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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Susan Cortez

I’m not going to lie. The last three weeks have been rough. I knew fostering would be hard, but for some reason I didn’t anticipate the level of hard that it would be. I think it has to do with the fact that we no longer have a refuge from stress in our home, but instead are dealing with two constant and major stress-producers in the core of our family, without any of the history or affection that helps one press through. Honestly, being “on” all the time while at home feels like stepping on a nail and trying to become accustomed to the sensation of having it imbedded in my foot instead of pulling it out.

In spite of all that, something beautiful happened this week. After weeks of frustration and chaos with Jake, he unexpectedly made me laugh. Really hard. I don’t remember what spurred this, but for some reason he looked at me with flirty eyes about a week ago and said, “Hi. I’m Susan Cortez,” all while moving his head just like a bobble-head. I don’t have a clue if he knows someone named Susan Cortez or if he just made that up, but it was really, really funny and I busted out laughing. It was so good for us! In fact, he keeps doing it and every single time it genuinely makes me laugh. Yesterday when I pulled in the driveway after work he bobbled his head and did his eyes at me while riding his scooter and I laughed inside my car and did it right back at him. I truly believe that God rescued me from my frustration with him by giving me delight in him. I can’t tell you how grateful I am–and how Jake has blossomed and relaxed since he’s discovered he delights me. Only God.

We are so grateful for every prayer that has been prayed on our behalf and for the physical and emotional support of all of our friends. Brooke and I are clinging to the Lord and growing even closer to each other through this difficult journey. The girls are loving having the boys, but understandably struggling a bit with the big changes as well. In spite of that we see them maturing daily and growing in their selflessness. All in all, we are making it–with battle wounds, but still intact. I guess no one ever promised that following God would be easy.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

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In The Business Of Hope

At the crisis pregnancy center where I am privileged to work, we consider ourselves to be in the business of hope. It is our passion and calling to offer hope to men and women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy as well as to those who have chosen to end their pregnancy by abortion. Many of our peer-counselors have been in their shoes and have personally known the pain they feel and have experienced God’s mercy and grace in abundance. Our hearts’ desire is for each of our clients’ stories to end with them tucked into the arms of God, drenched in His grace, no matter how they get there.

The following is a letter I will not send to a client whose name I will disguise. It is what we would gently say if our clients were ready to hear it and the heart of what we will say whenever God opens the door.

Because of the hidden reality that 1 in 4 women (both in the church and out) have experienced an abortion, this might be a letter for you as well. Or for your friend, or your sister or mother…

 

Dearest Rachel,

It was a narrow door, wasn’t it? The idea of having your baby, of letting everyone know that you aren’t the girl they thought you were, of disappointing your family and the young women you mentor, of navigating the relationship issues, and of being a mommy alone at the age of 19–it was a very narrow door.

I want you to know that I understand. I know it was a terribly hard decision for you to make.

I hoped that you would press through and follow God where He was leading, because He was so clearly leading, wasn’t He? I didn’t want you to have to experience the pain and sorrow that you will now carry and struggle to overcome.

But, Rachel, I want you to know that all is not lost for you. Though you didn’t choose the narrow door that leads to life, the path remains before you. You are so precious to God and He is fully prepared to lead you to freedom–even now.

The Truth is there is nothing in all creation that can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38,39)

Neither height nor depth.

Nor any powers.

Neither the present nor the future.

Neither angels nor demons.

Neither death nor life.

He loves you. Nothing can change it. You are secure in that. Don’t be afraid to turn to Jesus and let Him wash you clean. Set you free. Tuck you under the Father’s wing. Lead you through the narrow door…help you find life.

With love and fondness…

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The Door Of Hope

This morning our pastor taught from the book of Hosea, about a marriage that went through some very difficult-to-stomach trials. Hosea was a prophet to whom God gave the instruction to “go and take an adulterous wife.”  So Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer, who bore him a child, and then returned to her adulterous ways. She bore two more children who weren’t Hosea’s and then left him to be a prostitute again. After all this the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So Hosea took his money and went and bought his wife out of prostitution and brought her home again.

Yes, this is an incredibly difficult story, but it is also a beautiful story of God’s love for the Israelites, of His love for you and me, and of an incredibly redeemed marriage.

Though the Israelites turned their backs on God repeatedly and worshiped other gods, He remained faithful and wooed them home to Him.

Though we forget our First Love and fall into sin again and again, the Lord continually shows us His unfailing love and reminds us that He has bought us out of our sin by the blood of His Son.

Though Hosea and Gomer had a marriage that appeared doomed, and in our day Hosea would be derided for his apparent insanity, God did a shocking redemptive work in their lives. In His words, He made “the Valley of Achor (or trouble) a door of hope.”  (Hosea 2:15)

I am fairly bursting with gratitude as I write this. The marital crud that Brooke and I have mucked our way through could definitely be referred to as a Valley of Trouble.  And let me tell you something–God showed us a door of hope and He held our hands as we walked through it. 

Standing on the other side I am overwhelmed with unspeakable joy. God is so much bigger than I thought. If I could go back now and avoid the Valley of Trouble, I wouldn’t do it. The gift of this beautiful marriage, the knowledge that God is powerful and our faith isn’t in vain, and the joy of an intimate relationship with Jesus is worth every moment I spent in that valley.

I don’t know what your future holds. There are many things in life we just don’t have control over. But I know without a doubt that God will be with you and that there will be a door of hope for you. You mustn’t let Satan or the world or your fears convince you otherwise.

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