Category Archives: hopes and dreams

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 29

If you are in the waiting room of hope, you’ll be encouraged by my friend Bethany’s account of her journey toward adoption.  I love the way she opens her heart so you can catch a glimpse of God at work along the way.

GUEST BLOG:  Bethany Kortekaas

“I would feel most comfortable if you and Adam would consider being the adopting parents.”  The request caught me off guard.  Would we be willing? Adoption is born out of hope. Hope for redemption. Hope for the future. Adam and I have been married for six years and have walked the misty road of hope. We got married in our thirties after years of hoping for a spouse. We adopted four embryos after years of hoping for a child. After we lost those children, we were surprised by a pregnancy after years of hoping to experience one. Ten weeks later, a miscarriage left us hoping that God would some day bless us with a child. But how? This road has not been obvious. Our next step has not been clear. God has guided us on with hope and now the next step forward has been revealed.

As we shared our former pregnancy news, a couple asked us to talk with a young lady who had found out she was pregnant. We offered to have her stay with us, encouraged her, and prayed for her during her time of processing. A seed of hope was planted in my heart as I wondered, “Our baby is due in May and hers in April. Would this be like having the twins I have always hoped for?” As I lost our baby, I found out that she was having girl. With open hands, we continued to walk.

Hope is hard and sometimes seems cloudy. Does it mean that if we find something godly to hope for and pray for it that God is obligated to give it to us? Does it mean that after pain, hopefully we will get to see the point? Was it a waste when what you were hoping for is lost? No, no and no. God is too great to be obligated. His plan is too vast for our understanding, but He is too loving to let our hope go to waste.

Romans 5:3-6 says this: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” God’s perspective gives maturity to our hope. There is freedom in hoping when you can trust that His outcome brings about His best.

I do hope that Adam and I will have a family beyond just our dog, Hawkeye. I hope that in four months, we can be the adopting parents that this young lady is hoping we will be. But even more than these, I hope that God will be glorified as we continue on this misty road of hope. Because the day-to-day hopes and dreams are nothing compared to the solid hope of salvation. Jesus came to give hope to the world. We can stand firm in the trials, because God dearly loves us. His ultimate good is better than our hopes in this life and the rich blessings we profit from today. There is no disappointment in the intimacy that comes from leaning hard into Him now during the sorrows and the hopes. His hope brings life.

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 28

Are you feeling weary–lacking in hope today?  For centuries, followers of Christ have recognized that Christmas has a special magic that rekindles hope. My friend Donna encourages us to anticipate the “thrill of hope” that comes our way when we experience surprise blessings from God.

GUEST BLOG: Donna Elyea

Very often I will have a song stuck in my head.  During the Christmas season, that song is often the carol, “O Holy Night,” because my beloved Daddy used to sing that one in our home. As I have been following along with the 30 Days of Hopeful series,  a certain phrase of this carol struck me in a new way and I have been pondering “The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

I have been a bit weary lately. Life can do that to us. And yet, I have known weariness to come and go in the past. What shakes it for me? Usually something unexpected! A new and glorious gift. Unexpected guests come for an extended visit.  An unanticipated ministry opportunity presents itself.  Or I see an answer to a long-time prayer. My relief from weariness usually does not look like the naps I think I need.

For most of us, life can be very much like a roller coaster, full of unexpected twists and turns. Roller coasters are frightening, exciting, jostling, filled with peaks, valleys, and sudden curves. When weariness overtakes me,  I now know that I am simply in a “valley” and I will climb up with renewed energy again. I am not frightened or thrown off track by the unexpected. I look forward to seeing what surprise the Lord may have for me just around the bend.

Many who ride roller coasters find them thrilling. Those who love the thrill ride them over and over again. Life in Christ is also thrilling – because of the thrill of hope. I believe He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that I ask or imagine. The Lord offers a hope that does not disappoint. Hope that does not end. Concrete hope, not the mere stuff of feelings. This hope is fueled by faith in the One who knows us intimately and longs to give us abundant life and fill us with an everlasting hope in relationship with Him. What a thrill “ride.”

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works with us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20).

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 27

“How can my dream possibly be from God when I keep meeting so much resistance?” My friend’s question hit home.  There are times in life when we sincerely believe God has placed a special hope or dream in our heart–only to face merciless opposition. Surely God would make the path to our dream a little easier if it’s truly from Him, right? Maybe not.

A wise and godly man once said this to me when I asked him why my dream seemed to be such an uphill climb:  “What if God has called you to this mountain top—this dream you hold so dearly?  Perhaps He knows you must be trained by the difficult climb up the mountain so you won’t be crushed by the weight of the glory when the dream comes to pass.”

I had to admit, his words rang true.  And through the years, I’ve observed some whose dream came true before they had built their character to hold up under the “weight of the glory.” More than one has fallen into pride or defeat.  It’s no wonder the Bible teaches us about the wonderful blessing of hope within the context of both character and suffering:

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5 ESV).

It’s wonderful to have hopes and dreams—even lofty, world changing ones. But let’s remind ourselves:  Humans aren’t built for glory–it doesn’t “agree” with us. So as we experience the glory of a dream that finally comes true, let’s remember to rejoice and enjoy the moment;  to be thankful to God; and to give Him the glory.

And when we bump headlong into those inevitable times of suffering along the path toward our dream, may we dare to rejoice and thank God that the suffering is training us to endure, which produces character, which gives birth to hope.  His glorious promise is that “hope doesn’t disappoint us” (Romans 5:5 NIV).

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 26

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

Blog photo-Bible

I’ve heard it said that the person whose Bible is falling apart–isn’t  falling apart.  It’s true.  When you combine the regular reading of God’s Word with prayer, you naturally strengthen your hope.  You probably realize by now that the point of our 30 Days of Hopeful is not just hope—it’s also faith. And faith, as we’ve learned, is the “substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). In other words, faith is the foundation for our hope.

So how do we build our faith?  Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing the Word of God.” Ponder that for a minute.  Faith is a gift, but we nourish it through a prayerful reading of Scripture.

God’s Word reveals His will, which in turn, helps us to pray in alignment with His purposes.  Prayer helps us communicate with God.  And praying  according His Word is a key to answered prayer.  Prayer helps us get to get to know God so that we become more familiar with His will. Our technique doesn’t matter as much as the condition of our heart.  The point is to weave prayer and Bible reading into our ordinary days… and to pray continually, or abide.  This builds hope.

It takes spiritual muscle to stand on God’s Word when we face seemingly impossible situations. His promises help us defeat fear and worry.  They strengthen our hope and our faith—but not without a struggle.  No wonder it’s called a fight of faith. As my prayer partner is fond of saying: “We glance at the problem, but we gaze on the promise.” Praying in line with God’s Word gives authority to our prayers. And prayer fuels hope. 

Another way to strengthen our hope is to keep watch for signs of God’s work all around us–especially in response to our prayers.  John Wesley encouraged his early followers to include the “discipline of watching” as part of their daily spiritual walk. Wesley’s advice on reading your Bible? “Be sure to read…with great attention, with proper pauses and intervals so that you may allow for the enlightenings of divine grace.”  Click here to read more on Wesley’s Bible reading method.

Watch, pray, and read God’s Word.  Simple ways to keep the fires of hope alive.







30 Days of Hopeful: Day 25

Whether it’s a daunting trial you’re facing or an impossible dream you hold close to your heart, there are times you need to strengthen your hope.  Renew your grip. Strengthen your “feeble arms and weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12).  Hope can be an uphill climb.  That’s why I’m doing 30 Days of Hopeful.  Sometimes, we need encouragement  to “keep on keeping on.”  Agree?

Even the mighty warrior King David  knew what it meant to hit bottom and lose hope.  He and his men experienced a violent raid on their village while they were away at battle.  The vicious Amalakites burned their homes and kidnapped all the wives and children.  (Sounds a lot like Boko Haram’s rampage through rural Nigeria).

The Bible says that when David and his men returned, they found their wives, sons and daughters taken captive. The Bible paints a gripping picture of their trauma:  “Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.  And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 30:4, 5 ESV).

Look at what he did next:  “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6 ESV).   The first response of this seasoned warrior was not to organize a counterattack, but to go to God for help.  And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?”

Here’s what the Lord advised:  “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue”  (verses 8, 9). So David  set out with his men.  They overtook and conquered the enemy.  The text tells us that “nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken” (verse 19).

David had learned over the years–through countless dangers and trials–to strengthen himself in the Lord.  He had trained his heart to hear God’s voice.  This wasn’t something he tried for the first time in the middle of a terrible crisis.  We know from reading the Psalms, that David would seek God often.  Seeking God was his “go to” response.  He knew how to abide in the light, so that when the dark times hit,  he was prepared to respond.

What’s your “go to” response?  Have you learned to strengthen yourself in the Lord?  Perhaps there are some practical ways you could refresh your commitment to seek Him daily.