and “fair”, and oh boy, is that me.  Now because I believe these are gifts from the Lord, I know He has a plan to use them in His Kingdom; however, I also know there can be a downside to both of these.  You see sometimes I “take on” the emotions of others, and that puts ME in a place of trying to fix things versus allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to lead me in my response.  Also, when things aren’t right or fair, especially with my children, mama bear can definitely come out, and this robs my joy.  Micah sums up how the Lord intends me to walk these out, “…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  So God is calling me to be an agent of justice and compassion,  but this requires deep, prayerful humility.

So in my discovery of this, and as I am receiving the breath of God in my own life, I understand now why I am passionate about orphans, the overlooked, missions etc.  These are the areas where I feel one with the heart of my Father in heaven.  When we were on our way to the airport to greet our best friends coming home with their daughter from Guatemala, I remember specifically asking the Lord, “what is this feeling welling up in me?”  His response, as I gazed at the stars from the car window, was “you feel My heart”.  It’s the most incredible feeling to be One with the Father.  As you see in the picture above, the Lord has graciously given us a child through adoption, and this picture was taken when I was experiencing that oneness once again.

Today, my heart continues to be drawn to the fatherless.  And yes, I am humbly praying about it every day.  Just because we have already adopted one child, doesn’t change the perspective I view life from.  However, what I am learning is, there are many ways for me to minister to orphans.  I don’t know God’s plan for more children in our home, but I do know that God designed me to see life through the Lenses of Justice and Compassion.  As I yield my heart to Him, He will make us One!

Pull in a Little Closer

Watching the Pig Races
Watching the Pig Races

Who would have thought a simple day at The Pumpkin Patch would have so many teachable moments. Now if you are thinking I had teachable moments with my 5 year old daughter, Maggie Mae, think again:) It was me that was being taught. So many lessons the Lord has taught me in 3 short years from this  little girl, and oh how I am eternally grateful.

Living with someone who has been legally blind since birth has revealed to me so much about the other 4 senses. Close your eyes for a few minutes……… Listen for sounds close by and way off in the distance. Now take a deep breath. Is there something cooking, a fire burning, laundry washing, or just simple fresh fall air? Now walk around… be careful… and touch things. How do they feel?… soft, sticky, wet, cold….. Here’s the hard one. Let someone feed you some things with your eyes closed (find someone trustworthy;). How does the texture feel in your mouth? Is it sweet or sour, spicy or salty? All these senses are heightened when you are visually impaired.

Does not being able to see clearly stop Maggie Mae from living? Absolutely not! You know what she does? She just Pulls in a Little Closer . If you know Maggie Mae, you know she does not let her “weakness” dictate what she can or cannot do. Simply because, she has yielded her weakness to the Lord, and in her weakness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is no longer a weakness, it’s just a different way of seeing life. So here’s where I learned more about this at the Pumpkin Patch.

You see the grand finale of the day was the Pig Races! Most of the children were sitting in the bleachers ready to watch the race. Maggie Mae was on the fence waiting in anticipation for the pigs to come. Now keep in mind, she probably has no idea what a pig is from our perspective. This is what happened when the race began……

Pigs came by

Look! She was in aw. She probably saw some shadows, but….. She felt the breeze go by, she heard them snort when they jumped the hay bails, she’s cheering along with the crowd and of course she smelled them. These were the things that I experienced too! For the first time, I “watched” the races from her perspective. All I had to do was Pull in a Little Closer.

When I can’t seem to find my way, I need to listen and my “ears will hear a voice behind me, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it”(Isaiah 30:21b).
When I’m weak, I need to rejoice for “The Lord is my strength and my song..” (Exodus 15:2).
And when I think I have it all figured out, and my plans fail me once again,  I must humbly ask God to see things from His perspective,  “Show my Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)

A Mommy date at the Pumpkin Patch

“We live by Faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7