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Seeking Sonshine

"Not all who wander are lost" – J.R.R. Tolkien

Month

March 2016

Finding Hope in Spiritual Disappointments

Disappointment. We all know it, feel it, face it, endure it, change because of or in spite of it, and fear it to some extent at some point in our lives. It is defined as:

“the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

Perhaps some of the most painful disappointments I have personally dealt with are spiritual. When God didn’t answer my prayer. When He could have stopped something and did not. Something I believed in and for did not happen. Basically, when I felt let down by God. My narrow field of vision would not allow me to comprehend what the overall plan for my life would be. As much as I begged to know about it, it seemed like I was just shown nothing. The enemy poured discouragement into my brain every minute of every day, and it was hard to fight off after awhile.  

 There were two men mentioned in the Bible after Jesus’ death and before His Resurrection  that knew the valleys of spiritual disappointment and hopelessness. They had believed that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. Then, they saw Him die. Now, their dreams were crushed and they were probably frustrated with themselves and the entire  situation. Hearts that still were grieving the loss of their Promised One. Disappointed that they placed their faith in something and someone that seemed to have failed them on a deep, spiritual and personal level. 

Luke 24:13-35 is quite a bit to copy and paste. So here is the link to my favorite version (Kid’s Version!😄) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A13-35&version=ICB

  
Nearing the end of that story, Jesus allowed them to recognize Him. Then, He disappeared. Imagine their overwhelming love, happiness and peace that was instantly restored. And their disappointment and pain turned to reverence and testimony to a sovereign God that brings good to all those who love Him. Jesus met them in their grief and their disappointment. He let them pour out their hearts of frustration and feelings of loss while trying to come to grips with the reality that their Savior was dead. They were too afraid to believe the women who had shouted He was Alive! Human expectations have never nor will ever be able to understand spiritual design. Especially if we’re the ones right in the middle of it.

But this story is one of many found in the Sword of the Spirit that gives us hope, renews our minds, evaluates our hearts and guides our future along the path of God’s will for our lives; but only if we choose for it to. As Jesus sought these two particular men out, we must seek Him. The best place to find Him is in the Book, phone, or tablet, or computer screen that contains His words to us. The Israelites of the New Testament. The ones He gave His life for. 

The best part about the entire story, is that these two men became mouthpieces declaring that they had believed in the true Savior that was promised to them. They got to give first hand accounts to seeing their Lord alive. What a difference three days makes…

If that’s not hope, I don’t know what is.

  
For more great blog posts and information about finding hope in spiritual disappointments, here are ones that I personally learned from in my journey. –  Nicky❤️

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-114-disappointment-and-hope-luke-2413-35

https://www.youversion.com/ -Bible App for free

http://theprayingwoman.com/2015/04/24/11-ways-the-bible-gives-us-hope/
Photo Credits:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwj5z4Gr-N_LAhVG3mMKHdyCBHEQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fimagequotes.tumblr.com%2Fpage%2F161&psig=AFQjCNFxOea53OpOVUSKkOjP4CYKClgGMQ&ust=1459136153398790&rct=j

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiTrtTj-t_LAhVEw2MKHb56Ba4QjB0IBg&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgcaruso1.wordpress.com%2F2012%2F04%2F08%2Fencountering-christ-on-the-road-to-emmaus-luke-2413-35%2F&psig=AFQjCNFJ6y6Luz-yNub8J9kn9u-rBEV5Qg&ust=1459136897972126&rct=j

An Epic Gone With the Wind

Anyone who knows me for very long knows that my favorite movie is “Gone With the Wind,” and my favorite character and icon is Scarlett O’Hara. Now, most people are probably thinking…wow, really? She is spoiled, bratty, entitled, conniving, and has an evil, jealous streak. (This is partly true for some of the movie and book.) She could be a diva. She was extremely “sinful.” Scarlett was shallow, petty and lusted after the heart of Ashley Wilkes, even after he married St. Melanie. 

  
Melanie, who loved Scarlett, unconditionally and who saw who she would become before Scarlett herself realized it. Some say that the great love in this great movie is Rhett and Scarlett. There is truth to that. But I love the way Melanie loved Scarlett. She believed in her, extended her trust, friendship, forgiveness and mercy before Scarlett could even bring herself to ask for it. She was a saint, in many’s eyes. After all, who could love someone like Scarlett? 

  
I personally think what makes this story an epic is that it shows the development of the individual characters and the relationships between them during the book and film. (It’s a long story so there is lots of time to do this! 😄) But Margaret Mitchell did it well. The Scarlett that emerges at the end of the story is completely different than the one that started it. She became strong, provided for people, learned how to put others first and gained new perspectives on her situations. She lived through a lot of tragedy and strife. Some argue she brought it on herself and that could be true. But she never gave up. She was stubborn but strong. Sometimes she had to learn things the hard way. That’s a problem that comes with stubbornness. 

  
I guess I always identified with Scarlett a little bit. I was a lot like her when I was in my immature youth and twenties. Then, life happened. You learn what real problems are and gain new perspectives that grow you as a person. It isn’t always an uphill climb. Sometimes, it is a downward slope. Like Melanie was to Scarlett, we have Someone that believes in us, loves us, and will forgive us. Not to say that Melanie was Jesus, but she lent these attributes to a character that showed how He has them and shows them to us. It is an epic story that we can be a part of if we choose to be. We can even choose how big of a role we want in God’s kingdom by how much we are willing to let go of ourselves. Jesus said to take up our crosses and follow Him.

Through the peaks. The successes and glory we achieve in this life. Happy moments and cherished memories. 

In the valleys. When we can’t walk another step because we are grieving too much. The pain of loss grips us and it changes us. 

  
Every situation, we take up our cross and follow Him. (Or try really hard to remember to) Grace is pretty awesome. I need a lot of it and I need to extend more of it. This is our journey. Until we are “Gone With the Wind” and where we belong. 😄❤️😇
Photo Credits:

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/gone-with-the-wind-dress-up-for-auction-749954

http://www.cornel1801.com/1/g/GONE_WITH_THE_WIND/17_online_pictures_quotes.html

The Question That Could Change Your 2015 (And Your Life)

http://www.christianmusicdaily.org/through-all-of-it-by-colton-dixon-lyrics/

To Go Wherever We Are Called

I used to attend these different religious revivals, sermons or conferences and listen to missionaries as they recanted of their travels in far away lands I had never even heard of. (I will be honest and say there was a little part of me that feared God would make me go somewhere like that and it sounded so awful to a shallow, immature teenager with lots of life lessons to learn still ahead of her.) I had a slanted view of God thanks to a legion of lies I had believed from the enemy that made me doubt His Word and what it said about me. Because of this, I never really studied or even opened the Bible for years. 

How clever Satan really is when we are in his crosshairs. If he cannot have our souls, he will settle for our minds and hearts. Thus rendering us completely ineffective from the inside out. And all it takes is a little shadow of doubt. A little question that can destroy a seed of faith with fear and pride in oneself for the true answer. Sounds like the devil himself. But it was so disguised, subtle, maniacal and persistent over years. People, let me say from experience that the devil has nothing but time. He is extremely patient. A potent combination for a war against a fleshly nature that lives within a culture that embraces instant gratification and constant information at your fingertips. Totally convenienced and entitled. And you don’t even realize it until it’s been happening for a long time. Well played, sir. But we are on to your schemes now. We may have been vulnerable before, but we are fortified now. How can we be confident in a world swirling with fear, doubt, and lies? 

  
I am studying Psalm 139 for my Bible Study class and I came across this link that was so helpful to me about this verse. The author puts this in everyday situations and terms to illustrate each stanza. http://www.dramatix.org.nz/archive/Walk/Psalm_139.html

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,

    and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!

    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;

    your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,

    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;

    I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting.

If I would have taken the time to see what the Bible said about me, I would have realized that:

1.) God holds me (and you and our kids and everyone, et al.) so valuable to Himself that our human minds cannot comprehend the relationship.

2.) He planned out every single day and prepared good works just for each of us. before we were even a thought. 

3.) God will guide us throughout the peaks and valleys of this life. In the highs of the successes to the lows of the defeats and depressions.  He will never leave us. He can work all things for good for those who love Him.

4.) Because He had known us before we were born, He knows what our personalities and passions are. He is aware of our soapboxes and how feel about causes or issues in this world. Therefore, He would not send us somewhere that we won’t LOVE going to and being a part of. Maybe we won’t understand or see it for awhile. But He is a good God. His plans for our lives will always be better because His ways are higher than ours and He operates on a whole other level that we will never understand right now. 

So, we must decide. Do we surrender to His will and really trust Him with our lives? Our children’s lives? It is a difficult choice, obviously, since the road to this life is narrow. Many won’t find it at all. There is a beautiful woman of God in my class that I absolutely admire and respect and adore. She has lived through things and experienced things that I can’t even imagine. She shares her verses with us and her prayers with us, and I can’t write them down fast enough. She said last Wednesday that every morning she gets up, she thanks God for that day. She asks Him to think her thoughts, speak her words and love with her heart, because she didn’t know how. That reasonated with me to my spiritual core. She has been a believer for decades, and prays a poignant, simple prayer of surrender to remind herself and God of their relationship and faith in a God who has and continues to keep His promises.

  

Photo Credits:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjXjLPwrrvLAhUQy2MKHWX8BDwQjhwIBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.homecomingmagazine.com%2Farticle%2Fdelighted-overcoming%2F&psig=AFQjCNGvZvhXmyEl43_imu77FAaKTtVqjg&ust=1457877636602432&rct=j

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiE-YSAqLvLAhVJ9WMKHSfiBvMQjhwIBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Flionelsneedministries.com%2F2015%2F02%2F&psig=AFQjCNGvZvhXmyEl43_imu77FAaKTtVqjg&ust=1457877636602432&rct=j

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

I lov basketball and always have. Every year, there is a tournament called the Jimmy V Tournament. It is named for Jim Valvano who battled cancer and eventually went home to be with the Lord; but before he did, he gave a speech that has continued to inspire millions. In it, he challenged us not to give up. “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” I have never forgotten these words. They are etched upon my heart. Maybe you need to hear them, too. 

  
  

I have hit times in my life when I felt like a situation I had been pleading with God to change hit a brick wall over and over again. I chose to believe my own personal experiences and let my thought process that has been engrained in toxic thinking dictate the future. I was negative, depressed, full of anger and unforgiveness. And wondered why God was not moving on my behalf. Looking back on it now, I will never know all the details or the whys of that miracle rescue.

And I don’t need to. One of my most recent and significant breakthroughs came. It took almost a decade, but it happened. It came in a wasteland beyond the desert of hopelessness and despair. Even through the boggy swamps of self pity and the scorched grounds of bitterness. Jesus came. When I didn’t expect it. When I had let it go and never saw a way out. When I had truly handed it over and given it to God then truly left it to Him. He came after me.    

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” 

To the mom or dad who is struggling with life, marriage, kids, job, money, career and herself or himself.

To the parent who has a child that is not on the path they should be on, or doing things that hurt your heart.

To the one that has been struggling with health problems that have limited his or her life and freedoms. 

To the kid who is hurting and feels like no one cares. 

To the widow who is sad and feels alone. 

 

Our Father believes in us. He cares about us.
“Why am I in this situation?” I don’t know and won’t pretend I never asked Him that from my rooftop. The truth is He gave us His greatest gift, empathy though His own Son who lived in the thick of it.He lived rejection, disappointment, failure (perceived of course),  false accusations, and died for no reason other than it was His calling. And yet. He still gave us a choice whether or not we wanted to receive Him or not.

  

Believe that your God is for you. (Romans 8:31.) He loves you. (Romans 8:31-32-39.) He knew we would have trouble in this world, but to take heart. He has overcome the world. (John 16:33.) We have the promises of a God who will work everything out for the good of those who love Him. 

Be still. Know He is there. You and I do not go unnoticed like a college freshman dreams of  in his first semester of classes. 

We decide that we will wait for the next puzzle piece to fall into play so we can grasp a better idea of the path God wants us on. We forfeit the whole picture to see the relativity of the ones we are given now. Someday it may make sense, but it may be awhile. In the meantime,

  
Don’t miss the gorgeous for the beautiful. Stop letting the winds of comparison knock us down and be confident in the gifts and talents God bestowed upon us. I wonder what would happen if we actually loved and lived like this. If we were rooted in our salvation, which is our identity in Christ. I wonder how much would change externally….but I am more concerned about how God can change us from the inside out. 

  
“Don’t Give up, don’t ever give up.” 

You never know how close you are to a breakthrough, or a miracle or a divine encounter for you. Just finish your race. Sometimes it takes until the end. Other times, it doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s nothing short of a miracle
Photo Credits:
http://personalexcellence.co/quotes/tag/jim-valvano

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwj_-43elqbLAhVO7GMKHXPCAYYQjhwIBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquotesgram.com%2Fjim-valvano-quotes-inspirational%2F&psig=AFQjCNEnE7uq7gwtsurAATmrlSlnaqHeuw&ust=1457151553426491&rct=j

Jimmy Valvone 1993 ESPY Awards Speech

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsites.psu.edu%2Fbrianroam%2Fmotivational-quotes%2F&psig=AFQjCNEgazayxLjmdW13CcTVQHSL3SVI2A&ust=1457151943861225&rct=j

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