Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

Wow.  I feel like so much has happened all in one day.  I am so very thankful for this amazing group of women that I have been able to call friends.  They have shared some things that are very close to their hearts, and have shared shortcomings that they wish to change with the help of the Father.  It’s so humbling and so very exciting to be able to take part in their weekend of refreshing by leading them in worship…IT’S SUCH A PRIVILEGE to be a part of their lives for just one weekend.  I am full of joy.

I’ve had a lot of moments to think about the love that blossoms from relationships, namely friendships.  I have come to value so many different relationships that I have in my life, I fear that sometimes I take them for granted, and sometimes do not give them the time, effort, and energy that they deserve.  For others, I feel like I may smother them and therefore suffocate.  The relationships that I long to smother and suffocate are the ones that are usually feeding me the most nourishment that my soul needs, however, sometimes I think that I have become a glutton with regard to how much I feed off of that relationship.  Does that make sense?  I overly long for/crave more and more of that relationship.

In my walk through scripture today, I came across Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) – “in repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

I also came across Job 13:15-16 (MSG) – “Because even if he killed me, I’d keep on hoping.  I’d defend my innocence to the very end.  Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation!”

Lastly, my life verses are Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV) – “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

The first two verses seemingly have no relation to one another, however, for me, they speak volumes with regard to my walk as of late.  You see, I have been fighting to do more, to be more, to just be everything I want, in order to find peace of mind. No, I haven’t stomped on people’s dreams or said spiteful things, but I have stopped caring, really caring, about a person’s soul and how important it is to God.  I have not taken the time to remember how faithful the Lord is with our hearts; how wonderful He is in remembering the needs of His people.  I haven’t taken the time to really say ‘sorry’ to the Lord, to be quiet in Him; still (Psalm 46:10).  Because of this, I truly am weakened because I have not spent that needed time just listening and waiting.

When I really think about it, the second and third verses reference do go hand in hand in my eyes.  I really do realize that I have nothing else besides God and His love.  There is nothing else left, and there is no where else that I could go.  He is my hope and stay, and nothing can take me away from Him.

So why do I do things apart from Him?  Why have I been taking my own life and wasting it away, for lack of a better description?   I don’t have a really great answer, however, I get the feeling that it is wrapped up in being very impatient regarding God’s timing.  I crave an answer from Him, however, I want it a certain way; I want it in one amazing moment, an amazing sign, a beautiful tribute.  The problem is, that is a very ‘me’ mentality, and the Lord ain’t havin’ it.

I have been talking about loving well for about 20 days and how I strive for it, but I can’t even love and trust my God well enough to let that love from Him flow into me to flow out to others.  I am realizing that the problem I have begins with me and not with how to do it unto others.  I was sitting in one of the sessions, listening to my mentor, and just remembered some of the conversations from the first night.  I was so moved by these ladies sharing their hearts, praying over us, just being servants to Him.  I then realized that there was an amazing amount of trust going on…but it wasn’t necessarily them trusting me with hearing some of these sensitive topics, it was the trust that they had in the Father that allowed them the freedom to share.  I am always so fearful of sharing my life with others sometimes, that I miss the opportunities to love and befriend people.

I have a long way to go….and it’s time for me to close my eyes and sleep tonight, but yes, it’s that time of realization that faith and trust in the Father go such a long way in dealing with earthly relationships.

PSALM 146:3 – “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save.”

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I am currently in Muskegon at a women’s retreat hosted by a church from Rockford.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little uncertain about what to expect in terms of temperament, in terms of humor, in terms of level of friendliness.


If I lived in Rockford, I would be attending this church.  If you are friends with me on Instagram or Facebook, I’ll be uploading pics to both sites throughout the weekend.  This retreat is full of amazing women who greeted us with unconditional love and understanding.  We arrived to a pretty huge room beautifully decorated, a great sound guy (HUGE BLESSING), and pretty excellent accommodations.  I don’t think I have ever stayed in a lodge this beautiful before, actually.  My “hotel” room is larger than most, and my hotel room table was wonderfully decorated with chocolates, lotions, cards, and then mints on my pillow.  There is free wifi, food, and accommodations.  My mentor and I unpacked and relaxed for a bit, and then headed downstairs where we found a number of women in a circle praying for us.  They then greeted us with hugs and sat us down and prayed over us.  That was definitely a first for me.  They continued the love fest and hugs into supper.

I am listing all of these things because, I find it incredible, and I would really like to dive into getting know some of these women this weekend.  As I finished my dinner, I got to chat with an 80-some year old grandmother who grew up in Detroit and missed the beauty and accessibility of Belle Isle.  I spoke with women about their decision of which church to attend and how it was influenced by the church’s youth program and support, and I listened as so many women just poured out their hearts and struggles to two complete strangers and didn’t expect anything in return.  They just wanted to share their heart and what the Lord has done.

The last story for the evening that I will share is about a woman whose husband passed away four years ago, and her grandchildren are a large focal point in her life.  As a person works third shift, she doesn’t go and do too many things over the weekends now, however, about three weeks ago, she decided to register to attend this women’s retreat. For some reason, that was the time that one of her children said, “your grandchildren are being baptized on Saturday, February 23rd.”  She was a bit saddened.  Her son said that they would tape-record the baptisms for her, however, this was not what she was hoping for. A short time later, she received a call.  It was a telephone call from both of her grandchildren.  They wanted to ask her a question.  Apparently, a pastor doesn’t have to baptize you; you can choose someone who is already baptized and has had a significant impact on your life.  Her grandchildren chose her.  At that moment, she began to cry.  She was afraid, fearful, not sure of how to respond to them, however, in that same moment the Holy Spirit came on her and spoke to her heart the words of Matthew 19:26 – “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Out of the Spirit the Lord put in her, she gratefully accepted the invitation for her to baptize her grandchildren.  I think our entire table was in tears at such a great honor.  She has decided to leave the retreat just for the afternoon to enjoy baptizing her grandchildren, however, I was just for some reason so moved by the entire story.  What a testimony.  Can you imagine? The most influential person in your life is your grandmother, and you want her to baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  I’ll be praying for her all day tomorrow and as she goes and as she steps out in faith that the Lord will carry her through and that she will enjoy these moments with her grandchildren.

This was just one woman sharing out of over 35+ women.  I have more stories, but we’ll save them until Saturday or Sunday.

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This is the blog entry that I have kind of been dreading.  Now remember, I am not necessarily offering the absolute correct answer.

I know that all of us have had people in our lives that have done wrong to us and that we have done wrong to.  I know that sometimes the wrongs done to us can be almost unbearable to the point where we feel that we can never talk to that party again.  And for a while, it really seems like we never will again, however, there are times when I believe our spirits soften toward them, if only for a moment.  When that happens, I would hope that each one of us would consider the act of forgiveness.

Last year, I went through a time that I never thought would happen.  I cannot go into extreme details, but it resulted in me settling for something temporary and something that wasn’t right.  I’m pretty sure that reveals more than I intended, however, as a result of my misstep, I ended up having to cut someone out of my life.  I am having a problem forgiving them for what they did, and while I know they still love me, I feel that I was taken advantage of.  These things are now being shared to perhaps benefit those that may be going through something similar.  Because I feel like I was taken advantage of, I am having a hard time loving this person through the hurt I am going through.

I don’t know what will happen next, but I do know that God has been ever present during my misstep, during the after-affects and consequences of my sin, and during my healing and moving forward.  I know that at some point, I will let this person back into my life as an acquaintance and not a friend, and I know that while the relationship may be strained at times, it can still be one that honors God.  These aren’t necessarily the best answers, however, I know the Lord desires that we do live at peace with one another.  He knows that we are not perfect like Him, but I believe that’s why He gives us Himself so that we have the Perfect One to lean on and trust in.  The Lord has never taken my heart for granted, He has never sent me in the wrong direction, and He has always loved me perfectly.  I’m the one that comprised and chose the wrong path, but at least He made a way for me to get back to the right one.  I have to confess, truly, it is SUCH AN AMAZING THING when we let the Lord take hold of the reins of our lives and He guides us through.  It brings an intense joy and a wonderful peace, and it has made me glad that I could return to Him.

How do I love the person that hurt me?  I can’t.  I can’t love the person with the love that I have; it’s just not good enough.  The extension of the Father’s love will have to cover it all since I cannot fully love this person any longer.  This might not be the world’s greatest entry about love and forgiveness, but it’s the honest one.  Sometimes sin does considerable damage.  The Lord can restore, though, and miracles can happen.

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Even if I spoke like everyone else on earth or in heaven but didn’t have love in my being, I’m like one of those really annoyingly stupid bike bells/horns, or like the cymbals on a really bad drum set.  Even if I was someone who could tell you of the future; answer some of the world’s biggest questions; or if I had enough faith to move the Rocky Mountains but not have love…I’m a waste of space.  If I gave everything to the guy on the crutches in front the ‘Blind Pig’ even though he was just asking for $0.50, put my body through that wretched diet cleanse that the people at ‘Whole Foods’ swear by so that I could flaunt the shed pounds, but do not have love…I really have nothing.

Love is the quiet spirit that your mom possessed when helping you with your homework as a kid, love is Mother Theresa.  Love doesn’t want what’s on someone else’s seemingly awesome plate of food, but is willing to let its own to be snagged.  Love doesn’t grab the trophy and thrust itself into the air, and love doesn’t just take pleasure in itself.  Love doesn’t put others to shame, love isn’t just thinking about love all the time, love doesn’t throw a hissy.  Love doesn’t like it when the Dark Side of the force shows its power and looks like it’s succeeding, but gets all kinds of excited when the Rebel Alliance balances everything out.  Love is a momma elephant guarding it’s child; love always trusts; love believes eternally; and love will always comes through everything.

Love aces every exam like a boss.  Those with clearly unearthly and divine speech will stop one day, those who have that freaky ability to speak in tongues will also stop, and the know-it-alls and our ability to soak up knowledge will stop.  We think we know everything, but honestly, we can’t handle the full truth, the fullness of who God is; there is a limit.  When I was a baby, I’m pretty sure I only knew that way of life, but when I grew up, I put the ignorance of youth behind me.   Just because I’m an adult and have a lot more knowledge now than I did, doesn’t mean that I see everything clearly.  (Like a friend said to me last night, as a matter of fact) Right now things are blurry down here, however, it won’t be long before we see more of God and more of what He is doing; we’ll be able to see Him as clearly as He sees us!

But for now, until we get there, it’s important to remember that He has provided us with three amazing things: we have faith, we have hope, and we have love.  The most valuable and the greatest of these things is LOVE.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Roses from a Friend.

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I have something saved up for tomorrow’s blog since tomorrow is some “special” day.  I don’t know what people are thinking about fancy dinners and chocolates for…Diehard 5 comes out tomorrow; I’ll be in the theater, thank you very much.

For today, I’m going to share about ex-boyfriends…..

Yipes.  This is a delicate topic.  I had dinner with a newer friend last night, and we were talking about our pasts and our present lives.  She thought me strange as I still spent a good amount of time around my ex-boyfriend, even though he is currently dating someone else.  She kept repeating the same phrase of “I don’t know how you do it.”  I guess I really didn’t think about it as much as I should have?  I mean, I do respect him enough that I keep my distance as he tries to figure out his dating life and relationships, however, we’ve never really condemned our friendship even though our dating relationship ended over four years ago.  I don’t find it unhealthy as I don’t try and sabotage his current dating relationships, I don’t wonder ‘what if’ when I spend time with him; I genuinely do enjoy his company, however, I just don’t feel that way about him.

At first, I was dating him because it made sense because we had had so much fun together just hanging out, however, after a weekend retreat with about uh, 25 girls all excited about who I was dating, it became abundantly clear after just three questions that certain needs weren’t being met in terms of what I’m looking for in a mate.  I was blocking it all because (I know now) I was just wanting to be in a relationship.  THIS WAS UNFAIR TO HIM.  I didn’t feel the same way that he felt about me.  His feelings were growing for me, and I was denying what I was really looking for.  When I got home, we hung out, did lunch, and talked.  When I broke up with him the first time (I don’t have time for the fullness of THAT story) he understood.  The important part was that he was willing to move on with our friendship.  I think this is where it’s miraculous.  I think this is what makes it different is that he was willing to let the friendship remain.  And our friendship has grown so much in the last five years, I can’t imagine life without this friend.  We’ve made mistakes along the way, we had some really REALLY hard times together, but the fact that I can still call him my friend is truly a gift.

I guess now, I just take it for granted as so many wonder why I have such a great relationship with him.  He is kind, funny, happy, focused, and dedicated.  He is a provider, he is a protector, he is loving, and he is gentle.  Even after typing all of these things out, you may wonder why in the world I stopped our romantic relationship.  I did it because of the blog post from the second day of this journey.  Unrequited love is a pain that you needn’t go through in this life if you don’t have to….and you should never have to.  Also, I found it to be deceitful to spend time in that relationship if I didn’t feel the same way.  As I get older, it gets more difficult to see those in relationships with great people, however, I will never ascribe to the belief that it is better to be in a relationship with someone/anyone, than no relationship at all.  Those people, I think, have the most to lose; they lose themselves hoping that perhaps love will bloom within a relationship by forcing it to continue because they don’t want to be alone.  AND, if they let it continue and it translates into a marriage…I just can’t imagine that.  I really can’t.

Summarizing everything above?  I really don’t know.  I would say pray for your friendships and your romantic relationships.  I think I got lucky with my friend, however, the process I took of discussing ending the relationship with him, I considered it to be delicate surgery in separating two joined parts.  In terms of conversations, it was one of the longer ones of my life, however, I took great care in accepting the blame and letting him know how much he meant to me.  The other part to this equation is that, perhaps he was feeling the same way, too.  I’ll never know because I’ll never ask, but the Lord granted us both some peace and understanding in this area.  I don’t think it would have been as easy if I let the relationship drag on after the realization that it should have ended.  I think I just respected and loved his heart more than wanting us to work out and wanting a road for us that led to marriage.

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First impressions always trip me up.  I think that perhaps I often over-think them.  But this isn’t about me.  This is a story about Sadie, the other me that is more adventurous than I.  Perhaps you will never meet the likes of her, but I think us ladies all have a little bit of Sadie in us.  Suffice it to say, she has a story that she would like to share on my WordPress since hers isn’t quite fully constructed.  It is a story about a first impression, and about where that impression is now…

I had been looking for a new place of community for myself and found one.  Perhaps I was looking for a mate, but I won’t go into that right now.  I had found a community, a place where people were a little stiff, but they told the truth, they actually cared about the good.  I decided to become involved, volunteer within the community serving where I could.  I enjoyed what I was doing.  One day, one of the leaders and his wife asked me out to lunch, along with us was a guy that I had never met.  For safety’s sake, we’re going to call that guy Hunter.  Hunter was a moderately tall, dark haired guy.  He had bags under his eyes and he shuffled his feet.  He didn’t say too much to me or to the leader and his wife.  Our introductions were pretty much non-existent because he really didn’t acknowledge my presence.  During our lunch outing, the leader and wife and I engaged in conversation, sharing stories about the community as well as adventures in our own lives.  Hunter remained at the end of the table, head pointed a little more down than would be acceptable since it was a social lunch, and you could just tell — Hunter had a chip on his shoulder and a burden on his heart.

We continued with our lunch excursion for another hour or so.  Eventually, we made our way back to our cars and said farewell.  The memory of Hunter stayed with me all day.  By the next day, I was curious, however, I didn’t feel that I should pry or ask the leader about his story.  Eventually, the memory of the lunch outing faded away as a distant memory.  That was the first impression.

Fast forward about a year.  I am volunteering my time within this wonderful community that is pretty much powered by volunteers.  A new volunteer enters the picture, it’s Hunter, or it least it looked like him.  Hunter seemed the same, generally speaking, however, his countenance had been transformed into one that was happy, cheerful, goofy.  He loved serving within the community and with what we were doing.  I really couldn’t believe my eyes.  Hunter had dramatically changed.

I decided to stay back from him, didn’t know what to make of things.  Over the next year, I found that since we volunteered within the same group, we were thrown together in certain instances.  We would talk and have conversations about general things, look forward to the upcoming events, and discuss members of our community that we were concerned about or were thinking about and wanted to help.  As time passed, we began to talk about many other things, more personal, closer to our hearts, closer to our spirits.  It was then that I realized that a real transformation had taken place within my heart and within Hunter’s.  I had to tell him about my first impression of him and ask him what had happened that could have made him that way and yet completely different.  Hunter said that that day when he went to lunch with us, he was carrying such a heavy weight of guilt, of regret, of sadness.  He couldn’t get away from thinking about something that was troubling his spirit.  But because of his faith, Hunter realized that something good could be done with the bad.

Today, Hunter seems to be a very far cry from the Hunter I first met.  He engages the community in a wonderful way.  Though he has had some troubling items of his past come to the surface sometimes, he clings to the hope that these things learned then, make him a better person for tomorrow.  I have a great love for this friend; he has helped me to face change and challenges when I wanted to run; to make a way with faith when there seems to be no way.  Hunter was and is a holy helper.  Glad I didn’t lose all hope from that first impression.  I’m glad that we have been brought together in friendship for a purpose that is greater than us.

This brief short story will be one of 28 as I endeavor to write 28 stories of love for the month of February.  I know that there is healing in hope and restoration in faith.  The only obstacle that we have is the obstacle to believe in that hope and trust in the faith that God provides to us.  Can’t tell you how grateful I am that He never let go of me, of us.

FAITH. HOPE. LOVE…but the greatest of these is LOVE.  Happy February.

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This will probably be the most revealing blog yet, because it’s late and I am no longer erring on the side of caution.

So — I have this issue where my heart becomes the strongest (weakest) part of my body.  It goes against common sense, it refuses help, and it always thinks it will outwit and outlive its creator.   That being said, I dare to mention that once again, even against the Holy Spirit’s best judgment, my heart decided that it was going to go forth yet again and invest itself in someone that it knew was not meant for it.

He was/is the kindest and best of men.  Someone who thinks the best things of family and is generous with his money, his time, and above all, himself.  There was/is never a moment where I was not attended to, not thought of while I was in his presence, and…well, he spoke my language, my love language; if music is a love language.  I think it is.

When one thinks about it, what is so wrong about this particular situation??  He seems very attentive to me and I seem to be aware of his presence.  What is stopping me?  Hmmm, I guess I would be that little pesky thing called defining exactly what type of relationship that you have.  But of course, I stop myself and wonder, I mean really wonder, ‘does he feel that way about me’??  Well, as of Sunday, I know the truth.  NO.

So, where does this leave me??  Realizing that once again, I have jumped to conclusions that this silly heart wanted to skip, run, and slide into.  Truthfully, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to feel this way about him; mainly because if he had felt that way, he would have acted on it earlier; he would have defined it as such, however, he didn’t.  That should have been my hint to stop dwelling on what is not for me.  But my stupid mis-directed heart, it wants what it can’t necessarily have.  It’s strange.  I think my heart is blind, feeling along the way just looking for something to latch onto, but we have to learn to take hold of it and place it in His care so that He can help it decipher what it is feeling.

God did something incredible for me though.  He rescued me before I fell too hard.  He knew that my heart would drag down the wrong path and He answered my heart’s unconscious prayer oh so quickly.  When I found out that this was the wrong path yet again, He gracefully and lovingly grabbed my hand and pulled me toward Him.  I have to say, the warmth of His beating heart is incredibly amazing; and the beat is so steady and sure.  God’s heart, make no mistake, truly is the most incredibly passionate, wild, steady, unwavering, untameable, and most careful force I could ever imagine.  And just think, it’s passionate and longing for me.  Who needs anyone else?  Ah — I’ll leave that for another blog.  🙂

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An Open Letter:

Hey.  Just wanted to say that I had a really great time with you the other evening.  I realize now that there are some things that we should have talked about that we didn’t.  I have to apologize to you because I really think that I should have brought them up instead of shying away from them. 

I wanted to say that yes, while you’re a good man, however, you are not necessarily a good person.  Okay, perhaps the past sentence seemed extremely blunt and insensitive, however, none of us are good people.  We all have not been completely innocent in our lives, we all have tried very hard to be a good person, however, deep down, we really know that we all fall short.

I wanna talk to you more about this.  You seemed really open to it and I really want to share what I believe to be extremely important to our futures; even if they don’t involve us being together.  I want to be able to share what my heart feels whenever I see creation at its most unexplainable moments; I want to be able to share Christ with you.  His name and His fame have been dragged through so much mud for so long because we feeble minded have tried so hard to explain Him and who He is instead of directing people who need Him towards His Word.

I hope this letter hasn’t scared you.  If anything, I hope it opens up a way for us to talk about the hope that I have and how much I have come to care for you. I need to share it with you.  I hope that we have time to have another dinner together, another drink or two…or three and be honest about how messed up our lives really are.  No hiding, no sugar coating, and no tangents this time, friend.  I love you too much to let your eternal home be in darkness with no chance of light, and life with no chance of hope.

September 2008

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As I prepare for this journey on Wednesday, I find myself thinking about a friend that I lost.  For those of you that know me, understand that I think about her constantly and she had an impact on my life as well as my friends that knew her.  For those that just happen to glance at this blog, her name was Lisa.  Lisa was killed in 2006 at the hands of her mother, Sharon.  Sharon is in prison in Ypsilanti.  I know this, because I have been writing her for over a year now.

For some reason, about four months after Lisa’s death, she sent me a letter from jail.  She wanted to make amends, she wanted to send her apologies to all of Lisa’s close friends.   At first, I felt that I should try and do something with the letter, that I should give it to the friends that she mentioned…but then I felt like that would be a tremendous burden to have to give these people her letter and not know what to say…

I decided the best course of action would be to meet with people that would know what do to with the letter and how to distribute it.  Her first letter was one of desperation, she didn’t want to live, she only wanted to die to be able to see her daughter again.  There was no hope in this first letter, only the wish that she could find a way to end her life.  Sharon troubled me so, that I contacted her case worker, I contacted her mother to make sure she was alright and I wrote her a letter.  Ever since, Sharon and I have been writing.  At times, the whole process can be absolutely overwhelming.  Yes, she took one of my closest friends away from me, she stole the life of someone very important to me and very close to many, but then…..

Sharon changed.

I got a letter from Sharon this past week.  I was nervous to open this one as truthfully, my last letter to her was letting her know that she needs to change, she needs to move on with the rest of the path the Lord has for her.  In this new letter, she spoke about her grief, her sadness, her endless misery.  Then she spoke about this hope that I honestly found so refreshing, I smiled at her letter.  She spoke about her new roommate, a believer who had lost her way, that was bible trained, was a missionary in two foreign countries, and somehow was brought to Sharon in her very prison cell.  Now while I continue to wonder how this particular bible school trained woman ended up in a correctional facility, I was very moved by her recent letter.  Sharon is making an effort to understand God’s word and is now beginning the steps to forgive herself for taking the life of her daughter.

For those of you that did know Lisa, I understand that this may be difficult to read and even more difficult to understand…however, I believe (as does Sharon) that the Lord has forgiven her of her sins, however, Sharon needs to learn to forgive herself so that she can move on with what the Lord has for her now.  It has been really hard for me swallow, but I am learning about how wise the Lord is, how great and perfect He is, and how much He loves people; even when they seem unlovable.


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