Postcards of Hope

I have been blessed to share a ray of hope from my experience with my Mama over on Stories of Hope in God (no longer running online).

Anita Hunt “runs the Scattering the Stones Christian ministry … a place of peace, praise, and prayer, with the aim to encourage you; focusing on the gifts of grace, joy & hope, with a thankful heart.”

 

She and her husband “live in the beautiful county of Dorset in England.”

Anita shares that she “had the pleasure of studying at Bible college, gaining a degree specialising in Theology and Pastoral care.” She says, “God called me to be a Christian writer sharing His love, hope, and Good News in 2011. My heart’s desire is to walk alongside those who are in pain, reflecting God’s love and grace, and share the Hope of the world (Matt 12:21).”

Stories of Hope in God is a part of her ministry and is a special place to sit awhile.

Hope-in-the-Lord

My story…

“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”  Psalm 13:6 ESV

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“How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me?
 

How long must I take counsel in my soul
 and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
 

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”   Psalm 13:1-2 ESV

I would cry the first line of words out over and over again as I would leave the nursing home where my mother had to spend the last five years of her life.  She took a terrible fall, shattering an ankle and the bones in her lower leg.  So after surgery, she would never be able to fully walk again, although she could stand up momentarily and get around in a wheelchair.  Previously, as well, her mind had slipped into a roller coaster of dementia-ridden fear, repetition, accusation, jealousy, confusion, and hallucinations.  The diabetes she got at age 55 turned to Type 1 at age 85, making her insulin-dependent until the day she died at age 98 years and 10 months.

I loved my Mama dearly.  She loved me, my sisters, and her one and only grandchild.  She lived near me the last fifteen years of her life.  I watched and lived my Mama’s life daily.  I loved to see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her motherly arms around me.  A mother’s love is mighty precious.  As her mind diminished, I found it most difficult to watch her change from a proud and strong woman to a dependent and often confused woman.  Mama raised us three girls alone after Daddy died from Pancreatic cancer.  We were only 12, 10, and 7.  She had her hands full raising three girls in the 1960s and 70s, but she did it.  She was pleased and proud of us all after we got through those rugged teen years.  She loved us through the hard places though and never gave up on any of us.  She was one of those gals during World War II who went to work for the war effort.  She married a Navy doctor.  She owned a dress shop.  She took care of herself, physically and mentally.  She was just an amazing lady.  But over time, not much it seemed, she changed so much that the mother I had always known was vanishing.  She had vascular dementia.  So as this disease diminished her mental abilities, along with the physical struggles, I came to see my Mama was just as vulnerable as I had been when I was a child.  She needed to be handled with respect, dignity, and loving care.  She needed strength when weakness overtook her.

As her daughter, I came to know a mother who I was quite unfamiliar with, but wanted to know.  I wanted to learn how to be the kind of daughter who could also give her the best care.  The nights when she would be so angry over something imaginary, or when her blood sugar would be extremely low and she needed to be hand fed, or the times when she would scream at a hard-working, poorly-paid staff member, I would be all torn up inside.  I was the one who needed care sometimes.  Yet, I would hold up while I was with her, calling upon the LORD to calm me and her.  When I would leave for the night, I would walk toward my car and cry out to the heavens, “How long, O LORD, how long?”  Not that I wanted her to die for I would (and do now) miss her terribly, but watching her mind go through so much, getting a very odd and extremely painful cancer the last year of her life, continually left me in stress and anguish over my Mama.  It all went on and on, and I just wondered if God had forgotten about her, about me.

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
  Psalm 13:3-4

But He had not.  God never left either of us.  The number of Mama’s days were in God’s hands.  God was our strength.  He is the LORD Who sees, Yahweh Roi.  He knows and sees all.  God was drawing Mama closer to Himself all along through prayer, through the precious witness of a kitchen staff member who would share her Bible study on Mom’s clear-minded days, and through the divine appointment of a Christian caregiver who came to be with Mom two nights a week so that I could spend those evenings with my husband.  And I know that God, Yahweh Roi, took her to heaven on that final numbered day.  He also drew me closer to Him through His Word, through the love of my husband, through His children on staff, and through quiet moments with Him as I sat with Mama during her sleeping times, or when I was on my knees in prayer before Him, or when I was alone with His Word on my lap.  Yahweh Roi, the LORD Who sees, never left me nor my Mama.  Drawing near to Him grew my relationship with the LORD and gave me peace and hope as I drew upon His power and might.  Through His love and hope for Mama’s future and mine, I have been reassured of His Presence and Omniscience in my life.  I know that I have a hope in the LORD that is truly unsinkable.  I can sing with joy for He, indeed, dealt with me bountifully.

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

Father God, I do rejoice and sing to You.  You truly have dealt with me bountifully and lovingly for I never walked alone through the many years caring for my mother.  During the hard times, you were with me, even when I forgot.  During my weaknesses, you never stopped holding me up.  As I walked around unknown corners, I would find You there waiting for me with the caress of Your Godly love.  Oh, Father, You have blessed me beyond my thoughts.  I know that my mother is with You and that I will one day be there too.  Your bountiful gifts never ceased even when I could not see them.  I look back and know that You were always there.  You are my God Whom I trust and sing to today because You have sustained me, loved me, comforted me, answered me, and, most of all, tenderly cared for and brought salvation to my Mama.  In the Perfect Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

…..

 

befuschiasig

 

 

Sustains, Lifts, Delivers

Psalm145-14

The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.  Psalm 145:14

The LORD helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.  NLT

The LORD upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.  NKJV

סָמַךְ

camak

to sustain, refresh, revive

זָקַףi

zaqaph

to raise up, to comfort the afflicted

God takes care of His own.

He upholds all that fall…we may fall, but we are not cast down, made downhearted, demoralized.  Illness, distress, falling into sin, into despair, can take us down, but God sustains us, keeps us near to His bosom.  His grace covers us, holds us up, may prevent the fall, recovers the fall quickly.  It is by His love that we are held and He holds our spirits up as well.

When affliction and oppression burden us, taking us down, God raises us, comforts us, brings us back into His arms.

Praise Him.  He is the Mighty One Who saves.

יָשַׁע

yasha`

to deliver, to save, be saved, to be liberated, be victorious, to save from moral troubles

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.
   Zephaniah3:16

Thank You, Father, for always being right here, for being ready to pick me up and hold me near.  Thank You for loving me unconditionally just as I am.  I am always mindful, LORD, that You have reached out to this child, caring about me, for me.  You rejoice over me with Your love…rejoice.over.me!  You.  The Father of all.  The Creator.  The Mighty One.  Oh, I am humbled because You love me.  You even sing over me.   I am just amazed, Father.  So amazed.  I just am as I smile widely.  In the beautiful Name of Jesus.  Amen.

 

 

Photo/graphic:  http://hearjesuschrist.blogspot.com/2012/01/bible-verse-wallpaper-psalm-14514.html

My Soul Glorifies the LORD

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And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 

and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  

And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  

For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  

Luke 1:41-49

Pondering Mary’s words as she magnifies the LORD.  Father, I pray I am able to humble myself as sweet Mary did at such a moment as this.  Power could have been hers.  To be worshiped could have been hers.  But she accepts the beautiful pregnancy of having Your Son being born through her and she does this with such a humble spirit.  Praise You, Father, for choosing Mary.  Praising Mary for being able to accept such a wondrous privilege.  I thank You, Father, for this time with You in Your Word.  In the Name of Your Only Son, I pray.  Amen.  

Being Woven ~linda

You Answer Me in the Joy of My Heart

Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink,

and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life,

which God giveth him: for it is his portion.  

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth,

and hath given him power to eat thereof,

and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.  

For he shall not much remember the days of his life;

because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.    

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 KJV

joy

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.  Proverbs 22:4

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Charge them that are rich in this world,

that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches,

but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

That they do good, that they be rich in good works,

ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,

that they may lay hold on eternal life.   

1 Timothy 6:17-19 KJV

 

You may have much gold and grandeur,
Yet by God be reckoned poor;
He alone has riches truly
Who has Christ, though nothing more. –Anon.

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But godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

Only when we trust in the Lord will we find true and lasting satisfaction. —Herbert Vander Lugt

trust-the-lord-with-all-your-heart

 

Father, I pray that my heart is pure towards You, that I will know that my life is only rich because of You, through Your Son, Jesus.  I cannot do anything without You.  You reward me as You will and only as You will, yet Your rewards are given freely.  I am poor and meek, but in You I am rich and blessed.  May my faith grow and remain steadfast in You.  You are the Giver of life.  You are my Hope, my Contentment, my Grace, and my Mercy.  Days are not always easy, nor does life carve a path on soft rolling hills, but on rugged mountains sometimes.  But Your Word says I shall not much remember the days of my life because You answer me in the joy of my heart.  The ears of my heart are open to You, O LORD.   I am humbled before You and overflow with joy for You.  I thank You.  Humbly, Your daughter.  Amen.

beblacksig

In Your Time

DSC_0249


LORD, as Your Word says in Ecclesiastes 3:1,
 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:…  Every purpose, Father, is in Your hands.  As my life is being reshaped by Your hands, the hands of my Potter, I am Your clay to be molded into that which You have called me, have made me.  I am Yours.  Joyously, I am Yours.  

I was thinking about Hannah today when you gifted her a child.  She had vowed to give her son to You, LORD, for all the days of his life if You would only give her a son.  You heard and answered her prayer; Samuel was born.  Hannah kept her promise, giving her precious child back to You.  Hannah and Elkanah dedicated Samuel to You and then she prayed words that truly were of her heart.  I lift my heart to You, Abba Father; Your Word – 1 Samuel 2 and Ecclesiastes 3 – from my heart to Yours …   

There is no one holy like You, LORD, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like You, my God. 

The bows of the mighty are shattered, But the feeble gird on strength.  

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

You, LORD, kill and make alive; You bring down to Sheol and raise up. 

A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal;

You make poor and rich; You bring low, and You also exalt. You raise the poor from the dust, lift the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; 

A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away;

For the pillars of the earth are Yours, LORD, and You set the world on them.  

You keep the feet of Your godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail. 

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:…

LORD, as Hannah began her prayer, I respond in her beautiful way… 

My heart exults in You, my LORD;  … Because I rejoice in Your salvation.  

For You bless me and adorn me in Your Presence, in Your Love, in Your very Name.  You have made everything beautiful in its time.  Also You have put eternity in my heart, except that no one can find out the work that You do from beginning to end.  

I know that whatever You do, It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it.
You do it, that men should fear before You.

Abba, set me on Your potter’s wheel.  Mold me and make me into Your daughter of obedience, into Your child of lovingkindness, into a life filled with hope and a future.  I know I have the Living Waters and the Bread of Life in me for I have asked for forgiveness and know that Your Son was resurrected from the dead.  You gave Your Son for me and I am ever so grateful.  Oh, Father, I love You so.  The words, “I don’t want to disappoint You” are on the tip of my tongue.  I also know that I must constantly seek Your face and be on my face before You.  I am teachable yet.  Hopefully for always.  As Hannah gave Samuel to You for all of his life, I give me for the rest of my life.  Thank You for loving me, LORD.  I pray in Your Son’s Holy Name.  Amen.


Photo:  Jay Raney

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 3:1, 1 Samuel 2:2, 4,  Ecclesiates 3:3b, 1 Samuel 2:6, Ecclesiastes 3:2-3a, 1 Samuel 2:7-8a, Ecclesiastes 3:6, 1 Samuel 2:8b-9, Ecclesiastes 3:1, 1 Samuel 2:1, Ecclesiates 3:11, 14

Release? Renewal? Refreshment?

Question to ponder from Soli Deo Gloria:

“What about the summer brought about a release of things ready to be let go,
or a vacation that evoked a sense of renewal,
or how do you long to be refreshed as the summer winds down and fall begins?”

As much as I would like to answer the first two parts of this question, I cannot.  I have done nothing that brought release…YET…not taken a vacation that provoked renewal…YET… ALTHOUGH… I certainly do long to be refreshed, renewed, and released.  So the third part of this question is where I am… this moment, this place.  I stand upon ground that is built upon the Rock and ask for this time.

I am looking upon a time, right around the corner, that is to be a start for real closure to my Mama’s death this past January 30th.  We will head to Washington, D.C., for burial of her ashes with my father’s remains in Arlington National Cemetery.  It has been over seven months.  It takes time for the scheduling of funerals at this honored cemetery. Mama wanted to be buried with her beloved husband of twenty years, he having had died fifty-three years ago.  Time….  Not only will there be a sense of this closure’s beginning, but there will be a time for more complete closure with Daddy’s death.  We were just kids.  Fifty-three years is a long time.  Time….  This should allow for RELEASE of a long-lived life, 98 years, almost 99, our Mama…. Time.  At last.

Then there is family time as some of the family will be there and be together in a place where we once lived when Daddy was stationed in Washington, D.C., with the Navy as a doctor.  We have a house and neighborhood to revisit, recalling moments of childhood.  More RELEASE along with some REFRESHMENT that comes with recalling young, memories with both parents.

We will have a new child in our family with us there. We will meet this 16 month old, Mama’s first great granddaughter whom she never got to meet, but knew all about.  REFRESHMENT in new life. From this time together, and then separating to return home to three different states, we will share special memories together, quiet thoughts that will be ours alone, gentle peace that will float down upon us as we have finally been able to lay this precious woman to rest. This is something that needs to happen before the next stage can actually begin, for me. This brings RENEWAL for me. I have been a caregiver for fifteen years and have felt that weight being lifted these past months, but it is time to move beyond the walls of burden through this final act.

Yes, I miss her terribly, but am ready to have this funeral behind us with new outlooks ahead. We have been waiting. Time has been ticking. We could not move forward until this happened. TIME. Our dreams and hopes have been in the air. We will have time to revisit them each, listen for God’s calling, and see where life might be taking us next.  RENEWAL IS NEEDED HERE. It is coming in God’s time.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 KJV

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Father God, I lift this funeral and small family gathering to You, for Your will.  I thank You for my Mama and know that You have her in Your hands.  May we here on this earth rest in You as this funeral comes and goes, and may we continue to depend upon You for our all, our provision, our future steps, our care and comfort.  Father, You are my LORD and have held me close to You.  You are the God of all comfort, my comfort for which I am ever so grateful.  I praise You and know that You are calming my heart and preparing the way before us.  Thank You, Abba.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Colors … Joy … God

colorful_spring

Clap your hands, all peoples!

Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
(Psalm 47:1 ESV)


Colorfully

Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!

Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;

Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,

O forest, and every tree in it;

For the LORD has redeemed Jacob

And in Israel He shows forth His glory.  

Isaiah 44:23

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; 

Praise is becoming to the upright.

Psalm 33:1

colorful_flowers

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; 
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.  
Psalm 32:11

lovely_butterfly

Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; 
He will comfort all her waste places. 
And her wilderness He will make like Eden, 
And her desert like the garden of the LORD; 
Joy and gladness will be found in her, 
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.  Isaiah 51:3

God  is Joy!

And I am His !

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
 Zephaniah 3:17

summer_flower


Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the LORD.
 Zechariah 2:10

butterfly


Heavenly Father, I write words on a blog page that describe You to me.  I write words that encourage my heart.  I need color in my life… color that makes me think of You, for You are my Joy.  I post graphics that are made by man that are so colorful and fun to look upon, but Your natural world is far brighter with the vividness of life.  Thank You for your flowers and creatures of every color.  Thinking of the joy of the LORD:  
 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV)   You walk with me through every step.  Thank You, LORD.  You hear my cries.  You see my smiles.  You know my heart and that it needs and desires color, rejoicing, joy!   I glorify You for Your Ways.  I call upon You, my LORD, for I want to be close to You.  I love You, my Abba.  Heal my grieving heart, LORD; heal my body from the four surgeries and keep me safe as I walk and work and do and be.  I need Your touch to heal me physically and emotionally, LORD.  I rejoice in You, my loving Father!  I look upon the colors of this world and find You looking at me through them.  This beautiful flutter-by says it all, doesn’t it, LORD?  You created this in such glory.  You are my joy, Abba Father.  And I pray with joy, in Your Holy Name.  Amen.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  1 Thessalonians 2:19 NKJV

Over Me?

Zephaniah 3:17

“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” 
NKJV

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save,
he will rejoice over thee with joy;
he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
  KJV

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  
NLT

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
   NASB

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing,….
  RSV

For all He does and has done for us, for me, I can surely, I can only, REJOICE in my LORD.
I am constantly amazed that He will sing over me.  He quiets me when I am restless, when anxiety takes over, when noise fills my head.  He delights in me, IN ME.  This Mighty God Who saves bends over me, loving me.  As he is right there, I can feel the breath of God upon me and know that His Holy Spirit dwells within me, teaches me, intercedes for me, loves me.  This Powerful God sings over me, rejoices over me, is glad I am His. How can I deny this love?  I cannot.
You will also be a crown of beauty (of splendor, of glory) in the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married.  For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.  Isaiah 62:3-5 NASB

“The conversion of sinners and the consolation of saints are the joy of angels, for they are the joy of God him-self.”  Matthew Henry

Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King.  Psalm 48:2 NASB

“He will rest in his love, will be silent in his love, so the word is.”  Matthew Henry

“I will not rebuke thee as I have done, for thy sins; I will acquiesce in thee, and in my relation to thee.”  Matthew Henry

“O the condescensions of divine grace! The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them, is pleased that he has pitched upon these objects of his love. He will joy over them with singing. He that is grieved for the sin of sinners rejoices in the graces and services of the saints, and is ready to express that joy by singing over them. The Lord takes plea-sure in those that fear him, and in them Jesus Christ will shortly be glorified and admired.”  Matthew Henry


graphics:  all three from www.heartlight.org/gallery