Saturday, August 29, 2015

My personal journey of HOPE

“But you must stay deeply rooted and firm in your faith. You must not lose the HOPE you received when you heard the good news. It was preached to everyone on earth and I myself have become a servant of this message.” Colossians 1:23 CEV

               The night I was saved by Grace also happened to be my first of many trips to the emergency room for my now terminal lung condition. God had been restoring my HOPE as I fell in love with Him but that night as the chest pains increased, my breathe decreased and panic was on the verge of setting in; I was left wondering if my new faith was useless. After the year I had with my abusive, mentally ill husband I could have easily believed that my medical troubles were divine retribution. 

But GOD. 

God placed an amazing couple in my life that were His hands and feet ushering me to that saving faith and the husband was the first to speak to me about Spiritual Warfare and what my medical trails, as I started my faith journey, meant. The enemy of our souls hated the fact that I had let Jesus into my heart; the enemy knew God had a plan for my life that would mean trouble for him. Kirk told me that every morning I woke up and was able to put my feet on the ground I was stomping on the enemy’s head. God equips and empowers us through His word but also through those He places in our lives and Kirk helped me understand that I had received the ultimate HOPE in the Gospel and whatever trail I faced on earth was only helping me be a servant of that message.

 I have my moments were my health trails bum me out, moments when I throw pity parties and tantrums because life isn’t happening the way it “normally” happens for someone my age but I am proud of the work God has done in my heart and those moments are few and far between and when they happen they never last. I am blessed to have this faith, because I am willing to let go of what I want or think I should get and let God work in and thru me however He sees fit.

               The commentary notes for this verse in my New Spirit Filled Life study Bible (NKJV) state, “We are FREE to focus our minds on God and the things that are important to Him. Be assured that, In Jesus, your salvation is complete, lacking nothing.” Paul is writing to the Colossians and all believers and is confident the Colossians will not deny their faith. I hear urgency in Paul’s voice; he is desperate for us to remain faithful I too have that urgency and I know it is another reason God has called me to share our story. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My personal journey of HOPE

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident HOPE of salvation. 5 And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 NLT

I know Romans 5:3-5 to be true as my faith began in the midst of a problem laced trail no one would have ever saw coming.
I had just spent a year fighting for my marriage, my opposition was not my husband but a terrifying monster called mental illness that robbed my husband and I of the life we were just starting with each other. We had been married less than a year when he was promoted at work and I had accepted a new position closer to home which meant we had more time together and were less burdened with the dreaded paycheck to paycheck way of life. But, lurking just deep enough below the surface to not be spotted until it was too late was bipolar and schizoid personality disorder. The monster first appeared the morning of August 11, 2007 when my husband woke up and declared he hated me, had never loved me and was not capable of loving anyone and he was moving out, had already arranged with his mother he would move in with her. I quite literally thought I was in a lifetime movie or the twilight zone. Had he been a little cranky? Sure, but the person who he replaced as general manger had left the hotel in shambles and Mark was having to work 16 hour days in that first week of his promotion. The words he was said were so ugly and hurtful and were nothing like him but I also knew that he was serious.
The official diagnosis came two months later after a failed suicide attempt. He a mandatory two week stay in the hospital and then was released into my care and his doctors convinced me to take him home and told me, “my love would save him.” They told me he would take his medications and attend counseling for me. I had spent my life as the family fixer, always the dependable and reliable one who wanted to make everyone happy and comfortable so even though I had emotional whiplash from this two month roller coaster I was getting my husband back and a project all in one!
 As you can imagine my love did not save him. He chose to not take meds or attend therapy and his symptoms got worse. When the physical abuse started I was so ashamed that I had failed him I resigned to a life of punishment. I become a pro at hiding bruises, making excuses for why Mark never left the house and why when someone dropped by things like closet doors would be ripped off the hinges. I worked in a body shop, surrounded by men who made the game of hide and hide easy on me, never stopping long enough to notice I was covering up serious injuries. Eventually, and now I know it as God’s protection, those dear men I worked with stopped long enough and noticed. The day they did Mark was gone from our apartment and I was left feeling exposed and like a complete failure. My guys were sweet and rallied around me as I got a divorce and protected me, especially the first few months when Mark would send me blood soaked roses, call and berate me or send brutal emails but I felt like I was dying.
 My hope had been beaten nearly clear out of me when I woke up that Tuesday night in November in a heap of sobs and so desperate I actually prayed, I shared with you Saturday.
Mark has since killed himself. When I meet new people and gradually as you get to know them and begin to discuss my relationship status or fill out a form I have these flashbacks of what my life was like as a newlywed. What am I exactly? Yes we were divorced by neither of us chose Mark’s breakdown and now he is gone from this earth. So, I feel like a divorced widower who just about grieves her husband every day.
 I also REJOICE every day because if it wasn’t for that horror show of a situation I may have never found Jesus. That unusual marriage I endured did develop a strength of character in me I never knew I was capable of and I have the ultimate HOPE of salvation. I have never been disappointed by God, I am loved by a faithful, forgiving, dependable and passionate God who has filled me with the Holy Spirit and given me purpose in all the pain I have faced.
As I was studying Romans 5:3-5 I saw this lesson emerge: God is more interested in our character than our comfort and this improved character can be seen as educated HOPE. I have people in my life I love that don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I know the arguments they would make because I made similar argument most of my life. God is calling me to share my story to express the one aspect of a life of faith that no one can argue: my testimony. In my 28 years as an atheist I didn’t hear one testimony and now as a believer that breaks my heart.  
I know that God is also calling me to share this part of my story so no one walks around with those negative labels that allow the enemy a foothold in our lives. I considered myself a failure because my marriage had failed. I considered myself completely broken, rejected, unlovable and worthy of punishment for failing! My HOPE is found in God’s truth: I am chosen by God (1 Peter 2:9), forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14), complete (Colossians 2:9-10) and so many other magnificent truths! Recently I applied for a teaching\leading writing position with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies, #P31OBS, and I made an activity called, “Lord fill my heart with your truth!” I am sharing that activity here with you. I also shared a quote from Lysa TerKeurst and her book, When Women Walk In Faith: “But we must also give Him time to work on us from the inside out, molding and shaping our hearts according to His design.” 

Since that Tuesday night in November 2008 I have found that while our hearts can be feel broken in the midst of trails our feelings are fickle and often misleading and fueled by lies we believe about ourselves or others. BUT when we fill our hearts with God’s truth we don’t stay broken – He works a great healing in us, through us and for us. Hold fast to the HOPE of God’s word and promises and store those promises in your heart so when the next trail hits you will find that thanksgiving and rejoicing come a lot easier and faster than ever before your HOPE and heart are deeply rooted in Christ.

Do you have a favorite verse about HOPE? I have a list I am planning on working thru but I also want to hear from you! Please share! Thank you for going through this journey of HOPE with me!

Friday, August 21, 2015

My personal journey of HOPE

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident HOPE of salvation. 5 And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 NLT

      Growing up I was the hopeful one, I had this tendency to believe the best in people and circumstances. I was the odd ball in my family as I was raised in a culture of negativity; especially my Nana and I spent a lot of time with miss negative Nancy. She was never satisfied, always suspicious of people’s motives and a grump. I had to work at my sunny disposition but I wore it like a badge of honor. Until one Tuesday night November of 2008 when that hope I had cultivated for 28 years was flickering and fading.  I woke up that night in a heap of ugly sobs, threw myself on the floor and pleaded with God to restore my dying hope. That moment was significant for two reasons: I, the professed atheist who hated God was on her knees PRAYING for the FIRST time and I had realized who I truly was after a lifetime of never being sure. Sure circumstances had brought me to my knees but for all the drama and stress surrounding me  the loss of hope made me feel like I could barely breathe.
     Now the hope I had before that night was fueled by my own strength and wisdom, and now nearly seven years into my journey with God I understand how puny that hope was and why it failed me and have great confidence that the hope I have now, which is fueled by the resurrection of Jesus, God's promises, God's righteousness, The Gospel, God's glory, my Salvation, Eternal Life, God's grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. That hope is permanent and will never fail me. Now, I am a mere human wrapped in flesh that often gets tricked up by fickle feelings and attacks from the enemy but no matter how emotionally or physically wrecked I have been since Jesus saved my life I have never lost hope because my hope is deeply rooted. The evidence of my hope was once shown through my love of sunshine, stickers, butterflies and other silly worldly things. The evidence of my hope from Christ is in God's love for me in my heart right now and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. 

      The hope Paul writes of in Romans 5:3-5 will seem foreign and even impossible if you don't have the Holy Spirit inside of you. If I would have read that seven years ago I would have tried to rip it apart. For me the most exiting and amazing thing about accepting Jesus into your heart and life is the slew of knowledge and insight you gain into every aspect of life. From my studies of Scripture I have come to define hope as: a confident expectation, to cherish a desire with holy anticipation because of my trust and dependence of Jesus as my Lord and Savior. 

     For the next 12 weeks I will be here twice a week. Every Saturday I will share more of my personal journey of Hope and what I have learned from studying Scripture. Hope is my word of 2015, I chose it to have a better understanding of who God has made me and His will for my life. On Tuesdays I will be sharing more of my life with you, the mess God turned into an amazing message and testimony of redemption. This Tuesday, August 25th I will share with you what the circumstances were that brought me to my knees for the first time.  Thank you for joining me as I begin this exciting chapter of my journey with God. I want to thank Linda Kuhar ( for following God's calling on her life and offering an amazing blessing to me and so many others that finally got me to obey God's call and my #forevertwinie Moriah for sharing Romans 5:3-5 earlier this week and for keeping me accountable as I step up and out! 
My #forevertwinie