Hope: What’s Your Version of Hope?

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

“A violent hope broke through and shook the ground . . .” (from “For the Cross,” by Bethel Music)

We sang a new-to-me song during our church service this past Sunday.

There was this one line that challenged me to re-think my version of hope.

I never thought about hope being violent.

This word has always struck me as a gentle thing, like a quiet rain falling or a pastel sunrise.

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Hope: When We Can Say It Is Well

sunrise-through-trees

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

A little over a year ago, when I first heard Bethel Music’s, “It Is Well,” things in my life were going well. It seemed I was close to fulfilling a long-held dream. My health was good. I was surrounded by people who “got” me. They understood what made me tick. The song resonated. Of course it was well with my soul. I could hum it and sing it and believe it with all my heart.

It’s easy to say, “It is well with my soul” when we’re in the good times.

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Life’s Hard: 4 Tips For Surviving Hard Times

Red dirt path

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We just returned from a couple weeks in Hawaii visiting Hubby’s family. While there, some of us spent time on Kauai. One day we hiked the Kalalau Trail, an eleven mile trek that leads hikers to some breath-taking views along the Napali coast. Two miles into the trail, there’s a stopping point at a secluded beach. Our goal on this particular day was to find the beach.

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Blue: Hope in Life’s Storms

Rainy Month

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—BLUE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

BLUE

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled for most of this month, it seems. Buckets of rain sheeted the space between sky and land. Gray skies became our norm for the first three weeks of May.

The once dry earth became saturated to flood stage. Hail flung itself . . . enough of it that it looked like snow some days.

Shoveling Hail

I’ve never seen a May like this one.

Every morning, I woke up, hoping for a glimmer of blue sky. Every morning, clouds blocked out that little glimpse of happy.

A few days ago, we again had more blue sky than gray, and my heart danced.

To see the sunshine, to see clear blue of every shade on God’s palette? It restores hope that after storms, blue does come.

Storms sometimes permeate every area of our lives. Blocking out hope. Trying to squelch our joy. When it’s nonstop, those things in our hearts that make us smile begin to dim.

The good thing is, storms don’t stay. They have a beginning time, where they block out the sun and the blue skies of our lives. But, they move on. Perhaps not right away, but they do move on.

Gray Day

Or, sometimes, we move on.

Thank goodness Jesus is our Son Who melts the clouds. Who heals the hurts inflicted by life’s storms. Who dries saturated soil so springtime flowers can again be planted and add color and hope to our lives.

Blue skies . . . after three weeks of gray, I’ll never take them for granted again. I’ll thank God for them, adding them to my Gift List. I’ll rejoice in the hope blue skies offer me daily.

Blue skies again

I’ll seek out those patches of blue when clouds part, even for a few seconds. And I’ll cling to the truth that God is the One who knows the storms, knows how much we can can handle with His help, and knows how to bring us through the storms of life.

What about you? When have you faced a storm that seems like it would never end? How did you hold onto hope during the storm?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday offering—Blue

Fog: 4 Tips for Seeing Through Difficulties

Foggy day with a frame

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Fog wrapped around my vehicle as I pulled from the garage. I glanced to the left and the right—twice—before steering onto the street. In a way, I felt as if I was the only person on the road.

There’s something almost eerie about driving when you can’t see anything around you. I’m comfortable driving in various conditions, but my hands still gripped the steering wheel. I leaned forward to check for shadows before me. Headlights from the other direction sliced through the soup, cutting a path in the mist.

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Seasons: The Changing of Seasons

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I’ve been waiting for spring.

Winter has worn hard on most of the United States this year, with barely a respite from snow and biting cold. Even in the monotony of the landscape, there is beauty in winter time (Yes, I know some will refute this!).

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Life Trials: Looking Beyond the Fog

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The other morning, I peeked out our window at o’dark hundred. The weak glow of the nearby street attempted to cut through the fog on our street. A couple hours later, I drove four active children to school in soft sunlight and no fog in our neighborhood. As I drove, I glanced toward the mountains.

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Fear: Fueled By Wildfires

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First view of Black Forest fire plumes. Photo taken by Jeanne Takenaka

Smoke plumes billowed into a summer blue sky last Tuesday afternoon. I had just stepped outside to put some chicken on the grill. The wind kept blowing out the flame. When I turned around and saw the thick gray smoke pouring upward, my stomach dropped and my hands began to shake. This was close. Very close. It turns out, the Black Forest fire (a few images here) began less than ten miles northeast our house, as the ash flies.

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The Hopeful Side of Easter

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Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our two boys love Easter egg hunts. Since the time our oldest turned four, we’ve interspersed Resurrection Eggs* with the treat-filled eggs they search for.  Each boy hopes to find as many eggs as they can. They enjoy the tasty treats inside the regular eggs, but they also enjoy the contents of the Resurrection Eggs*. These special eggs  share the story of Holy Week through symbols that represent aspects of Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection. The final egg is empty.

I love what this represents because it perfectly depicts what we celebrate on Easter morning. The tomb was empty. Because Jesus was made alive after dying. Because he lived a sin-less life, sin couldn’t keep him in a state of death. He was raised from the dead.

Why does this offer hope? For those who share a relationship with Jesus, it offers us the promise that death will not overcome us permanently either. No, dead people will not walk the earth like in the zombie movies that are becoming popular. But we have the hope that one day, our sin will no longer rule over us, and we will be made alive again. We have the privilege of spending our eternity in heaven with Jesus, who loves us. He died for us and was raised from the dead for us. We will walk in joy and love, and have a purpose we can’t fully know while we’re on the earth.

In the here and now, I am thankful for the hope that comes from having a relationship with Jesus. He gives me what I need to make it through the difficult times in this life. And, I have the hope that one day, these struggles will not be mine anymore.

This is why Easter is a hopeful celebration.

Your Turn: If you have children, how do you celebrate Easter with them? What gives you hope?

If you have a few minutes, enjoy this song.