Status Reckless

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:5 (NIV) 

It gets me every time.

I am always taken by surprise.

Six months later and I do not see the trend ending any time soon.

What do I do?

I hold hands and cups of coffee.

I run between healthcare staff and family and sit in the waiting room with children who are too young to witness the adults in their lives fall apart emotionally.

I speak prayers and I sit silently, tears being the only expression close to, though not quite, capable of communicating the storm of grief taking hold.

I witness the strength and heart of the staff with awe and their tears with reverence for what they voluntarily experience out of their love for the person, for each beautiful and individual life.

And I hope.

I know the expectations, I know the probable outcome, I understand that if I have been called in, whatever chance there may be is small, and not promised.

And I expect the unexpected.

It’s not a half hope. It is not a “but God could” hope. It is not a last ditch hope.

It is complete, all in, God can hope. It is reckless hope.

And I am always taken by surprise. Because that kind of hope, against every odd, never considers the other outcome, until it arrives.

My heart always stutters in shock, surprise crashing down like a tidal wave. As I reach up for protection, He is reaching out is assurance. And I can stand and be still on the inside while walking through it on the outside.

I can get tissues and chairs. I can speak with family and safeguard sacred moments. I can remain out of the way (at least attempt to) and be readily available. I can give hugs and provide space. I can listen to stories and honor a need for silence.

I can make it home after helping family and friends head to homes that are somehow emptier in a world that makes a little, or a lot, less sense.

And then the wave comes. It has to you know. I’m not in it alone. But it still has to come down.

And I let it all wash out. Every shard of hope on trial.

Of course the defense is prepared and truth reigns.

He heard my prayers. He began answering them immediately. And yes, He was victorious.

In His way and in His time. His ways and His thoughts both higher than mine. His love incomprehensibly complete.

No matter how it feels, His truth reigns.

Not that He is unfeeling. He understands, He knows and He’s holding on. He hasn’t let go- and He’s not going to.

I knew He could do it, I know He can still do it- whatever the situation may be. I believed and believe. I hoped and I hope.

And when the tears come and the hope feels it has turned into shards of broken glass that still small voice whispers,

Child, you are not wrong. 

as He wipes the tears away.

Because there is nothing impossible for our God. Nothing too hard. Nothing too big. Nothing too much. Or too little.

In a fallen world, horrible things happen that were not apart of God’s original plan. And with all of my schooling and study I cannot say for certain why God chooses to move and to stay His hand.

I hope in and I trust a Sovereign, Holy, Loving and Just God who did not create us to destroy us, but to give us a hope and a future, an eternal home.

A last thought.

I was wondering one evening, if this reckless hope would one day dissipate all together? I mean you hear stories of burnout. Of the last straw.

What would the consequences be of recklessly putting all of your heart in, all of the time?

Certainly, there was pain. I wondered, worried, if that chipping was slowly picking away at my hope filled heart. That one day a puncture would go too deep, that my hope would become less than “complete.”

Ironically, I worried that one day I would be less “taken by surprise.”

I had been in that black pit once, I have no desire or intention of going back. Not even the tiniest bit. I could sit down and rest, but there would be no back tracking. That, my heart couldn’t take.

My personal reflection was clearly not getting me anywhere so I took a minute and passed it on to the One whose thoughts are higher than my own. And I got a picture (further proof He understands me- and my appreciation for visual learning aids!)

I pictured my heart, the way I had been “imagining” it before- a chipping from the outside. But then it changed.

Duh. The chipping was not on the outside. It was on the inside.

The chipping may hurt, but growth usually does. Long story short, it was making my heart deeper- not smaller. Capable of holding more, not less.

Child, you are not wrong. 

His picture of immediate victory may vary from mine- but my hope has never been misplaced. He is working, and He is winning. Actually, He has already won.

I cannot see the big picture from down here. But I trust Him. Meanwhile, I pray friends that you will not fear recklessly hoping, always. Because you are not wrong.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

 

Growing Pains

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:12

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. 

Proverbs 12:15

 

  1. Know that I should be doing homework.
  2. Know that as a grad student I should always be doing homework.

But this blog post has been waiting in my drafts long enough. Early August in fact, 3/4 of the way through my internship, facing an upcoming season of uncertainties and uncharted territories.

Nearing what I believe is the end of that period and entering a new, yet to be charted season, I can feel the inner conflict beginning to stir.

Turmoil that, when left unchecked, is known to make my battle ready self hesitate.

It is not that I fear God failing. No, I believe in him 100% of the time.

But I have struggled with believing in myself.

I have struggled to believe that I can communicate, discern and complete those tasks in front of me. Oftentimes I am self-convinced that I am getting the message wrong and surely God has called someone much more… much?

In today’s world this struggle is a genuine one. The world we live in is hardly encouraging most of the time. And if we are not tuned into what God is saying and what he has said, then who are we listening to?

No matter where you are in life or what career field you are working in, there will always be “the voices” in “the moments.”

While I hope you are not familiar with the voices or the moments, living in this world is an unfortunate guarantee that you are more familiar with them than most of us would like to admit.

You know the ones where you are “too young,” “too old,” “too conservative,” “too liberal,” “too educated,” “too naive”… and all the other “toos” that make you unable to understand. Your answer is wrong. It’s not your fault, you are just “too much” or “too little” and that is too bad.

And in these moments, in early August, amid all the voices, I found I really missed my mom.

In these moments a part of me wishes I would have grown up faster. That I would have grown up more gracefully, gliding past the obstacles and never missing a step.

Unfortunately I was one often caught between hard places, getting back up with scrapped knees and bloody knuckles. Generally walking away with a hard earned and learned lesson accompanied with a loving, motherly, “keep going.”

Mom was a great director on walking the line between “do not let them undermine you” yet “listen to wise counsel.”

So here I am, walking the line, and it is getting slimmer. Its one of those moments where the enemy has gotten a hold of one of the ends of the line, turning it into a tightrope and has begun shaking it. You’re not sure if you’ll be able to remain upright, let alone move forward without losing your balance.

And so I spent some time laying my case out to one who has all the time in the world- eternity in fact. My fragile and fear disposed heart repeating that I believed in Him, but… but… me, the me part of the plan was questionable.

God haven’t you heard? I am not ready. I am not qualified. I am too much this and not enough that.

And in those moments that still small voice whispered- but I believe in you.

I believe in you.

I created you. Who knows better what you are capable of? And remember- you are not going in alone. I will be there. And you said yourself, you believe in Me.

True.

So repeat the problem?

And the tightrope stopped shaking. Because in that moment I handed the end back to God- and stopped jumping up and down on it as I was placed back on solid ground.

I remembered that He is before and behind me. Above and Below me. Even should I fall, He is already there. My own worst enemy had been myself, and the enemy’s doubts I had adopted as my own.

And in that space, on that grounded line, I found it.

Humble Confidence.

A graceful clumsiness. Somedays you will fall. Others you will dance. But everyday you will be fearless.

Because should all else fall away you know your Strong Tower is always before, behind, above and below you. There’s no direction you can fall that he won’t be there to catch you.

As if He wasn’t enough, He has also provided family and friends along the way to encourage us and be lights in an otherwise darkened world.

People who are always behind you, some of who you will meet going forward and others who are watching the ground below you from above.

I know beliefs differ, and I do not have the ultimate answer (I am still in Bible college and God has not granted me a vision or revelation that has been withheld from others until now- not that I haven’t asked), however I highly suspect that loved ones can see us from above. At least to an extent. (I generally reference the story Jesus shares in Luke 16:19-31 of Lazarus and the Rich Man and personal experience).

With that said I also fully believe that our loved ones who have passed into Jesus’ presence are in a place with no sorrow, no tears or hurting and pain of any kind. They are in the best of places, praising our savior and rejoicing.

As much as I miss my mom, my best friend, my grandfather, my aunt and several others; I wouldn’t want them to be in that perfect place missing being here. And I know if my mom (or any of them) recalled the pain our temporary separation caused this side of Heaven, her heart would break.

So I have this hope that should my belief be correct and that they are able to look down at times, there is what I have coined as an “eternity filter.”

A filter that when my mom looks down its through the light of eternity, a light that erases the darkness of this world. While she sees us in the good and bad, she knows that the bad will not endure and the good is not even remotely close to the best. And that we have all the time in world, for one day- there will be no more goodbyes and no more ends.

On this side we see through a “world filter,” its dark and broken. Things are hard and you never fully feel like you have made the mark. There are days when the time inches by and others where it feels as if it flew in the blink of an eye.

Further evidence we are just journeying through this world. Our hearts can never fully fit into this world’s concept of “time,” for He has placed eternity in our hearts.

So lesson learned this season:

Growing up is never a task fully accomplished on this side of heaven. Growing pains mark growth, not completion.

In the moments where the growth is hard come by remember you have a Creator, His host of angels and His saints, who count it a hard earned and won Victory.

So fellow Saints, put on your Armor and remember no victory is too small and certainly no matter how beat up and bruised you may emerge, every one is worth celebrating. Moses didn’t think he could lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Peter was uneducated. David and Mary were teenagers. Abraham and Elizabeth were old.

The reality is that you don’t have this. But God does and He’s called you.

And as the prophets and the early church leaders prayed, so we pray, to continue to grow in the knowledge of God, bearing fruit of every good work. No longer seeing this world through it’s broken and twisted filter, but through the filter of eternity to which we have been called.

*Comment here or on the Prayer Requests/ Praise Reports page any prayer needs or celebrations.

*To see updates for upcoming posts and projects you can follow “declare_hope” on Instagram and “Declare Hope” on Facebook!

Thank James Pond on Unsplash for photo.

Access

In him we have boldness and confident access through faith in him.

Ephesians 3:12 (CSB). 

I am assuming that I am not the only one who blinked and feels as if they missed the month of August?

Back to school, last minute vacations, fair days and all of the final summer celebrations that bring summer to a close and welcome fall in (heralded in by the infamous release of pumpkin spice everything!) 🍁

I had not intended to take a blogging “sabbatical” this summer… regardless I am back and I have missed you all a great deal!

Just to let you know where I have been; I managed to finish my three courses (and begin my new ones), wrote 1/3 of a book (which I hope to finish and share more on soon), graduated my first unit of CPE continuing my journey to becoming a certified hospital chaplain and…

Located a spot and moved into mine and Reyna’s new space!

The last few household items were put up these past few days (Thank you Grandma, Tom and Dad!) And we are officially moved in!

The picture above is when I first received the keys.

The Lord ensured I had plenty of time and I was very blessed to enjoy a “slow and steady” moving in process.

For the past two years the majority of my things were in a storage unit and then over this summer spread out between two households. So the gathering was quite an adventure in itself.

However despite the change and difficulties when making a move… and the colossal task of unpacking, I had a moment of complete gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong- this move was not one taken on as a solo gig and I was and still am incredibly thankful for every helping hand and encouraging word that continues to pour in- but this was a moment of a different form of thankfulness.

What I was thankful for had been buried, not readily on the surface, kind of out of sight. Needless to say, it took me by surprise, a sort of revelation.

As I walked through my halfway unpacked apartment I was “down on my knees” thankful to have access to things I had not seen in over two years.

Memories flooded in as I unpacked items dating all the way back to ten years ago when I first moved out to my first dorm room in Oklahoma.

And the reality is that I do not need these things. If everything I owned were to disappear tomorrow, I would be okay.

Because I have a God and a Savior and a Spirit that can never be taken from me. And at the end of the day they always hold my every hope and prayer as well as all my trust and love.

But as I look and remember, I am humbled and grateful for every blessing I have received and continue to receive that I did not and do not deserve.

The adventures this journey has taken me on and the wonderful people who have joined me along the way.

I thought about it for a moment, this concept of access. And I realized this was far from the first time I had stumbled upon a lovingly opened door.

And as I reminisced on all these lovingly opened doors of the past, some of which had also been lovingly closed- ushering me on to the next one- I found myself reveling at the door which by all human standards could have never been opened.

The greatest access I have ever been and ever will be granted is the access I have through Jesus, who opened the door that was by all human accounts impossible to open.

The key to which was something I would have never been able to possess and that which had to be freely given, the blood of my God walking alongside humanity in this broken world.

It can be hard to fathom.

But as the verse from Ephesians reads, it is through faith in Christ Jesus, that we can have bold and confident access to the throne room of the Lord.

Do you know when you pray in Jesus name, no matter where you are- on your knees, standing up, eyes open, eyes closed, a few words, many words, no words just a voiceless weeping- you have entered the throne room of God.

And you, yes you, have the full attention of the creator of the universe.  And He listens to you. He hurts with you. He celebrates with you.

In Jesus you have been given access to the Kingdom, he’s given you the Kingdom keys. You’re no longer a guest, you’re an adopted and battled for child of the King.

And our King loves to listen and talk to you. There is nothing too insignificant or small, He wants to hear about it all. He knows every hair on your head.

He is a King who has personally created you in His own image, purposefully crafted you together for a time such as this and who, not would but has, died for you.

Access.

It is not the first word I would have put on a list of thanksgiving. Yet, it is the beginning and ending of everything, in Christ Jesus.

I am excited to be writing again my friends. Please comment any prayer requests below or on the page listed in the tabs above. ♥️🙏

The picture at the top is when I first received my keys. Included below is a picture of Reyna preparing to enter our new “home away from home.” (Complete with “Give Thanks” wreath and “This house runs on coffee and Jesus” welcome mat!)

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Indivisible

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:20-23

 

Abraham Lincoln pleaded for it, Helen Keller proposed it and J.K. Rowling wrote about it. Gandhi believed in it, Henry Ford franchised it and Martin Luther King Jr. fought for it.

And Jesus, Jesus prayed for it.

Unity.

It is not something that many of us generally take into consideration but is absolutely essential in every relationship we have. Let alone in our general heart-ittude towards humanity.

Think about it- take a moment- what would you pray for if you knew it’d be your last prayer? At least your last prayer before everything fell apart. Possibly your last prayer on this side of heaven.

What would you pray for?

What do you think Jesus would pray for?

I can honestly confess when this question was first posed to me, my initial guess was wrong. And the answer hit my heart hard. Because while I may have been striving to love and serve and lead a life I felt fit in the guidelines- I could not recall ever taking unity specifically into consideration. I suppose I always assumed it was a byproduct of all the other things. Surely it would follow when I acted on those other principles.

I had never connected the dots that it was literally Jesus’ last prayer before he was arrested. He had fallen on the ground distraught not hours earlier, pleading with his Father, begging for his life; but not my will – let yours be done.

However that moment before it all began, before that hellacious day took place in order to achieve a heavenly victory Jesus didn’t pray for further strength. Although his eyes were probably still red from his earlier desperation, he didn’t call down the legion of angels on stand by. No concern on his own behalf passed his lips.

Unity.

Thanks to John we know the who, what and why in Jesus last prayer with his disciples.

Jesus prayed for believers then and believers to come.

          “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one”

He prayed for their unity.

“-so that they may be brought to complete unity”

So that all would know they are loved.

                “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

His greatest concern, his final plea to heaven – was for you and for me and for every believer to live in unity. To never feel alone. To know that they were loved. To know that they had a family always by their side and continuously on call. Highs and lows. Thick and thin.

And you want to know what made my heart practically stop?

What was it about this prayer that could be anymore astounding than it already was?

The revelation- that Jesus prayed this prayer, that he pleaded in full faith to the Father, that we would never feel alone….

Moments before he would experience the greatest depth of loneliness and desertion ever to be felt.

His friends would flee.

Every advocate would hide.

And His Father would turn away.

Wrecked.

As we celebrate Memorial Day and remember those who have given it all for all that we enjoy in the United States of America. As we remember those who believed in the good in this world and believed it was worth fighting for, even if the cost was their life- I hope we can all lean in a little closer.

Every year the division in our nation seems to be escalating. And as Lincoln stated, a house divided cannot stand. Aside from arguing, hurt feelings and high emotions not much is accomplished. Apart from the name calling and finger pointing we’ve spent more time in congressional “time outs” than in investing and supporting one another.

The point of this post is not to say who is right and who is wrong. I am not calling one out over the other. I am calling us together. My prayer is that of Jesus all those years ago.

Because those men and women didn’t fight for one over the other, they fought and fight for all. Basic human rights endowed by our creator.

Indivisible under God.

This Memorial Day lets redirect and realign, remembering those things which truly matter.

 

To Christ Alone

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It does not change God- it changes me.”

C.S. Lewis

Prayer born of a rocky road;

Heavenly Father,

I thank you continuously for all you have done, do and are doing. I thank you for every day, even the hard and darker ones.

God I rejoice that even when I feel inadequate, worthless, broken, damaged- lost in my own sin and weakness and defeat- You still love me as much as ever. For your love is not dependent on how I feel or what I have done or left undone. Your love is steadfast and unchanging.

God should every other blessing you have bestowed fade away, your love alone is more than I could ever truly need, want and still infinitely more than I deserve.

Lord Jesus fill my heart with your Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus I pray for your strength for the day and wisdom for words. I pray for your healing and forgiveness. Lord Jesus mold me and create in me a heart after your own, help me to love people and this world as you do. Help me to love and follow you without fear and when afraid- still in spite of it.

God I pray continuously for my family and friends and all those who surround me and who are afar, known to me and unknown. God be with us, all of those who may be in the middle of a time which feels like this disastrous and empty end. Remind us- but You. In You we have eternal hope.

God You surpass every modern and worldly ability. You have called us to eternity and we live in that hope. Remind and convict our hearts of not only all you are but also a holy defiance against the enemy and all his schemes. Bring us through the difficult and dark times. As much as it hurts and as dark as it looks- You are the small light continuously ahead and at our side.

Carry us Lord Jesus and deliver us.

I place my whole heart in Your hands and entrust all I am and all I have to You.

In your Holy and Almighty and Loving and Wonderful name,

I love You and Amen.

But Can He?

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.”

2 Timothy 2:13

I shouldn’t have, I should have.

I know that, I feel this.

The sky’s falling versus the pieces are falling into place.

Those moments when it seems as if the “to be done” list is always longer than the “done” list and it feels as if time is flying yet it is taking its time to heal. Every day you wake and look forward but cannot help and catch a reflection of yesterday. Remembering some of the wins, recounting all of the losses.

Filled with faith but yet… not always convinced.

Not that I doubt God’s faithfulness of course, but my own.

At the end of the day when I recall those moments when I know I could have said something better or done something more. Those moments of weakness when I broke the promise to myself to wake up at this time or to not do that. Simple tasks such as eating better or sticking to my budget or to a schedule of any sort (such as writing this blog post).

And those are just the “small” things.

How can I profess to be faith filled when I struggle daily with being faithful? If I can’t make it through an overall mild Tuesday, what would make me believe I could survive the earth shattering and heart crushing days when more than my daily resources and time allotments are on the line?

Laying down at the end of the day and wondering can a God that good really love a person like me?

All of the doubts.

All of the fears.

All of the sticky situations.

When I knew better and when I didn’t.

When the tears come and despair knocks and the waves rise and the wind howls.

And I am thanking God again and again for every blessing, although… all the while knowing I have more to say. The reality being that He also knows I have more to say.

In this world it feels as if we are continually encouraged and tempted to hide whatever faults we have, whatever troubles we are carrying. Grin and bear it, if you will.

Don’t tell anyone that you struggle with that. Don’t suggest you’ve messed up. And don’t you dare admit you’re scared. Just leave it, it’s fine. Meanwhile, whatever it is grows bigger and eventually its darkness starts to envelop your life, primarily internally and eventually externally.

I didn’t see this coming. How did this happen? Who would have guessed?

God. God knew. God saw it coming. And?

He’s not surprised.  He saw the storm coming before it was on the horizon.

He reached out to catch me before I began to fall.

And He is kneeling beside me as I get up the courage to look up.

Because the beautiful, outrageous truth is – even when I am faithless, He is faithful.

You see, the problem is a part of me at times forgets that God- the Creator of the Universe and everything in it- is able to handle my honesty. From the little bits to the boulders.

He can handle the fact that at times my heart hurts, that sometimes I struggle and still sometimes I fall.

He can handle the fact that even though I know who He is and believe in all of His promises and rely solely on His truths, I do not always act accordingly.

He can handle the tantrums and the scars and that I am not perfect.

Because He is.

And so long as I am willing to bring it all to Him, every messy piece I’d rather hide, I can handle it too.

There is a song and one of the lines in the chorus reads, Show me that You can handle my honesty. The whole song is wonderful, but that line sealed it for me the day I heard it.

Those words, that question, at first hit me and opened a prayer. Words I wanted to scream at the top of lungs in the moment and at the same time hesitated to whisper. I wasn’t sure I could handle my own honesty most days.

However, as quickly as that prayer opened so did several recollections of the times God in fact did show that He could handle my honesty. He who is always faithful had never turned His back on me, not even once, no matter how reluctant I was to let Him in and let Him see just how messy it was.

Those words reminded me that not only can God handle my honesty, but He embraces it.

And I hope this post serves as a Public Service Announcement because He can handle your honesty too. Every hard question and unspoken horror and hidden sorrow.

You will find that when you let go and spill everything to God – you can handle it too.

She spent time with God and that is what made her lovely.

It wasn’t that she was perfect, always made the right choices and never had a single doubt or fear.

The secret has always been that she spent time with God… and unloaded every hurting and ruined bit. She gave Him the ashes and in turn He built them into something more beautiful than could ever be imagined.

The take aways from all this:

He created me.

He loves me.

And He can handle me.

In response to the question posed by Mikeschair- Grace was made for people like me.

** Song by Mikeschair, Title: People Like Me

On the Road to the Greatest

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

I love driving. I will make a 7-hour one way round trip in a day. If I were completely honest, I would drive just about any amount of hours one way for a round trip if I felt the destination was worth it. Typically, I do.

Generally when I am behind the wheel of a vehicle, I am on a mission. That mission may be to track across country nineteen hours for one of my dearest friends weddings, or to run to the grocery store to grab whatever necessity it seems I am out of (generally ranch salad dressing, if being completely honest).

I love driving.

Which is good, because I spend a great deal of time in my car. He even has a name- Hobbes is pictured above, and yes there are Calvin and Hobbes reading materials (aka comics) in the backseat.

Hobbes and I have been on several missions. Some which I volunteer for, some which are mandatory (aka work) and some which, well quite frankly I just want to go on.

But sometimes I just jump in the car and drive, with no physical destination in mind. No physical mission.

I am searching for something, trying to get somewhere but Hobbes, in the traditional sense, is not going to get me there.

I have sung worship songs at my loudest and cried to God my hardest behind the wheel of my car. (PSA: always safely, maybe pulled over, but safely, promise).

I have driven in circles as I spoke to God in circles.

I have gotten lost on back roads while trying to back God into a corner.

I have driven the roads I know best while I felt God had left me wondering in completely unknown territory.

Where are we going?

I will tell you when its time.

I think its time.

That’s great, but it’s not time yet. 

Next turn, next exit. Trees, hills, highway.

I have heard him speak at sunrise as I drove through the mountains.

I have watched His glorious handiwork welcome in the twilight.

I have followed the brightest star on country roads and watched cities turn their lights on as darkness tucked them in.

Yes, I love to drive. I love being on a mission. And sometimes that mission, is just to lose myself on one road and find God on another.

And now while I am undertaking whatever the mission is at the moment, I can relentlessly declare hope everywhere I go- literally.

Faith, Hope and Love.

And the greatest of these is love.

Hope is the bridge between faith and love.

> Faith in the impossible, established in hope.

> Love continuously overflowing, through the gift of hope.

Perhaps that gift of love can be declared in hope. Using your turn signal, paying for the person behind you in the fast food line and always having a snack on hand for those who may need one (like myself, I admit I often need a snack).

Declare Hope. Or DCLR HPE.

So much more than a blog or a phrase. So much bigger than anything I could ever write.

Declare hope it is a state of mind it’s a lifestyle, it’s what we do, it calls us to action.

Faith, Hope and Love the greatest of which is Love.

And relentless Hope, through genuine Faith, always leads to immeasurable Love.

What we all have to decide, is if we will take up the mission, and hit the road?

*Side Note: The credit for the license plate spelling goes to my Mom.

One of the days we spent together in January I was discussing that I had thought about getting a personalized plate and I wanted to use Declare Hope in some way. She looked up as we were writing options and she said the above. And we immediately knew it was perfect. We were right.  Thanks Mom.

*Photo Credit: Thanks you too Dad! For putting on the plates and snapping the picture, even if it was bit damp out!

 

Fast(ing) Forward

Back in the beginning of December 2018 I made a decision to participate in the Daniel Fast at the start of 2019. This would be my fourth year undertaking the fast, and to be quite honest, I was really looking forward to it.

By the end of 2018 I had amassed an impressive assortment of questions pertaining to every area of my life; personal, professional, relationships, financial, physical, spiritual. And while I have full faith in God coming through according to His timing, a part of me seems to continuously search for that fast forward button. From my past experience I knew it was time for the fast because nothing slows me down more than fasting.

Fasting is a period of time where you temporarily give up something to make space for God. I realize that sounds strange, as in what could making space for God possibly have to do with food? Nothing really.

Except that going on the Daniel Fast helps my heart to remember what or who is my first priority. It seems so small, does God really care about whether or not I eat a piece of that cake or if I have one slice of pizza on Saturday night? No, He doesn’t. Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew,

What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” v.15:11

What God does care about though is that above having a slice of pizza or a piece of my favorite dessert, I desire to honor my commitment to Him most. It’s not to say I do not feel the temptation to cheat or bend the rules a bit, but that above those temptations He comes first.

Being on the fast reminds my heart of who my hope is in, who I turn to when nothing feels right or who I cry to when I am not sure where the journey leads. By continuously having to remember what I cannot eat on the fast and preparing meals, I am continuously reminded of a God who would cherish such a seemingly small sacrifice. Everything He has ever done and I struggle giving up tea, chocolate and coffee for 21 days.

Actually back at the beginning of December last year I decided I would extend my fast past the 21 day period (reflective of Daniel’s fast which was 3 weeks long) and go until noon on February 4th. This date may seem random but for me it is a date which will set all of 2019, and my future, unto one path or another. I knew I would need the extra weeks to ensure my heart remained focused and my eyes stayed fixed as Jesus led me across the water, reminding me that He is the one who ultimately sets my path.

And that is why I fast, and love it when I do.

It’s not a diet, there is no way I would still have Christmas candy if this was just a diet where I was answerable to only myself. Not to say the health benefits are not great, because the doctor’s will tell you they are, but they are an added bonus.

It’s not a way to earn “bonus points” and get on God’s “really” good side so He will answer all my prayers accordingly. The reality is that God answers all prayer in His time and according to His purpose. No, fasting doesn’t change God’s mind but instead it changes our hearts.

All those questions I had accumulated over 2018 I have been able to lay at His feet, and leave them there. I have handed over every burden. I don’t have answers because I don’t need them. All I need to know is that He is in control and therefore there is nothing to fear. Despite the storms and the waves my eyes are fixed on HIm and He who is always faithful will bring me through.

There are several different fasts. Different time frames, from hours to days to weeks to months. And it’s not always food related, maybe a social media fast or tv fast or just a caffeine fast would be best. The key is to choose one thing you will miss throughout your allotted time without it and then when you do miss it be reminded of your ultimate why. You made a commitment. Be reminded of who you made that commitment to, a commitment which in reality seems so small compared to all He has committed to and accomplished for us.

If you are like me you will be surprised to find that fasting isn’t really something we do that “benefits” God. No, it is actually something which we benefit from in ways we never fathomed before we begun.

One more thing, after every fast in the Bible there was a celebration. I can already feel the joy bubbling up not because I have received any answers but because I am the daughter of a King who loves me uncompromisingly and who hears all my cries. What have I to fear knowing that ultimately that whatever I face is not a permanent state and that something better than I could ever imagine is on the horizon.

Cheers!

**Thank you Kate Remmer on Unsplash for the photo!

 

You Alight My Day With Hope

Reflecting on this past week, I am beyond touched by all God has done, is doing and will do.

Heavenly Father,

I thank You for today, for this past week. God You have been so good, You never fail. Though Lord Jesus I feel I fail You continuously, please forgive me for my self-centeredness and every misspoken word. Please send Your Spirit to create in me a clean heart, a heart after Your own.

You alight my day with hope, and I am excited to join You in today’s adventure. Lord lead me and help me to love all those around me and who are afar.

As I go into the final days of this fast, I pray Lord that You would guide my steps. I came to You with so many questions and I leave them at Your feet. I know that You will never forsake me and will safely bring me along Your path. As I look to the future and what it may hold I am reminded in the face of my doubts that You open the impossible doors.

You bring the ultimate healing. God I rejoice in Your name, in the valley or on the mountain. God I pray you fill my mouth with Your words and hands with Your deeds so my life may be a reflection of You.

Lord I know You are always present and already at work in every situation before we know it’s even begun. You are healing even before we know the diagnosis. God You know what weighs on our hearts and You respond. Thank You God. You bring me through every difficulty, You don’t let me fall, and when it feels too far You carry me.

You are my light Lord Jesus, more precious than anything I could own or do, more precious than any goal. You are my impossible dream come true, the ultimate gift, and I reach for You above all else.

In Your Wonderful and Awesome name,

Let’s do today,

Amen.