Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Burden of Hope

You know, I don't remember where I heard the term 'burden of hope'. But, it's been several years and it still resonates with me.

You might think... How could something as uplifting and optimistic as hope... be a burden?

Well, I suppose it has a lot to do with how long you carry that hope... for something in particular... when nothing seems to change.

Ten years ago... Wow... Can't believe it's actually been ten years...

Ten years ago, I went through the most difficult, life-altering year of my life. The proverbial straw snapped my proverbial camel's back, leaving me careening for something to grab hold of. Which lead me to my knees, at God's feet. In a crumpled, pitiful mess.

And He took me... Just as I was.

And He took me to a new place with Him. A place I'd never even considered before.

And I am so grateful. For Him. And even for that heart-breaking year.

I still remember listening to Jeremy Camp over and over and over during that time. Finding such comfort and reassurance as I'd cry myself to sleep. And encouragement to face another day that I just didn't have in me.

"Well I will walk by faith 
Even when I cannot see 
Well because this broken road 
Prepares Your will for me"

Over and over and over... 

Now, whenever I hear those words... that beautiful song... my heart can't seem to decide whether to hope... or hurt.

Still clutching onto those words... and the truth behind them... I think "... but this broken road was supposed to all prepare Your will for me, Lord. It was supposed to lead me somewhere. And Lord willing... to someone. But, it just feels like it's all been in vain. With only more broken road ahead."

Feeling forgotten.

And alone.

Carrying that burden of hope. 
A burden that only gets heavier the longer you hold onto it.

Going on 2 years ago, I stopped attending my church home on Sundays. 
A church I still dearly love to this day. 
A church I wouldn't miss for anything on Sundays, for 8 years straight.

People have inquired about my 'falling away' and I feel a little bad. I don't want anyone thinking it had anything to do with the church or its members. And it's not that I've drifted from God or fallen away from my faith. 

If anything, I'm trying to keep it intact. 

I haven't known how to answer.

To be honest, I don't even know that I could put my finger on the reason.

But, I think it has to do with that burden of hope?

I was desperate to meet with God during that difficult year. And He invited me in through the welcoming doors of my home church. And He showed up. TIme and time again. 

It felt like He had lead me to, yet lead me through, that dark time and had a will for me. For my life. That there was a purpose. A plan. For a future. And a hope.

That was ten years ago. 

And yet, I still seem stalled out on that same old broken road.

Trying desperately to continue... to shoulder that hope. 

You know, I would've thought, if anything, over time it would just crumble... eventually into a pile of dust. And I suppose that could happen. Should you decide the load is just too great to bear.

But, Lord, please help me to continue to bear my burden of hope.

"Help me to win my endless fears 
You've been so faithful for all my years"

Remind me... That if nothing else... You continue on this broken road right alongside me.
And that sure beats going it alone.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

YET... I Will Rejoice

Though that which I've planted has grown, but shows no fruition
Though there is no fruit on my vine,
Though that which has burst forth with harvest in years past now fails
And the seeds I have sown show no signs of reaping,
Though I cannot find one sheep in my keeping 
And not so much as one meager lean old cow, let alone a fatted calf to my name,
YET I will REJOICE in The Lord!
I will be JOYFUL in God my Savior!
For the Sovereign Lord is my STRENGTH;
He makes me as nimble and steady as a deer that treads on the mountainside, 
Allowing me to reach the highest heights!

~Habakkuk 3:17-19 (Jessica Standard Version)

Determined to get back into the Word more this year, I was prompted to start with Habakkuk. Short and sweet. And was looking for a verse the other day that  I'd remembered being in there, that was actually in Isaiah - haha, so decided to revisit Habakkuk and re-familiarize myself with his story.

And what I found was myself and my own heart's cry in those pages. 

How long, O Lord, must I call out to You
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You... 
Yet You do not answer.

Lord, how can You bless the godless and allow them to prosper
And turn a deaf ear to those who love You?

This is the Lord's reply - to Habakkuk, as well as myself:

Look... and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do!
For I am doing something in your own day; something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it!

Things I plan won't happen right away. I work slowly, steadily.
If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
The proud trust in themselves, but the righteous will live by their faith. 

Even though....

It may feel like He's distant and removed.
Your life feels stalled out with not much to show for it.
What once held promise now is gone.

Wait patiently...

He's there. And He hears every heart's cry.
He has a plan for Your life; a plan He is working out even now.
A plan that offers promise. And hope. And a future. (Jer 29:11)

Rejoice in The Lord!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Catching Up...

I can practically hear chirping crickets when I come back to this blog. Absolutely no posts since last year at this time? Geez.... Pitiful.

Gonna try to do better about that this year.
Boy... sounds familiar, huh.

Anyway - So, 2014 for me in a nutshell...

Did end up paying for all that culinary indulgence by the end of January.
Big time. 
Worst flare of my life - lasted from beginning of February 'til the first weekend in May. It was rough. I lost 30 pounds overall, was totally depleted in every way possible and felt like I would never feel good again.
Enough to pretty much scare me straight and give me the kick in the pants that I needed to really go all out with eating strictly Paleo/SCD. Pretty proud of myself actually. And you know, it actually gets SO much easier once your body gets used to all the good new food. It actually starts craving the good stuff. And now that I'm not so overwhelmed with it all, I'm actually enjoying my new normal foods. I've got all new go-to meals and have been learning so many great new items. (Like Spaghetti Squash - how fun is that stuff! And I have learned that I love avacados. And asparagus. Who knew.)

And the best part was... it all got me feeling better again by June, which allowed me an awesome weekend in my beloved Boston (long overdue trip!) with my friend! I was quite anxious leading up to that weekend, not sure I wouldn't start to flare again, but so glad to report that I felt great! And we had such a good time there. 

Awwww.... Boston. How I love you so.

Let's see... what else.

I don't know that I actually kept up with the empty shelf reading challenge per se (kinda tough to do when so much of your library is virtual these days); however, I did read a fair amount of books last year. Not as many as I'd have liked to have read, but not bad considering all the time I spent online reading up on health and food issues. 

Big news this past Fall - our company merged with another company and we now have benefits! Yay! Hadn't had insurance since 2011. Just feels good to have that safety net there again. Now to just keep my job.  :o

I managed to foster 3 more stray cats that somehow all seemed to find their ways to me. And all 3 ended up in very loving homes... So glad. 

The first was a beautiful, soft sweet little baby that greeted me out in the parking lot of my apartment complex one Saturday morning. I was headed over to Mom and Dad's to hang with them and the kids, so I just took her with me. She was very sweet. And did I mention soft? Just like a bunny rabbit. Of course, Mom and Dad wished me the best of luck with her, so I took her on back home. Two weeks of having her, I was completely ready to keep her (though Li'l Bit still needed convincing). Then a friend called me up and asked if I was still looking for a home for it. *Gulp* She assured me that her Aunt and Uncle wanted one just like her, as they'd lost one just as beautiful. And their dog was depressed and hadn't eaten since they'd lost theirs. *Gulp* So, I took the sweet baby up to Commerce with her and checked out her new living quarters... Let me just say - I almost asked if they'd adopt me, too! Beautiful piece of property! Beautiful home! And Charlie, the dog, was either convinced that this was indeed his new best friend... or his old friend come back to life. So sweet. Humongous dog - most assuredly scared the snot out of my baby, but word has it, they are now best of friends and she torments him relentlessly.  :)
Just a matter of weeks after giving her up, I ran up to Kroger real quick (as I had just thrown something in the oven that needed to be taken out in about 30 min's) and coming back home, as I passed right by Mom and Dad's, I spot a black figure in their turn lane... "Lord, please just let it be trash, please let it be trash..... Dangit! Another kitten?!" Wheeled around, headed toward their turn lane, turned in, got out and walked toward the all black kitten so as not to scare him into the busy road. Scared? Ha! He walked right up to me! So, still in a hurry and taking advantage of this one being on their actual property line, I tossed him into my passenger floor board and said "C'monnnn..." Mom and Dad were just sitting down to dinner and I walked in with him and said "Alright - this one's yours. Your property. Your cat." They weren't too keen on the idea, but needless to say, his name is now Jack and his favorite pasttime is wrestling with Gracie (the adopted dog) and he can't go to sleep at night until he's kneaded Grandpa's stomach.  :)  (I come by it very honestly.)
Jack was initially supposed to go to Ms. Pam's house, but we (and he) just got too attached. So, we laughingly said "Don't worry - you'll get the next one she finds." Never thinking I would actually come across another in such a short amount of time. Let alone, one that looks just like Black Jack. 
I stepped out my door one morning, leaving for work and there was another jet black cat, pitifully tucked in behind our stair railing looking up at me with eyes that I swear said "I heard you take in loving cats in need of a loving home..." Ugh. So, I let him in, locked him in the bathroom with some kitty litter and food and water, while I went to work. Came home at lunch to check on him and didn't think I'd be able to. That rascal had opened my vanity drawer to where the door couldn't swing open any more than 1/4 inch. Had to take a pencil with an eraser and scooch the drawer back closed. He was another sweet one. He now lives happily with Pam.  :)

Wow. Could've done a whole post just on cat fostering.
Hopefully, that's all for awhile. I don't need another, I'm pretty sure Mom and Dad are maxed out now and my heart can't take it!
Besides... Li'l Bit is quite happy keeping to herself in her older years.

Well. I better wrap it up. I might not find anything else to blog about for another year. Best pace myself.

Happy New Year, whomever reads this.  :)