Is Your Life In An Ugly Phase?

If you saw these tiny brown bits on your counter, you might back away and search for a mousetrap or the phone number of the pest control experts. If you dared to look more closely, you’d see they weren’t deposits from a visiting rodent or casings of an unwanted insect. Let me rephrase that. Few insects are considered invited guests.

MG seeds

Misshapen peppercorns? No. Badly burnt post-apocalypse popcorn kernels? The world’s smallest and most dehydrated raisins? Bloated black sesame seeds?

“Whatever they are,” you might comment, “they aren’t pretty.”

You should have seen them before I removed them from their nondescript, papery, dusty shells.

This is what became of those brown/black flecks a few months later. I know. The change in them startled me, too.

Morning Glories

I left the photo large for emphasis. Isn’t it remarkable? Something that starts out so ugly can become such a work of art, such a thing of beauty, such a soul-refreshing sight.

And that, my friends, is what God has been reminding me often lately. How discouraged we get when life is in its ugly phase. But God says, “Hold on. Wait until you see what I can do with this!”

Does it make the ugly phase any less difficult? Not necessarily. But it infuses it with hope.

A prolific gardener may write to me and say, “Those dark seeds are beautiful the way they are.” There’s an element of truth in that statement. But if seeds stayed that way, would the gardener still be convinced of their beauty? They’re designed to sprout and grow and produce stunning blossoms. When a gardener claims a seed is beautiful, he or she is already envisioning the blossom.

Already envisioning the blossom.

Lord, help me do the same.

Is a life challenge for you in the blossom stage yet? Care to share your story?

Walking with a Spiritual Limp

You know it’s a bad day when you and your husband compare how much each other’s knees are swollen.Limping Couple

He’s still recuperating from breaking his leg last fall and feeling the aftereffects of the rod they rammed–to hear him tell it–through his femur to support the shattered bone. The rod ends just above the knee and thinks that’s a fine place for extra fluid to build up.

I’m almost two years beyond my knee replacement surgery on my right knee. Now it’s my left knee that swells, creaks, and groans.

We look far older than our years when we try to climb out of a car and know enough to give each other plenty of time for that Everest task. We stand at the bottom of a long flight of stairs and sigh before tackling it. Our freezer is filled with more ice packs than ice cream.

I tease that because of the soreness in his thigh and knee, my husband now walks like a pirate. A very handsome and taller-than-average pirate.

The limp is growing less noticeable. But it’s a reminder of damage done and healing still in process.

Is that what a spiritual limp does too? So many around us walk with a spiritual limp, with their “gait” affected by some damage from the past, long ago or recent. It takes them longer to move toward a challenge. They sigh at the foot of a trying experience, not sure they have the energy for the whole climb or that there’s hope they’ll reach the top still breathing. (See Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices for more.)

If that’s you, please be assured God addressed even that in His Word. Hebrews 12 encourages us, “So strengthen your drooping hands and weak knees! Make straight paths for your feet so that if any part is lame, it will be healed rather than injured more seriously…Make sure no root of bitterness grows up that might cause trouble…” (verse 12 and 15, CEB).

Our spiritual limp can be healed. God’s counsel is two-fold: Watch where you’re going, and don’t let bitterness make this healing process harder than it already is.

If someone you know is sporting a pirate limp, is it your extended hand that will help him or her over the curb? Up the next step in their pain-wracked journey?

When has someone played that role for you? Not a crutch, but a steadying hand?

My Hope is Broken

Hope Repaired

 

It didn’t cost much. I bought it who knows where, who knows how long ago, because it fit with the tagline under which everything I write and speak about fits: Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark.

Rustic…as hope sometimes is…it boasted a small LED light operated by a tiny battery, and a small tag added to the picture with its simple message, “Never give up.” Never give up, period. And never give up on hope.

In my attempt to capture a picture of it to use for a blog post like this, my hope broke.

Hope BrokenThe resin word shattered off the light housing and the bottom of the E fell off, making it look more like hopf, which is the sound we sometimes make when we’re unsure hope is strong enough to carry us through whatever has its grip on our heart.

I stared at the broken hope, conscious that I was looking behind the scenes of the lives of the kind of people and devastating crises that I wrote about in Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. Those whose circumstances make hope seem like it’s beaten up, marred, not communicating what it once did.

The top picture was taken today. Hope was restored with a little super-glue and time.

What does that say to you, in a symbolic way, about the methods God uses to refurbish, repair, restore your hope when it begins to show its wear?

It’s a picture I won’t forget.

Is Hope Wearing Thin?

If asked to rate where on this list you’d place the importance of hope, how would you respond?

  • Air
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Hope

Would it show up on your list without coaching? When facing a survival situation, what role does hope play?Hope and Basket

That’s one of the questions addressed in a new release–Ragged Hope, Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. Within the pages are stories of people like you and me walking through the aftermath and paying the consequences for someone else’s bad decision.

Hope can take a beating in the dailies of those consequences. It gets worn around the edges, tattered, loses its luster, grows thin like a toddler’s favorite blanket dragged through one too many adventures.

By contrast, the Bible describes the hope God gives as anchor-like. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul,” Hebrews 6:19 NIV. The Common English Bible expresses it this way: “This hope, which is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being, enters the sanctuary behind the curtain.”

Behind the curtain! So, that’s where hope was hiding.

A safe and secure anchor no matter what storm is raging around us.

If your hope seems too weathered to be much help right now, please be assured that from God’s side, it is as solid as ever. You can depend on it.

Something’s Brewing

Something's BrewingSome of us are prolific bloggers. Some…uh…have other gifts. I’ve been active on Facebook and Twitter but am brewing up something new regarding a blog presence. Thanks for stopping by here today. I’m otherwise engaged at the moment, stirring the “something new.” I’m looking forward to revealing the new blog concept within a few weeks. I hope it will be a blessing to you.