I’ve been away for a few weeks–crying out to God. Praying…weeping…grieving…and daring to hope despite my fear and unbelief. This heavy burden–unfairly thrust upon precious innocents–seems out-of-place with what I would consider a plan to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him”. Yet, I know trials are a natural part of life this side of heaven and–sometimes–they drive all hope from the soul.
Then–a miracle…a prayer answered in unexpected ways…a promise fulfilled.
If your journey seems to have ended in a dark, cavernous hole take Hope. If you’ve uttered the same desperate words again–pleading with God for evidence of an answer–take Hope. If you can’t imagine something good coming from something meant for evil, then take Hope.
Have we forgotten? It was in a dark, cavernous hole Hope was born. Hope was the answer given for the redemption of people calling out for an answer…for deliverance…for more than all of this. And Hope was–and is–the promise that reassures God’s glory and our holy cleansing will come despite the here and now of our struggles.
Because of Hope…because of “confident expectation”…we celebrate Advent. We wait…knowing that He–the very Christ who was and is Hope embodied–will one day return and will bring to completion that which he began in the bowels of a cave while shivering in the cold.
Take Hope, dear friend. He is the miracle…He is the answered prayer…He is the promise fulfilled.
Thoughts for Advent
As we light the first candle on the wreath, may we remember that Advent is a posture of expectation, waiting, and sureness. We, dear ones, are eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of what began long ago. Whatever our struggles or burdens today, remember that Hope promises much more and we push on “toward the goal of the upward call of Christ”. (paraphrase Phil. 3:14) Hope came down that we might have life–and have it abundantly. We can trust in Hope–He is not a mere wish, but the fullness of reality and power wrapped in tender skin.
So dip the match closer to the wick…watch as the flame leaps to life…and hope with expectation. Hope is alive.
Words of Power
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Advent, Christ, Christmas, jesus, Phillipians 3:14, Religion and Spirituality, Second Coming | 1 Comment »
As a little girl I imagined my name was Tamara–so much more elegant and interesting than plain Tammy. I wanted to do amazing things…serve in the Peace Corps…write a bestseller…perform on Broadway. Even now–mid-way through life and buried beneath loads of laundry and books about childrearing–I have dreams of being applauded as I belt out tunes to Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera. In reality, I’m yelling through the door at my teenaged son who chose not to go to school because the traffic jam was too difficult to navigate.
I’m tired nearly all of the time and always seem to have crumbs on the kitchen floor. My closets are only organized once or twice each year and the kids rarely wear matching socks. Where do they all go?
My husband and I watch movies in installments because we fall asleep. The towel rack in the bathroom has fallen off–again. And, we’re happy.
Our home isn’t quiet–how could it be with three boys and a feisty little girl? The children argue, have tantrums, and lose their homework. Dave and I feel overwhelmed most of the time.
God may not have given me a stage on which to perform. I haven’t travelled to third world countries to hold impoverished babies. Instead, my challenges, joys, sorrows, and delights are directed by and immersed in this messy life of motherhood, marriage, and moments of worshipping the God who provided it all.
Joy can’t be found in the what-if’– it’s in those moments that make up living. I think I like being plain Tammy.
Verse for Reflection:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ann vonskamp, hope, marriage, motherhood, one thousand gifts, parenting, purposeful living, Romans 15:13 | 2 Comments »
I can see them in my mind. Men–worn and thin–browned by their daily toil beneath the hot sun. Women–their hands raw from gleaning the last piece of grain from a heavy stalk. Children–kneeling in thanksgiving before a god who doesn’t exist–hoping they’ll have enough food to eat next month.
I leaf through magazines considering my family’s Thanksgiving meal, but am distracted by the article about Pongal, southern India’s harvest festival. I try to imagine a celebration that honors the sun and the rain. I try to envision emaciated cattle adorned in bright colors as if they deserve more honor than the God-man who died reddened by his own blood. I try to grasp what it means to forget that He is the One who offers a bounty of goodness to His children.
Pausing, I am humbled. I realize I forget His goodness every day. In the mid-life muddle of raising a family, I get caught up somewhere between dishes and driving lessons and begin to worry about children…finances…and tomorrow’s dinner menu.
And I’m reminded that even when I forget Him, I am not forgotten. My hope is sure because my God has existed eternally. Friend, He invites us to an everlasting table–a feast of matchless blessing. Won’t you join me?
Scripture for Reflection
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8 NLT
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged eternal God, harvest festivals, Pongal celebration, Psalm 34:8, Thanksgiving, worship | 2 Comments »
The Prodigal walks the lonely road–determined…defiant…desperate. Knowing his need, but unwilling to turn back he heads aimlessly onward. Each weary step echoing his thoughts, “Help me. Help me. Help me.”
And The Prodigal’s father works hour after hour– captured by his unrelenting schedule–only to be greeted by the weight of sorrow and concern at the day’s end . The Prodigal’s mother feels as if life moves as slowly and methodically as the boy on the lonely road. Let me help. Let me help. Let me help.
But there is no word from the boy and the mother wonders, “Where is my boy sleeping tonight?” And she prays that God’s very warmth and presence would surround the Prodigal. Then, she waits for tomorrow.
Scripture for Reflection
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” Luke 15: 4-7
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged hope, Lost Sheep, Matthew 15: 4-7, parenting, prodigal | Leave a Comment »
She lay limp in my arms. Not a breath escaped from the perfectly formed mouth. Her fragile ribcage failed to rise and fall and I knew her tiny heart had ceased beating. And, for a moment, my own heart stilled. I paused in horror as my daughter’s lips, face, and body changed from the new-from-heaven shades of pink and cream to a dusky grey and then a deep, unsightly brackish color.
Cradling her tiny body in my arms, I began crying out. “Dave, the baby isn’t breathing!” In a blur of commotion, my child lay motionless atop her changing table–my husband exchanging his life’s breath with our unresponsive daughter. Listen…breathe…compress.
“Ma’am?” the voice passing through the receiver caught my attention. ”Has your baby choked on something? Does she have a pulse?”
No. My baby was dead. There was no life remaining. One minute…two minutes. Still, the father breathed.
“Please, Lord. Don’t take the baby…not my baby!” My prayers emerged loud and desperate–pregnant with a mother’s agony. Three minutes…four minutes. There wasn’t even the flicker of an eyelid; only the steady rhythm of my husband’s counting–one, two, three, four, five.
Then…five minutes. The hands on the clock seemed to have stilled and the three of us were trapped in that moment. Suddenly, Heather gasped for air–an uneven rasping sound. At the same time, the firefighters pushed into the crowded nursery. Like us, they were unbelieving and surprised. My precious child was alive!
In much the same way, Christ saw his children helpless…dying…exempt from eternal hope. And without hesitation, He exchanged his own holy life for the lives of fatally sinful people. His life for mine…and yours. The moment of Christ’s last breath was a promise for our forever tomorrows. His precious children are truly alive!
Verse for Reflection: Colossians 2:13
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged alive in Christ, breath of life, Colossians 2:13, dead in our sins, eternal life, God's faithfulness, miracles | Leave a Comment »
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for…Hebrews 11:1
The beautiful garden unfurled its colors near the old, gray corral–a ranching remnant from the early 1900′s. Nestled between the meandering creek and dusty country road, rows upon rows of corn, cabbage, peppers, and carrots displayed their bounty. My mother spent hours there–tending the plants as if they were children in need of care.
The peeling, unsightly skin on her shoulders and her roughened hands were testimony to a dedication I didn’t share. Many times, I grudgingly held my small pail in the potato patch. ”Pick off those bugs, Tammy!” The thought of touching the parasitic beetles still sends my stomach reeling.
But, as much as I detested the potato bugs there were other things I found far more frightening and insidious. I never knew if they were lying in wait–keeping quiet watch beneath the shelter of a massive squash plant or strawberry bush. Rattlesnakes–poised to strike and hidden in the most unsuspecting of places.
That garden…those pests…the dangerous vipers. Now that I have two teenagers, I often feel this simple farmer’s garden represents my life as a parent. I run about–picking away at those dangers I see lurking on the surface. I teach my children to believe…hope…pray. Yet, I scurry about the fertile soil of their lives searching for danger. ”Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”
And my worst fears? Those enemies lurking somewhere in the hidden places that I can’t see? What am I to do about those? I might be aware of their presence. I may even be able to offer a warning. Ultimately, though, I need to trust the Gardener of their souls–the One who bent to the earth and scooped their souls into His tender arms. I may fear the danger, but He sees the bounty of a beautiful harvest.
Questions for Reflection
What is your greatest fear? Are there any steps you can take to give that concern to God?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged fear, Hebrews 11:1, hope, intentional parenting, parenting, trusting God, worry | Leave a Comment »
Forgotten memories– filtered long ago by a child’s fear and need for normalcy–have begun to emerge from the dark and hidden places of my mind. It’s as if a veil is being slowly removed and I see more of the landscape. Vision is no longer as limited.
So I wander back through time to revisit those dreaded places to be freed from their hold on my today’s and tomorrow’s. Fear settles heavy in my stomach, churning until my body releases it in desperation and I wish mother’s arms would seal the false promise that things are fine.
And today, I hear the words “to live courageously is to believe in God’s Grace.”
Do I believe? Honestly? Not always. But through and because of His grace on the cross, I choose to live as if I do. Circumstance never did –or ever will–force the absence of the One who is the Beginning and the End, mercy personified, glory revealed.
Are you the newlywed abandoned by your beloved? Are you the parent kneeling in prayer, wondering what you might have done differently? Do the faults of the past grasp at your heels with the tenacity of hell? There is freedom in His grace, Friend.
We can choose to live courageously–for Him and through Him–because He chose to die courageously for us.
Scripture for Reflection–”Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith and now you’re well.” (Matthew 9:20-22 MSG)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Christ's sacrifice, Courage, faith, God's Grace, healing, Matthew 9:20-22, mercy | Leave a Comment »