Thursday, March 30, 2017

AN ANCHOR OF HOPE

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Foster care is a journey of uncertainty. Fighting and trusting on behalf of children is never an easy or straight-forward process. (Perhaps this helps us remember how important the work truly is? Perhaps there is an epic battle in the heavenly realms for each life that is wanted/rescued.)

This year, the word coming to mind most often is hope. Not hope that it will work out exactly as I want or plan. But hope in a Person--that Jesus will work it out exactly as He wants, at exactly the right time, for His specific sovereign purposes. For hope to be truly hope that I can hang my life on, it must be properly placed. Properly placed in a Person.

Hope to tackle just one more day.
Hope to love despite the risks.
Hope to persevere in the midst of unknowns.
Hope to continue trusting even in sorrow.

I wonder if hope can only truly be hope if we're in the midst of something that requires us to need it. Some sort of sorrow or seemingly insurmountable mountain ahead.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our [trials] because we know that [trials] produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us[!] (Romans 5:3-5)

I told a friend recently that I'm in the midst of a Lamentations 3 moment. Let him bury his face in the dust--there may yet be hope. (Lamentations 3:29)  To the world that probably seems an impossibility but it is somehow true--suffering in trials and face-in-the-dust yet still great hope that does not disappoint.




Friends, our foster case is out of [our] control. Five years ago when Bryce and I started the process, we never could have foreseen the difficulties to come. The heart is invested and the calling sure; yet the road to permanency is, frankly, absurd and simply heart-breaking at times. We cannot hope in the system or our caseworkers or the attorneys or the other myriad of people involved in our case. If nothing else, I am learning that all we have is hope in Jesus. ...we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:18-19)

What a beautiful picture of Hope! Our sure soul anchor that we can run to.
My heart chooses to declare, in the mist of everything: my hope is You, Jesus.


For further study on hope, some of my favorite passages:
Lamentations 3:19-29
Romans 5:2-5
Romans 15:3-6, 13
Hebrews 6:18-20

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

WINTER LENTIL VEGGIE SOUP

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So, the title is a mouthful but this soup is a yummy one! I adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com titled "Winter Lentil Vegetable Soup" by Cecile Leverman. This recipe filled my crockpot to the top (which was my goal). We didn't eat it with any meat added and it was delicious as is, but some sausage added towards the end would be yummy too! The spices below are approximate, add more or less to taste.


WINTER LENTIL VEGGIE SOUP

Throw into the crockpot:
* 2 cups red lentils
* 2 medium onions, chopped
* 3 stalks celery, chopped
* about 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped (as much as you can fit in)
* 28 oz diced tomatoes
* 1.5-2 cups diced carrots
* 1.5-2 cups green beans (frozen are fine)
* 2 heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic
* 1 teas salt and pepper
* 2 teas basil
* 1 teas thyme
* 2 teas curry powder
* 1 teas white sugar
* add chicken broth/stock and/or water to fill up the crockpot (keep an eye on the liquid level while cooking to make sure the lentils have enough liquid to cook)

Start the crockpot in the morning. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (to give the lentils, onions and carrots a head start) and then turn to low for the rest of the day. Serve with cornbread and top with parmesan cheese!



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

DON'T TRUST YOUR HEART

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Do you trust your heart? Do you let it control your thoughts and feelings?

Sometimes (okay, lots of times . . . too often) I lay in bed at night, remembering the day. And memories rise up to condemn me. My heart points out all of my failings toward the children, etc. and a great sinking-feeling overwhelms me.

This week, though, I was reminded of the fallen-ness of my own heart. Why do I persist in trusting it?

My flesh and my heart may fail... (Ps 73:26) -- my heart is going to fail!
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9) -- deceitful, no cure! and I can't even understand my own heart.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. (Ez 36:26) -- my heart is so far gone that I need God to give me a new one.
Search me, O God, and know my heart... (Ps 139:23) -- I need Him to search and know my heart, because I certainly can't and don't.




There is a verse in 1 John that sparked the whole change in my thinking: Wait a minute! I don't need to lay there and let my heart condemn me. There is One Who is so much GREATER!

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His Presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20)

There is a place and time for letting our conscience (via the Holy Spirit) point out areas of failing/sin and lead us to walk in confession and repentance. But there is never a need to wallow in condemnation. (Notice it says "when" our hearts condemn us, not "if"!) My heart is not trustworthy. But I can trust HIM. He will help me to walk in the truth. He will bring gentle conviction, not condemnation. He can and will bring rest to my heart.

His Presence is where I need to stay and where my heart can be at rest.
God is GREATER than my heart.
He Knows Everything (even/especially me).

Do you trust your heart?
Maybe we need to rethink that a bit and instead trust in the One Who is greater than our hearts.
Our Heart Rescuer. Heart-Rest-Maker.

I think I have a new verse to whisper to myself at night . . .