Courageous Hope

Any area of your life that does not glisten with hope is under the influence of a lie.

Live-Thanks November 28, 2011

Our Thankful Tree

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the focus on just being together and feasting, taking time to count our blessings and say “thank you”.  It was also 10 years ago this Thanksgiving that my husband asked me to marry him, even more reason to love the day!

Finding things to be thankful for during this season is not usually too hard, it is not uncommon to find everyone declaring their gratitude and counting their blessings in November. But to declare them day in and day out, every month of the year, to carry thankfulness in our hearts and speak it from our lips…..this is the path that leads to life.

‎”The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” -Albert Schweitzer

I am in the process of learning this, this making each day Thanksgiving Day, it does not always come easy, but over time I am noticing my mind is being transformed. With each moment I notice God’s gifts, from the mundane to the magnificent, noticing and speaking thanks for the gifts brings me right here to this moment, the present, and it is in the present that I find His presence.

Giving thanks is the gateway to the FULL life.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

The psalmist knew the secret to entering the place of the God of the Universe is to speak thanksgiving…that is what brings us into His presence.

Thanksgiving.

And what do we find in His presence?

You will make known to me the path of life; 
In Your presence is fullness of joy; 
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

In his presence is FULLNESS of JOY.  Giving thanks brings us to a place of joy to the full.

When we express our thanksgiving, we are saying yes to the abundant life Jesus came to give us, we are saying yes to his grace, to his power, to his glory and presence within US, when we say thank you, we are saying YES and opening ourselves up to life in the full and overflowing.

Every moment in life is not wonderful bliss, yet in every moment I have the opportunity to choose thankfulness. To choose gratitude. To believe and declare that:  “We can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 5:5)

We have the power in our lips to give thanks. We have the power with our own words, our own heart, and our own mind to give thanks and enter into deep and full joy.

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. Psalm 100 MSG

We carry the presence of God when we are thankful and speak out our thanks and praise. Thanksgiving unleashes his presence within us.

We release that presence we carry when we turn our thanks into giving.

As the eloquent Ann Voskamp has said:

‎”Eucharisteo means to give thanks, and “give” is a verb, something that we do. God calls me to do thanks. To give the thanks away. That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living. That our lives become the very blessings we have received.” Thanksgiving becomes thanksliving when the thanks for His vertical, coming-down grace is expressed as a horizontal, reaching-out grace.”

So now that the fullness in our bellies has waned, let’s not let the fullness in our hearts wane. Let’s come to the Thanksgiving table each and every day, and feast in the richness of our blessings, as we name them with thanks we will see them multiply, the fullness of our Joy will overflow…

Let’s go and give thanks….let’s go and LIVE thanks…

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Psalm 145:7

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Today’s list

- breakfast with my parents before they return home

- dancing, laughing children

- daughter who sings “God songs” all the day long

- gloomy clouds that make for great naps

- a beautiful fireplace

- husband dancing and wrestling with our children

-my children’s pure delight as they are overcome with Christmas spirit, enchanted by each ornament and tree trimming

-supernatural family

- dance

Lilkidthings

 

Hope Soars November 12, 2011

Filed under: Hope,Supernatural Living — Shayla @ Courageous Hope @ 3:51 pm

I have found the beauty that lies in losing all hope.
Losing all hope in things.
Losing all hope in people.
Losing all hope in plans.
And instead putting all hope in One place.

When we put all of our hope eggs in God’s basket He covers them with His wings.
Hidden under the shadow of His protection our hope develops, matures, deepens.
Then in the exact right time our hope breaks through the barrier.
Resting in the nourishment of One source.
Our hope stands on the edge of the nest.
Spreads its wings.
Dares to jump…
And the winds of His Spirit move our weak wings right into flight.
Soaring our hope to heights of heaven reigning on earth.

Hope hatched under the wings of the most high finds no limits.
Finds no disappointment.
Finds no shame.
Finds no regret.

Hope that is courageous enough to only hope in the One who is Hope finds the overwhelming beauty of a life beyond imagination. A life that goes beyond our own strength, our own wallet, our own limitation. A life that soars!

Put all your hope in God alone and watch it soar!

Hebrews 6:18
We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us.

Psalm 62:5
God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.

Psalm 131:3
Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hopeHope now; hope always!

Psalm 146:3
Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, put your hope in God and know real blessing! God made sky and soil, sea and all the fish in it. He always does what he says— he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners— he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen. God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked.

Romans 5:5
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

Take Me October 18, 2011

Filed under: Gratitude,Hope,Poetry,Spirituality,Supernatural Living — Shayla @ Courageous Hope @ 11:49 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When I can’t get there on my own

Take me to the hidden place, deep within You.

Where Your wing of love guards me, keeps me.

Take me to the place where Your power infuses my strength drained out and becomes Your never fatiguing, always outstretched, strong arm of love.

Take me to the place where my lack disappears in the face of Your abundance.

Take me to the place where You alone satisfy me so that the things of this earth release their strangling hold

Because You hold me.

In this world of dust and sweat,

Take me to the place of beauty and rest, where the price you paid covers all.

Give me Your eyes to see, Your heart to beat.

When blindness drowns my hope

Take me to the all-seeing place where You are my hope.

Because you are hope.

Take me to the place of fullness and completeness that swallows up all my brokenness.

Take me to the place where I am so saturated in You, soaked right through and spinning through this place releasing Your scent of life in a world that smells of death.

The grace you pour out like a drink quenches my unquenchable thirst.

Just take me.

Take all of me.

I choose You.

I will lose it all and

Gain everything

Because everything is found in You.

There is no loss when it is lost for You.

Take me.

 

 

What if? September 20, 2011

What If?

 

What if we stopped living our lives in safe little boxes?

 

What if we stopped putting our hope in nest eggs?

and 401k’s

and stable jobs

and good real estate

and contingency plans

and people?

 

What if we stopped putting our God in safe little boxes?

 

What if we stopped living a life that was natural and replaced it with a supernatural life?

 

What if we stopped living with expectations that are within our own limitations and instead lived with expectations without limit?

 

What if we got to the edge of the cliff… and we jumped off…

not into a safety net,

just into God’s big capable hands?

 

What if we stopped doing “church” in a way that works whether there is a God or not?

 

What if we stopped living our life in such a way that works whether there is a God or not?

 

What if we stopped worshipping a God that looks like us,

that we can understand and figure out

and instead started worshipping a God that is full of mystery and power and incomprehensible love?

 

What if we started walking with God instead of asking Him to walk with us?

 

What if we were completely surrendered and totally abandoned to Jesus’ work and call in our life? With no regard to the cost?

 

What if the things of this earth really did grow dim…in the light of His Glory and Grace?

 

What if?

 

Wisdom? August 28, 2011

A week or so ago I saw this quote on Bill Johnson’s facebook status and I have been marinating in it ever since:

 

“Fear often looks like wisdom to those in unbelief”

 

So often we think we are operating in wisdom when perhaps it is merely fear that drives us.  We fear because we don’t believe. We don’t believe God.

 

I think of decisions regarding finances that can often be motivated by the fear that God won’t provide or come through. We depend so highly on our own work and our own plan and our own “wisdom” because we don’t believe He will be enough.

 

I think of decisions I make in parenting and begin to see often what I am calling wisdom is really just fear. Fear that God is not good. I believe it is in my hands. I do not believe it is in His hands.

 

Sometimes the “wisdom” that others offer us could be them imposing their own fears upon us. Maybe stepping out in faith scares them and they want us to be just as “wise” (or fearful) as they are.

 

I’m not implying we be foolish with such things and chalk it up to “faith”. (So don’t go max out your credit card because you believe God will pay it off! :-) )But that perhaps we allow God to search the motives of our heart. Allow His wisdom to guide us. We may be surprised at what his wisdom tells us to do. Often it will look quite different than our own.

 

So how do we know if our wisdom is fear?

 

As I have been dwelling on this I see that there is no fear in love.

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear

1 John 4:18

 

If I am operating in love I cannot be operating in fear. So wisdom from love is truly wise.

 

To operate in love-wisdom requires oneness with the One who is love itself. The more we are united with the Spirit of God the more we become love and operate out of that love. The more we understand His love for us, the more we believe. Believe His goodness, His provision. We trust.

 

There have been times I have been told I am a wise woman. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have sometimes thought I was. But as I have been thinking on this lately I wonder if sometimes what I really have been is fearful?

 

If we are afraid it is because we have not fully experienced his perfect, complete love. Because that perfect love drives the fear away.

 

Oh how I long to experience more fully and completely that love. I do not want to be driven by fear. I want to be consumed by love, driven by love and operate in a wisdom that is birthed of pure love.

 

Just some stuff I’ve been thinking on lately….

 

I love reading different translations…here are some words to ponder…

 

1 John 4:17-19

The Message (MSG)

To Love, to Be Loved

 

 17-18God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

 19We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

 

 

1 John 4:18-19

Amplified Bible (AMP)

18There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [a]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [b]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].

 

    19We love Him, because He first loved us.

 

Somewhere in between August 20, 2011

I am in transition.

 

We are getting ready to move our little family of four out of state. Many unknowns still lie ahead as we step out in faith. We are confident, excited and full of hope. But there are occasional moments when all the unknowns, the tense pressures and the shifting of my life begin to bear down intense weight on my mind and I feel my head spin out of control and everything seems crazy….

 

I am not here.

 

But I am not there.

 

I am somewhere in between.

 

It’s a familiar feeling…when have I felt this before?

 

When have I felt as if I was splitting in two from the pressure and I could not even see straight and everything was blurry?

 

Oh I remember now…..when I was in…transition………….during…..childbirth!

 

When the baby was not quite in my womb

 

And not out into my arms

 

But somewhere in between.

 

God led us to choose natural, midwife assisted home births for the births of our children and so having experienced natural birth I can attest that transition in childbirth is the hardest part. In my Bradley (“Husband Coached”) Childbirth method class workbook it describes transition by saying things like –

 

Sensations change greatly often causing panic, disbelief, and fear. You may feel the baby shifting into alignment, a lot of pressure…may feel frantic, confused, self-doubt, unsure, scared, nervous, may give up, may yell.

 

So the women you see in the movies, screaming like wild banshees and going totally berserk? That is not labor, that is TRANSITION, which is the mountain peak of pain and intensity of the labor. Transition is the short, but head-spinning, body-splitting time right before the baby comes. Once you feel that crazy, once you feel like you just can’t do it…it’s almost over, your baby will soon be in your arms!

 

I believe that God teaches us spiritual things through the natural things, the natural reflects the supernatural.  As I navigate through this life transition I recall all that I learned through the physical experience of transition.

 

What we know for sure…transition is HARD!!

 

With my first child’s birth I remember when I was in transition, I began to doubt. Doubt my ability, doubt that everything would turn out ok. I thought to myself, “if this is not transition then I sure don’t want to experience what is” (thankfully it was).  In the birth of my second child I felt so completely out of control. I wanted it over! My son was barreling through transition, shifting my body at an intense rate and I could not even see straight. Then my husband whispered in my ear “just focus on the midwife”. She was right in front of me and I opened my eyes and I just fixed my eyes on hers and everything around her began to swirl into a blur and all I could see were her eyes. I just listened to what she and my husband said.

 

I love the idea of “husband-coached childbirth” as it applies to this analogy of comparing it to our life transitions. If Jesus is our “husband” we focus on his voice, on his direction. We look him in the eyes; keep our focus on him and all the rest grows strangely dim. We must set our face like flint on Jesus’ face to stabilize when everything feels out of control.

 

If we are to embrace transition and allow the shifting necessary to make room for the new life coming, we must rest. As a woman relaxes during labor her body can do the work. We can enter into God’s rest and peace in the midst of the pain and tension of transition as we surrender to the process. This is the hardest thing for me, I want to hurry my way through a transition to get to the other side, but rest makes me feel I am slowing it down, when in fact it is doing the opposite. Rest allows Holy Spirit to breathe his work into us as we are transitioning.

 

One of the best things for a woman in labor during transition is to have very little to no distractions; women often have need for quiet and deep concentration. Distraction can often cause more pain and prolong the transition process.  How much so can we apply this to our lives, to get rid of distractions during these times we are transitioning? Getting rid of distractions enables us to focus on the one thing that will get us through this transition…His face.

 

When a mother is in transition she doubts herself and her ability. She needs people around her to remind her of who she is, that she can do this, that she will do this. People who remind her of her identity, her strengths, remind her of the truth and promises of God.   Something I say to every mom who doubts is “You can do this! You were made for this!” During transitions we must surround ourselves with the truth and people of truth. People who speak our identity and call us into our destiny.

 

Another thing we can learn is that there is hope! The pain of transition is not in vain, but rather the expectation of the child to come, despite the pain, childbirth is full of hope. Transition is not for nothing! The other side of transition in labor is a beautiful baby! Childbirth is a beautiful, hopeful, life changing moment.  Likewise the other side of our life transitions will bring us new life, so there is hope now in the midst of this transition. Transition is beautiful.

 

Our current transition started over a year ago. We began to sense it coming, we felt the shift within our life group, we thought it was our families, or our group. And things did shift within those families and within that group. But then my husband and I began to travel and see that transition was everywhere. Transition is happening to so very many all over. Transition is happening in the body of Christ. This is so much bigger than all the individual transitions that are going on. Holy Spirit is moving and shifting people and places… as one body we are shifting, we are in transition…and what are we in transition to? On some level the people of God are in a lifestyle of transition, always transforming, as scripture says, from glory to glory. We live in the now and the not yet. We are not really on earth, nor are we in heaven…we are somewhere in between…we are on a ladder bringing heaven to earth. But beyond that, Holy Spirit is shifting people to new places and new roles and new levels to make ready His body for the move He will do. I believe ultimately what is going to be birthed out of this transition is the pure, spotless and beautiful bride of Christ.  As Romans 8 declares that all creation is groaning in eager expectation as in childbirth for the children of God to be revealed, for the bride to be unveiled. If all of creation has been groaning all of this time in labor, then perhaps now is the transition of that labor. (I also wrote a little about this in my Hope Groans post.)

 

In the beautiful place that is somewhere in between,
Surrendering to the process we find ourselves in,
Entering into the rest of God,
Eyes fixed like flint on Jesus’ face,
Clearing away the distractions,
Surrounding ourselves with truth and truth speakers who call out our true identity
And clinging to HOPE,
We will make it through this transition to the new life that awaits us.

 

overwhelmed June 27, 2011

I am overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with pure Goodness…

with crazy Love….

with wild excitement….

with deep gratitude…

with the richness of my life…

with the way Holy Spirit is moving the people of God to change the world…

He is awakening us… awakening hearts to life!!!

 

Lately life has overwhelmed me… which is probably why you (the few committed “followers” of this blog) have noticed I have not posted a blog in so long. (I am sorry, I do however have about 400 blog posts in my head or half scribbled in journals that desperately want to find there way to this site.) But sometimes life can overwhelm us…. sigh…

 

But today… I am overwhelmed in a totally different way…..the love of Jesus has overtaken me. I am consumed. He is soooo GOOD.

 

I am overwhelmed with the fact that I am part of His kingdom. I am part of a kingdom that doesn’t make sense to the kingdom of this world. It’s an outta this world kingdom. An inside out, upside down kingdom.

A kingdom where when you give… you recieve.

Where you lose to gain…

and you die…to LIVE.

In this kingdom the weak are strong,

the humble are exalted,

the last become first,

the mourning is turned to dancing,

the weaping to laughter,

the captives are set free,

the ashes become beauty.

In this kingdom the lost are found,

the blind see and the lame walk.

In this kingdom my pockets could be empty but my heart so very full.

In this kingdom I am royalty and I am rich beyond measure. Rich in relationships, rich in ways that cannot be meausured by eathly standards.

I find myself so overwhelmed that I have been invited to be in this kingdom, and not just invited but I am royalty too! I get to help my King dispense the riches of his kingdom. I get to partner with my King and with the other royalty beside me to expand the reign of this inside-out, upside-down kingdom. I am blown away….I get to be a part of this???!!!!

I just have to declare God’s goodness today, the fiercness of his love,  the beauty of his kingdom advancing, the power of his awakening of hearts. May your heart be awakened today…may you be overwhelmed with God’s love, goodness and power!

Ephesians 3:14-21 The Message
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 654 other followers

%d bloggers like this: