Tag Archives: hope

Wisdom Wednesday: Dance to the Rhythm

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Have you ever really, really looked forward to something only to have things change and cause your heart to sink? Seems like I’ve been experiencing a greater share of disappointments lately. I thought I was already pretty flexible and spontaneous, but with encountering so many changes in plans, I can’t help but realize God’s hand at work, teaching me to become more adaptive and able to roll with the punches.

If the rhythm of the drum beat changes, the dance step must adapt.” —African proverb

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.” —Zen proverb

Sometimes we become angry when something upsets our plans. The apostle James explained that we become angry and fight because we aren’t getting what we want. (James 4:1-3)

“Flexible people don’t get bent out of shape.” —Unknown

“Satisfied desire is sweet to a person; therefore, it is hateful and exceedingly offensive to fools to give up evil [upon which they have set their hearts].” —Proverbs 13:19 TAB

Sometimes even if we don’t realize it right away, a change in plans can actually work out better in some way, or at least in the long run. One example involved two events scheduled for the same day. I had planned on attending a “Blessing of the Bikes” with a friend, and had to change plans when a zip lining birthday celebration for my mother-in-law was scheduled for the same day. Because the zip lining event was originally scheduled for early afternoon, I felt free to take on partial duty coverage for one of my firefighter brothers. I agreed to cover from the night before up to a certain hour the next morning. The night before the zip lining event, I was informed that the reservation was for one hour after my duty would end, giving me no time to shower and travel to the destination. Then it was changed to the very hour my shift would end. Fortunately, my daughter was able to take my reservation. I also thought that since I could no longer participate, I could possibly go on the “Blessing of the Bikes” ride after all! The possibility did, indeed, exist, until it was decided that they would be departing half an hour before my shift ended. At least I was able to have breakfast with them! Things worked out well in the end. My daughter was able to take my place and go zip lining and celebrate with her Nana, and I was able to do driver trainer on one of the fire apparatus for the first time.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” —Proverbs 13:12 KJV

Another reason to be flexible, spontaneous, and able to adapt is because of love. I was talking to a former firefighter recently, and he related a time when he had come home late at night from a structure fire in -40° weather. He and his gear were frozen, and as he was thawing in the kitchen, his wife (at the time) complained that he was dripping all over the floor. Although it’s very likely as a firefighter’s wife, she had already faced many changes in plans and disappointments, to react in such a way to a frozen hero was… cold. Martin Luther said, “Faith, like light, should always be simple and unbending; while love, like warmth, should beam forth on every side, and bend to every necessity of our brethren.”

“Yielding flexibility is a virtue of an ever-expanding heart.” —Molly Friedenfeld, author

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If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Disappointment and Hope

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When Life Begins to Fray

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The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18 NLT

I recently bought a colorful, artsy scarf, which I quickly noticed can snag and fray somewhat easily.  Even though the fray looks like a mess, the nice thing about the scarf’s design is it seems as easily fixed by stretching the fabric in just the right place and with the right amount of tension.  I was reminded of how God designed us in such a way that we are not so easily broken, and when life begins to fray, if we will allow God to stretch us a bit, even when it looks like a mess, our lives can become untangled.  He knows just how and where to stretch us, so our lives can look like a beautiful tapestry once again.

 

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God and Mr. Miyagi

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Where Are You Taking Me?

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“God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go, in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.” —Paul Tripp in his sermon “The Difference Between Amazement and Faith


The Key Is Not Perfection, But Direction

“Change is moving in the right direction.  It’s not about speed, distance, or perfection, but direction.”  —David Powlison,

“Change is moving in the right direction. It’s not about speed, distance, or perfection, but direction.” —David Powlison,

The quote by David Powlison, a CCEF Christian counselor, professor and speaker, reminded me of something my good friend, Scott, often says, “God looks at the heart. The key is not the perfection of our obedience, but the direction.”


My Favorite Brown Shirt

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Have you ever had a favorite shirt you had to get rid of because it became stained or ripped?  A few months ago as part of a ladies’ Bible study that used our closets as a metaphor for our minds, we were asked to bring something from our closet that represents hope.  I brought one of my favorite shirts, a brown long-sleeve tee.  Even though it has gotten stained many times such that I thought I’d have to toss it out, after applying some stain remover, it has always come clean.  The reason it represented hope to me is because it reminded me that Jesus doesn’t toss us out when we become stained with sin.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I was reminded of this recently in Sunday school as our pastor has been teaching through Psalm 119 and reminded us that God has promised not to forsake us utterly when we seek Him.

 

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.  —Psalms 9:10

 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.   —1 Timothy 1:15

 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.   —Psalm 51:7


Wisdom Wednesday: Breaking & Making Habits

Photo credit:  David Gunter

Photo credit: David Gunter

Have you ever tried to break a habit or tried to get your child to break a habit and failed? There are two main reasons failure occurs— taking something away without replacing it with something else and trying to change a behavior without a change of heart and mind.

“Nature abhors a vacuum.” —Latin proverb

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Socrates, a character in Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Ephesians 4:22-32 incorporates the secret of change. It says to put off the old man, be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and put on the new. Then it lists specifics: stop lying and speak the truth; stop stealing and work; stop using foul or abusive language and say things that build others up; put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice, and instead, be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. People who want to stop smoking or eating too much, sometimes chew gum instead. People who want to cut down on eating processed sugary sweets, eat naturally sweet things like raisins, dried figs, and dates instead. People who want to be less negative, try to think positive thoughts, post positive notes as reminders, and practice writing and saying positive things to others. Making new habits takes intentional practice.

When it comes to parenting, if you take something away from your child, and don’t replace it with something else, you will have created a vacuum that will rage until it is filled. We can’t take something away and simply say, “Find something else to do.” If you don’t help them fill it with something good and satisfying, your child might fill it with something else that is not profitable.

The other secret to change is not merely trying to change outward behavior but to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind”— to have a change of heart. The root of any problem starts in our hearts and minds. A Norwegian proverb says, “Old habits have deep roots.” Why do we do what we do? What need are we trying to fill? Will replacing a whole pint of ice cream with exercise fix the problem, or will excessive exercise and the need to be thin simply become another addiction?

…if you provide the “right intervention” or “fix” for his problem (such as ways to better communicate…), you offer only a temporary solution…yet the heart has not changed. The control center of life essentially gets better equipped to continue doing what it has always been doing — operating out of corrupted desires. —Kevin Carson, chairman for Biblical Counseling

“Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.”
—Tryon Edwards

Sometimes we continue doing something destructive because we think it’s what we deserve or we have no hope that we can ever become better. Don’t believe it. That’s a lie. You don’t deserve it, and there is hope.

Sometimes we do things either because we don’t know any better or simply because it’s what we’ve always done and we don’t really think about it. A Latin proverb says, “Men do more things from habit than from reason.”

“But if I do what I’ve always done, I’ll be who I have always been. God calls out more. He calls me to act out now who I am becoming.” —BJ, youth pastor and blogger in Becoming

“If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be.” —Dale Carnegie

I’m not saying breaking old habits and making new ones is easy. I still have the bad habit of procrastinating at times and have to work at doing things in a timely manner so I’m not rushing at the last minute or constantly trying to catch up. Bad habits have a way of making our paths more difficult, while good habits have a way of making them smoother. And while making new habits may seem unnatural and difficult at first, if we keep practicing, they become second nature. It’s like muscle memory. But if we don’t first start by renewing our minds and understanding why we need to change, we will constantly have to keep jumping starting ourselves or eventually give up.

“When you give up…meh you didn’t want it that bad. You just kind of wanted it.” –Evan Sanders, author of The Better Man Project in “Day (380) – I Just Know


Misty Road

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One of the interesting things about this quote is that it was said by Joni Eareckson Tada, who suffers with quadriplegia.  If she can have faith to believe, take God at His Word, and take the next step, how much more can we?


Hope

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For anyone who may be feeling cast down and in turmoil today.  There is hope.

Wisdom Wednesday: Disappointment & Hope

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Have you ever been so disappointed you felt like your heart was sinking into a pit of despair and all hope was lost?  I think everyone has at one time or another.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Although disappointments come for different reasons, the most oft expressed seems to involve relationships and trying to find love.  Carolyn McCully, a Christian author said, “Much of our disappointment in relationships is not because people have actually wronged us, but because they have failed to meet our expectations.”  While I think her statement is true to a large degree because disappointments come from unmet expectations, I also think that as we have moved away from following Jesus and even sought to remove the Ten Commandments, we actually tend to wrong each other more.  We should be able to expect common courtesies, but fewer and fewer have been taught good manners, and our world has become more of a selfish, dog-eat-dog world instead of one that practices the Golden Rule.  Instead of being taught to truly love and serve others, we are encouraged to love and serve ourselves.  The problem is we already love ourselves as expressed through various forms of self-preservation.  We just wish someone else would love and not reject us, too.

“He who plants thorns must never expect to gather roses.”  –Arabian proverb

People say, “I just won’t expect anything, and then I’ll never be disappointed,” and yet, they often find themselves disappointed time and time again.  The key isn’t in never expecting anything at all.  That’s impossible.  The key can be found in a Panamanian proverb, “If you want no disappointments, don’t indulge in illusions.”  Find out what is true and reasonable, be prepared to accept or adjust for temporary delays or set backs, and be willing to practice patience and grace.  “Flexible people don’t get bent out of shape.”  And when a desire is finally fulfilled or an expectation met, it is especially uplifting and appreciated when there has first been a delay.  Sometimes you might even be glad you didn’t get what you’d originally hoped for.

Some people might feel like God is disappointed with them and sees them as a hopeless case.  So not true!  God, who is omniscient, is never disillusioned, so He cannot be disappointed.  His Father-heart may be breaking at witnessing the hurt and pain we and others feel as a result of wrong doing, but He is not disappointed, and He never sees us as a hopeless case.  He is always working to draw us closer and not to push us away like people sometimes do.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.   Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”  –Psalm 103:8-14

Although we don’t fully know Him and sometimes have misguided expectations because of things we’ve heard or been taught about Him, He knows us.  He knows you.  Even the ugly parts.  And He loves you anyway.  There is hope.  If you’ve ever fallen in love and felt wonderfully alive, then you might be able to imagine what it feels like to realize just how much Jesus loves you.  He will not push you away.


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