The Loving Truth

Written by: Dr. Michelle Bengtson 

Sometimes the words of others can leave us feeling hurt and unloved.

The words she slung cut through my heart and left it splayed open like a gaping wound. They were her opinion, but professed as if they were gospel truth. Hearing my faults recited one after another, when all I had tried to do was help, left me shrinking back more and more into myself, trying to retreat to safety before the only thing left was bloody stumps.

Have you ever been unfairly accused by another? Wounded by their untrue words? Where do you go then?

Once I was safely alone, and could process the interaction, the tears flowed. “Lord, you know the truth. You see my heart. Search it. If anything there displeases you, uproot it then replace it with more of you. But Father, heal the wounds that have come from another person’s assessment. Reveal the truth.”

I’m so grateful that in His gentleness, he reminded me of Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.’”

Have you ever considered what that means? In Hebrew, everlasting means “forever, eternity.” His declaration that He has loved with an everlasting love means He loved us from before time began and will continue to love us throughout eternity. He loves us on our good days, and on the days we are not proud of and would prefer to forget!

In the first part of that verse, when the Lord said He loved you, that usage of love meant to like, be a friend, be a lover, an ally. And when He declares that He has drawn us with loving kindness, in Hebrew it means “loyal.”

Oh how I need someone who will always love me, despite my flaws, and remain loyal to me on my good days and my less than stellar days.

I don’t know where you are today, or what circumstance this finds you in. I don’t know if you ever feel alone, unwanted, or rejected, or perhaps you are fortunate to be surrounded by the love of family and friends.

What I know is that God has declared to us in this one verse that He has been a loyal ally, loving us forever from the beginning of time through eternity.

The love of family and friends can be an extension of God’s love toward us. But we must not look to them to validate our worth or establish our identity. People will let us down. They will sometimes unknowingly hurt, or accuse without all the facts. Their love is often conditional on what we say or do, or how we make them feel. But God promises to love us unconditionally with an unfailing love that is not dependent on our performance.

In Numbers 23:19 (NIV), we are encouraged that “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” What a comfort it is to know that God cannot lie and God does not change His mind. What He sets His mind to, He will accomplish—including loving you and me for all eternity.

I’ve never known a love like that from another person. People let others down, not even because they mean to, but because we’re human. Our feelings are capricious. Our likes, our wants, our attitudes change without reason or warning. But God’s love for us is a fact, not a feeling, and it does not change.

Wherever this finds you today, I pray you will rest in His unfailing love, as your friend and your ally.

I’d love to hear in the comments below how He has shown you his love recently!

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

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Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.”  She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

For more hope, stay connected with Michelle at:

To order Hope Prevails: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/

Website: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

Blog: http://drmichellebengtson.com/category/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleBengtson

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson (@DrMBengtson)

LinkedIn: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/DrMichelleBengtson

Google+: http://www.google.com/+MichelleBengtson

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/drmichellebengtson

Pinterest:  http://www.Pinterest.com/Drbhopeprevails

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn92DHzGSZk8psDb2FKazOQ

To order Hope Prevails from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Prevails-Insights-Personal-Depression/dp/080072707X/

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For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/how-to-help-a-depressed-loved-one-ebook/

For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/10-things-to-know-if-you-have-a-depressed-loved-one/

For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/what-not-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/ while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one: http://drmichellebengtson.com/what-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/

Board Games, Snow & Jesus

Written by: Rylie Wistuba

Last Christmas, my husband, Branden, and I celebrated our first Christmas married! Waking up to celebrate Christmas morning together, having breakfast and opening our presents to each other was so peaceful and made me feel so loved. After we had our little Christmas morning together, we went to my parents house. We decided to start the tradition of buying a board game for my side of the family every year, and playing it Christmas day. We also came up with a fun rule: whoever goes on their phone during the game gets a handful of snow to the face.

We were all having playing “The Game of Things” when the inevitable happened. My mom picked up her phone. My husband Branden always takes things to the next level, so he sprinted outside to grab huge armfuls of snow. My sister Zoe and I teamed up to try and corner my mom. Rule were rules, she had to “face” the consequences! We eventually rounded her up, and Branden had the honour of smashing snow into her face. We all had a great laugh, and went outside to build a snowman and have a snowball fight. Then, we all dressed up in our Christmas pyjamas and went to see a movie. We all agreed: it was one of our favourite Christmas’ ever!

I loved having my family around me, fully present and enjoying each other. Just as being together at Christmas nurtures the relationship I have with my family, it reminds me how incredible it is that I have a family of believers through Christ. In the morning, when Branden and I spent time alone, reminds me of how the the Holy Spirit moves and speaks when we are alone with Him: one on one with each other, with no distractions.

I love that God pursues a relationship with us in a family setting, as our Father, and one on one as a Friend. We broke the relationship He set out for us to have together, but He chose to reconcile it by paying the price, which was death:

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:17)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16-17‬

He humbled himself by coming to earth as a baby and then died to bridge the divide we had made because of our sin, that is the ultimate act of love. I am so grateful for the gift He gave us: a relationship with no division, a family fully together again just like it should’ve been all along. How much does He love us? “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭36:5

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Rylie is an avid tea-drinker, God-worshiper, and music lover. She lives in Windsor, ON with her amazing husband Branden and their big puppy, Aunna. She currently volunteers in the youth ministry & worship ministry at Amherstburg Community Church.

Mary Consoles Eve

Written by: Julia Bracewell

As a 19-year-old I first saw the image “Mary Consoling Eve” being used during Advent liturgy at my church. It immediately struck me as a beautiful image and I was drawn to the comfort and warmth brought by the truth it represented. However, the more I journey with God the more personal this image becomes.

I have always admired Mary. Given a task that in her context could bring intense emotional and physical pain, she never wavered or doubted, but entered the work ahead of her with joy and humility. In complete faith she said “be it unto me as you will”- these are not the words of a disconnected servant, but the overflow of a heart in communion with its creator. The obedience of Mary brought a humble Jesus to become like us, live among us and, in love, atone for our sin.

In my faith journey there have been seasons of joy and delight where glorifying God has been as easy as breathing; and there has also been seasons of hunger and struggle where I am far more in love with my comfort and my will than my Father. It has been in those seasons that God has pulled back the curtain of my heart to show me that any longing, or loneliness or dissatisfaction I am feeling is always a true longing after Him. What Eve was longing for in tasting the fruit was a longing that only her Father could provide. This is Satan’s trick, to make us think other things can fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.

This advent season I find myself grieving with Eve. God has reminded me of my longing for him; He has shown me that I have been going to other dry wells when His is the only full one that satisfies. I’ve wept because I can see and feel this longing to be in perfect communion with Him, yet my sin continually gets in the way. I need a Saviour. This advent, this image has brought me hope and comfort. Right now, I see so much of Eve in me, but Mary reaches out to console me and connect me to my Saviour. She reminds me that this is temporary and a day is coming when that sin will be gone and I will finally have perfect communion with my Father. My longing will be satisfied.

This advent while we anticipate Christmas as a time to celebrate the coming of our Saviour in the past, we live out a small enactment of the greater picture. Knowing that Christ’s life and death has made it possible, the Christian’s heart is filled anticipation for Him to come in the future, create a new Heaven and Earth, and begin a time of perfect, unending communion with Him- the fulfillment of all desire.

A Prayer To Do The Father’s Will

Father, be it unto me as You will,
Your beloved, adopted child;
Handmade, valued, unique and known.
I am confident in your promises and your provision,
My hands and my heart are open to what you give, do and plan;
I am your willing one.
Father, I am often like Eve,
Who, hearing your will, believed hers to be better.
Instead, make me like Mary,
Who, hearing your will, did not fight or fear,
But in faith, joyfully and humbly submitted.
Teach me constant prayer,
The discipline of peace,
The choice for joy.
Give me faith and help my unbelief.
Let my faith not rest upon fleeting emotions,
But instead on the ability to choose you again and again,
Though my flesh fails.
I am yours,
Be it until me as You will.
Amen.

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Julia Bracewell is a fourth year Business – International Development student at Tyndale University in Toronto, Ontario. She is also co-founder of the Acacia Movement, a non-profit organization aiming to educate people about issues women in the Global South are facing and connect them to practical opportunities where they can work against these injustices. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outdoors, writing music and meeting people.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Written by: Conny Varga

Hope is an interesting thing. It’s what keeps us going when all else seems lost. It’s what drives us to try again after we’ve failed. It is the last thing we cling to. Without hope, man begins to die.

The Christmas story as recorded in the Gospels is full of hopeful people. Interestingly though, God had a unique way of responding to their hopes and prayers. Take the nation of Israel, for example. For 400 years, there was silence, not a word of prophecy from God. Weighed down by one oppressing world power or another, with no end in sight. They were hoping and yearning for the promised Messiah who would come to free His people, sit on the throne of David forever, and rule a kingdom with no end. How did God respond? Well, the Messiah was not royalty, of no prominence or power, not even a great military leader. He was the illegitimate child of a poor peasant girl who ended up marrying a poor carpenter and lived in a less-than-glorious little nothing-town called Nazareth.

And what about Mary & Joseph, His parents? As they prepared for the birth of Jesus, all they hoped for was to settle in their little home in Nazareth and raise their son in the quietness of the town. Instead, everything went wrong! Caesar wanted a census, for which they needed to travel many miles through rough terrain, and when they finally got to Bethlehem, there was no room anywhere for them to rest their heads. And of course, to make things unbearably worse, Mary went into labour that very night. You would think that at least for the birth of His own son, God would ensure smooth sailing. But next thing we know, Jesus takes His first nap in a food trough, while being visited by dirty, stinky, rotten-toothed shepherds.

The wise men from the East went to Herod’s royal palace, expectantly hoping to pay homage to the new king they were sure they would find there. Instead, they are directed by a mysterious star to that little speck of dust on the map called Bethlehem, to find a lower-class couple with a poorly dressed little boy.

When Joseph & Mary went to the temple to dedicate Jesus to God, they were hoping for the regular routine of sacrifice that had been done for thousands of families before them. Instead, they became the center of attention as Anna and Simeon began telling people about Jesus, the promised Messiah. And how do you think Mary felt when Simeon told her that “a sword would pierce her own soul also”? I’m sure that’s not what they were hoping to hear!

Do you see a pattern in these people’s stories? They were all hoping for something, praying for something. And then God decided to answer their hopes and prayers in ways that were completely unexpected!

What about you and me? We all hope for things, whether consciously or unconsciously. We pray for and expect the future to turn out a certain way. And then God comes along and answers in very unexpected ways! What do we do when things don’t turn out the way we hoped? Do we question God’s love and goodness, do we become bitter or resentful? Or do we look for the hidden ways, the “silver lining”, in which God blesses us and shows His presence to us. The amazing part about the characters in the Christmas story is that they all praised and worshiped God in response to the unexpected happenings. We can learn a great deal from them. Christmas is about hope, great hope in a Great God. Let’s remember to never give up hope, to always trust that God will come through, and then let’s prepare for the unexpected and praise God with all our might – He deserves our worship. No matter how our lives turn out, no matter what the next bend in the road holds for us, we can rest in God’s promise that He will always take care of us.

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Conny considers herself the most fortunate woman on earth. Originally from secular Germany, she became a daughter of her heavenly Daddy as a teenager by His grace. She moved to Ontario, Canada 16 years ago to marry the love of her life, Mark, and they have been blessed with 3 amazing children whom they educate and disciple at home. Together, they passionately pursue Christ and, with imperfect steps, try to follow His example. Over the years, God has been opening their hearts to the plight of the poor and needy, especially orphans. They have embraced fostering local children and are involved in Lifesong for Orphans Canada as orphan advocates. Their home is always open to friends & family, and to anyone who might just come up their driveway. Conny comes alive at the mention of coffee, hosting guests, music, nature, and Bible study.

A Hope To Shed Light In the Dark

Written by: Christianne Williams

What comes to mind when you hear the word hope?  Expectation?  Excitement?  Dreams?  Anticipation?  Do you think back to times when you had dreams and plans for your future, expectations and desires of what you hoped you would accomplish?  Maybe you’re in that life stage right now where you’re eagerly awaiting a new beginning, a fresh start, a future stretching far ahead of you with no limits.  Perhaps you think of a situation that requires hope, something that begs for you to believe toward an outcome that is outside of your realm of ability.

Different stages and situations probably change our thoughts toward what hope actually means.  When I was young we had cousins who sometimes come and visit for the weekend.  On those Friday nights when I knew they were on their way, I would eagerly wait to see their car coming up the street.  I remember staying up later than usual to welcome them, special treats, and listening to conversations about what was going on outside of our tiny town.  As I grew up, I looked forward to other pivotal moments: vacations, school dances, graduation, career, marriage, children.

Out of everything, the journey to motherhood held the greatest moments of anticipation.  What would it be like to hold my own little one?  To dress him up and show him off?  As the nine months passed I could hardly contain my excitement!  I felt that same expectation through all four of my pregnancies.  And then to watch them grow, that has been a whole new feeling of hope.  You have dreams for them, excitement rises over who they will become and what they will accomplish.

I often wonder how Mary felt knowing she was giving life to not only her baby, but also the One who would bring hope to the nations.  Everyone was waiting for the promised Messiah, anticipating His arrival. He had been promised so long ago, some probably gave up looking for Him.  But I wonder how many who were still waiting expected Him to arrive as a baby, without robes and trumpet sounds?  How could the salvation of the world come in a package so small?  A lot of people overlooked this gift of hope.  He first brought excitement to His mother and then to the people who began to recognize who He was.  He brought hope into a dark age.

Just as the days were dark into which the Messiah was born, there are also times in our lives when we need hope to shed light in the dark.  There are some days when it feels like there is nothing to be hopeful for, like we are living in a day far too dark for any light to reach us at all.  It feels like we’re hoping in vain, waiting for something that may never arrive, as those waiting for Jesus must have felt at times.

I’ve never liked the time change in the Fall.  It leaves us with far less daylight and it has always made me sad.  I struggle when it’s dark at 4:00 in the afternoon and still dark when I’m off to work in the morning. It feels like the darkness that surrounds never ends.  Eventually the days grow longer and the darkness is less overwhelming.  In the middle of the longest day of the year there is still hope.  At some point, the daylight will show up.

  • The advent season reminds us that a Saviour came to earth to be the hope of the world. He came to be a light on even the darkest day, to bring anticipation and expectation into any and every situation.  To give us a reason to be excited for what’s to come even when it doesn’t look as if anything good ever could.

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Christianne is an east coast girl who recently moved to Alberta with her husband and four children. She is a pastors wife and homeschooling Mom who enjoys being a part of a local healing and deliverance ministry as well writing for We Are His Daughters. She looks forward to beginning each day with lots of coffee and being present in each adventure her family faces.

Hope

Written by: Laura Meiser

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1

Saturday night, in the midst of the first slushy roads of the season and with a hard and fast deadline approaching, found us racing to Urgent Care with our daughter.  She was feeling puny and the hives that had popped out earlier were reaching critical mass.  She was itchy and miserable and we were hoping for answers.

As my husband navigated the roads, I found myself rehearsing the list of symptoms and casual agents, already anticipating the questions the doctor would ask.  Because I had determined what I expected the diagnosis would be and I was hoping for the simplest outcome in terms of treatment and care.

It didn’t take long for the (very) young doctor to send my thoughts in a completely different direction with his diagnosis.  I was seeing zebras, but he saw horses.  The outcome was much simpler than I expected.  And I wasn’t quite sure how to process it.

We do that, don’t we?  We hope for the best but in our minds but we spend a lot of time pre-deciding outcomes and attempting to control circumstance.

But where does our hope lie?

Does it lie in a doctor?  Does it lie in a pastor or speaker or teacher of the Word?  Does it lie in spouse or a friend?  Does it lie in any man?

Friends, man will always disappoint.  We know this.  But if you’ll indulge my inner word nerd here, hope is something far more than we credit it.

The Greek word for hope in our key verse, “elpizo”, means to hope, to actively wait for God’s fulfillment about the faith He has inbirthed in us through the power of his love.

That is powerful.

Because hope means we acknowledge that though we might not see it or feel it, we choose to wait on God knowing He sees us and He knows us and He’s got a plan.

It’s under that hope that Mary, after hearing directly from an angel, laid herself bare and said, “May it be as you have said.”

It’s under that hope that Zechariah said, “His name is John.”

It’s under that hope that Peter said, “Lord, You know I love You.”

It’s under that hope that Paul said, “Who are you, Lord?”

We have so many questions, even now, but I take comfort in the fact that Mary, the mother of our Lord who should have asked so many questions, chose to rest in what she knew of God’s character.  It’s a lesson for me.  To wait actively knowing God sees me.  He knows me.  And his enduring love never ends.

That’s our hope.  That’s our joy.  That’s our rest.

To God be the glory!

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Serving in music ministry for over 20 years, Laura Meiser is passionate about sharing the love of God with hurting people through song, spoken and written word. Married for 20 plus years, mama to two daughters though with an empty-ish nest these days, you’ll find her also sharing space with two crazy cats, reading (often), running (slooowly) and  knitting (poorly) in her free time. You can catch up with Laura at www.laurakmeiser.com.

Jesus is Hope

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

The name of Jesus is so very precious to those who follow Him.  His name is full of incredible power and indescribable peace.  At the mention of His name there is salvation, healing, restoration and freedom.  His name tears down strongholds, builds up fortresses and obliterates the enemy, all the while filling us with comfort, love and strength.  The name of Jesus is the most important name we will ever speak!

The person of Jesus on earth was one like no other.  As part of our blessed Trinity, he left His home in heaven above to come to this planet as a baby child, to grow and learn and experience all that this temporal life affords, in order to fully understand our humanity, ultimately surrendering His life for us.  He walked with us, He talked with us, He hurt with us, He laughed with us, He cried with us.  He healed us, He helped us, He cared for us, He guided us, He challenged us.  All of this with a gentle spirit, a loving hand and open arms.  He was resolute in His purpose and willing to give His life as sacrifice for us.

Matthew 12:18-21, in reference to the word of the Father in Isaiah speaks to the character of Jesus, His Son, this way;

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.  He is my Beloved, who pleases me.  I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations.  He will not fight or shout or raise His voice in public.  He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.  Finally, He will cause justice to be victorious.

AND HIS NAME WILL BE THE HOPE OF ALL THE WORLD.”

Webster’s defines hope as, “a feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust.”  When we come to know the name and person of Jesus in our lives that feeling of expectation and trust grows exponentially and we look forward, with great desire, for the day of His return.  Hope wells up within us and we feel as though we could conquer this world.  And we can, because Jesus is HOPE!

We have such a blessed assurance in all our todays and all our tomorrows.  We have so much to live for now and look forward to in eternity!  No matter where we have come from in this life, no matter what we face in the days to come, there is always hope, because our Lord and Saviour is HOPE.  He is alive and well!

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D’Anne Mullin lives in Windsor, ON with her husband Kevin and two teenage boys Jeremey and Mitchell; the three men who have stolen her heart!  She loves being a wife and mother, holding very dear times spent together as a family.  Together, Kevin and D’Anne have been in active pastoral ministry for most of their 21 married years and she loves to lead people in worship through music.  She has worked with young children and their families for 20 plus years in the field of Early Childhood Education in many capacities.  In her spare time D’Anne enjoys reading, exercising and the occasional Netflix binge with her menfolk.

Hope in Him

Written by: Mary Hill

I have lost it often. I have regained it repeatedly, to regain it again. It is a promise that Father God gives us daily but it is up to us to find the strength to hold on to it.

I have gone from having a picture perfect childhood to living in hotel rooms, suffered depression and medical issues to unmeasurable joy, love and renewal of life and I would have never gotten to any point without having hope in Father God and holding on to the promises of hope in better days.

By Merriam-Webster definition, hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true but for me I have put my trust in what our Father God gives us in His Word.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This piece of scripture has sustained me in the most darkest of times, when I couldn’t look past the moment I was living in, not remembering that hope in the Lord is what is intended for us believers.

I have shared a number of stories of my own journey of life that most people find compelling as far as how could I ever endure such a time.

One story in particular would have to include my current journey as a military spouse. In the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I prayerfully decided that enlisting in the Air Force would be the best for our little family. Along our nomadic, military life, it was dicovered that I had type II diabetes that required a number of insulin shots a day and eventually leading the doctors to give me the scary news that within the six months I would require an insulin pump and within the year require a new pancreas or kidney. Where was my hope then? In our Lord. I knew our Lord had my husband enlist in the military because He knew that soon I would need so much medical intervention that would require expensive medications and a number of specialists.

And this is where some of Father God’s plan are revealed. You see, because my husband is an active duty service member, all of my healthcare has been taken care of because of the type of health insurance we have and with that, fast forward to a special doctor appointment where I had a new resident sit in on and who reccommended a gastric bypass in lieu of insulin pumps and donor lists to prolong my life and battle my case of diabetes.

Because of the suggestion of that particular resident that day, whom of which I have never seen again, I can proudly say that I have kept off 84 pounds and have put my case of diabetes into remission. Currently, I require no extra medications besides the typical vitamins and protein shakes to ensure my nutritional health and now my family have me for many more years to come with this renewal of life.

Often when I recap this story, I play the movie reel of scenes from the movie, Miracle of Heaven, where the mother loses her faith, becomes angry with Father God and later towards the end of the movie, there is a series of scenes where events are shown, that because of the people and events that Father God laid before their sick child, she later becomes cured. Just when that mom loses her hope, Father God shows her why she needs to hold on to such hope! How amazing is that?

So, I encourage you, when you feel down about your current situation or question what is laid before you, just know that our Father God has a broad plan for you and that keeping hope in Him is what will get you to the other side.

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Mary is a military wife, mom and runner. She cherishes time spent with her family and genuine friends. Mary has participated and helped lead a number of bible studies over the last 10 years and has enjoyed her journey that Father God has laid before her. The struggle at time has been real but when she makes it to the other side she knows that what she went through was meant for the greater good. Mary is encouraged daily by the renewal of life Father God has given her and tries to not take anything for granted because she knows that there is always someone else is praying for what you have!

Hope Reaches Down

Written by: Cindy Morrone

The story goes he was found on the side of the road and left for dead.  The stench of his wounds and incapacities filled the nostrils and the horror of his open wounds would never leave one’s sight. Naked.    Everything had been taken from him.  His belongings, his sense of security, his identity where all gone in one fell swoop; instantly changing him forever.

On his own he would have faded into the side of the road like he never existed.

As a foster parent, I have seen, heard and experienced things that will never leave my mind’s eye.

Where one so little, so vulnerable has lost those things many of us take for granted.  A sense of belonging.  Security. An identity draped in self-worth.

I sometimes become just overwhelmed by the devastation, I question and begin to doubt that things for this little one will be made right again.

Is there hope for this soul or will they too fade into the side of the road like they were to not exist?

Jesus tells us in the parable of the Good Samaritan what we are to do.

He answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’,; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27

Jesus identified our neighbor as those who are in need of mercy. Mercy synonymous with compassion.

The Samaritan saw, and reached down taking pity on this stranger.

It was bloody, messy, smelly, inconvenient, sacrificial, expensive and selfless.

And in the offering, hope was found.  A chance; an opportunity; a possibility that ruin would not be the end.

As a foster parent, I have seen, heard and experienced things that will never leave my belief system.

Where one so little, finds belonging, safety, and security and soars and overcomes, knowing hope was responsible because of a stranger’s mercy.

We cannot pass by, there is too much at risk.

Consider becoming a foster parent.  Consider supporting a foster family. Always pray.

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Cindy is a daughter of the great I Am; the one ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come’. A true county girl, she has lived most of her life in the small towns of southwestern Ontario. Cindy has been married to the man God handpicked for her for 21 years. They have two amazing identical twin daughters that were hand delivered by God. Just recently Cindy has officially become a stay at home, homeschooling Mom. And even more recently has been obedient to the call of fostering. She has a passion for speaking and is dedicated to the youth ministry at her home church. Cindy is honoured to be a part of, “We Are His Daughters” and counts her friendship with Mandy as one of God’s richest blessings.

To Expect With Confidence

Written by: Jody Mugford

If I can be honest, today I am an emotional wreck. Some of you may know that this past year has been the hardest of my family’s life. We welcomed our beautiful, perfect baby girl into the world and sixteen days later we watched the doctors perform chest compressions on her for hours trying to keep her alive. That was fourteen months ago and she is still here with us today! Thank you Jesus! She has overcome indescribable odds but her journey is not yet finished. We continue to pray for healing in many parts of her body, all the while rejoicing in the amazing miracles we have already witnessed. I have been blessed to experience God’s presence and power in ways I had only ever imagined. Many days I am full of faith and hope, confident we will see her completely healed. Still there are days…days when I am barely able to breathe as my mind adjusts to our current reality…waiting for a breakthrough…waiting on a miracle.

HOPE. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “to expect something with confidence”. Confidence…? I don’t know about you but I don’t think my hope always feels confident. If you have ever prayed and waited for something for a long time, or if you are still praying and waiting, I am sure you have had times when you questioned and wondered if it would ever come to be. If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered if your wavering confidence might somehow reduce the chance God would answer your prayer as you “hope”. Sometimes I find myself thinking that if I just hope enough, believe enough, have faith enough, all my prayers for my daughter will be answered. And if I wake feeling burdened and defeated then I fear I’ve taken a few steps back in the journey of seeing my hopes realized. But does God really work like that?

Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, the source of HOPE, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit.” I was struck in amazement when I read this verse recently. God is our SOURCE of hope! Psalm 62:5 says, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my HOPE is in HIM.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. God is our SOURCE of hope and our hope is IN HIM! He is the Giver of Hope and also the Gift of Hope! We are not meant to be mustering up this hope with our own strength and effort, convincing ourselves we must hope enough or believe enough. As our source of hope, it is God who has given us the ability to hope and He wants us to place it all back in Him and His strength. He is not calling us to stand unwavering in our own strength. He is asking us to allow the Holy Spirit to bubble that hope up and let it come spilling out. THEN we will have joy and peace and confident hope! And that hope will be properly placed in the only One who can fix our messy situations, the only One who can save us: Jesus.

Sweet friends, if this speaks to your heart, I pray you release the burden of carrying the weight. Whether it be the pressure of a financial strain, the burden of loss of health, the weight of waiting for a breakthrough, whatever it is, you were never meant to carry it. This is why Jesus came! Jesus came as a baby to grow into a man to die on a cross that we might be saved and come to know God. He came to this lost and hopeless world to give us the hope and salvation we could never reach or attain ourselves. He is the embodiment of hope and all He is asking is that you place your hope into the hands of the One who created you and loves you. Let Him lighten the burden. Let Him take the strain. Let Him lift you up while you wait for the breakthrough. This Christmas, let Him give you the gift of rest. He is your hope, my friends, and He will carry you.

Love and blessings in Christ,

Jody

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Jody is a wife to the most handsome man and mother of two beautiful miracles living in snowy Labrador. She loves to juggle the chaos of a full-time career while caring for her family, serving in music ministry at her church and getting out to make a snowman or two with her girls. She loves the Word of God and digging into its riches regularly with other sisters in Christ. God is good! Even in the chaos, He is good!