I Have This Hope 10/52

Bragging moment. Back in January when I went to Winter Jam,  one of my friends won the chance to meet one of our favorite bands, Tenth Avenue North! We have a long standing deal that we share the rewards of any winning within reason. I’ve loved TAN since I first saw them live in 2010 at Night of Joy in Disney. They weren’t well known outside of Florida, and they definitely weren’t as big of a deal as they are now. Every time I see them, I’m blown away. On their newest album, there’s a song called “I Have This Hope.” You can listen to their version with another one of my favorite artists, Matt Maher, here!

I loved the song from the beginning, but I didn’t hear the story behind it until much later. Jeff’s sister in law was diagnosed with cancer. They tell the story of writing this song for her as a reminder of God’s presence in the midst of trials. I first heard the story on the radio on my way to work. I had to pull over. So many of us have love ones who have been affected by cancer. I’m not immune to being a part of that “so many.”  It’s been a long 6 or 7 months  for my family. I cry every time I hear someone retell the story of Jeff’s sister in law. They talk about their struggles as they watch someone they love going through their worst moments. Is God good? Is God even there? How could He let these things happen?

But sometimes my faith feels thin,
Like the night will never end.
Will You catch every tear?
Or will You just leave me here?

These past few months, I’ve related to that more than I want to admit. Christian culture has this false idea lie that if you’re a Christian, life is going to be easy. If you’re a real Christian, you’ll never doubt or question anything. This is a lie, and like all lies, it damages our souls.  I am just a person, and I am not God. I’m not the Creator of the Universe. I am not the Savior of the World. I am also not condemned for my moments of doubt and pain because  if there’s anyone who knows about suffering, it’s Jesus Christ. When Job found himself in dire situations, he presented his case to God. And not only was God able to withstand being questioned by Job, He answered Job’s questions. God’s existence, goodness, and sovereignty is not dependent upon my consistency. It is based simply upon His character.
It’s really easy to get stuck in that mindset. Fear is paralyzing. What if God doesn’t come through? We are so human and so easy to forget that God is faithful to keep His promises. Hebrews 6:19 says that we have HOPE as an anchor for our souls. An anchor is meant to be a stable, constant force in a time of turmoil. That’s who Jesus is. Even we we doubt Him. Even when we don’t see Him working in a situation. Even when we’re broken and hurting and walking in the midst of trials. I have an anchor tattoo on my ankle for crying out loud yet I forget the truth of Hebrews 6:19 and Isaiah 43:2.
Isaiah 43:2 says “When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.”

This verse reminds us that we cannot always avoid the trial, but God is present in everything. There is no place we will go where God will no go with us, and He has not gone before us. No matter what the situation-” I have this Hope in the depth of my soul. In the flood or the fire, You are with me, and You won’t let go.”

Dear Younger Me 9/52

In 9th grade, our English teacher had us write a letter to our future self. I’m sure it was filled with inside jokes and things I thought I’d want to remember. I probably did my best to sound wise. We talked about our hopes, what we thought we’d being doing as college freshman, and what we saw ourselves doing long term. At that time, I definitely didn’t know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So, I can only imagine what 9th grade me pictured herself studying. I remember someone in the class put $20 in that envelope. Freshman year of college, she mailed them to us. I remember my excitement getting mine. As I write this, I cannot remember one single thing from that letter. It’s funny how what was once so important is completely forgotten. The  small memories of the past fade quickly. However, there are some memories from our past that stay with us longer than we’d ever want. They set up camp and constantly remind us they exist, as much as we’d rather forget.
Continue reading “Dear Younger Me 9/52”

For the Love Pt 3: RealTalk& Real Love 8/52

My book for January was For The Love  by Jen Hatmaker. You can read my recaps of For the Love Part One:Community, Courage, and Church and For the Love Part 2: Living A Worthy Life. The last and arguably the most important theme in her book was her writing style. Jen has a whole lot of love and a whole lot of hard truths. #RealTalk and #RealLove is what sums it all up.

I don’t have children, but her section “Dear Kids” was enough to make anyone  cry. She charged them with taking care of the people around them and learning how to love others deeply, as Jesus did. ” The tiniest scrap of hope is enough to save a lonely kid from drowning…you can save hearts and lives with grace.” The following may have been the quote that most resonated  with me in the entire book.

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She spent a lot of time talking about children and teenagers. She quoted the alarming statistics of young people who are leaving the Church in this generation. She identified one of the key tools in fighting the numbers: listening to them. She urges readers to listen to the youth and young adults. She says “We can either listen carefully or watch their backs as they go” and reminds us that they “pay equal attention to what isn’t working as much as what is.”

She reminds parents that doubting and questioning is a human response, and their children will not shatter the world by digging deep. “Our children can press extremely hard on the Gospel, and it will hold.” Parents, the infallible Word can withstand anything, including the intellectualism of this world. Stand on the Word and allow your children to learn that they can, too. She admits, as all parents, she has failed at times. That the “best we can do is give them Jesus” and point them to the only real answer- which is not her sage parenting advice. She cites community, social justice, depth, and mentorship as what they really need.

In her section “Dear Church,” she hit readers with more startling statistics. 70% of pastors fight depression, 70% would also say they don’t have one close friend, and 80% would agree their family suffers because of their ministry. Yet, there’s a stigma that comes with the position. Judgement and fear keep pastors and church staff from seeking the help they need, the help we all deserve. Be kind to your pastors, friends. They are absolutely called to higher standards of living, and God sets that clear in the Bible. They are also human and have the same emotions we all do. They are not immune to humanity. Pray for them.

Overall, For The Love was a great start to 2017’s reading list. Next up is The Christian Athiest by Craig Groeschel.



For the Love Pt 2: Living a Worthy Life 7/52

For the Love  by Jen Hatmaker was my book for January.  You can find my review of the first section here!

The second “big thing” I picked out was living a worthy life. Jen defined it as “restoring people, in ordinary conversations and regular encounters. A worthy life means showing up when showing up is the only thing to do.”

She talked about her supper club and the bond it has strengthened in her group of friends. That it isn’t just about the food(although her recipes in the book sound fantastic) it’s about being deeply invested in other people. This is her group of people where she is permitted to dream, to rest, and to grieve. She reminds us there’s freedom in telling the truth.

I think we can all agree that finding that “worthy” state of living is hard. We forget that our calling doesn’t begin and end with our jobs. Jen reminds us that we’re just born to do stuff. Instead of pursuing that passion, we make a lot of what she calls IPC’s: In Person Choices.

What stuck with me more than anything was how I felt from these sections. They were setting up a call back to that worthy life. For someone who feels far from it most days, this is a lesson I needed. “If you are still breathing, there is still hope.” Even when you feel you can’t go on, you really can. It’s never really over. There are things we have to do, and things that make us come alive. Genuine, disciple-making relationships are what make me come alive. She summed it up well in saying “People crave what they have always craved: to be known and loved, to belong somewhere.” Not only is this what I want to be for people, this is what my soul longs for more than I could ever really put into words.

Living a worthy life is rarely easy, but it is the only thing this life is about. It has eternal significance that we rarely can comprehend. Jen has a powerful perspective on it.

“And as we witness this beautiful community, we aren’t just observing vulnerability but rather chains breaking, darkness receding,  victory rising. We are watching the light win truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has nowhere else to hide.”

I want to see the light win, truth by truth. I want to be a part of creating light and taking away hiding spots from the darkness. I want to see chains break, darkness recede, and victory rise in the life of people I love. I want to help others find the version of their life that is “worthy” of pursuing with their whole heart, and I want to drop everything in my life that wastes the valuable time on Earth I have.