Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” – Catherine Marshall

As the advent of our Savior coming to earth is remembered and celebrated, the hope we profess is often tested and tried. The pains of life – Illness, loss, loneliness and wounded relationships, etc. can be magnified as the season ensues.

The hustle of preparations can distract us from pain until we stop and silence ourselves. Christmas music, decorations and family traditions may dull the pain of hopelessness…but our heavenly father sees and can disarm the power of this world’s pain with hope today as he did in many years past when the first Christmas was arriving.

What was young Mary thinking when she realized that she would bear the son of God? What would she say to her family as a young engaged girl who found herself pregnant? Mary had to wonder what would happen to her when the angel told her she would be with child. Surely anxious thoughts of embarrassment, fear and uncertainty crept into her mind… But hope prevailed. The hope that what the angel said was true, the hope that she indeed would bear a son and name him Jesus, the hope that her cousin Elizabeth would also be pregnant as the angel told her. By God’s grace the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt at Mary’s (Jesus’s) arrival! I can only imagine the comfort Mary felt as she was with Elizabeth.

Young Mary embraced her dilemma with grace and held to hope. Hope. Yes…Hope. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Cor. 13:13a

When we have hope we dare to love. When we have hope we step into situations that might be uncomfortable with a different perspective. When we have hope we can face fears head on and receive grace.

The first week of Advent is underway. Let’s usher in this sacred season knowing that we will likely need an intentional reminder of our true hope during the upcoming weeks.

My prayer today is that we have hearts that are ready to receive as we embrace our Savior coming to earth and that we have hearts that are determined to give. May we pray that we see the needs which God has called us and equipped us to meet and grasp the grace to humbly serve in them. Oh Father, show each of your plan for how we can give others hope this season. Help each of us to rest solidly with hope in you. Amen.

Below are a couple suggested verses for my scripture memory friends – if you haven’t joined us this year maybe you’ll consider memorizing some verses with us next year! It’s a powerful habit indeed!

He is the one we proclaim admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Col. 1:28-29

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.” Heb. 10:23

The Mountains Declare

We went to the mountains in the beginning of October and I thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful.

Then we went to the mountains in the mid-October and I thought it couldn’t be any more beautiful – the water running and blowing leaves of many colors…breath-taking!

Well past the peak colors in chilly mid-November, a gaze out my window today displays brilliant yellow, gold, red, green and deep brown and makes me appreciate…it can’t get more beautiful!

Autumn adoration does not come easily to me as its presence ushers in dread of a frigid ‘quadriplegic’ winter when I long for elusive warmth and bundle in my woolen wardrobe. Today, and hopefully for this cool season, it’ll be different. I pray each chilly breeze is accepted and embraced. May my heart be open to the total beauty of creation.

As our families gather together to give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings he’s provided, I pray that gratitude will be the spirit of the whole year…of our whole lives as we share our blessings with those in need and alone – and as we welcome the season of celebration and anticipation. O Come O Come Emanuel!

Sending warmth your way today….Madge

Now for my scripture memory friends, lets snuggle by a fire, drink cocoa and memorize a verse or two! Pick your own or use mine!

Search me O God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Ps. 139:23-24

Goodbye, Hello, and Thank You

Saying goodbye to an old friend is not fun – even when it is necessary and desirable.

A recent farewell to my faithful van of 15 years was…believe it or not…a sad event. My highly modified van is a dear friend!
– It took Brent and I everywhere we went for our first eight years together.
– My mom rode next to me on the way to chemo treatments until she used a wheelchair and rode in the back.
– My precious former canine assistant, Murray, perched himself in the front seat as we went to work each morning; he flirted with other drivers the whole time, of course he curled up behind me in the back seat after a long day at the office.
– Tahoe, on the other hand, sticks with me and rarely hops on the seat when he rides.

So many memories..

Goodbye van
Although excitement is brewing with the thought that I will soon wheel around town in a new accessible sports car (aka a minivan), a few tears ran down my cheek as I watched my big old gem take its final trip from our home.

Isnt it funny how we hang on to the old in lieu of the new?

My recent ‘goodbye-hello’ experience sits smack dab in the midst of two bible studies – one from Deuteronomy and another from Exodus. OK,  I really appreciate it when the bible whacks me on the head! I knew this was a season of change in many ways….and like the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Wilderness to Canaan, I resist, don’t listen enough and take provision for granted…

…add an illness and a busy schedule and I might enter the land of complaint.

‘Hold up!’ I tell myself! I can live in the land of thanksgiving instead of the land of complaint.

The land of thanksgiving is full of provision. It may be quail and manna or it may be milk, honey, fruits and grains…but there is always provision.

Praying you choose the land of thanksgiving during your seasons of change.

– Madge

Here’s a short, but powerful verse for my scripture memorizing friends.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  
1 Chronicles 16:34

New Seasons on the Horizon

The current temperatures and beautiful September sunshine is no indication that we are approaching a new season..but the calendar shouts of autumn’s approach and so do football enthusiasts! Spring and summer have always been my favorite seasons, and honestly a twinge of dread usually grasps my heart about this time of year.

New opportunities, new school years and new studies begin and events are planned that lead to joyous holiday celebrations, yet along the way comes my nearly constant companion – the cold natured chill. It’s the nagging ever-present, teeth grinding chill that sends me to want to sit in front of a space heater…permanently.

My challenge with the cold started right after my accident. It seems no amount or type of clothing can effectively do the trick…merino wool and hot water are my dear spinal cord injured winter friends!

All this to say, I am purposing to raise the bar on my heart of gratitude in preparation for the change in the weather. Although it’s not my favorite time, I CAN appreciate every season’s unique beauty and dynamics with a heart of thanksgiving!

My upcoming discomfort and grief will not prevent the power of gratitude to my Lord who gives me strength and joy.

My grateful heart opens the door to experiencing His presence more richly. So, as summer soon sets, my praises will rise on the wings of the dawn of autumn breezes and I will give thanks.

Praying an increase in gratitude for all my friends….as I know your new seasons may bring challenges that demand the amazing medicine of thanksgiving for your body, soul and spirit.

Scripture memory #17 potential verses:

– Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:15

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