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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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!

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The Quickest Way to Slow Down

Have you ever tasted something so delicious that you slow down to savor the flavors mesmerizing your mouth?

I enjoy eating, so I’m pretty expressive when I taste something delicious. I make savoring-type sounds, and say This is so good! over and over again. Even the next day, I might reminisce about it. Do you ever do that?

In the final weeks of living in our old home, I savored memories as they flooded my mind. Holidays and treasured visits from our children…gathering with friends to know God better through His Word…laughter…tender and hard conversations. Some conversations echo—and reveal how those words furthered relationships. Even vivid days that held stress, strain, or worry fade into feelings of relief to have overcome, by the grace of God.

When we savor food—or a memory—we slow down a bit, in a good way. We appreciate the moment, the experience, or the person.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34.8a)

God wants us to savor him—to feed on his Word and claim This is so good!, to tell him how we feel about him, even if we say the same thing every day, to see that it is his goodness behind every memory we savor.

Savoring stirs gratitude. Gratitude strengthens our focus TOWARD God. The more our focus is toward him, we learn to slow down and we learn to savor the present as God unfolds it. 

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” 

“is”—God wants you and me to savor him and his goodness today.

…watching–or even better–joining our child while he’s immersed in imagination land.

…enjoying flowers in bloom, an afternoon rain, a blue sky–reminders that God is always at work among his creation which includes us

…smiling as we wash a child’s yard-dirty clothes because these represent fun and adventure in a season that passes so fast

…wiping sticky hands and food-smudged mouths—that one day soon won’t need our touch

…celebrating children’s loud voices—because our child has a friend to make happy noises with

…loud music or instruments—because the kids have chosen our home as their gathering place

Dear God,
Thank you for such grace, that you give us the opportunity to be lifelong learners as your disciples! Help us to slow down and learn to savor you and your goodness. Thank you for the many moments you provide for us to taste and see you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When We’re More Focused on Next than Now

I spend a lot of time focused on NEXT rather than NOW. My thoughts are toward the next thing that I need to do: When I finish this, I’ll begin that.

After I drop her off, I need to run to the grocery store because we’re out of bread.
While he’s with the tutor, I’ll finish making those calls.
I think I can finish that report when the kids go to bed.

Planning is helpful and wise—but not at the expense of missing the purpose of the present. God is moving right now. He wants us to experience him now—to know he is real and living. He wants to bless and encourage us, to give us insight and understanding, to help us see his faithfulness in the smallest things and in big matters, to show us his glory in creation around us and in how he is at work in our life, our children’s lives, and our relationships.

God gives us each minute, each hour. Time is his. He wastes none of it. My frequent prayer is God, help me be more present to you. Why? My natural tendency is to lead me, rather than follow him. When I lead, my mind gets so busy that I exhaust myself before I’ve even done anything. When I follow him, peace anchors my heart and a welcoming sense of order unfolds.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26.3-4)

God knows what we truly need to accomplish in a day—those things that serve his purposes for our family, for our self, for our work, and for others. He wants to help us, even show us how. His design for our day includes rest, pleasure, and a deepening awareness of his presence and love.

The other day I was in the airport, rushing to the gate for my next flight. My mind was running, Maybe I’ll have time to grab something to eat and attend a few emails. Then one of the kids called, “Hi Mom, I only have a few minutes. How are you?”  God had a better plan for my NOW. I pulled my suitcase to the nearest wall and tuned out the people rushing around me. Five precious minutes, from God.

When I practice being present to NOW, I stop moving in my momentum and I become open to the moment that God has for me.

NOW is significant because it’s from God. We can trust that He has NEXT covered, too.

Dear God,
I want to trust you more. I want to see and experience you more in my day, in my life. Help me learn to be more still and present to you throughout the day. Help me learn to enjoy more moments, to enjoy You, and to trust that you have the way forward for all that I truly need to do. Amen.