Tag Archives: waiting

Clean House-Day 12

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).

God’s strength helps us to keep our hope alive. Hope, in turn, makes us even stronger—like an anchor for our soul. Perhaps you’re fighting to hold on to your hope. The mountain of obstacles look too big to overcome. We’d all agree it takes spiritual muscle to keep dreaming when circumstances look bleak. Strength to resist the aggressive intruders of discouragement and fear. I pray that you’ll find encouragement as we continue our 21 Days of Strength.

Years ago when I was walking through infertility, I experienced God’s strength in practical ways.  The lessons are with me even today. But one thing’s for sure.  Waiting is hard work!  One day my husband spoke words that helped me turn a corner. He looked at me and said quietly, “You know, we’ll never be happy with a baby unless we’re happy without one.” We were on vacation at the time.  So I went for a walk to do business with God. Two hours—and a very long walk on the beach later—I returned. I had surrendered my dream to God. “Buried” my dream to have a baby in the sand. But I still held onto hope that God had a plan for us that was good.

I felt strangely empty and free at the same time. There was a new fire for change. I wanted to begin again. And this time, hold my dream with a looser grip. I took stock of where I was. What I had. What I lacked. Where I could grow.

In short, I began to clean house.  This was part practical and part spiritual. I worked at redoing the fixer-upper we purchased a few years earlier. Paint, wallpaper and yard work were doable. These, I could control.

I also took stock of my physical “house.” My health had suffered from all the infertility drugs and treatments. Plus, I had always been a junk food addict. So I found a good naturopath and began to eat organic and healthy, not easy or even embraced by most people thirty years ago. I also found ways to discipline myself through exercise.

I discovered that structure and order kept me mentally healthy. There was some comfort in controlling what I could control. I could not control when I would get pregnant. But I could make a conscious choice to declutter both my soul and my surroundings.

Friends, we grow stronger when we lighten our load. The Bible encourages us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).  Is there anything in your life that’s slowing you down?

Prayer: Lord, please reveal any sins, habits, or circumstances I need to “throw off” so that I can grow stronger. Empower me anew to pursue the dream You have placed on my heart.

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 11

We’ve touched on the danger of hope-killers, those predators which attack our hopes and dreams.  Anxiety is a big one.  But there’s another, more subtle enemy of hope—complaining.  Griping is so woven into our culture that it feels like a birthright.  We complain about the weather, the food, long lines, rude workers, bad drivers, you name it.  It’s second nature to whine when we don’t have enough of this, or too much of that, or when whomever or whatever is not working out for us.  Even if we don’t say it out loud, complaining can become a habitual part of our inner dialogue. You get the point.

The Bible calls this behavior grumbling, and warns against it repeatedly:  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”(Philippians 2:14).  Some translations use the word “murmuring.”  The Greek word gongysmos, translated “grumbling,”  is defined as “a muttering, murmuring, low and suppressed discourse; the expression of secret and sullen discontent, murmuring, complaint.”  Ouch!

How does complaining hinder our dreams? Let’s take a look at the children of Israel.  They were chosen by God for a purpose. He picked a man named Moses to lead the people to a promised land “flowing with milk and honey” (Numbers 10:11-12).

But soon, they began to complain about hardships—the food, the fatigue, the water. Their grumbling angered God and frustrated Moses.  When the time finally came for them to take possession of the land,  Moses sent out 12 spies who returned with this negative report: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! But the people who live there are powerful.  We seemed like grasshoppers  in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them”  (Numbers 13:26-33).

Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes, pleading with the people. “We should go up and take possession of the land,” said Caleb. “Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:1-9).  The Israelites became furious at Joshua and Caleb and threatened to stone them.

 So the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?  Not one of these people will ever enter that land. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it” (Numbers 14:20-23).

God called their grumbling contempt.  Rebellion.  In short–it was unbelief.  And it would cost that generation of the children of Israel their dream.  It’s the unbelief at the core of grumbling which blocks the very hope God wants to give us when we trust in Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

The Secret Mailbox


Friendship belongs to those who fear the Lord.  With them He shares His secrets… (Psalm 25:14 TLB)

I love a good secret, don’t you?  Keeping a secret requires that we remain on our guard.  We don’t  want to “spill the beans” in a thoughtless moment. The Bible tells that God has secrets–and shares His secrets with His friends.  Jesus said, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).  Prayer is kind of like keeping a secret with God.  We take our secret requests to Him and remain alert to His voice–ready to take action as He leads.

When our children were small, I made up a little game called the “Secret Mailbox Club” to help them get a picture of what it means to entrust our secret hopes and dreams into God’s hands.  I reminded them that when I put mail in our family’s mailbox, I put the flag up and walk away.  I don’t pitch a tent and wait anxiously for the mailman.

I encouraged the children to draw a picture of their heart’s desire, a secret hope, a cherished  dream.  We  put these “prayers” into our handmade construction paper mailbox and put the flag up.  “Now, let’s trust God with our secret prayers,” I ‘d tell them. “We can be sure He will send the answers in His way and in His time.”

This little game helped them (and me) grasp the concept of trust, and what it means to “cast our cares on Him…” (1 Peter 5:7).   If we truly trust in the character of our loving, all-powerful God, we can pray and walk away knowing that He knows what’s best for us.  Our hopes and dreams are now safely in His hands.   And we’ll rest secure as we wait for our “mail” to arrive.

30 Days of Thankful: Day 8

We’re on day eight of 30 Days of Thankful.  I believe my friend Bethany Kortekaas will inspire you to remain thankful–even when you are still waiting for your dream to come true.

GUEST POST: By Bethany Kortekaas

“I’m sorry to give you bad news, but you’re not pregnant.” As I hung up after talking to the nurse, I was shocked. Adam and I had people all over the world praying for these snowflake babies that we had adopted and implanted in me. I was ready for my “happily ever after.”

What broke my heart even more was that if God had allowed these babies to be born, it would have strengthened the faith of so many friends and family who struggle to see God in their daily life. I even had an agonistic neighbor who admitted he had prayed for us. Everything about this birth would have been a perfect combination of drawing people’s attention to the great need in embryo adoption and to the beauty of God’s timing. It made no sense for God not to answer this prayer, which would have brought Him so much glory! Confused and so disappointed, I felt I had gotten people’s hopes up and not delivered…literally.

This is America, where everything works out right in the end. We love the Cinderella stories, the underdogs that win, and seeing the impossible happen. So wrapped up in having our hearts warmed, we forget that this is not the only way that God works. Even as Christians we expect that God will participate with our rules—if we trust and obey, then everything will be ok. We foster this feeling that the only way to see God’s glory is when hope is fulfilled tangibly. We only tell the story of the single person walking in purity once they find a spouse. The prodigal child that came home. Cancer that was cured. These stories are ones we tout as showing God’s faithfulness; as being worthy of praise and thankfulness. Until we see tangible results, what is the point in telling the story? Of thanking Him during the pain? Why praise over prayers unanswered?

Because our story is not over yet and God sees how His story is better. Do I trust Him? Can I thank Him knowing He knows more than me? Can I praise Him for the end of the story even if I never get to see it? I have spent countless hours encouraging 6th through 12th grade students that God’s way is the best way. But just like them, I am addicted to instant gratification. So what happens when God does not answer our prayers? What happens when we have trusted and been patient for nothing? Can we be thankful? How do we rejoice?

Sometimes we are left without answers. But Jesus was the master of answering questions with more questions. He wants us to wrestle and struggle with the hard things because that develops a depth of character and relationship that cannot be gifted to us. Psalm 42:5 asks, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!” Taking the action of putting my hope in God even when it hurts, takes work. This constant practice of turning to Him with praise and a thankful heart in the pain becomes a habit that gives us an eternal perspective and hope in God rather than in what today looks like.

Today looks like pain. But God sees my sorrow. In fact, in Psalm 56:8, it says He has collected my tears in a bottle. So I choose to trust the God who turns water to wine. I choose to see the beauty of my current story. I choose to be thankful.