Reviews of Hope Deferred


The Day My Patience Was Hiding

24 Apr 2018 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Drawing Near to God, Infertility, Motherhood, Trust


The fruit of the Spirit is…love, joy, peace, PATIENCE…


Well, I was not real full of the Spirit.  I was full of something else, but it was not the Spirit of God.  Disappointment, frustration, anger, discouragement.  I was full of those things.


I’m sure you can imagine what spilled out of me in word form when I was feeling full of those things.  I didn’t want to be in my home that day and neither did any of my family members.


I concealed those foul emotions deep inside, but what came out of me was a complete lack of patience.  I overheard my daughter yelling at her brother, so of course, I came into the room to yell at her for yelling at her brother.  Not hypocritical, at all.


The 2nd born was banished to the basement (where his room is, lest you think I’m an absolute monster) before he got two words out.  I just couldn’t deal with his energy and incredible talent of riling up ALL his siblings.


The third born just stood and looked at me wide-eyed.  The fourth, is vocal about her opinions, and well, I was vocal about my feelings about her feelings.  I just couldn’t deal.


Everyone was miserable.  I was miserable.  I wanted to have patience, but my unresolved feelings about my circumstances were causing me to lose sight of God and his goodness.  I was living and operating from the world I can see, feel, hear, taste, and touch.  I was not operating above my circumstances, the way God graciously enables us all to do.  I was living in the flesh, not from the Spirit of God that lives in me.


When we surrender to God, he enables us, through his Spirit, to live in a way that honors him and blesses the people around us, regardless of our circumstances.  When we have issues in our hearts that we have not surrendered to God or that we have not allowed him to infuse with his truth, those issues get in the way of us living from the Spirit.


I know I am not alone in having days like this.  We do not celebrate these days.  We try to conceal them, or we try to quickly move past them, but they happen to all of us.  So this is my public confession that I fail.  I want to be a good mom, but I am not perfect.  I want to love my family perfectly, but I am not Jesus.  He is helping me to become more like Him, but in the mean time, I live in the tension.


The real issue was and is not my lack of patience.  I have all the patience I need because I have the Spirit of God.  The issue was what I let fester inside of me.  Instead of taking my disappointment and discouragement to God, I sat and dwelled on the disappointment.  Instead of renewing my trust in God and his goodness, I embraced the hopelessness.


Don’t get me wrong.  There is a time and a space to be bummed and sad when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped, but we are on dangerous ground if we choose to stay there for any length of time.  I overstayed my welcome by several days, and the result was not pretty.


So in case you have had/are having a day like mine, rest in the knowledge that, if you follow Jesus, you have everything you need to have a great day TODAY.  You have the Spirit of the Living God inside of you.  You have the power to overcome and rise above your circumstances.  Give God the junk in your heart and he will replace it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.  Not a fair trade, but it’s a good trade in our favor.  Thank you, Jesus.

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Waiting, disappointment, hope?

17 Apr 2018 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Drawing Near to God, Infertility, Quest for Contentment, Trust

Hello there,


This week I did a lot of waiting.  I did a lot of hoping.  In the end, I’m left dealing with disappointment.


You see, I have had a dream ever since I was 13.  Over the course of the last month, I thought that dream might actually become a reality.  It was a pipe dream.  I knew that.  I was fully aware of the magnitude of miracles that would need to happen in order for this dream to actually be realized, but I got really close to seeing the dream come true.  I was so close I could taste it.


But in one conversation, I realized that the dream was likely not going to happen.  Just like that, I went from gobs of hope and excitement to a shattered mess wondering how in the world to move forward.


It was not just the disappointment I needed to conquer.  You see, as I pursued my dream, I discovered pieces of information that also affected my here and now.  I discovered that my here and now is actually worse off than I realized.  I wish I could go back to a place of ignorance, but I can’t.  All that is left, is to figure out how to move forward.


So how do YOU move forward after extreme disappointment?  Seriously, I would like to know.


I know we all face disappointments, big and small.  The saying goes, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”  Could it also be said that it is better to have hoped and been disappointed than to have never hoped at all?


A life lived without hope, is a bleak one.  We all need something to hope for.  Years ago, when I was trying to find a domain name that would accurately describe what I wanted this website to be about, I stumbled across “Unwavering Hope.”


Unwavering – “steady, resolute, constant, unrelenting”…just a few of the words used to describe “unwavering.”


Hope“a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”   Also:  “a feeling of trust.”


I believe the key to successfully navigating this crazy life with all its dips and turns is to have a steady, unrelenting trust in something higher than ourselves.  The only way to not be completely knocked down by life is to cling to a HOPE that can not disappoint or let us down.  That HOPE has a name.  His name is Jesus.


If our hope takes any other name (in my case this week, the name was Dream), we run the risk of being disappointed.  I had a feeling of expectation or desire for a specific thing to happen.  When that thing did not happen, I faced disappointment.


If, in my disappointment, I choose to re-anchor my hope in a source that is unshakable, I have what I need to move forward, even with a future that is uncertain.


This all sounds nice.  It is easier said than done.  This is the battle I am currently fighting.  I am fighting the disappointment by reminding myself of a deeper HOPE that does not disappoint.  I am reminding myself of a loving God, who wants to satisfy my every needs and wants.  If I want something outside of his desires for me, he still promises satisfaction.  It just may come in a different form than I expect.


I am reminding myself that deep down I really do trust God.  I trust that he is GOOD.  His plans for me are good.  If I can step outside the sadness and disappointment, I really do believe in his goodness.  It is also okay to say that for now, I am sad.  I do not plan to stay in the sadness, but for now, that is the most fitting description.


If you find yourself dealing with disappointment or sadness, I am sorry.  I am genuinely sorry.  I hope you are not left trying to figure out how to move forward on your own.  I hope you know the One who does not disappoint – the One you can trust to put your hope.  If you do not know the One (Jesus) who knows suffering, it is worth getting to know him.  He does not promise a life lived without pain, but he promises to never leave us in our pain.  Pain and disappointment are inevitable in this life, whether you know him or not (John 16:33).   It is better to have a Counselor helping us through our pain.


If you know Him, press in, don’t pull away.  He is always good – even when our circumstances try to convince us otherwise.  I hope that you also have someone to walk along side you as you navigate the sadness back to a place of trust and peace, with a renewed, unwavering hope.  At the very least, know that you are not alone.  I am right there with you.

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Fresh Beginnings

10 Apr 2018 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Drawing Near to God, friendship

It has been a long time since I ventured into the blogosphere – 2.5 years if we are being specific.  I got distracted.  I lost the vision.  I wasn’t sure I saw the purpose any longer.  The internet is flooded with good things to read for inspiration or information.  I wasn’t sure that the time I spent pouring my heart out was making a difference.  I figured there were a lot of “better” of “funnier” or “more impactful” articles out there.


But I’m back.  The reason I began this blog was because I have a passion for sharing what I have learned on my journey – especially the lessons learned on difficult paths.  Those difficult paths are the ones that are made a lot easier if there is someone who has gone before you and can warn you of the hidden dangers, helping you navigate so you can successfully endure and finish.  I do not claim to have mastered the art of walking difficult trails, but God has been faithful to teach me nuggets of truth and grow my character as I’ve pressed on.


This blog is a place that I can lay those lessons down for anyone to pick up along the way much like a fresh unopened bottle of water left on a long trail with a note that says, “This is for you, to help you along the way.”


As I said in the past, I can not make any guarantees about how often I will place those cold bottles of water down on the path, but I am once again ready to “journal in public.”  Here’s my latest entry:


The last year and a half have been one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I thought infertility might keep the gold medal for being the most challenging season to endure, but I’ve realized that you can not really compare one challenge to another.  It really does not matter which season had been tougher.  The reality is that each season, each challenge has its own unique sets of obstacles and lessons to be learned.  Similarly, two people may experience similar seasons of challenge with similar circumstances, but each person’s experience will be different and the level of challenge will be different.  It is unwise to compare.


What is helpful is to offer to keep someone company as they navigate a difficult path.  That does not usually mean offering advice.  It literally means keeping them company and holding their hand as they attempt to step over obstacles and see their way through.  There may be a time and place to offer suggestions, but most people really need encouragement more than they need advice or answers.


This last year and a half has been one of the most challenging seasons for me, mainly because I found myself walking alone.  God chose to write our story in a way that looks different from the majority of people who navigate through seasons of parenthood.  While the majority of my friends were having their children two years apart, Todd and I were struggling with infertility.  Our first two children are 4 years apart in age.


When the majority of our friends were heading into new seasons of parenting with children that can wipe themselves, feed themselves, and dress themselves, and are in school full time, God chose to give Todd and I two miracle babies – launching us afresh into the physically demanding season of parenting young children.  The majority of our friends are able to take road trips and even leave their kids alone for a couple hours while they go out on a date.  Meanwhile, Todd and I have barely been able to keep our heads above water with the demands of small children coupled with the mentally draining demands of older children.  With a 5 year gap between our older two and younger two children, our doctor told us that it is like we have two separate families.  It’s true.  It’s like we are raising two different families and it’s exhausting.  We have an almost teenager in middle school and a little girl who is still learning to walk and talk.


There are so many beautiful things about the story that God has written for our family, and I promise to elaborate more in the future, but for now I want to share one of ways God has helped me to learn how to love others well.  I read an article about a person who was drowning.  Several people stood on the shore and said, “Give me your hand! Give me your hand!” but the drowning person seemed to not hear the pleas of those who wanted to help.  Then along came another person who waded into the water and said, “Here, take my hand.”  The drowning person reached out and was pulled to safety.  The moral of the story is that the second person was able to successfully rescue the drowning person because they offered something rather than asking something of the drowning person.  Both rescuers were trying to help, but the way they approached it was different.  One offered something, while the others asked something of the drowning person.


Someone who is drowning can not offer anything to anyone.  They are fighting for survival.  This past year and a half was a year of fighting for survival.  I was literally putting one foot in front of the other trying to make it through each day.  I couldn’t reach out and ask for help.  I was fighting to survive.  One day, when I was sick with the terrible flu that went around this year, I had two friends reach out to me and say, “here, take my hand.”  What that looked like was a text that read, “Can I take your older two children for you?  They can come over and bake cookies and do crafts.  At least you’d have a couple less to worry about.”  A text from another friend (a mother of 5) read, “Can I bring you a meal tonight?  It’s nothing special – just a frozen lasagna, but I would be happy to bring it to you.”


I can not explain how much those two texts lifted my spirits.  They knew I was sick and instead of waiting for me to ask for help, they held our their hand and offered something.


When you offer something specific, you run the risk of offering something that wouldn’t be helpful or that the person does not want to accept, but more often than not, you will be able to help.  Saying, “Let me know if you need anything,” is putting the ball in their court and asking them to do something.  It may sound nice and make you feel better for saying it, but they may not be in a position to actually reach out to you.  They may need you to wade into the water with them and offer something specific that will help.


So if you really want to help those in your life who are struggling, offer something specific that you plan to follow through with.  Do not offer empty well-wishing.  You will be amazed at what it does for your relationship with that person as well as the joy that comes from being able to offer a hand that actually helps another.

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Do What You Want To

21 Oct 2015 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Motherhood, Quest for Contentment

Suspicious yellow puddle next to the toilet.


Toilet leaking or another culprit?


My mom instinct says to call my second born into the bathroom to ask his take on how that yellow liquid could have gotten there.


He comes in and sits on the stool he uses to reach the sink to wash his hands.  He sits there in his yellow (ironically) oversized pajama shirt, thinking very carefully about how he will respond.  The silence grows more and more awkward as does my certainty of his guilt.  I’m trying very hard not to smile because he looks so cute sitting there on that stool looking so pensive.  Every silent moment that passes assures me that our toilet seal is just fine.


Finally the kid speaks, “I think you will be mad at me.  I think I will have to go to the corner, but…I wanted to…pee in the trash can.”  He WANTED to pee in the trash can.  The confession of a 5 year old.


That smile that I was trying to hide erupted into laughter.  The little boy sits there nervously laughing along, ducking every few moments to check my face to make sure I am still laughing as I sit on the floor in front of him and in front of the condemning puddle.  I keep laughing, turning my head toward the wall because that is my only hope at getting it together and figuring out how to convince him that this really is a naughty thing that he did, not a hilarious thing to be repeated.


Oh the teachable moments.


I am thankful I could laugh about the pee puddle I found just last night.  I will confess, I started a blog a month or two ago that was titled, “Why I Hate Being a Mom.”  I chose the title because I knew it would grab the eye and people might read it out of shear curiosity.  The reason for writing the blog was because I was really struggling with being a mom, especially being a stay at home mom.  I never published it, because I really don’t hate being a mom.


But being a mom is hard.  There is no other calling in life that will demand so much of you, that will call you to die to your own desires and dreams, more than being a mom.  Of course, every mom has a choice.  We do not HAVE to die to ourselves.  We can still blaze forward, every bit as selfish as we were the day before, but two parties suffer:  Us and our children.


If you want to be a good mom, and I believe deep down every mom wants to be a good mom, then you will have to put the needs of other tiny people above your own.  You just have to.


I have been walking the mom road for 9 and a half years, and I have certainly learned a lot.  I can see evidence that God has grown my character tremendously (Thank you, Jesus).  My third is almost 8 months old and the sleepless nights with him compared to the sleepless nights of my firstborn have a lot less loathing and fear and a lot more cherishing and trust.


The circumstances taking place in the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) of the night are no different, but I am different.  Branches have been pruned and some have been completely cut off.  God has been doing a good work in me.


Yet, there I was, about a month ago, pulling myself out of bed in the morning with nothing to look forward to.  What awaited me was the same routine of feeding the baby, pumping the extra milk, writing lunchbox notes, making lunches, checking the weather so my kids would know what to wear that day, pouring breakfast for the older two, reminding them that they can’t go to school in their jammies, reminding them of what needs to go in their backpacks, reminding the daughter for the 200th time that if she does not brush her hair, we will have to shave it because it will get so tied in knots, using spare moments to straighten up the house before loading everyone up and taking the older two to school.  That takes me to 8:20 every morning.  The rest of the day has been a tangled mess of feeding, playing with, and trying to help the baby nap while also trying to remember what the floor looks like near the washing machine because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, constantly cleaning and straightening around the house, mowing the lawn and caring for the many four-legged animals outside, weeding (I really hate weeding), running errands so my family can eat, have money in the bank to pay bills, have clothes to wear, gifts to give, etc.  Sounds like a blast and a half, right?


If you long to be a mom, then I imagine you would read that and think yes, I would LOVE that.  If you are a working mom, you might be thinking, I do all that and more every morning.  If you are a fellow stay at home mom, you might be thinking, I get it or I love this life.


The truth is, we all have our own unique set of circumstances and the grass is not usually greener on the other side of the fence.  Grass stays green if it is watered and cared for.  You can’t jump the fence and enjoy the fruit of someone else’s labor.  If you do, it will not take long for your new lawn to start looking a lot like the side of the fence you left if you do not take responsibility for caring for your lawn.  The problem is not with the grass, the problem is with the owner of the grass.


I don’t hate being a mom.  I really am beyond thankful for the privilege of raising the three wonderful gifts God has given us.  What I realized as I sat at the computer a month ago, pouring out why being a mom is hard, is that I had not been doing a very good job of taking care of myself.  I had being pouring myself out every day, with nothing pouring in.  I was completely tipped over and I had three tiny mouths standing underneath looking for the last drop to fall out.  They needed me, but I had nothing good left to give.  I had a lot of yelling and impatience, but nothing good.


This has been a very full year for us, which explains how I found myself completely drained, but it does not excuse it.  There are seasons of life where it is easy to make time for yourself, and there are other seasons where you really have to fight for it.  It comes down to priorities.


Priorities.  What is important to you?  We make time for what we value.  Sometimes we have to readjust and reallocate our time if we notice that, though our heart might have started in the right place, the product is not what we hoped.  For example, I want to be a good mom, but by dying to myself constantly without doing things that bring me life, I have just been dying.


A big piece of being a good mom, is dying to yourself, but you also have to water the plant and keep it alive.  I’ve learned that I need some alone time with God, and I need to make time to do things I enjoy.  I came to this conclusion from looking at Jesus’s life.  Jesus regularly had alone time with the Father.  Jesus did fun things that I like to do, too.  He did crafts (he was a carpenter).  He went for boat rides.  He travelled.  He helped people.  I see that he enjoyed life, but he never lost sight of the Kingdom of God and his purpose for walking the planet.


How are you doing today?  Are you alive and vibrant or are your leaves and branches a little wilted?  It is not selfish to feed yourself and take care of yourself.  The people around you need you healthy (physically and spiritually).  God is THE source of goodness and health.  If you are a little wilted, make some time TODAY to spend with the Father and do something you want to do (that will bring you joy)…even if it’s peeing in a garbage can.

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I Hate Death

08 Oct 2015 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Quest for Contentment

                                        emma head shot        emma drinking                               

Yesterday we had to say good-bye to our beloved kitty of almost 13 years.  I had the undesirable task of taking her to the vet to be put down.


That was tough.  Saying good-bye is hard.  Seeing life there one minute and gone the next is baffling to me.


Many snot-filled kleenexes later, I am left in the aftermath to process this whole life and death thing, once again, as I do every time I am confronted with the mystery and certainty of death.  We are all affected by death in one way or another.  Whether it’s a person or a pet, death brings pain every time.  Every. Time.


Death usually brings a measure of contemplation as well.


Before I took Emma to the vet, in my head, I kept hearing the phrase, “death has lost its sting.”  I had to mull that one over a bit because death really stings.  It hurts.  It sucks.  When does death lose its sting because the sting has been very present every time I have experienced death?


I knew God had something to show me by getting that phrase stuck in my head.  So I googled it and found it in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (and Hosea 13:14).


“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Hungry to have God open my eyes and bring some comfort when trying to understand death, I went back in 1 Corinthians 15 and started reading at the beginning of the chapter.


Apparently, many people back then did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  They did not believe that there was life after death.  This life was all there was.  There was no hope for something beyond the here and now.  For them, death was the very end.  That’s terrifying.


Next week, I will turn 35.  Everyone hits a mid-life crisis at some point.  I might be hitting mine sooner than others because I have been wrestling a lot lately.  Long before taking my cat to the vet today, I have been giving a lot of mental energy to wondering about life after this planet.  I have been realizing that I no longer have “my whole life ahead of me.”  If I live to be 70, I will be half-way through my life.  If I live to be 80, I have a few more years until I am halfway, but in the next decade, I will probably be reaching the halfway marker through my life.  After you hit the halfway marker on a trip, it feels like you are really getting there.  You are closer to your destination than ever before.  It always feels good to be over halfway there.  I have been wrestling because as I travel through this life, reaching the potential halfway marker scares me.


We know (some of us in a very sobering way) that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  If we are fortunate enough to live until an old age, the reality that death is close is very real.  Since I am still young, I still have a lot of dreams or hopes or plans for the future, but will I still dream or hope about the future in the same way when I am 85 (if I live that long)?


I remember asking Todd’s (then 87 year old) grandma a question that I was extremely hesitant to ask, but was dying (no pun intended) to know.  I asked her, “ What is it like living when you know that you really do not have a whole lot of years left on this planet?”  Her response was something like, “It doesn’t feel a whole lot different, but I don’t make plans as far in the future.  I just live each day and I’m thankful if I wake up that morning.”


If you have ever spent any quality time with an elderly person, you can testify that they are really no different than a 35 year old on the inside.  They somehow just found themselves in a body that is wearing out.


When God determines it is time to breathe the last breath, our bodies are buried in the earth with the promise that that is not the end of the story.


“When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  Not all flesh is the same:  people have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.


So it will be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:37-44).


These bodies are perishable, but one day we will more fully embody who God has made us to be and in that state, we will be imperishable.  The seed and the plant look very different.  The true splendor of the plant comes after the seed has died and been buried.


There is life after death.  What that life will look like is, in most ways, a mystery.  This life is just the seed.  Later will come the glory of these seeds that we are.


After the pain has subsided, I find myself thinking how strange it is that the person (or pet) I lost is no longer here.  They will never again be on this earth.  I can’t wrap my mind around that, especially when I think about the fact that one day I will not be here.


Death still scares me a little because there is so much unknown.  Yet, I am determined to face my fear and keep pressing in to God for comfort and understanding.  The image of a tiny seed becoming an incredible plant helps paint a better picture of how much greater our existence in heaven will be when we leave this life and God gives us the bodies he has determined for us.  If you think of the whole earth as a seed (the roundness helps), I can’t wait to see what the “plant” looks like in heaven.

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