What To Do With Our Hopes

“Can we talk to God about our pets?”  His soft-spoken question and curious eyes exposed that his understanding of prayer was broadening in the moment, as our little group learned about talking to God. The other 1st and 2nd graders listened, as he added, “My fish is sick.”

“Yes, you can! And we’ll also pray together for your fish in a minute.”

HOPE.

This precious little boy hopes his fish will get well. Even better, now he knows he can talk to God, about what he hopes for. Before, his hope was only a thought.

Do you have any hopes that are only thoughts—or maybe, only wishful-thinking conversations with friends?

We hope . . . it doesn’t rain during our event that’s going to be outdoors . . . she believes we’ve forgiven her . . . he realizes the consequence if he disobeys . . . she knows how much God loves her . . . we handle a situation the right way.

“…we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4.10)

Throughout a day and many a night, I have wrestled, stressed, cried, feared about a hope I have. Hope is hardest when the focus of our hope is a person, a relationship, ourself, or a circumstance. We watch—the person, the relationship, the circumstance. We watch for what we want. Possible outcomes—founded on evidences we collect by sight and experiences—flood our mind, and our thoughts often swirl into a torrent of negative feelings and outcomes.

When I take these ‘hope-thoughts’ to God, my soul rests. In the handoff, my focus shifts to God and He fills those places in me with His peace.

At the same time, hope can be hard even when God is our focus, because we have to learn to trust Him. You and I have lived a lot of life relying on people, circumstances, and our self. We have to practice trusting God to learn to trust God. . . just like we practice reading to learn to read.

As we practice placing our ‘hope-thoughts’ in God’s hands over and over again, we open our heart to try on trust. The focus of our hope becomes God.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.  (Ps 146.5)

God sees and attends our heart according to his view of our genuine need. He pours grace so that His love, healing, and strength inspire us look to Him, listen to Him, and loosen our grip on the object of our hope—that He becomes our HOPE, our TRUST.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17.7–8)

. . . Whether my new little friend’s fish gets better or not (let’s pray it does), he engaged with God and God heard him. Their relationship grew because this is what God does. He gives growth–to our knowledge and understanding, our faith, our relationship, as we engage with Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)

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Also, I want you to know…

Becoming A Peaceful Mom is only $9.00 on Amazon!   Here’s the link:  https://amzn.to/2Kxmi8Y.

The price returns to $15 on July 1.

I’ve had so much fun over the last year speaking and sharing the book, and it’s fun to hear the many ways you all have shared it!  (Thank you!)  Want to hear a few of them? … Birthdays … Welcoming moms to your church … Moms of teens … New moms … Moms having another baby… Moms of moms 🙂  Older moms mentoring younger moms … Small group studies!

Sooo… maybe grab a few copies and have FUN blessing some women around you.

A Prayer for Moms

My husband wrote this prayer years ago. Though it was first shared on a Mother’s Day, it’s a prayer for any day…

O Heavenly Father,

We praise and thank You this day for Your gift of mothers in this world.

For the profound love You pour into their hearts and the many sacrifices they make for us their children.

May You bless the women who are at the beginning of their journey of motherhood with newborn babies and toddlers.

May You bless the mothers who are in the midst of raising their children.

May You bless the single mother who is challenged to be all things to her children.

May You bless the mother who chooses to love and nurture the child of another.

May You bless the mothers who continue to encourage their children and the next generation, as grandmothers.

May You bless the mothers who grieve the loss of their children.

May You comfort the women who yearn to know the blessing of motherhood.

Continue to bless these women. Keep them healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Call them to turn to You when they struggle in their daily lives. Give them the courage, compassion, and vision to meet each daily challenge.

For those of us whose mothers now share Your heavenly banquet—
May You enable us to recall special memories to help us endure the loss we feel from the absence of our mother in our daily life. Thank You that they are in Your presence knowing joy that we cannot imagine.

All this we ask in the name of the One who also knew the loving touch of His own mother, Mary—Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN

Prayer That Impacts Our Perspective

When I was growing up, Mom or Dad usually said “the blessing,” a rote prayer, before supper. Sometimes Dad told one of my three brothers or me to say it. Being kids, we flew through it so we could eat. And then one day Dad instructed the four of us to each write multiple prayers that would become our suppertime prayers. “I want you to think about what you’re thankful to God for and write it into prayers,”

I still remember walking to my bedroom thinking, “I bet nobody else’s family does this.”  None of us had ever written a prayer before. But, we wrote them, and for weeks, we took turns and read one person’s written prayer each night at supper. Though I rolled my eyes the day Dad assigned this “task,” I enjoyed listening to my brothers’ prayers and sharing mine.

Over the years, I strayed significantly from Dad’s effort to lead us to thoughtfully thank God—until I began to read the Bible. Oh, sometimes I thanked Him for giving me something I was praying for or for helping me out of a hard situation—but that’s about it.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Ps. 9:1)

When something wonderful happens in our life, we feel like being thankful. We tell others about the wonderful thing God did. However, read all of Psalm 9. The psalmist describes his current affliction and oppression. He recalls others’ long seasons of trial.

Yet, he trusts God. He recounts ALL of God’s wonderful deeds—not only his personal experiences of God’s goodness. The psalmist knows the testaments of God’s people who have lived before him.

“An those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (v. 10)

When I started reading the Bible, I began to get to know God. He writes His Word on our heart and gives us recall for His wonderful deeds that cover all of time.  Our view of Who God IS no longer is limited to our life experiences of Him. His Word shapes our view to include the testimonies of all His people.

The Old and New Testament reveal His steadfast love, faithfulness, and grace over generations, as His people walk through hardship, trouble, long waits, and great loss.

So how does this affect our gratitude?
Our heart swells with gratitude for who God IS.
Who God IS anchors our gratitude—not circumstances.

Whenever I read or hear someone’s words of brave gratitude toward God, I think, Wow, her trust in God is strong. God grows this strength in you and me— as we believe HIs Word and as we recognize Him moving throughout our day. . . Thank you, Lord, that you will lead me through this…that you see everything…that your plans are perfect…that you are with me right now…that I have eternity with you…

Yeah, being thankful is brave. We stare our troubles in the face and trust that our God is so much bigger.

Life can be really hard. Each of us face hardship, heartache, short and long seasons of discouragement. Sometimes when we don’t think we can endure one more thing, one more thing happens. The details of our stories vary, but the themes mirror those of generations of God’s people. The emotions and thoughts that wear us down and wreak havoc within are common to us. And God IS.

Especially in my hardest seasons, prayers of gratitude shift my perspective. When we thank God, we mark His goodness—in creation, in the generations before us, in the testimonies of our friends and strangers. We remember countless gifts we don’t deserve—a loved one, an ability, an experience, a miracle. We remember who God IS.

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”  (2 Corinthians 4.15–16)