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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

sighThis is another in a series of letters to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, with reality for all of us.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“Sigh.”

How many times have I said, “Sigh”?!  With a deep sigh.

When my prodigal does the same thing again!

When an anticipated good outcome becomes not good at all.

When bad choices require hard choices of me.

When my prayers don’t seem to accomplish anything.

A sigh is a lament.  It expresses sorrow, yearning, weariness, resignation.

And when our journey is ongoing, and our prodigal keeps making the same poor choices, and the pain is weariness, we are deeply sad.  We do sigh in resignation, despair, even hopelessness.

We make a lament.

Which is very biblical.

A lament is an elegy or a dirge.  It is verbalizing our mourning.

And many times we are in mourning, lamenting the loss of peace and hope and dreams.

Scripture has an entire book of laments:  Lamentations.

God is not offended by our tears, our laments, our sighs.  He understands.  He receives and treasures them.  He reaches out to comfort and encourage. He invites us to rest in Him.  To hope in Him.

sigh linusIt is then that a wonderful thing happens.  My sigh changes.  Instead of sorrow and resignation, it becomes my response to His invitations:  A sigh of being understood and accepted, of leaning on Him, of snuggling into His arms, of resting in peace and even contentment.

I have sighed often in the past six months.  And just when I thought the sighing was done, it is back.

So I am giving my lament to God, and asking him to transform my sighing from despair to trust.

May He do the same for you.

Love and grace for your new year.

Judy

What about you?  What causes you to “sigh”?

c2013 Judy Douglass

If you love a prodigal and would like to join this loving, praying community, write to PrayerforProdigalsatgmaildotcom and request an invitation.

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It’s time for change.  The old year ends, a new year begins.  We reflect on the past 365 days—highlights and lowlights, choices made, dreams pursued or lost, rejoicing or regrets.  And we ponder the coming year:  expectations, resolutions, hopes, dreams. 

I wrote this a couple of years ago—about an ending and a beginning.  As I reread it, it was a good reminder about the pain and hope in ending one chapter and beginning a new one.  May it help you as you prepare to say good-bye to 2012 and good morning to 2013.

book pages

Finishing a good book is bittersweet for me.  I love being in the story, knowing the people, being a part of the action.  But when I turn the last page, I feel sad.  It’s over.  My life will go on, but those brief relationships will end.

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.   (more…)

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Loss, pain, loneliness, hopelessness, betrayal.

Tears.  Cries.

Desperate!

Been there.  Done that.  Did not like it!

When life—the things, the people, the needs—is out of control…when I can’t make things happen the way I want…when it goes on and on…when  there is much pain and little hope…desperation takes over.

Our friend King David understood.  Hear his cry of desperation in Psalm 142:

I cry aloud to the Lord;

    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.

I pour out before him my complaint;

    before him I tell my trouble….

Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;

    no one is concerned for me.

I have no refuge;

    no one cares for my life….

Listen to my cry,

    for I am in desperate need…

God welcomes our cries.  He knows life in this fallen world is difficult, painful, desperate.

When I am desperate, I eventually:

*Fall on my face before God, usually literally.

I pour out my desperation, I cry out to Him, I admit my hurt, my disappointment, my fear,  my frustration, my anger.  I tell him once again that my life is not the way I want it.

*Say “Thank You, Lord.”

Not for my desperation, but in my desperation.  Thus, acknowledging that I know and believe that He is God and He is good.

*Open my hands. 

Often that means literally making a fist—holding tight to my wants and desires, my hopes and fears, my pain and hopelessness—and then one by one prying my fingers open so God can take out what He wants and put in His very good for me.

*Rest in Him. 

Sometimes the release and relief are immediate.  Other times it takes time.  But the leaning into Him and experiencing His comfort and peace produce healing and hope and rest.

David recognized that only the Lord could free him from his desperate place:

I cry to you, Lord;

    I say, “You are my refuge,

    my portion in the land of the living.”

Set me free from my prison,

    that I may praise your name.

I can gain comfort and encouragement from family, friends, books, counselors….  But when I am desperate, there is truly only one place to find deliverance:  the God who loves me and promises to care for me.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all… (Psalm 34:17-19)

 

What about you?  Are you desperate yet?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I’m a mom and a grandmother (Jeedoo is my grandmother name.)  And all you young moms, I know how weary you can be.  But I tell you, I am weary too–and it has to do with the lifelong nature of motherhood.  So I am thrilled to tell you about a wonderful little resource:  Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin.  Here’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Do you know what is powerful?

Hope.

“Hope” is the kind of word that makes us close our eyes and think ,“I could use a little bit of that tossed my way.” We need it in the morning when we stir our coffee and we need it as we lay our heads down on our pillows at night to drift off to sleep.

I know a thing or two about needing hope.  Last year I was buried by the task of mothering my four girls. I decided to pour out my heart in a blog post called, “Steve Jobs, Me, and Being Fresh out of Amazing.”  In it I said:

“I’ve pretty much fallen short in every category. I am tired and not really good for much right now. The trouble is, Lord, I need to be amazing and I’m fresh out of amazing. At least it sure feels that way. Lord, I’m dry. Empty. Hit the wall. I got nothing.”

To my surprise this blog post resonated with women. Out of it grew a blog series with my friend Brooke McGlothlin and from that a tiny e-book called “Hope for the Weary Mom” was born. Along the way we found thousands of other moms who said, “I could have written this book.”  The only complaint we received about the e-book was that I wasn’t long enough.  So we decided to expand the original e-book by 50%, add new chapters, resources and a Q&A section. The newly expanded e-book released yesterday on Amazon.

Brooke and I are just two weary moms who met God in the middle of our messy lives and found each other. We are pulling back the veil, sharing real stories from our lives and pointing women to the only source of true hope, Jesus.

Our desire is that every mom who needs it will be able to pick up this new book. We are offering “Hope” today (10/24/2012) free for Kindle readers through Amazon. We actually opened up the free offer yesterday and saw the neatest thing happen. Hope began to spread.

We are trusting God with this message. Hope has always been His idea. He is the one who chose to write the story through us. We are humbled to be used by Him in this way.

You can find your free copy of “Hope for the Weary Mom” here.

While you are at it, why not send it for free to a friend? All you need is her email address to send it.

“See, hope is not a wish or a sprinkle of magical fairy dust. Hope is a person. Hope comes with flesh and blood in Jesus. When I call to Him, He comes quickly,” P.22

Let’s share Hope today and watch what happens.

Stacey is Mikes’s wife and the mother of four vibrant girls. She is a believer and writer who loves God’s Word and connecting with women. You can find her blogging at 29lincoln Avenue and on Facebook and Twitter where she usually hangs out with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Stacey Thacker

blog :: 29lincolnavenue.com

:: a place to grow, connect and encourage hearts

twitter :: stacey@29lincoln

my ebook:  Hope for the Weary Mom is now available on Amazon

:: get my newest resource “What God Wants You to Know” free.

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Wait.  Not my favorite word, though certainly one of God’s.

I’ve been waiting for lots of things lately:  a new baby coming any day, for some finally arrived time with my sisters, for a break in my travel/ministry schedule, for resolution in some relationship situations, for peace in a great loss, for time to write….

Some waiting is joyful—I am eager for the outcome!  Other waiting is very painful, and then it is hard to keep hope alive.

King David had lots of opportunities to wait, and I have found his experiences have helped me persevere through God’s times of waiting for me.  Psalm 27 is such a story.

David’s Reality

Psalm 27:13-14: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

The setting: David is in trouble: wicked assailants, enemies, war.

His response: Ps. 27:8: I will seek the face of the Lord.

His conclusion: I can wait with hope.

Meanings:

“Still confident”: aman—believe, hold up, build up or support, render firm

“Wait”: qavah—to bind together, to expect, to look for patiently, to wait for or on or upon

“Be strong”: chazaq—fasten on, seize, bind, confirm, conquer, be courageous

“Take heart”: lev—emotions plus will and intellect—total inner being.

What David is saying:

There is trouble all around me. Enemies desire to destroy me. But I seek the Lord. And He meets me and rescues me.

Therefore I am confident that my belief/trust in God is firm. I am connected to Him. I can believe that I will see God’s goodness in the land of the living as well as in heaven.

So I can wait with hope. I can in my heart bind together the difficult present with a hopeful future (in this world) of God’s involvement and goodness. I can live in light of God.

I will therefore be strong. I will seize and fasten on God and who He is. I will take heart and will bring my emotions, intellect and will under His loving sovereignty.

I will eagerly anticipate what God will do. I will wait with hope.

And therefore I can say:

Lord, you know the pain I am experiencing because of the choices I have made, or my child has made, or the pain life has brought. You know I want to trust and have hope, but I often am filled with hurt and fear and anger and even despair and hopelessness. But I will seek You and You will meet me and rescue me.

Therefore I am confident in You. I will stay connected to You and will choose to believe that I will see your goodness in my life or the life of my loved one.

So I can/will wait with hope. I will in my heart bind together this difficult present with that hopeful future of your involvement and goodness. I choose to live in light of who You are.

I will therefore be strong and take courage. I know what You are like—You are God and You are good. I choose to seize that truth and believe You will bring my emotions into confident trust and rest in You.

I will eagerly anticipate what You will do. I will wait with hope.

Amen.

What about you?  What are you waiting and hoping for?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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One of the best things about Facebook is wonderful encouragement from my friends.  A week ago I was having a bit of a hard time with several things going on in my life.  So I asked my Facebook friends:  What are your favorite, most helpful verses on trusting or resting or releasing?

I received responses from around 35 people—wonderful life-giving words.  Here are a few of them to hopefully lift and encourage you as well:

Kari andAnita:  I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13,14)

Sara:  “… if our God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)

Carol: God has said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down nor relax My hold on you–assuredly not!  (Hebrews 13:5b Amplified Bible)

Kar-Lei and Carmelita:  “My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber….The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand….The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8)

Robin:  “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)

Naty:  “The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

Jeanie:   Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul.”  (Matthew 11:28-29)

Joy:  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Nelly:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Roman 8:28)

Catherine:  “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Zillah: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.  O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want.  The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. (Psalm 34:4-10)

And one of my all-time favorites:

“…so do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

So, if worry and fear have trapped you, if you are weary in the battle, if you are struggling to trust God in a situation, may these words from our God strengthen, encourage and refresh you.

What about you?  What Scripture has God used to give you peace and hope?

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We had a lovely afternoon tea.

Sweet treats.  Good china.  Great conversation.

Then the crash.

An antique china saucer—one from my mother-in-law.

Broken.  Discarded.

But no.

My husband is amazing at fixing things.  A little superglue, some clamps and time.

Rescued.  Repaired.   Redeemed.  Recovered.

But people—and relationships—aren’t so easy to fix.

We break.

We hurt each other, even those we love.

Tears, anger, despair.  No hope.

We think we are beyond repair—to be discarded.

But no.

God is amazing at fixing things:  People.  Relationships.  You.  Me.

A little love, some squeezing tight and time.

Listen to what he says:

I have swept away your sins like a cloud and your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.  (Isaiah 44:22)

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing.  I formed you for myself, that you may proclaim my praise.  (Isaiah 43:18,19)

I have called you.  I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  I will strengthen you and help you.  (Isaiah 41:9-10)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.  (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

You will be called holy, redeemed, sought after, like a city no longer deserted. (Isaiah 62:12)

I will guide you and satisfy your needs.  You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.  (Isaiah 58:11,12)

And the promise I cling to:

I am the Lord.  In its time I will do this swiftly.  (Isaiah 60:22)

 

What about you?  Is there something broken that the Lord must make new?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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The past few weeks have brought story after story of heartbreak and pain for many of my friends and family. Brokenness, loss,  relapse, destructive choices have caused heavy hearts, fear, even despair.

In my years of walking the heights and depths of prodigal wilderness, God’s Word has been a refuge, a haven, a place of courage and hope.  These are some the passages that have infused my heart and mind with peace and gratitude in even the darkest days.  May they do the same for you.

Jeremiah 24:6,7:  My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.  I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:16,17:  This is what the Lord says:  Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded.  They will return from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope for your descendants.  Your children will return to their own land.

Isaiah 54:13:  All your children will be taught by the lord, and great will be their peace.

Isaiah 59:21:  As for me, this is my covenant with them.  My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of descendants from this time on and forever, says the Lord.

Job 42:12:  The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

Philippians 1:6:  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:4:  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.

A blessing for you from Psalm 20:  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.  May the Lord grant all your requests.

Psalm 21:6:  Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

Deuteronomy 31:8:   The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.

Colossians 3:12-13:  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

James 1:5:  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,  who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Hebrews 4:16:  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I Thessalonians 5:18:  In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 34:5-7:  For those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:18-19:  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Isaiah 60:22:  I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.

What about you?  How has God encouraged you in a wilderness journey?

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Christianity Today magazine is hosting a campaign called “What is your hope for the church?”  I have responded with the following piece about my church, Antioch21 in Orlando.  It is posted on the CTI site, where you can read other contributions, or share your own.

I love my church!

It is different from any church I have been a part of before—though I have been a part of some good churches.

It is those differences that make me love it—I think they reflect what Jesus really wants His body to look and act like.

And because I see many other churches beginning to embrace such living like Jesus, I have hope for the Church.

Let me just list a few of the ways my church lives out Jesus’ call to His bride:

  • The main stuff happens in gospel communities.  These either gather by neighborhood or by affinity.  Believers and nonbelievers.  They eat together, study together, pray together, serve each other and serve the broader community together.  People meet Jesus in these communities.
  • We eat together as a larger church.  We come together on Sunday evenings (as guests of a long-time church) and share a meal together.
  • We started as a student church, but neighbors and friends came to the gospel communities, and then to our larger gathering.  We didn’t know we would have lots of children, but we do, and the college students are helping to teach and mentor.
  • We study the Word together.  Our pastor introduces our topic and passage, we sit around tables and discuss, he preaches, we talk together again, he wraps it up.  We apply in our lives.
  • We worship with giving and serving and music.  One young woman is the worship leader, but different members lead our worship time each week.
  • We have communion each Sunday, served by different members, young and old, men and women.
  • We are multi-ethnic.
  • We serve the broader community, led by our pastor and his wife, who live out the Jesus life of serving as well as anyone I have ever seen.
  • At the same time, we share the love of Christ boldly and clearly.
  • We love each other—most of the time.

This isn’t all.  And many churches do at least some of these things.   We are not perfect, of course.  And our fallen world keeps inserting itself.  But we are seeking to truly follow Jesus—and that gives me hope.

What about you?  What is your hope for the church?

C2012 Judy Douglas

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November is National Adoption Month.  God tells us we are to care for orphans.  He set an amazing example: He adopted us.  Certainly not everyone is called to adopt, but probably most of us should ask the question. 

In honor of National Adoption Month, I am telling our story of adoption—in weekly installments through November.  This is Chapter 4.  You can read Chapter 1: “I Am Sending You a Son” here.  And Chapter 2:  The Road to Adoption here.  And Chapter 3:  The Hard Years here.

Josh is still alive and he is not in jail.

His story is filled with many stories, and I am telling only a few highlights.  The first 6 years he was with us were challenging.  The next 9 years were tortuous.  The past 5 years have brought slow but growing stability and greater maturity.

Josh worked at the same job for the past 4 ½ years, a huge turnaround from the usual 1-3 month job tenure of the past.  He has now started his own landscape business and is working hard to build it into a sustainable income.

We always considered Josh the most creative work avoider we had ever seen, so being able to say “working hard” about him is joyous.

We were thrilled when Josh and his girlfriend Brandon got engaged 7 years ago—we thought they actually intended to get married.  But “marriage is just a piece of paper” thinking prevailed as they continued to live together for another year.  With some encouragement from us, they married almost 6 years ago.

It has not been an easy marriage for them, but they are still together.  And last year her parents decided they were stable enough that they signed over custody of Brandon’s (now) 9-year-old daughter to them.  That has added a significant financial strain to their budget, but I am loving watching Josh be a daddy and say to her things we used to say to him.  He gets the humor of it.

Josh continues to pay the price for past choices.  He is still working to get his record cleared from some clerical mix-ups in the court records concerning his arrests.   He makes slow progress toward repairing his bad credit scores from numerous phone and credit companies.

Today he told me about failing previously to get a certain job at least six times because he always failed the drug test.  New news.  He wishes he could quit smoking, but it hasn’t happened yet.  His alcohol consumption is mostly under control, but it still lurks, ready to grab him when life gets too painful.

Spiritually Josh is on an uncertain path.  He knows God.  He wants to walk with Him, but He finds it hard.  He is certain God is calling him to serve Him—to tell others what he has lived and learned—but he can’t quite say Yes, Lord.

Our relationship with Josh is great now.  He seeks out his dad for help with his business and general life advice.  He and I talk often about the events and joys and concerns of his days.  He is happy for me to tell you his story.

Here are a few comments from Josh about his life—before and now:

Re:  What helped you begin to turn around?

I was tired of getting in trouble.  Fear of going to jail.  Seeing how stupid the things I was doing were.  Growing up.  Good people who loved me and spoke truth to me.

Re:  What helps you pursue the path you are on now?

Time in the Word (though I don’t do this enough.)  Talking to God.  The people I surround myself with—and the ones I don’t hang out with.  People who have prayed for me and loved me.

Re:  What do you desire prayer for?

That I will keep walking straight.  There are so many ways to step off the path.  For freedom from past choices—there are still consequences. Pray for my family to keep growing together.

Is Josh’s journey on a better track?  Without a doubt!

Do we think we can rest easy that he will make it?  Not quite.  The road is still bumpy, with uncertain dips and curves.  But God gave us the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 that there was hope and a future for Josh.  We believe that!

Are we glad God included us in this adoptive story?  Absolutely!!

Next:  Chapter 5 Lessons for Mom

When has God given you hope for a future?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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