Saturday, July 31, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 17 - Nature of God

“Our righteousness is in Him, and our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us, but upon the fullness of grace and love in Him, and upon His obedience unto death.”
--John Newton

The BIGGEST theme in my lessons on hope that I have seen over the past 2 1/2 weeks is that real hope isn't in dreams or fairytales or wishes; it is in the nature of who God is. He has proven Himself over and over again and He continues to do so.

Sometimes there are questions/problems/situations in our lives that go unanswered for what seems like FOR-E-VER!! However, the more and more we keep our eyes on WHO He is, we find that there are answers/solutions/enjoyment in the little things. Our circumstances don't always changed, but our outlook does.

So WHO is He? What exactly is "the nature of God"? He is SO many things, but some BIG ones for me when I think of HIS nature....

FATHER - a dad is your biggest supporter, greatest defender, well-deserved hero

FRIEND - a friend always has your back and defines you by your strengths

GRACIOUS - grace & mercy are new each morning; sins removed as far as east from west

PATIENT - even when we mess up & lose hope, he is patient to draw our hearts back

....just to name a few!!

When you think of the nature of God, what are some of the qualities/roles that mean the most to you? (If you have trouble commenting just click to sign in as "Anonymous" and put your name at the end of your comment in the comment box as part of your comment.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 16 - Halfway Through Hope

Wow! I am now halfway through my journey/project on HOPE and I have picked up some interesting nuggets of truth along the way....

1) Days 1-5 were the hardest. Just like a diet, a fast, a exercise program, or developing any new habit, the first few days or week are generally the ones where you want to throw in the towel, where the temptations seems incredibly overwhelming. BUT, if you can make it through that first HUGE mountain, the rewards are quite promising.

2) When you look for hope, you will find it. I never thought that I would find enough angles & thoughts to write about for 30 days and some days although I am so tired, because I have made this decision to write daily, I look for pieces/images/people of hope throughout my day, and to my utter joy, I find it. The journey itself has created hope!!

3) Sharing with YOU in my journey makes me want to learn lessons. This point is sort of loaded because sometimes the lessons are costly and expenseive. However, there is something about sharing your experiences and your lessons with someone else that give purpose to the process, even on the hard days; power to the words, even when words fail; and HOPE to the future, even when it seems cloudy or bleak.

So thanks for joining me on this journey....I pray that you are touched and blessed and maybe pick up a truth here or there...I know am! Please feel free to share anything from your own journey that we could all learn from. Love to hear your thoughts!

Life is not the destination but the journey.

Life is not made up of the moments we live, but the moments that take our breath away.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 15 - Your Love Never Fails

Sometimes, some days we get SO overwhelmed and we feel like we just cannot make it....

Romans 8:22-23
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

....and yet there is hope....

Romans 8:23-25
We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

....but sometimes our hope fails us......

Romans 8:26-28
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. our hope is renewed in HIM and the price He paid to show His love for us....

Romans 8:31-32
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

....and it doesn't matter who or what comes against us or what hardships we face or what mistakes we make....

Romans 8:33 -37
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

....because in HIS love we find TRUE lasting in and day out no matter where we go, what we do, what we face, how we handle things....

Romans 8:38-39
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

....the love of the Father TRUMPS all!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 14 - The Adams Family

A little over 3 weeks ago, my first childhood principal was attacked with at first a severe and unknown illness. Mr. & Mrs. Adams are and have been missionaries in Haiti for over 30 years. She was my Kindergarten teacher -- the one who taught me who to read. Mr. Adams has been in ICU, gone through surgeries, and slipped in and out of a deep coma over the past few weeks.

What has amazed me in all of this has been Mrs. Adams' great faith and trust in the Lord. Here are a few of her posts on Facebook over the past few weeks.

July 7
How can I begin to thank all of you for your unceasing prayers? God is answering them one by one. Praying Prit will come out of his sleep completely tomorrow & they'll be able to repair his artery. I look forward to when Prit can tell you himself how much your prayers have meant. My heart is moved for the other fami...lies I see in the waiting room. So much waiting, so many tears. I pray for them as well.

July 11
I spoke with Pastor Délinx this evening who is responsible for our church in Haiti in our absence. Last Sunday morning the leadership had a check in their spirits and felt they needed to pray instead of start the service. It was the same time Prit became ill. That gives me goosebumps. :)

July 16
I would like to thank all of you once again for your prayers for Prit. I believe with all my heart that the intensity of your prayers are the key to his recovery. Words can't express how much they mean to me at this time and how I earnestly ask you not to relent. God bless.

July 20
There are facts and there is truth. Facts can't be denied. They stare you in the face and are real. But truth is superior to facts. The truth of God's Word is always supreme. ''He who the Son sets free is free indeed'' no matter what the facts say.

July 21
How many times did we hear the nurse say, ''Thumbs up Pritchard!'' ''Show me you hear me!'' just to watch in dismay as he laid there in silence? Can you imagine our elation today as he looked at us & gave a big ''thumbs up'' for us? We are as people who dream. Oh, the prayers of the saints!

When I read these words, I can a real example of faith, of HOPE in this world in this day and time. This family survived the earthquake in Haiti on January 12th, and now have faced personal physical attack, yet she speaks words of hope and faith.

I am sure that there are days when the price for hope was high, the cost seemed too great, and the sacrifice overwhelming, yet her eyes were on the Saviour and in a hope that Romans says....does not dissapoint.

People like these are my heroes of the faith, my heroes of hope

UPDATE from Dana Adams from the 5th & 6th of August on Prichard Adams' progress.

FOLLOW UP: August 29th from Dana Adams - Wonderful service with the fellow ''warriors'' of Chinook Winds Christian Centre (Didsbury, Alberta) this morning. It is 8 wks. to the day since Prit became ill & it was his first time back in church. It was a victory celebration for us all. Fayetteville, here we come! Will be back in N.C. on Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 13 - Get Your Courage Back

I was reading a blog post the other day, and the writer talked about (as a passing point) NEVER being discouraged. When I read the note, I thought to myself, "How? How do you avoid discouragement?"

Discouragement drains you, pulls you away from the Father, causes your heart to be troubled, gives you immense pain & suffering. You feel like a big lump of nothing instead of a vital part of the world with great purpose.

I have experienced all of these feelings more than once.

So how do you overcome discouragement? How do you live a lifestyle of hope? If you one day feel discouraged, should you give up, feeling that you have failed? Well, I would like to share my thoughts on this as I continue to write on hope (the opposite of discouragement, by the way) over the next couple of weeks.

So for today....

1 Samuel 30:6
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

You can read the beginning of chapter 30 to get an idea of what David was going through, but the gist is this. While David and his men were away, many of the women and children including 2 of his own wives were kidnapped and now the whole city blamed him. HE WAS HAVING A BAD DAY!

How did David encourage himself? IN THE LORD

What does that mean exactly? Well, this is what I think, sometimes you just have to "remind" yourself WHO God is -- the nature of God. Why do you have to remind yourself? Because we are people AND we forget! The situation doesn't always change right away or as quickly as we would like it to, but when our hope is in HIM, we can find courage there.

Then there are other times, when even though we know the answers, we STILL feel discouraged. What do we do then? Let's check out David again.....

1 Samuel 23:15-18
Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God. Thus he said to him, "Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also." So the two of them made a covenant before the LORD; and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house.

David knew that God had anointed him to be king one day, but it must have seemed difficult and that it was NEVER going to happen since the current king kept trying to kill him. David needed his best friend.

We need each other. We need to remind each other of the promises and the plans that God has for us. We need to speak words of life that we see in each other.

When you have lost your courage because of LIFE,

1) Enourage yourself in the Lord (Remind yourself of WHO God is)
2) Surround yourself with friends/family who HELP remind you of God's precious promises

Monday, July 26, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 12 - What is a Cry?

What is a cry?
by Tumelo Tk Masilo

Is it the mere fact that tear reveals an inside wound that plaster can't cover?
Or a breaking of the heart that affects every fibre of your being,
Could it be a seperation from the ideal to what you actually seeing.

Or does it go deeper to where a heart yearns for healing satisfaction that can't be found by sporatic moments
A movement of the heart that causes a forceful movement of change

Or is it just a feeling of being estranged?
Should I cry to prove I am mere man?
Should tears flow to show I possibly stand on sinking sand?
Surely not so, for I have been promised that hope in Him does not dissappoint
So as I am patient in tribulation, rejoicing in Him and continuing steadfastly in prayer
I will be flambouyant
For the world is moved by bravery
And only to God, do I give my cry

Sunday, July 25, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 11 - Spring Is Coming

“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.”
--Sarah Ban Breathnach

Saturday, July 24, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 10 - Another Level of Hope

I was going through some paperwork today and found a word on hope that my Aunt Paula wrote 3 years ago to encourage the ladies at the Tabernacle. She and my uncle are pastoring there with two campuses; it is located on Eastern Shore of Maryland. I thought it would share it with you to encourage you as it encouraged me. Enjoy!

Another Level of Hope

We all have hoped for something in our lives. Today, what is it that you are hoping for? Where is your level of hope? When hope is a part of our lives, we can endure many things, but without it, we fear the future and expect the worst. The hope that we have in our hearts is a quality that God has given to us. He is a God of hope and wants to impart hope into those who are desperate, hopeless, and despairing. Are you facing a trial today? Have you put your hope in the Lord? God can intervene in the most hopeless cases. It is His desire to bring us to a higher level of hope. If we begin to take the following four points and apply it to our lives daily, our hope can rise to a new level.

1. Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you in your weakness. (Romans 8:24-28)

The Holy Spirit inside of you realizes when you are losing hope and can intercede on your behalf. Pray in the Spirit when you are discouraged. Listen for His voice. You can depend upon the Holy Spirit to bring you through every trial.

2. Find a promise in Scripture that applies to your situation and hold on to it.
(Romans 15:4)

Can you think of a Scripture that you have held onto as you have gone through trials in your life? We must go to the Word when we are faced with hopeless situations and find a promise that we can claim. Read it, write it down, and recite it daily.

3. Stay connected to the body of Christ. (Romans 15:5-8)

It is important for us to have someone that we can talk to and lean on as we go through trying times. Words of encouragemnt and hope spoken can be a key to keeping the joy in our lives. Do not isolate yourself from the body. Get involved in a life/cell group that will help you stay connected.

4. Make praise a top priority (Romans 15:9-12)

Praise! Praise! Praise! What has God done for you? Praising God in the midst of anything and everything will keep you from giving into despair. Before you do anything in the morning, take time to thank and to praise God for all that He has done. Praise is the key.


by Paula Rittenhouse

Friday, July 23, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 9 - No Ordinary Love Story

I am a sucker for love stories.

I know. I know. So are almost ALL of the XX chromosome beings walking around on this planet as well a few of the XY ones... :) :) :) And I fall right in with the status quo.

And, I will admit that my favorites are the romantic tragedies. Two people find each other and fall in love and some great tragedy or unstoppable force or manipulative person separates them for what seems like forever. Then days, months, or even years later, something that some people like to called fate, chance, or even divine intervention bring them colliding into each others' worlds again. And then comes one of my favorite lines in a romance (or at least a version of it...)

"There has never been anyone else for me; it was always you...."

There is something so powerful in knowing that the person you love most has moved on with their lives, roamed the earth, met hundreds of other people since then, and on the outside has had a successful life, but without YOU something is missing.

Today I realized that as beautiful as these love stories are, the love story of my Savior and His bride is infinitely more romantic.

During praise and worship in our pastors' meeting this morning, I realized that though I get distracted by the world, discouraged by life, disillusioned by my own thoughts & has always been Him.....

"It has always been You, Lord."

And then the most beautiful thing....I realized that to Him, it has always been me.....

I heard Pastor Bill Wilson share a sermon when I was 14 about Peter. After Jesus had been crucified and rose again, He said, "Go tell my disciples and Peter...."

Why did he tag Peter on at the end ? Was it because Peter had denied him? Did that remove Peter from the Twelve? Why did Jesus say Peter's name separately? There HAS to be a reason.....

Bill Wilson said a powerful thing, "God loves you the most when you need it the most."

Jesus knew that Peter had denied him 3 times and Peter must have felt so overwhelmed with his very sorry. Jesus wanted Peter to know that His love hadn't changed.

To Peter:
"For Me, it's always been you."

To me:
"For Me, it's always been you."

To all of you reading.....
"My children, It's always been you."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 8 - Life Without Hope

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”

A life without hope is no life at all.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 7 - Trials Develop Hope

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." Romans 5:3-5

Paul was a pretty incredible man, right? The trials he faced were many and yet he could write these powerful words. Trials develop endurance which develops character which strengthens our HOPE!

Interesting....confusing....trials make us hope more??

I don't think I am where Paul was in his understanding of the Father when he wrote these words...not even close....but I find encouragement in them.

For Paul to even have the wisdom to write such powerful words means his suffering had to be great or else he wouldn't have known what it was to hope, to believe, to know how loved he was by the Father.

Honestly, this is like an oxymoron for me. Pain to have hope? Trials to see love? It is the paradox of our God, I believe, and He never asks of us what He didn't do. Living to die...dying to give's the core of who HE is and who we are as followers of Jesus.

Today I am encouraged by WHO my God is. THAT is where I find my hope.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 6 - It's a Girl Thing!

“Life ends when you stop dreaming, hope ends when you stop believing, love ends when you stop caring, friendship ends when you stop sharing... so share this with whom ever you consider a friend.”

Hope is....

pouring my heart out to a long-time girlfriend who is thousands of miles away and knowing that she HEARS my heart...grain and chaff....and keeps the grain & protects my heart.

Hope is....

sharing chicken tenders & fries with a new girlfriend, laughing, speculating, connecting over the ups and downs of life.

Hope is....

looking into the eyes of your ladies at cell and seeing love, acceptance, concern, encouragement, desire, hope....

Hope is....

connecting with another woman in her pain and because "you have been there" actually makes a difference.

I read an article on a friend's page that was so cool! Studies were done showing that one of women's primary ways of coping with stress was taking care of children and bonding with other women! Check it out....did I mention it was cool? :) So really? Click HERE and check it out! Okay, okay! I'll stop now! HA!

Laughter is the best medicine...they say. I think laughing with a girlfriend in ALL of the best meds in the world!

Do you have a bff, girlfriend, group of girls that help you de-stress? Give a shout out to them in my comments below and PLAN some GIRL TIME!

Monday, July 19, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 5 - I'm a Survivor!

“When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always be worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.”

Day 5...haha...this is like my own personal little Survivor series...I just have to outwit, outplay, and outlast the devil! And I know that I will....Jesus has already won the victory, right? Right! Of course! But as the Scriptures say....the Spirit is willling but the flesh is weak...okay...moving on...

I stumbled across this Scripture that encouraged me today...

Romans 4:18 (New Living Translation)

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”

The chapter goes on to talk about how Abraham kept the faith for 100 YEARS!!! Can you imagine? You KNOW you will be the father of many nations! You KNOW that God has promised you descendants like the grains of sand on the seashore! BUT for 100 years you don't see the hand of God moving to make the promise happen.

YET..Abraham kept believing, saw the promise, and is now called the father of faith! What a journey! What a legacy!

May I have faith like Abraham to have HOPE each day to see the promise!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 4 - The Potential of Hope

So when you pick a topic to write on or hear a sermon in church and determine to act on it, inevitably, YOU KNOW that the devil being the devil, YOU WILL be challenged on that subject.

So I am writing on HOPE and in church we are learning about PRAYER.

These past few days looking at the world through eyes of hope or even being able to connect to God through prayer has felt like climbing Mt. Everest in the dead of winter.

Dale Carnegie said, "Most of the important things in this world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seems to be no hope at all."

That is sometimes all hope is to me...the potential in my darkest moment that there might be a light at the end of this endless tunnel...even when darkness seems to just envelop you like a shroud.

For that potential....I will keep writing....keep hoping....keep praying!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 3 - Hopelessness?

"When you say a person or situation is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God."

--Charles L. Allen

Pretty straight-forward, right? Not much to add...a challenge for us all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day 2 - Quotables

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise."
--Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a great writer, poet, & flamboyant personality of the late nineteenth century who died destitute at the age of 46.

"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark."
--George Iles

George Iles also lived in the late nineteenth century as a writer of autobiographies of actors as well as scientific explorers.

"Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery."
--Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell was British philosopher and mathematician who was an active pacifist during World War I and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950.

"Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

And finally, we all know Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a pastor and African American rights activist in America who became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was assassinated 4 years later.

Some days Hope seems like an illusive seductress, keeping her reach JUST out of your grasp, teasing and flirting with your heart strings. Each of these quotable men captured, lost, and captured again this mistress of hope at different stages of their lives.

No matter how large or small our place in the world, the desire, the battle, the NEED for HOPE is inside of all of us!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

30 Days of Hope: Day One

So I have decided to write about HOPE for the next 30 days.

Why? Well, even though, it might sound like "something I would write about" or "who you think I am" or maybe you are just reading just to see if there will be anything to this....HA! But it is something that I have lost--HOPE--and thanks to the inspiration of my pastor, Pastor Charne....I have decided to go on a journey to re-discover it again.

This is a challenge for me personally because every day doesn't always feel like a DAY of HOPE, and this past year has been especially hard to "keep my chin up". So, I will daily share a Scripture, a quote, a song, etc, and then I will share my thoughts, journey, and lessons learned. My first goal is to renew hope in my own heart, but I also hope that it will encourage you and help you on your own journey too, so I will share as openly as I can.

"These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitudes, leading the procession to the house of God with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." --Psalm 42:4-6

Today when I read this I pictured myself doing those things -- leading worship, leading cells, counseling people, dancing, shouting -- and the picture wasn't a wish. It was a remembrance, a memory...and that has been the sadness that I have found in my heart these past months -- the joys in my life, the person that I love to be, the passion that I was born with -- all these things seemed to be a memory, a part of my past, a place where I had passed through but never would again.

Today after reading this verse, I got some news that threatened to shatter the little flame of hope that had begun to burn in my heart, and while I can't share with you this heart-piercing news just yet, I KNOW that I will.....because I have HOPE that the outcome of what the devil has meant for destruction, for ruin, for discouragement, for despair, my GOD will turn this around.

How can I hope in the face of my greatest dream being threatened? How can I trust when it seems the deepest desire of my natural life is so far out of reach?

While, I don't have that answer for you, I can tell you this.....

I realized this week that I have spent a lot of nights, days, moments, months being angry at God.

"Why did the earthquake happen in Haiti?"

"Why did I come so close to losing the two people who have shaped me most significantly -- my mom and dad?"

"Why does it seems so hard for us to have our own children?"

Why? Why? Why? Why?

"WHY?"-- my favorite word as a child if you ask my parents...:) Then the word was filled with wonder and hope and discovery! These days the same word has been filled with heartbreak and angst and pain.


"No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame..." --Psalm 25:3

So yet I will praise Him, I will choose Him, I will depend on Him even when my patience, my faith, my heart falters....where else can I go....forever I determine to RUN after HIM!

"Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself, 'How did I get through all of that?'"

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