Tag Archives: hope

ADVENT 2017 – HOPE #3

It has been one of those nights when all I’ve done is find one podcast after another (and should I  mention that I really don’t like to listen to them at all .  I am a visual learner who does much better watching body cues and facial expression while I listen). Podcasts that popped up in various ways and yet – all related – tied together by theme and content. And now, they are all tumbling around in my head as I am watching seasonal, up-lifting movies, praying off and on, working on a Christmas stocking, and enjoying the colorful lights that decorate my house.

I am blessed. Blessed beyond time. Blessed with unending HOPE.

And yet – I yearn for more.  Yearn to understand more.  Yearn to peek over the balcony in my own world. I can see my cover picture on FB. It is entitled, “Heaven’s balcony” by Ron DiCianni. When I first saw it, it struck me that this has always been the way I pictured angels and my loved ones as they look down from heaven at the rest of us – – – a time of peeking over the rails of clouds into the murky world below.

Can you imagine what Heaven’s balcony looked like when Zechariah was in the temple? At the annunciation to a young girl? At the moment when John leapt in Elizabeth’s belly? On the night of Yeshua’s birth?

Can you imagine them seeing the HOPE that shown in the eyes of a weary couple – in a place – a place they had never envisioned as the perfect spot to birth a babe – let alone – their baby?

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”~Lk 2:6-7

HOPE.

Whether it is a balcony full of angels blowing golden trumpets – – – a choir of heavenly voices – – – a multitude of candles forming a humongous star – – – on that blessed night, there was HOPE. A gathering of notes. An accumulation of lights. A stairway of prayers from heaven to earth. “…a kingdom come…”

HOPE.

“And the word of our God stands for eternities. And this is that word by which you have been evangelized.”~1 Pt 1:25

This is not at all what I was going to write about tonight. As it often is the case, the pictures change in my head, and the words change with them. We celebrate the memory of HOPE during this season, but the great news is – HOPE remains in this murky world. Scary as it seems at times. Frightful as the world turns upside down. Humbling as the knees fold.

But for those “poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungering/thirsting, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted” – – – HOPE remains in this world and I yearn – yearn for even more HOPE.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”~Rm 8:24-25 [google images/Ron DiCianni art]heaven's balcony

ADVENT 2017 HOPE #1

“This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.”

“I don’t like to say, God, Grandma.” (I think my jaw had started to drop to the steering wheel before she added) “I like to say, G – O – D.”

I wish I could have seen her face when the Granddaughter said those two sentences – I wish I could have seen mine. Then Grandson asked, “Why?”

“I just thinks it sounds better. More like G – O – D.” Grandson then spelled out the name G – O – D.

I think I kinda chuckled and responded, “You know, G – O – D agrees with you. Although He used the letters, Y – H – W – H.”

“Well, how do you say that?” Grandson asked.

“In English, Yahweh or Jehovah.”

Kidlets then said each of those names until Granddaughter finally added that she still liked G – O – D best. Grandson and I agreed, and the conversation moved on to the Snow White play that Granddaughter had been a part of in her class that day.

Simple conversations in a car on an ordinary day. Ordinary days have strange turns when we open the door and allow His Hand to work in our lives. “…thy kingdom come…”~Lk 11:2 takes on a whole new understanding. HOPE appears.

“I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”

Christmas decorations are up. Furbabies are all healthy. The first Sunday of Advent 2017 has arrived with a Super Moon. The Holy Spirit was moving in church today. Cold weather is on its way from the North. I guess Christmas season is officially here.

What I really treasure about how God works is that He always sends signs and prophets and messengers before He moves His hand in our world – in our ordinary days – in our “hopeless” days. Sometimes we just don’t see so well, just don’t listen so well and just try to cower under our beds when it is bigger than we want to think about right now. Well – – at least – – that is how I re-act. I’m very good at cowering, but I am trying to be much braver.

HOPE.

This is the month, that we tend to remember those things that send us cowering under the bed – burying our heads in our hands – wishing it was tomorrow already – sticking our fingers in our ears and singing our favorite song. If we have faith, that is when HOPE lights a tiny dot in our brain, and we manage to inch our way closer to the edge of the bed, take our fingers out of our ears, open our eyes to peek out into that darkened room.

HOPE.

Maybe we can handle it. The dot grows larger. Maybe the messenger wasn’t so scary in all its brightness. The darkened room is bathed in twilight. Maybe the prophets were right with all their yakety-yak. Did you know that the elbows work really well to pull the body further out into the room? Maybe the stars, the sun, the moon were all sending out a message that we needed to hear after all.

HOPE.

HOPE changes the world. HOPE changes the paths we walk. HOPE leads to conversations. HOPE brings even more light. HOPE is the beginning of re-birth.

HOPE.

“No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”~Heb 8:10-12 [google images]

Advent 2016 #2/7: The Dare

“The manger dares us to believe the best is yet to be. And it could all begin today.”~Max Lucado (p141)

“Double dare you.”

“Dare to believe…”

“Dare to dream.”

“Dare to believe…”

“Dare not wait.”

“Dare to believe…”

If you were Mary would you “dare to believe” that the same loving Abba who sent an angel to speak to you; who asked you to endure gossip, hatred, banishment, even the threat of stoning, would ask of you to give birth in a smelly stable?

“Dare to believe..”

If you were Joseph, would you “dare to believe” that the same Jehovah-Jireh who sent an angel in a dream to call this child His own, would provide such a place for His son to be born?

“Dare to believe…”

If you were the shepherds would you “dare to believe” that a holy child of God was lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and parents who looked like you?

“Dare to believe…”

If you were wise men would you “dare to believe” that this is child lying in the manger was truly worthy of your fine gifts?

It is as if God went out of His way to “dare them to believe”. He didn’t want them to believe this was His son based on their physical senses or the reality of their everyday lives. Instead – He gave them signs in the heavens and dared them to have faith when they got there.

“Dare to believe…”

Elohim is still doing that. He is giving us signs in the WORD, the heavens and through His prophets, but He also continues to ask us to have faith when we get there if it doesn’t look like we think it should. Our physical senses may be offended – the world view of our reality may shout at us that we are idiots – but it is through our faith dare that we will see beyond the manger and see the Son of the Most High cooing a blessing.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”~Lk 2:7

It is my HOPE in this first week of Advent that we all “Dare to Believe”.

Because of Christmas #11: HopeTree

“You, me, and the Christmas tree. Picked purchased, and pruned. Trust God’s work.”~Max Lucado (p127)
 
Advent begins tomorrow. The annunciation was only the beginning – – – the beginning of hope. The trees of the garden have been locked away for so long because of our poor choices. Is it any wonder that salvation came wrapped – in so many ways – in the cloak of a tree?
 
“Who Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having been dead to sins, we might live to righteousness…” ~1Peter 2:24a
 
Hope.
 
It is the reason we cry during those sappy Christmas movies. The reason we want to pull the tree out of the attic before Thanksgiving. The reason we can halfway stand the pain when a loved one leaves this temporal plane. The reason that everyone feels like singing “O Christmas Tree” even if they can’t carry a tune in a a tree-holding bucket.
 
A Tree of Hope.
 
Today, I managed to get one of my Christmas trees in place. Now don’t get too excited. My trees are of the 3 foot variety, and they sit in Rubbermaid containers most of the year. There are no ornaments on it tonight. There are no presents beneath it’s branches. For tonight, my Grandma Mac’s creche sits beneath it and my version of the annunciation angel and heavenly lights are its only decoration. It won’t stay that way, but for tonight, it is perfect and I am content.
 
“And having looked up, he [the blind man]was saying, “I see the men, for I see them as trees walking.” ~Mk 8:24
 
Sometimes – we see ourselves as that mighty oak tree in the middle of a field. Strong. Resilient. But often -we become too hard, Grow too tall, Don’t sink our roots deep enough. Allowing the swirling winds of this world to whip us this way and that. Letting the storms of life rip our leaves, fruit and sometimes – even the limbs off our trunk. It is only after we recognize the new Tree of Life -you know – the one that the Father sent to save us from ourselves – that our “blind” eyes are finally opened. In His light we can become the sapling that we were always meant to be so that we might bare more hope-filled fruit for those around us.
 
Because of Christmas – we have the Hope Tree. 
[google image]

RATIONS 100 DAYS! #91

All day I stayed away from the news. I cleaned my in-box of all news related posts. I listened to Christmas music and sang – loudly – as I worked on things around the house. I was in a great mood. Then I got on FB.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”~ 1 Cor 13:13
I have friends from every spectrum of God’s rainbow, and I love hearing and reading their views most of the time. I usually learn a lot. But the last few weeks of the election cycle have been more than enough to convince me that there is a lot of ugliness out there that I really don’t need to continuously read. It is hard to ‘…keep faith, hope and love…’ in the forefront of who I want to be during times like these. My first instinct is to run and ignore.
And then – today’s Ration starts to appear under my fingers. God shouts His reminder. He hollers loud and clear in my soul: “I HAVE GOT THIS.” He patiently reminds me through this 70+ year old Ration, that birth pangs are not easy to live through, but live through them we must to share His Light during a tough time. Errrr…I should know this.
When you push and push and push yourself forward in faith, hope and love, the pain fades and the dream of what is to come takes on reality, dimensional shifts occur and spiritual shifts are completed. It is just a matter of remembering that birth pangs DO pass and bring something beyond beautiful to the world.
We may not see it on this side of the veil, but God does. This Ration refers us to Revelation, but God had Isaiah speak it even earlier:
‘On this mountain He will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
He will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.’
“…He will remove the shroud…” I love that image. His hand pulling the shroud off of us – rebellion – sin- pain – death.  These birth pangs will pass. They will remove that veil of grief. A beautiful world awaits. It is a matter of faith, hope but most of all – love.
1942 Daily Ration: ” ‘Now abideth. . .hope.’~1 Cor 13:13
“Read: Revelation 21:1-2
“”St. Paul lists hope as one of the three permanent Christian qualities. It is no easy thing always to be hopeful. The tragedies of a world at war cannot be laughed off. But Christian hope does not mean an ignoring of things as they are, but rather an anticipation of things as they ought to be. Jesus foretold that wars would come, but said they would mark ot the end but ‘the beginning of birth pangs’. Through the ages the world has been indebted to those who could see in present suffering the birth of a new life and in the darkness of night the coming of dawn.
“One night I was awakened by pain, and while lying in darkness, i heard the birds announce the coming of dawn. Possibly the pain or drowsiness kept me from seeing the coming of the new day, but those little birds saw it. Likewise in a world of suffering and spiritual lethargy, there is a great need for Christians who with characteristic hopefulness can see the dawn from afar, and who may be co-workers with God for the building of a new world.

“Prayer: O Lord, as in the beginning ‘the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,” so now we still affirm our faith in thy eternal goodness and dedicate ourselves again to thy Kingdom of light. In Christ’s name. Amen.” [google images]

4 of 7: JOY

HobbitDJ4 of 7: JOY. “The birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of man’s history.” ~ John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973)

pictures-by-jrr-tolkien-24-728Today is the day. A day when magic and amazing creatures emerge from their hiding place as the Hobbit returns to the big screen one last time. Did you know that Tolkien was a very staunch Catholic? That he fought in WWI? Had four children (one became a priest), and… at one time…had no idea what a Hobbit was? Did you know that he wrote the series as a warning as he watched the rise of Hitler and hatereds of the 1930’s? JOY was a hard thing to find as the world struggled to recover its balance after “the war to end all wars”.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit“. ~unknown Oxford student of J.R.R. Tolkien written on a blank final exam page.

JOY for a teacher often comes from the students. In this case, the above quote is what started Tolkien on the journey of his life. He had no idea what a hobbit was, but ever curious, he began to wonder, research and “see” the story in another world unfold in his mind. Ancient battle between darkness and light was being re-born  in a new allegory. JOY was born in his children as they listened to his bedtime stories of hobbits and elves and drawfs. JOY to the literary community as story after story bloomed from his soul and pen. JOY to the world as the stories he wrote became classics to generations of children. A story that told his beliefs of right vs wrong – light vs darkness – principalities vs principalities – rebellion of children and their Father.

Tolkien used the word eucatastrohpe to describe the moment when light utterly MS-Tolkien-drawings-28destorys darkness, and righteousness returns to reign over the world once more. God has written a book that could be called “LORD of All Creation”…a story that took shape not only on stone tablets but in our hearts, our minds and our souls as well. He sent JOY to replace the sadness of sin. LOVE to warm the coldness of a stormy night. HOPE to ease our fears and sorrows with a world spinning out of our control. Advent is a time to see the JOY, the LOVE, the HOPE in all things around us and to remember the Son who, though born as lowly as a hobbit, would one day deliver eucastastrophe to the world forever.. (Do you see why Tolkien chose the Hobbit to save the world now?)

(google images of Hobbit images)

7 of 7: HOPE

christmas star7 of 7: HOPE. O Father – I come —– broken —– hopeless —– knees pierced by the stones of selfish sins………on the stormiest of nights – when darkness has dug its deepest pit – and sadness presses me so deeply into the ground that I feel as if I will never see the light of day again…I claw with desparate fingers from the mire that threatens to suffogate with its heaviness….yet even so – not strong enough to pull free and still buried too deeply beneath the the dirt and filth that is the curse of erroneous choices upon this plane……that is when I yearn to see Thy face the most.waiting… pleading with words I do not know…then,,,lightly at first…a bright ray breaks the darkness…HOPE blooms and the heart sings…”O come, o come, Emmanuel…”

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” Lk 2:1

5 of 7: HOPE

hope4 of 7: HOPE. Tonight is a hard night to write – there is a musical on TV and my focus is not where it is supposed to be right now. Sigh! Earlier, when I was outside, enjoying the warmth of the spa and watching the moon play peek-a-boo behind the clouds, the words were writing themselves in my head. For some reason, things are always much clearer for me under a tree, basking in the sun or (as it was tonight), sitting under a cloudy sky. When life turns topsey-turvey and the heart is torn between the choices of righteousness and the world, I tend to wander outside and look up. Hoping to see more clearly. Hoping to hear more clearly. Hoping to reach just a little higher…..

LINCOLNIt is rumored between various diaries and jourals of the time, that President Lincoln used to walk the halls when big decisions weighed on his mind. As he wrestled with the decision to emancipate the slaves, I fear he must hae worn a hole in the rugs. I’m sure he had advisors on both sides telling him whatever decision he made would destroy the union,which at that time if you remember, was less than a 100 years old. A month before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he went before Congress and stated,

“We know how to save the Union…we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave,…We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best HOPE of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”. ~Pres Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862.

150+ years later, the “last best HOPE of earth [mankind]” is a phrase that is tossed yeshua high priestaround often by new politicians and pundits, but these days its reference is the United States itself. As if we had any power at all to save the world…to save a group of people…or change a life. HOPE, in this case, has become a noun. It is no longer actively pursuing “the HOPE” that was given to the world (if you get the metaphor). HOPE that became a man. HOPE that was the perfect expression of God’s will on earth. The HOPE that was the foundation of this nation. That was the “last best HOPE of earth”.

I like to think that President Lincoln was referring to the real “last best HOPE of earth” as he wrote his address to Congress, but that is just me. Perhaps as the weight of the presidency leaned on him, he found a place to lean, and according to many sources, that is fairly accurate assessment. In any case, to me that “last best HOPE of earth” is still watching, still holding out His hand, still waiting to see what we will choose. It is still a verb. It is still HOPING that we will reach back and walk with Him “…on earth as it is in heaven…”

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/congress.htm

4 of 7: HOPE

idioms3 of 7: HOPE. Today I started my day with an idiom within a joke. “Have you heard about the cat who ate some cheese, breathed into a mouse hole, and waited with baited breath?” Don’t cha love idioms? They never mean what they say, but they express a sentiment so well. And….the our English language is full of them, No wonder immigrants pull their hair out trying to learn English.

Like usual, my mind took off on a tangent as I started thinking about all the idioms or axioms that surround the word HOPE. Needless to say, the first one that came to mind was a quote that I had used many times in the classroom: “HOPE for the best, prepare for the worst” Alexander Norton in the 1600’s. From there – it went downhill (see how often we use idioms???)…

axiomsThe Cleveland Browns are beyond HOPE….
If my paycheck doesn’t grow, we are out of HOPE
We are down to our last HOPE
Selling HOPE
Beyond HOPE….

Most of the time, ‘HOPE springs eternal’ in our country. People see the depressing news, eat their supper, take their kids to their sports practices or games, escape into TV land, lay their heads on a pillow and HOPE that tomorrow is better.than today. We get it naturally since our country was founded on Christian values (and yes, I know there are people who disagree with that statement, but I’ve done my own research and disagree with them).

“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” Lk 1:30

An old Greek axiom states: “If it were not for HOPE, the heart would break.” HOPE is that light in the darkness. Mary heard the angel speak, felt the changes within her. I know she must have had some pretty dark days – especially when she told Joseph what was transpiring. HOPE was the light she clung to as she walked this path virtually alone. God was with her. Angels were with her. But physically, she was walking a faith path…scared and alone. Luke never mentions her parents, Anna and Joachim No close friends are mentioned. Only Elizabeth who was also walking a faith path of her own. No wonder Mary went on a journey to visit her for a few weeks. Her heart was probably close to breaking.

Advent has a way of bringing the spiritual realm a little closer to the physical. It is our touchstone to a time when God and His Son made this amazing plan to build a new road into our world – a road with a bridge between our two dimensions A road that eventually – if we choose to walk on it – will lead us to grace, salvation, and “,,,Thy kingdom come…”  A road of HOPE.light-hope_00332387

2 of 7: Hope

light-hope_00332387Wasn’t it just Halloween? Suddenly, we’re a whole month past that – past the days of gratitude and into the shortest, darkest days of the year. Just how did that happen? That old adage of “time flies” certainly seems appropriate these days. Wake up in the morning, do half of what was on the day’s list, and before you know it, the yawns signal that it is time for sleep again. Time is hastening by at speeds unknown on this side of heaven. I feel very small at times like these.

“I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant…” Gen 32:10a

It is times like these I understand the word, “humble”. The first Hebrew word in the Bible verse above is “katonti”. It literally means “I am small”, Jacob said these words as he was returning home to re-unite with Esau after 22 years. It was a time of thanksgiving for Jacob. He was hoping for a thanksgiving dinner – a time with the family being all together. I wonder if time seemed like it was flying by for him as well?

During those dark days of travel, Jacob had hope. Hope that his brother had forgiven him. Hope that his gifts would be recieved well. Hope that the family would be together once more. It was the light that filteed through the darkness, lit the path, so that he could keep his feet on the road. Hope.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 Jn 5:14-15

We have Jacob’s hope living in us today. Hope filtering through these dark days in the form of a promise. Hope that our “Brother” will know our name when we walk before our “Father”. Hope that our gifts are recieved well. Hope that there will be a Thanksgiving dinner. Hope that the family will be together once more. This is what the first week of Advent is all about. The 1st of 7 days to concentrate our hope until it forms a point of the Christmas Star.16-shoot-of-jesse2