Articles

Finding Hope

 

As a young child growing up I dreamed of one day circumnavigating the globe on a sailing ship and living a life of fun and adventure traveling the seven seas while fighting pirates and rescuing the damsel in distress, and of course, finding the buried treasure.  At the same time, I fell in love with poetry and books about adventure like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  By the time I was in my late teens I had read books by Rudyard Kipling, Longfellow, Robert Burns, Tennyson, Thomas Moore, Emily Dickinson and many others, and written poems of my own, but Robert Louis Stevenson was my hero. What drew me to Stevenson of course was his masterpiece, “Treasure Island.”  What an adventure I thought.  This is the life for me. 

Stevenson (1850-1894), even at an early age, showed not only literary promise, but spiritual hope as well.  As a child, he made a remarkable comment to his mother, “I have drawn a man’s body; shall I do his soul now as well?” At age 6 he dictated to his mother a history of Moses, along with a complete set of drawings of the Israelites and the Red Sea. Though Stevenson was a man with many talents, he was destitute of hope for many years.  He ultimately married and moved to the Island of Samoa where it is rumored that he came back to the Lord    

I went on in life to travel around the world three times, even sailed through the English Channel in a 30’ sail boat on my way to do missionary work in Brazil.  While I never encountered pirates at sea, I did capsize seven times and was ultimately rescued by the English Coast Guard and lay sick near death for over six months.  At one point during my high seas adventure, with the winds over 40 knots, the seas higher than the mast, adrift at sea for weeks without food or water, I felt that all hope of being rescued was abandoned.    

I have felt hopeless at other times of my life as well.  Maybe you can relate.  When our first child David was only one year old and couldn’t breathe, we rushed him to the emergency room where he lay hanging between life and death. In that moment God brought hope, and with it mercy.  There was the time the doctor told me I had colon cancer, and then one year later another doctor diagnosed me with a small tumor right next to my brain.  There was the time I landed my bush plane at the airport in Kenai Alaska and hit a pocket of ice, sliding sideways and nearly crashing into a row of parked aircraft.  Then there was that huge bear that stood just seven feet away and leaped forward to have me for dinner.  I was hoping God would be there as I called out to Him. During each of these trials, He was. 

Then and many times since, I have needed Jesus’ rescuing power and the hope that He brings during the storms of life. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “It is better to travel hopefully than arrive”, indicating how hope can be pleasant while one waits on the desired results. The promises of God stand strong as an indication of certainty, and a tower of peaceful assurance. Hope is far more than just wishful thinking.

Dear friend, do you need God’s help today? Jesus can bring a new-found hope that has the power to strengthen, encourage and arouse a new awareness of God’s unfailing love for you. Drink deeply from the well of hope.

What Kind of Worrier Are You?

For many years of my life, Worrier was my middle name. In fact, the beginning of most of my thoughts started with the same two-word phrase, “What if…?” Those thoughts usually ended with me dissolving into a pile of defeated tears. During one season of my life that I refer to as the “dark years” our family was struggling in all areas of life due to a variety of unexpected hardships. Each day, my list of what if worries grew like adding cars onto the back of an already long train.

Did you know that the word worry actually means “to strangle or torture”? Worry begins when we ask what if questions about uncertain situations we can’t control. Without knowing how things will turn out, we often answer those what if questions with the worst-case scenario endings. For example, if your boss asks you to drop by her office before you leave for the day, you might begin wondering, “What if she doesn’t like the report I’ve done?” or “What if I lose my job?” Without a way to know the answer, your mind starts running a mental movie starring you. As the scenes unfold, you see yourself unemployed, unhappy, hungry and homeless on the street. By the time your mental movie ends, your heartbeat is racing, you’ve got a queasy stomach, and your entire afternoon is ruined.

Most of what we worry about won’t actually happen, but that doesn’t stop us from worrying. 

In my book, Winning the Worry Battle, I identify four different types of worriers and how they act out worry in their lives.

  1. Silent Sufferer: stuffs their worries deep inside and doesn’t talk about them
  2. Mother Hen: often nags others to try to reduce stress and anxiety
  3. Busy Body: constant activity because unfinished tasks or projects create stress and worry
  4. Control Freak: maneuvers or manipulates others in order to reduce inner anxiety

Which one can you relate to? For me there was always something to be worried about so I tried to control things until God allowed a few situations in my life which I couldn’t control. That was God’s invitation to turn my fears and worries over to Him! That’s when I finally won my worry battle. I’ve since made heart-felt amends with my family members because my worry deeply affected their lives.

No matter what kind of worrier you are, I think you already know this: worrying doesn’t work. Like the saying, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” Jesus pointed this out to us long ago. In Matthew 6, he was talking to a group of people on a hillside. I think Jesus knew there were all types of worriers standing and listening to him that day. In verse 27 (NLT), Jesus challenges us with the following words:

“Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life?” 

My friend, make today the last day that you let fear or worry steal the best and precious moments of your life!

When Life Hurts

 

By now, many of you have heard the news about the passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. No matter the surrounding circumstances, suicide is a tragedy. My heart breaks for their family and friends. As is the case with many suicides, it seems there are more questions than answers.

I believe part of the problem lies in our failure to talk about suicide, openly. You’ll probably run across fundraisers and suicide awareness posts on social media, but few people take the time to discuss this important topic.

I’m here to do just that.

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Being Vulnerable

Something that just popped into my mind is how much easier it is to be vulnerable about something that happened in the past versus what is happening right now.

See, when we open up about something that is from the past – an obstacle, struggle, or difficult time in our life – we are sharing about something that is over with. We aren’t still enduring this pain, or at least we have had time to cool off from it. We can talk about how we have overcome it and we are stronger now.

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Dunkirk

One of my favorite aspects about Christopher Nolan’s film, Dunkirk, is also one of its most confusing, at least at first. The movie chronicles the evacuation of Belgian, British, and French soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France during WWII. The army was saved from annihilation by the Germans via a flotilla of civilian small boats which crossed the English Channel to rescue close to 300,000 troops and bring them back to England to fight another day.

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Wonder

Do you know how hard it is to be good? Of course you do. We all have times when we strive to be our best selves and operate in ways that put others first. And rarely is it easy. It involves overcoming challenges, including the proclivity toward selfishness and other less-than-helpful habits. That effort should make for interesting stories because great stories have great conflict, even (or maybe especially) when the conflict is internal.
So why then, do most authors, actors and directors tell us how boring it is to write, play or direct the good guys? “Give us the villains,” they say. Bad guys are more complex, more interesting. The good guys are all one-dimensional and about as captivating as reruns of the National Dog Show regional championships.

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