Tag: Hope

Hello, it’s me.

Sometimes you need to take a break, dust yourself off and reset. Over half of 2017 is over and what a mess this year’s been. I’ve learned a lot, grown, and paid attention. Life sure has shown me a lot.

About six months ago, I wrote a few posts after another failed friendship with the same person who’s caused a lot of pain in my waking life. At the time it seemed appropriate to write about it but as time’s passed, I realize even though it was how I felt, my feelings didn’t need a platform, they needed a Savior. When we use our platforms to call out offenses or those who’ve offended us, no one wins. All I  did was reopen the wound, over and over again. This is what offense does. It reopens wounds trying to heal. God wasn’t being glorified by calling out the person. God’s never glorified when we call out folks who’ve hurt, offended, or betrayed us. Any hurt done is between us and God. Healing is His responsibility, not the offender’s. Justice is His, not ours. I’ve learned this lesson too late and I’m making peace with my decisions. I’m not going to delete what’s been said and written, but I will do better with my feelings moving forward. Platforms are good when used for right purposes. Whether your platform is a blog, social media, or something else, ask yourself, “Who’s being glorified?” If it really is God, He will be glorified, not our offenses and opinions. The most powerful weapon against fleeting feelings is prayer not a platform.

Something I learned earlier in the year is the deeper relationship, the greater the offense. In April, a friend and I had a falling out that lasted for almost a month. Eventually, we talked, we both apologized and things are fine now. When there’s a fall out, always seek reconciliation. How’s your attitude towards people who’ve hurt you? If your mind still repeats the offense, release the person to God moment by moment because forgiveness is a permanent attitude. Forgiveness is instant, trust is earned and reconciliation is possible when we’re willing to resolve our differences. Pride keeps relationships broken and at a distance. 

The thought of having real friendships seems rare but there are people in our life so important they surpass everything else.  They’re must haves, the ones you can’t live without. About two weeks ago, I had one of the worst days in a really long time and one of my friends asked, “Need me?” Those words changed the way I view every relationship in my life. When it seems the walls are caving in and things seem to be falling a part, a real friend comes in willing to rescue you from the storm. They don’t leave you out there to drown.  At least one person should come to mind.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I use it mostly to share and connect. However, over recent months I’ve seen it divide more than unite. I don’t believe people should necessarily fast from Facebook but I think it’s important to do a daily inventory of where we invest our time and attention. Last week Friday, I spent some time off the grid and it was nice. Life is an adventure meant to be lived.  It’s okay to take a break sometimes from routine and responsibilities.

As messy as my relationship with God is, I’m thankful He always makes Himself known. About a week ago, for the first time in a while I went on my daily walk alone. Something told me to walk a certain stretch of campus, even though I had the slight thought to go a different route. Instead I went the way His voice told me to. This is what faith looks like. Sometimes you’ll go a different way than the one God directs and it’s okay to wander a while, but eventually, you’ll need to turn around. Faith is following His voice even when the way doesn’t feel right. I’m glad I listened to His voice that day.

Over  the past few months I’ve learned it’s okay not to be liked or accepted. No matter what we do, there will always be critics. Yeah, I come off hard sometimes and can be a “ball buster” as a friend put it, but I’ll never apologize for doing the right thing. When we do the right thing, the Christ-like thing, we don’t need to explain ourselves. Never entertain people who are critical, walk away from them and their ignorance. 

All that aside and said, I’m very thankful for this space. I’m thankful for the ups and downs and for the people who have supported me during hard times because there have been more than enough over the past few months. 2017 has been a bad year. It’s all perspective though. It hasn’t been all bad, some things could be better but I’m learning to take life as it comes.

God’s plan for our life will never happen in a straight line. There will be many twists and turns.  Just because something works, doesn’t mean it’s right in His eyes. I walked my own path and did things earlier in the year even with confirmation, but eventually those things fell apart. Never let someone use you or manipulate you to do God’s will for their life, their way. Without God anything that seems to be working won’t last.  What we do His way builds a foundation of integrity and this is far more important than doing things because they seem or feel right. Honesty and integrity are key to a life lived without regret and they don’t need to prove themselves. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year so far.

In closing, I’ve decided to write only when God leads it. Otherwise, there’s no point. It’s what we do when no one but Him sees us that truly reflects our heart and commitment to Him. Not our words, but by our actions are we truly His.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

When We’re Hurting

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

 Robert H. Schuller

I’m hurting and maybe it’s the reason for the disconnection between me and God. It’s not that my faith is gone, it’s present more than ever. I’ve had a challenging week. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, I was all over the place. I was a mess. I’m still a mess. Yet, no amount of mess or stuff can ever replace the love I feel for God and the work He is doing through me and in my life.  I can’t deny or dispute His love for me.

But, I’m hurting.

It doesn’t matter where I am in my life or how strong I think I am, there will always be remnants of my past that  will flood my heart and mind. And the connection between what my heart and mind know about God collide with fleeting emotions that won’t subside.  It’s an endless, battle. But I remind myself that this side of heaven was never meant to be easy.  Life on this side of heaven will never be perfect as the eternal life that is waiting for me above.

And when I’m hurting, I look up, and remember;

Hope.

Romans 15:13

13 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.

How are you hurting?

The Habit of Hope

 

“Hope is the anchor of the soul”

Have you ever gotten up and thought, “Nothing good will happen today,” or there are some days when you struggle to get out of bed at all?

Admittedly, in the past two weeks it has been difficult for me to get motivated each day and see a glimpse of hope in the mess that has been my mind. I have had some very vivid and horrific dreams in the past week that have kept me up in the middle of night. My nerves have been shot and some days I am tethering on the edge of what feels like insanity. It is when I get alone with God and pray that my perspective of my days begin to change.  I’m able to change my attitude and align my thoughts to what I know is true and somewhere in the midst of the mess, there is hope.

Hope is a positive attitude.

Hope is an expectation that something good is going to happen. We have to keep an attitude that allows God to work in our life and He can only work where there is hope. We need to learn to believe that something good will happen. Some of you are probably thinking, “Well that’s easy for you to say, but you aren’t living my life. You don’t know how I feel.” You’re right, I don’t. Just like you don’t know how I feel too. I’d like to believe though that good things happen to those who wait and in times of waiting we learn to cling on to hope stronger than ever. More importantly, we learn to hold on to our faith.  Without faith, there is no hope.

Hope is a decision we make about an attitude we’re going to have that allows God to work in our life.

God’s hope doesn’t disappoint and we have to keep our hope in Him. Some of us instead choose to sit and be miserable. If the door of hope is closed, there is no room for God to work. Satan’s best work is through our hopelessness.  Whether through fear, depression, or disappointment, Satan does the most damage when we are at our weakest. God works through us being positive and believing what He says. There is nothing negative about God and His word. 

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.

God’s hope doesn’t disappoint, because it is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of Love.

When we find our hope in God, we are able to stand firm and we are safe against the enemy. “Those who have hope for the glory of God, have enough to rejoice in now.” There is always hope with God and He never leaves us stuck in our mess.

Wake up every day and say “Something good will happen today” and practice the habit of hope that something will.

How do you practice the habit of hope in your life?

When God’s Plan Disappoints

 

 

God has a plan.

That’s what I keep replaying in my head over and over. However, I have also been plagued with disappointment. Everything was going on along fine, certain parts of my life were progressing forward, or so I thought, and then out of nowhere, everything changed.  I accept and respect God’s plan for my life, but I can’t say it doesn’t disappoint me too.

God’s plan is never wrong.

Even when things in our life at the moment feel right and something happens that changes things completely, God’s plan is never wrong.  Just because we want something doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for us and fits into God’s plan for our life.

God’s plan can disappoint.

Maybe I am not disappointed with God maybe the disappointment lies in myself. I have relied too heavily on my wants and have prayed faithfully for them. God will only give us what we need, even if  it disappoints. I am not hurt by His plan for my life.  I know He is working all things together for my good. A lot of my feelings of disappointment right now are coming from the simple fact that I invested so much time and energy into something, building a solid foundation and while the foundation is still there … things won’t ever be the same again.

God’s plan for our life is solid.

While certain things in my life are changing drastically and it disappoints me, God’s plan remains the same. That’s what keeps me going and gives me hope. I trust God and I know He is doing something right now that I can’t see, but I feel it.

God’s plan may disappoint, but I have faith.

When something happens in your life unexpected, know that God has a plan and He is working. I know it’s hard at times to cling to that truth when we think we’re finally at a place of progression and something happens and we are left feeling disappointed.  God’s plan is fixed, it cannot change.

God always has our best interest at heart.

Jeremiah 29:11

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

If there is an area of your life right now that has been a disappointment to you, know that you aren’t alone. I’m right there with you. Rely on God’s Word that He has a plan for us, one that will prosper.  While we feel disappointed now, there is hope for our future.

When was the last time you were disappointed by God’s plan for your life?


The Process to Peace and Hope

 

photo credit: sayingimages

Romans 5: 1-5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 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.


We all have problems, problems are inevitable and we have to deal with this fact in order to find peace.  At times we ignore our problems hoping they will go away on their own, or worse we pretend they don’t exist. For us to have joy in life, we have to recognize our God is using our problems.  We sometimes find ourselves asking, “God what are you doing in my life?” To understand what God is doing in our life, we have to understand God’s process in the face of our problems.

The first step: Get a problem. There may be some of you who aren’t facing any difficulty or struggle right now and are fine. But let’s face it, problems exist and sometimes they can ambush us without warning. We all have issues and problems we are dealing with right now. So, the first step is inevitable. God uses our problems to develop our character. 

Why does God allow problems and suffering at all? He is waiting for us, imperfect people, to know and seek Him in the midst of our problems.  Our problems aren’t good, they’re not supposed to be, but God is. 

The second step: Practice Patience.  We’re impatient when it comes to waiting on God to work in our lives and bring us peace. It’s hard to remain hopeful in our times of despair, but that’s the plan. That’s part of the process of God’s plan so we can receive peace and hope. It takes time and requires patience.

We use escape, denial, and blame to try and get away from our need to persevere through our problems.  We escape by running away from our problems. It is easier to run away from our problems in life than face them head on and work on them so we can overcome them. We deny our problems because it’s easier to lie to ourselves than face the truth.  Worst of all, we blame God for our problems.  Because we are Christian it does not make us invincible to suffering and the problems we face in our life. Problems are put  in our life to strenghten our trust and faith in God.

When we are hopeless we try and find peace in entertainment or other distractions (ie: Social Networking, TV, Music, Drinking, etc). Distractions provide a temporary peace; Hope lies in the Bible, in God’s Word.  We must remember that God is in control. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but trust is always built on truth.

The truth that energizes the trust that enables our hope is in the Bible.

As we grow in our character and in our faith, our questions to God change.  As we mature in our faith and grow in Christ, our perspective changes. In the face of problems, our focus changes. When we first become Christians, we often ask “Lord, what are you doing with me?” Im a Christian, why are you letting this happen to me?” As we mature a little more, we stop blaming God, and ask “Satan, what are you doing to me?“Why are you trying to ruin my life?”  As we become stronger in our faith, our questions no longer blame God or  Satan, we simply ask, “God what do you want to do with me?”  “How do you want to grow me?” This is all apart of God’s process to peace and hope for us.

In order to make progress in life, we have to understand God’s process. We are all going to face suffering and problems in life.  The same problems that can steal our hope can give us hope.  Problems are used by God to develop and grow our character. Hope is a direct result of character and can happen in the darkest moments of our life. God develops us through our pain.

Romans 5:5

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.

God’s love for us never ends. His mercy never ends. His love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who He freely has given to us.  In  the midst of our sufferings and problems we need to cling to His Word and Trust Him. God is in control. While this isn’t easy at times to do, it’s necessary to strengthen our faith and to give us hope.

Prayer:

Lord, Help me rejoice in my sufferings.  Let me rejoice because I know my suffering produces perseverance, because perseverance produces character and character produces hope. I will admit it’s not easy at times to trust You when I am faced with problems. I admit there are times when I doubt You and lose hope. As I am growing in my faith I am realizing how important it is to trust You. I cling to Your Word as my hope and my shield. I trust that whatever You are doing in my life right now is helping me grow. I am imperfect, but You love me anyway. I have my doubts but You remind me how important my relationship is with You. My problems in life are no comparison to the sacrifices You made for me and my life. Help me remember the sacrifices You have made so that in spite of my problems, I can remain at peace and be hopeful. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

The Fragility of Life: In Memory

Where were you when our world stopped turning?

If we learned anything from the attacks on the twin towers on September 11, 2001, it is that this world is fragile, life is fragile. If you ask anyone, they will tell you where they were, what they were doing, and how the events that transpired that day changed their life and changed our nation. Even now, 10 years later, I remember where I was, what I was doing, but didn’t understand what happened or the significance of that event until a few days after it happened. Ten years later I am still learning how that event changed our country, changed our values, and invoked a change in people to fight for our country. That event changed our country and changed our world. We were unprepared as a nation when those attacks happened and were not ready for that kind of warfare. We were caught off guard because we didn’t know who our enemy was or how they were going to attack.  September 11th will be forever embedded into our memory because of the innocent people who lost their lives and the people who lost their lives trying to save others.

United we stand, together we fall.

There are defining moments in our life that make or break our character and our spirit, but as a nation, we made the decision to carry on. Everyday we are reminded just how fragile this life is. Turn on the TV, open a newspaper, read a news article online and it’s a harsh reminder of how we are not promised tomorrow.  People die everyday. People risk their lives everyday. Some die by accident, some die intentionally, but regardless of how, the reality is they are gone.

Tomorrow we will remember those who died and gave their life. We will honor their sacrifice and celebrate our hope and freedom as a nation.  But let’s not forget the sacrifice God made for us by giving his life for our sins. We should never forget the blessings, the miracles, the tests, or the lessons we have learned through God. We should stop and pause and honor not just the people who served, those who died or who still fight for our freedom, but honor every life who have been lost yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

September 11th humanized our nation, but every disaster or tragedy we experience brings togetherness. Every tragedy or disaster should invoke change.  Death is inevitable.  As followers of Christ, we know God has a plan for our life and He wants us to reach our potential and live out our purpose. Everyday our life and our faith are challenged. We need to gain strength from one another and help one another to know what is right and to strive to do good. Without each other or God in our life, we can’t do anything.

Life is fragile.  We don’t wake up everyday and say, “Today is the day I’m going to die.” We have no guarantee of tomorrow. Whatever we plan on doing in life, whatever our goals are we need to strive towards them NOW because we are on borrowed time.  The reality of life is scary. It is wrong to assume that we are going to live indefinitely. We are not ready to live until we are prepared to die.

As the world comes together tomorrow to remember those who lost their lives 10 years ago, take a moment and say a prayer for families all around the world who have lost a loved one. Hope, Faith, and Love are the gifts God has given us. But the greatest of these is LOVE. We will lose a lot in this life, but we will never lose God’s love. When our faith is shaken, when all hope seems lost, God’s love will carry us.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Our Hope Remains

Sometimes we have to go through the hardest things in life and lose hope to fully see things from a different perspective. We have to lose something or someone close to us for us to fully understand God’s plan and purpose in our lives. We know ourselves better than anyone. We know our emotions, what makes us tick, how we feel, how we think, what hurts us and what makes us happy. It’s ironic when the very things that hurt us, are the very things we run to. We run towards the things in life that cause us the most hurt and fill our hearts with doubt and uncertainty. We’re imperfect people. We make mistakes. We say things in the moment without really thinking them through and we hurt others with our words and our actions.

We’re flawed, we’re emotional, bitter, filled with self-doubt, self-conscious, conflicted, angry, etc. All these things define us on some level because we have all experienced unhappiness at some point in our life. We walk around in life wondering if we’re ever going to experience what happiness is and if we’re lucky enough to find it.  Ironically, when God places someone or something in our life that brings us the happiness we’ve spent our entire lives searching for, what do we do? We question it, we take it for granted, and inevitably, we run away from it.

The same can be said about our relationship with God.  God is the only person that can ever truly bring us the happiness and peace we want most in this life. But, let’s be honest, sometimes God isn’t enough. God should always be enough, but sometimes we need more. Sometimes there is a hole too big in our life that God can’t fill. There is this emptiness in our lives that even in our brightest moments, we will feel alone and forgotten.  We question His actions, take Him for granted, and inevitably we run away from Him, and the hole in our life grows larger and the emptiness gets stronger.

Crushed by the weight of your sorrow, there is nowhere left.
Trying to fight the might in the darkness, and weaken all love.
But it’s hidden from your face

We have to stop playing the victim and really see what is going on in our life that prevents us from being happy and being closer to God. Is there something about us that prevents us from experiencing happiness, or is it the people and things we choose to surround ourselves with? God puts everyone in our life for a reason and He allows those same people to hurt us for a reason. Every relationship we have with others is a test of our faith. God isn’t the reason our relationships fail, we are and we are the reason our relationship with Him fails. We are in control of our life, what we do, how we act, what we say, and whether we choose to have God in our life.

We deserve to be happy and we deserve the world, but God has already given us everything we deserve. We have to want it and we have to fight for it. We need to stop being selfish and wanting things in this life that we expect others to give us. People in this world cannot fulfill our lives the way God can. Only God can truly lift us up and heal us when we are broken. That hole in our heart that we feel is the place in our hearts that only God can fill. When we truly open ourselves and our heart to God, something within us changes. When we truly believe and have faith, God will exceed our expectations.  People in this world will only disappoint us because we expect things from them that they do not want to give. Not because they are incapable, but because they don’t want to. God wants us to depend on Him. He is the only person that is capable of providing the happiness we want in life. He is the hope for better relationships, a better tomorrow, and a better life.

God will never turn His back on us and He would never intentionally hurt us. When we have been through it all and are too broken to stand, God is the only one that can help us back up and stand taller than ever. He is our strength and hope in our time of need. If we believe that, deep within, we’re safe, we’re saved. 

Hold on to faith, hold on to love,
Hold on to who you are.
You’re not alone, don’t lose sight,
We will rise above.

We are the breath of life,
Our hope remains

Psalm 94:19

19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.