HOPE*ann*FAITH

Learning to Live , Again, On Purpose.


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Ending 2014 Thankful!


Hello my readers!

It’s New Year’s Eve 2013 and we are going to ring in 2014 quietly, with our church family in Prayer and Praise and with the first Communion of 2014.

I just wanted to drop by with a post ending 2013 in gratitude. =)

I actually got what I wanted for Christmas! Don is well and did his Christmas thing his way! And there were extras … everything on the list was given and we had a leisurely Christmas day … the joys of having adult children.

It’s been a long year, filled with love and joy and laughter, peppered with some tears and sorrow and fear. Yet, we never lost faith, we held tight to God and His promises and we are entering into 2014 with our focus on God.

We are thankful for so very much. Family and renewed relationships, friends and the thoughtfulness of others obeying God and helping one another. We are grateful that through the roughest of financial times God provided over and above our need … enough that we could pay it forward, in fact.

We thank God for healthy children, and grandchildren and family. We are grateful for doctors and treatments and the best the medical field can offer.

We are thankful for life, for breath and for each smile, tear and giggle we’ve experienced this year.

And we are thankful for you and the opportunity to share 2014 with all of you … making memories and new ties and new relationships.

Dear Lord … You crown the year with your bounty,and your carts overflow with abundance. ~ Psalm 65:11

May God bless you and yours and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Me and Don


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God Slowed Time …


Day 6 … A Thankful Advent

God slowed time for us today …

Today I found myself thankful for the time The Hubs and I have in praise, worship and prayer each morning as we drive the 2 1/2 hours to and from treatment appointments. I love the sound of my husband singing praises, with his quiet passion, to our Almighty God. He thinks I’m dozing during parts of the trip, and maybe I do sometimes, but most times I am quietly praying and praising God for the new day and the healing of my husband, and in turn my very heart.

Today, though, we started out a bit frustrated, he and I. The week is winding down, but the busy is not. Just 2 days over three months we have been going non-stop with doctors appointments, tests and more test, chemo and radiation and funerals and court dates for family members … all very much go, go, go. Back to the point … this morning, we didn’t turn the praise music on at first … just a quiet ride interrupted by a phone call from my family … and when by the time that phone call ended I had spilled hot tea down my left leg and we were in stopped traffic, again, for the second day in a row. The Hubs snapped and I snipped and I just switched on the radio station and began to pray …

then God …

The Hubs’  favorite song came on and the atmosphere quieted. An inaudible sigh of  relief came and I called the doctor to tell them we would be late for his treatment, they encouraged us to come anyway.

The Hubs looked at the clock and said, “there’s no way we’re making it!”

I replied, “Ask God to slow time, I do and He does.”

I put my head back and prayed, thanking God that He would slow the time so that we weren’t too late. Then a lovely song came on and I don’t remember the name or the words, I just know it soothed my soul and I found myself asking Jesus back into my heart; in a re-dedication way, and feeling a fullness and a floating as I sang the words to the song. The Hubs was singing too.

I could feel the road, bumpy underneath us as he drove and sang, yet there were no jars from the bumps, no lower back irritation. It was smooth sailing on the bumpy NJ interstate.

And while we sang the song and praise our God I saw those lights behind my eyes … you know that organic kaleidoscope we found behind our eyelids when as kids we shut our eyes really tight so we could see that kaleidoscope of beautiful colors ebbing and waning in our mind’s eye … and I knew it was God showing me the diminishing of the tumor in The Hubs lung. Over and over it just got smaller and smaller, and I kept singing that song with The Hubs as we drove to the appointment.

We arrived, just 15 minutes late … God slowed time just as I had asked … and they took The Hubs in straight away, stating that he was right on time, someone else was running late too.

God blessed us with calm and time.

In Genesis 12:1-7 God is talking to Abram about making him a great nation … and in those scripture verses God tells Abram, ” I will bless you.”

You see in the stresses of your day, when the weight of the world threatens to crush you, when you simply have no more to give, Father God comes to you and says, “I will bless you.”

He will not make you carry that weight.

He will not cause your burden to increase.

Our God of Love comes to you, where you are and blesses you …

He will breathe relief into your spirit so that you remember to SLOW DOWN and BREATHE. He fills you up until you can fill no further; until you bless another …

That’s what this is … this Advent season, it is love and blessings and grace and calm and peace.

God came as a child, to learn and grow and teach … to teach us to be children, so that we would grow and love.

” The birth of the child into the darkness of the world made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.” ~ Frederick Buechner

But to do this we must accept His blessing, His overwhelming grace and slow down and still ourselves, our pace, our hearts and our minds and sit in His Glorious Light each day; we must be willing to be the sons and daughters of the King, learning at His feet.

May you know the slow pace that is His peace … Blessings.


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Family and Forgiveness and Thankfulness


Today, Day 4 of my year of thankfulness I find that God is doing something dynamic in my family.

And I am thankful.

Snowflake-Pictures-11

I’ve learned this year … specifically the last few months, a new importance of family.  I’ve learned that life is much too short to keep waiting to tell them that you love them. It’s too short to not forgive; think about it, we probably don’t even really remember what made us pull away due to having exaggerated it in our minds.

Awhile ago I wrote a very dark poem/short story about resentment personified, essentially it described what resentment does in a spirit when it is given free reign. And in the world today resentment has free reign, it’s sad. And yes, I indulged, for many, many years.

But this year I have doubled back and have begun to forgive and kill that resentment. It’s all about perspective.

Family … ofttimes it is within the family that this resentment breeds, generation upon generation.

Family … the remedy for this generational curse is Forgiveness!

In the book I just got, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp she says:

“Because in the time of the prophets and kings, the time of Mary and Joseph, it wasn’t your line of credit, line of work or line of accomplishments that explained who you were. It was your family line. It was family that mattered. Family gives you context, and origin gives you understanding, and the family tree of Christ always gives you hope.”

And thanks to our Pastor taking us completely through those books as a study, over the last 3 years, I know that in those days, so long ago, the families were just like us! Fights, dysfunction, wars and deaths and addictions and adultery … we’ve really not come that far. They were humans and functioned as such … which is why God put aside His divinity and entered into a virgin womb to become like us … so that He could reconcile us back to Him!

He did this … He grew in a woman to be born into a fallen world to understand and love us, unconditionally. And so that we would choose Him … it was all for us. It was all for love and family.

He came for me, for you, in my brokenness, in my rebellion and dysfunction and He lovingly coaxed me to Him. Stood by me in my sin and held me in my tears … He held me while I lay in a tight fetal ball, abused and neglected and He held me in the dark and horrible nights after I had begun to seek that same abuse and neglect outside of my family.

The least I can do is Forgive.

And then I come to tonight … after forgiving so many, to realize I must teach forgiveness to my children. I must teach them to forgive so that the remnants of bitterness and resentment leave our home permanently!

And then God … knowing that I was reaching this point in my growing, in my maturity of my Christianity, He blessed me.

My youngest and most church resistant child said to me tonight, “I think I’m going to go with you to church tonight, I don’t want to stay home alone.”

OM Goodness, the joy! I quietly said “Ok.” and just as quietly thanked God and Jesus and just rejoiced in my heart and spirit.

And it was this night that a very dear friend brought the message of God loving us no matter how we felt about ourselves, no matter what we’d done or were currently doing! And my boy actively listened.

For this I am eternally thankful!

I don’t know if God is blessing me directly for the forward movement in Christ this family is taking. I do know that He is actively reaching my youngest and healing has begun.

I do know that when we begin to obey the direction of the Holy Spirit within us big things begin to happen in our lives.

A recurring scripture this week in my life is:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~ 1 John 3:1

We are His children, He is our Father, we are His family … and what great love He has lavished! Being His children gives us context, knowing who we are in Christ gives us understanding and being in the family tree gives us hope.

I’d like to recommend this bookto you: The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.

Blessings.

 


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Day 3 – Thankful Advent


Advent … reminding us to wait on Christ … what we actually do is wait on Christ’s second coming. That glorious day when all the sadness of the fallen world we reside in stops and we all are home with Father God.

We wait in preparation … but how does the world define preparation? I believe the world defines preparation as work, while they define waiting as a waste of time, like they are losing something.

Preparation to me is the time I spend with God and the Word making sure I stay on the path God has for me. These days I am prepared for the really hard things.

I must sit and soak in God so that I can take care of my family, my husband, and my grandmother all the while taking care of me … that’s the preparation. If I am not filled with God and resting in Him; both for spiritual and physical rest, I am NOT prepared when things get rough.

And we all know life is rough!

“Waiting teaches us to live life in increments, in small pieces rather than large chunks. Waiting also teaches us to measure our progress slowly. Alcoholics and addicts know this more than most of us: They measure their years of recovery in single days. They know that their waiting in recovery takes place one day at a time.”

Source
Holly W. Whitcomb in
Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting

Today I am thankful for the peaceful preparation I am now able to do with God.

Impossible, you say??

Well my answer comes from the deep knowledge I’ve gained from the Word … 🙂 I gained it by waiting on God and soaking in the Word …

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

This year God has proved this scripture true in my life … This family has endured one tragic hit after another from January when my grandma had to go to a nursing home to December as the Hubs endures chemo and radiation to remove this mass in his lung that is NOT OF our God.

We live, we thrive in and we grow through adversity and while many of those trials and tragedies are NOT OF our God our God sees to it that we come through victorious.

And for that strength and maturity (and yes, I know I have so much more to do) I am so very grateful.

God has fired me into a highly polished wife and mother  … all the titles we ladies wear through life … and I am able to be strong and myself, undamaged and unmarked by the life that we live. This allows my family to smile, laugh, endure, share and grow closer because the caretaker is not curled up in a ball on the couch trembling from life’s circumstances.

For that I am thankful. What are you thankful for today?

Blessings my friends.


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Thankful 365 Day 2 … Be Still


Just a quick note.

Waiting … yesterday I discussed Advent and today is the 2nd day of Advent. I shared one of the meanings of Advent being “to wait”.

Waiting is a hard thing in this fast paced, instant coffee life we live today. And while we Christians don’t ( or shouldn’t be) live(ing) in this world’s pace we do reside here. Live and reside have differing meanings right along with the synonymous meaning. I reside in a world that is fallen but choose to live a life that is guided by a living God who loves us, while the fallen world looks to no living God, but rather inanimate things, like the clock.

We have no time to wait is the mantra of many. But through God I am learning to wait on Him.

The world says go, Go, GO!

The Word says … Be still and know that I am God … Psalm 46:10

This season of Advent calls on us to wait. The waiting, the excited expectancy, opens the heart and makes way for Christmas; the wonder and splendor and peace of the season.

I am thankful today that I have matured enough in Christ to be still and wait on God. I’ve come to a place where if I know I can’t handle a thing that I go directly to the throne room of Jehovah Jireh and sit at His feet and sing His praises!

I am thankful that this child who took care of her siblings and her mother at a much too young age can now enjoy, yes ENJOY the safety and security of the one true Father of us all. No mere human, but an almighty Creator that allows me to say … My Daddy is bigger than your Daddy! That is of course unless Your Daddy is my Daddy! =) And at the end of the day He is … you just need to be still enough to allow Him His rightful place in your heart and life.

Won’t you join me at Daddy’s feet? He, we, so would love to have the whole family together as we wait upon Christmas!

Blessings my friends.


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Day 1 – Thankful for the slow down & Day 1 of The Advent Season


Last month was 30 Days of Thankfulness in November on Facebook. I managed not to miss a post, even if I posted the next day! 🙂 And round about the second week I realized the concept of habit again; you know the one: anything done for 21 days becomes not only a habit, but a routine. And I was inspired to carry on with the recording of thankfulness on HOPEannFAITH and start it on December 1st!

Appropriately the first day of the Season of Advent.

Well, if there’s a habit in my life to perpetuate it definitely should be the act of recording my thankfulness and blessings. What do you think?

And then today, December 1st., a friend, thanks Mike 🙂  reminded me of the 21 days to routine …  confirmation? I think so.

So what am I thankful for … I’m thankful that with all the seeming ciaos in our lives; with Don being ill and what comes with that that God has actually slowed down my thinking about life. In all the hubbub I am seeing all that is wrong with the goings on in the world today … too much stuff, not enough time and a distancing from the things of God.

I am thankful for the slow down … which allows me to think about life and God and where our life and family are going with all of these internal God changes. And while we know the changes are God they are not comfortable; I mean how can cancer ever be comfortable. Yet, we are okay with the stretching and pulling … we are working this assignment from God. And in our obedience we are seeing reconciliations, we are able to sacrifice what we want for another more easily than before, and we are seeing and giving forgiveness to those we have held at arms length or more for years. It’s really quite exciting.

The assignment is to slow down and wait on God and to listen and act upon His direction.

Then last week I started thinking about how Christmas starts before Thanksgiving in the world we live in! Sadly society is definitely into gratification, much more than gratitude! They go from teaching the children to go house to house for candy … definitely a meme practice, while having a much deeper and more sinister meaning that tells us everything is about us and we should have what we want when we want; right to Candy Canes and a fictitious fellow who brings presents one night a year … again, everything is for me!

And that has not a thing to do with Christmas, as we well know.

So here we are, well into December 1st 2013, the first day of Advent!

Day-1 Advent

God, Adventure, Goodness, Life, Hope

by Joan Chittister

“Hope takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it, and expects that, whatever its twists and turns, it will ultimately yield its good to those who live it well.”

You see it is not Christmas yet. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and that is not celebrated until the 25th of December.

Advent is what we are in on this day and the next 23. Advent means “the coming” or “waiting” … for us Christians Advent is the act of waiting for the coming, again, of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, we in Hutchland (what I call our home) will be slowing down, even further, for the preparation before the celebration of the birth of our Savior. We plan to focus on the entire season of the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.

For this pull from the Holy Spirit to slow down and focus on the Advent Season I am thankful.

And for you, my faithful friends, I am thankful.

Blessings.