Finding Hope in the Passing and Gaining of Time

Clock.TimeGainedThe clock ticks. Time passes.

It sits on the shelf in my library. I never wanted a formal living room — I just didn’t see the need for one. I like turning the pages of books, and we had all collected quite a few over the years, so we set a goal to — one day — make that barren room a library. Today it is…rolling ladder, hourglass, floor globe, classics and all.

The ticking of the clock takes me to thoughts, experiences, cultures, worlds and places I might never visit. Time passes, but it does so in a different dimension.

The hands on the clock move, and the sugar-white grains of sand flow through the bulb of the hourglass. I’m getting older, but time doesn’t seem to be passing by and running out. Time seems to be passing by and gaining.

How can that be?

I know…sounds crazy, but it isn’t. If I reflect back on my life a decade ago, there never seemed to be enough time. …never enough time to finish what needed to be done, therefore, there was very little time left over to take on what I might have wanted to have done.

Life changes. Is there less to do today? Is there less to finish now, a decade later?

No. If I answer that honestly, there are probably even more things on the plate of life.
…more to finish,
…more that needs to be done,
…more that I wish to experience
…more that I want to have done.

Blessings. They fill the plate. Even with all the things on the plate, blessings heap it high and pile over the sides.

The mundane items,
the “needs to be done” items,
the “have to do it now” items…
…they share space on that plate with the “want to do it” items,
the “I can’t wait to do it” items,
and the “what a blessing” items.

Visible — some more than others — are also the “I don’t want to deal with this” items and the “really, God?” items.

It’s a jumbled smorgasbord.

That plate, though, is seasoned with wisdom. It’s garnished with discernment. It sits on a charger of faith, and it is seated at a place setting of blessings.

…and those blessings? Time taken to recognize them, to appreciate them and to give thanks for them seems to slow down the ticking of that clock on the shelf.

How can that be?

My youngest just celebrated a teenaged birthday that places him at the point of straddling youth and manhood in one spot? I see it in his body, in his mind and in his choices. How can that be? Where has time gone? Has it been lost to who he was when I held him, nursed him and comforted him? Or, has it been gained when I take a moment to realize who he is becoming, and when I see — right before my eyes — a glorious glimpse of what his future may hold?

Time used to mean yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Time is still all of those things, but, these days, it’s also the decades ago, the yesterdays, the challenges, the memories, the hurts, the healings, the smiles, and the heartaches. It’s also the hopes, the dreams and the eternity that is yet to come.

Time doesn’t stand still, but time has come to mean breathing in and breathing out in an attitude of opportunity. Time has been multiplied through knowing it all has a season of worthiness…something to be gained, something to be grabbed hold of, something to be worked for good.

Time is gained when we live a life appreciating the blessings.
Time is gained when we live a life learning from our challenges.
Time is gained when we live a life with expectant hope of what is to come.

The clock ticks. The hands move. Time passes. Time is gained.

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The Gratefulness Elixir

Elixir.COMPRESSED

I’ve been sick for the last few days. There’s nothing like a quick-onset illness to stop one in their tracks.

I coughed a few times while getting settled for bed on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, I wasn’t feeling quite myself when I was getting ready to head to my women’s Bible study. I needed to drop something off at my daughter’s place after the study was over, and I realized on my drive home that my body wasn’t quite right.

When I walked into the house, I immediately went to the freezer to get a couple of quarts of homemade, concentrated chicken broth. I chopped two enormous sweet onions, a dozen carrots, a head of celery, and I quick-defrosted a pound of chicken breasts. It all went into a soup pot with some garlic and salt to start my elixir. (I added lots of kale, chard and spinach later.)

By the time my prep was done, I knew there would be no stopping whatever ailment was overtaking me — chills were beginning to set in. I felt a sense of immediacy about getting a few things done, as the last time I had this feeling, I wasn’t myself again until six weeks later.

Thankfully, I am coming out of this one much faster. Being sick is never fun, but it does present us with opportunities to appreciate, reflect, pray and ponder.

My guys were all here to take care of me. They brought me glass after glass of icy water with a lime slice, they kept the house quiet for me, and they made me what little food I felt like eating whenever I asked for it. I’m grateful for my family.

My pup provided me with her always-unconditional love, not wanting to leave my bed or my side when I managed to make it out to the sofa in the family room. It also seemed like one of the cats wanted more attention from me during my downtime. The personality contrasts between the “let me just be near you” from the dog and the “puh-lease just scratch me more and more” from the cat are startling, but it made me realize I was calling on my family to take care of me during this time in the same way the cat was calling on me to rub him more than usual. I’m grateful for the pets.

Although not often, I was on the computer to check email and social media. A number of friends and family members sent me messages or texts to check in, sent well-wishes or sent their prayers. I’m grateful for my friends.

I wasn’t able to attend my mid-week Bible study, but I still felt alert enough to spend some time in the Word and work on some study homework. I’m grateful for the desire to know Him more.

There are always blessings around us. When the busyness has to stop or slow down due to an unexpected illness, circumstance or bump in the road, there are still reasons to be thankful.

Chicken soup can be a wonderful elixir, but so can gratefulness.

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Monday’s Musings — Metal Spheres & Choices

Newton'sCradle.Choices.HSHave you ever stopped to stare at one of these scientific pendulum contraptions?

…to look at the way the spheres move? …how they collide with one another? …how they are impacted by one another?

Pick up the device (it’s known as “Newton’s Cradle”) to rock it back and forth, and all the spheres will stay stuck to one another and move in perfect harmony.

Pick up one ball, and, via the outside force of fingers releasing a ball, it will connect with the second ball to create a dynamic which impacts the remaining three.

Pick up two balls, and, when released, they will stay together and work together impacting and absorbing the motion of the remaining three balls.

Even if shaken, the balls will quickly find their way back into order.

The response varies depending on the force and how it is used, but there is still a response. There is always a response. …even when the motion slows and the balls come to a complete rest, there is still a motion happening in the group.

In one of these little scientific devices, we can observe harmony and how the spheres seem to work WITH one another!

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But something else happens, too. If you play with the device long enough, you will see that the balls aren’t always working in harmony with one another, but that they are reacting to the force exerted on them by the other balls.

Life.

Life does this to us.

Another’s choices, words, actions or deeds hit us hard, and we are caught in the fallout.

Our own thoughts lead to choices, words, actions, or deeds that change life forever — for us and for those around us.
…never to be the same again…
Time and forgiveness — offered or received — will help, but life will still always be different.

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So, is it harmony or fallout?

When life impacts us,
when another’s choices impact us,
when life changes forever,
how do we respond?

We do have a choice.

We’re not just a metal ball hanging on a string from a wire frame bracing for the impact. We’re not just a sphere stuck in the middle waiting to see what those around us do.

We do have a choice. We have a choice in how to respond to what has been done to us. And, if we’ve done it to another, we have a choice in how to proceed forward with the impact we have made.

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Life is about choices.

As much as we want to blame another person, fill our thoughts with “what-ifs,” dream of a rewind, wish it away or ignore it all, that’s not what we’ve been given in this present moment.

Life is about choices, and today is about choices. …making choices that lead to living the kind of life where joy, peace and hope can take root and take hold.

The choices we make today can create a harmony around us, or, the choices we make today can create yet another level of fallout.

I need to choose wisely…we all do.

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Finding Hope in the Year of Trust

Romans 1513.TRUST.Copy

So, we’re just over a week into 2014. How are you doing with your resolutions?

As you might have read in my last post, I resolved not to make resolutions. My desire has been to follow the Spirit’s leading to make changes in my life and to not depend on a calendar to make the decision for me.

Instead of resolutions, I’ve resorted to spending time in thought and prayer to see where the Lord might be leading me. Doing so has led to naming my years and working on His leadings whenever they occur.

“Trust” has been repeating itself to me over the last many weeks. Pastoral messages, verses that stand out in my reading, blogs that seem to jump out at me, conversations with family members, even billboards (yes, really!) have all been communicating simple messages of trust to me. My quiet time and prayer time have confirmed to me the need to work on my walk with the Lord in this area, and I feel it is where He would desire my focus.

2014 – The Year of Trust

It’s official!

In 2013’s Year of Hope, Jeremiah 29:11 became my key verse.

Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

There were aspects of 2012 (the Year of Obedience) which I needed to leave behind me and others on which I needed His help in building a future during 2013. The wonders of the Jeremiah verse made me smile with expectant hope every time I read the words, so it worked its way into my heart, my head, my memory and my hopes for 2013.

After a lot of prayer, some reading, some translation reviews and quite a bit of study in the Greek text, I am feeling good about my key verse for 2014 to go along with the Year of Trust. It’s another verse which seems to be making me smile with expectant hopes.

Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(NIV)

You see, it is the “God of hope” who offers us the ability to hope expectantly, because time and time again, He IS ALWAYS and HAS ALWAYS been shown to be true to His promises. He inspires hope within us, and He provides hope for us.

The joy and peace which fill us come from knowing and understanding — but not always fully understanding — how He has worked together our past to bring about blessings in our present. Knowing His character and His promises brings about a deep joy and peace within the depths of our being, because we can TRUST in Him to continue to do the same for us in our future.

Do you overflow with hope?
Do I?
Yes and no to both!

It is IN HIM which I desire to trust so greatly that it will be HIS joy, HIS peace, and HIS hope which overflow from me due to the work and the wondrous power of the Holy Spirit who resides in me. I feel as though 2013 was a year in which I felt a lot of this — and one in which I demonstrated some of this — but it is an unfinished work, because I still lack a level of trust in His promises.

I will always be an unfinished work on this side of His Heavens, and so will you. He will never be finished with me, but I desire to do my part in seeking Him and in trusting Him by knowing Him even more.

No matter what our circumstances may be, we live for, serve, love, are disciplined by, are blessed by, are shaped by, worship, praise and walk with a God who is so much bigger than any of it.

I need to trust that.

I need to trust Him.

2014 is the Year of Trust.

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