Finding Hope in the Seed of Honor

Honor is a seed sown inside of each of us. How we nurture and tend to that seed within every season and every step of our lives will determine what that seed produces.

From that seed, fruit can be borne. The fruit might be integrity, determination, humility, servitude, fairness, courage or trustworthiness.

If not properly nurtured along the way, resentment, revenge, selfishness, arrogance, dishonesty, maliciousness or wickedness may be what is produced from this seed that, at one time, had so much potential.

My friends! Choose honor. Bear fruit. I have to remind myself to do the same.

The path of honor is rarely straight and easy, but it is a path of peace, of joy, of contentment and of opportunity…opportunity for rewards that serve to better self, family, community, and Kingdom with what really matters in life.

What do you see around you?

Do you see the seeds of honor?
Do you see the fruit of the seed?
Do you see a harvest that honors, collects and gathers for a greater purpose?
Do you see rotted fruit that once had much potential?
Do you see the seeds of destruction?

If my life is anything like yours, we’re seeing every bit of it…even in places where we’d expect to find the opposite.

What can we do?

Look carefully,
plant carefully,
harvest carefully…
and do it all very prayerfully.

 


 

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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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Finding Hope in His Blessings

Numbers 6.24-26.COMPRESSED

My pastor is taking us through the book of Numbers in the Bible. I know…, right…? Numbers…

I thought the same thing when he told us which book would be next after we finished Leviticus—a great book exalting His holiness and communicating His call for us to also be holy. To my pastor’s credit, he jokingly acknowledged that the book of Numbers isn’t typically considered one of the most exciting books of the Bible.

I know I’ve read through the book (ok, skimmed…) at one time or another, but it’s not a book I’ve ever given any time to deep study as a whole. I recently did go through parts of it while doing a study on the tabernacle, and I learned a few amazing things from Numbers in that study which I had never known. With the exception of the pieces I studied, I think my overall impression of Numbers was that it was…, dare I say it? …boring?

I no longer think that way about the book. We’re just a few chapters into it, and, as we wrap up one week’s lesson, I can hardly wait until next week’s lesson gets here.

I want to take you to one section of Numbers and just share a few verses with you. Chances are, it’s a passage you’ve probably heard at one time or another…in a church at the end of a service, at the end of a wedding, perhaps even at a funeral.

Numbers 6:24-26 says,

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”

Sound familiar? To me, too!

I grew up in a very small town in central Pennsylvania. My parents attended a Presbyterian church there, so I did, too. Each Sunday at the close of the service, our pastor—clothed in a rustic grayish-white robe tied with a bold cord—would raise his hands, stand before us and recite these words before walking down the steps from the chancel, down the aisle of the church and out to the lobby to greet each church member before they made their way home.

I like familiarity, so when my current pastor read these words, memories of church as a child just flooded back. I could see my childhood pastor with his salt-and-pepper beard wearing that robe saying these words to us. He said them every week, and it became a ritual I expected to hear.

Perhaps, some time in the future, we can dig into the deepest of meanings of this blessing, but, for now, I just want to share a few things with you based upon my initial feelings on the surface of this passage… no study, no word origins, no commentary…just how it speaks to me and quickly captures my thoughts as I read it without studying the depth of it yet…

First, this blessing is FROM GOD and it was given by the LORD to Moses for Moses to share with Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites throughout the generations to come.

“The LORD bless you and keep you”:  Remember, the LORD spoke these words, so when the words were to be conveyed to His people, the words were spoken through the priests, but they were directly from God. This verse tells me He is saying He is here to walk with me, to kneel beside me to serve me, and to be with me as I walk with Him and serve Him.

“The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;”:  This verse tells me that HE has every intention of illuminating my life with His gracious and blessed presence, walking with me as I walk, and offering me his grace-filled forgiveness.

“The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”:  This verse tells me that not only is He going to do everything he’s already said he’s going to do in the previous two verses, but He’s going to watch me, give me his personal attention and—through whatever I have to go through—He’s going to give me His peace with it.

What awes me about our God, is how He plants seeds in our lives and then
tends to those seeds,
waters those seeds,
nurtures those seeds,
breathes life into those seeds and
grows those seeds.
He then watches those seeds sprout, helps them to bear fruit and takes care of every detail necessary for the seeds to reproduce in abundance for the future.

YOU are that seed! I am that seed!

Despite times of drought, poor soil conditions, hibernation and a failure to produce on our part, He still ALWAYS does His part for those who love Him. He doesn’t let His children go despite our foolish efforts or stubbornness in relation to our obedience to Him. And, when we do mess up or when He does allow us to be tested through trials, He promises us over and over again in His Word that our good and His glory are capable of coming from all of it.

It’s no coincidence I am sitting in a church in the todays studying these words, recalling times from the years-ago yesterdays when the words were planted into me, and walking through a life where His promises and His blessings are carrying me through the tumultuous trials, yet still revealing His amazing grace through it all.

There are no coincidences. I’m seeing another seed sprouting from His Word. Praise be to Him!

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