February Hope Whispers

God Promises Us

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
Jeremiah 31:3

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Hope Quotes

“What I needed was hope. Optimism is seeing how circumstances will get better, but hope is seeing God’s love and care in the midst of bad circumstances. Hope is the refuge in uncertainty when optimism runs dry.” ~ Bonnie Gray

“Our hope comes in Jesus, even when He doesn’t do what we want Him to do. Even when He doesn’t fix what’s broken in our life… When Jesus is with us, He’s our anchor in the rough waters of a troubled life. If we want to survive the storm we need to cling to Him like the salvation He is.” ~ Laura Story

“God has graciously, lovingly and compassionately taken each piece of the jigsaw that was pulled out and scattered. He has then placed the pieces so perfectly back to where they came from. The difference about the pieces this time is that they are much stronger, and much more refined.” ~ Francesca Price

“…I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write your story on my heart
Come on and make your mark
Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be your work of art
Won’t you write your story on my heart…”

Nature Is a Retreat of Hope

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks.
Most of the time we are simply not patient enough,

quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”
~ Linda Hogan ~

Thank you to my brother John
for these stunning photos.
🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂

Avocets
Busy Bees
Eastern Bluebirds
Eastern Bluebird
Arizona Gray Squirrels – Hey! That’s mine!
Sandhill Cranes and Duck Friends
Sandhill Crane

When It’s Hard To Be Thankful

 

It isn’t always easy to be thankful, is it? When physical or emotional pain and/or losses overwhelm us, it can be hard to see through our tears or focus our minds on blessings right in front of us. 

Hagar was an alien and a slave. When her mistress found herself barren, she was given to Abraham to bear a child for her. But dissension escalated, especially after Sarah birthed a child herself. Sarah no longer wanted Hagar’s son around her son Isaac.

Hagar and Ishmael were rejected and sent away to wander in the hot and dry desert with only some water in a skin and some food to sustain them. But the water emptied…

She couldn’t bear to see her son suffer and die of thirst, so she put him under one of the bushes and distanced herself.

Dehydrated and devastated of hope, she sat down and sobbed. Did no one hear her and her son? Did no one care?

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” Hope heralded in by an Angel of God.

Someone did care. She wasn’t alone. God heard Ishmael’s cries. He heard Hagar’s cries. He hears the cries of the needy.

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.”
Psalm 72:12

God lifted her drooping head and opened her tear-swollen eyes to see it. A well. Right in front of her.

Hagar got up, filled her water skin, and gave her son a drink.

We, too, may sometimes feel empty and hopeless. Spiritually parched. Physically exhausted. Blinded by the tears of our grief over the losses and struggles in our lives. How can we ever be thankful?

If we look into our discouraged hearts or at our bleak circumstances (or that of others), we will surely despair of hope. We won’t see the well of blessings God has placed in front of us. We won’t see that God really is good and is full of love and compassion towards us. We won’t see that He actually is for us, not against us.

God longs to be gracious to us. He tenderly lifts our weary hearts to see His bottomless well of love. He invites us to drink, long and freely.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
Isaiah 30:18

Jesus’ love and compassion will never empty. They will always be more than enough for us. No matter what. He heard Hagar’s and Ishmael’s cries, and He will hear our cries. He didn’t forget them, and He won’t forget us.

Precious Lord, You know the heart of every person. You know the heavy burdens weighing us down. Please lift us and carry us through this Thanksgiving season and always. Open the eyes of our hearts to Your never-emptying well of love and empower us to drink from it. Send fullness in spite of empty places we feel and strength and peace amid the struggles of this life. Please help us to truly believe You are good, You are love, and You are for us. Thank You for Your patience with us and for never condemning us. Help us to express our gratitude to You by releasing our burdens into Your hands and trusting Your plan for us. Open our eyes, too, to see all that we still have and still are able to do. Thank You so much for Your unconditional love, Your endless patience with us, and Your ever-flowing and over-flowing grace!

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
by Chris Tomlin

A Flight of Hope for the Broken-Hearted

Do you ever feel trapped by all the bad things that happened in your life? Weighted down with grief over all the losses that left you feeling so devastated? Are you brokenhearted and crushed in spirit?

I had heard about “Flight of Hope” where loved ones are honored in the releasing of butterflies, but I had never experienced it. In the summer of 2011, a radio station announced this yearly event was taking place that afternoon. On a whim, an hour before it started, I decided to go.

My daughter-in-law and four grandkids picked me up and we were just going to observe, but I ended up purchasing one of their extra butterflies.

I told them my parents’ names, but in my heart I was also thinking how much I wanted to let go of the bad things in my life. Let go of all the pain but also the hidden grudges I have in my heart against those who have hurt me, whether through abuse or slander or lack of support, etc. That deep-seated bitterness I may not even be aware I have. That sense of betrayal that builds walls against meaningful relationships. That false shame that holds me back from feeling the freedom there is in Jesus.

Inspirational singing, stories, and Bible references resonated under the dome in Sertoma Park. As I held the wax envelope that confined the wings of my Monarch butterfly, we wondered, “Is he even alive?” Then music started and he began to move his wings and two front legs like he was pleading, “Let me out, let me out, let me out…”

I felt such a kinship with that butterfly and my heart ached to free him to fly. A deep yearning cried out in my soul, “Please free me, Lord, and let me fly free for YOU!”

I marveled how God in His grace freed my mom and dad through His salvation and then by taking them to Himself. Nothing fetters them anymore. Jesus, You have paid the price for them. Help me to let go of any clinging hurts and dwell only on the good memories You have given because of their presence in my life.

When their names were called, I carefully opened my envelope and let the butterfly crawl into my hand, but it flew away so quickly that the photo showed empty hands and mouthed “ohs.”

Then some gals from the sponsors saw us and let my grandkids hold a couple of extra butterflies. My heart rejoiced to see their awe and delight!

Those memories still linger in my heart. My faithful God’s blessings to a doubting soul like me just keep on multiplying.

My heart lifted with hope that day, but events like these don’t always immediately dissipate our pain. However, they can help us to take the next step in the healing process.

We all go through the grieving process in different ways.
What works for one may not always work for another.
Still, we all need to go through it in order to heal or cope.
What works for you?

AseraCare Hospice sponsors these events as a way to recognize and help families of patients with their grieving process. They chose the butterfly as a symbol of hope and transition.

Flight of Hope 2016

LORD, please wrap all hurting souls in Your love.
Please help us through the grieving process.

Even when our losses are not known to people
or are known but not understood by others,
You know and understand every pain in our hearts.
You care so much and You cry with us!
You have invited all who are broken to find
healing in Your arms of unconditional love.
Thank You, Lord, for Your willingness to
faithfully lead us through the grieving process.