|Posted on May 9, 2018 at 10:35 AM||comments (5)|
Hope Is Everywhere!
Last Spring, my husband and I decided to invest in our front flower beds. I measured them, drew diagrams of the shapes, went to the local garden center, and picked plants based on height and color. I drew the plants in on the diagram and decided how many I thought we would need of each. We took the entire day one Saturday and cleared everything out (besides the four bushes in the back that came with the house) , filled the bed with fresh topsoil, arranged the plants according to my perfectly thought-out plan, and planted all of them. It was award-winning, really (although the neighbor down the street still won "Yard of the Month" for the 3rd year in a row ;)).
I was so proud of my beautiful yard. This was the first time since being married that I could say we actually invested in our yard and made it look intentional and, in my humble opinion, simply amazing. I watered it, fertilized it, and took great care of it all spring and summer.
As it turned colder, the annuals died away as expected and the perennials thinned out.
THE GREAT FREEZE OF 2018
As anyone from Houston knows, big freezes are rare here. Maybe once or twice a year we have to cover plants or bring them inside. This year we had a biggie. The weathermen were excited to be the center of news attention as they announced that it would stay below freezing for several days. We even had snow and ice! I mentioned to my husband that we needed to cover the plants for the winter apocalypse, and he graciously volunteered, taking extra bed sheets outside to cover my precious plants while I stayed inside by the fire.
The next morning, my husband mentioned that he did not think the sheets covered the plants very well because they were not big enough. I thought that was a little odd since they were all pretty low to the ground, so I went to look. Instead of covering all the new plants we had just purchased that spring, my husband had attempted to cover the bushes that came with the house! All the sheets were literally hanging off of the bushes and on the ground. Not a single one of my prized plants was covered and protected from the freeze. All of them died. Everything was ruined. All that money down the drain.
I was beside myself with disappointment. Every day for months, I couldn't help staring at the flower beds as we pulled up to the house or drove away. My kids got very tired of my whining and complaining about the loss of my silly plants. "Mom, it is going to be okay!" they would say. I knew I was overreacting, but I also knew how much effort and investment we had made, knowing that the plants we picked would be around for years to come. I know it sounds so trivial, and it was! I was definitely throwing myself a massive pity party.
As winter began to fade away, one of my closest friends called me on the phone. Her voice faltered as she tried to make out words through her tears. My heart sank immediately as I panicked to know what was wrong. Through her tears, she was finally able to explain to me that the doctors had just discovered that her niece had a brain tumor and that they would need to operate within the week. I struggled to know how to support her during this phone call, knowing that there are no words that can take away the pain and fear she was experiencing. All I could say is that I was praying for hope. For each of them to sense the Lord's presence and for Him to fill them with hope.
My friend's sadness and fear stuck with me constantly over the next few days, and I continually prayed for hope to fill their hearts as I prayed for healing for her sweet niece.
HOPE IS EVERYWHERE
Praying continually for this hope gave me a new perspective to my dumb plant ordeal. During that week, I went outside and cut back all the dead parts of the plants, down to the soil, and I discovered something amazing! There were little green shoots under all of that dead stuff! Immediately, the Lord reminded me of my prayer that week. He was the source of hope; He was the giver of life. I yelled to my youngest son, "Come look at this! There is hope!" as I pointed to a little green shoot. He came up and looked at it and then his eyes grew wide in amazement. He glanced around the flower bed, noticing other green shoots all over where dead things had once been and yelled at his big brother, "Come look! There is hope everywhere!!!!"
What a tender lesson for God to teach me that day. Friend, there IS hope everywhere. God wants to intersect your life and show you that He is constantly at work. Sometimes it requires us to cut back the dead parts in our lives to see it. Sometimes it takes us looking through childlike eyes to recognize it. Sometimes we have to come to the end of ourselves to discover God's grace and mercy and patience.
Look for hope today! It is everywhere!
"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19
by Marisa Cockrell, Student Intern, Dallas Theological Seminary
|Posted on March 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
All of us have this innate desire for significance. We want to be deeply known and deeply loved. We want to know that the world is a better place because of our life and our impact. One of the biggest concerns in clients seeking therapy, according to Irvin Yalom, is trying to find meaning in life. This search results from asking the question, “Does my life matter? Do I matter?” Often, we go through seasons where we feel in a rut and feel that what we are devoting our lives to is not producing the results we had hoped for. Parents are pouring into their kids, devoting time, energy, and emotional investment, with little immediate results and for an ultimate end where the kids leave the nest and venture out on their own with often little thought of their parent’s sacrifices. Men and women in the work place work for years and years to gain success or a certain level of income and never feel that satisfying feeling that they have “made it”. The chase for success and recognition is an endless chase, leaving many wondering what kind of difference they even make in their lives at work. Young professionals are fresh out of college, starting careers they have prepared for their whole lives, often realizing it isn’t what they thought it would be and this sought-after career still leaves them wanting. Searching and searching, we all have moments, days, years, when we are confronted with the gripping terror: What if we have waisted our lives? What if nothing we are doing is making any difference in the world?
I was struck by something the other day while studying about Jesus’ 12 disciples. At home, the kids and I are trying to memorize different things in scripture and we recently were working on the 12 disciples of Jesus. We found a song on YouTube that went through each name in a catchy tune. The last disciple mentioned was Bartholomew. It just hit me, listening to that song the other day: who the heck is Bartholomew? Like, is there anything in scripture about him at all besides his calling? What did he do? What did he say? What ministry was he a part of after Jesus’ death? None of this info is recorded in the Bible! There were only 12 disciples. It seems like it would make good sense for God, in his divine sovereignty, to give us a glimpse into each one, but he doesn’t. It almost seems like Bartholomew was an insignificant disciple. He didn’t matter much. His contribution to society was not that great.
I think each one of us desires to be seen as a Paul or Peter in the Bible. One of the ones who helped write the New Testament; whose faith stories and missionary journeys are recorded. We like those guys. We want our lives to hold that kind of significance. But what if God sees us more like Bartholomews? Our significance doesn’t come from our recorded achievements or our recognized accolades. Our significance comes from Jesus choosing us as one of His very own. Those who belong in Christ are chosen! We are hand-picked to carry out God’s redemptive plan in our spheres of influence. Our significance is tied to Him; to His choosing of us and to His plan for our lives. Our lives have purpose and significance because He says they do. Because we are made in His image and reflect His character to the world.
So, parents who are struggling, remember He has predestined you to love on those babies and reflect His character as you do it. Workers who feel that their careers are not satisfying, remember He has predestined you to work for His glory so that He may be seen in and through you as you engage with those in your offices. Young adults, remember He who called you is faithful, and He has called you to give Him glory wherever you land in life.
Thankfully, our significance has little to do with us. It has little to do with our achievements or lack of achievements. It has everything to do with a God who chose us, predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, and uses us to spread His love, patience, kindness, and gentleness to the world around us.
by Marisa Cockrell, Student Intern, Dallas Theological Seminary
|Posted on March 6, 2017 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
Being caregivers and parents of special needs children can bring some situation in life that can bring us down. Judgments and negative comments towards our parenting can bring sadness and conflict towards others, because the thought of “if they were in my shoes” comes to mind and we cannot help but feel excluded. Nonetheless it is important to always reflect the love of Jesus and mercy to others. 2 Timothy talks about being Honor Vessels and how we must be careful on what we put into our souls and minds; our water must be clear and clean and let God take over our struggles.
|Posted on February 10, 2017 at 2:10 AM||comments (0)|
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Crisis is an unstable event that can be of influence in our behavior and consequently comes and takes away our peace. Being parents of special needs children or caregivers of others could bring for times to times moments of crisis, where emotions can overwhelm the situation even more. Emotions such as frustration, fear, sadness, desperation and uncertainness; the enemy will take advantage of each emotion and bring doubts to our hearts, asking ourselves if God is still with us. God is our redeemer and our counselor in times of crisis; remembering that we can hide in Him, finding protection, love, compassion and mercy at His feet. In those moments of crisis, God is still in control and confiding in Him will be our comfort.
|Posted on February 6, 2017 at 1:20 AM||comments (0)|
The Enemy is Fear When we are afraid, we tend to shut ourselves down. We don’t reach out to others, we don’t communicate our real feelings, and the resulting isolation is painful.
Then what do we do? Compulsive overeating, or any disordered eating for that matter is often an attempt to fight fear with food. We stuff down our anxieties and hope that if we bury them deep enough they will disappear forever. Unfortunately, overeating does not make the fear or pain go away. What it does do is diminish our self-esteem. And the further we isolate and withdraw ourselves, the more our fears increase.
There is a way out of this vicious cycle; the way out is through connecting with others and loving ourselves well. When we admit to God and to another fellow “journeywoman” that we are struggling we are given just what we need for that moment, for that day. God will show us how to fight fear with the weapon of love.
As we trust that God can handle our “food problem,” we can take new risks by truly loving those around us as well as loving ourselves. Unconditionally, God will give us the ability to love ourselves exactly as we are right now and accept and love life as it presents itself each moment. When we are filled with love, we are not afraid and we don’t need excess food. Father, show each of us how to be filled with the love that conquers fear, Amen.