October Hope Whispers

A Tragedy Redeemed by God’s Grace
Results in Hope for Others

In 2014, a woman died from exposure in a parking garage stairwell, because she wasn’t dressed for the cold. That’s when our KELO news partnered with Lewis Drugs to start Keep Keloland Warm. In October and November, there’s a huge box in Lewis where anyone can put their gently used or new coats. There are distribution times and places where people who can’t afford coats can sort through the tables for warm winter wear for themselves and their children. It’s so humbling and gratifying how thankful many of them are and how excited children are to get a “new” coat, mittens, and caps. It doesn’t erase the sadness of the loss of that woman, but God is good to use a tragedy to wake us up and to give us grace to do what we can to ease the suffering of others.

Jesus says:
“So I give you a new command:
Love each other deeply and fully.
Remember the ways that I have loved you,
and demonstrate your love for others
in those same ways.

John 13:34 VOICE

No Matter What We Feel,
There Is Hope,
Because We Are Loved

You Are Loved
by Stars Go Dim

“…You are loved
If your heart’s in a thousand pieces
If you’re lost and you’re far from reason
Just look up; know you are loved
Just look up; and know you are loved
When it feels like something’s missing
If it hurts but you can’t find healing
Just look up, know you are loved
Just look up, know you are loved

And you, don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else
You don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else…”

God Is With Us In the Pain,
Not Only In the Praise

I am slowly reading through Alia Joy‘s book – Glorious Weakness. There were times I had to lay it aside to deal with memory triggers, but I keep taking it up again, because I feel so understood.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such gut-wrenching honesty. She doesn’t whitewash the pain of abuse, poverty, loss, racism, injustice, mental illness, chronic illness, or any adversity we go through. She reminds us that “poverty of spirit is the birthplace of all grace” and encourages us to be authentic.

“Sometimes the gospel is perverted to lay a heavy burden on those who most need mercy and grace, who most need a Jesus who meets them in their pain. And I promise you Jesus is that and so much more.”

“What if we believed faith was less about blind devotion to all the right answers and more of an invitation to come fully into relationship with Christ and be met in our most desperate and confusing moments?”

“So often church teaches us to hide our true selves, to cover up our anguish, our rage, our brokenhearted longing for a better story.”

“I wish someone had told me it was okay to succumb to anger, to the great and formidable why? I wish I had understood that God is undaunted by my humanity.”

“Let us pour out the oil of gladness and praise from our lips but let us not forget the wails and cries and pounding fists. God is here too.”

I could keep going with all the truths I highlighted in this book, but these are some of the ones I more recently came across.

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All God’s creatures
are a unique
expression of life
whether on earth for 
100 days or 100 years.”
Anthony Douglas Williams

I’m always fascinated by the uniqueness of God’s creatures. Each one has a purpose, whether we enjoy them or are grossed out. Since my brother John moved to Arizona, I am awed by the variety of creatures there, some I’ve never seen before. Thanks again to my brother for sharing his gifts of photography. (🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Hubbard’s Small Silkmouth Caterpillar
Horse Lubber Grasshopper
June Bug and a Bee
Crab Spider
Verdin Bird Eating Bugs
Another Pose of the Verdin Bird

 

May Love Be the Cry No Matter What Color of Skin We Are

“You are made in God’s image. Print that on your resume. You are a diamond, a rose, and a jewel, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of God you are worth dying for. Would you let this truth define the way you see yourself?

Would you let this truth define the way you see other people? Every person you see was created by God to bear His image, and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This means that all people deserve to be seen for who they are: image-bearers of God.” (Max Lucado)

We All Bleed the Same
by Mandisa with TobyMac and Kirk Franklin

“We are never going to find healing for our land by yelling and screaming at one another. We’re not gonna find it by fighting one another. The only way that we can do that is by coming together, by realizing that we may look different on the outside, but we all bleed the same on the inside. Let’s celebrate our differences, but let’s realize that the one thing that unites us and brings us together is the blood of Jesus.” – Mandisa

“We all bleed the same
We’re more beautiful when we come together
We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
We’re divided

Woke up today
Another headline
Another innocent life is taken
In the name of hatred
So hard to take (hey!)you
And if we think that it’s all good
Then we’re mistaken
‘Cause my heart is breaking (tell it, ‘Dis)

Are you left?
Are you right?
Pointing fingers, taking sides
When are we gonna realize?

We all bleed the same
We’re more beautiful when we come together
We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
We’re divided
If we’re gonna fight
Let’s fight for each other
If we’re gonna shout
Let love be the cry
We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
We’re divided…”

“Love each other deeply and fully.
Remember the ways that I have loved you,
and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.”
John 13:34 VOICE

God’s Promise of Hope for Victims of Abuse

I posted this story nearly three years ago, but for some reason God brought it to my attention again. I felt His nudge to share it again. Perhaps there is someone who needs a reminder of hope. This is an edited version.

She was standing at the windows covering one wall. A nun staring out the window. As she stood there, a rainbow broke through the stormy clouds and brightened the sky.

The glory of the rainbow drew me to the window next to her. We were hushed with awe for several minutes.

“I asked God for a sign,” she whispered, “Now I know this is where He wants me to be.”

She opened her heart to me and shared her story of devastating abuse from a priest and how afraid she was to be at this retreat (for women victims of clergy abuse).

I was afraid, too. Shame, fear, and hopelessness consumed me, and I had almost run right back out as soon as I entered the building. But now I knew, too, that I wasn’t alone, and I needed to stay.

The rainbow inspired in both of us hope that God was on our side, He always keeps His promises, and He will never, ever abandon us.

Those days were gut-wrenching as we worked through the unspeakable pain of sexual and spiritual abuse from pastors/priests/ministers from various churches. I probably didn’t get as much benefit out of it as I could have if I had dared to open up more, but God still boosted me on the road to healing.

Two women pastors led the retreat, and on the final day, they held communion to whoever wanted to join them. Love, acceptance, and support warmed the atmosphere. One woman stood rooted to the floor several feet away. Her pain was so deep, and she wasn’t sure she belonged. Could she trust the love Jesus offers? Did He even want her? We gathered around her with love and assurance and God broke the chains of shame. She stepped forward with us, and with tears flowing, we together remembered how Jesus offered up His broken body and poured out His life blood for us to free us.

I was still in deep pain, but I had a renewed hope that God held us in His loving hands. Even though the healing journey would be painful, He would be with us every step of the way. And He has been, even though there were countless times when I felt like He had abandoned me. In hindsight I can see He was there even in those dark times of despair.

As one of the projects, each of us were handed a piece of construction paper with our name written in the middle of it and uplifting stickers on it. We were to write an encouragement or praise on each person’s page. After we went home, the leaders sent our page to us. I still have mine 25+ years later.

I want to share with you what one of the other women wrote to me, and I hope you will apply it personally to yourself.

“Keep talking. Don’t allow Satan to take anymore from you than he has. You know where your power lies. In the Creator of the universe, the Creator of you. Call on His healing. He loves you, (insert your name here), and so do I.”

If you have been abused, in whatever way, whether male or female, don’t let Satan silence you or discourage you with his lies. Don’t let him rob you of your God-given voice. His power is nothing compared to God who created you. God has the power and the willingness to heal you. He even finds joyous delight in healing you.

Even when we feel like a bruised and bleeding body tossed to the side of the road, not believed or cared about by anyone, Jesus loves to tenderly pick us up and hold us to Himself, cradling us with His love and compassion.

Yes, the healing process can be long and painful and overwhelming, but He is right beside us longing for us to trust Him as our Safe Refuge, to open our hearts to His love, and to allow His grace to heal us.

God is faithful and always keeps His promises. He will never abandon us. He is beside us even on those days when we can’t “feel” Him or see His signs.

“For every one of God’s
promises is ‘Yes’ in Him.
Therefore, the ‘Amen’ is also spoken
through Him by us for God’s glory.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 HCSB
“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will see it and remember
the everlasting covenant
between God and all living creatures
of every kind on the earth.”
Genesis 9:16 NIV
“Be strong! Be courageous!
Do not be afraid of them!
For the Lord your God will be with you.
He will neither fail you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 TLB


Overcomer
by Mandisa