Finding Hope in a New Decade

When the clock struck midnight in the wee hours of the morning, we all found ourselves facing a new day, a new month, a new year and a new decade. January 1, 2020, launched a new beginning.

It also launched new opportunities, too. January 1, 2020, is the fresh page in the story we’ll begin to write for the upcoming month, year and decade.

Oh, wow!
Blank pages can seem intimidating;
they can seem exhilarating;
they can seem empty;
they can seem full of chances.

Not a writer? It’s okay; most of us aren’t. You’re still writing a figurative story as you live your life, even if you don’t put it down in words.

It’s only fitting that we spend a bit of time reflecting today on what we’ll “write” on the pages of our 2020 story. What we want to write CAN be what gets written, but we have to look within to get it done.

Read that one again: What we want to write CAN be what gets written, but we have to look within to get it done.

It’s been said that the only things that are guaranteed in life are death and taxes, but I think change is inevitable, too. Change can present opportunity, and opportunity is a part of what lies ahead.

Certainty may come in change, death and taxes, but how can we control what 2020 brings, while we begin writing our story? As much as we want to be able to control our circumstances (and therefore, our story), we often aren’t able to do so.

What we CAN control are these:
Our choices,
our words,
our actions,
our deeds,
and our thoughts.

If you’ve read the writings on this dot-com for any period of time, you know this is a frequent subject of mine. It’s a frequent subject, because when the struggles of life clash with our desires of life, investigating the next steps often takes looking within for answers.

The answers and the path forward always lie within our own choices, words, actions, deeds and thoughts…no matter what our life, job, spouse, family or circumstances seem to be.

This new day, new month, new year, and new decade are ready to be written. Here we go!


If you’d like to read more about choices, you can search it in the search bar on the home page of Hope Surrendered, or you can click hereherehere or even here. [There are other writings, but if you’re still clicking on those re-direct links, you’ll find them.]


I’d love to hear your thoughts about what lies ahead for you as you begin living your 2020 story!

What Nakedness Reveals

Fall is the celebrated season to break out the flannel, boots, and pumpkin spice, yet it’s also a time to see immense change happen in nature. We’ve just watched what was once growing, green, and full of life burst forth with bold vibrancy before all-too-quickly fading into drab tones, weathered stiffness, and the preparation for dormancy.

The trees have been shedding what’s left of their leaves, and the storms which are due to arrive soon will likely finish off whatever remains.

Trees can be a window into our soul. It can be good to let go of dead things, but doing so can also leave us feeling naked, feeling exposed and feeling vulnerable. Being uncovered—and letting others see our realness—can be a challenge.

I’ve been gone from the visibility of published writings here for a time, and it may be a while until I post again, but I’m here now. Here…in the moment because of the trees. Much like the trees, life and change can be a process to shed what is seen by others while being brave enough to reveal broken branches, burls of curled wood, and scattered parts that were once full of life and purpose.

Don’t you feel like this at times?

Yesterday, I took a walk in the forest behind my house. The sound of silence from the trees contrasting with the crunch of the dried and fallen leaves beckoned me. To be able to look up, look down, and look around—seeing the divergence of what is alive, what is changing, and what is dead—reminded me of how we are much like these majestic creations that blend together in a forest. There is beauty to be found in every season—with trees and within ourselves, too.

It’s easy to see the forest, yet harder to see the tree within the forest. …that is, until we get up close to see the tree for what it is:

  • The tree is changing with the seasons of its life;
  • it’s letting go of that which is dead while standing strong;
  • it’s giving life to a network of tiny organisms resting beneath its cover;
  • it’s offering fruit to other living creatures;
  • it’s preparing to rest;
  • it’s patiently waiting for the next season;
  • it’s readying itself for rebirth…and growth…and beauty to come.

Those trees—and you—isn’t this what your life has been about, too?

“Trust the journey.”

It’s what I say to myself when forward progress is slower than it seems it should be.

Trust your journey.

Trust in the season in which you find yourself.

Trust in the seeds you have planted while getting to where you are today.

Trust in the change that has taken place.

Trust in the work you are doing to prepare for what is coming.

Faith is not a moment; faith is a journey.

Seasons change.
We change.
Life gives us opportunities to be the change.

As much as you might miss some of what’s been left behind, trust in the opportunity ahead that has been created by being willing for forge a new path after letting go of what may no longer serve the same purpose for you.

It’s okay to be naked and exposed for a while. 

It really is!

 


 

The Purifying Fires of Suffering in Your Story

I am fortunate to be digging into a thorough study of the book of Revelation with some incredibly amazing women.

We’re examining the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 right now, and one of the commentaries I’m referencing is by John F. Walvoord.

Walvoord’s quote about the suffering church of Smyrna really got me thinking about the challenges I’ve gone through.

What about your own sufferings? What about your own choices, words, actions and deeds in your agony? What about the story being written about your next steps?

We all have a story.
We all have sufferings. 
We all have an opportunity to have our story be used for a greater purpose.

In time and when you are ready, be encouraged to let your story burn brilliantly like a lamp on a stand.

Someone out there needs to see the Light.


Finding Hope in Shedding an Old Life

In April, I adopted an orchid. It was a take-home gift from a lovely bridal shower I attended in Michigan. I’ve never been tasked with caring for an orchid, but it was so lovely with its six blooms, that I was excited to transport it home.

The conditions in Michigan gave us a wintry blast of ice that coated the car to 1/4″ thick. It took 30 minutes of running the defrost and chipping away to clear the car before loading up my luggage and moving the orchid from the warmth of the hotel room. She was buckled into the seat belt in the back seat for the six-hour drive.

Upon arriving home, I settled her in on my kitchen counter with an ice cube for refreshment (Google is so helpful), before doing some laundry and packing up again for a seven-hour drive to Virginia. I gave strict orders to my family to NOT touch it or water the orchid while I was gone.

I returned a few days later to find a few buds had sprung open and new buds were forming. Yes! Victory in the moment! I had never grown one of these tropical beauties, but she was growing and glowing without much help from me.

Her 15 blooms have dazzled me with their beauty for months. A few weeks ago, her blooms began to wrinkle and lose some luster. Now, just three remain, and soon, she will seemingly slumber. As a first-time orchid owner, I’m not sure how long she’ll rest, but I’ll remain expectantly hopeful of her reawakening, no matter how long it takes.

 

 

This little orchid helps me to see the circle of life through the challenges and hopes within each of us. She has particular needs, and when her needs are nurtured, she is mesmerizing. Overdo or under do anything with her, and there will be issues. She’ll be less than she was created to be.

That’s life, isn’t it? There are surprises, delights, new opportunities, beauty, blossoming, showy moments and confidence in becoming who we have been created to be. Yet, in all of this, there are disappointments, heartache, a shedding of the old, fading joys, wrinkles, retreat, silence, and a feeling of loss where we have trouble knowing when we’ll get our groove back.

Expectant hope abounds in this little orchid, in all of nature, in us and in others. It’s all around us.

Can we see it in the simple?  Can we see it in the small?  Can we see it in the lonely?  Can we see it when we are shedding an old life, old habits or that which leaves us feeling dead?  Can we see it with a new opportunity?  Can we see it in our smile?  Can we see it when the Creator is working in us?  Can we see it?

Expectant hope abounds all around us.
Can we see it?


 

Enjoying the Moment & Missing the Pic

A coyote emerged from the woods this morning—right from where we send the dog to poo—and then he played in the snow for about 10 minutes, running, leaping and doing a prancy-pounce thing.

I didn’t take a picture of him. I just wanted to watch him, as eerie as it was to have a coyote visible in the daylight. [Those if you who have coyotes around know that they are more often heard at night than seen in the day.]

I didn’t take a picture of him.

Does anyone else feel like we spend too much time instagramming our lives instead of enjoying the moments in the moment? I felt the temptation this morning, but didn’t give in. I just wanted to watch him, not photograph him.