Imperfect Prayers: Spirit of Hope

How I desire to be infused with a spirit of hope on this bleak gray overcast chilly winter morning. After another fitful night without restorative sleep there is no comfort for my pain. Why do I wake up in anguish? Oh how I struggle with the winter blues—Lord bless me with your healing and graciously fill me with the light of your presence.
Father-God I’m trying not to let the troubles of those I love keep me in despair. I fear for my children, my family and friends. As I listen to their concerns, receive multiple prayer requests, scan the headlines, I confess my worries about the evil oppression that surrounds us. I must look away from my weakness and let go of the burdens. I will focus my thoughts on your promises* to deliver us from this world. I seek you early as I renew my mind continually in your Word. Transform me from the inside out so that I might live in peace with hope.
Although I feel vulnerable in today’s desperation I trust it will not be like this always. There is hope even in the darkness. The faithfulness of God’s love continually returns as tender mercies with every prayer. I could not live without His comfort and strength.
There is relief for my soul—the present discouragement fades as I pray:
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:5 NASB
“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38
There is nothing that can defeat the rising of hope. There is nothing that can separate us from His love and from one another. I will keep the faith and keep my hope in God.

1.12.16 – I made a new year’s commitment to blog again after a grief recovery hiatus. Although all I can offer for now are bits and pieces of my brokenness; I will do my best to imperfectly blog every 12th day of each month in 2016.

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Focus: Trust

     My Reckless Abandonment – Part I

“What she trusts in is fragile, what she relies on is a spider’s web.
She leans on his web, but it gives away, she clings to it, but it does not hold.”

This verse aptly describes my formative years as the continuous strands of abuse, betrayal and abandonment formed my web of destruction. A spiral of sticky naïve ignorance kept me from making good choices and blinded me of my true worth. The venom caused painful symptoms in my mind and body; but fortunately it was not so dangerous to take my life. Although my past web has been abandoned the cobweb scars linger…so I learned to trust and found healing in a loving God.

My first twelve years I did what I was told; the next twelve years I did life my way! I was rebellious against every person who broke my trust especially my abusive addictive parents. My father was a raging alcoholic and my mother’s drug of choice were “Black Beauties” (the Rx for weight loss). I hated the agony and abuse they inflicted upon themselves and their six children. Since they abandoned me, I chose to leave the chaos and foolishly continued the destructive ways enlarging my own web of destruction.
I began a pattern of relocating and seeking love in all the wrong places. I preferred older men of influence: someone who would provide a way of escape. I settled for the “bad boys” choosing drug dealers who numbed my pain; then I switched to incredibly wealthy selfish men in Palm Beach. Next I sought the educated and dated successful business men, my community college professor, my Real Estate Instructor and Amway leaders. I eventually turned away my doctor, Willie Nelson’s drummer and even Jimmy Buffet. The reality was none of them proved to be trustworthy of my love.
My choices minimized my value and filled me with shame, guilt and sorrow. I added more addictive traits to my web portfolio. I knew it was time for another escape and relocation. I became a seeker replacing my self-destructive choices for a new spiritual journey. First I experimented with new age, meditation, yoga, Hinduism and Scientology. I was open to invitations so I attended Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist churches.
God seemed so distant, so far away and mysterious. I could not comprehend a loving Father nor could I understand His ways. To begin life, unwanted and abandoned is incomprehensible. To experience repeated abuse, abandonment and rejection over and over again creates deep wounds. I did not want to live my life as a victim. At 23, I was exhausted, wounded and ready to give up. I didn’t trust anyone especially myself and definitely not God. It was difficult to be unable to trust, so isolating without someone to love and so awful not to be loved.

I finally found hope in Jesus Christ. I fell deeply in love with God and found my first really satisfying relationship. I began a new journey of intentional abandonment to a loving Sovereign Lord. I learned how to experience absolute trust even in suffering, in spite of circumstances, even in the face of death, beyond my fears for genuine unfailing love.

A prayer of abandonment and trust in God:

“Dear Father-God, Open my heart that I may receive your love. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may abandon my selfish and destructive ways. Forgive me and help me to graciously forgive. Lord, create in me a new heart, renew my mind and restore my soul. Guide me in your everlasting truth, grant me wisdom, and set me free in your grace. I believe and trust in You. I love You with all my heart, mind and soul. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

“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

My next post will be how I learned to trust again and how to practice complete abandonment  to God and His divine providence.

A few of my favorite TRUST Scriptures:

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:4

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” Psalm 37:3

[1] Job 8:14-15 The first quote was actually a false accusation from one of Job’s friends Bildad, whose name means ‘son of contention.”

FOCUS: Gratitude

FOCUS:  Gratitude

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am in, therein to be content.” Helen Keller

I woke up this morning thankful for many Sabbath blessings: beauty, worship; special time with precious children at church: singing Acts 16:31 and sharing Bible stories. Then we shared a healthy meal with family, a beautiful walk in a garden setting and a soothing warm soak in a natural hot spring…yes I had plenty to be thankful for!

But there is always something to draw us near to God, to our knees for prayer and today was no different. My Mother-in-law, sweet Ila was admitted to the hospital this afternoon with pancreatitis; she is in good hands with the great Physician, stabilized with medical treatment, and very much loved and supported by her family and friends.

This powerful promise reminds that us that God understands: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  (Philippians 4:6)

I just came home from the hospital, so I’m write a new addition to this message from what I wrote earlier.  I was preparing to facilitate a group meeting this coming week. I chose the topic gratitude because I know it to be a true remedy to life’s woes. I read many different things about “gratitude.” I found it interesting that many of the stories about gratitude kept referring to problems but in the context of being grateful. Here are a few paraphrases from some of the quotes:

Even the darkest of moments can be faced with a grateful heart; not for the problems but for the growth it can evoke with the help of Jesus.

When things seem their bleakest, I can choose to seek the courage and strength and hope accessible in my Lord and Savior for the light of understanding and gratitude.

For “when it gets dark enough you can see the stars.”

Just for today, I will practice gratitude. I will choose to accept the gift of gratitude, receiving the things that come my way. Knowing I can trust my Heavenly Father, I will be content and let the peace of Christ keep me. I will cultivate thankfulness. I will be thankful for an attitude of gratitude.

2012 Transforming Focus

Every year I ask God for a special “Rhema” which is an inspirational WORD to guide my choices and direction for the coming days. This year I couldn’t identify one verse so I was impressed to choose 12 Scriptures for 2012…some are special verses from past seasons, all relevant to my life journey and so very applicable to my present-future. Take time to pray, search God’s Word and let Him speak His special Rhema to you this season…share it and see how He continues to develop, enfold and shape your life.

I don’t like resolutions when they don’t come to completion…good intentions are not enough.  Whatever your next steps… my prayer is “we stay on God’s course.” BE focused and follow through for action and transformation!

If you already made some resolutions—good we hope they are going well. There may be some that have already gone by the wayside. Don’t give up, never give up, keep moving forward. Stay the course, remember your direction determines your destination!

It is not about perfection, rather process and progression. If you miss your target get right back to it and results will happen. Remember if don’t try at all you will never reach your goal. The way, the truth and life is found in abiding in His presence.

So where is God leading you? Are you willing to go the distance with Him? What or who motivates you? Do you have enough support or help to achieve the goals that are most meaningful to you? What will be your reward when you achieve these goals? Can you see yourself at the “finish line” having achieved some of these goals? Are you smiling, exclaiming, proclaiming & PRAISING?

 2012 Transforming Focus

Stay on course, keeping your focus on God and His life-map for abundant living.

1. Focus: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:22 NLT

2.  Focus: “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.” James 1:4-6 NKJV

3.  Focus: “My grace is sufficient; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.  I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Corinthians 12:6-8

4.  Focus: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 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 15:5-7; 13

5.  Focus: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8

6.  Focus: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

7.  Focus: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:1 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

8.  Focus: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 NIV

9.  Focus: “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set…” Psalm 119:1-3 The Message

10. Focus: “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” Philippians 3:14-16 The Message

11.  Focus: “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. Now he who supplies seed to the sower …will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:11-15

12. Focus: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned…Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Ways to Experience God

Overflowing Grace

Open your heart and let His abundant grace overflow into your soul.  There is nothing like a connection with God in nature. Breathe in His presence and enjoy! Look up and experience His creative power…abundantly overflowing for us. Some times we have to get away and be in awe of His creative beauty. It is both peaceful and powerful to embrace Him. God gives us so many good gifts, Lord help us to receive.

These are a series of waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge along Historic Highway 30 in Oregon. Can you name the different waterfalls? Could it be Bridal Veil Falls or Horsetail Falls?

It took us thirty years to return to the Multanomah Falls bridge, where my husband proposed during the summer of 1980. Ah, so much life in between. We met in Tennessee and after over 25 moves we made it back to Oregon. It was good to go back to celebrate our special memory of our commitment to love.  Our love endures because we continually seek God’s love, grace, forgiveness, patience and presence. We spend more time apart in the daily survival of work but we cherish the moments of quality. We nurture our time together as we find pleasure in nature: walking in the woods, along the ocean shore or high in the mountains. Love is being together.

God calls us to come away and be with Him, wherever we are, just as we are. Yes, I want to choose moments with God in nature in some way every day.  Most of the time we spend quality time within my home. It doesn’t really matter where. He wants us to experience spiritual wellbeing by being with Him in a relationship—the joy of sharing in His presence.

Breathe in the fresh mist and pure air of His Spirit. It is His desire to be with you…rest in His presence and experience God throughout your day. Receive His blessings of peace, joy and love right now.

Pause for a moment, just be still and soak in His love:

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in  him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

Reflection: God reveals Himself in many ways; have you seen His works in your life and around you?  Write how has God blessed you today…

Prayer: Seek God, He is waiting. Speak to God, He hears. Prayer is “talking to a friend” in conversation. Lord I want to connect; I want more than talk, I want to hear you and receive you in my whole being.

Feel free to share your prayer requests on our prayer link.