Hope Is Never Cancelled

Each of us have been affected one way or another this year by Covid. Things we took for granted have crumbled around us. Cancellations abound. And so many losses in various ways – physically, mentally, emotionally.

There are people already suffering from life’s trials, and Covid repercussions make them all the heavier. We live in a condo with 14 individual units connected by a hallway. One of our neighbors only recently found out she had leukemia and she soon passed away, leaving behind a grieving widower and children and grandchildren. Her body had to be cremated, and the funeral is postponed until April or whenever it is more safe to meet together. They are not the only ones who have had to put memorial services on hold this year.

A mental and emotional toll is draining people of the joy of life. Elderly people who are socially isolated are dying from loneliness. Other people are dying from Covid complications without loved ones beside them. Frontline healthcare workers are over-worked and over-stressed. Addictions and domestic abuse are escalating. Unemployment and homelessness are also increasing. I can’t even begin to list the rippling effects of Covid in households, nursing homes, hospitals, and our world. It’s so sad, isn’t it?

Behind the masks, we can see the defeated looks in the eyes of so many. Is it any wonder why so many don’t feel very celebratory this Christmas season?

But there is a reason to still celebrate! Out of His infinite, unconditional, compassionate love for us, God came down to earth to be born in our human flesh and laid in an animal feed box in a stinking stable. Homeless and helpless. Because of Jesus, hope was born, and that hope is and never will be cancelled.

Because of Jesus, joy and peace can dwell in our hearts. We don’t have to feel guilty to allow joy into our hearts when so many are suffering. Joy can coexist with sadness. Joy is not always dancing and shouting Hallelujahs. Sometimes joy is a quiet confidence and trust that God’s got us, no matter what.

Immanuel – God with us. God will never, ever abandon us, no matter how difficult the journey of our lives. No matter how much it feels like He’s forgotten us, He never will. No matter how much hate and evil is in this world, He has and will bring peace on earth. No matter how hopeless our lives feel, His heart of love and compassion delights to fill us with His eternal hope.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.” Isaiah 40:28-29

“Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.” Psalm 33:22

“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

“Is there room in your heart
Is there room in your heart
Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory…”

When Our Hearts Long for Reminders of God’s Faithfulness In Days of Uncertainty

“I hope it gives you joy,” she said.

I found a terrarium kit and a Green Bean Peperomia plant at a nursery. The clerk’s comment still warms my heart, and I thank God for people like her.

So what really is joy? I used to criticize myself more for not feeling “joy,” because I thought of it more as exuberance. But I know now that in a spiritual sense, it is more a deeply-rooted, inspired happiness within us. A depth of contentment in Christ.

“The word that describes happiness, joy, well-being in the Bible, is shalom. And it’s a term that covers all the different parts of who we are. Emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational. It’s really what we crave when we are talking about truly being happy with that sense of deep well-being.” ~ Holley Gerth course of 7 Ways to Thrive as an Introvert

So in that sense, plants do give me joy. 🙂 They bring life into our home. When colder weather settles into my bones and winter weariness drains my limited energy supply, they warm and rejuvenate my heart. They are visible testimonies that the life of every living thing is in God’s hand. They are beacons of hope and light, reminding me that our Life-Giver also has our every breath in His hand.

© The Lovely Scribe

My Little Terrarium

Above our kitchen sink, live plants brighten my day throughout every season. Did you know that live plants can energize a home by filtering air and increasing oxygen inflow?

My Fairy Garden

Reminders of God’s faithfulness revitalize me. Birds remind me of God’s faithful loving care. And you know how much I love butterflies. 🙂 My sister once surprised me with some flowers, and she had asked the floral shop to include a butterfly. After the flowers died, I slipped the butterfly into my cactus pot.

FROG – Reminder to Fully Rely On God.  BUTTERFLY – Reminder of God’s faithfulness and His power to break our chains and to free us to fly.

It seems these uncertain days and the increasing troubles in life require us more and more to open our eyes to beauty, to wonder, to what reminds us there is still hope. To refresh, refuel, and revitalize our sinking spirits.

What gives you joy? What refreshes your heart? Do you take time for it? Or do you think it’s a waste of time to pause in life to do something that revives your spirit? Maybe an uncompleted to-do list weighs you down? Perhaps depression has smothered the longing even to look up and search for joy?

“You know what makes your heart refreshed,
the things that make you come alive.
We need to drink in beauty wherever we can get it—
in music, in nature, in art, in a great meal shared.
These are all gifts to us from God’s generous heart.
Friends, those things are not
decorations to a life, they bring life.”
John Eldredge

In the way God has designed you, what makes you come alive? What gift from God’s heart especially enlivens your spirit and helps you to remember God’s truth and faithfulness?

Faithfulness
by Hillsong

Our Powerful and Faithful God Breathes Hope Through His Creation

Opening our ears to the sweet symphony of nature, our eyes to its calming palette of color, and our understanding to our Creator’s faithful care cannot but give us hope in times of uncertainty. Its steady rhythm reminds us that some aspects of our lives are not affected by the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus.

God’s Almighty power created the heavens and the earth, and it is so evident He is still in control. He faithfully brings the change of seasons, no matter what is happening in this world.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

Every moment He faithfully watches over and cares for His creatures. Every morning the birds start an early chorus of praise to God. Unfettered by the cares of this world, it’s like their focus is fixed on their Creator alone.

“Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away
in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more
valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying
add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:26-27

No, we can’t add a single hour to our lives or others’ lives by worrying, but I see and hear worry everywhere these days. In my own heart. In the eyes and voices of so many. Behind the tough exteriors of those who try so hard to be strong. In the text of our young grandson when he heard I was sick again and was being tested for Covid, how he expressed his worries of me as high risk and how they were praying. When he found out the test was negative, his words soothed my soul, “God has a plan for you and it doesn’t stop now.”

Yes, God has a plan for us. Even in the midst of uncertainty, sickness, and loss. We may rebel and think our plan would be better, but it’s not. There is going to be suffering and dying, cold and hunger, and loss of all kinds in this world. Do we always understand it? No. Can we make sense out of it? No. Can we run our lives better? No. From our side things look like a mess, like the threads on the underside of a weaving, but what God sees is the total picture of His plan, beautiful and glorious beyond compare. And we are included in that plan and never forgotten. We are the ones He calls much more valuable than the birds of the air He faithfully cares for.

“I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1-2

When you allow your senses to soak in God’s creation, whether outdoors or from your window or doorway ( or even from photos), does it breathe hope into your soul? What does it say to you about God’s faithful character?

All of the bird photos were taken through my tinted office windows.

My view from my office window. A house finch pair built a nest! The little ones have now hatched and are being fed.

Here is Papa!

“Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:12

The sun feels much warmer than the snow!

On the same day, this robin was also trying to keep warm.

This same robin devours seeds like he’s starving. He throws out the safflower seeds and seeks for the sunflower chips. Maybe when it’s warmer, he’ll check out the worms and bugs?

A chipping sparrow has been visiting.

The goldfinches left for a while after the big snow we had on Easter, but now they’re back. Hooray!

Maker of the Stars
by Demetrios Leiloglou

“I sat and watched the evening sky as it turned shades of red
One by one the stars came out like diamonds in a sea of black
And as I started to count them all I realized they had no end
That’s the way it must be with God’s love… the Maker of the Stars…”