Category Archive: Hope

Steadfast Love

Psalm 103:17 ESV

“But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children…”

I hope you had a meaningful time with family over this Christmas and New Year’s season. While many are rushing about, shopping for gifts, preparing food for larger family groups, others are alone and lonely.

My family of origin celebrated Christmas together Saturday. We’re a smaller group than usual. The children and grandchildren of one family all live out of state. Three of four of my youngest brother’s children have moved out of state and were unable to be with us. Several others missed due to illness or personal circumstances. But oh, how good it was to be together.

We shared memories of my father and my late husband and laughed with the joy of remembering both funny and meaningful experiences. The day when Dad, a few days before his death from leukemia, asked me if I saw the man in the corner of the room. I did not.

He saw a man standing in the room

“Do you?” I asked.

“Yes.” He nodded.

I wanted so badly to ask what the man looked like, but felt like I was on holy ground and didn’t want to mess with that. So I didn’t ask, but have often wondered whether it was Jesus or an angel he saw in his room that day.

And the time Jerry, my late husband, was hallucinating in the ICU (common for folks in ICU because there’s no difference between day and night and they tend to get a bit loopy). “Carol, there are criminals here and we have to do something about it.”

I knew I couldn’t deal with him logically. That’s just not where he was. So I said “OK, I’m going to step out into the hall and call Bob (my younger brother, then a police officer in San Jose).”

I explained the situation to Bob, who was 3000 miles away, and said, “Help me here.”

His reply was instant. “You go back in there and tell him I’m on it.”

And I did.

And Jerry said “OK.”

And that was the end of it!

And oh, we laughed at the antics of the next generation, the teasing of nephew Kyle, the answers to questions about how our nieces and nephews met and what first attracted them to each other…

My brother Arnold’s story about being in a nursing home when an elderly woman in a wheelchair motioned him over.

“I have something to show you. Take me to my room.”

After asking where her room was, Arnold wheeled her into it. She asked him to close the door. Not knowing what to expect, he did.

“I’m so sorry I haven’t been nice to you recently. I’ve kept things from you … just take me to bed.”

He ran out of the room to the nurse’s station, asking them to care for the woman.

Afraid

And my oldest brother, Melvyn’s, tender story about a developmentally disabled boy who needed a medical procedure but was terrified. Refusing to go into the room where the procedure was to take place, he sat on the floor in the hallway. He already had a port in his arm, so Mel sat down on the floor beside him and talked to him, meanwhile inserting anesthetic into the port. When the boy fell asleep, Mel picked him up, carried him into the room and successfully completed the procedure.

Families experience both joy and sorrow. We’ve lost family members over the years–my nephew Greg, Dad, Jerry. We’ve lost others to geographic changes which are part of the natural course of life. While we miss these greatly, we also are happy, wanting what is best for each family.

We’ve also dealt with a few difficult, painful issues that have required support and/or forgiveness and reconciliation. But because at the bottom line we love and respect each other, we’ve worked through these issues to deeper understanding of and with each other.

“Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13

And while we’ve had our disagreements, we’ve also come together in significant ways to support, encourage, and love each other.

I am deeply blessed by being part of this particular family.

But what if you aren’t part of a loving, caring family? God has promises for you as well. Psalm 68:5-6 say He is

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

For more insight about God’s promises to those who are lonely, see https://billygraham.org/story/are-you-lonely-this-christmas/ .

I pray God’s richest blessings, His faithfulness and encouragement, His hope to you in this new year.

New Things

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

It’s a new year–new hopes, dreams, goals. Here are a few of mine.

New Year, New Hopes and Dreams
  • New understandings in my walk with God. I’ve rejoined a women’s Bible study that I dropped out of for health reasons over a year ago. I’m thrilled to be back with these lovely women as we seek God together.
  • Complete at least the first draft of a novel I’ve been writing for a looong time …
  • Increased depth in my relationships with God, Don, family and friends.
  • New vistas. We’ve had the Canadian Rockies on our bucket list for awhile and just reserved our place on a train and bus tour through those in Fall of 2019 (I almost typed 1919–whoa!).
  • Finding and getting involved in a church home in our new community.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”  Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)

HE is the reason for my hope as we enter this new year.

  • He knows all the troubles in the world–riots in Paris, persecution, especially of Christians in other parts of the world, turmoil.
  • He knows the discord and infighting in our own country.
  • He knows the tremendous losses that have occurred corporately and personally in floods and fires and because of the active presence of evil in our world.
  • He knows my days and has promised to lead me through each one.
  • He loves me, oh amazing truth! And because of that love, I have great hope.

What are you anticipating this year? Are you hopeful or disheartened, or both? I’d love to know.

Let Justice Roll Down!

This 2018 has seen both joys and sorrows, personally and corporately. We look ahead to a new year with the God who is present, who gave Himself that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10b). He said to Israel that “… I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:24, NLT. May that be our heart’s desire and purpose in the coming year.

“Yes, And … “

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NIV

What did thirteen- or fourteen-year old Mary think when the angel Gabriel appeared to tell her that she, a virgin, would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and that child would save his people from their sins?

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Luke 1 says Mary was troubled when the angel first appeared to her. And yet, she responds in trust. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  

I’ve always thought of the young Mary as submissive, humble, obedient–a sweet, lovely girl. And I expect she was all that. But what if the emotions around the angel’s message weren’t quite that straightforward for her? 

What if she said yes, but still had questions?

  • How will I tell Joseph?
  • Will he break up with me?
  • Will he love this child?
  • What about all the gossips in this town? Will I be able to hold my head up when I walk down the main street?

When I felt God call me to minister in the Los Angeles ghetto, I said yes. But how was I going to respond when my mother cried, fearing I would be raped, beaten, or killed? 

How is my friend responding when her daughter is preparing to go to a potentially dangerous missionfield, single? I can appreciate the mother’s concerns for her daughter’s emotional and physical wellbeing, her security, her happiness.

Or another friend who has just received a diagnosis of terminal illness and has decided not to go through treatment and its side effects, but to trust God for her remaining days.

So an initial ‘yes’ doesn’t necessarily end the story, does it. But God leads us, one ‘yes’ at a time.

Mary responded with that initial “yes,” and there were many yeses to follow.

  • Yes to her twelve-year old son who stayed behind, conversing with the Temple elders when his mother and Joseph left Jerusalem to return home after Passover.
  • Yes to watching her son ridiculed, attacked, called a fraud.
  • Yes to watching this son she bore mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross to die, in agony of spirit and body.

And yes to His resurrection, to seeing her son alive and changed, knowing He was Son of God, Redeemer, Messiah, Holy One.

So I expect most of us have said “yes” along the way. But what’s the next “yes” in your journey of obedience? In mine?

Christmas Wonder

Quite the week! Monday Don and I drove back to our former residence to take  items for an estate sale this weekend, which would be set up on Tuesday.  Wednesday we saw and heard the Foto Sisters sing and play piano, violin, viola and cello here at The Villages. Wonderful harmonies and lilting melodies, voices that moved seamlessly from high to low and back again, helped us focus on the joy and good news of the Christmas season.

Friday evening we enjoyed singing Christmas carols with my mother and her church. Last night we attended a client appreciation dinner with our realtor’s company. And new neighbors are coming over for dessert on Monday. (Actually, we’re the new neighbors.)

Meanwhile, I drove to Palo Alto four times to give sputum samples and see my pulmonologist about whether a non-contagious lung infection I’ve had for several years is abating. Looking pretty good, but the challenge continues. I miss being able to sing as I used to. Instead of soprano, I’m usually singing alto or tenor now, and raspily (I know that’s not a real word) at that.

 This season tells the story of hope for all mankind. Of suffering, of sacrifice, of joy and of pain. It tells the story, not only of Jesus’ birth, but leads to His death and resurrection. He sacrificed, that we might be saved. He went through agonizing pain of body and spirit, that we might be redeemed, brought into relationship with God through Jesus’ payment for our sins. There is a cosmic war going on between light and darkness, but God in Christ won the battle at the Cross, and Jesus is Lord!



We are richly blessed in the things that really matter–family, friends,  Immanuel, God with us. Beautiful, centering music. Hearing the name of our God lifted up in the memorial service for President George H.W. Bush.  

Yet in the middle of all the festivities and celebration and joy, there is lots of pain.

  • Families have lost loved ones, homes, towns in California wildfires. Many don’t know where their next housing will come from.
  • Friends have lost loved ones…husband, mother, others…and are facing their first Christmas without that precious one at their side, at their table.
  • Families are stressed because of conflict, finances, illness, and other challenges.
  • Loneliness is heightened during a season focused on love, when many are surrounded by loved ones and others feel like everyone else has it together.
  • Political conflict abounds. Riots in France, questions about integrity and leadership at home, persecution of Christians abroad.

This is a time of challenge, but with challenge, people often look for more, for answers, for something or someOne who can give peace despite circumstances. Life is hard. Jesus said:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) 

While we still face difficulties, we have a God who has promised to be with us in all, who cares for our pain, and who promises His people a future when justice will reign, illness will be forever gone, and we will live in peace, love and joy in His presence for all eternity.

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” (Matthew 5:3, MSG)

Will you join me in focusing on moments of joy and gratitude this Christmas season, rather than in the “to do lists” we all have for the holidays? Let’s make more of presence than of presents; of the beauty in our loved ones than in our homes; of God’s good gifts than in our wish lists.

Blessings to you this Christmas!