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Resolutions

I used to make resolutions every Jan 1.  When I was younger a few of my resolutions were to study harder in school and to do my chores without complaining. As I got older it changed to dieting, keeping my house cleaned, not grumbling too much or reading my bible more, along with many other goals.  And without fail by February I was back in my normal habits.

So eventually I stopped making New Year resolutions and instead decided to stay focused on God’s Word.  Without a reading plan or study guide I let the Holy Spirit guide me into the different aspects of Spiritual Discipline.

Soon a few minutes reading a 5-min devotional each morning turned into meaningful prayer time.  Eventually my prayer time was expanded and included worship and more in-depth devotions.  Now, I get up earlier just to spend quiet time with God.  The time is spent reading, listening to worship songs, praying and even coloring.

This year again I will not make any resolutions and will continue to walk confidently in faith and being content in my circumstances. Instead of diet plans and goals I choose to pray unceasingly and serve God by being the Light of Christ.

By February I know I will be struggling to get up early on a cold winter morning, instead opting to stay snuggled under the warmth of blankets.  But then an opportunity comes to worship as my alarm goes off and Pandora begins playing praise and worship songs.  What a blessing – I can stay in the warmth of the bed God has provided and worship Him in song.

When spring arrives, the warmer weather and the smell of fresh clean air will bring distractions that will tempt me to stray from my faith journey. Yet, another opportunity will come to praise God when I see the first Robin and watch the squirrels frolicking in the warm breeze. The first crocus to bloom brings hope and a new abundant life as we all rejoice winter is over and spring has arrived. The scripture from Isaiah says it beautifully, I paraphrased, “The (winter and frozen ground) shall be glad; (the bare trees) shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Here is the original scripture verse – Isaiah 35:1-2a ESV)

There will be struggles, disappointments, sorrow, and hardships in the New Year.  But each new day will bring the peace of Jesus; beauty and hope; laughter and love.

We do not know what the New Year will bring, so let us honor and worship God our creator wherever we are, whatever our circumstances and whenever the opportunity opens before us.

Let our lives bloom in 2018 wherever God plants us.

Where is God planting to you?

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Pictures from google.com
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One Winter Morning

There is a stillness as I look out my window.  The sound of a gentle rain on the windows breaks the early morning peace.

The neighborhood dogs are quiet, birds are silent, squirrels are still and the daily sound of automobiles rushing here and there, are motionless, creating a unique beauty of a city at rest.

Soothing.

Calming.

Peaceful.

The mountains surrounding our little valley are covered with a mist that seems to settle on everything with tenderness.

As I sip my morning tea I look out the window as day light breaks and noticed colorful leaves still on the trees that glistened in the morning mist.  Bare trees are silhouetted against a gray sky, the streetlights illuminating the droplets of rain on outstretched branches like sparkles of diamonds. The weathered wood fence and an old garage are but shadows in the misty air.

Our Creator has painted a beautiful masterpiece this morning.

Teaching us to be still in His presence.

To delight in this moment.

To prepare for the Light of the World – Jesus Christ

Secrets

Secrets
 
Is there something you have hidden away hidden in your heart?
 
We have all experienced hurts and disappointment in our lives.  We each have a secret we are ashamed of or a hurt so deep we have buried it deep behind the recesses of our minds.
 
God knows our secrets, our hurts and our shame.
 
We cannot hide anything from God.  He created us and breathed life into us.
 
He knows.  He cares.
 
God comes to us arms wide. If we let Him.
 
Isn’t that awesome?  He will not force Himself on us, but is waiting to heal our hurts and wipe away our tears of shame.  His arms outstretched, are welcoming us to His embrace.
 
God sent He sent His Son Jesus to restore us, to bring healing and erase all our shame.  All our sins, deep secrets, wrong choices, our pain and our sorrow Jesus took upon Himself at the cross.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

What Jesus has done for others – He will do for you.  When Jesus pardoned the sinner of their sins, Jesus has already pardoned us.  When Jesus has healed someone from addiction He healed the broken.  When Jesus lifts the hopeless out of depression – He lifts up the lonely .  When Jesus comforted the grieving – He comforted me.
 
Our past is an open book to our merciful God, no matter how deep we may try to bury our hurts, we will never have to walk alone. Jesus walks with us.  Even during those times you think no one cares.  Jesus cares.  God cares.  When it seems, all hope is lost – remember God sent His Son to travel with us on our journey.
 
It is no secret Jesus heals our wounds, restores our hope and seals us to His heart forever.
 
Isaiah 43:2
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

Patty Beggs  Sept 2017
Picture is taken from google – unknown

One Life

1 standing alone

A woman stands alone.
A silent scream.
A world falls apart.
No one stops.
No one listens.
A lonely life –

Life goes on except for the one who is hurting.
For her, life stopped.
A heart beats yet a soul has died.
Dreams fade no longer within reach.
Life has no meaning.
A broken life –

A woman unnoticed.
People walk by.
No one hears or sees her pain.
She is strong to many.
She is weak to herself.
A weakened life –

A Hand reaches out to the one who is hurting.
Bringing Life and Hope.
A lonely heart beats.
Awakening a weary soul.
Bringing life to lost dreams.
A renewed life –

The Light of the One who reaches out
Removes the darkness.
Takes her hand.
Showing the way.
God’s Strength, God’s Hope.
A transformed life –

                              {Patty Beggs 2016}

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Unexpected Path

Isaiah 43_2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

In February when I posted about writing again I had good intentions to get back into my routine.  But like the old saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” (Robert Burns), my life has taken on a new twist and I find myself in the midst of a new storm.

Last November I went to my doctor for a pain in my left side that turned into months of doctor appointments and tests, with a break until March when more tests found other issues.   I think I have had all scans known to mankind since this ordeal began.  The ironic thing is my initial concern of the pain is gone.  The problem (without going into much detail) is each test is inconclusive but then they find something new so more tests are ordered to get a clearer picture – and results again are inconclusive. I have felt like a human pincushion and Guinea pig! 

I am thankful to God – so far all cancer tests (blood markers and MRI) show no signs of metastatic disease from my breast cancer.  So the question remains – what is going on?

Six months later and they are still unsure. 

I have them all stumped –  I have no symptoms, no other pain (other than the pain in my side that went away), I feel pretty good other than another fight with a virus, and my appetite is normal.  The peace of God has enveloped me as I wait and has given me super human strength for patience – if you know me you would know it is indeed God’s strength and not my own. Let’s just say when God was passing out patience I got tired of waiting in line and so went on to the next of God’s gifts!

So, here I sit in limbo. 

Looking back during those months when I took my break, God was at work with preparing me for this season of waiting. So, instead of dread I feel an expectation of how God’s glory will be revealed. 

God has reminded me I am at that age now when things will begin to fall apart, sort of like an old car, when one part goes they all go.  I just need to go into the repair shop (hospital labs and doctor’s offices) for tune ups and repairs.

And, so, life goes on. 

In between work, dr appointments and to do lists (yes I am still doing them!) I have plans to get back into my writing. I have even etched out a time frame to sit at my desk with a cup of tea, dogs at my feet and soft music playing as I type away all the stories and inspirational thoughts flowing through my mind during the day.

My best laid plans often go awry as reality sets in –

 After working all day, there are the daily things that need done around the house and then time to unwind.  Any writing gets put on the back burner as I jot down some thoughts for future posts.  So you know, the dogs are on their sofas or chair – yes they have their own furniture and are gracious enough to allow us to sit with them on occasion – the only time they lay at our feet is when we are eating as they wait patiently for their treat.

We do not know what our future holds but we can face each new day with all the joys along with the uncertainties and trials knowing God is already there, preparing us for the unexpected and for helping us through our daily routines.

If your life’s journey is taking you on an unexpected path remember God is with you.  God may be walking along side you or most likely carrying you but be encouraged – all of your needs are already set before God.

Our life may be full of uncertainties – but – God is always certain and sure.

Finding Hope In Cancer

Hope 115 years ago I heard the words none of us want to hear, “you have cancer”.

On July 9, 2000 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I was 38 yrs old, a non smoker with no family history of breast cancer. I was more concerned with developing heart disease from both of my parents and never gave cancer a thought.

During my physical I casually mentioned a lump I found a few weeks earlier to my doctor and he suggested I get a second opinion since it looked suspicious. My doctor came out as the nurse confirmed with me the appointment in Oct with one of our local surgeons, he then quickly interrupted and told his secretary to get me in that week with someone else, he did not want me waiting that long. At that point I knew it was serious, and it was.

I not only had a cancerous lump, I had cluster cells and cancer cells close to my chest wall. Three different types of cancer in three separate areas in one breast. In 2 weeks time my life turned upside down from a healthy 38 yr old to being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The next 8 months I will go through a mastectomy, chemo treatments and radiation; fears and doubts. I will also discover a deepening of my faith and trust in God.

God through His Word in the book of Psalms gave me hope and through His Son, Jesus, I discovered the God of Abraham, Jacob and David and the God of our hearts today. During the next year I will experience a healing, not physically but spiritually. Although physical healing did come in time.

Through my turbulent childhood and rebellious youth and subsequent marriage to a godly man, God prepared me for this cancer journey. My childhood taught me to persevere and Tom taught me about God’s love and mercy.

It was also through this journey that Tom and I both developed a deeper relationship with God and each other that would see both of us through dealing with cancer and other life events.

The important thing to remember is God never gave up on me even when I choose to go my own way. I am thankful He did not give up instead kept calling me to Him. Troubles still came but I never had to go through them alone, all I needed to do was to turn toward God.

God did not cause the breast cancer, but He used breast cancer and many other circumstances to draw me to Him and for me to discover who He created me to be. Truthfully, I would have chosen for God to intervene and not have cancer enter my body choosing a different, easier path to draw me to Him. But cancer did come and what someone told me I found to be true, God never wastes an opportunity whether it be a trial or a joy. God will use it to bring us hope, develop our character, teach us perseverance and to accomplish His purpose that will bring Him Glory and that it will always be for the good of His people.

Difficult times come for many reasons but it never means God is punishing you or turning away from you. I feel that is through these times that often bring us nearer and dearer to God.

If you are going through a difficult time right now, remember God did not cause your situation but He will use it to call you to Him and to develop you into the person He designed you to be.

I understand when things get so bad it is all you can do to get up in the morning, but take a deep breath, get up, and find the hope you need to overcome your obstacle. Look for God’s presence in all the situations in your life. Sometimes the hope you need is right in front of you. It has been my experience that big things come in small packages, the biggest blessings God gives us are often the littlest every day things in our lives .

I found God’s hope in cancer and recently in grief.  God’s hope is knowing that we have a secure and certain future.  It is a hope that we know deep in our hearts that God is our anchor during the storms of life and knowing He is in our present and in our future.  

My prayer for you is to find God’s hope whatever you are going through; the hope that will give you strength to prepare you for whatever you are facing and the hope that will encourage you and bring you spiritual healing.

Psalm 25: 4-5 “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.”

Psalm 34:17-18 “the righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 46: 1-2, 10 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, …..Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalm 119:74 “I have put my hope in Your word” 

These are but a few hopeful words from Psalms. I encourage you to read Psalms and about those who cried out to God in their need and to keep this truth in your heart; God answered them and He will answer you.

Roots of Hope

unknown source
unknown source

“The root of Jesse will spring up one who will arise to rule over the nations; in Him the Gentiles will hope. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:12-13

We however do not always overflow in hope. So often we place our hope and trust in what isn’t real. We read things, watch things and absorb so much “stuff” in our daily lives that we have somehow lost the hope of God that is deeply rooted in us.

So what is hope?? It is a desire for something good in the future and when we express hope, we are expressing uncertainty. But this is not the distinctive biblical meaning of hope. Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future, but with confidence Biblical Hope expects it to happen. What are the elements of this kind of hope?

~ Biblical Hope is faith that begins as a seed that is planted in us. It is a desire based on a promise from God. If we plant this seed into the soil of our hearts and if the soil is nourished, it will take root and bring forth a harvest of faith.

We must have hope to live in hope. To not have hope is to despair and in Christ, we are delivered from despair. How many of you are familiar with Anne of Green Gables? In the beginning of the movie, Anne laments that she is in the depths of despair. Her guardian Murilla Cuthbert quickly tells her that “to despair is to turn your back on God”. Whenever I remember that quote I always say to myself, “but to have hope is to embrace God”.

Hope is the seed that Jesus planted in us. Hope has been deeply rooted in us through the Holy Spirit and allows us to embrace God when we find ourselves in the “depths of despair”. When hope takes root and eventually blossoms, our despair will turn to hope. We will embrace the seed planted in us through God’s living and abiding Word. We will see our hope overflow – fresh and new every day.

~ Biblical Hope influences the way we live. What sustained Joseph through all the trials he experienced? He was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery, lied about by Potiphar’s wife, unjustly thrown in prison. Many of you know the story. Life got pretty unfair for Joseph. What kept him going? What kept him faithful to God? HOPE gave Joseph revelation of what can be and Joseph grabbed hold of God’s plan for his life and hung on. What is God’s plan for your life and are you hanging on? There is nothing like fulfilling God’s plan for our life. God’s possibilities set before us are limitless!

~ Biblical Hope is heaven-sent. The hope that is not of this world will never disappoint you and can’t be taken away that is heaven-sent hope. Real hope is a gift from God. The words of the prophet Isaiah found their fulfillment in a babe born in a manger. Our hope was sent from heaven; real hope has a name; His name is Jesus! Jesus is our hope!

Hear the first verse of the hymn, “The Solid Rock” – “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame but holy lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

~ Biblical Hope must be received personally. Notice the words of the song do not say, “Our hope,” but “MY HOPE.” Until you and I choose to accept God’s gift of hope found only through His Son Jesus, we live in this world without hope.
God doesn’t give us an empty hope; our hope does indeed overflows! The supply of hope is not going to diminish or come up short. Heaven sent hope is always more than enough!

In verse 13 of the Romans passage, Paul says as we trust in the God of hope we will “overflow with hope” (NIV), in the Message bible it states, “God will fill us so full we “brim over with hope”.

Has life thrown you a curve-ball and struck you out?

Are you having a hard time finding any silver lining around all your grey clouds?

Has work become drudgery?

Do you have too much month left at the end of your money?

Trust God and allow Him to pour His hope into your life. God won’t just give you enough for today. God won’t leave you needing more. God will cause hope to overflow within your life as you become God’s Living Hope for the world to see. Again, from the Message translation, “We will brim over in Hope”.

When life confronts you with hard times you can either let your circumstances get you down or you can rise above the circumstances with Biblical HOPE. Let this hope give you the endurance and strength to keep on keeping on. Don’t give up; the hope that God offers will see you through!

May Biblical Hope take root in your soul ~

May it overflow in your life ~

And may the Living, Honest, Patient, Sustaining, and Eternal Hope you have found deeply nourish the lives you touch.

Hope In Bloom ~ Roots of Hope

 

Hope In Bloom Flower arrangement of the Creation
Hope In Bloom
Flower arrangement of the Creation

In June I had a wonderful opportunity to help in the worship service for the Presbyterian Women of the Synod of Trinity Women’s Gathering.  Women from 16 Presbyteries from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania joined together to worship, praise and serve our God.

The theme was “Hope In Bloom”.  There were 5 separate worship services; “Seeds of Hope”, “Roots of Hope”, “Sprouts of Hope”, “Nourishing Hope” and “Blossoms of Hope”

I did not realize all the preparations that went into creating such a program.  The Coordinating Team  met in September of 2013 and again in January 2014 to plan and organize the event for June.  In between those months I along with many women were working behind the scenes using our talents and gifts to bring this event together. 

One of my duties was to write a worship service for “Roots of Hope”. I have never accomplished anything like this before.  This was the first step out of my comfort zone, to write something that I would have to read in front of many women I did not know.  Forget what I said about the first step, because I did not step out of my comfort zone I jumped!

Here is part of my worship service.  The song “Sowing Seeds of Hope” was written by our Worship Coordinator, Mary McElroy – regrettably I do not have the words to it to share with you.

This morning we sang “Sowing Seeds of Hope”. Through those seeds God plants:

A Living Hope that takes root in the reality of the hardships of life and holds us close to God our Father.

An Honest Hope whose roots grow deep in our souls and keep us firmly planted in God’s unfailing promises.

A Patient Hope grown out of those little seeds that help us not to soar but to walk gently and without fainting.

A Sustaining Hope that brings God’s rest in our struggles and His peace in our storms.

And finally, an Eternal Hope that is only found in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Keeper of our Souls.

Hebrews 10:23 states: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” Let us sow the seeds of hope and allow our roots to grow deep so that we can remain firmly planted in God’s promise of His eternal hope for tomorrow, and the grace and peace of His presence today.

The closing song (A Firm Foundation) ~ along with the evening prayer with extinguishing the Christ Candle, wrote by our Worship Coordinator that I worked into the evening vespers.

Colossians 2:6-7 “Just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Rooted in Christ! Now that is a firm foundation! As we extinguish the Christ candle, a symbol of Christ among us, may we stand firm in Christ as we take this light in our hearts to guard us through the night. Let the light shine through us and shower glimmers of HOPE along the way.

Let us pray;
Ever present God, walk with us into the night and hold us steady. Help us to visualize your nourishment coming to us through your strong roots. When we start to waver hold us close and show us new and fresh horizons. Guard our ways and keep us through the darkness that we may awake with the dawn ready to witness to your glory. Be with those we have left behind and hold them in the safety of your hands. Bring us peace as we go to rest that we may awake refreshed and enthusiastic about another day to serve you. Through Christ, our roots of hope we pray.
AMEN

I would also like to thank my spiritual director, Rev.Christine Woods-Henderson for helping me with wording and grammar for the opening and the devotion.  Tomorrow I will post the devotion.

May the roots of our faith that is found in Jesus Christ nourish you each and every day.

Hope

    Sunrise as we entered Boston Harbor 2012     "Sunrise ~Hope for a new day"
Sunrise as we entered Boston Harbor 2012
“Sunrise ~Hope for a new day”

When I posted my last article “Finding God In The Midst Of Our Storms”, little did I know that the city of Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas would have endured such horrific events.  My heart ached and my hand was silent when I heard about the bombing in Boston. Shortly we heard about the two explosions in West, Texas. I felt so helpless and my heart ached as once again tragedy has rocked our world.

The technology of today allows us to see events as they happen, it makes us aware of the evil that is all around us; I do not want to know such evil exists in the hearts of men and how they can nonchalantly kill with no remorse.

Accidents will happen, but when you read of city blocks flattened it causes us to ask why? Although we do not yet know the cause of this tragedy, but chances are it was a senseless accident that caused the suffering, pain and death of innocent people.

Some days I just don’t understand and I wish I could run away and pretend bad things don’t happen and that evil is not lurking at every street corner or around every bush. But everywhere I went this week it was there, there was no hiding the awful truth that bad things do happen and evil is out there. Shutting these events and others out of my life won’t make them go away. 

Colleen from The Chatter Blog wrote on the day of the Boston Marathon, “Can we pull together our compassion for the injured? Can we pull together our shock and dismay? Can we mourn our world and what we have come to? Can we come together and repair?”

I commented on her article, “Every time I read about an attack no matter where I wonder why? Not why is God doing this but why would we do this to each other? I am at a loss for words – a young lady I know wrote this on her facebook page that helps to remember that good will overcome ~ ‘During this time we need to remember that no matter how much bad there is in this world there is always more good. Even the smallest bit of light will always overcome the darkness.’ {Brittany Wheeland.}”  Brittany reminded me that we have hope in Jesus – our Light.

It is that hope that allowed me to pray for the victims in Boston as each one will grieve and process the events in the days and weeks to come. When the news came of the explosions in Texas, it was hope again that brought me to my knees in prayer for this disaster and all those whose lives will be forever altered.  Jesus Christ is our light when our world turns dark and He offers us  hope that will deliver us from our fears as He becomes our stronghold in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9-10)

Colleen reminded me We have to cry, be angry, and rebuild for all of them. I think part of ‘our’ sadness, is feeling so helpless and uncertain of how to help.”  I was then able to cry for them, I was able to get angry at the hatred that is in men’s souls that could cause such sorrow and I was able to ask  God how could He allow the attack in Boston and the disaster in Texas to happen.  As Jesus held me I cried out, “Lord, I am so tired of all the hatred, the killing, and the sorrow”. He did not answer me in words; He answered me with His Presence and the silent word of “Hope”. Hope will pull us together as the world mourns and as we come together to restore the innocence that was lost. 

Let us put aside our differences and walk together in the love of Jesus that restores hope and unites us in peace.  We may not be able to stop man-made disasters but we can rebuild; we cannot change a person’s heart but we can put a stop to hate as we become the beacon of the light of Jesus and reach out to others in love.

Now is the time to cling to Jesus, hold on tightly and never let go as we move forward and help rebuild the lives of those whose lives have been shattered. 

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!

“Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Faith and Hope triumphant say
Christ will rise on Easter Day.”  {Phillips Brooks}
 

And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.”  {Mark 16:6}