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

Don’t Wait To Draw God Near

Ever found yourself asking, “What does it take to draw God near? Is He always close? Really?” People who call themselves “Christians” often tell me, “He is near” — and I know I’m supposed to believe it, because I call myself a Christian too. But how come it doesn’t always feel like He’s close?

Let’s get real and transparent for a moment. All of us have faced or will face struggles. All of us question or wonder at times. I have. If we don’t seek God during those puzzling moments, doubt clouds the truth.

THE TRUTH: He is always present, always loves, always forgives, always holds onto us — when we let Him. He is real.

He is amazing.

But sometimes we don’t exhale amazing faith. Instead, we inhale doubt and it keeps us questioning and mumbling, “Where is He? Where is He? Where is He? How come I can’t see Him?”

Hmpff. Ever felt exasperated? I have.

We get caught up in things we think are important and somewhere along the way we can lose sight of what matters most. We look for love, validation, and success in this world, and discover, “Hey, this fulfillment is temporary.” The satisfaction didn’t linger long enough. It didn’t and won’t fill our vacuum. At least not in an everlasting or eternal way. Are you following me?

Beloved — walk with me for a moment.

You are loved.

You are worthy.

You are adored.

You are forgiven.

You are appreciated, redeemed, cherished, embraced, understood… and the authentic LOVE list doesn’t stop.

See, that’s how God loves: authentically.

Eternally.

Everlasting.

Unstoppable.

Unfathomably grace-filled.

So now, do you want to find God? Do you want to draw Him near? What will happen when you do?

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Pray.

Look up.

If tears are flowing, that’s okay. He captures tears of joy and sorrow all the time.

Ask Him to hold onto you. Ask Him to listen. And if you feel like He isn’t near, ask, “God, where are You?”

It isn’t that hard to find Him. He doesn’t play “hide and go seek.” I think, at times, we do. But you know what? He already knows exactly where you are. All the time.

Beloved, slow down. Step away from the chaos and busyness of this world. That to-do list can wait. That worry needs to be set aside. Time with God is more important. Look up. Close your eyes and call Him near.

There He is!

He’s been there all along.

Beautiful, amazing, outrageous, authentic, assuring, unwavering, steadfast…. LOVE!

God is real.

You found Him!  He’s been holding onto you and loving you all along.

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Okay, this worked. But will it work every time? Will He be there even when I feel grumpy, unworthy, selfish, stubborn, alone, or wayward?

Yes.

I’ve learned drawing Him near works every time — when I make it a habit — setting aside distractions. Turning to God and turning away from my fears and preoccupying thoughts draws Him near in a contagious, outrageous, and captivating way. Then drawing Him close turns into an automatic tendency. An automatic reaction. Loving the One who loves us like no one else can is hard to give up. Now that’s one contagious Love. 

Then we want Him close all the time.

Okay — got it?

Time for reinforcement. Time for repetition. Time for authenticity. Time to let go of our own agenda.

Draw Him near — at times over and over again — and finally hear or listen to His voice. Beloved, “I WILL NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE YOU.” (Hebrews 13:5). See, He IS always with us. He does not abandon us —  though at times we turn our back on Him.

Friend, time to turn around. 

The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Now you are finished reading this. STOP. Don’t get up from your desk or chair. Not yet.

Stay right where you are. Draw Him near. Right now. And after you do, get up, and walk boldly in faith.

Time to express faith boldly…

B : Believe

O : Out loud.

L : Love Him back

D : Deeply

L : “Love You, God!”

Y : “You are there, all the time!”

Beloved, He loves you.

Hope in Him,

– Helo

 

The Sweetest Love Letter

Did you know that the Bible is the sweetest love letter ever written? It captivates, it directs, it comforts, it unleashes hope, it validates, it defines redemption, it uncovers grace, and it reveals a love like no other. 

God.

God is love. (1 John 4:8).

BIble with Flower and cross

How is His love revealed? “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Now that is amazing love!

Want to get to know God better? I promise, He wants you to. And the more you spend time with Him, the more you’ll fall in love with Him. And the more you fall in love with Him, the more you’ll stand in awe, understanding how much He loves you.

One way to get to know God better is by spending time in His Word. His love letter is written for you!

Remember this song? Jesus loves me this I know / for the Bible tells me so / Little ones to Him belong / they are weak but He is strong / Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me the Bible tells me so…

jesus loves me

But sometimes, we all get too busy to hold the Bible, open it, crave it, follow it, and spend time in it with others or by ourselves. With God and uninterrupted. I admit, sometimes I skip through its pages.

That approach has its place. While in rehabilitation following brain tumor removal, I remember experiencing odd reactions. Surgical brain tumor removal, life support and eight weeks hospitalization was an ordeal. Returning home to twenty continued weeks of rehab was not fun. Nor was it easy. I’d experience “conversion reactions” where my legs felt like they shut down and did not want to move. It was discouraging and bizarre. Apparently my brain was exhausted and not communicating well. I remember my dad (a retired rehabilitation medicine physician) telling me, “Helo, tell your legs to walk.” I thought, You’ve got to be kidding me! 

This was me then. “Hi Helo’s legs, move!” Didn’t work. So I’d sit and rest. At times for 30 to 45 minutes.

I tried the futile “talk to my legs” approach, but it lacked incentive and didn’t work. Then one day, I placed my Bible on a table six feet away from my chair. My goal: get to the table, open the Bible, read a verse at random, turn around, sit back down, and then do it again. Getting into the Word was my incentive. My reward was getting to read soothing, directive, amazing scripture. And it worked!

As time progressed, over several months, I learned the importance of spending “real time” with God. It’s a gift. Unbridled. Unmatched. Uninterrupted. Just me and Him.

And when I did, I began to learn what it means to love God. Really, truly love Him. And how much He truly loves His children. Each and every one of us.

This verse strikes a chord in my soul. It strengthens me. I invite you to let it strike a chord in you.

I love you, LORD, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1).

Time to break it down. It grips us better when we do. Don’t simply glance over it.

Stop and read each word slowly. One word at a time, until you get to His name — LORD. I recently did, and when I reached His name, with tear-filled eyes, I realized how much I love Him and why.

I repeated, “I love you, LORD, my strength.” Then I continued and expanded what I thought.

I need You, LORD, my Comfort.

I seek You, LORD, my Hope.

I want You, LORD, my Soul-keeper.

I lean on You, LORD, my Tower.

I crave You, LORD, my Sustenance.

I hide beneath Your wings, LORD, my Shelter.

I behold You, LORD, my Glory.

I trust You, LORD, my Assurance.

I believe in You, LORD, my Truth.

I applaud You, LORD, my King.

I embrace You, LORD, my Best Friend.

I wait patiently for You, LORD, my Provider.

I ask for Your hand, LORD, my Healer.

I confess to You, LORD, my Confidant.

I praise You, LORD, my Blessing.

I lift up prayers to you, LORD, my Listener.

I will share Your promise, LORD, because we all need to know how much You love.

– Helo 

But my love accolades for You don’t stop there. Perhaps because Your love never ends and neither should ours for You.

Dear God, Thank You for loving us.

Cherished friend, I invite you to take a piece of paper and write, “I love You, LORD, because ________.” Fill in the blank. Once, twice, three times, or more… until it becomes a habit. You can also fill in the blanks when you talk to Him in prayer. “I love You, LORD, because _______.”

Telling God why you love Him will reinforce your faith and strengthen the love-bond between Him and you. That’s beautiful! 

Tell yourself, “I am God’s and He is mine.”

Beloved, HE LOVES YOU! Love Him back.

Hope in Him,

Helo