Posts Tagged: hope

Turning Over Agitation

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Romans 7:25 MSG

Turning My Page

Red Ball of Agitation

I woke up to a red ball of agitation, bouncing angrily against the wall of my mind. The simplest tasks felt heavy and frustrating. The red ball is hard to ignore because it is continuous friction of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and physical stress. Sometimes what we do and how we feel gets so compacted it requires sorting or turning over. Much like a compost pile.

Growing up, my family composted. Regularly we took a pitchfork and turned the pile over. I still remember the steam that rose as we began fluffing the highly compacted substance below. There was a delicate balance of microbes doing their job to break down the material, and the heat they produced ended up killing them if not given fresh oxygen.

At its core, my agitation stems from my flesh and spirit at war with one another. I am continually turning over all these fantastic new, useful, life-giving opportunities God has placed in my path. But, sharing a story of hope creates friction. In my own selfish desire, I want to withdraw every time God asks me to engage. My sinful nature says that says I will fail when the Holy Spirit teaches I am a part of a bigger story.

Even good things get compacted. I turn them over again and allow the fresh oxygen of God’s perspective to reveal truth, faith, love, and hope compressed within. Agitation isn’t a bad feeling if we choose to let it expose the fertile soil beneath and give oxygen to grow.

Turning Your Page

Agitation is a part of our lives because there is both good and evil; flesh and spirit at war with one another. Agitation is simply your soul’s cry to turn things over, air out, and create more fertile soil for growth.

  • List some areas of agitation right now.
  • Is God directing and ruling over all aspects of your life?
  • Are their areas that need to be turned over, re-purposed, or removed?

Father, my soul is turning within me. There is no rest. Reveal to me the most productive part of my life, and help me to cultivate a place your glory can grow. Amen

Study Courage


though fear knocks you awake
to a relentless enemy. Ill-equipped, broken,
resources exhausted, you lay in a pool of despair.
Listen to those who know there is a way to win.

Get up! Cry out! Help is close at hand!


each warrior as they strap
on their armor. The defense and
weapon they choose. Feel the quiet
dissidence of preparation, as each
gazes beyond self to become one body.
Brother strengthened by brother.


to the early riser, the soldier with tear-stained
cheek and dogeared photo–
intimate with the cost. They remain secure
through the routine of prayer. Bed of hope tucked
tightly for inspection.
Their bodies battle-ready,
no longer dependent upon the fat
of fleshly desire or wine of apathy.


muscles of confidence in a God
who eavesdrops at tent flaps
and reports the fear that weakens invading camps.


the dirt on the unwashed face
of the midnight watcher. The one who
stands on the perimeter of your knowledge
so you can sleep.


for singing. Oh, the glorious
song recorded by all who put their hope in God.
Feel the heightened joy as the trumpeters
announce, you never fight alone!


up the Sword of Words and wield truth
that penetrates to marrow, revealing every spirit
that hides in the hollow of our flesh.


with the one who strategizes with
generals and glows with the
assurance of heaven’s mapped out peace.


the one who runs across enemy lines to sacrifice
and lift the spirits of the fallen, the weary surrounded by despair.
They are not abandoned. Pinned in.
Show them how to push out like defeat is not an option.


a God who surrounds the enemy
and causes the wicked to crumble.
Lives depend upon you
knowing who wins.

Pass on the good news.

Turning Your Page

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:13

What was the last true story you read where the protagonist overcame impossible odds? Share in the comments. History is plump with stories of victories. Study what makes a person stand when others do not. What qualities did they already possess in going into battle? What strengthened them? Where does courage come from?

  • Do you feel courageous? If not, study scripture and true stories of courage and list out characteristics. If so, write down the daily habits you have. Are their areas you need strengthened?
  • Who do you listen to for direction? In what ways have you grown from their counsel?
  • Find one person to spend time with who loves you enough to strengthen and challenge you.
  • Write your own poem about courage or study Ephesians 6 and write a Haiku about courage.

Lord, I learn so much from scripture about courageous men and women. Open my eyes to steps of faith you want me to take. Help me to encourage others in battle. Amen

On the Bridge

on the sturdy bridge of hope.
When your kingdom crumbles to sobs.
and jump into the arms of truth.
Your face cupped in the hands God
who creates life out of nothing.
Know Him.
He shaped you to live full.

Turning Your Page

Surely my soul remembers and is humbled within me. Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the loving devotion of the LORD we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.…

Lamentations 3:20-22

Have you ever had a moment you thought you couldn’t get past? You thought the answer would never come, but just as every ounce of you strained to breaking, relief came. There is so much in this life that looks impossible, wait. Even if all you can do is stand on the bridge and do nothing. Hope will not disappoint you.

  • Describe a moment you thought you could not withstand. What did it feel like at your lowest point? What kept you holding on?
  • Draw a picture, or write a poem answering the following questions:
    • What color, shape, sound does pain make in your life?
    • What is something concrete in your life? Describe it using as many senses as you can.
    • Is hope concrete in your life? Describe the elements that make hope sturdy. and trustworthy.

Holy Spirit come. I can’t see what comes next. All i can see is my world falling apart. You say faith is sturdy and will hold me up. I put my trust in that promise. Amen

Finding Calm in the Pandemic Fear

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:33

But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm. “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”…

Mark 4:38-40

Turning My Page

Silence is at the heart of every transformation God makes in my life. Our response to Covid-19 cleared my jam-packed calendar this month, and I now have the space and time for a quieter spirit. But, where there is silence, there is also death.

I have learned that to grow in faith, I must also put to death unbelief. I continue to practice quieting my spirit for five minutes after my morning scripture reading. Those five minutes are becoming precious opportunities for me to listen and trust God will provide an answer to this pandemic. I mourn for those who have lost loved ones and pray a hedge of protection around you. There is so much I’m not in control of.

I am dying to my expectations of God, myself, and others. I want things to return to normal quickly, but it is looking like our circumstances may not change for a while.

Today I put to death:

  • my own desires
  • my agenda
  • my Chick-fil-a cravings
  • my plans
  • my phone
  • my children’s routine
  • my concern for my husband’s job
  • my will
  • my writing
  • my expectations of God

The things I think bring order to my life do not. As hard as putting to death my striving in each area listed above, I am better able to engage my world with Christ asleep, calm, and undeterred by the waves and wind around him. Having faith that he does care for me.

Turning Your Page

You are dying to desires, wants, and even needs right now. Dying to your finances, the way you normally maintain friendships, family expectations, and faith. This a place of great fear, but it is also the place that God in flesh stands up in the boat and says to the wind, “Peace, be still.” It is an opportunity for us to step out of the boat of our circumstances and trust God.

  • List out things you are currently worried about or expecting because of Covid 19.
  • Look up specific verses that speak about calamity and God’s actions in times of trouble. (Psalm 91 is a favorite.)
  • What is God working on silencing in your life, and how can you trust him more deeply in the truth of his provision.

Father, I am afraid. You are not stilling this virus, and I feel like my life is in turmoil. Quiet my spirit so that I can recognize your call in this storm. Amen

What is Truth?

Heaven’s army crowded the borders of the universe,
as God in Flesh
wore a robe of bloody lashes and crown of

A legion of wings beat the air, ready
to rush to the king’s aid.
Angelic swords sparked against grinding wheel.
Muscles strained under bonds of armor.
The sweaty preparation of a rescue mission. But hope
remained restrained by a silent raised arm of the Commander.

“Forsaken.” Death
disfigured salvation.

Three days God held heaven at bay.
While man reveled in his own truth

Until grave rumbled to life,
and heaven triumphantly revealed
the passion of truth. Heaven perched on stone
and declared, “He is not here.”

Meditation on John 18:

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

John 18:36-40

Observing Words

The Place of Starting

At the Lord’s command, Moses recorded the stages of their journey. These are the stages listed by their starting points.

Numbers 33:2

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Deuteronomy 30:19

“Do we stop the story here, or turn the page?” I asked those gathered for my son’s funeral on July 7th, 2014. I didn’t know that question would be the catalyst for Turning the Page on Suicide. All I wanted to do, was encourage Jonathan’s friends to get through the next day. I was dying inside, but I didn’t want others to lose hope. July 8th I woke up with the question as my first thought. Would those words remain a nice phrase of encouragement for others, or would I answer the question for myself?

Turning My Page

Turning the page on my son’s suicide started with a deep breath of choosing, but it wasn’t the first time I made a life-altering choice. My whole life has been filled with moments of choosing blessing or cursing. I can see specific places where I turned from God and others where I chose to walk with him. And some, where I didn’t know I was choosing him. They are now all markers of my journey.

In the 8th grade, I attended a School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Even making it into the school on several levels did not penetrate the constant fog of despair that plagued me. I had long since determined I was nothing, an abstract idea, and I could not yet see the concrete journey God had me on.

Our creative writing teacher was out for the semester due to health reasons and our sub was “unique. ” She didn’t talk like other teachers. She was real and personal. She didn’t teach curriculum like other teachers, and she didn’t treat us, students, as less than. When she assigned us writing, she also wrote for the prompt. I was confused. I had learned how to live in the formula, act like others expected me to, and do just enough to get by. In a crucial moment, she didn’t just challenge my presumptions about myself, she penetrated the barrier of my fear of being seen.

“Your writing is good, but there is nothing of you in it,” she coached. We were studying poetry and while I loved the unique writing styles of the poets I kept my own writing distant and abstract. What followed was my first attempt at writing about myself:

“Visions Through Waters”

(9th grade, May 2nd)

Visions through waters
Reflecting from my eyes
Splashing into the pool
Of life, like tears
Wrinkling the shimmering
Of the perfect life
Changing it into only hope

The leaves drop
The dew like seeds
Growing and adding to the

I am hungering for the rain
For my roots are young
The night clouds over
The hope gathers in my heart.
The storm breaks

Finally, the rain ends
And the light shimmers
Through the trees of life.

My life is renewed.

I find it interesting that I was writing about hope. I didn’t understand the depth of the meaning of the word. It was a shifting image and unstable for me then. I needed to turn and see the reflection of hope I couldn’t fully trust existed behind me and through me in the concrete, visible, nature of God. The tangible hope I now touch after losing my son to suicide.

Turning Your Page

God gives you a choice in how to respond to the circumstances, and they become markers you can look back at and see God’s hand throughout your journey. If you are struggling with despair, you can continue your current response to depression or turn in a new direction towards hope and life. This is a starting point. Breathe and choose.

  • Is there a course you can take or group you can join that stretches your perspective on life? (Join a hiking group, photography, writing, etc.)
  • Read Psalm 139 and meditate on the different images described.
    • What is David saying about God?
    • What is David saying about man?
    • What is David saying about his relationship with God?
  • Write a prayer or psalm with your own observations.

Lord, I start here. I take in a breath and acknowledge the hope you place before me. Life and death. Blessing and cursing. May I record life and blessing as I journey with you. Amen

Tree of Hope

Tiny oak, planted and watered with tears,
You grow slow, intentional, strong, in the windy bend of grief.
Hope remembers loss and drops treasured seeds of compassion
in my soul. Love, the fruit of grief.

Thank you to the neighbors and friends who remind me to keep growing and hoping in grief.

Turning Your Page

Friendship is a gift. When you open your heart to your neighbors, family, and friends, they help you to remember forward. Love the person who died and creating new memories at the same time.

  • What are some of the best ways friends are helping you to grieve with hope?
  • How can those in your circle encourage and help you?
  • What is one thing your friends can help you create in memory of your loved one?

Fight Dirty for the Depressed

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:5

Turning My Page

When was the last time you fought dirty for the ones you love? Or for an enemy? I’m not talking cheating, I am talking about getting dirt under the nails, sweat on the brow, and dig deep into all you’ve got and then give more. Love the spouse who hurt you deeply. Treat the bully at work with kindness. Fighting dirty is not based upon changed behavior, it is deeply rooted in who Christ is in us.

We love because he first loved us. God didn’t just give us a list of do’s and don’ts, pat us on the back, and send us on our way. We can’t give those battling depression a toolbox of mental health solutions and leave them to figure it out.

God was and is involved since the creation of the world. He formed us with his hands. Nothing else in all of creation is described that way and even when Adam and Eve left God’s perfect plan, he stayed involved. So much so, that at just the right time, while we were still sinning, he came to earth in the form of a human child.

Jesus experienced rejection, sweat, felt thorns dig into his skin, and bears scars on his back from loving us. He knew our struggle with temptation. He knew we were oppressed, and he knew our depression. He fought dirty for us. Jesus told the disciples when he returned to heaven, he would still be with them through the Holy Spirit and that was enough for them to get their own hands dirty with humanity.

Depression, suicide, hopelessness is a dark and dingy place because hopelessness is wrapped in lies about our identity and the character of God. I was once smothered in those lies and my poor sweet son died in those lies. Children counter such a devious and destructive attack that often begins in their early development. I don’t accept that I’m helpless to fight back. My weapon is scripture. Know the character of God and act on the hope he offers to us.

When I didn’t know much about God, reading scripture was like having him sitting across from him and hearing him tell his side of the story. Prayer became a constant conversation–both speaking and listening–to God. Time with other believers encouraged, challenged, and brought me out of my shell. This is my foundation. As a result, I can’t sit idly by and put on blinders to the suffering of others. My hands in the dirt of humanity. Be all in because God was all in for us. Get your hands dirty.

Turning Your Page

Think of souls as gardens. The apostle Paul described ministry in this way: Some plant, some water, but it is God who causes them to grow (1 Corinthians 3:16). Use the skills you have to be present in the life of someone wrestling with despair. Love is something we all have.

  • Love is not based on feelings. It is a practice, it is a disciplined pattern. Start small. How has someone loved you well? Identify the elements of how they spoke life into you.
  • Identify a few people around you who need encouragement.
  • How can you give opportunities to listen and provide tangible hope? Try to be consistent.
  • Let me know your story in the comments. How can I fight dirty for you!?

Creater, you’ve had your hands in my humanity from the beginning. Give me a heart of flesh that I can love my family and neighbor more deeply. Amen


You planted me firmly
in the desert of despair.

A comfort.
A witness.

Flesh is not my strength.
I am dust under the weight
of sorrow soaked hope.
Cracked souls remember
rain will come.
I grow rooted. Crave you. Secure.
Sustenance will come, you appointed
the season. I know it.

Striving quiets.
Your promises stored.

Though I stand here for a hundred years.
A drop of your love is enough for me
until you flood my soul with the
joy of presence. And I feel the steady
rhythm of revealed rain.

I Cannot Stop the Impact of Evil, But I Can Trust God

“So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:6-8, NIV).

Sara cradled me as she braced for impact.

I was only a toddler and the seatbelt laws had not yet been implemented. It was News Year Day and my parents were driving back from a party with their friend holding me on her lap in the back seat. As we drove through a four-way stop another car broadsided us sending Sara and I flying against the opposite door. I was safe in her arms, but Sara’s collarbone was broken by the impact.

I have no memory of the traumatic event, but others do. Sara’s only thought, as she saw the oncoming headlights, protect Karisa. She sacrificed her own body to keep me from harm. I couldn’t stop the evil that occurred that night. I wasn’t even aware of it. The driver of the other car sped off and never seemed to experience justice for hurting us.

Sin has an impact but does not have the final say. For the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23). Everything in this life is working towards that end, but Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the fullest (John 10:10). His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection has always given the opportunity for an abundant life. The choices are: Come into agreement with death or embrace life.

I hated my life and came into agreement with Satan’s plot by attempting to take my own life. Growing up I accused God of neglecting me and harbored anger towards him for not stopping the evil of abuse in my life. Yes, sin had an impact, but God protected me from the consequences. I now know the only difference between Judas, the betrayer of Jesus and Peter the betrayer of Jesus is, Peter did not take his own life. He turned his page of betrayal to see the resurrection. God built his church on Peter.

God is building his church on me. I thought I was worthless, unredeemable, and God too distant to care about me. God protected my purpose in the loving arms of a woman who bears scars for my sake.

Jesus bears scars for our sake. We may never know all of them, or how deep they are, but he has a mark for every evil done to us and every evil we have done to others.

I am reaching through these next words and cupping your tear-streaked face in my hands and declaring: Your life was purposed since the foundation of the earth. How many times has God redeemed and protected your purpose? He knows you, he created you, and no matter how much evil impacts you he is trustworthy.

I realize I cannot stop the impact of evil, but I can trust God. Yes, evil takes precious things from us, but there is so much more to the story. Don’t stop living it. There is resurrection. There are changed lives. There is hope that does not disappoint. Don’t stop standing firm in the midst of evil. Come to know the one who wins and resurrects every heartache we experience and give crazy, amazing and abundant life.

Suicide & Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 988 or go to the website at