NOT SURE WHEN YOU SHOULD SAY YES? GOD DOES.

Ever wanted to plug your ears and close your eyes for just a minute? Just an hour? Maybe all day long? I admit sometimes I have. You know, the kind of moments when it feels like everyone around you wants something from you. And you feel like you’re facing a need-to-say-YES tsunami! Some people know how to say, “No.” I admit I’m not always good at that.blue-question-mark

Child summons: “Mom, where are my shoes? I can’t find them. Can you help me?”

YES.

Child summons again: “Can you take me to the bagel store after you pick me up from track practice? I love bagels. And then can we go to the grocery store for cream cheese? Bagels aren’t good without them. And besides, I like spending time with you.”

YES.

Email summons: “Hi Helo, this is so-and-so. Could you please send me content for your upcoming talk?”

YES.

Text summons: “Hi Mom, this is your favorite son. Can you bring me my black shoes? I need them for a meeting today and school is keeping me too busy to come home.”

YES.

Phone summons: “Hi friend, can you pray with me right now, I’m struggling.”

YES.

Phone summons again: “Mom, it’s me again… can you?”

YES.

Facebook summons: “Hi Helo, Miss you. Can we talk today?”

YES.

Phone summons again: “Hi beautiful, Could you please look for my wallet, I think I left it at home. If so, can you meet me at work with it?”

YES.

Text summons again: “Hi daughter, haven’t seen you in a while. Can we get together for lunch?”

YES.

Dog summons: Woof woof, wiggle wiggle summons with leash in mouth. “Hi master, it’s your puppy, Buttons. You know the one you haven’t paid much attention to yet today because you’ve been too busy saying ‘yes’ to everyone else. Can you take me for a walk? NOW?” Bark bark. Wiggle wiggle. Jump jump. “Master, I love it outside and I know you do too. Let’s go!”

YES.

Phone summons: “Hi friend, my son is sick and I have a doctor’s appointment today. I can’t bring him with me. I know this is a lot to ask but could you please watch him for a little while today at 2 o’clock?”

YES.

Phone summons: “It’s me, your plumber, can we reschedule fixing your toilet. I know you need it done, but we have an emergency situation here at work…”

Sigh…. Mumbling under breath. Answer — YES.

Phone summons again: “Mom, I left my lunch at home, can you bring it to me? Maybe you could leave a little earlier than usual to pick me up?”

YES.

Phone summons again. Should I pick it up?

YES.

“Hi beautiful. It’s me again. Say, we’ve both been so busy lately. I really miss spending one on one time with you. Wanna get all dolled up and go out to dinner with me tonight? I just want you to know how much I love you.”

Breathe in breathe out Helo. You can make time to get all dolled up. Answer your beloved husband, right now. “I love you too, handsome. YES, dinner sounds delightful.”

Now the YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. tsunami is making me want to put tape over my mouth. I need an implosion guard. God are you listening?

Helo, listen to me, it is now 11 o’clock in the morning. Thank you for walking the treadmill. Thank you for saying YES to those around you. Now you need to take a shower, eat breakfast, and take care of you. Don’t you agree?

I DON’T KNOW. Because that was me talking to myself and sometimes I don’t know how to answer yes to me.

And the YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. summons doesn’t feel like it’s going to stop. It’s got a grip on me.

Time to start thinking now. The pensive kind. Pensively thinking. Yeah, but Helo, isn’t it a blessing to get to say yes all the time?

NO!

Wow I finally shouted-out, “NO!” Hallelujah! And it’s not even lunch time. But I will say “no” to that ice-cream in the freezer. Hmmmmm… maybe not. WAIT. Focus Helo.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful to get to say YES. Getting to love, help others, and meet deadlines is a blessing. Getting to be busy is joyful. Most of the time. But sometimes you and I need to interrupt the YES downpour with God’s umbrella. Time out. Time out with God. Time to talk with God and ask Him, “God, What do You want me to do with today?”

All those YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. rain responses can cloud your Director’s wisdom and keep it from showering over you.

Pray over what you need to say YES to and let God answer.

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It is okay to say NO to others. Sometimes NO means not yet or not ever. Or it might mean that that someone who asked you for your “yes” may need find someone else to fill in their “yes” gap. You cannot be everything to everyone. Only God can do that.

But it is not okay to say NO to God. Refusal is a choice that you and I can freely make. We can freely refuse His wisdom and direction. But our wisdom is never better than His. Saying YES to God all the time infuses us with direction, strength, discernment, and peace. Now this is authentic wisdom.

Our Father knows how to enable us to accomplish what He wants us to even if we are afraid of the pending result. Always. Trusting Him with our all isn’t always easy. Faith requires letting go and letting God. But who better is there to lift our troubles up to? Answer: No one but God.

Time to trust Him.

Trust His answer.

Trust Him with everything, because God is all you need.

Now how do you do that?

RECOGNIZE THAT GOD RULES. He is sovereign, because He already knows what will happen in advance before it even occurs. It is safe to say that He is the One you should go to first. God reigns above all. “Even from eternity, I am He, And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13). Answer: No one, because there is only one God.

KEEP TRUSTING. Trusting God to direct us means sometimes putting a halt to our own agenda or agendas imposed upon us. God’s purpose for us is defined by the One who is wise. His wisdom can not be foiled or derailed unless we let the enemy take the wheel. You know what, friend? That rascal doesn’t know how to drive anyhow, so don’t let him take the wheel. Ask God to take it.

“I know that You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”          (Job 42:2).

KEEP BELIEVING. Keep your focus on God and keep believing. Do not let the enemy distract you, even though he wants to. Don’t pay any attention to that rascal. Instead, seek God. Beloved, reflect upon Hebrews 11:6, where it is written, “For he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” He knows how to embrace you. He knows how to comfort you. He knows how to direct you. LET HIM!

STAY COURAGEOUS. Recognize the one who knows how to lead your battles.”Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Let your faith roar like a lion and don’t let your fears trample God’s promises. Always remember He will never leave nor forsake you.

WAIT PATIENTLY. This isn’t always easy because much like people around you want YES right away, you often want a YES right away answer from God. I admit, at times, I do. Beloved, focus and find comfort in knowing that “God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4).

PRAY. Enough said.

SPEND TIME IN HIS DIRECTION MANUAL. Crave it and you’ll see how much you need it. Why? Because the Bible is the best life instruction manual ever written. Meditate upon His words. “You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed.” (Joshua 1:8).

And if you are thinking, Helo, I want to say NO to some of the bold directives above; think again. Say NO to the chatter around you. Say YES to God right now. And if you think you are too busy, stop what you’re doing and you won’t be too busy after all.

Putting God first is the best YES decision you’ll ever make.

I need to do the same and listen to Him tell me right now, HELO, IT IS TIME TO GO NOW, STOP CLICKING THE KEYBOARD AND NO, THIS BLOG DOESN’T NEED MORE WORDS ANY LONGER. IT IS FINISHED. YOU’VE GIVEN THE READER ENOUGH TO THINK ABOUT — FOR NOW.

YES Father.

Hope in Him,
Helo

Disabled Yet Capable

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I pulled my car into its usual spot. Hasn’t always been my spot, and I have to admit, I don’t like parking here. But sometimes we have to deal with the cards dealt to us. My “new normal” dictates I get out of my car. Sometimes slowly. Other times normally. I have to pace myself like never before. But God is so good. All the time. He knows how to sustain us. Through anything. Any trial. Any challenge.

The parking lot is crowded. The rain is pouring and I’m going on with errands I’ve got to run. No one can see what it feels like to be me. I imagine, no one always understands what it is like to be you. Beloved, God does.

A car pulls up behind me and the occupant inside yells, “Hey you have no right to park there!”

I’m thinking, Here we go again. This isn’t the first time someone’s gotten mad at me for parking in a disabled parking slot. Reserved for those who struggle.

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“Actually I do have a ‘right to park here’ although I wish I didn’t have that right.”

She is obviously irritated and shouts, “Miss, you look just fine and obviously have no right to park there!”

A bystander quips at the grumpy car occupant who had just yelled at me, “You’re mean!”

I wanted to shout back at the lady like the bystander did on my behalf, but instead I contained myself and walked over to this angry lady. I gently looked at her disparaging eyes. “I had close to one million dollars worth of medical care to remove a wicked brain tumor. I was in the hospital for eight weeks. My family was called to my side three times.

#14 Helo in the ICU

Defying medical odds, I returned home to a twenty week rehabilitative challenge learning how to walk, talk, eat, think, and function again. I sustained brain trauma, yet miracles still happen. You cannot see it, but I am disabled and now I am going to be transparent with you. Please don’t yell at people parking in a disabled spot. If they have a valid disabled tag in their window, they have a right to park there. Believe me, I bet they wish they didn’t have to.”

Tender responses can diffuse someone beginning to boil with anger. Rage is ugly. Tenderness is beautiful.

“Well, I still don’t think you should park there.”

“Have a good day,” I whispered.

She got quiet. Really quiet. Said nothing to me. Turned her head away from me. Rolled up her window and drove off.

An older couple, also parked in the disabled section, stopped and came up to me, “Don’t listen to people like that, honey.”

“Thanks.” I did my best to smile.

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As I walked away, tears began to fill my eyes. Why are some people so mean and others so kind? God, why did You allow that ugly brain tumor to occupy my head? I wish I was more like all of the abled people around me. There has to be something more to be gained from suffering than a grumpy woman yelling at me because I parked in that handicapped spot.

I went on with my shopping. Our home needed food and supplies. I was thankful — God provides.

Help was at home. My sons unpacked the car. I was exhausted.

Transparently disabled.

Yet, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

You know, all of us have some sort of disability, incapacity, impairment, abnormality, or affliction. Please don’t misunderstand me. Some of us are wheelchair-bound, use walkers, and have profound and noticeable disabilities. My heart goes out to the disabled, physically and mentally.

But behind our smile curtains, I think we all have some sort or a certain degree of disability. Stay with me for a moment. Some of us are shy. Some of us deal with addictions. Some of us have temperament issues. Some of us envy to much. Some of us doubt too much. Some of us lack determination. Some of us are self-centered.

All of us sin. None of us are immune to it —and sin is kind of like a disability. A spiritual one. It can chain us down. Bring us to our knees, thinking we’re not capable.

But Beloved, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It doesn’t mean He will always remove our physical or emotional disabilities permanently. Through challenges, we can become stronger. Through challenges, God can take moments that we want pity and make us rise to help someone else. Or maybe He uses our brokenness to get our attention and to redirect our focus onto Him. Shattered moments can become blessed moments when we let God handle the restoration. But one disability God can remove eternally is sin. We simply need to call Him near and love Him back. Accepting Him into our broken hearts makes us new.

Hope in Him,
Helo

Knock Knock, Who’s There?

Remember the “Knock, knock” game? Let’s play. Right now. Never know who’s going to answer. I hope this puts a smile on your face and love in your heart. At times we all need this, right? When I showed this article to my husband, he said with a smile on his face, “This is a little bit silly, Helo, and aren’t you a bit too old to play this?” I retorted, “God made giggles and smiles. It’s okay for Him to watch us lighten up. And besides we all need to hear how much He loves us every day. Not just on Sunday when we sit in a pew.”

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Okay, Here we go…

KNOCK, KNOCK.

“Who’s there?”

GOD.

“Really?”

YES, REALLY.

“Why did You come to my door?”

BECAUSE I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU.

“What? I’m kind of busy right now, but I guess I’m the one who started this.”

I LOVE YOU.

“Like I just said, I’m kind of busy right now.”

I STILL LOVE YOU.

“Why?”

BECAUSE I MADE YOU AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD.

“Well, sometimes I think You made a mess.”

I FORGAVE AND FORGIVE YOU.

“How?”

I SACRIFICED MY ONE AND ONLY SON TO TAKE UPON HIS SHOULDERS THE SINS OF THE WORLD, AND YOURS. BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. ACCEPT MY SON’S GRACE AND BECOME WHOLE AND COMPLETE.

“Wow.’’

Silence. Striking unfathomable silence. Because I am having a God-conversation. That’s what knocking on the door does. We knock. He answers. We open. We talk. He listens. We listen back. This is prayer time at its finest.

“That’s nice of You, God. But I have to admit, there are times when I think I’ve got it going on just fine and I don’t need You. Okay, maybe not. If I’m honest with You, other times, I don’t have it so good. Perhaps, I might need you then.”

I STILL LOVE YOU.

“Wow, You really are persistent with this love-thing. Maybe I do need You all the time. Through the good and through the bad…. Are You still there?”

STILL HERE. ALWAYS HERE BECAUSE I AM LOVE. I AM GOD.

“Okay, now You have my attention. Thanks for playing this imaginary ‘knock-knock’ game with me. But are You real?”

I WAS REAL YESTERDAY. I AM REAL TODAY, AND I WILL BE REAL TOMORROW.

“Okay, I’m listening now, but I’ve got lots of questions to ask You.”

I’M LISTENING.

Question.

“Why don’t You always give me what I want?”

I AM WISE. I AM WISDOM. I AM GOD.

“Beyond wise. Got me there.”

Next question.

“So, I can keep asking you for things like wisdom, provision, health, safety, and more… and You may not give it me right away?”

I ANSWER IN MY PERFECT TIMING.

Next question.

“Okay, how come it doesn’t always feel like You’re near? And if You’re who You say You are, How come it doesn’t feel like it is always easy to find You? I don’t have time for hide-and-go-seek.”

KEEP KNOCKING. I DON’T PLAY HIDE-AND-GO-SEEK, PRECIOUS CHILD, I AM ALWAYS NEAR. ALWAYS PRESENT.

Next question.

“What if I have moments of doubting that You are near?”

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. (Psalm 46:10).

SEEK ME WITH YOUR ALL.

FOCUS.

I AM ALWAYS PRESENT. I LISTEN TO YOUR EVERY PRAYER.

I AM YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.

I LOVE YOU.

Next question.

“ Do I need to be perfect for You?”

NO, YOU ARE REDEEMED ONCE YOU ACCEPT THE GIFT OF MY SON.

Next question.

“So into my heart He goes, and You love me, I love You, and we know each other?”

THAT’S HOW IT STARTS.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6).

Next question.

“You sure don’t get tired of questions, do You?’

I AM PATIENT. I AM PATIENCE. I AM GOD.

“Is there a limit to the number of questions I can ask You?”

NO.

“Is there a limit to HOPE found in You?”

NO.

“Is there a limit to Your LOVE?”

NO. ALWAYS REMEMBER I AM LOVE. ETERNAL LOVE. EVERLASTING LOVE.

“Then why is there so much pain in this world?”

REMEMBER THAT MY SON SAID, “IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE BUT TAKE HEART, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”

“God, when can we talk again?”

ANY TIME.

“Anywhere?”

ANYWHERE.

“Really?”

REALLY.

“Thanks God.”

YOU ARE WELCOME.

“I love you, God.”

I LOVE YOU TOO.

This God conversation is over for now. I’m taking a pause-moment. Now I’m talking with you. One on one. But conversations with God don’t ever really stop; they simply take pause, or give us a moment to reflect. Then we simply need to “knock on the door” and start conversing with our Maker again.

“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with Me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” (Psalm 27:8).

It’s taken me a while to learn that I need to keep on asking, keep on knocking, because He keeps on listening. Doesn’t mean that God will grant every request exactly as I request it. He doesn’t work like that. Because HE IS GOD. I’ve discovered, time and time again, that His ways are not always our ways, they are simply better. Sometimes He answers prayers in unimaginable ways, making me fall to my knees. Amazed again. Other times, He seemingly doesn’t answer at all. And that can be His answer in and of itself. I think when this happens, He is asking me to be patient, be still, trust Him, and seek His will. He may even be redirecting my course.

And I simply need to keep on searching, because I will find Him. And so will you.

And I need to keep on knocking because He will open the door to His presence. Right before me, I will find Him, and so can you.

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And before we finish with “AMEN” let us all give our Father a shout-out, “We love you, God!”

Keep on knocking.

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