HOPE for Christmas Giveaway

Thanks to a friend of mine, I have a copy of John Albert Thomas’ Christmas CD of solo piano music to giveaway in addition to an autographed copy of AN ENDLESS CHRISTMAS (hardcover novella), plus a sweet little HOPE Christmas ornament. Great present for a friend or inspiration for your own Christmas celebrations. See details below in the Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter.

1 An Endless Christmas giveaway CD

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feel free to share this link with your circle of influence.

While you’re here, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter (usually mailed quarterly) or my HopeNotes blog, look for those sign up areas on this or the home page. My HopeNotes blog posts occasional downloadable encouragement or shareable images to keep your life hemmed in hope!

Have a blessed Christmas,

Cynthia

A Life Cut Short

Too many families know the nothing-like-it piercing pain that accompanies the word “suicide.” Our nation felt its reverberations recently. If you know someone affected by suicide’s aftermath, consider pointing them to this video link or the hope-giving pages of Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices.

The Swaddling Effect–Olivia’s Story.

If that family is yours, please know I’m praying for you right now.

 

WHERE THE ROAD LEADS

Are you living a destination life or an explorer life?

Much of my life is spent headed for a particular destination–the end of a project, the specific spot on the map. But on a recent research trip to Bayfield/Ashland/Madeline Island in the northernmost tip of Wisconsin, I allowed myself the freedom of exploration. As I pointed my car down this road, I didn’t know if it would be a rough or smooth ride, lead me to civilization or away from it, provide rest stops along the way or not, afford me scenic overlooks or lead me deep into the woods.

Park north of Bayfield road 2It didn’t matter. I was in explorer mode.

What would happen if you and I adopted that mindset more often in day-to-day living?

“Where will this lead?” Don’t know. Let’s go exploring.

“I’m afraid to move forward because I don’t know where or how this will end.” It’s about the journey.

“I’ve never been down this road before.” All the more reason to stay observant.

“If I only had a guide…” We do.

My sister-in-law has embarked on a journey through breast cancer. The road is steal-your-stomach rough in some places. She didn’t expect this detour. And she didn’t expect the kind of breathtaking scenery it would afford her either. The kindness of friends and family. The blessing of compassionate as well as wise doctors. Newly approved “promising” medications. Peace that passes understanding, unexplainable, overriding everything, indescribable, worth-talking-about peace.

Philippians 4:7 Common English Bible–“Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.”

She’s living an explorer life, a life of discovery. She’s discovering that the rhythm of the tires on gravel sounds much like someone speaking her name to the Healer: “Jesus? Betty! Jesus? Betty! Jesus? Betty!”

Jesus? Beauty. There’s beauty even on this unfamiliar path. Don’t let us miss any of it while we go exploring with You.

Waiting Takes Forever

Our family gathered in a circle in the yard, holding memories and a memorial service for her. Such a good old gal. So faithful. So beautiful, even in old age. Oh, we loved her. But with disease coursing through her, there was nothing we could do but get out the chain saw and cut her off at the base of the trunk.

The maple tree.

She’d reigned over our yard for so many years, we had to link arms to hug her girth. Every fall, she dressed in the most beautiful colors to show off for the neighbors, the sassy thing. The kids played in her shade, collected her leaves for science class and craft projects, pressed their backs against her when thinking, and raked her crisp castoffs in late autumn.

We hated to see her go. My daughter felt the impact deep in her soul when we stood inside watching the maple’s towering height crash to the ground the day it came down.

The next Christmas, my husband handed each of us a unique gift–a jewelry box made from the maple tree wood. And a round donut of a keychain of maple wood for our just-got-her-keys sixteen-year-old daughter. Amy is well in her thirties now.

And my wonderhubby did one more thing that year the maple came down. He dug up a seedling at its roots and planted it in another part of the yard, not at all confident it would make it. Good years and bad, heavy frosts and not enough snow, too much rain, too little rain, and waiting, waiting, waiting.

We mowed around it. Its growth could hardly be measured year to year. One leaf does not make good shade.

Waiting takes forever.

But it always produces something…either in our circumstances or in our souls.

I snapped this photo earlier in the week. Lush, cool shade. This autumn, it promises to outdo its parent tree in fall colors. It took forever. But it was growing all along. Maple tree now

And isn’t that just like life?

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.