Finding the Jackpot of Truth

CT.2-5
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago.
~Ephesians 2:10

The Comparison Trap:  Week Two, Day Five… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Gosh, I just love this verse! I’m His masterpiece! That’s what the apostle Paul has shared with us from God’s own heart.

Even though there are times I don’t feel like anyone’s masterpiece (we all have our moments or days or seasons of feeling this way), just reading this in light of my relationship with Him makes me grin and let out a contented sigh.

Sandra Stanley calls it a “jackpot of truth” in the Comparison Trap devotional book. It’s a jackpot we already own… no rainbows to follow or leprechauns to find. The jackpot is already a part of our relationship with God, because of our faith in Jesus.

If you dig a little deeper into this amazing verse, you’ll come to realize that the new creation we became at the moment we received Jesus put His plan into further motion. The verse tells us that He has good things which He has planned for us, and He planned them long ago (well before we took a step into faith).

Sandra reminds us that the good things—the plans, the blessings, the circumstances—that He’s picked for me aren’t the same as the ones He’s picked for you. When we fall into the comparison trap by asking, “Why not me?”, we can know, in confidence, that God has something else planned… something He probably planned long ago, and something He’s personally chosen us for.

THIS is hope surrendered. It’s asking, “Why me?” or “Why not me?” and surrendering our wondering hopes to His plans and expectantly hoping that what He has planned is even better for us.

Instead of comparing our lives, our gifts, our talents and our blessings, we can have great confidence that the One who calls us His masterpiece is leading us toward and allowing us to experience just what He needs for us to be able to do the good things he planned for us long ago!

 


 

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Finding Hope in Your Story

This photo belongs to DaySpring, (in)courage, and the (in)RL Conference.
This photo belongs to DaySpring, (in)courage, and the (in)RL Conference.

I have a question for you:

Which fairytale creature, mythical being, Muppet puppet, character from “The Princess Bride,” cupcake flavor, Disney princess or “Star Wars” character are you?

If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve seen the silly quizzes your friends have tried and the results they’ve posted. I might be considered a party-pooper, but I haven’t done any of them. If there is a possible answer that would tell me I’m a volcano-climbing, coffee-loving, adventure-seeking, faith-filled, healthy-gardening wife and momma who homeschools her kids, likes good food, can’t get enough of nature and dabbles in writing … THEN, I might check boxes in a quiz to see what the answers reveal.

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Last weekend, I participated in an online conference by (in)courage. The focus of the online conference was for us to feel empowered to share our (in)real life stories with one another.

The speakers were women who had a story.

Does that sound like you? It sounded like me. The women shared their stories. They were all different, but they all mattered.

WHY? Why did all of their stories matter? They mattered because thousands of women tuned in over the weekend to hear someone tell a story that made sense, that held familiarity, that held hurt, that held grace, that held mercy and that He used in some way.

My story wasn’t talked about and neither was yours,
but there were tiny bits and pieces of my story

in Anna Marie Miller’s story (annemariemiller.com),
in Diane Bailey’s story (dianewbailey.net),
in Logan Wolfram’s story (loganwolfram.com),
in Mary Carver’s story (givinguponperfect.com),
in Robin Dance’s story (robindance.me),
in Jessica Turner’s story (themomcreative.com),
in Nasreen Fynewever’s story (nasreenfynewever.com),
in Sally Haukas’ story (who does good stuff over at DaySpring)
and even in Sarah Markley’s story (sarahmarkley.com).
Lots of individual bits of their individual stories sounded like a tidbit of mine.

I could connect even though my story wasn’t told.

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Not everyone is meant to be a writer or a blogger like the women above and those from the (in)RL Conference. But, we all still have stories that matter.

One thing that was said repeatedly in the promos and in the videos was,
“We need your story.” WHO is the “we?” My take-away was…

It’s us.

It’s those of us who wonder from where our value comes.

It’s those of us who want to know how a broken heart can heal.

It’s those of us who are living in singleness.

It’s those of us who wonder who else cares.

It’s those of us who have watched our husbands die.

It’s those of us who cry in our quiet moments.

It’s those of us who feel the need to put on the smile mask.

It’s those of us who have watched our marriages fall apart.

It’s those of us who were violated.

It’s those of us who are lonely.

It’s those of us who wonder, “Why me?”

It’s those of us who have lost a child.

It’s those of us who have never been able to carry a child.

It’s those of us who have been cheated upon.

It’s those of us who feel lost.

It’s those of us who don’t know how to get through today.

It’s those of us who don’t know from where our hope comes.

It’s us.

It’s us. We are the “we” in “We need your story.”

You have a story. There’s someone out there who needs to hear your story.
They need to hear it, because it matters.

WHY does it matter?

It matters because you matter.

You aren’t a mythical creature, a princess or a movie character. You are you.

You also aren’t only one (or more) of those sentences above. You are you.

When we find ourselves in our story, and when we have a heart to become what God created us to be, our story grows and it changes. The hurts, the heartaches and the heaviness in our lives are a part of our stories, but we come to realize and we come to live, because we know that God isn’t finished with us yet.

He’s working on us, in us and through us to make our story all He created it to be.
He’s working on us, in us and through us to make US all He created us to be.

And…even though He isn’t finished with us yet, He wants us to be available for Him. When we are willing to be available to share our story with others who might need to hear it, we continue to grow our story, and that story has the power to impact others. When we can seek and find the hope and redemption in our story, AND we’re brave enough to share parts of that story, that hope and that redemption with others, we offer them a rope of hope…one in which they can grab hold of and use to pull themselves toward Him.

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I attended the (in)RL conference last year, too. The Lord had already begun working in me, leading me to write, and leading me to hope. I had ideas, I had writings, I had a name, but I lacked the bravery to put it all out there, even though I felt Him prodding me forward.

After sitting in the comfort of my own home for (in)RL in April 2013, I knew I had to take a step forward toward where He was leading. Hope Surrendered was born shortly afterward. I haven’t shared a lot of the background of my story; some of you know some of it, but none of you know all of it. I’m very grateful to the people of DaySpring, (in)courage, and of the (in)RL Conference for what was given to us in both 2013 and in 2014, and I am here, in part, because of the courage gained from them to share my story with you.

For a lot of reasons, I’ve not shared much of what is behind me, but do know this: The Lord has used almost all of that in moving me forward. Some of that “moving forward” is here in the pages of this site where I share with you some of the ways I’ve learned from His leading.

Our stories – yours and mine – have many layers. Our Lord can use our stories to help others move past their hurts, to lean into the challenges they are facing and to lay a stepping stone for those whose upheaval might be yet to come. Our stories might plant seeds of hope for a generation to come.

When we surrender our story to Him and allow Him to use us, He will find a way to use our story.

 

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If you are willing, if you are led, or if you need an ear to listen, you are welcome to email me with parts of your story or you can comment below.
I’d be honored to pray for you.
My email address is hopesurrendered@gmail.com.

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Some of the links above are the affiliate links for Hope Surrendered.
When you click through them and see something you might like to purchase,
I receive a small bonus from DaySpring from your purchase. 

This helps me to support my writing, so thank you!

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Jesus Wept―Finding Hope in the Sorrow

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept.

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, but some feel it is one of the most powerful.

Why?

Lazarus had died, and Jesus spent time with Lazarus’ sisters seeing them through their grief. Jesus hadn’t hurried to Bethany or spoken a command to prevent Lazarus’ death, but at the point of His weeping, He knew He’d be raising Lazarus from the dead. So why did He weep?

There are a lot of wonderful commentaries on the subject of why Jesus wept. For insightful, doctrinal reasons, I’d refer you one of my favorite writings on the subject via Jon Bloom’s perspective from John Piper’s ministry and the Desiring God blog and website.

For me, I find great comfort in knowing that Jesus wept and grieved with Mary and Martha over his dear friend Lazarus. He showed His full humanity in connection with exercising His full deity in raising Lazarus from the dead. In showing His humanity, He grieved.

Does He grieve when I weep?

Does He grieve when a parent mourns the death of their child?

Does He grieve when villages are wiped out from disease or atrocities?

Does He grieve when a child is abused and forever changed?

Does He grieve when a husband makes the choice to abandon his marital vows?

Does He grieve when a wife is caught up in the compliments of another man?

Does He grieve when families fall apart from not seeking His path?

Does He grieve when we grieve??

Yes. He grieves for us as His children. He grieves for a fallen world.

In regards to Lazarus:  Knowing all He knew, knowing all He was capable of doing in the situation, and still knowing what He would do afterward, our amazing God and Lord wept.

In regards to us:  Knowing all He knows, knowing all He is capable of doing in our situation, and still knowing how―with our obedience, love and cooperation―He plans to work our hurts and our weeping for good, we can know He weeps with us, too. He weeps with us about what we have done, about what has been done to us, and about what has been done in this world.

Through my own trials and challenges, I know He has wept with me as He’s held me in His strength to walk me through my anguish. I know He has wept as He has comforted me in His loving arms.

Jesus wept. He weeps with you, too. Go to Him.

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Note:  If you would like to use the image associated with this post to share with others or to offer encouragement, you are more than welcome to do so. You can copy it or forward it from this website, from my Hope Surrendered Facebook page, from my Google+ page or from my Twitter images. I only ask that you not alter the image in any way so that it continues to be referred back to Hope Surrendered. Thanks so much. 

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Finding Hope in the Intention

Intention.Rings

He makes the bed.

There’s a history here and an even bigger story, but what I want to share with you is one of the shards I spoke of in an earlier post (Finding Hope in Shattered Dreams).

He makes the bed.

A few years ago and simply out of the blue, my husband began making our bed each morning. No announcements, no asks, no conversations. He just began making the bed.

He’s a very early riser. He’s up hours before the dawn. Me? Not so much. I love to watch a sunrise, but it is rare for me to see one.

Shortly after I’m out of bed and stumbling to the kitchen for a cup of coffee with my matted hair and slippers, he heads back into the bedroom to make the bed.

When he first started doing this, I interpreted it as an “I want the bed made, so I’m going to do it after you FINALLY get yourself out of it” kind of thing. He never propped himself up to me, nor did he boast about making the bed after doing it. In fact, he never said anything about it. This was just MY interpretation of his actions. After a few weeks of him making it daily, I caught him in the act one day and decided to join him. While helping, I asked him about it.

His answer floored me.

“I do it to honor you, to honor our marriage and to honor our marriage bed. Making the bed is a reminder to me about the kind of godly husband I want to be and need to be.”

My judgments stopped cold at that moment. His answer gave me a glimmer of hope during a very rough period in our marriage.

Jump forward to today:  He’s still an early riser; I’m still not. He still makes the bed; I — prayerfully and in hopes surrendered — allow him to do so.

There are days I will make the bed, and there are days we’ll do it together. Most days, though, he makes the bed.

I’ve never checked in with him about why he still does so, but I’m hoping that if I were to ask, his answer would still be the same.