3 Steps to Finding Hope During COVID-19

There is one thing that I have learned in my years of walking with Jesus, and it is this-there is nothing wasted in this life, even our pain when we seek Christ first. 

COVID-19 has brought with it a roller coaster ride of emotions, fears, doubts, anger, and depression. There have been times my knuckles turned white with anxiety as I grasped for anything to anchor the sinking feeling in my stomach. Then God in His tender grace reminded me to quit grasping for a safe place to land and start seeking Him and His ways first. 

So, I did. I let go of the tight grip of false security and lifted my hands in the air in the act of surrender—the wrap-around peace of my Father met me there. 

Such sweet peace. As I rest daily in Christ’s embrace, He gently whispers wisdom to my heart. This wisdom is guiding me moment by moment as I walk daily through COVD-19. 

The first step is I take a deep breath, pause in His presence, and whisper a simple prayer. I start the day off with this prayer, end the day with this prayer, and whisper it several times throughout the day when I feel the knees of my faith start to buckle. 

“Dear Father, take my feet and anchor them in You that I may walk the way You have for me today (Psalm 49:2). Hold my heart close to Yours that I may learn Your ways and remain true to Who you are. Only then will life-giving words flow from my lips, bringing glory to Your name in pain (Psalm 73:23-28, Proverbs 4:23). Protect my mind from the lies of the world. Let the battlefield of my mind be a place where Your Word runs freely, washing and renewing me to think from an eternal perspective (Ephesians 5:26).”

The second step is one I shared in last week’s devotional, and that is burden casting (1 Peter 5:7). Whenever my heart feels overwhelmed, I take a deep breath, pause in His presence, and ask Him to search my heart and reveal the source of my anxiety. When He shows me the cause, then I cast that care on Him and ask forgiveness for trusting in anything besides Him. Then I look for steps that move me away from the anxiety. 

That is why I choose carefully the amount of media I allow to influence my heart. Too much input and the anxiety pounds in my chest, fear rises in my throat, and I quickly look for comfort in all the wrong places. When this happens I ask myself which is more important-to gain mounds of knowledge or guard my heart. 

The third step is to go on a hunt for God throughout the day. Where do I see the evidence of His grace at work? When I discover these God moments, I offer up the gift of gratitude (Psalm 7:17, Colossians 2:7). 

The grace gift may be as simple as laughter shared with my husband as we cook dinner together or as miraculous as the healing of a friend diagnosed with COVID-19. Regardless, gratitude shifts my focus from the crisis to Christ and in return, He lifts my heart from fear to faith. 

These three simple steps have become part of my daily routine. They guide me into discovering hope for the journey. 

I realize we are #Inthistogether, but we each have our unique circumstances and processes in getting through this. Maybe you have some steps in place that are anchoring you to hope in Christ. I hope so. If not, then I pray one of my action steps will provide you a reliable place to start.

Let’s keep finding hope in the journey,
Evelyn

P.S. I had a “baby”! At least that is how several of my friends have described my journey to finishing my book proposal. Well, I finished it. And I can’t thank you enough for all the prayer support and words of encouragement. My next step is a final copy edit and the design. After that, I get an agent and pray for God to let my words land with the right publisher. How scary exciting is that!?

P.S.S. My friend Shakti and I finished the free printable promises, 24 Scriptures of Hope for Hardtimes.  I can’t wait to share them with you. Just click on this link 24 Scriptures of Hope for Hardtimes. and “ta-da,” they are yours. I want to get whatever resources into your hands that can serve as reminders that our God is faithful, we are not alone, and we will come out of this better than ever if we lean wholeheartedly into Christ. Be blessed, my friends. 


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

The Blessing of Burden Casting

“Pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there
for He always tenderly cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7, TPT

It was late in the evening. Steve had already collapsed into bed. I tried to join him, but my mind and heart kept racing. I didn’t feel like I was struggling with anxiety or necessarily worried about anything. So, I asked, “God, what is going on?”

I grabbed a glass of milk and made my way to the living room. The fireplace filled the living room with a warm glow and an invitation to sit in the stillness. So, I grabbed a blanket and cocooned myself on the couch. As the flames danced I asked again, “God, what is going on?”

Then God reminded me of a story called The Trouble Tree. 

The carpenter who was hired to help a man restore an old farmhouse had just finished his first day on the job and everything that could go wrong went wrong. First of all, on his way to work he had a flat tire that cost him an hour’s worth of pay, then his electric saw broke, and after work, his old pickup truck refused to start.

His new boss volunteered to give him a lift home and the whole way to his house the carpenter sat in stone silence as he stared out his window. Yet on arriving, he invited his boss in for a few minutes to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was one big smile as he hugged his two small children and kissed his wife.

Afterward, the man walked his boss to his car to say thank you. Now on their way out of the house, the boss’s curiosity got the best of him so he had to ask the man about the tree on the front porch. He said, I noticed when you came upon the porch before going into your house you stopped and touched the tree, why?

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t stop from having troubles out on the job, but one thing’s for sure–my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So, I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning, I pick them up again.”

“Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ‘em up, they aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

As my mind replayed the story, I felt like God was sifting my heart. And in the sifting, He unearthed that I had not been casting my burdens on Him. Instead, I was burying them. This act of burying my concerns was causing feelings of anxiety to force their way up through the surface of my soul. 

Ever been there? You think you are handling life fairly well, but in reality, you are shoving down the doubts and fears.

I am grateful that God accepts us where we are but loves us too much to leave us there. He knows the damage worry and anxiety can have on our body, soul, and spirit. That is why He tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares.  

I love the visual of a trouble tree. But what I love even more is when I cast my burdens on Christ, He has the power to miraculous transform my anxious heart into a heart at rest. And that is precisely what happened. “God, show me what the burdens are that I have buried?”

One by one He revealed hidden worries. And one by one I cast my burdens, not on a tree, but on the One who hung on a tree for me.

In these days of uncertainty, I applaud you for being brave and faithful to hold tight to the Father and His faithfulness. But just in case you are feeling a little restless in your soul, maybe it is God inviting you to do some burden casting. You can trust Him, for He cares for you.

Until next time let’s find hope in the journey.

Evelyn


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

An Invitation to Intimacy

This unprecedented time in our history continues to shape and form us in ways that are hard to sift through, including Easter weekend. We will not be gathering in houses of worship to share communion, lift our voices collectively in adoration, or lean in as the story of old is shared from the Bible. 

While I miss the traditional observations of this sacred week, there is a holy churning in my heart that I cannot ignore. When the traditions of man have been stripped away, I am forced to dig deeper into the meaning behind the traditions. 

Like why is Good Friday called good? It seems to me that it was the darkest hour for Jesus and anything but good. He was beaten beyond facial recognition, whipped so brutally that His rib cage was exposed, a mocking crown of thorns pounded into His skull, stripped of His clothing and forced to carry a rugged cross until He collapsed beneath the weight. 

He was ridiculed, spat upon, nailed to a torturous cross, forced to pull himself up by the nails that held him, hostage, just to take in a small labored breath. All is quiet as His sacred head now wounded, drops with His final heartbeat.

His darkest hour became mankind’s finest hour. He poured out His life so that we could be redeemed, restored, and renewed. 

This is why Friday is good. 

I sit here alone, reflecting, no distractions, no productions, just me and Jesus. Due to the “stay at home” order, there is no need to rush. 

And in this unhurried space, I hear His invitation. An invitation to look at His gift of love one more time with fresh eyes. To come out from behind the familiar and find comfort in His embrace alone.

His invitation is one of intimacy. 

The way of life we have known has been forced out of its normal rhythms. But times of great stress are opportunities to reboot our faith. All that is non-essential is divested, and we see what we can live with and what we cannot live without. 

During these past few weeks, God has done a lot of sifting in this heart of mine. I am learning what I need and what I want are two different things. But there is one essential thing, and this I must have… Jesus. 

Here’s the one thing I crave from God,
the one thing I seek above all else:
 I want the privilege of living with Him every moment in His house,
finding the sweet loveliness of His face,
filled with awe, delighting in His glory and grace.
 I want to live my life so close to Him
that He takes pleasure in my every prayer.

Psalm 27:4, TPT

His invitation stands. How will you RSVP?

Finding Hope in the Journey,
Evelyn

P.S. Stay tuned in the coming weeks. I have a new set of printable Scripture cards coming to you: Post-it promises for times of crisis. Also, I am excited to announce I will be sharing words of wisdom from a surprise guest author. So hang in there, friends; we will get through this. And in the words of my sweet momma, “The sun will come up tomorrow.”


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

How Are You Doing?

“So, How are You Doing?”

The scene is too numerous to count.  My daughter Stephanie and I enjoying a girls’ day out shopping, we pull up to the register with our cart, and she asks the cashier “So, how are you doing?” Then she would wait.  Was it the tender way she asked the question?  Maybe they could see kindness in her eyes.  Whatever the reason,  time and again I would watch tears fill their eyes as a story of pain would escape from the heart.

Then I would observe as weeping turned to joy.  And for a moment, they were free.

I have experienced the power of this simple question many times. 

Last year my husband was hospitalized with double pneumonia brought on by mold exposure.  Stephanie knew I had been pushing through taking care of Steve as well as my dad while fighting a severe upper respiratory infection myself. To say I was bone tired is an understatement. 

One day I get a phone call from Steph. She informed me she was on her way to help. No arguing. She arrived just in time.

The hospital was getting ready to release Steve. Steph and I went to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine when she dropped the question. Up to this point I had held it together. Then she looked at me with one eyebrow slightly raised, her deep blue eyes penetrating straight to my soul and asked, “How are you doing really?” I lost it. I could not stop the flood of tears that I had been choking back.

In these times of uncertainty, when the world we have known is turned upside down, can I be so bold as to ask, “How are you doing?”

If you are like me, on any given day you find yourself on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The day starts with your feet firmly planted in faith. Then the twists and turns brought on by the latest round of information and new restrictions leave you feeling like your faith is free-falling into fear.

When this happens, it is the perfect time to pause and ask yourself, “How am I doing?” Better yet, let’s take a cue from David in Psalms 139. Let’s ask God to reveal how we are doing.
 

God, I invite Your searching gaze into my heart.
 Examine me through and through;
 find out everything that may be hidden within me.
 Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
 and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
 the path that brings me back to
You.

Psalm 139:23-24, TPT

Dear friends, it is time for us to rise and be found faithful to the Faithful One. The only way for us to do that is to lean into the word and ways of our Father. To allow His gaze to search us, to sift through all our fears and anxieties. Why?

Soul searching is always about freedom from the chains that hold us back.  With freedom comes the ability to walk through our temporary trial with eternal hope. A hope that understands these momentary trials are working in us an everlasting glory that will outlast the current crisis. 

Isn’t that what God wants for us, that we would live in the light of His eternal hope?

In her book Be Still, Cleere Cherry says, “Living in our hope is the most powerful sermon we could ever give. It is the decision to believe God, to trust Him with our future, and to walk forward, fully confident that He is at work. A steel-like hope… that is what He wants for us.”

So, I ask again, “how are you doing?” Perhaps it is time to pause, push away from the news of the day and sit with the giver of the Good News. Invite Him to gaze into your eyes and search your heart. Let Him set you free from whatever it is that holds you back from walking in His eternal hope. 

A hope that cannot be taken away. A hope that will not be shaken. A hope planted in the heart of the One who holds our tomorrows. 

Until next week, let’s keep finding hope in the journey.
Evelyn

P.S. If you know someone who is struggling right now, please share Hope for the Journey with them. If you are struggling, let me know how I can pray for you. This is a long journey, and we were never meant to travel alone. So, let’s be intentional and creative with staying connected so that we may encourage one another. 

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.”

Hebrews 10:24, TPT

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

Weathering the Storms of Fear

Steve is still battling health issues as a result of fungal pneumonia last fall. Yesterday we found ourselves back in the doctor’s office, getting results from tests and bloodwork completed last week.

We were hoping for, “You are great! Let’s get you off this medicine and on to living your life as usual.” Instead, we got, “Let’s keep you on the medicine another six months before we do another CT. We’ll do more blood work in June to check all your levels. Right now, your lungs are stable.”

Stable. That’s good, right?

Our minds were spinning.  This season of prolonged illness has left us both tired on all fronts; mentally, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. We would love nothing better than to lift a prayer heavenward, and pouf… instant healing.  

I have seen and believe God to be Healer. I have also seen God use times of sickness to take an individual beyond physical healing. He goes deep into the heart of man for transformation. This was one of those times, and I knew it.

As we left the doctor’s office, we made light of the news we had been given. We stopped to grab some lunch, laughing at trivial things. On the outside, we looked normal. But I knew on the inside there was a storm of questions brewing that would surface as the day went on.

The storm of questions hit late that evening. How is the prolonged use of this medicine going to impact his overall health? What are the side effects? How do we strengthen his immune system? If his immune system is compromised, then what do we do to protect him against Coronavirus (yes, it just hit our town)? How do we keep ourselves encouraged in the faith and not driven by fear?

We sat holding each other tightly. Tears ran down our cheeks. At that moment, there was no trying to “fix each other.” We gave each other permission to process through the pain. So, we wept. And through our sobbing, we gave voice to our fears.

I am not sure how long we sat crumpled on the floor holding each other. What I do know is that mingled in with that voice of fear was a whisper of hope. Earlier that day I read Hebrews 10:23. The words latched on to my heart and followed me throughout the day. Now, they were competing for the attention of my heart.
 

So now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us,
 knowing that God always keeps His promises!

Hebrews 10:23, TPT

Regardless of the storms we face, when the clouds roll in it is easy to forget that just beyond those black clouds, the sun still shines. This whisper from Hebrews was a reminder that the Son was still shining. He had not left us. Though the clouds of uncertainty hung over us, His promise to complete the work He had started in us remained.

We fell into bed, worn but with a renewed sense that we were not alone.

Just like the wind moves the storm clouds along, God’s Spirit blew through the night as we slept, moving fear out of the way. This morning we woke with a renewed sense of hope. God gave us a verse that we are holding on to today.

But in the day that I’m afraid,
I lay all my fears before you and trust in you
With all my heart.

Psalm 56:3

My friends, whatever storm you may be facing regardless of how big or small it seems, grab hold of God’s promises. Open up His Word or turn to your Bible app and listen. Ask God to give you a promise to cling to today. Don’t be afraid to wait in the silence for His gentle whisper. He wants us to rely on His goodness and grace. Let His promises be the anchor that tethers you to the hope found in His faithfulness.

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey.
Evelyn

P.S. If you have a promise that you are clinging to at this time in your life, I would love to share that with me. Just send me a quick reply via email. Let’s keep encouraging one another to stand strong in our faith.


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

Out with the Old, In with the New?

How are you, friend? By now you have more than likely wrapped up the holiday celebrations and have stepped into the new year with fresh goals, new determinations, and dreams of the possibilities a new year brings. Me too. 
 
I love the implication that every New Year’s Day brings, “Out with the old, in with the new.” But I have to say, this year I feel as though I am in overtime from last year.  It seems 2019 just isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. The same struggles that I wrestled down on December 31 got back up and faced me head on January 1st.
 
My initial reaction is, “Come on, really? Will I ever catch a break?” But once the dust settles, and my toddler tantrum is over, God speaks. I lean in and listen carefully. As I listen, I hear an echo whispering from my past. A lesson taught in our early years of marriage and ministry. 
 
Steve and I had just joined a pastor friend of ours to start a new church work. We were zealous, full of fresh ideas, ready to take on the community for Jesus. We would shake things up a bit by tossing out the “old churchy” ways of doing things and usher in relevant, innovative and trendy ways of doing church. 
 
The church grew, faster than we could keep up with. We soon discovered that in order for us to build something that was solid in the hearts of the people, we needed to add something into the mix. What we were missing in all the new, was the foundation that came with some of the old. 
 
As much as I want to enter the new year, with a slate wiped clean, I do not want to forsake the valuable lessons learned in 2019. These lessons will be the foundation under the lessons I will gather in 2020.
 
If you were to pause a few moments and reflect on what God taught you about Himself or His ways in 2019, what would you discover? 
 
There were many turbulent storms Steve and I faced in 2019. The ushering in of a New Year did not change the fact that these storms are still brewing. However, God has used these hardships to mark my heart with some eternal lessons that I carry with me into 2020. Here are my top three:
 

  • He is God, I am not. All my striving changes nothing, it is only through the power of His Spirit at work in us and through us, that true transformation happens. He offers me an invitation to be a co-laborer with Him, that I may have a front-row seat to His wondrous grace at work.  

For it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:13, NIV
  • Choose seeking over striving. When I relinquish the control of always trying to figure out how to fix someone or a situation and earnestly seek His heart in the matter, I walk in more peace and joy. I don’t know how He does it but He surpasses my circumstance with His very presence. I guess that is the beauty of faith.  

Surrender your anxiety
Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.
I am the God above all the nations,
and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.”

Psalm 46:10, TPT
  • Live fully in the moment you are in. God faithfully supplies the grace for that moment. If I rush ahead of the moment I am in, I am borrowing sorrow from tomorrow and not trusting that God’s grace is big enough to meet me when I step into that next moment and what it holds. Rushing through life blurs my vision, preventing me from seeing the glory of God in my “right now moment.”

Refuse to worry about tomorrow 
but deal with each challenge that comes your way, 
one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Matthew 6:34, TPT

 What about you, my friend? Take some time and ponder, “What are some lessons from the past year that need to follow me into this New Year?” May God faithfully reveal them to you.  May 2020 prove to be a year where we pause in His presence more, look intentionally for the evidence of His glorious grace, and delight in His extravagant love. 
 
Let’s keep finding Hope in the journey,
Evelyn
 
P.S. I am thrilled to share with you that I will be finishing up my book proposal in the next two months. 

What a journey! God has taught me so much about myself and waiting on Him, as well as stepping out in faith and trusting His voice. What a blessing it would be if you would keep me in your prayers concerning two things. First, I will be away doing some writing this week. I want to be a conduit that flows with life-giving words. So pray I will hear God’s voice clearly. Second, my next step will be to find an agent. There are so many out there, but I know God has one for me. Thanks my friends. I will be praying for you as I write.


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

A Simple Christmas Prayer from My Heart to Your Home

It is 1:30AM and I am wide awake. Later this evening hubby and I will gather with friends to sing songs, read scriptures, pray, and remember together an infant child born to save a lost and broken world. But this is not why sleep escapes me. 
 
My thoughts are of you. How will you celebrate the birth of the King this year? Will the walls of your home ring with laughter and loud chatter as the family gathers round? Will your home lay quiet and simple, holding only memories because those nearest to you will be away this year? Will you gather in a hospital waiting room due to an unforeseen illness in the family? Will you kneel silently praying for a loved one serving overseas? Will you make a visit to assisted living to look into the worn eyes of the shell of someone you once knew? Will your celebration be interrupted briefly by the tears shed for a loved one who is celebrating Christmas sitting at the feet of this Savor?
 
I think of you and I pray. The holidays serve up a good dose of celebration and hope, with a bit of grief on the side. Grief for traditions long gone and transitions that have stepped up in their place. So, I pray. 
 

I pray as one who understands letting go of expectations and plans in order to live fully in the mess of the moment. I pray as one who has had to surrender the Hallmark-happily-ever-after Christmas to embrace the messy unscripted painful one in front of me, only to discover that God had a bigger gift of grace to give me that surpasses the thrill of any wrapped package under my tree. 
 

I pray for you what God prodded me to pray for myself two years ago. This festive time of year has always been my favorite time. I can’t help myself! The sights and sounds usher in feelings of hope and peace. And for a short time, all seems well. 
 
That is until two years ago.  I was so busy with all the “doing” of Christmas, wanting everything to be perfect for those I love. It was while I stood in the kitchen, prepping food for our family celebration, that I noticed a shift in my heart. I had lost my joy. The scurry of activities that once brought delight to my heart, had been reduced to another check on my list so I could rush to the next task and check another “to-do” to reflect “to-done.” 

“God, what is wrong with me” became my whispered prayer. “I want to enjoy my family when they get here. Now even our celebration has become another check on the list.”  I sat with my silent prayer, waiting for that still small voice.  He whispered. His words of grace to me that day, are the gift I pray tonight for you and for me. 
 
God: “Why do you strive? What is it you want? What are your expectations?” 
 
Me: “God, I want my family to feel wrapped up in love when they arrive. I want them to feel like they can take a break from their busy lives and just for a moment breathe in peace. I want to soak in the moments with them.”
 
God: Then let go. Let go of expectations and embrace the plans I have. The calm, peace, and love you seek comes not from your striving but seeking. Seeking me. So, invite me to be your guest. Ask me to come and do what only I can do. Matters of the heart are my specialty, for I alone can change a life. Invite my Spirit to come and move in your home. Then trust me.”
 
Me: “Ok God, I surrender. I let go of wanting everything to be perfect. I yield to whatever You want to do with our time together. I release my temporary expectations that I may embrace your eternal plan. Be our guest. Move among us. Breathe life into our dry, weary bones. Mend the broken places. Heal the sin diseased parts of us. Not my will, but yours be done. For you are a faithful father.”
 
And that my friends, that simple prayer of surrender and invitation changed everything, not just for my family, but for me. 
 
This is why tonight I pray for you and I pray for me a simple Christmas prayer.

“Father, as we gather to celebrate You, may we not forget You.
You are invited to come, move among us, bring Heaven to our home.  
Do Your deep eternal work in us.
We surrender our temporary pleasures to Your eternal delights.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus.
Amen.

 May we find joy as He presents to us grace gift upon grace gift. And as we unwrap each gift of grace, may the peace of His presence invade our hearts and our homes.  

Merry Christmas to you and yours,
Evelyn

“Father, the landfill of my failures continues to pile up. But You, oh God, are the faithful one. Today, fix my eyes on you the one starter and finisher of my faith. Remind me of all the ways you have led me up to this point in my life. And as I remember, may hope rise out of the ashes. May I see with a fresh vision that you God, who created all things, is the very one that cradles my heart in your hands.”

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn Sherwood


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

A Reminder to Remember

I am beginning to identify with Jeremiah, the one called “the weeping prophet.” Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I am one who weeps.  
Each time my fingers tap out the words to send from my heart to yours, this thought runs through my brain, “Maybe I should write something that has a lighter feel.” And each time God whispers to my ear that there are so many people hurting, struggling, wounded, and uncertain about the future. I count myself one of the many.

We truly want to finish well the race that is set before us. But in the spirit of authenticity, sometimes I find my faith teetering on the fence of doubt. 

Perhaps the days of lightheartedness will come soon. I hope so. 

But for now, we are called to-

lock arms 
hold one another up 
offer grace when one stumbles
lift each other up
and take one more step in this heavenly race.


We are to remember that this world truly is not our permanent home (Hebrews 13:14). There is a glorious place waiting for us. But until we stand face to face with Christ in all of His glory, we must remember we are ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We are called to bring what’s up there down here in our day to day lives. We are reflectors of grace, set apart for a greater purpose.

We are called to know Him and the power of His resurrection as well as the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). Confession time. We have all seen that crazed football fan. The one who paints his/her face with the team colors and roars with every advancement of the ball down the field then jumps up punching the air with his/her giant sponge hand when the team scores.  That’s me when I hear the first part of this verse, “the power of His resurrection.” YES!!! Go, God! That’s what I want to see, the resurrection power. 

As I reflect on this verse in light of so many who find themselves in life’s hard places, there is a clearer message coming into view. There can be no resurrection power without death first. Wow! I never saw that before. 

Maybe today you are experiencing a death of sorts–the death of a dream, a job, a relationship, health, or expectation. My friend, these are the places where His resurrection power breathes life into dry bones. 

Every victory won was first a battle fought.
Each body cured, was first a disease diagnosed.
All mountain top views were reached by trekking the valley.


This week’s “Hope for the Journey” is less organized in thought than I am comfortable with.  However, it seemed fitting to take a step back and remember some truths about who we are and who we are called to be. Suffering never negates the greater purposes of God or our identity in Him. 
 

Stand strong, dear one. Hold tight to His promises. Live with your eyes wide open to…

His divine peace
His miraculous ways
His overwhelming joy
His unexplainable presence
His extravagant love
His wondrous grace


This is our God!
Remember Him and live in awe.

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

So God, What is the Next Step?

The room is filled with deafening silence except for the tick of the clock and the periodic roar of the blood pressure cup inflating. We find ourselves once again in life’s waiting room. Dad has just come back from having his heart cath. He sleeps. I write. We both wait for the doctor to inform of us of the next step.

These days seemed to be filled with waiting and unknowns. My prayers of adoration often become overshadowed by prayers of desperation. “God, what is the next step? Just tell me and I will do it.” And just like we wait now for the doctor, I wake each day waiting for God to step in and provide light for my next step. Next steps for…

  • Dad’s health
  • Wisdom for caregiving
  • Guidance in my job
  • Answers for hurting friends
  • Stewardship of time and resources
  • Strength for my weary body

I glance toward my father. His deep breathing now adds to the rhythmic sounds being played out in this room. As my eyes witness the gentle rise and fall of his chest with each breath, my mind replays his favorite verse. The one I need to hear right now in the wait.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
 

Isaiah 40:31

This “doing heart” of mine is unnerved with waiting. You too? To just sit seems so counterproductive. I would much rather be busy, moving around. At least then things are accomplished. But are they the right things? Are they the best things? 

As I reflect on this familiar passage, my eyes move past the phrases at the front end and land on the “doing” words. “They will walk, they will run, they will soar.” These are the words that grab my attention when steeped in turmoil. However, these action words give me a false sense of control when life is filled with uncertainty.  Then God draws my attention to the first half of that scripture.  My eyes shift and I stare at the uncomfortable part of this passage… they that wait. 

It is in the waiting light is given for the next step we take. It is in the waiting wisdom is gleaned for the race we run. It is in the waiting courage is gained so that we may soar higher than we dare dream.  

Perhaps this is due in part to the desperation that comes in the silence of waiting. Our hearts yearn for comfort, direction, and wisdom.  We intentionally lean in anxious to hear answers to the prayers we have poured out in the night season. We strain to hear the Father whisper hope to our worn heart. 

My friend, maybe you can relate to the season of waiting. I am right there with you. One thing I know… God speaks in the wait. It may not be within the realm of our comfort zone, but He does speak.  So, we must resist the temptation to rush ahead. The slow pace of waiting affords us precious time in His presence that is often stolen by the fast pace of life. It is in this time, waiting at His feet, that He does a transformative work in our hearts.

Let’s hold tight to Him knowing that He is with us in the wait. He is renewing, strengthening, and transforming us.

Until next week, let’s find hope in the journey.
Evelyn Sherwood


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, see my website Hope for the Journey.

When All You Have is a Silent Prayer

My drive into work finds the car filled with an unfamiliar silence. This space is typically flooded with prayers and contemplation woven together with an outburst of worship songs. But not today. Fatigue weighs on my shoulders like a wet blanket…pressing down, smothering. I am trying hard to pray, but nothing escapes my lips but a deep sigh. “Lord, there’s nothing I can say that I haven’t already said.  I am worn. So, if it is ok with you, I will exhale a silent prayer.” 

I wait in uncomfortable silence. Will He speak? If He does, will it be the answer to so many prayers I have wept? Will strength find its way to my weary bones? 

Then in the quiet, I hear that still small voice, “Look around.” Hands clutched tight around the steering wheel I glance to the left. The sun is peeking up over the eastern horizon spreading rays of vibrant orange, plum red, and canary yellow across the sky. I turn to the right and catch a glimpse of cornfields, swaying gently with the rhythm of the wind. My heart inhales deep gratitude for the farmers who thought their fields would lie in muddy waste this year.  My eyes are waking up as I spy geese skimming the diamond-studded ponds on either side of the road. The fog begins to lift off of the landscape and my heart as I take in the wonders of His handiwork.  

He speaks.

“My child, you have prayed all your wants, concerns, and needs. Though I long to hear your heart, there is something you are missing. You are consumed with expressing your weaknesses, while I am more concerned that you understand my strength. This life is less about you constantly remembering your inefficiencies and more about embracing my all-sufficiency. Remember me, who I am. I am God.

God

With that simple yet profound word whispered to my heart partnered with the visual reminder of His creative power, hope and strength begin to rise. 

There are books of the Bible that get referenced abundantly when we face trials. David paints a picture of the authentic heart throughout all of the Psalms. We get a front-row seat to his deepest struggles and his resolve as he concludes that God is God. Somehow, his version of man’s inner wrestling is easier to identify with than say that of Lamentations. Just the mention of Lamentations and I feel as though I have watched a movie where all the heroes die in the end. 

Yet today, that is precisely where God led me. Tucked away in this book of deep grief is a passage that solidifies what God has been speaking to me in the car. Written by someone whose prayers were steeped in more pain than the ones I have been praying. But someone who in the middle of the crushing remembered the very character of God…and that was enough. 

But this I call to mind,
and therefore, I have hope:
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore, I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

There is truth to be gleaned from the old hymn Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

It has been quite some time since I have shifted my gaze toward Him. I had allowed the weight of my circumstances to nag at me, reminding me of lack. But one glance in his direction was all I needed to remind me that He is enough. No matter what surrounds me, He is enough to face it head-on. 

What about you? Do the voices in your head pull your gaze away from the one who loves you more than you love yourself? Are your eyes locked tight on your failures rather than His faithfulness? Then maybe these verses from Lamentations will guide your vision back to His glory like they did mine.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:25-26

Oh, my friends, life gets so busy and burdens pile up. It is in our nature to grab hold of our failures rather than reach for His faithfulness. But if we are to be a people of hope in troubled times, then we must turn our gaze away from our inadequacies and behold the One who is more than enough. 

“Father, the landfill of my failures continues to pile up. But You, oh God, are the faithful one. Today, fix my eyes on you the one starter and finisher of my faith. Remind me of all the ways you have led me up to this point in my life. And as I remember, may hope rise out of the ashes. May I see with a fresh vision that you God, who created all things, is the very one that cradles my heart in your hands.”

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn Sherwood


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.