H O P E

How can I stretch myself, I asked?
One whole week of free write poetry
Practice and play
Explore and attempt

Happy little poems
Or awkward stunted phrases
Poetry is what you make it
Endless possibilities

Have a little faith
Open the door of your heart
Pray for inspiration
Express your creativity

His blood
Our redemption
Poured out Grace
Everything according to His will

How deep his love lavished
On us with wisdom
Purposed in Christ
Enlightened to know His calling

Hallelujah!
Our God’s
Power
Exercised in resurrection

#HopeWriterLife #Hope #Writing #Poetry #amwriting #acrostic #writingcommunity #writingchallenge

Clouds —God With Us

The sun was so bright this morning, I was blinded on my way to work. I feel like it’s been a long while since I’ve seen the sun in the morning on the way to work. I was almost too distracted to notice it. I mean, my eyes sure noticed it when it struck the windshield and I lost my bearings briefly. But my heart didn’t soak it in. My mind forgot to appreciate the goodness of the sun, the beauty, the benefits.

Like so many things, I quickly focused on the negative, I dwelled in the depths of despair, even in the overwhelming presence of the light.

On the way home, the sun was in a much better position and I caught glimpse of the clouds. I’ve been reminded lately to look at the clouds… to pay attention (I think it was @kaitlyn_bouch, or @shannanwrites —I looked, it was both). So I snapped a quick picture because I want to remember.

Pictures, even quickly taken ones, help me remember. I remember that the sun will shine again. The clouds are a part of creation and each one tells a story. Today may feel like the storms (the hurricane, the conflict, the battles, the pain, the grief) are never going to cease. And while the fall-out and clean-up from each unpleasant situation cannot be avoided, the sun is still going to shine. The blue skies are going to display the glory of God. The white fluffy clouds are gonna show up and show off.

God shows up in the clouds. Time and again in the Bible we see where God shows up—in a cloud. Clouds represent His presence and his faithfulness. He is coming again, in the clouds.

“Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; And your faithfulness reaches unto the clouds.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭36:5‬

And we just need to keep looking up, to notice the beauty, to keep our eyes on Jesus, to hold an eternal perspective. To remember that we all live under the same beautiful sky. We live a hard and beautiful life and it’s better together. And He is with us.

#HopeWriterLife #theministryofpayingattention #cloudappreciationsociety #HeavenComeDown #GodWithUs

Waiting for the storm

I waited for the thunderstorm to roll in this evening… I’m still waiting. I love the way the sky changes color as a storm rolls in. I love the lightning flashing, the thunder rolling (I much prefer gradual thunder rolls, to startling thunder cracks). I love listening to the rush of rain from the safety of my front window. But I’m not sure the forecast was correct tonight. Some days we are waiting for the storm to roll in… and some days we are waiting for the storm to pass.

I’m not always good at waiting. I try to distract myself. I like to plan and prepare, and know what the next step is and when it should be taken. I don’t like last minute, surprises make me nervous. I like to keep moving forward. I want to make progress. Waiting gives opportunity to rest, which I’m not great at. Waiting reminds me I’m not in control.

We aren’t talking about thunderstorms anymore.

Sometimes in the waiting we get distracted, we get discouraged, we try to convince ourselves that we aren’t waiting. We rush ahead when we should wait. Maybe you’re waiting for marriage, a baby, healing in relationship, a health diagnosis. You might be waiting to finish that degree, or get a new job, buy a house. We wait for answers. We wait for deliveries, the brownies to finish baking, the light to turn green. Or perhaps it’s the wayward child we want to come home, the uncertainty of a housing situation, the reunion of friends and family (on earth or in heaven).

Does anyone ever say that waiting is fun? But it’s in the waiting that our faith is strengthened, our hope is renewed, our love is deepened. So I look out my front door view, I remember that God is in control. I search the Scriptures to remind myself that there is hope in the waiting, strength in in the waiting, salvation in the waiting.

“but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬

“I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, And in his word do I hope.”
‭‭

Psalm‬ ‭130:5‬
“I waited patiently for the LORD; And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬

“The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, To the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly Wait for the salvation of the LORD.”
‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:25-26‬ ‭

What are you waiting for?

#HopeWriterLife #Waiting #Onceamonthspot #juliesmonthlyspot #frontdoorview #hope #JesusOnlyJesus

Vent your Joys, not your Problems

Psalm 113:1-3  

Hallelujah! Give praise, servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be blessed forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.

I’ve been struggling with being a complainer lately. I also feel that I’ve been surrounded by complainers lately. It is so easy to vent and whine all about the problems and everything that is seemingly going “wrong” in life. And we feed off each other. When one person complains to us, it makes it easier for us to complain about our problems right back. And while there is a time and a place to bear one another’s burdens, I also believe that we would benefit by rejoicing with those who rejoice and continue to give praise to the name of the Lord… because He has done great things for us.

I’ll go first. He has given us great things. I have a job that I love, even if it’s sometimes overwhelming and I sometimes have to deal with cranky people (hello, supply chain issues). I have four wonderful children that are not perfect, but they are mine and that makes them the #bestkidsever. My husband works hard, loves me, serves others, follows Jesus, leads well. #myhusbandrocks

I’m bragging on God because He never fails to meet my needs. I have a roof over my head, we are in no danger of going hungry, (even if the teenagers in my house there there is nothing good to eat) and I have clothes for every occasion. I have a church family that loves Jesus, loves people, and is doing the work of God’s Kingdom here on earth. I have a friend who is not local, but our drive to work is the same time as mine and our almost daily conversations are just another way God spoils me. They’ve  been a lifeline and remind me of the faithfulness of God.

He showers us with sunrises and sunsets, changing of seasons and wild life. He give the gift of thunderstorms and rainbows. So far, this summer I’ve seen the rolling hills of Western New York, the mountains of West Virginia, the Potomac River, zoo animals, a little strip of Amish country, and the flatlands of Ohio. And always, I am thankful when I come back home to the mountain God has blessed me with, with a view of our little city.

He speaks to me through His Word, music, nature, other people’s victory stories. He pursues me when I’m wandering from Him. He shows me He cares about me through bird songs, crickets and peepers, the wind rustling through the trees.

Bless the Lord and forget not all His benefits.

If He had only rescued me from sin and given me life eternal in His presence it would have been enough. But daily He surprises me and overwhelms me with good gifts and spiritual blessings.

How can you vent your joys today? How has God met your needs today? How can you praise the name of Jesus? Let’s encourage one another with good news!

#HopeWriterLife #1000gifts #CountYourBlessings #ChasingOutTheDark #EncourageOneAnother #JesusOnlyJesus #writeyourheartout

Practicing Rest

I spent my weekend doing just about nothing. I read three fiction books and it was glorious. I sat in the sun, and on the deck, I lounged on the couch, I laid in bed, and sat on a swing. My body aches from lack of movement, but my brain is praising me for the rest I’ve given it.

We spent time with family… listening to the cousins having fun (and also fighting). We feasted on party foods, picnic foods, take-out, desserts. I sat alone, I sat in groups. We went to church. I went to bed on time. I slept in. I rested.

I’ve been thinking a lot about rest and sabbath and how God created us to rest in Him and I haven’t really been doing that lately. Perhaps reading 3 fiction books in one weekend isn’t quite resting in God, but I believe that God did make us for enjoyment too. Psalms and Proverbs have been a part of my resting weekend, too.

I consider this weekend a “practice” in rest. When you try something new it’s not always going to be perfect. We practice as we work toward improvement. This is true in writing, art, baking, education, sports, even in friendships. Life takes work and life takes practice. And so does rest.

So this weekend I was given the gift of time and I used it to practice rest. Next week will be overwhelming again, the to-do list is already growing but for this moment, I breathe deeply and I give thanks for rest.

How do you practice rest? I’m learning that it is something that needs to be intentional… scheduled. And while we may not have time for a 24hr period every week, we should aim for moments or hours each week. How are you intentional about scheduling rest in your busy life?

#HopeWriterLife #Rest #Sabbath #amreading

Writing—A memorial of Words

I need to remember why it is I wanted to be a writer. I write to remember the good things God has done for me. I write to remember Scripture. I write to remember that God uses the good and the hard for His glory. I write to remember that I am not alone, and to remind you of the same.

Writing helps me refocus my thoughts, my emotions, my swirly whirly chaos. It reminds me that I’m supposed to live life in community. Writing reminds me that I’m supposed to be relying on God every day, every moment for every thing. He doesn’t want to be my emergency contact (I heard that on a podcast, but I can’t remember which one).

He isn’t just a contact on my phone that I reach out to when I need help. He is right beside me all the time, He goes before me, He walks beside me, He surrounds me. And I want to remember that He is with me. I want to rely on Him in every moment of my day, to be truly and fully aware of His presence in the daily, in the mundane, in the joy, in the tears.

It’s easy to remember God is with me when I’m outside surrounded by beauty of His creation, and the colors of all the flowers, and the flittering and singing of the birds remind me. It’s harder when I’m snapping at my teenagers, drowning in files at work, getting stuck in traffic, or have my plans interrupted.

These posts are essay cairns (a memorial of words instead of rocks) to myself and hopefully a witness to those who cross this path, that God is good, and God is truth and life, and there is always hope.

How have you experienced hope that helped you remember the goodness of God?

#HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingchallenge #faithwriters #Hope #Remember #chasingoutthedark

In the middle of the messy story

The story is this… I thought I wanted to be a writer. I think I may still want to be a writer. But some days I can’t figure out what my story is, I can’t figure out why I want to share it, how, where, and when I want to share it. I can’t even figure out who needs to hear it.

When we tell our stories—humbly, authentically, with the intent to glorify God—it can encourage others. I always want my story to have a happy ending, I like it when it wraps up neatly with a bow. But tonight, I’m smack dab in the middle of messiness. And that’s not usually the best time to share. But here is what I do know.

Always, I want my story to remind myself, my kids, my circle of influence, that God is good, God is love, and God is in control . I know that when I have a breakdown, I can respond like David and go to the loving arms of my Father. Sometimes I ask Him, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?”  Or “why do the heathen prosper?” Or “why is my soul cast down?”

And I ask these questions until He reminds me, that … “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul” and I can experience peace because “You LORD, make me dwell in safety” and “He rescued me because He delights in me.”

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭13:5-6‬ ‭‬‬

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭‬‬

What story are you telling? How do you combat the questions and doubts with truth? What encouraging truth in your story can you share with us today?

#HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingchallenge #faithwriters #Psalms #JesusOnlyJesus

Speak truth, speak life, speak hope, speak Jesus.

We all have a voice. We’ve been given a circle of influence, our family, our community, our social media following, our church or neighborhood. How are we using our voice in that circle of influence? Are we speaking life into those with whom we come in contact? Are we using our voice for good or for evil? To build up or tear down? To encourage or cause harm?

I don’t think many would say they are intentional in being harsh and critical, in causing heaviness or anxiety to those around them, but out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What do your words, your actions, your social media posts promote?

Sometimes I go silent on my blog and social media because I don’t know what to say, I’m too busy to sort out thoughts, or I just need a break. But sometimes, it gets quiet because I’ve been taught—“if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Often it’s my heart that needs a readjustment, some hope, the truth of God’s Word, a good dose of Jesus.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” 
Proverbs‬ ‭12:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The grass grows where it’s watered, the plants that are fed are the ones that prosper, and the thoughts you rehearse in your head are the ones that take root and grow and repeat. So when I feel the negativity taking over, when I find myself easily irritated by the little things, when I can’t seem to find the beauty in my everyday, I go back to the Psalms, I go back to the words of Jesus, I write the words of encouragement that I need to hear and I share it with others in hopes that I’m not the only one.

I plant my feet in the grass. I look at God’s creation. I beg Him to show me His daily presence. I give thanks for the wildflowers, I find beauty in the sunrises and sunsets, I marvel at the cardinals and bluebirds in my yard. I immerse myself in the Psalms and Proverbs, processing my emotions like David and seeking wisdom like Solomon. And then I use my voice to praise my Creator. I give thanks for the way He carries me. I believe and shout like Peter… “where else would I go? You, Jesus, have the words of Life.”

Speak truth, speak life, speak hope, speak Jesus.

How does being grounded in truth help you find your voice?

What good word can you share with others today?

#HopeWriterLife #Voice #JesusOnlyJesus #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingchallenge #faithwriters #YourWordsMatter

She is more precious than rubies

“Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her seven pillars.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Proverbs is full of wisdom and it is always referred to as “she.” She calls out to those walking by, she builds her home, she gives long life, she will protect from you from the foolish woman, she is more precious than rubies. She is a tree of life.

She seems like a mystery, but is fully available to any and all who seek for her, who ask God for her. And in the area of parenting and motherhood, she sometimes seems illusive. But God gives wisdom generously, if only we would ask.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally.” “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 1:5, 3:17

I read that verse and am reminded that this is what my parenting to be —pure, gentle, full of mercy. Daily decisions, the guidance I need to give them when they are little, and the wisdom to know when and how to let go as they grow up and become adults, completely responsible for the choices they make.

And I go to God and ask Him to give me the wisdom that I need to parent well, to love well, to live all of life to the fullest.

Join other Five Minute Friday writers as they share on the writing prompt, SHE

#FiveMinuteFriday #She #Wisdom #HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingprompt #faithwriters #MothersDay

Processing and Praising Jesus

I am a slow processor. Sometimes I overthink things, sometimes I avoid thinking on all the things, sometimes I’m just procrastinating. But one can only procrastinate for so long before the words just need to come out.

I’ve been reminded time and time again this week (and last week) that my God is a personal God, a personable God, and a Sovereign God. Salvation does not lead us to need to do more, but it is an opportunity for God to shower us with even more gifts. My relationship with God is not based on anything I do right, or wrong. It is based on His faithfulness, His righteousness, His goodness and mercy.

And while my life sure has not been perfect this week (hello, parenting teenagers… hello, selfishness… hello, over-scheduling… hello, anxiety), time and time again, Jesus shows up and shows off. It started with these random flowers in the middle of a pile of dead weeds in my yard, blooming way in advance of any of my purposefully planted daffodils, and completely different. Showing off in their tiny size and stunning, two-color display, just smiling at me. I don’t know where they came from, but they sure put a smile on my face and reminded me of my Creator, who loves me and gives me good gifts—He created all things and holds them together, even in a seemingly random way in my backyard.

When I look back on my week, I see the gifts in abundance and I am reminded of the importance of remembering and giving thanks. I’m thankful for a walk with a friend, for a view of the city, for trees in bloom in the valley, for a perfectly timed sunset, wild turkeys up close and personal, for homemade iced coffee drinks, for endless supply of books (libraries are a wonderful thing), for hugs from my kids, good conversations, hard conversations, loving correction from my other half, homemade pizza, fellowship with the body of Christ, the opportunity to pray on behalf of others’ needs, Jesus—always Jesus.

My friend encouraged me to “Stop and smell the flowers,” so I picked up a $4 bouquet at the grocery store. One of the great podcasts (#HumanHope with @loswhit) I listen to reminded me to “Lower the volume of life,” so I’ve chosen silence while driving more often these last few days.

And when I make space, and read God’s Word, and pay attention to the gifts around me, I give thanks. I give thanks for the the way God is gracious. And faithful. And holy. And just. And full of loving kindness. He gives His children many good things, we just need to keep our eyes open to see them.

So when I’m overwhelmed by my sin and by the sin of the world around me, I run to Jesus and I rest in His forgiveness. I look for the ways He shows up. I count my blessings. I repent. I accept His grace. And I shout His praises to those around me.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.

Psalm 119:132

#HopeWriterLife #SoulStruggle #amwriting #writeyourheartout #justwrite #JesusOnlyJesus #1000gifts #ChasingOutTheDark #TheMinistryofPayingAttention