April Hope Whispers

“For I know the plans
I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope
and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

SAFE
by Victory Worship

“You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
I found my fortress in You
And my soul is anchored with You
My resting place is in Your name
Forever safe”

Hope-Breathing Quotes

“I know the world is crazy right now, but I’m so thankful that God knows our names, understands our emotions and is intimately involved with the development of our faith.” ~ Lois Flowers

Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” ~ John Piper

“Hope is the silver shaft of sun breaking through the storm-darkened sky, words of comfort in the intensive care unit, the first spring bird perched on a snow-covered twig, and the finish line in sight. It is a rainbow, a song, a loving touch. Hope is knowing God and resting in His love.” ~ NLT Life Application Study Bible: Zephaniah introduction

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

““Be as a bird perched on a
frail branch that she feels
bending beneath her,
still she sings away
all the same,
knowing she has wings.”
Victor Hugo

Thank you to my brother John for these beautiful bird photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Black-Necked Stilt
Roadrunner with a Lizard for His Lady
As part of the mating ritual, he carried the lizard from tree to tree and made a cooing sound.
Green Heron
Green Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl

 

It’s OK to Step Out Inadequate and Afraid

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“Grandma, you have a picture of God on your computer?”

My grandson saw a picture of Jesus on my screen saver stretching out His hands to invite us. It’s so hard for us as adults to understand, so how can a 7-year-old understand we can’t “see” God, but Jesus is still truly God who came down for us as a man?

As we further discussed how God is everywhere, another grandson said something that stilled my tossed-with-tempest heart, “He is always right beside us. Grandma, He is even sitting in your chair, and you are on His lap. And He pats your head.”

“From the lips of children and infants
You, Lord, have called forth Your praise.”
Matthew 21:16

Little does my grandson know how I long to truly believe it in my heart that God holds me so gently and lovingly. That He encourages me with a pat – Keep going, My beloved child. I have you safe in My arms.

As I look back to the beginning of the year when I selected “My One Word for 2014” as “trust,” I think God is leading me step by step, however so tiny they are, to learn to trust Him more. To believe He has only pure, holy, and grace-filled intentions towards me.

On January 7, 2014, I wrote in my Writing Journal:

Recently I found a blog called “Faith Barista.” What Bonnie Gray writes often resonates in my heart. She bares her soul – her true self. She doesn’t hesitate to talk about the pain in her heart, though she admits she struggles to do so. Her writings give me hope. It’s like she understands my heart. She dares to do what I often don’t. Too easily I hide behind a mask and a sign saying, “I’m fine.” I put on such a strong front for everyone instead of allowing myself to feel pain or admit I’m hurting. I wonder if it’s because it was when I told my pain to a minister, he devastated me. It’s hard for me to share my hurts now and it’s hard for me to ask for help.

Yesterday I was moved to tears when I read Bonnie’s Just One Word: Giving Voice to Your Soul, Even When You Have Very Little, especially when I came to “Is there a desire God’s placed on your heart, but you’ve not dared to move — because you feel your ability to meet that passion was too ‘little’?” As she further talked about how we can become frozen in our inadequacies, she wrote, “We can become so analytical about problem solving and overwhelmed by our conflicting emotions, we no longer feel.  We numb ourselves from our wounds and our desires.”

When I admitted to Bonnie how I am sometimes so ready to delete my post about my one word for 2014, and that sometimes I just want to give up blogging weekly posts, she responded, “Dear Trudy, I feel the same way you do. I had been planning to post this last week, but felt so reticent. It’s never too late for us to step out “inadequate”. Jesus makes us adequate. I’m also learning God can use others (like you) to help me become real to Him and to myself. We can embrace each by inviting each other into our heart spaces. And it starts by sharing ourselves as is. Don’t give up. You are worth expressing.”

I long so badly to become real to God and to myself, but fear keeps holding me back. Sometimes I think I’m almost there, but then I regress back into a shell again. It’s easier to hide myself. I long to invite others into my heart space, but sometimes when I take that risk I feel so afraid and vulnerable. I long to allow the creative child in me to burst forth. I feel so stilted and frozen. I long to trust and not be afraid. Like in the post I wrote at Bonnie’s prompt – “What Is Your One Word for 2014?”

Jesus, I’m so afraid to be open and honest. I’m so afraid of getting rejected or condemned. I know in my head there is no condemnation in You, but it seems so far from my heart. Please let this be the year for me to step out in faith and trust You wholeheartedly. To believe in Your adequacy, Your powerful and sufficient grace, and to believe in the gifts You have given me. Please give me power to be who You created me to be. Help me to believe I’m worth expressing. Please push me forward to take risks. Please help me to open my heart to You and Your will for me. I want so badly to trust You, but I’m always holding back a part of me. Help me! Jesus, I need You more than life itself, but I’m so afraid I am again and again shutting the door to Your help. You know how frozen I am, Lord Jesus. I numb myself from my wounds, and I also numb myself from my desires. I don’t allow myself to really feel. I have a God-sized dream, Lord, and I need Your power. Please give me the courage to move forward to share more of my heart and writings with other hurting souls. I have wasted so much time, Lord. But I’m so afraid of being hurt again. And I’m so afraid of hurting others, even if I tell the truth in love. Rejection and condemnation hurt so deeply, but You know that in truth, Jesus. No one has been through as much as You have. And it’s because of Your sacrifice that there is powerful hope for hurting souls like me.

Since that day, my life and heart have journeyed through more healing. I have a long road to travel yet, but now I feel Jesus is not only with me, but He truly desires to be with me. To take my hand and lead me.

I’m never a waste of His precious time or in His way.

He accepts me just as I am, no matter how broken.

No matter how inadequate. No matter how afraid.

Crack by crack, I am allowing myself to open up my heart more fully and freely to Him. To trust Him with my vulnerability.

To trust Him as a loving Daddy who cherishes me and will never hurt me with His words or actions.

A Daddy who will always protect me and will catch me when I fall.

I’m beginning to trust just a little that my story is worth expressing, because it is His story in me and in my life.

That God has given me gifts with a unique purpose no one else on this earth can fulfill.

That through His grace I can make a positive difference in this world of hurting people.

Do I always believe this in my heart? No, sometimes it regresses to just my mind again. And sometimes I still clunk to the bottom of the pit of despair when I doubt His faithful character and can’t grasp His promises. But I realize more now that I don’t have to make myself more adequate, less afraid, or more cheerful to be accepted and even welcomed by Jesus.

You see…

Jesus knows.

Jesus cares.

Jesus understands.

It’s ok not to be ok.

It’s ok to step out inadequate,

Afraid,

Downhearted,

Even upset with His plans.

Because no matter what,

His love towards us will never falter,

His acceptance of us will never waver.

His grace within us will never diminish.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Hebrews 4:14-16

cutecolorsbutterflyline

If I had to pick two books I read so far this year that especially encouraged me to believe Jesus wants us to come just as we are with all our brokenness and vulnerability, no matter how inadequate or afraid we feel, they would have to be:

 

findingspiritualwhitespace

GodsheartforyouFinding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest

by Bonnie Gray

God’s Heart for You: Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman

by Holley Gerth

 cutecolorsbutterflyline

Praying we will step out inadequate and afraid,
and open our hearts to the God of all grace,
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Anchor of Hope for the Hopeless

hopeanchor

“Hopelessness sucks you dry of any peace or victory in your life. It can be almost suffocating, stealing the Word from your heart and blanketing you with heaviness.” (Guideposts)

Do you ever feel this way? It’s an awful feeling when it seems the life is sucked right out of us. We try to grab and hold onto the promises, but they slip from our grasp. Losing all hope in the mercy of God.

Even when we don’t always feel it, God keeps His promises. Sometimes we have to wait a looong time, but never so long as some of the people in the Old Testament had to wait. After God’s last promise of His Son coming, there were 2,000 years of silence. Can you imagine? They must have felt so hopeless at times. The Savior had not yet come. They had to cling to God’s promises that He would come.

It’s impossible for God to lie. When He gives a promise, it is more than 100% certain He will keep it. We know today the promise of a Savior was kept. Jesus has come. He has paid the price. He has given hope to hopeless souls.

“We who have run for our very lives to God
have every reason to grab the promised hope
with both hands and never let go.
It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline,
reaching past all appearances right to
the very presence of God where Jesus,
running on ahead of us,
has taken up His permanent post as High Priest for us,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 6:18-20 The Message

When the storm waves jerk the ships of our souls back and forth, up and down, the rope to the anchor of hope won’t break, because it is made of the unbreakable love of a faithful God.

We may sometimes feel like hope is forever gone from our hearts, and it would be if it were up to us. But even when we cannot see it, Jesus is the unbreakable Lifeline that leads us to salvation, safety, and solace.

We have this hope, this strong and trustworthy anchor, that reaches into the very certainty of the Presence of God. Yes, He’s waiting for us to flee to Him for refuge with all the broken pieces of our lives.

“We see our failures and our lack of faith,
but God sees what we will become
as His Spirit faithfully works through
the broken pieces of our lives.
God’s timing always perfectly matches His plans,
even if sometimes it runs roughshod over ours.”
(Sheila Walsh in The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are)

 

The Reason We Have Hope

“Third Man”
by Loretta Lynn

Last night I dreamed I took a walk up Calvary’s lonely hill,
The things I saw with my own eyes could not have been more real.

I saw upon three crosses three men in agony;
Two cried out for mercy… but the third man just looked at me.

Oh, the pain in this man’s eyes that just broke my heart in two!
It seemed I could hear the third man say: “I’m doing this for you.”

I knelt beneath the third man’s cross and slowly bowed my head,
I reached out to touch His feet and it stained my hands with red.

And when I heard Him cry in pain, I raised my eyes to see;
Blood spilled from the third man’s side… and some of it spilled on me.

The third man wore a crown of thorns, spikes held Him to the tree,
I heard him cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

And there within a mighty crowd the ones who mocked him cried,
“King, save Thyself if Thou art King!” and then the third man died.

I heard the thunder roll and saw the lightning pierce the sky.
The third man was still hanging there and I began to cry.

I saw the boulders fall and heard the breaking of the ground.
Then I awoke and thought I dreamed;
I touched my cheek and found
My eyes were wet where I had cried.

A dream? I wished I knew—
I still can hear the third man say,
“I’m doing this for you.”

hang in there

Praying we will hang onto the Lifeline of Hope,
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace