some hope

Last week I walked past the *up the road* neighbor’s house and she had a bunch of thoughtful birdfeeders, therefore she also had a bunch of happy birds, including (I counted) SIX baltimore orioles. As they don’t eat bird seed, I noticed she had a tray of jelly to tempt them for a visit. I love Baltimore Orioles, they are always a thrill to see with their bright orange feathers. I remember finding an oriole nest once, filled with fat baby birds. I remember taking a photo of a bald eagle and seeing an oriole in a branch above. I remember seeing an oriole in the sky, flying after another bird up the road, away from its nest. I’ve taken photos of them and it’s always a good bird day when I get to do that.

So I thought rather enviously, that I would buy some grape jelly, with just *a little bit* of hope that maybe one would come to my not-as-thoughful birdfeeders. I had *some* hope, but not very much. I half- heartedly bought the jelly and half- heartedly put it in a plastic dish (as purple as the jelly) and half -heartedly put it on the porch. I didn’t have great expectations but I did have curiousity and wanted to see what would happen.

Two days later………..

Joy!

(HOW DO THEY KNOW??????????????? Can birds smell grapes out of those hard beaky noses?)

As I thought about this, I at first I believed that I had NO HOPE in them coming, but then I thought, “Well, I must have had SOME hope, or I wouldn’t have put the jelly out in the first place.”

~no hope means giving up…..thinking and doing nothing with our desires/goals (big or small)

~some hope means any amount of thinking and doing……… and living life curious…. because after all, that desire/goal (big or small) just might come to fruition

It might!

You are loved.

everything is this, now

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I cannot tell you how happy I am

to see the sunshine this morning!

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Dishwasher’s a hummin’, the dog’s a snoring’~

it’s going to be a nice day, I can tell already.

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This picture is from a few days ago when it was raining.  We had a squirrel come to visit stuff his little cheeks full of sunflower seeds.

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I never realized how brown their heads are.  I though they were all over gray.

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A delegation of mourning doves.

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“Hour one”

I took a few hours to admire our sleeping buddies yesterday.  They were on this chair together for most of the day.

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“hour two”

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“hour three”

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“hour four”

David arrived home from school.

“Dave, you’re wearing all black today”

“Yeah, but I wore my blue hoodie to school instead of this black one because I didn’t want them to send me to guidance thinking I was depressed.”

This boy thinks of everything.

And he made the middle school baseball team!  We are all so proud of him and can’t wait to see him play.

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Parker the Dog is flat on the couch snoring as I type–tired from the morning.  He helps get the kids off to school, you know, by barking when the bus comes and stealing their breakfast bagels.

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This morning’s gently clouded striped sky.

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This morning I attempted to scrub a marker drawing off Seth’s arm, “It’s not coming off,” I muttered, “Put it under the water,” he tried.  No such luck, but it is lighter at least.  We stood in front of the mirror and I styled his hair with rosemary gel as he squirmed and groaned.  He’s wearing his baseball shirt; ’tis the season.  And this is truly his technique; he either misses entirely or it’s a good big hit.  “Don’t over swing, Seth!” is the advice he gets from his coach repeatedly.

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We finished The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren.  It took us a very long time to get through it because we had misplaced it for about a month and forgot about it; such is life.

A very dear book, however.

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On the last page.

“TEN IS MY STUDENT NUMBER!” she explained in a loud voice.

“OKAY, THAT’S FINE,” I answered in like manner.

Our next book?   One Hundred and One Dalmatians

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Hope is a geranium about to flower for the first time in a year.

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I started a new book last night and LOVED this quote:

“Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now: the street is this, the doorway is this, the stairs are this, this is Mamma, this is Papa, this is the day, this is the night.”  My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, page 29

someday (1 Peter 1:3-9)

 

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What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

1 Peter 1:3-9

though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed

“When Victor Hugo was more than eighty years old, he expressed his faith in this beautiful way:

‘Within my soul I feel the evidence of my future life. I am like a forest that has been cut down more than once, yet the new growth has more life than ever.  I am always rising toward the sky, with the sun shining down on my head.  The earth provides abundant sap for me but heaven lights my way to worlds unknown. 

“People say the soul is nothing but the effect of our bodily powers at work.  If that were true, then why is my soul becoming brighter as my body begins to fail?  Winter may be filling my head, but an eternal spring rises from my heart.  At this late hour of my life, I smell the fragrance of lilacs, violets, and roses, just as I did when I was twenty.  And the closer I come to the end of my journey, the more clearly I hear the immortal symphonies of eternal worlds inviting me to come.  It is awe-inspiring yet profoundly simple.'”

From Streams in the Desert, by L.B Cowman

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“This is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.”  2 Corinthians 4:16

 

a lively hope

 

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“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again into a lively hope

by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away

reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God

through faith unto salvation

ready to be revealed in the last time.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice,

though now for a season, if need be,

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,

though it be tried with fire,

might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Whom ye have not seen,

ye love;

in whom, though now ye see him not,

yet believing,

ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

recieving the end of your faith,

even the salvation of your souls.”

(1 Peter 1:3-9)

 

 

“Believers have a hope of glory, a lively hope, a hope eternal and divine.  Because our hope abides, our praise continues.  Because our hopes grow brighter and are every day nearer and nearer to their fulfillment, the volume of our praise increases.  ‘I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.’  (Psalm 71:14)  A dying hope would bring forth declining songs.  As the expectations grow more dim, so would the music become more faint.  But a hope immortal and eternal, flaming forth each day with more intense brightness, brings forth a song of praise which always gathers new force as it continues to arise.  See well to your faith and your hope, for otherwise God will be robbed of your praise.  It will be in proportion as you hope for the good things which He has promised to your faith, that you will render to Him the praise which is His royal revenue, acceptable to Him by Jesus Christ, and abundantly due from you.”  ~C.H. Spurgeon

A lively hope = something to praise God about!

hope

 

 

I woke right up thinking about God this morning.   My heart and soul long for the day when I finally get to see Jesus and be in heaven with all other believers.  “Oh that will be glory for me!” as the hymn says.  I know if I died today I would have precious family members there to meet me, “but I long to see my Saviour first of all.”

Have you ever just closed your eyes and imagined what it would be like to see Jesus for the first time?    I am convinced that his eyes will be full of love, compassion, and understanding.   He knows me, “he remembereth that I am dust”, He is merciful.  He has perfect love toward His own.

This morning I was thinking about Jesus’ last words on earth.  After 30+ years of earthly ministry, He was leaving!  But what did He say?  “. . .lo, I am with you alway, even until the end of the world.”  He last words on earth were full of comfort.

He is with me always!  Always!

 

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my Bible.  What a precious treasure it is!  I just finished a book about 5 men who were shipwrecked on a deserted island.  They had a Bible with them and my heart was pierced when I read that when they were on the verge of collapse from discouragement, they read the Bible to one another until they were comforted.

Do you remember when Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were taken to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home during the war against Hitler?  All their earthly possessions boiled down to one thing.. . .the one item that they wanted, NEEDED more than any other.. . .was their Bible.  The story is beautiful.  Corrie was able to enter the camp (despite being strip-searched!) with her Bible, through a miracle of God.

“And so it was that when we were herded into that room ten minutes later; we were not poor, but rich–rich in the care of Him who was God even of Ravensbruck.” (the concentration camp)

“So Betsie and I came to our barracks at Ravensbruck.  Before long we were holding clandestine Bible study groups for an ever-growing group of believers, and Barracks 28 became known throughout the camp as ‘the crazy place, where they hope.’”  ~Corrie Ten Boom

Our Bible gives us hope!  Hope in any circumstance!

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  Romans 15:4

 

I have two Bibles!  Two!  I feel rich.  And ashamed, because so many times I wonder where my hope is, when I haven’t even read my Bible in days. . . . . . .

 

“I have a wonderful treasure!
A gift of God without measure.
And so we travel together,
my Bible and I.”

 

(i found hope in the mailbox)

Funny title, isn’t it?

Someone special sent me a little somethin’ somethin’ in the mail, and it came today.

Even the envelope was beautiful. (I simply must learn calligraphy someday!)

The gift was wrapped in pretty tissue and tied with a ribbon.

She gave me a beautifully handmade heart with the word HOPE on it, all done with the sweetest details; crazy stitch, ribbons, and beads galore!

And, a coffee cozy made from cherry fabric!

I looked at it and grabbed the nearest child (it was Jacob) to show him the creativity and love this person displayed.  (It’s always good to use these situations to inspire the kids to good works and creativity, too.)

I’ve been crying happy tears today.  The first time was when I was watching the news about those massive tornados.  There was a college campus in which 51 students were injured~but, not one death.  Guess Who the student they interviewed publicly gave the credit/glory to?  Yes, she, a cute young college girl, gave the glory to GOD. . . . and she said it was because of prayers that no one died.  I just thought that was so beautiful!

The second time I cried happy tears was when I opened this gift from Dawn.

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Hope is my word of the year.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand–all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”

~hymn by Edward Mote

 

Thanks for the beautiful reminder of hope!

hope

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Anyone else tired and blah today?  Anyone else blue? 

I am tired out. . and when I get over tired I start to think negative thoughts.  I start complaining about myself in my mind, “I’m getting old”   “If this is what I am like as a 31 year old, what on earth will I be like when I’m **?”  “My back hurts.  Will my back ever feel better again?”  “My shoulder is aching, too.  I guess I’ll probably end up with arthritis soon”  “So I have aches and pains?  I’m sure even WORSE things will happen at some point.”  “You are so terrible!  There are so many other people out there who have worse things going on in their lives.  So you’re tired and achy, get over it!!!!”

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On and on.  This is my struggle.  Lack of faith, lack of love for God.  I say that, because, when I focus my energies on thinking of MYSELF, I am not looking at God. . .I’m being SELFISH and self centered.

Then I started thinking about Rich’s Grandma.  Remember I did a post about her giving away her dishes?  I thought, here is a woman, a Christian Woman, an OLD lady (she’s 90-something), and she never seems to have any struggles with her attitude.  I compared (bad to compare, very unwise!) myself to her.  I saw myself today as someone who has a great potential to grow old in a very cantankerous way.  Or, perhaps, giving up the fight.  Like, “ouch my back hurts I guess I’ll just stay in bed today and make everyone wait on me hand and foot.”

“I’ll never be able to grow old gracefully like Grandma.”

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I’m in the midst of a big pity party when I go get the mail–and low and behold, a letter from Grandma.  The kids were all in bed so I dove into my own bed to read it.  Right off the bat she mentions the essay I wrote about her for my blog:

Dear Shanda–

I can’t believe you put that out on Internet!  You make one sound so good . Just remember I am a sinner just like the worst of them. . . . . .

She wrote more but that was the part that stood out to me.  “I am a sinner just like the worst of them”.  Friends, I cried when I read that!  Did I think she was “perfect”?  I guess, in a way, I did.  Naive of me, because of course she has struggles and problems, I see that now but, . . . . . .I still believe there is something about old age’s wisdom.  What is different about her?   What do I see in her that I don’t see in myself? 

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I could very well be wrong, but I think it’s patience.  I think it’s acceptance and trust in God.  Waiting.  The wisdom of knowing what life on earth is.  It’s growing old.  It’s good and it’s bad.  It’s easy and yet hard.  You need to be brave and fight, and yet you need to trust like a little child.  It’s going through trials without having a fit. . .it’s about letting go of my “control” and letting my life be held in God’s hands.  It’s knowing that I will never be perfect on earth, (and neither will Grandma.)  “I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!”  And, according to Romans, patience leads to HOPE. . .now there’s a word to meditate on! 

 

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By whom also we have access by faith
into this grace wherein we stand,
and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:
knowing that tribulation worketh patience:

And patience, experience;

And experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed;
because the love of God is shed abroad
in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us.

Romans 5:1-5

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Rich took the photos of me and Caleb on Saturday night when we were getting ready for our “before bed” snack.