Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Esperanza~

This post is for me.  After sitting in a staff meeting this morning and speaking the word "esperanza" - hope in Spanish, I needed this reminder. I originally wrote this post May of 2009, but my heart needed to hear it again now. Sometimes, it does a heart good to be reminded.

 **********

As I hung up the phone, I could hardly breathe. The news was simply too wonderful to contain. I felt as though my heart would burst with joy and excitement. My husband and I were going to have a baby...a dream come true.

This wasn't the first time I had heard these words from the doctor or experienced this overwhelming flood of emotion. Twice before, I had been able to surprise my husband with this same, wonderful news and watch as his face lit up, and his eyes sparkled. We both have a deep love for children and having one of our own was a dream we both shared and talked about often. Twice before, however, I had also known the deep sorrow and silent grief that rips your heart apart when you lose that little life before you have ever had a chance to meet your son or daughter face to face, or embrace and tenderly kiss them.

This time was going to be different, though. I just knew it. I could feel hope running all through out my body, from my head to my toes! I had lost my father eight months earlier, and I felt as though this was God's way of bringing new life back into mine and joy back into my heart. I could hardly wait to tell my husband and the rest of the world.

Even though my faith was strong, and my hope sure, I have to admit, there were moments when I would start to worry about losing this precious little one, too. When those moments came, however, God was always faithful to send a reminder to keep me hoping.

Like the time I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, waiting to have some routine blood work done. I started to feel anxious, but before I had a chance to dwell on these feelings, a beautiful little girl, about three years old, came and sat down right next to me. We talked and laughed and had the best time. After a few minutes, I asked her what her name was.

"Esperanza" she replied.

"What a beautiful name. Your name means HOPE in English, doesn't it?" I asked. She just smiled, but her mother nodded and said, "Yes, yes it does." I knew this because Esperanza was the "girl" name I had picked out for this new little one. Esperanza - Hope, because once again, through this pregnancy, God had filled my heart with hope.

Instantly, my fear vanished and hope ruled my heart. God was with me and everything was going to be just fine. Weeks flew by and soon, at my six weeks Dr. visit, I was able to not only see my baby, but to hear the beating of it's heart.

"Your baby has a very strong heartbeat. Everything looks and sounds terrific!" the doctor declared.

Still, as days went on, fear tried desperately to steal my joy. With each moment of fear, however, God was faithful to send me a hope-filled moment to hold on to.

Like the time I was driving home from work and caught myself once again fearful of facing yet another miscarriage, and another heartbreak. Turning a corner, a sign at a church beckoned for my attention. There, for all the world to see, were God's words of hope.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
~Romans 15:13

I pulled over to the side of the road, found a pen and paper, and copied down this powerful word from God. I decided, right then and there, to commit this particular scripture to memory. The next time Satan tried to bring doubt or fear to my heart or mind, I would hold up my shield of faith and quench his fiery dart by boldly proclaiming the hope in my heart.

Weeks turned into months - three to be exact. Then, my hope died, right along with the death of the tiny life I had carried inside me. I was devastated. This time was suppose to be different. How could this be happening again, especially after God had been so deliberate in His attempts to encourage me to keep hoping, to keep believing? I felt totally and completely numb. To be totally honest, I felt as though God had been teasing me. He knows the end from the beginning. He knew this pregnancy was going to end just like the two before it, and yet he kept dangling hope out there in front of me. My numbness soon turned to anger and bitterness.

Time went by and I struggled to keep my relationship with the Lord vibrant and strong. I had walked with the Lord long enough to know his true character: all love, all mercy, all wisdom, all the time. I knew God loved me and wanted only the best for me. I knew He was always working all things for my good and His glory. I knew what Satan meant for harm, He could and would use for my good. My head knew all of this, but my heart, oh my heart. It felt betrayed. It had dared to hope.

Then one night, as I was reading in the Psalms, God, in his tenderness, revealed to me the true substance of the hope He kept placing in my heart during those three months. I suddenly realized that my hope had been completely misplaced. All that time, I had been placing my hope in the life I carried, not in the ONE who was carrying me. God did know how this pregnancy would end. He knew my heart would once again be broken into a million pieces. He knew all of this and because He did, He was preparing me for this loss by placing seeds of hope into my heart. Not hope in my baby, but hope in HIM! Tears filled my eyes, once again, as I found myself on my knees thanking God for being all loving, all merciful, all wise, all the time.
Over and over again in the Bible, we find verse after verse leading us to the only one we can truly place our hope in.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. 
~ Psalm 31:24

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.  

~Psalm 39:7

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:  

~Psalm 146:5

Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  

~ Jeremiah 17:7
 

Now, years later, I would love to be able to tell you that my heart no longer feels the pain of these losses, but that wouldn't be true. Not a day goes by that I don't feel the hurt. Yet, through the hurt, I have chosen to keep placing my hope in my God. As I allow the God of hope to fill me with joy and peace in believing, I abound with hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever been disappointed by God? 


Have you ever felt as though he dangled hope in front of you only to lead you to heartache? 

If so, I encourage you to take a closer look. 

Could it be, like me, your hope was misplaced? 

The world and all that is in it will let us down, abandon us, and leave us broken hearted, but our God - who is all love, all mercy, all wise, all the time - never will. Put your hope in Him and I guarantee, you won't be disappointed.










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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Know Him is To Praise Him~









 
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Everything~









 
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Friday, March 27, 2015

The Blessing of Togetherness~

"I'm not sure if this is a praise or a prayer request.  Tomorrow, my mother-in-law arrives for a two week stay."

Instantly, the room fills with laughter.

Thank you for these women, Lord.  Honest, straight-forward, God-fearing, grace-giving, sisters in Christ.  What a blessing to join together with them each week and share our hearts as we learn of Yours.

"Please pray for my brother, that he can once and for all escape the demons that torment him and win his fight with drug abuse."

"My little one has had a fever the past few days. I'm so worried about her.  The last time she had a fever she had seizures."

Oh, Gracious God -
To know when two or three are gathered in Your name, You are here - what a promise, what a comfort, what a place to be.

This is community.




Today, I am at (in)courage, writing about the blessing of togetherness and the God who calls us into community.  Click here to join me and continue reading.








 
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Eyes of the Heart~

I sit at my desk, staring straight ahead, and yet seeing nothing in particular.

Sometimes, the eyes of the heart take precedence.

I have work to do, projects to complete, emails to answer,
but here,
between me and all that is still left undone
is the face of this precious one in need.

I long to reach out, to ease the pain, to heal the hurt, to undo what's been done, to right this wrong.
I wrestle with anger over what has happened, what shouldn't have happened, and what didn't happen.
I struggle to hold back my tears, untie the knots in my stomach, and keep from coming completely undone.

And, I can't see beyond the face of this one in need.

Not when I look out the window.
Not when I gaze out the door into the hallway.
Not when I stare at the ceiling.
Not when I glance down at my keyboard.

It is ever before me,
standing in the way of all that would vie for my attention.

And I realize, more than maybe ever before in my life,
this is more than me sympathizing with a friend in need.
This is more than me bearing the burden of a brother.

Yes, sometimes, the eyes of the heart take precedence,
so all you can see
is the one you need to carry to Jesus in the cries of your heart,
on the words of your prayers.

To intercede.
To stand in the gap.
To go boldly before God's throne of grace to find help in a time of need.

It is
our highest privilege,
our greatest honor,
our solemn duty,
our not-to-be-ignored, not-to-be-missed, not-to-be-delayed, not-to-be-taken-lightly calling.

I bow my head and pray.
As tears make their way down my cheek and onto my desk,
I lift this one up to The One with nail-scarred hands. 

Moments later,
I pray again.

All afternoon.
All evening.
Even now.

As long as God places him before me,
I will place him before God.

And God,
He will be
faithful to hear, faithful to answer, faithful to heal, faithful to restore, faithful to redeem.

It's what God does,
when we do what He has called us,
His prayer warriors,
to do.









 
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To Listen Hard~

Gracious Heavenly Father,
Help us to be still, Lord,
to listen hard for the voice of Your Spirit.

In the busyness of our day,
and the rush to be and do
may we still
undeniably,
unmistakably,
hear the hush of Your Spirit.


Sometimes, Lord, You speak in the power of a whirlwind.

Sometimes, Father God, Your voice is as loud as the thunder.

But most times, precious Spirit,
Your voice comes as a whisper to a listening soul,
a soft stirring,
a gentle nudging,
a tender prodding,
a quiet convicting.

No matter how loud our world may be,
no matter how many voices vie for our attention,
may it be Your voice we hear, Father God,
Your voice we listen to,
Your voice we follow.

Help us to be still, Lord,
to listen hard for the voice of Your Spirit.

 In Jesus' precious name we pray, Amen.~♥







 
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Heart for God~








 
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Because I Have~

He lifts his eyes just high enough and quick enough to see my reaction.  Then, drops his gaze to the ground once again. We stand in the entryway at church. Not quite inside, but not all the way outside either.

Without missing a beat, I answer his question.
It is my answer that startles him in the way he had expected his remark to startle me.

Feeling backed into a spiritual corner, he had done what any of us would have done.  He lashed out. He grasped for a straw to stand on.  He spoke words intended to shock, distract, and lead me away from the issue at hand.

"What if there is no God?" he had yelled, breaking his up-to-this-point silence.

"That's up to you to find out." I answered back, as calm and as collected as someone who has been in his shoes, because I have.

I have stood where he is now standing - half in, half out.
I have questioned what he is now wondering - what if He is, what if He isn't.
I have responded how he is now reacting - in fear, in doubt, in unbelief.
I have wrestled who he is now fighting - the enemy of the soul.

I have been in his shoes.

It is this revelation that startles him the most.

As his sixth grade eyes once again look up and peer into my almost fifty year old eyes, I see it.

A heart afraid it might be a fairy tale.
A heart hoping it might be true.
A heart scared of what surrendering might mean.
A heart desperate to know.

"We each have to find God for our self." I say.  "To know him from our own heart, to experience him in our own life, to accept him in our own time, to love him for our own Savior."

His eyes are down again, and his body language is trying to communicate to me that he is not listening.

But, I know he is.
A searching heart is always listening.

He turns away and steps out into the bright sunlight.

"And a truth-revealing God is always speaking," I remind myself,
 as calm and as collected as someone who has been in his shoes,

because I have.









 
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