Monday, December 31, 2012


iPhone snapshot after our recent blizzard

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD." 
Psalm 31:24

"Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy." 
Psalm 33:18

"Why are you cast down, oh my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 42:11

"For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth." Psalm 71:5

"But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more." Psalm 71:14

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope." Psalm 130:5

"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God." 
Psalm 146:5

HOPE. Such a short word. Only four letters. But that one little word makes a world of difference in daily life.

Hope is what we crave. 
Love this song by for KING & COUNTRY

It's presence means joy, peace, dreams, and optimism.

It's absence means depression, anger, defeat, and gloom.

With everything in me, I've been fighting for hope lately. "The most wonderful time of the year" has been challenging and I'm fighting for the wonderfulness. There have been many happy moments.

Food, family, fun, fellowship, snow...

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD." Jeremiah 17:7

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I hope in Him!' The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth." Lamentations 3:22-27

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

"For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:24-26

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." Romans 12:9-13

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:7

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." Hebrews 11:1

And yet through all the happy moments and rounds of laughter and plates of deliciousness, has been an overwhelming sense of anxiety, fear, depression, and hopelessness.

Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." And I have to say, that my heart has actually physically been hurting through all this "deferred" hope, crushed dreams, and uncertainties about the future.

My entire life is up in the air. Decisions are being faced that I thought were months out (at least). Relationships are not where I'd hoped they'd be.

As I fight this hourly battle, I'm reminded through these verses that the Lord alone must be my hope.

Not a job.

Not a bank account.

Not a home.

Not a car.

Not a boyfriend.

Not resolved family issues.

Not renewed health.

Not amazing friends.

Not staying out of the hospital.

Jesus is the reason I live and breathe. 
Amazing song by Casting Crowns.

It must be Jesus. Only Jesus.

His love.

His kindness.

His joy.

His strength.

His provision.

His plans.

His protection.

His comfort.

His peace.

Jesus. He is HOPE.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Heartbreak is Beautiful

My lovely sister-in-law texted me the YouTube link to this song today.  The first time I watched it and listened to the lyrics, I couldn't stop the tears from springing to my eyes or swallow the sudden lump in my throat.  Like so many people, it feels like this song was written just for me.

God has led me through more brokenness and heartbreak throughout the past several years, and especially this year, than is easy to recall.  Humanly, I've often wished or prayed that He'd take the pain and suffering away.  The mountains of difficult relationships, broken hearts, physical pain, emotional trauma, sleepless nights, floods of tears, and financial/job related times I've just wished them all to be gone.

"Life decided to change my plans and I found a mountain in the middle of my road."  That is how I could describe my whole life.  At the same time, watching my God bring beauty from the pain, flood me with His grace in even greater amounts than my innumerable tears, and shower me with love when I didn't think I could take another minute of the suffering, has made it all worth it.   

My life is nothing like I ever pictured it would be.  Nothing like it.  But as God has stripped things away one after another, after another, after another, I've been forced to cling more tightly to Him and Him alone.  This is what makes it all a beautiful heartbreak.

Heartbreak is beautiful when Jesus is glorified through it.  

Heartbreak is beautiful when I am sanctified through it.

Heartbreak is beautiful when it draws friends and family closer.

Heartbreak is beautiful when it unites the Body of Christ.

Heartbreak is beautiful when it becomes a testimony to a lost world.

Heartbreak is beautiful when God's hand holds it.

Heartbreak is beautiful when it draws us into closer relationship with Jesus.

Heartbreak is beautiful when it strips prejudices and differences in struggling relationships.

Heartbreak is beautiful when it touches us, having passed through our Father's hand.

Heartbreak is beautiful when there is an eternal good purpose for it.  

Heartbreak is beautiful when we let Jesus make it beautiful.

I'm not going to lie.  Heartbreak is hard.  Incredibly hard.  Letting it be "beautiful" is a daily, hourly choice.  It's hard to choose trust, faith, joy, love, and contentment over bitterness, anger, and discouragement.  It's hard to trust God to make each heartbreak beautiful when, from our point of view, it looks ugly as hell and hurts so much we can barely breathe.

But those hours, days, weeks, and months when we let God take each mountain, storm, and broken piece and hold it all in His hands, life becomes beautiful, no matter how painful.  It's only something He can do.  And the beauty, grace, and faith that He grows in us through the storms is the most beautiful and precious thing He could ever do in and for us.

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10)

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith in this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:1-5)

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."  (Romans 8:28-30)

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? Itis Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-39)

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Birthday Blogging

Love this photo that I snapped on my iPhone a couple months ago. It reminds me of God!

It's 2:23am on my 23rd birthday and I can't sleep.  

Physically I'm completely exhausted, worn out, and sick.  

Emotionally I'm drained and spiritually I'm tired.

I've been reading back through many of my blog posts from earlier this year.  It's still crazy to me all that God has led me through, carried me through, loved me through.

Earlier tonight I was telling a friend how tired I am.  And I don't just mean physically; I mean tired from life.  It can be hard to keep pressing on when life is hard.  

As I reflect on this past year of life and think ahead to the new one, my heart's desire is to draw strength from my great God each and every day.  On the exhausting days when I want to give up, on the days I'm my spunky, spontaneous, crazy self.

Jesus Christ is an endless, rich, abundant source of life, joy, peace, and love.  No person and no circumstance is beyond His reach, beyond His care.

Not the friends facing the loss of their father and grandfather.

Not the friend whose husband left her.

Not the close friend struggling with heart-wrenching challenges.

Not the woman regretting giving up the life of her unborn child.

Not the child with leukemia.

Not me in my weakness.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1)

God offers His help through anything and everything.  We just need to accept it.  That requires faith and sometimes a lot of it.  It's not easy and it's certainly not natural.  

After a year of learning more about faith than I ever have before, a year where my faith has experienced more ups and downs than I ever thought it would, I have to say that the path of faith and trust is always better.  But it's a daily choice and a daily battle.  There is major war going on.  The biggest war is the one I have within me.

Looking ahead to my 24th year of life, I'm so thankful I have God on my side, fighting for me.  I'm excited (okay, and a little scared) to see what He has in store on this crazy journey called life.  He's surrounded me with incredible family and friends throughout each adventure.  A year from now, I look forward to looking back and seeing all He has done!