Anchored to Hope

This Saturday will mark the second birthday my Mom is spending in heaven. It gives me great peace to know she is in the presence of her Lord and Savior, fully alive in a place of overflowing love and joy beyond anything we can imagine. I look forward to being with her again one day…but the loss here remains and I miss her greatly.

This post was written by a close friend of hers recently. Cheryl taught me piano lessons when I was a little girl. I appreciate her insights and hope that her post will encourage you this day.

An Apple of Gold

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternitywith God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There…

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Measure It UP

How do you measure your life?
What does success look like to you?  

How do you determine your worth?  

Do you find yourself comparing your life, your days, your looks, your accomplishments to others and find yourself feeling “less than?”

I do…

Whenever I start looking to others to measure my worth, I find myself lacking.  There is always someone better, more beautiful, more energetic, more joyful, more productive than I am.  This world continually shows us countless examples of “greater than” versions of ourselves.  In my 50 years on this earth, I have come to realize that I can’t compare myself to others to measure my worth and my success…when I do that, I find myself feeling down.  Many days, I can’t even measure up to my own expectations of myself and what I wish I would be…

I thought that once my boys were in college, I’d get my house in order…get more organized…have more time.  And, in some ways, this is true.  But, I still find myself living within several not-so-organized, not-so-cleaned-up areas.  It helps to know someone is coming over for a visit, and then I can get things a bit more tidy.  Does throwing all the paper clutter into a laundry basket and putting it on the washing machine count as organized?

I know keeping a super tidy home is not the most important thing…it’s the people in my life and relationships that matter the most.  I want to make a positive difference in this world,  love and encourage others, and be a blessing in big and small ways.  But, I don’t measure up to my wishes in this area either.

Maybe I’m not meant to get my worth by comparing myself to others or even to myself anyway…As I’ve gotten older, I am learning…
to rest in God’s love more,
to give myself more grace,
to “beat myself up” less,
to play less of the comparison game.

It’s not easy, but I believe it has to do with where I choose to look…My house may never get organized, but every day is a new opportunity to love God and love others.  And, although I will continue to not measure up by the world’s standards…this is not what gives me my worth.

How do you measure your life?
What does success look like to you?
How do you determine your worth?

I believe our worth is not based on what we do, but on whose we are.

I thank God for the gift of parents that loved me unconditionally.  From the moment I was born, I belonged to them and nothing could ever change that.  I made my share of mistakes along the way, but that didn’t change their love for me.

As a mom of two boys, I understand this kind of love.  I will always be “in their corner” and “on their team.”  I will always want the very best for them.  They will always be my sons and they will always have my love, apart from anything they do or don’t do.

I believe God loves each one of us with this same kind of unconditional love.  But, His love is SO much greater…it is beyond anything we could measure.

Romans 5:8 says, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” and Romans 8:31b-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  

So, I am learning…

*If I want to measure my worth, I need to measure it UP against His love.*

We are God’s most-treasured creation and He’s proven His love for us in the greatest way possible.  He will always be “in our corner” with open, outstretched arms.  We can lean into His love and He will always be there.

When I was a young girl, I used to pick daisies and pull off the petals.  Maybe you did this too.  The popular saying was, “He loves me…he loves me not…he loves me…”  Even though it was just a game, I always hoped the last petal I pulled would be “He loves me.”
The great news is that with God, every petal says, “He loves me.”  Every single one.  

Luke 12:6-7 says, Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Zephaniah 3:17 (GW version) says, “The Lord your God is with you.  He is a hero who saves you.  He happily rejoices over you, renews you with His love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.”  Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I know that full well.”

How should we measure our worth?
*May we measure it UP against His love.*  

One of my very favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 3:20.  “Now to Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory…forever and ever. Amen.”

I believe this is not only talking about all He can and does do in our lives…IMMEASURABLY MORE.  But, also His love is IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we can imagine.

*If we want to measure our worth, may we measure it UP against His love.*

John 3:16-17  says, “For God SO loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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Live Like Yellow

I want to live like YELLOW…

let me explain…

Yellow was my mom’s favorite color.
It was a perfect color for her…bright, cheerful, uplifting…a JOY-full color and one of HOPE.  The yellow-ish sun and stars…both bright lights, just like her.  We might say she had a “sunny disposition.” An article in Psychology Today says if yellow is your favorite color, “Finding happiness comes easy to you and others would compare you to sunshine.” She was like a ray of sunshine, and radiated love and warmth to all who came into her path.  She had a way of warmly caring for people she knew well and those she didn’t.  Many have shared they miss her smile.  Mom looked on the bright side of things and focused on the positive always.  She rarely complained, even when she was in the battle of her life and in great pain.  Oh, how I want to be more like that…

I want to live like YELLOW.

One of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is  “a color whose hue resembles that of ripe lemons or sunflowers.”  Again…perfect for her.  She loved lemons, all things lemon…she loved lemon slices in her water, squirted lemon juice onto vegetables and chicken, and baked lemon squares with powdered sugar on top.  And sunflowers…we had sunflowers on the tables at my parents 50th wedding celebration.  Sun–flowers…always lifting their heads up to the sun…how perfect for my mom…always pointing me and so many others to the Son, her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Just as anchors mean so much to me, so does the color yellow.  Both remind me of my precious mom and I notice them wherever I go.  There have been so many gifts of yellow and gifts of anchors this past year…such precious gifts from God.  Seems like I notice these things everywhere I go now.  They are reminders of her love, her life and they always brighten my day when I see them.

I want to live like YELLOW.

Gifts of Yellow:
*Anchor Pillow:  When I returned back home a year-ago April after Mom’s Celebration Service, my bench in the front yard had a beautiful large yellow pillow sitting on it with a big white anchor on the front (along with beautiful planted flowers nearby).  This was a gift from a friend.  She had been at Marshalls looking for something special to give to me from my Bible Study group.  She saw one large pillow and “pulled it off the shelf because it was yellow.”  She couldn’t believe that it had a large anchor on the front and she got chills when she saw it.  (Nautical themes often have anchors, but they are very often patriotic colors).  The fact that an anchor was on a yellow pillow was quite unique…a special gift from God.
*Goldfinches:  I have a bird feeder right outside my kitchen windows and I love to watch the many colorful birds that eat seed there every day.  I see bluebirds, cardinals, sparrows, chickadees, and blue jays there daily.  I have never seen gold finches.  But, the first Sunday after I returned back home, there were two bright yellow gold finches at my feeder.  My husband noticed them and when I saw the two bursts of bright yellow that morning, tears came to my eyes.  Following that sighting, I purposely bought special thistle seed to attract more gold finches.  I watched and waited day after day, week after week, month after month from last April-September for the goldfinches to arrive.  They never came.  My Dad was here for a visit this past October and I asked God if He would send us a goldfinch…One of the last days my dad was here, he was working outside in our yard.  I went out to check on him and just as I got close to him, I looked up at the tree and there sat a goldfinch for both of us to see!  The only other time I saw a goldfinch that first year without mom here, was this past April 13…the one-year anniversary of Mom’s departure to her heavenly home.  Once again, I asked that God might send me a goldfinch as it would be such a special gift on a day of missing her greatly.  I went to my neighborhood Bible Study and couldn’t believe my eyes…my friend, who was hosting, also has a bird feeder out her kitchen window.  But, she gets a constant flow of bright yellow goldfinches at her feeder daily!  There were several of them!  How like God to send these bright yellow gifts to me to make me smile on a day of sadness. How wonderful for Him to use a friend to encourage me in the process…

So once again, I’ve bought some thistle seed and I’m happy to report that this May, gold finches have found the seed.  Daily now,  I get to admire these beautiful gifts of yellow and I am so very thankful.

I want to live like YELLOW.

*There have been so many other yellow gifts that I might write about in the future…my yellow knock-out rose bush that bloomed this past December for the first time, the beautiful yellow swallowtail butterfly that lingered at my butterfly bush often this past summer, a yellow iris that bloomed for the first time at my Uncle’s home last spring (It had never been planted), the gift of the yellow ribbons/anchor pins for my Mom’s celebration service…

So, on this Friday before Mother’s Day…I thank God for the gifts of yellow and the gift of a Mom who brought so much Son-shine and happiness into my life.  Her love and life shine brightly still and will continue to inspire me to live more like the color yellow.  

I also want to thank God for her identical-twin sister, my dear Aunt, whose favorite color was also yellow.  She truly was a blessing, full of overflowing kindness, warmth, love, as well as the same Son-shining faith.  It gives me great comfort knowing that these twin-sisters are in heaven together, shining brightly like the stars and in the presence of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 60:1 (AMP) says:  “Arise [from spiritual depression to a new life], shine [be radiant with the glory and brilliance of the Lord]; for your light has come, And the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you.”

The Message version says it this way:  “Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you…But God rises on you, His sunrise glory breaks over you.”

The brightness of a sunrise…the magnificence and beauty as the sun breaks into the darkness at the beginning of each day…radiance…glory…beauty…

I want to live like YELLOW!

 

 

Come and See!

“COME AND SEE!”
When do you use or hear this phrase?
Seems like usually it is said excitedly and followed up by, “Hurry!”
When someone is anxious for me to come and see something, s/he wants me to come see it NOW.

Often, it is something that doesn’t happen very often…like a beautiful multi-colored rainbow in the sky.  It may be a significant milestone…like when a baby starts to crawl or walk for the first time.  I still remember many special milestone events when my boys were growing up.  I always wanted to capture them on film so that I could share these significant events with my extended family and friends.  It might be something beautiful like an amazing fluorescent sunset or sun rays shining through the clouds.  A completed project, a home renovation or major school assignment is usually worthy of a “Come and see!”  If there is a news story or Facebook post that someone thinks I would be interested in seeing, I may be asked to “Come and see!

These days, we are inundated with all kinds of things to see on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  The vast amount of things we have access to these days to “Come and see!”  could keep us on the internet or cell phones for hours and hours.

But, I think the things that are the most significant…the most meaningful…the most life-changing…are often the things that are shared with us by someone we know… someone we trust…someone we love.

We share the things that matter to us…with the people that matter to us.

In the book of John,  I find it intriguing that when two young men saw Jesus for the first time, they wanted to follow Him.  These two men were John and Andrew, both fishermen that fished often on the Sea of Galilee.  I’m sure they were very curious about who Jesus was, but they also must have felt safe enough to follow Him.

John 1:38-39 says:  “Turning around,  Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”  They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” He replied, “and you will see.”  So they went and saw where He was staying, and spent that day with him.  It was about the tenth hour.”

After spending a day with Jesus, the Bible tells us in John 1:41, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon Peter and tell him.

We share the things we care about…with the people we care about.

The next day there is another interaction with Jesus, this time with Philip.  And it says in John 1:45: “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote– Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  

Nathanael doubted…but his friend, Philip told him to “Come and see!”

These meaningful interactions with Jesus made a huge impact on these young men and the first thing they wanted to do was to tell the ones close to them about what they had seen…Andrew told his brother, Simon Peter, and Philip told his good friend, Nathanael.

My Mom’s life was always overflowing with kindness and joy.  She served others with her whole heart and with great love.   In her 40s, her life became more and more about her faith in and love for Jesus…Her life became one of “Come and see!”  She was like a window we could look through to see Jesus.  She was always pointing me and so many others to Him, in how she lived and how she loved.

We share the things we love…with the people we love.

My hope and prayer is that my life, too, is one of “Come and see!”


Anchors…

“Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.”

What?
How could this be?
Seriously?
Mom?

She ate healthy and took care of herself all her life.  She was the most positive, optimistic woman-of-faith I’ve ever known.  Stress didn’t seem to affect her.  She was always serving and loving others cheerfully.  She was one of the kindest, gentlest, most-loving people in the entire world.

“Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer”…NO!!!  Why?  Why her?  The diagnosis didn’t make sense;  it didn’t add up.  There was no explaining this one, no cause-and-effect scenario, no understanding this…But with cancer and many things in this life, there isn’t a way to explain it or have it make sense.

Our world very quickly turned upside-down.

What is our life anchored to when it turns upside-down?  What holds us and steadies us?  Who gets us through?  We were about to find out.

We have this HOPE as an anchor…” This verse kept going through my head day and night right after Mom’s diagnosis.  Over and over, God brought it to my mind.  I didn’t know exactly where it was in the Bible, but I knew that God had given it to me as something to hang on to during this time.  Hebrews 6:19. “We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”

What was God trying to tell me?   What HOPE?   The rest of the verse says that our “anchor for the soul is firm and secure and enters the inner sanctuary where Jesus has entered on our behalf.”  The NLV translation says it this way, “This HOPE is a safe anchor for our souls.  It will never move.  This hope goes into the Holiest place of all behind the curtain of heaven.”  Jesus has gone before us through His death on the cross for all our sins and He alone can connect us securely back to God for eternity.  We can be anchored to Him.

We have a little speed boat here in Atlanta and we get to take it out on the Lake several times throughout the summer. Sometimes we go to an area where there is a big rock to jump off  into the water. When we stop there, we often put our anchor out. Anchors hold us…although our boat may move around a bit, once the end of the rope is met, there is a firm hold.

So, when the verse says that “We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul”…this is what I believe…God is the One who is FIRM.  His hold is FIRM. His love is FIRM…He is constant and with us today and every day and on into eternity.

In Christ,
we are held,
we can rest,
we are secure…

My Mom had this kind of HOPE.  It was secure.  She was held.  She is now in the presence of her Lord and Savior.  Her faith in Christ was an “anchor for her soul.”

No matter what our journeys may HOLD, in Christ, we are HELD…There is no storm, no struggle, no heartbreak, no diagnosis, no mess up…there is no–thing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ.  (Romans 8:38)  Jesus is the anchor for our souls and He will always hold.

One year ago…

Welcome to my brand new blog!  I am grateful to have you on this journey with me!  My hope is that you will find some hope and encouragement during your time here.

This blog is dedicated to my precious Mom.  One year ago today, she went home to be with her Lord and Savior. Although I miss her terribly, I know she is in heaven and living even more fully than she ever did here. This hope gives me great comfort, even in the midst of my sorrow.

Throughout our journey and my Mom’s courageous battle with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, we started a Caring Bridge account because there were so many who wanted to join us on her journey.  Writing became a lifeline for me and for others…a beautiful way to join together as one to love and pray for her.    Writing became like therapy for me as we were going through such a difficult season.  God blessed and encouraged our whole family in a writing space where we shared our hurts, our hopes, God’s gifts and our prayers.

There have been several along this journey who have encouraged me to keep writing. My precious Mom was the first one in my life to encourage me as a writer. She often told me I had a gift for writing. I believe she also had this gift.   So, in memory of my precious Mom, I have decided to start a blog in her honor.

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I am just getting started so this is definitely a little out of my “comfort zone.”   My hope and prayer is that you will find a safe place here, a place where you will leave feeling loved and encouraged.  This life is not easy, but God is with us every step of the way and He is our greatest Comforter and Help, through any storm.

I will write more soon to explain the great meaning of ANCHORS to our family and how God strengthened and held us through this storm.

Until I post again,

“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.” ~Numbers 6:24-26