Climbing Every Mountain

I’m sure many of you know the song “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music (one of my favorite movies)…those who know me, know that song is my least favorite from the WHOLE movie!! I’m content to just push fast-forward and skip those 4 minutes of the movie. However, that song holds some awesome truths. 

In the song, it talks about no matter what comes you’ve gotta get through it to reach your dreams. When you have an end goal in sight, things (stumbling blocks) are going to pop up along your path. These may be sickness, lacking funds, a time delay, a friend who needs you and your attention must be temporarily redirected, it may be a “fad” of the day that distracts, a TV show, a computer game, a book, a hike, a car, anything and everything can be a road block to our dreams. We have to decide if we want to climb them, or just get stuck.

The reason so many people get “stuck” in life…they’ve let the road blocks win. They have chosen their dream is not worth the effort to push a little harder, a little further, to achieve the goal. Often people compare life to a mountain…rough on the way up, but well worth the view from the top. The question…what keeps people from going to the top? The rough places…it gets rough…people may get hurt, tears may fall, scars may form. Those who want to see their dream come to be (see the view from the top) have to keep pushing no matter how badly they want to give up.

Last spring, my best friend and I went rock climbing…that was a first experience for me! 🙂 I’m adventurous at heart, but that’s a sport I’d never seen myself doing before, except I found out that I LOVE it!! Well, when rock climbing they have different levels of difficulty and they’re marked. I have the mindset “use whichever holds get me to my goal”, and use almost any of them to get me to the top. 

My friend…the little sweetheart…doesn’t!! I’d be climbing and you’d hear that voice from the floor going “That’s the wrong color, you’re not supposed to be over there” I would call back “Yes, I know…but it’s easier to use that one.” But ya know what…the most rewarding climbs weren’t the easy ones. I’d get to the top thinking to myself “Okay, so you’re here…now what?” The most memorable climbs, the ones I recall most vividly…are the ones he made me promise to use only my color and pick a challenging climb for where I was at. I’d get about 3/4 of the way up (so close to my goal) and I could feel myself giving up. Feel myself trying to sell myself on just being lowered back to the ground. I’d tell myself softly “there’s always next time. I’ll climb all the way next time”. And yes, there were a couple that I’d be lowered back to the ground to attempt and achieve on the next climb…but the climbs most remembered is when I’d call down “You can let me down now” and his reply was “You can keep going. You’re almost there. Try to use…” and he’d coach from below. 

Reaching the top…my heart soared. I knew I’d accomplished something, stretched myself, breathed through the pain of screaming arm and finger muscles, shaking leg muscles…and made it. I’d touched to top of the wall. I’d reached my goal. 

Life lesson…from my view it looked impossible. I thought I’d tried every foothold, tried every possible solution and had given my 100%. From below…he could see things I was missing, could logically think through what I was experiencing and help me move beyond myself. Translate this into life…when we’re walking along our road we’re going to come to the place where we’ve given it our all, we’re tired and feeling like we’re unable to go on. And then, along comes our friend…with a supporting hand and an encouraging voice they call to us. Telling us it’s only a little further, it’s only a little more pushing and then…there’s the magic of the top. I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels to reach the top knowing I didn’t give up on myself, didn’t give in when the going got tough and that I accomplished more than I thought I could. I was made of tough stuff. 

We’re all made of tough stuff. It’s having the friends along the journey, to encourage and walk beside you! The friends may never know that what they’re saying is sinking deeply into our hearts, but it does. I’ve not been rock climbing for over 8 months…but I’ve not forgotten the lessons learned in that moment. The important things in life aren’t the struggles, but what we learn in those struggles. The friends we have to count on, the inner determination and strength to push just a little further and then the joy that floods our hearts when we realize for ourselves that we are able to achieve anything we want as long as we set our mind to it!! 

Also, word of encouragement…keep your friends close. They are the ones who will help push you when you find you’re running out of steam. Especially if they have a competitive nature…1/2 the reason why I’d push myself further on those courses was because I wanted to prove to him I could do it…but whatever the reason, he got his lesson across…climbing every mountain…reaches my dreams!! 😀 It’s an awesome feeling when you hit the top, sweaty and tired…it’s a good feeling knowing you reached the end, worked hard and accomplished what you were going for. 

Never give up on yourself, you’re worth so much more than that!! Find a goal, and strive for it with everything in you!!! 

Just Like A Cat…

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Okay, so you’re probably wondering what’s with the pictures of the kittens!! 🙂 I was recently at my pastor’s house and they have these two new kittens: Bilbo and Galadriel. And let me tell you….they are SO much fun to watch!! As I was watching them, though…I began realizing families are a lot like kittens. (Just use your imagination for a moment…) At one moment, the kittens look like they do on the right: very cuddly! They’re curled up close to each other and very sweet and innocent looking. They are loving being curled up next to each other. They are enjoying the closeness of body, heart and soul. Within about ten minutes though the scene looks QUITE different!!! HAHA…that’s an understatement. The kittens have moved from their perch on the chair to the hard floor. They are now biting, clawing and literally growling at each other. I couldn’t stop the grin, because 1) they’re just so cute when they’re mad and 2) I was struck by the funny realization that they were fully engaged in this battle. Neither kitten was willing to give in to the other. They would take turns biting each others ears and hissing at the other. But not to worry…within a few minutes they were back to playfully pouncing on each other and then sleeping sweetly beside each other shortly thereafter. 

 

Okay…some may already see the connection. But here’s where my mind went! Families are just like this…we may fight, disagree, and “claw each others eyes out”…but given some time, you can usually find us curled up with our siblings sharing our hearts, making memories together and having a ton of fun!! Friends, family and sometimes our relationship with God is just like this!! We’re fighting (why, sometimes we have no idea why) and other times we’re closely knit together. Fighting isn’t a bad thing…disagreeing can bring about incredible closeness if the situation is resolved properly. The importance is that we take the time to work out the issue. The kittens don’t stop fighting until the perceived threat is gone, and then they go back to being sweet little kittens. Likewise, we must (no matter the disagreement) always take care of the whole matter…before we can become again close at heart. 

 

My observations went further when yesterday I was taking chicken scraps to our cat and dog. Sparkle, has been a part of our family for years…she’s normally a very good listener. Well, Abby (our dog) comes immediately when I call her and was very happy to get about 3/4 of the chicken. I call for Sparkle and get no response, I go looking for her and can’t find her anywhere. I end up giving her portion to Abby (who was so grateful that Sparkle didn’t show up!) I went back inside and was telling my sister about her cat’s weird behavior. That’s when I was informed “Oh, she heard you. She was mouse hunting in the front field. I saw her perk up but she decided she was on an adventure and was looking for a feast of mice.” 

I must say…I frowned and thought to myself “How stupid!! I was offering that cat a feast, one that she didn’t even have to work for…and she was too caught up in what she was doing to pay any attention to my voice. Well, it serves her right that she didn’t get any chicken.” My heart then stopped as I realized what I’d just thought!!

Aren’t we just like that in our lives!? Going about our own thing, doing what we want, looking for that “all-American dream”…looking for our feast…and God is there, calling us, guiding us…and we’re completely ignoring His voice because we’re on an adventure and we know what we’re doing!!!? Oh, how my heart dropped in my chest at the thought of how many times I’d ignored God’s prompting…what did I miss? Do I get so wrapped up in looking for my own treasures, my own feasts, that I’m missing out on HUGE blessings from my Heavenly Father? 

I was offering our cat a FREE meal, no work, no sweat, no fight from the food…but she chose to do her own thing. Likewise, God offers us the most valuable treasure of all-His Son (Jesus Christ). This doesn’t mean He offers us a life free of suffering and pain…that’s all a part of life. He does offer us an unending hope to rest upon when the going gets tough. All we have to do…listen for His call. 

In the book of John, Jesus compares Himself to being the Good Shepherd. In case you all don’t know the other 1/2…we’re the sheep!! 😉 Such cute, sometimes dumb little creatures!! 🙂 Well, in verse 3 & 4 this is what it says: “…and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (NKJV) 

The sheep spend ALL day in the presence of their shepherd, so they know his voice! Likewise, in order for us to recognize God’s voice we MUST spend time with Him. And not just a couple minutes in passing…we need to develop the art of listening and building our relationship with Christ. Check this out…Jesus does a few things here that I find AMAZING!! First, He calls us by name!! There is nothing more personal than to call someone by their name. In today’s society, names are often thrown around…and when you use someone’s name, they smile. Just try it sometime, their whole face will usually light up!! And then secondly, He (Christ) goes before us, He leads us. He’s not going to take us anywhere that He hasn’t already been. If we are listening to His voice, we cannot go anywhere He isn’t already there!! 🙂 He is ALWAYS with us!! 

This is getting long, so just think about this truth! Grab a Bible and read Psalm 23 as well…it ties in to Christ’s goodness. It’s okay to have battles, just work them out! Don’t leave a lot of lose ends dangling! And listen, it’s okay to not always understand WHY He’s calling…just go! He’s going to take care of you!! He wants to bless you…just trust in His Almighty care. That’s when we’re blessed beyond imagination!! Take a step of faith…He’ll be there to catch you! 

J.O.Y.

Christmas is the season of unending hope and joy, right? So why is this season, this time of year when everyone says depression rises highest? A group of friends were talking about this yesterday and let me tell you, it was an interesting discussion!! Especially in light of the Connecticut shooting…where is the hope in that? What about those families who are suffering loss…how do you bring comfort to the hurting hearts and souls of them?

 

There’s a difference in the world between happiness and joy. Yesterday I heard it explained this way:

Happy=a feeling based on circumstances

Joy=a peace not depending on circumstances

 

So if this is true…happy is what you feel when you see a friend you’ve not seen for a long time. Happy is when you get to soak in a tub of hot water. Happy is when someone gives you a compliment. Happy is a feeling, and very much so subject to change.  Joy on the other hand is the security knowing that everything is going to end okay and that we can rest peacefully even while things are going “wrong” in our lives.  It’s not having a constant smile, it’s not faking happiness…it’s a deep-abiding joy that gets you through the rough places in life.

 

As I was thinking about this, I came to some interesting thoughts…the reason non-believers don’t have joy (an unshakable confidence that things will be okay) is because they don’t know the source of Joy. There’s a acronym that I heard years ago for JOY…it’s Jesus, Others, You. When you see it this way…it makes sense. As you look in the Bible in most of the cases Joy is only mentioned in regards to Jesus Christ or God or worshipping Him in joyful spirits! This called something to my attention…when we focus of Christ, we have Joy…if we look at circumstances through our own eyes its EASY to get depressed and when we look at them through the eyes of eternity, the eyes of God…we see that our end is good, and He will always be with us through every struggle.  Joy is our response to Christ. And no matter the circumstances…when we look to Christ, there’s a peace and a hope in Him that surpasses all challenges in our lives.

 

Why do we tell people who are depressed to give of themselves to others…to get involved…because it’s putting others before yourself and showing Christ to them through your actions.  It puts back into perspective the Jesus, Others, You (JOY) principle!! Does this solve the problem, not fully…but it helps us refocus our attention on someone other than ourselves.  Personally speaking, when I find my Joy has slipped…I grab my Bible and a motivational Spiritual book and then I go serve. “Magically” after that’s been done…I find myself a lot more thankful and I feel this inner strength that I know comes from Christ. A strength that no matter what happens, I know He is holding my life in His hands and the words of Philippians 1:6 are true! “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Another thing, as Christians, our joy (our heart/soul) magnifies (makes clearer) the attributes of God.  In times of trial and struggle, how we respond is a loud message to the world. As we lean heavy upon Christ, we can continue in joyous living and that speaks loud and clear to a hurting world. As everyone is scrambling for answers, for those whose hope is in Christ…we have the answers. Maybe not to the “why”, but we have the hope of a good ending.

 

So during this Christmas season…take a moment to focus on what Christ did. Not on His death, but on the whole story…how He came to earth, lived a life (for us to follow) and then died for our sins and ROSE FROM THE DEAD!! This…is where our hope comes from!! The world doesn’t end in the grave, the world doesn’t end in sorrow…our story is one of hope and happiness, a deep peaceful Joy…if our hope is in Christ!! It’s all about Him…

The Hope Within

Hey everyone, first…an apology for not “blogging” more. I’ve been traveling and crazy busy before that so I have had hardly any time to catch my breath. I have a couple “neat” ideas, or at least ideas that encouraged me, that I’ll be sharing in the next few days.  Real brief, a peek into my life…my best friend since childhood is getting married in a few days (I never imagined the time would pass so quickly!) I have been helping out at an awesome organization Samaritan’s Purse with their Operation Christmas Shoebox Program. Let me tell you…if children and missions is your passion…this is a GREAT way to get involved and leaves you humbled and awed at how little acts of service can accomplish a much greater purpse. The first night of training, when I watched the children from years past, have a smile and a light jump into their eyes as they opened the boxes…wow…the deep places in my heart jumped at the opportunity I was getting to serve children around the world, minister to places I may never physically go and restore the hope during the season of Christmas. I’ve also been babysitting/house sitting for a few friends going through life.  Let me tell you…life doesn’t get easier. Complaining gets you no where, it’s all about leaning on the support of loving friends and a caring God who won’t let you drown in life’s challenges. 

So…with all this being said you’re probably wondering “so where’s the “hope within”…exactly why my heart has been so focused on this hope in the last few weeks. I turned 21 just a couple weeks ago, and since then not much has changed except now I feel this expectation to live up to a maturity that I’m supposed to have. While part of me still longs to be that little girl swinging on the swing with the gentle spring breeze blowing my hair all around my face. To feel the joy of just soaking up God’s glorious creation.  Somewhere between those moments of childhood and adulthood, that magic can get lost.

So this hope…has been on my mind. The question everyone silently wonders when things aren’t going right “Why me? Why this? What’s the point? How am I going to make it through this?” And though all our situations may vary…to some it’s a project deadline, for others a serious illness, a death, a loss of tremendous value, or maybe something so simple as a serious of “bad” things that hit all at once. Like you’re sick, you have a headache and your child or sibling asks you the same question for the 100th time…and you get the choice to respond lovingly or not. 

This is the season for Advent, and some friends I’m staying with are doing the weeks of Advent or something like that…and this past Sunday, while I am at their house, they happened to be on the candle of…HOPE. Coindicence? (I think not!)

I believe it was the same night, I open to my devotions and was stuck by the truth of the words found in Proverbs 13:12. 

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (KJV)

Normally, I use the NKJV when blogging, but I only have my Bible handy right now. So…I’ll explain what it means to me and hopefully if you’d like to read it in your preferred version…you go look it up!! 🙂

When hope fades, is postponed or put off (deferred), the heart is going to become sick. So yes, getting sick can happen just based on what’s going on in your heart. I believe. There are times in life, when struggles overwhelm our hearts and it blocks the light we receive from the undending Hope of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.  When our hearts are cut off from His Hope, His love…the hope of a future with a happily ever after…it’s easy to become heart-sick. I just started a book tonight called “The Sacred Romance” and it’s about our hearts and God…here’s a quote:

“We describe a person without compassion as ‘heartless’, and we urge him to ‘have a heart’. Our deepest hurts we call ‘heartaches’. Jilted lovers are ‘brokenhearted’. Courageous soldiers are ‘bravehearted’. The truely evil are ‘blackhearted’ and saints have ‘hearts of gold’. If we need to speak at the most intimate level,, we ask for a ‘heart-to-heart’ talk. ‘Lighthearted’ is how we feel on vacation. And when we love someone as truly as we may, we love “with all our heart”. But when we lose our passion for life, when a deadness sets in which we cannot seem to shake, we confess, ‘my heart’s just not in it.’ (p. 3)

Woah…is what my mind said when I read that. (and sorry this is going to be a longer post…I have a lot in my head and heart right now!) So back to the verse from Proverbs.  When we lose focus on the Hope that resides in our hearts, it’s quickly coming that we will find ourselves asking questions that seem to have no answers and we lose our joy and passion of living.

When we find ourselves in this place…there is no easy answer, no quick solution…it’s raw pain and sheer grit that get you out. It’s painful to look at WHY you lost hope, what happened to your heart that made it lose sight of the glorious resurrection and a promised Happily Ever After? When you identify that hurt…that’s when healing begins.  Do not be afraid to talk about it, find someone you trust…or e-mail me, a pastor, a friend…YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!! NEVER!!  Second, once the hurt is identified…sink yourself into the Bible. God will “magically” show you verses that seem penned JUST FOR YOU! They will speak to your heart, it’s so awesome when that happens. The Bible talks about everything!! Friends can offer you words of comfort and a shoulder to cry on…temporary fixes, but only Christ can fill the longing in your heart. Only He can restore true Joy in your soul. 

I feel like I’ve started a BIG post and only truly brushed the surface. Hope is a fragile thing, easily broken but if somoene has true Hope…it’s almost impossible to shake.  There’s an unwavering commitment to a person or thing that your hope is in. The foundation hope should be in Christ, and then your spouse and family, then friends…this kind of loyalty and commitment…this kind of love, generates hope and impacts the world.

If you ever need anything…e-mail me at newhopeinhim@gmail.com