Keeping Life’s Rollercoaster Steady

It’s climbing. Breaths are held. Not going to exhale yet. Anticipation starts building. Hearts are racing. SWISH. Arms are raised or gripping onto the rail. We’re going down. Made it! Time to exhale. Wait! No! We’re going up again!

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Ever felt like life is a rollercoaster? Up with joy — Down with sorrow. Up with success — Down with failure. Up with busyness — Down with boredom. Up with conquering — Down with challenges. Being pulled from all ends by people who need your time — Feeling forgotten. And the ups and downs keep going. At times life feels like a rollercoaster soaring through a whirlwind or abruptly coming to a stop. Some standstills are soothing. Others are exasperating.

What should we do when life gets crazy, and the ups and downs leave us feeling like we might face derailment?

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Beloved, spend time with God in prayer and get into His Word. The Bible is the sweetest love letter ever written. In it we can find life solutions — God breathed, God directed, God immersed. Sanctified and real. No other user manual works as well as His does. No mechanic other than God can fix our souls and help us avoid derailment. In His presence, we can find eternal hope, uninhibited joy, unconquerable love, and steadfast faith. We simply need to let God grip our hearts, directing us to stay steady.

For example, Psalm 46:10 is sound, captivating, stabilizing direction. God calls His children to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Now, He’s not simply saying, “Child, be still, sit down for a second, then get up — hurry up — and continue with your day like you typically do.”

I don’t think God wants us to stay “busy” in this hectic world… all the time.

When He asks us to be still, He means it. Dear friend, take the time to breathe. Inhale hope — Exhale His promise. His promise that He is always present and He loves us. But we need to take the time to focus on stillness. We all have a to-do list. It’s taken me a while to learn that “being still” needs to be engraved or scripted at the top of my to-do list every single day.

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For me, it may mean closing something. Here are a few examples.

Closing a door — Sitting down, letting the kids do what they want to, laughing while they make a mess in the kitchen because food preparation and consumption is on their minds. I need to go behind a door, close it, and ask God to sit with me.
Closing my eyes — Sitting in a parking lot before going to the grocery store to join the crowds and lines. I need to keep the car door shut and ask God to join me.
Closing my ears — Telling myself, “Don’t answer that phone, don’t respond to that computer ‘ping.’ Close your ears, Helo.” Take time out for God and listen to His voice.

Beloved, put “BE STILL” at the top of your to-do list and read on.

In Psalm 46:10, God doesn’t stop with, “Be still My child.” He adds “AND” for a reason. See, if we don’t finish reading the entire verse and adhere to it, we’ll be still for a moment, sometimes only a split second, lose sight of His wise direction, and start engulfing ourselves in busyness again.

So we’ve got to put the “Be still” direction into action. Are you quiet, reflective, and focused now? Good. So am I.

Now let’s break it down. What follows “AND”?

KNOW I AM GOD.

Okay, great, He is God. Can I go now, Helo?

No, my friend, not yet. Now that God has your attention stop and think about who He is.

God is our Comforter. Sustainer. Redeemer. Healer. Strengthener. Provider. And all that He is never ends. Who is God to you?

Believe fervently

I promise you, the more time you spend with Him, the more you will fall in love with Him, and the more you fall in love with Him, the more you will stand in awe. And the rollercoaster life will steady because you understand what God is directing you to do. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

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We all need God more — never less.

Hope in Him,
Helo

 

 

Put on the Shoes, Tie up the Faith Laces

I get up in the morning, get dressed, and put on my shoes. You and I often begin our days with an agenda. Goals set. To-do’s listed. But the path we’ve chosen may change. Unexpected interruptions make us take different footsteps, filling a different set of shoes. This is when often I pray, “God, what do You want me to do with today?”

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But sometimes, in a hurry, I throw my shoes on and head out the door.

Then the phone rings interrupting my ambition. Is this an unexpected call or a solicitor? No time for this now.

You and I have both answered the phone countless times before on our way out the door. Other times we’ve ignored the “ring ring ring” attention getter. We’re too busy to answer it. The shoes we fill often make us feel like we’re running. Life gets busy, right?

But this time, we feel moved to take the call. The voice behind the message heard on the other end makes our jaw drop.

_____ is gone. He or she died. He or she was in an accident. He or she just lost her job. He or she is missing. He or she just received a scary diagnosis. He or she just had their home broken in. He or she just filed for divorce. He or she….

And sometimes, the “he or she” situations we listen to are simply too painful, too much, or too consuming to take in. We do our best to understand. But we haven’t walked in their shoes. We attempt to put them on our own feet for just a moment — figuratively. But we have no idea how to lace them up or walk in them. Our feet don’t fit. We can’t come close to walking the same journey. Why? Because we all walk unique steps. Sometimes similar — but always different. No two paths are identical. We still want to help someone else, walking in challenging shoes to wear, but we’re not sure how.

Have you ever felt this way? I have.

Now what?

There are certain situations when the most powerful action taken is found in commanding silence. No lecture. No advice. No, “I understand because I’ve been there myself. I’ve walked the same shoes.” You see, often, if we try that approach, we’ll get a “Yeah, right” followed by flowing tears, followed by silence, anger, or hurt.

Understandably so.

In contrast, in silence we can pull God’s formidable presence into difficult or heart-wrenching situations, allowing our Heavenly Father to pull out His toolkit. In silence, we can listen to His voice. In silence, we can follow God’s direction. In uninterrupted silence with God, we can not yield to worldly distractions, our agenda, or our solutions. Instead, in the stillness of God’s presence, we can look up for His perfect plan. Trusting Him with our all is God-filled faith.

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Soundlessness is not always sullen, although it can make us feel alone. Often quietude is a gift because it can direct us without distraction or interruption to the One who always loves us. Always listens. And that is good because He makes peace and comfort rise.

And although silence can make us feel alone, it’s also in those vulnerable moments that God captivates us and holds onto our inner soul, commanding our full attention. In Him, we can find peace and tranquility. Now we’re in a place where we can listen to God’s direction without interruption. Unfathomable wisdom and comfort are found in His silent yet strong presence. Time to pray. Time to talk with God. Just Him and you. And if He asks you to take off your shoes and walk with Him. Do.

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Prayer is talking with God. He is the only One who completely grasps the difficulties we face and understands the complexity of the unique shoes we fill. So when someone goes through something difficult, heart-wrenching, or soul consuming, remember that hope begins with a prayer. And a good friend recognizes this, doesn’t attempt to put on the other person’s shoes by themselves, but rather gives God control.

Other times we simply need to focus on God alone. By ourselves — yet with Him, privately, before bringing anyone else into a given circumstance or challenge that has us wanting to rip our shoes off. And hide. Or crawl under a rock. Or quit. Wondering why God has us walking a particular path in the first place.

The other day, I was overwhelmed with the death of a dear friend, financial issues, health concerns, family issues, and more. So I picked up the phone to call a close friend because I needed to vent. I needed someone to listen, lift me up, and attempt to understand the shoes I was walking in.

First call. My husband. Busy at work. Second call. The phone rings without an answer. My confidant and cherished friend not home. Third call. Another dear friend. No answer. Fourth call. A close family member. Not there. No one available? Really? This hasn’t happened to me before. Now what, Helo?

I went up to my room, closed the door, and let the tears flow. My face was now soaking wet. I whispered, “God, how much more of this do you think I can handle? I’m overwhelmed. I feel like life is storming all over me. Please reign down on me.”

Time to keep my shoes on and stand upon my faith-rock. Not my better half, not my beloved friends or family could or can completely understand the complexity or depths of my heart with clarity like Jesus can. No one.

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I love the hymn by Edward Mote (1797 – 1874), “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Now, I was in a quiet place without interruption. I finally took it straight to God. And it was just Him and me. He had my full attention.

“God, I feel alone.”

I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU ALONE, MY PRECIOUS CHILD.

“This is too much.”

I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE.

“Really?”

TRUST ME.

“God, why this, why now?”

PRECIOUS CHILD, TRUST ME.

“How?”

LET GO, LET ME TAKE IT.

“Finally! Does that mean You will remove the burdens that I and those I love are facing?”

NO, BUT I PROMISE NEVER TO LEAVE NOR FORSAKE YOU.

“When will You answer me, God?”

IN MY PERFECT TIMING.

“But I want an answer now. I want You to heal my friend. I want You to remove the looming debt over a loved one. I want my husband’s job to be secure. I wish I didn’t have to watch a beloved one on hospice care. I want my brain to work as it should. I want my frustration to go away. I want, I want, I want….. I’m tired; I’m worn.”

CHILD, ARE YOU TRUSTING ME RIGHT NOW?

Gasp.

Pin drop silence. Mouth shut.

Silence interrupted.

“No. I see I’m not. I’m not trusting You with my all. Help me trust You.”

I WILL.

“Thanks, God. I love You.”

I LOVE YOU, TOO.

This conversation was over for now. Lesson learned. Insight gained.

My soul was focusing on troubles surrounding me and those I love. I was falsely thinking and hoping that I could gather people close to me with a phone call to acquire peace. But no one answered the phone. Therefore, no one could listen. But God could and always can. Always.

This quiet moment hit me like a truth and assurance boulder.

God was reminding me to give and lift up my cares to Him first.

Not one of my close friends were able to pick up the phone that day. I now know there was a purpose behind those calls going unanswered. I learned, once again, to give it to my Father first.

I learned that there is nothing. Nothing more calming, beautiful, and soul-gripping than just God and me alone, together, quietly in a room with no interruptions. These moments are a treasure, needed and necessary. I crave them now. And He helps me walk in the shoes He gives to me.

My prayer for you is that you will see and understand that no matter what shoes God has asked you to fill today or will ask you to fill tomorrow, He will walk with you when you call Him near. You don’t need to walk alone.

So put your shoes on. Tie up the laces. Walk with God. Keep walking. Keep hoping. Keep trusting. And keep believing. Challenges make us stronger. Adversity makes us rise. With God, we are always equipped to handle whatever path He calls us to walk. Or run.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

(2 Timothy 4:7).

Hope in Him,
Helo

A Mama Bird with an Empty Nest

“Wait, don’t fly, I just want to tell you I love you one more time.” That was me when the first one flew, and will be me again when the second and third ones fly.

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I don’t hear them chirp as often now. I wish I could. Phone calls and texts can fill that void — a little bit.

I cried the day my first child was born. Did it again five years later, when my second baby arrived. I cried again a year and a half later. Third time’s a charm. Each time I gave birth, I cried tears of joy. I had three birds in my nest back then. One left a year ago. One is leaving shortly, and the other one will fly next year.

We moms cry a lot, don’t we? Tears of joy. Tears of sorrow. Tears of worry. Tears of compassion. And we’ve wiped our children’s tears throughout the years. I think I’ve gone through hundreds of tissue boxes.

I look back and cherish the playdough days. I’d make cookies and they always wanted to eat them.

“No, no dear, that’s not a real cookie!”

They’d cry, “Waaaahhh!”

Solution? Real cookies. Sugar cookies. You know, the kind that are made from scratch and make a flour mess all over. I miss those days. A flour-fight sounds like a lot fun right about now. I think I should schedule one. What a sight that would be to see four grown adults making cookies and playing with flour!

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I look back at the baseball games, the ballet practices, the first tricycle rides, the church plays, the track meets, the high school graduations of our first two children, college graduation, law school graduation, and giving away our daughter at her wedding.

And as I look back, I see that time flew by so fast, and continues to soar!

They’re not home as much anymore. I’m a mama bird sitting in a nest, often by myself. Sometimes, I want to cry because I miss my kids like crazy. But once a mama, always a mama. I’m not finished yet. And I’m so thankful I got to and get to be called “Mom.”

And when they all finish flying the nest, I know the momma bird in me will worry every now and then. That’s what we moms do, right? And I’ll find myself thinking, I hope I did it right. I know I made my share of mistakes along the way, and I’ll make more today and more tomorrow. There is no perfect mother-bird. There is no perfect child. But we have a perfect Father. He taught us how to love each other and we know that when we pull God in between us, there is always forgiveness, always understanding, and always love. So I will choose to stay under our Heavenly Father’s wings and pray my children will do the same. And then I will trust that they’re okay and will stay strong no matter what life throws their way, because hope is always found above.

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At the top of my mother-do-list was, is, and always will be showing my children how much God loves them. I love them too, but He loves them more. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around that thought… He loves them even more?

God’s love is unfathomable, unmatched, unwavering, and unending. Wow. My children are valued and cherished by God. He loves them — always.

Matthew 6:26 displays God’s affection well. “Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns — and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

If I did anything right as a mother bird, it was teaching my children that in God’s eyes they are always worthy, always wanted, and always loved.

And as my children fly the nest, I will tell them, “My precious child, don’t ever leave God’s nest. And if you feel like flying away, and do, don’t stay away long. That’s how temptation beckons. That’s what the devil wants. Don’t bow down to that rascal. Fly back to your Father. Fly fast. Don’t look back, and don’t turn around. You see, God’s nest is the only place where you can always find authentic peace, understanding, rest, comfort, and love. It’s the only place where there’s no condemnation — just love. He will accept you just the way you are, because He loves you like no one else can. He forgives. He restores. He will listen to your every prayer. And if you need me to lift prayers up, I’ll be your prayer warrior. Stay under His wings. Know He will hold onto you and don’t let go. The greatest words you will ever hear, are ‘Child, I love you.’ Not just from me. More importantly from your Heavenly Father. So listen to Him. I will miss your chirping like crazy after you fly away, but even when you’re gone, I will always be proud of you. I will always love you. And I will jump out of my nest for you any time. You know where to find me. Please visit and fly back every once in a while, or I will fly your way. Love, Your Mama-bird.”

Living in a nest that’s almost empty isn’t simple, but it does have silver linings.

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I can “be still” now and spend more time with God, without interruption, like never before. I crave living under His wings now all the time. That’s a silver lining.

I get to spend more unbroken, quality time with my husband. Now, I’m falling in love with him all over again. That’s a silver lining.

Missing my kids like crazy reveals how much I loved them and how blessed I am to be called “Mom.” That’s a silver lining.

My children are God’s first, then my husband’s and mine. Our Father loves them like we cannot. Perfectly. And even though it is hard to let them go and watch them fly away, I know Who’s watching over them. All the time. And wow, HE is so good at it!

Hope in Him,
Helo

 

Labor Day Just Passed But We’re Still Working

I put on the gloves and pulled flowers from plastic pots as my husband dug several holes. I thought, This little bit of labor will plant something beautiful. Perhaps I should apply this thought pattern to that daily to-do list I sometimes get tired of. No complaining. Instead, simply thankfulness. Thankfulness lifted up to our Heavenly Father.

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“Hey handsome, thank you for helping me with this.”

“You’re welcome. It’ll be beautiful to look at,” my husband winked.

His hand got tired from the shoveling. My gloves were dirty. But we chose to enjoy the task at hand. The finished labor would yield reward. Blooming beauty. It made me reflect on Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.”

Labor Day just passed. For many of us it was time off. A time for family gatherings and celebration or getting ready to brace ourselves for the unofficial end of summer. Some of us may not have had the luxury to to take the day off. Still, it was a time to honor and celebrate men and women who work.

I think we all work every day. We all labor to one degree or another, right? At times we work so hard, we become so tired and worn, we might find ourselves wanting to quit. Yet we are supposed to be thankful for the work we have. And if we don’t have work, we aren’t supposed to worry. But this isn’t always simple, right?

Time to interject truth, keep the faith, and pray. Holding a “job” isn’t simply about putting on a suit, dressing in your best, and awaiting accolades of praise, “Job well done!” It’s not just about putting on those gloves, breaking a sweat, getting dirty, and claiming, “I did it!” Trusting God when we are out of work begins with hope and carries on with faith. Keeping the job we have without complaining requires gratitude.

Life is so much more than settling our identity in what we attain and accomplish in the world’s eyes. Heads up, you can’t take your car, your title, your home, your closet, your purse, your bank account, your accolades, or your status to Heaven. Heaven is void of worldly accomplishments. Instead, it overflows with God’s glorious presence. It’s going to be awesome up there!

But until we get to go there, many of us think our identity is found in what the world thinks of us. I admit I have fallen prey to this. Years ago, I landed a job with a prominent pharmaceutical company. I thought for a while that I was on top of the world. Temporary fulfillment was gained. I’d achieved status, or so I thought. Then a year and a half later, God helped me welcome my first child into this world. I decided to become a stay-at-home mom.

To all of you mothers who work outside the home, I admire you. To all of you mothers who are stay-at-home moms, I admire you, too! I walked both shoes and both paths have their challenges and benefits.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom longer than I’ve been out in the labor and workforce world. But the hats God’s given me to wear confirm that I work. I’ve worn many working hats including wife, mom, nursemaid, daughter, sister, friend, caretaker, cabdriver, house cleaner, grocery store shopper, meal planner, meal maker, advice giver, confidant, prayer warrior, inspirational speaker, author, and survivor.

And sometimes I feel worn out, exhausted, and tired. Likely, so do you. Life is not always a field of beautiful flowers. It’s not pretty all the time. Sometimes it feels like it is full of thistles! Are you following me? The thistle picture includes sharp life-weeds like pain, frustration, exhaustion, overwhelming consumption of our time, loneliness, too much to do, too little to do, and questions like: “Am I successful? Am I accomplishing enough? Did I finally get it right? And is this really what life is all about?”

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And sometimes we want to pull our hands away from the wheelbarrow, out of our gloves for just a moment, take a break, and listen to Jesus say, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28).

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Beloved, we cannot find authentic “rest” in this world. But we can find it in God!

Labor Day has passed until we celebrate it again next year. Until then, thank God for the path He’s given you to follow, the wheelbarrow He’s given you to load, the work gloves He has blessed you to wear, and whether you work behind the scenes or in the forefront, at home or in the world workforce, take the job He’s given you, and work for His glory.

Hope in Him,
Helo

Helping Others

Recently, I ran errands — checking off my long to-do list. Fifth stop. Pick up antibiotics for my son. Ear infections hurt. My next stop — pick him up at track practice. I’m running early. Got time to spare. Relax. Wouldn’t that be nice? Stop complaining, Helo! Perhaps I should make a coffee stop.

But just as I was about to get in my car, I noticed a disheveled woman, clothes tattered, sitting outside on the concrete ground against the wall of the drugstore. Looked like she hadn’t showered for several weeks. All of her belongings crowded a dirty pull cart. Plastic bags, remnants of food, and a dirty yellow shirt splashing out.

We’ve all seen carts like this one. Sometimes we stop. Sometimes we pretend we can’t see it or don’t want to.

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I could have driven off, but felt moved to change my mind. I got out of the car with a fresh bottle of water, granola bar, and hidden copy of Halo Found Hope. I sat down next to her on the cold concrete.

She smiled, revealing broken and missing teeth. “Why are you sitting here with me?”

“I’ve got time — I need a break — and thought I’d join you while you are taking yours.”

Silence.

I handed her that granola bar and the bottle of water. I began to munch on my own bar. Now we were talking and eating.

“Thank you so much,” she remarked. “Most people look at me and keep going — like I’m not even here. I don’t think anyone wants to know me.”

A frown and sorrow crowded her face.

Looking her right in the eyes, I remarked, “I’m sorry. People shouldn’t do that. You are loved, you know?”

A twinkle. A smile. Belief expressed.

“Yes, I know God loves me. I just don’t understand how I ended up this way.”

I didn’t ask her how she got to this place — homeless, I gathered. I thought to myself, Father, why do some people end up this way? Help me love this child.

Up until this point, I hadn’t mentioned God. Yet, this tender lady brought up our Comforter. Authentically unashamed. Knowing who He is.

“Do you like to pray?” I questioned.

“Yep. But I’m not sure if He listens. I’m not sure if I say the right words.”

“Praying is talking. Just talk to Him. He already knows what you are going to say or ask.”

“You make it sound so simple,” she snickered.

“Yeah, isn’t God is awesome? He understands us like no one else can.”

We closed our eyes, held hands, and talked with God. She couldn’t stop telling me how thankful she was that I took the time to visit.

I told her how thankful I was that she took time to spend with me. See, she blessed me. She made me realize that the things I complain about, or take for granted at times I need to set aside. Complaining is contagious — but so is the opposite, including appreciation and gratitude. And serving others.

God reminded me that focusing on the need of someone else, rather than my own, brings out the blessings He provides me, day in, day out. Often blessings are disregarded or we don’t pay close attention to them. One day, like days gone by, I will feel broken. And what a blessing it will be if someone sits next to me, reminding me how much God loves me.

This woman was in a dark and lonely place. I told her how much God loves her. She responded, “I see that, because He made you, Helo. And you sat down with someone who is alone. He used you to show me His love.”

I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Thanks for your time.” I was just about to get up to run errand number six, when I remembered that I had a hidden copy of Halo Found Hope in my purse.

“Say, do you like to read?”

“Yes, I love to!”

I signed her name in the book and handed it to her. She reached out with dirty hands and clasped onto the gift. So thankful — as if I’d given her so much, when in fact it was just words on paper, bound into a book. With a twinkle in her eye and a radiating smile, she reminded me to smile more often, thank God more often, and praise Him more — even during dark moments.

My heart has a tender spot for the homeless. The hopeless. The overwhelmed. The sick. Perhaps because I’ve been through my share of heartache and trials, likely so have you, and came out of it with a greater appreciation, greater gratitude, and new perspective. Every day is a gift.

We all need mercy. We all need grace. We all need comfort. We all need strength. We all need fortitude. We all need resilience. We all need forgiveness.

We all need love.

We all need God.

And Jesus told us, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).

There’s a story behind everyone’s challenge. I don’t know why God allows certain folks to end up on the street. Or end up sick. Or lonely. Or challenged. And until their story is told, we should not judge. Instead we should love. They need Christ and hope found in Him just as much as we do. We all have or will face dark hours. Life isn’t always easy. Neither is faith. But God promises to never leave nor forsake us. All of His children need to hear that. He also never told us we wouldn’t face trouble in this life.

So how should we help others?

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Don’t walk by a person in need.
Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk. Let God’s love saturating your own heart and soul soak someone else’s. If you have a job, a roof over your head, transportation, food in the fridge, and a closet with a change of clothing, God has provided well for you. Therefore you can help someone else. “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).

Be God’s vessel.
Let Him use you to love others. And remember, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17). Give love without expecting it in return. This is generosity defined. And refined.

Choose generosity.
Looking beyond ourselves and setting our eyes on the hearts and needs of others dissolves our own complaining spirit. Remember, complaining is contagious — but so is the opposite including appreciation and gratitude. Don’t hold on so tight to the things of this world, the blessings God has given you. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Often, the things we complain about pale in comparison to what others are going through. Not always. Sometimes. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that what we are going through should be minimized by what someone else is going through. I’ve learned that when I feel like complaining, and do something kind for someone else, it erases my grumbling heart and replaces it with a happy one.

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Share God’s love with someone else today.

Hope in Him,

Helo 

Questioning God

I’m not going to ask you to answer this question out loud, because I want you to sit back comfortably. I want this to be a peaceful moment for you. But I’m also going to ask you to prepare yourself, because sometimes questions we’re asked give rise to sparks of discomfort. You know, the kind that makes us want to get up, leave, and avoid the question. Now I’m going to ask you to take a quiet moment and search your soul for your answer. This moment — right now — is between you and God. Your Father. Your Confidant. And the Keeper of your soul. This moment has nothing to do with anyone else sitting around you. It’s all about you and the One who loves you. And you know what? Questions can give rise to proof.

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Here comes the question…

Have you ever wondered if God is real? Even for a split second? 

You know, that momentary feeling of doubt where you find yourself wondering if God truly listens and if He truly loves and if He’s really there. I know there have been moments when you felt like or still feel that you’ve not been a recipient of His affection or His presence. Or maybe you’ve felt like you didn’t need Him. (Side note: we’ve all done that). Yet you find yourself looking for proof because sometimes you wonder if He really is there. Part of you knows you need something or someone greater, and if you were completely transparent and honest with yourself you’d admit that you’re still wondering. Still seeking, still wanting authentic love, and everlasting hope.

I am going to get boldly vulnerable with you right now. I admit I’ve had moments of doubting God, wondering if He was real. Usually because of painful situations He was allowing and I didn’t understand why He thought it was okay for me to be hurt. I mean I’m strong, but I am not invincible.

Hurt happens. But so do miracles.

Decades ago, my sweetheart boyfriend of several years broke up with me for another girl. It shattered my heart and I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong or why he chose to leave me.

Several months later, he asked me to marry him.

I replied joyfully, “Yes!”

Or there was that moment, where I lay in bed after three miscarriages, facing my fourth. Lying there per doctor’s orders for six weeks, hoping I wouldn’t lose this one.

My precious son was born months later.

Or there was that unimaginable doctor’s visit, where I learned that I had something wickedly wrong inside of me. I doubted. I doubted God was real. I doubted God was near. But the more I doubted the more afraid I became. And the doubt-fear cycle escalated. I don’t like panic and neither does God. It was time for me to face that brain tumor head on. (No pun intended). I had no idea then what God was going to teach me during my near-Heaven experience. But wow. 

What I learned is how real He is and how authentically He loves.

Moments of doubting God’s authenticity or His presence are part of the human condition. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t faced these kind of thoughts. But God understands us in spite of our weaknesses and doubts. He knows how to cradle and hug even during the most tender or raw, heart-draining moments when our arms are stretched out, begging for mercy and comfort. We might think we are wearing thin, cannot go on, and are not sure if He’s really there.

But I promise you, He is real, and always present.

So we can learn to redirect our doubt. Miracles still happen, right? 

Precious child, miracles are whispers from Heaven, proving that God is real.

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We’ve heard of others blessed by them, but may not have experienced one ourselves, leaving us questioning, “Am I worthy? And is God really here?”

Precious child, stop for a moment. Put every thought aside, and envision that you and I are sitting at a kitchen table right across from each other. Now take your hands hidden under that table, lift them up, and stretch them across the table. I am doing the same thing. I don’t know you well, and you don’t know me well. But in God’s presence we’re going to get vulnerable. We are going to ask Him to draw close. And if you don’t feel comfortable asking Him to sit with us, I will ask Him for the two of us.

Take my hands and look me straight in the eye.

Precious child, I am looking at a miracle, right now. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (quote inspiration – Psalm 139:14). You are precious. You are loved. You are wanted. And you are worthy.

God is real. 

And if you are still doubting, look around you. If you are sitting in a room with nothing alive in it other than yourself, go outside. Look around at the trees surrounding you. Look up at the clouds in the sky. Stop and listen. It could be the voices talking, the birds singing, a dog barking, or a child laughing. These motions, events, and scenes are all clear evidence that God is real. He was real yesterday. He is real today. And He will be real tomorrow.

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Now close your eyes for just a moment.

Oh no. If you keep them closed you won’t be able to finish reading this.

Please open them again.

Thank you.

My prayer for you today, is that you will grasp how much your Heavenly Father loves you and that you’ll understand how real He is and always will be.

Amen.

Hope in Him,

Helo

Reigniting Faith

It was the Fourth of July. Sparklers were held lighting up the darkness surrounding us. Then we looked up. We marveled at the colossal versions of what we held quietly in our hands. Fireworks. Colorful, noisy, captivating fun. We were celebrating freedom, passionately.

single sparkler for IGNITE BLOG

It made me wonder, What if God’s children believed, loved, hoped, trusted … and made His light shine like that? You know, the kind of display igniting the sky and Heavens that no one can miss and everyone stops to take notice of. In wonder. Captivated.

Recognize this song sung in Sunday schools everywhere? “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” It’s been around since 1920! The words are simple, yet strong. Composer Harry Dixon followed the theme found in Matthew 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

Not only does this song tell the world that God’s children should want to make His love shine, it goes on to say, “Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m going to let it shine.” And later… “Everywhere I go, I’m going to let it shine… let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

But how do we keep God’s love shining? I think we need to keep it ignited by believing. Sometimes this means reigniting it. Especially in our world today where there is so much darkness displayed by lies, hopelessness, doubt, indifference, anger, and hate.

Perhaps we need to display His love by rekindling it instead of focusing on the world’s attempt to extinguish God. In case you’re wondering, our Heavenly Father is omnipresent and powerful — and will never be extinguished. Still, as His children we need to let others know how much He loves each one of us, because we all need love. Showing it to others makes that little spark turn into a light that authentically shines. Bright.

Let us not extinguish God’s presence, let’s ignite it, sharing who God is. Everywhere. With everyone. If we all made our Light shine, more people would come to know our Father. And more people would understand how much He loves them.

How do we let our light shine? 

Ignite truth. 

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6). Now this is freedom. Freedom everlasting. Through His loving sacrifice we are forgiven and made new. In Him we can find hope, redemption and grace. Unmerited yet everlasting.

Ignite hope.

Hope begins with a prayer. When hopeless, pray more. If you want to quit, by God’s grace quit giving up! Remember, God can take shattered moments and create blessed ones when we let Him handle the restoration. Look up and let God’s love captivate. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Ignite trust. 

Trusting God with your all, means letting go. Giving it up. Letting Him take your burdens and self-imposed control. When you do, recognize that you’ve just given your all to the Almighty! Stand back amazed, because you just ignited trusting Him. That is faith unleashed. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5).

Ignite bold faith. 

Choose to believe. Igniting your faith boldly reveals something different. Something captivating. Someone different — because He is love.  A love found in no one else. It’s that contagious faith destined and determined to make a difference. It brings joy to the joyless. It’s compassionate faith not just talked about but walked. Ignite it! Share it. “Now faith is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.”  (Hebrews 11:1).

Ignite prayer. 

Hope and faith begin with a prayer. Prayer means talking with God. And you know what is so amazing about your Heavenly Father? He listens, all  the time! In fact, He already knows what you’re going ask or talk to Him about, before you even open your mouth! He may not answer everything exactly the way you want Him to. He doesn’t work like that. He is wise. But He never closes His ear to you. So keep on praying. “Pray without ceasing.”                    (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Ignite compassion. 

Help others. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). Time to remove the spotlight focused on ourselves and reach out to someone else. Generosity will come back to you ten-fold. Promise. Give big. Give what you can. A smile, time to listen, buy the groceries for the person in front of you or behind you in line. You never know if you’ll need it yourself someday. But if you can now, go out of your way and do something kind for someone else. Watch how good it will make you feel. Especially when you expect nothing in return.

Ignite peace. 

Ever had a moment when you got angry or grumpy and someone loved you in spite of your momentary reckless behavior? It softens it right? This world needs peace. Attaining it will likely take strong and powerful God-driven leadership. But for many of us, we don’t have that kind of influence or commanding authority. We can only ignite peace in small portions. But I think peace has a contagious and beautiful component. So ignite it and know that authentic peace comes from Jesus. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Ignite love. 

The Bible says, “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14).  Wow! Love is contagious and if we all ignited love and followed this instruction, do you have any idea what a change we could all bring to this world? I’m jumping up and down just thinking about it!

Ignite joy. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).This isn’t always simple because at times life isn’t easy. But even in the midst of anxiety, sorrow, challenges, and adversity, we can find a glimmer of hope — a little sparkle. Bring God into that dark place and ignite joy! “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19).

Ignite gratitude. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”                    (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Complaining is contagious but so is the opposite including thankfulness and gratitude. Time to ignite thankfulness, recognizing everything He has done and will do for you and His children.

I could keep going on with igniting so many different areas of our lives… but this article is running out of room. And I need you to get off your computer, stop reading this, and start igniting your own life.

Before you go, sing to yourself, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….” And if you don’t have a good voice, no worries. Sing it anyhow. Sing it loud and ignite the presence of our Father our Light in this dark world.

Hope in Him,

Helo