November Hope Whispers

The Serenity Prayer

“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.”

(prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, 1892-1971)

God’s Unfailing Love

“For even if the mountains walk away
and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won’t walk away from you,
my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.
The God who has compassion on you says so.”

Isaiah 54:10 MSG

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’
    but Your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.

Psalm 94:18 NLT


❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world,
that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son,
so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] 
shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 AMP

Hang Onto Hope

🦋 “If you feel stuck in a hopeless place today, I don’t want to rush you to joy. Maybe you need to spend a little time letting the darkness do what darkness does—nourish, strengthen, and hold. The darkness can invite us into a mystery, a place where we don’t know the answer. We know that seeds need to bury down deep in the ground, sometimes for a long, long time. Eventually, those seeds will break open and take root. But first they have to settle into the darkness. Still, that seed carries within it a narrative of hope. It just hasn’t lived into the whole story yet.” ~ Emily Freeman in The Next Right Thing

🦋 “Without dark clouds in our lives, we would never know the joy of sunshine. We can become callous and unteachable if we do not learn from pain.” ~ Billy Graham

🦋 “Hope is like the Sun. When it’s behind the clouds, it’s not gone. You just have to find it!” ~ R.J. Palacio

Nature Retreat

There is not one blade of grass,
there is no color in this world
that is not intended to make us rejoice.
~ John Calvin ~

Though my photography isn’t as professional as my brother’s is, capturing nature photos is relaxing for me. This past summer was a tough one and I didn’t have the privilege of going out to some of my favorite nature spots as often as I would have liked. As I was looking through some of my old photos, I decided to share some photos of my own this month. 🙂

“Just a reminder in case your mind is playing tricks on you today: You matter. You’re important. You’re loved. And your presence on this earth makes a difference, whether you see it or not.” ~ Anonymous

October Hope Whispers

When Loneliness Overwhelms

Jesus said:
“A time is coming and in fact has come
when you will be scattered, each to your own home.
You will leave Me all alone. 
Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with Me.
I have told you these things,
so that in Me you may have peace. 
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:32-33 NIV

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

Psalm 27:10 NLT


❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

“Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.”

Psalm 73:23-24 NASB

Kindness Quotes

🦋 “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” – Martin Luther King Jr.

🦋 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

🦋 “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.” – Jesse Jackson

Nature Retreat

Each species is a masterpiece,
a creation assembled

with extreme care and genius.
~ Edward O. Wilson ~

Thank you to my brother John
for some unique views
of various species.
🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂

Regal Horned Lizard
Wilson’s Snipe
Longbilled Dowitcher
Mouse eared Bat
Colorful Black Widow Spider
Oh my! His lunch is so much bigger than he is!
Osprey
Ospreys need lunch, too!

God Cares About our Hard Questions

I grew up living in fear of God. No, not the fear that means revering Him, but the quaking fear of being pursued by an unapproachable, vindictive God who sought to harm me. I pictured Him as standing above me with a sword ready to strike me down and cast me into hellfire if I stepped even one toenail out of the way of what the church dictated.

I learned not to question God and not to question the ministers who were set in authority over us, because they were God’s messengers speaking for God. Spiritual, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse from a minister locked me in a prison with no way out.

BUT GOD…

Thanks be to God who broke the chains and did provide a way out. It’s an ongoing healing journey, but God has graciously led me to a way of love through Jesus, a love we didn’t hear much of. God is love. He delights to save us, not to harm us. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, and He doesn’t condemn us.

God doesn’t stop loving us when questions plague our hearts. It doesn’t mean we have a lack of faith or are being irreverent if we approach Him with them. He invites us to pour out all our confusion to Him, even though He already knows what is bothering us. He may not always give us answers here in this broken world, but He cares about our questions and uses them to help us in mourning our losses.

We can’t always trace God’s hand in events in this world and in our lives, but we can trust His heart. His arms are always open for us to run into and to be embraced to His heart of everlasting, unfailing love. He won’t always answer our questions, but it is His pleasure to give us grace to hold His hand and trust His heart and His infinitely higher thoughts and plan. He won’t always stop the pain, but He will bring beauty out of it in His way and timing. He won’t always fix what’s broken while we’re on this earth, but He gives us the courage to let go of our plans as we surrender to His control and remember His love never fails, no matter what.

We are not alone when we ask God “Why?”

  • When the Israelites wailed and complained and blamed Moses about their plight, Moses was frustrated and asked God, Why have You been so hard on Your servant?” (Numbers 11:11) It’s like he asked, “Here I am serving You, God, so why is all this happening? Why are You laying such a heavy burden on me?” God answered by qualifying others to help Moses carry the burden. The people were still discontent, but God strengthened him to carry on.

  • David asked, “Oh Lord, why do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) He was in deep lament over all the sin and injustice against the innocent, the poor, and the helpless. It seemed God was unconcerned and hiding Himself. Though God didn’t directly mete out the justice right then, He did help David to focus on God’s faithful character as the Helper of the helpless. Someday there will be an end to all the oppression.

  • The prophet Habbakuk’s name means “he who embraces.” It was through grappling with tough questions that he came to a firm faith. In the first chapter, he asked God, “Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habbakuk 1:3) His heart was pained that God wasn’t immediately exacting justice against wrongdoings. He learned that things don’t happen according to our schedule or our plan but only in the way and timing of God.

  • In the anguish of his spirit, Job asked, “Why have You made me Your target?” (Job 7:20) He lost all his children and his possessions. He acknowledges he is not sinless, even though he had a close relationship with God, but he can’t understand why it seems God is destroying him. Though Job didn’t get his children back and He would continue to feel the loss, God eventually gave him more children and more possessions than before. God restored his spirit and gave him grace to go on, and his faith became even deeper through this devastating trial.

  • The most remarkable question of all was by Jesus who took our place and suffered for our sins. In the deepest soul anguish ever, He cried out to His Father, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) He didn’t just “feel” like God forsook Him like we sometimes do. He really was forsaken. For us. Now even when it “feels” like God has abandoned us, we have the steadfast promise that He never will.

God gives us these stories and so many more to shine like beacons of hope that we are not alone. He will always be with us, even when it seems like He’s not.

Why God?

Before Austin sings this song, he shares how God showed him that it’s okay to ask Him the hard questions.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me,
all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.‘”
Matthew 11:28

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18