It All Begins With Hope

Its the first Sunday of Advent and with little people still in my house, I'm revving up for the joyful season.

I have always loved the traditions of Christmas and while the Goodman and I have held on to some from our childhoods, we have forged some of our own.

Every year since Tony's first Christmas we have put together a prayer chain.

We make a list of family and friends and make one paper chain link per person or family.

Then we string them all together and before bedtime, we all pray for one each night counting down to Christmas Day.

Hope. That's what prayer gives us. Its our own line of dialogue with the One who gives us the means to live and move and have our being. And during the holiday season we especially remember the eternal hope that Jesus' birth in Bethlehem brought to all mankind. Without that hope, that looking forward to His return once again for His Bride, what kind of people would we be?


Gratitude Elusive

As is our custom each year, my Goodman and I sat together and talked about what we are thankful for this year. Can I be honest and say, it was hard to come up with? This has been a year. Fight after fight, struggle after struggle. An uphill battle. We mentioned the givens: our family, our marriage, our church, but when we looked back over the year, the difficulties were tough to see past. Whew. So many victories, so much hard fought ground covered, but really what can I say I am thankful for right now if I was to be asked?

I thought about it and this is what I came up with: through all this year and years gone by I am so very thankful for Jesus. Not being corny here. I'm so serious. Had I not been held up by the hope that lives in me, Christ in me, the hope of glory, I would be a sorry individual. I would not have made it, I tell you that with a certainty. On my darkest days, He shines a beacon that keeps me going, trudging onward. Secondly, there's my man, my partner, my love. During these battles when I glance over to where he's fighting, and I see him busting heads I am encouraged to fight all the harder. This partnership isn't all about rose petals and champagne, but battle scars and shared war stories.

Life is hard, I don't always get what I want, when I want it, how I want it. There is much injustice in the world and there are struggles that my family endures that don't seem fair. I don't even claim to try to know the whys or the hows, the important thing is that I have a relationship with the only Who that matters, and that is the sole fact that brings gratitude right up close and personal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.


Book Review: He Knows Your Name

Living in a world where we are constantly bombarded with the negativity of the nightly news, Facebook drama, and the regular reporting of evil, we can find ourselves feeling as if there is nothing we can do about it. What difference can one person make?

Linda Znachko is a woman just like me, but she decided to place herself in a position to allow God to use her. Because of her availability and heart after God, she has been used by Him to make an impact of one family at a time, through her ministry He Knows Your Name. This ministry provides the help needed to purchase headstones,  or financially support the funeral of the loved one of those who may not be able to find closure in their loss otherwise. And it all began with one terrible headline. Even while battling with the recent loss of her own mother, and fear for her sick daughter, she chose to step out and take action instead of curling up and hiding.

In her book, He Knows Your Name, Linda shares the extraordinary story of how one small step of faith, reaching out to bury a baby abandoned in a dumpster, changed her life and birthed a ministry. No need is too insignificant, no idea too small, no hurt too unimportant for God. As she shares in the book,
"I am confident of one thing: as you boldly step into the difficult places, God is faithful to use whatever you offer to accomplish his divine and holy will. So if you've senses a nudge from the Holy Spirit, say yes. I promise you that, in the most wonderful way, your life will never be the same."
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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