Hope Not Expectation

I went out to our little strawberry patch last night expecting to pick a few strawberries.  I was not going to take a bowl with me but decided it would probably be a good idea to grab one just in case.  I grabbed one of our largest glass storage containers, figuring that the bowl would be way too big.  Once I was halfway through picking our tiny patch, I realized that the bowl I had selected was way too small.  My expectations were exceeded as I began piling the strawberries on top of each other like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.   We started our little strawberry patch last summer with maybe 12 plants that initially struggled to survive.  This summer, our patch has grown and is bearing much fruit!   Contrast our strawberries with our apple trees.  (What can I say, I love fruit).  My mom gave me two apple trees the first summer we lived here at our dream home on the range.  The directions for planting the trees came with the promise that the trees would probably bear fruit after 3 years.  That was 4 summers ago and still no fruit.  Last summer (summer 3), one of the trees had several blossoms, but the early spring and late freezes killed those blossoms.  I thought for sure it would blossom again this year, along with its friend, but it did not.  So we wait…   I did not expect many strawberries this year, but was pleasantly surprised.  I expected apples, and was disappointed.  Expectations are tough.  If expectations are met or exceeded, life is good, but if a situation or person fails to meet our expectations, we are left to figure out how to move forward.  Regarding fruit, it is fairly easy to move forward from disappointment, but life deals us situations that are a lot tougher than a few barren apple trees.   We can save ourselves the heartache of the disappointment that comes with unmet expectations if we practice having hopes and not expectations.  Hopes and expectations desire the same outcome, but having a hope leaves[…]

Death and Destiny

As you know, if you read my previous blog, we have spent the past week mourning the loss of a dearly loved family member.  As we process and grieve, we have naturally had a multitude of thoughts and feelings flood through.  What IS heaven really like?  What will it feel like when my soul leaves this earthly body?  What is grandpa experiencing RIGHT NOW?  What will it be like for Grandma to adjust to a new normal after spending well over 60 years sharing this earthly space with her loved one?  How does God determine who gets to live for a long time on earth and who only gets a short time?   Somewhere amidst all of the questions and wonderings, in popped a verse:  “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).   Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.   For years (long before I came into the picture) the house of Grandma and Grandpa was a house of feasting.  Up until a few years ago, they had their entire family (3 children + their spouses, plus all grandchildren and eventually their great-grandkids) over for all of the major holidays.  They selflessly cooked a large, delicious meal and fed everyone.  The house of feasting is great and full of memories.  I can testify to that fact.  Yet, God says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning.”  Why is that?   Here is what I have come up with:  When we are feasting, we are focused on and delighting in the material world, a world that will eventually fade away.  When we are mourning, we are mindful of a world (or realm) beyond the one in which we are living.  THAT world is the ultimate destiny of every person.   It is tough to be mindful of the unseen when there are so many things to be seen in front of our face.  Distraction[…]

Faithful Servant – John Izenbaard

The world lost one of the most admirable men I have ever known today, and heaven welcomed a saint.  His name was John Izenbaard.  There is no irony in the fact that he died planting flowers, with a shovel in his hand.  If ever there was a man who touched more lives and planted more seeds of the Kingdom of Heaven, it was Grandpa.  He left the lives of people he touched more beautiful than before they encountered him.   He worked at the same hardware store, nestled in the heart of the city of Kalamazoo for 75 years and 2 weeks.  He started on his 16th birthday.  Yes, he worked there for that long.  He was at work this morning.  He sought no recognition for his (I’m sure world-record breaking) loyalty and dedication.  He faithfully served, giving of his expertise, fixing anything and everything that was brought his way.   I have known him for the past 14 years and his loss feels like losing my own grandpa.  I loved him dearly and admired him greatly.  One of the greatest things I admired about him was that he genuinely loved Jesus and unabashedly spoke of God’s faithfulness.  I remember talking with him one time when he was in the hospital about a year ago.  He was fighting pneumonia and was in good spirits as he was recovering.  He said that the doctors had asked him about what lengths he would like them to go if he needed to be revived.  He said something to the effect of “Don’t bother.  I know where I am going and I am not afraid.”  I had all I could do to hold it together that day in the hospital as he said this.  I believed him 100% and wondered if I had the same unwavering hope as he.  I saw his strength and his solid faith and I was inspired, but the thought of this world being without him was heart-breaking to put it lightly.   Death, and its finality and unknown territory, is difficult for anyone to face.  We all have to[…]

Opinion or Judgment?

I have been mulling over a topic for quite some time now, so I decided to blog about it.  I am wondering what the difference is between opinion and judgment.  I looked up the definitions of both “opinion” and “judgment” and found each word used to help define the other.  Thus, I was no closer to understanding the true difference.   When I googled this topic, one claim stood out to me over and over again:   “All judgments are based on opinions, but not all opinions are judgmental.”  In other words, you need to first have an opinion of something to form a judgment, but merely having an opinion does not mean you are being judgmental.   If this is true, then what makes an opinion turn judgmental?  I am convinced that there is no clear line one may cross from opinion to judgment.  I may share an opinion with one person and it is perceived as nothing more than opinion, but then I may share the exact same opinion with someone else, and it is labeled judgmental.  I think (my opinion) that whether or not an opinion is deemed judgmental depends on the perception of the person on the receiving end of the opinion.  In this case, we can not really do a whole lot about whether or not someone thinks we are being judgmental.  What we CAN do is search our own hearts to know whether or not we are seeing clearly.  We can also decide whether or not our opinion needs to be shared.   An opinion is a way of seeing.  It is a choice to look at a topic from a certain perspective.  Jesus warns us not to judge (Matthew 7:1).  He also warns us to see clearly (Matthew 6:22).  The Kingdom of God operates differently than the world in which we are currently living.  The person who is operating out of the Kingdom of God (and not from the eyes of society) sees through eyes full of love and seeks redemption and life for everyone they encounter.  Their opinions are based on the[…]

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day.  A day to celebrate the hard work and selflessness of moms everywhere.  It is a day for her to be appreciated and maybe even pampered a little bit.  It is a day to honor her.   Her.   What if you long to be “her,” but you are not, yet?  If that is you, I wish I could give you and big hug and encourage you that you ARE a mom.  You do not need to have given birth to a child to be a mom.  There are so many boys and girls that need guidance, love, encouragement, nurture, and attention.  You have all of that in you to give.  I am sure you already give so much of your motheringness away to those God has put in your life.  So I will be celebrating you today along with all of the other moms.   At the same time, if you are waiting for a little life that calls YOU, “Mom,” I understand that Mother’s Day can have a shadow over it.  It can be difficult to celebrate others when they have the very thing you so deeply desire.  It can be difficult to have an entire day set aside to honor a circle of women when you feel on the outside of that circle and you can’t do anything about it.  Having me tell you that I genuinely believe you are a “mom” already does not really meet that deep longing in your heart.  I get that, and I am sorry for that pain.   Whenever I am struggling, I try to ask myself, how does God see my situation?  Often, he sees much differently than I, and if I can figure out how to see his way, I know I will feel a lot better.   How does God see Mother’s Day?  This is a good question for anyone to ask – whether you are a currently a mom or you are waiting to become one.  I will first address the question from the perspective of the one who is waiting…   God is all about[…]

Welcome to unwaveringhope.com!  I am so glad you are here. This space was created when my life story was not following the path I expected.  For years, infertility was the main topic of my wrestle.  These days, I find myself sorting through the mental chaos of mothering, wife-ing, friend-ing, teacher-ing, daughter-ing and what-is-my-life-purpose-ing.  As I try to steady my thoughts and park them in a healthy place, God has made one thing clear:  maintaining hope in Him is the key. Check out my blog for a window into my story.

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