Finding Hope in Time Away

I know.
It’s been quite a while.
I have needed time away, and I’m not sure if it’s been long enough or not.
If you are reading this and still following me, thank you!

I’ve posted tidbits and a few thoughts on Facebook over the last few months, but these pages have remained blank.

What’s up, you ask?
A lot.

It’s my story… it has had some heartache, drama, hardships, hope and twists in it over the last few months. These things have all left the writing side of me feeling drained and empty.

I’m not going to make any New Year’s resolutions about how you are going to see more of me on these pages in the coming months. (You already know I don’t make resolutions.) I don’t have any promises or epiphanies to claim about the desire to write more. So, if you are still reading this and following me, thanks!

I’ve just needed time away.
It’s been a challenging year.

Twenty-fifteen was full of amazing opportunities, new beginnings, laughter, love, obedience, growth and hope, but it was also full of uncertainty, personal difficulties, some depression, a bit of drama, loneliness and a broken-but-not-crushed heart.

I made quite a few changes in my life in 2015… changes I needed to make to keep me afloat mentally. Writing has been a place of solitude and meditation for me in the past, but the thought of writing so that I had something to post over the last few months didn’t bring comfort. It became another “to-do,” and I knew it wasn’t healthy. So I took some time away.

I also took some time away from participating in and facilitating women’s studies over the last few months. I didn’t want to, but the demands I was feeling from my home life necessitated me putting others before me, and the others had to be my family and not the women I was doing life with in groups. It was difficult for me to accept, but there are always blessings when we choose obedience, aren’t there?

Obedience looks different in the various seasons of our lives… I’m learning that, and I’m learning to embrace it. What would be recognized as following in obedience in one season looks very different after the passage of time, the growth of a soul and the nurturing of a Relationship with the One to whom we are called to follow.

So, here I am writing and posting that writing. Later in the week, I’ll begin to facilitate a Bible study and short-term group for women. It’s the first time in months that both have happened, and here they are taking place within the same week.

Circumstances haven’t changed much in my life, but there is hope to be found in taking time away. There is clarity, there is peace, there is rest, there is solitude, and there is opportunity to be found when we make the time to be still. When we carve out the time to be still and know that He is God, and that He can and will move in our heart and our life in His timing (and we’re ok with letting His timing be His!), good things can happen.

Writing and facilitating time in the Word with other women… those are two ways in which He has changed me and kissed my hope-filled soul in the past, so perhaps He will do so again!

Thank you for following the up and down journey of Hope Surrendered!

 

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Finding Hope in the Year of Trust

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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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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 New Year’s Resolution Resolution

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I don’t know about you, but I am looking at my calendar in utter amazement. Twenty-thirteen has just flown by, and we are almost ready to cross over into 2014.

Many of you are hard at work creating yet another list you’ll check twice as you are resolving to be less naughty and to be more nice — at least to yourself.

We create resolution lists about exercising more, eating less, cleaning out our inbox, making more time for others, etc., etc., etc., and, for at least a month, we do a pretty good job at what we’ve resolved.

Do you still have your 2013 list?
How did you do?
Why doesn’t it last? Only YOU can answer that question about your own resolutions!
You made them, so why didn’t you stick with them?

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I used to, but many years ago, I resolved not to make resolutions.

I’d make good ones with good intentions where the results would be good for me and good for others around me. Even with the simplicity of them, I’d still fail at some point during the year. I got tired of failing at keeping them. The well-intentioned list became a list of glaring failures. I had enough of those in my life without adding to them each year, so I quit making resolutions for New Year’s.

So…now that you think I have a party-pooper attitude toward resolution making, are you wondering what I do actually do?

It’s really no big deal.
I still kiss my husband at the stroke of midnight.
I still raise a glass of whatever to ring in the new year.
I still resolve that the next year will be different.
I just don’t make a list.

For me, resolving not to make resolutions isn’t about refusing to change. A list doesn’t create change.

Change happens when the heart, the head and the Spirit connect. All of them.

Thing is…that rarely happens because a list has been written. And, if it does, the results are short-lived and are rarely long-lasting.

What has worked for me is listening to the Spirit within me leading me toward a change. (You’ll know it’s Him, because it’ll/He’ll keep showing up.) I then will pray about it — sometimes for quite a long time. Sometimes those prayers are whiney ones (because I don’t like change), sometimes they are “You need to help me” ones, and sometimes they are “if this is Your will” ones. Sometimes the head gets in gear before the heart; sometimes the heart has to convince the head.

When the Spirit leads and then the head and heart follow, amazing changes happen. Really amazing changes.

Isn’t that what we’re all really looking for?

My other issue with New Year’s Resolutions is with the timing. I see no reason to make changes on January 1st just because the calendar year is a new one. If change needs to happen — or if we are being led to change — it won’t just happen on January 1st. It might be January 21st, it might be March 2nd, it might be August 5th, or it might even be November 19th.

It’s my preference to allow the Spirit to lead me instead of the Gregorian calendar. I’ve just found more success that way. We need to be prepared to get on-board and change when change calls.

Now…some of you know me, and you know that over the last few years, I have named my years. This officially started for me in 2012.

In 2011, I went through some pretty terrible emotional tribulations. My world was turned upside-down in many ways through the choices of a few others close to me. Changes in faith, trust, relationships, truths, perspectives and hopes were on a rollercoaster ride, but when it all happened, I resolved — right away — to walk in more faith. I didn’t consciously choose to name 2011, but looking back, if I had named it, it would have been the Year of Faith.

The resolution get through 2011 walking in more faith led to me naming 2012 the Year of Obedience. The faith journey I clung to in 2011 brought to light a need for me to learn to be obedient to the Lord. I think obedience is an ever-learning, ever-growing and ever-needed trait, but 2012 was fruitful for me in that area, and many blessings were realized as I worked on my walk with Him.

Through obedience, hope blossomed. So when 2013 rolled around, I felt led to name it the Year of Hope. Most of us think of hope in terms of a wondering hope, but this was an expectant and trusting hope built on my walk with the Lord. In the Year of Obedience, I began to see glimmers of hopes I had desired, prayed for and yearned for become realities so much greater than what I had asked or “wonderingly hoped for.” I wondered if it were possible to surrender my wondering hopes to Him to see what He might be able to do with them … and He awed me beyond my belief. Many of my wondering hopes became expectant hopes in 2013 as I began to trust in His hand, His blessings and in His will for my life.

And so, here we are, ready to cross over into 2014.

Faith, Obedience and Hope have been good years, but there is still so much more of a work He needs to do in me. I feel the Spirit leading me to trust more. In my readings, my quiet time, my prayers, my praises, my celebrations, my obedience, my hope, and in my faith, trust keeps coming forward. So, I have resolved to name 2014 the Year of Trust, and to work on walking in His will in this area of my life.

His promises and His blessings are many. I know that, believe that and do trust in that when I read His Word. My expectant hope for 2014 is to learn to trust Him on a new level…one well beyond words.

However you resolve to handle your resolutions for the new year, may you find what He has planned for you…not just what you are looking for.

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