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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter can be spent in a frenzy of activity, scrambling to buy jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, baking hams and pies, scrubbing bathrooms, and laying perfect dinner tables.

Or maybe this day was spent in reflection, contemplating the hours the disciples mourned their rabbi, their Messiah, hiding in fear for their lives after watching an innocent Jesus crucified by the Roman soldiers.

Holy Saturday. Black Saturday. Joyous Saturday. The day of despair, hopeless, fearful, wondering “now what?” It is easy for us to skip over the importance of this day. We know the story. We know what’s ahead. Sunday’s coming. Easter will bring new life, our resurrected Savior.

But the disciples didn’t know. They heard what Jesus told of this time but how do you really prepare yourself for this day? Do you hope? Do you hide? Do you leave? Do you stay?

Did they trust? Did they believe the One who poured Himself out, teaching, praying, healing?

Maybe your life is currently sitting on a Black Saturday. Your dream seems dead. You’re fearful, hopeless, despairing. You grieve and hide, questioning “now what?”

Do you trust? Do you believe the One who poured Himself out for you? Stand firm and know – Your Easter is on the horizon.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”

‭‭John‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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My heart is hurting today. So many friends are experiencing devastating events in their lives. Last year two of my closest friends battled through cancer diagnoses, clinging to God’s promises of healing and coming through victorious. Yet they continue to deal with the aftermath of that long year.

My dear high school classmate is facing another long road in her latest health challenge. And challenge is such a feeble word for what she is going through. She shared just a few of the trials she’s facing – extreme headaches, 4 hour MRIs, insurance company issues, doctors’ appointments in far off places, the uncertainty of medications…and I’m confident that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday I received news of another friend who revealed her leukemia diagnosis. Just two years ago her son died of an aneurysm…gone in an instance. Now this. Such heartbreaking news as she continues to work through her grief. But she is a faith-filled prayer powerhouse, trusting in the promises of God.

 

This morning I saw another friend post about an upcoming divorce and then another about a road side bomb in Afghanistan killing three Marines…when will it stop? What can I do? Where do I turn?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about Psalm 121 – God is my Helper, my Guardian. But Lord, there is so much sadness, so much disease, so much heartbreak in this world. Sometimes it seems so overwhelming…and these things aren’t even happening to me!

Even so…

Let me share part of a Instagram post my friend wrote two days ago…”God has been so very faithful – in every single way – and I love Him more than I ever have before. He has never left me, never betrayed me, abandoned me. What would I have done if it wasn’t for Jesus?”

Again – I’m reminded – Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Jesus died because of that great love. He endured the ultimate betrayal and abandonment. He was sinless, yet took on my sin. He sacrificed everything for me. He will never leave me. He will never forsake me. He is my Healer, my Strength, my Rock, my Provider. He is where I go when I have no one to turn to. He walks with me in every storm. He goes before me into every battle. He listens to me cry out in despair, and comforts me in my sorrow. He rejoices with me in victories and dances over me with joy. He has written my name on the palms of His hands.

The bad news will never stop. Our fallen world will always encounter disease and tragedy. But I do not have to succumb to grief and sorrow and hopelessness.

I have hope. My friends have hope. His name is Jesus.

His Name is Jesus 30 x 22 LG

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I’m a baseball fan – more specifically, I’m a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. And today is Opening Day.

If you are not a sports fan, especially of a team who used to be perennial losers, you may not understand the significance of Opening Day. Let me give you a little insight…

Up until 2015, the Chicago Cubs were known as the lovable losers…maybe not to their fans, but certainly to fans of our rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. No, I take that back. To Cardinal fans, the Cubs were just plain losers.

Every year around mid to late May, most Cubs fans realized that once again, their favorite team would not be winning their division, maybe even finishing in last place…again. The catch phrase – “Wait ’til next year” – was our cry. Hope springs eternal in the hearts of life long Cub fans. And every year, we were disappointed. Oh yes – we had our moments…1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008…always giving us a taste of what could be. But always, other teams played better in those final crucial games…and we went home earlier than we would like.

But in 2015, the tide turned. Our lowly team, with fresh young faces, started winning, unexpectedly defeating other teams who were considered “better” or “more talented.” But you can’t measure heart, and those young guys didn’t know anything about Cubs history, or the lovable losers tag, or that the Cubs weren’t supposed to win. They didn’t make it to the World Series that year, but now their die hard fans were excited. Could “wait ’til next year” actually be accurate this time?

Yes – it was. 2016 was the year of the Cubs. We won right out of the gate…played well all year, and defeated the Giants and Dodgers to make it to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs hadn’t been to the Series since 1945 – 71 years! Books have been written about this team and this series. The Cubs defeated the Indians in seven games, with more drama than a “This Is Us” episode.

The World Series trophy came to Cedar Rapids – couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it

My Cardinal-loving son came to watch that last game at our house…”To watch you watch your team win the World Series.”  He’s such a great guy – he knew how much this meant to me and even though his team was out of it, he wanted to be a part of celebrating with me. That 7th game was a nail biter…can’t even watch a replay now without getting nervous.

Chicago trip 006

Enjoyed a win at Wrigley in August 2018 with sister, niece and son – my first night game.

My Cub-loving son was out of town, but we connected via texts…he was watching in Ames, and me on my couch. Nothing binds people together like sports and the mutual love of a team. It’s part of why I love Opening Day. Everything is fresh, hope is bright, we’re all starting from the same 0-0 score. The long season stretches before us – with promises of close games and blow outs, diving catches and wall-climbing grabs, monstrous home runs, and swinging bunt singles, sweeping tags and stolen bases.

Hello, Opening Day! Go Cubs!

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“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.””

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Have you had a tough week? Me too.

Our family is mourning a cousin who passed away last week. The recent rains and thaw brought water into our basement through a rotten window sill. Our sump pump has had a hiccup or two, just enough that we need to sleep with one eye (and both ears) open. Home repairs mean multiple trips a day to the local home store and that’s never easy, especially for a couple of people totally intimidated by anything hardware related. Even checking out was stressful. We dug window wells (thank you, Sean!), poured rock, edged with brick and I was amazed to see it hadn’t all fallen in this morning.

Our situation is so very minor compared to the tragic flooding in neighboring states, the horrific cyclone that ravaged southeast Africa and the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Our world is hurting and needing hope.

Maybe you’re facing a big decision regarding your finances, or your health, or your kids. Maybe you need to know you’re not alone in the middle of your crisis. Perhaps your bank account is shrinking and your pantry is empty. Maybe you are worn down waiting for an answer to your prayers.

Whatever you are facing today, God wants you to know you are not alone. He is with you in your situation. He walks with you into that doctor’s office and He holds you in the night when anxiety threatens to steal your sleep. His promises are true and you can trust Him to be faithful in whatever you need. Be strong, my friend. Watch what God will do for you this week. I’ll be praying for you.

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mom_aunt_nene_dresses

Juanita & Gloria Damon (my mom) dressed for prom (circa 1945?)

 

I don’t know about you, but I had a mom who wasn’t shy about speaking her mind. She was the youngest of three daughters and admittedly, teased and tormented her sisters most of her growing up years. As a teenager, she was a spitfire who boasted about having quite a few friends who were boys. But once she met my dad, it didn’t take long to say “I do.” She had just turned 18, and my dad was just 21, when they tied the knot. Their marriage lasted almost 56 years, though not without quite a few painful twists and turns. Through it all, my mom stood pretty firm. She had a way of seeing the world and expected almost everyone else to see it her way. I loved my mom, but she was a stubborn woman.

As the middle of five children, I was the born peacemaker. I wanted everyone to get along. I didn’t like fighting…between mom and dad, brother to brother, or even with my sister. My usual way of handling conflict was hiding or running, or lashing out with hurtful words. One of the first sayings I remember my mom telling me: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She didn’t always live by that motto, but it’s one I’ve tried to use, especially since joining social media. It’s an early lesson I heard that I’m most grateful for.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice similar to my mom’s (and I’m sure she didn’t know it at the time) – “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)… “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…” (Proverbs 10:11a)… “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom…” (Proverbs 10:31a). When I get frustrated with the hate and vitriol spewing forth on television and the internet, I try to keep my mouth shut. I’m not always successful. More than anything, I want my lips to speak wisdom…my words to be encouragement…my mouth to speak life into a world that desperately needs words of hope and grace. O Lord, let me hear my mama’s voice one more time: “Kris…if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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Sean and David 1

Parenting is hard.

In fact, the actual act of giving birth is the easiest part. Once those big brown (or green or blue) eyes look into your soul and those little fingers get a grip around your heart, you are toast. And the pressure to be everything they need is overwhelming. It’s really the hardest and longest battle of any parent’s life ~ the battle to let them go.

It starts around age two. Some call it the “terrible 2s” – not sure why – just because my beautiful compliant baby has now learned the word “no” and refuses to wear clothes in public?

We work so hard to help our kids learn right from wrong. We teach them colors and numbers and letters…we listen and love…doing fractions homework and science fair projects…agonizing together through middle school, watching them struggle, succeed, struggle, succeed, over and over and over.

This parenting gig is gut-wrenching.

High school – late nights listening for the garage door to open or the text to ping. Meeting new friends… people of both genders passing through your living room. You pray the lessons on purity and kindness and integrity are being lived out away from your watchful eyes. Attending the “last” of anything brings out the waterworks – last band concert, last baseball game, last youth group, last family vacation, last Christmas together in one house.

That empty nest feels like a staycation…for about a week. Then the house is too quiet, the bedroom too picked up, the laundry basket and kitchen sink too empty.

It is not easy…releasing the chick to fly on his own. And now I know – releasing would be easier if you absolutely knew they would never encounter any obstacles.

So I sit and pray…listen and love…give advice only when asked but trusting always in the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give…to me and to him.

He must face life now, somehow without the seat belt we buckled him in 20+ years ago. The pressure on him is intense…pressure that I know can crush. If I didn’t trust in the only One who loves him more than I do, I would be lost. He faces struggles unknown – financial, emotional, mental – as all of us do in this life journey. The adventure which was once exhilarating is now lonely and dark and fraught with danger and shadows. Fear of failure threatens him – broken dreams and battered promises line his path. He must now rely on his own faith journey, without me or his dad as a buffer.

Parenting never gets easier. A pattern never develops. There is no book that has all the answers (even the Bible couldn’t help me with the “why won’t he wear clothes?” question).

I’ve gone from parent to teacher to coach to cheerleader with stints as referee here and there. Just when you think you’ve got it, you either have another kid who is the polar opposite or the first one changes personality and temperament overnight.

My husband and I pray every morning that our kids make good choices, that doors will open and doors will close, that they would be salt and light wherever they go, that they would have favor and financial provision and wisdom. Always wisdom. May they have the courage they need to fight each battle with bravery and conviction. And that they would never give up on themselves or their dreams.

I’ll pray the same for you today…as you parent your children. We love these little bundles of joy and heartache ~ may you be armed with strength and courage, love and kindness, hope and long-suffering. May the Holy Spirit guard your mind from doubt and give you wisdom for the darkest nights and brightest days ahead.

jeremiah_hands

 

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windy day

What do you do when you don’t have any great words of wisdom or advice or humor to share, but you’ve committed yourself to blogging something every day? Let me know when you figure it out…and soon please, because that’s me today.

I took a walk on this extremely blustery day and couldn’t decide which was harder: going into the wind or walking with it. When going against the gale, my leg muscles burned and I leaned forward further than was comfortable. Just when I thought I had a good rhythm going, the wind would shift and I’d almost fall face first. When the wind was behind me, the empty plastic cups raced me down the sidewalk, or just slammed into the back of my legs. I was forced to run or get my legs knocked out from under me.The sand hitting my face was not the beach sand I was dreaming about earlier this week.

It was certainly an adventure – navigating large stretches of watery sidewalks and chunks of thawing ice. This time of year brings mud and mess. I tracked all manners of refuse back into the office after my 2.5 mile trek but I wouldn’t change anything because…(here’s the moral of this rambling)…all of this means Spring is almost here! Though the winds and water are high, the birds are chirping and the air is a tad warmer. We just have to persevere a few more days.

So I added hope for Spring to my daily adventure. It’s just around the corner. Lean into the wind and give winter a chance to lessen its grip. By the way, for my baseball-loving friends, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training today. And for my Cub-loving friends – This. Is. The. Year.

 

 

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