Pining For A Happy Ending

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The Christmas season has officially begun, and I’m feeling a bit disjointed. This will be the third holiday season in waiting mode: living apart from a loved one while continuing to navigate new emotional territory in myself.

Those of you who don’t know me personally might have guessed by now that the relationship I’ve been writing about is indeed my marriage. My husband and I have been living separately for two and a half years. In the grand scheme of things, that span is barely a blip, but at times it seems like an eternity. This morning in Sunday school, we discussed patience and perseverance, and I’ve had plenty of practice with both! There is much that is unresolved and will take more time to work through, but God faithfully walks with me each day.

It seemed like a good time to reveal the nature of the relationship in progress, because I’d like to talk about Christmas movies – the cheesy romantic ones in particular. I’ve actually already watched several of them this season. For most who are living alone or struggling this time of year, the last thing they want to do is be reminded of what they’re missing, or that their situation is less than ideal. For me, however, it’s a pleasant distraction that offers a smidgen of hope that things can work out. Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s all just fluff, and real life is never fixed by a kiss under the mistletoe. Loose ends and troubles aren’t all neatly wrapped up in a big red bow within short time frames like they are in the movies. Real reconciliation and lasting love takes godly wisdom and tenacity.

No, I don’t rely solely on those sticky-sweet, unlikely story lines to give me hope. My hope is in Christ. When I’m feeling disjointed, I look to Him, trusting that He is active behind the scenes. None of this is a surprise to Him. In a way, each of us are in our own Christmas movie. Let me explain:

Many of the plot twists and story lines we find in chick flicks are similar to what happens with the Lord, such as the main characters disliking, ignoring or misunderstanding each other in the beginning. For instance, many folks these days celebrate Christmas while ignoring the reason behind it. Before we know God, we may not understand His character or believe what the Bible says about Him. Even once we do, we forget, or the antagonist of the story (the enemy of our souls) tries to convince us that God isn’t really as loving, trustworthy or perfect as His Word says He is. The angst and distrust between people make for interesting drama on TV, but in relation to God it’s a real spiritual battle.

Like a tentative couple in a movie, we walk snowy paths, spending time learning more about the Lord and getting to know who He is (minus the stolen smooches, of course!). Things go well, until complications arise and we wonder how this will all get sorted out. In the movies, it must happen within the final ten or fifteen minutes, but in our lives it may take hours, days, or even years, depending on how stubborn we are.

At some point, one of the characters often makes some grand or incredibly thoughtful romantic gesture to communicate their love. Of course, God already did that by sending Jesus to earth to die for our sins. It was the grandest gesture of all (Romans 5:8)!

In the end, with misgivings resolved and love professed and expressed in kind, the happy couple embraces, looking forward to a bright future of life together. Once we are reconciled through Christ by grace through faith, realizing and accepting God’s infinite love for us, there is a sense of wholeness, joy and peace as we are wrapped up in a spiritual embrace that assures the hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:3-4).

How the Lord interacts with us is truly a holy romance. God has shown us His love in multiple ways; most amazingly by sending His Son, Jesus, to be born in Bethlehem, knowing He would eventually suffer and die on the cross in our place.

Here’s a poem I wrote in response to God’s pursuit of me:

“Holy Romance”

You have all eternity
to listen and care for me
Amazing love overflowing;
You wait so eagerly.
Who am I to deprive
my soul of all You give?
Holy romance of faith;
You’re the reason I live.
Longing for fellowship sweet;
help me leave all at Your feet.
Renew my mind, flood my heart.
Only in You am I complete.
May worldly chains be broken free
as You woo me by subtle charms;
Daily refreshing the Spirit in me,
’til in heaven, I run into Your arms.

4-18-03
©Ladeena Bell

If you know the Lord, then you know how your story ends. Jesus rose from the grave so we could live forever with Him in perfect fellowship and love, in heaven. No cheesy Christmas movie can even begin to match that feeling. Until that day comes, we must keep looking to Him, trusting that all the broken parts are in His hands.

Sometimes I feel disjointed and often carried away by my emotions, but no matter how messed up life gets, or how drawn out the process, He ultimately holds my life together and all will work out the way it should, in His perfect timing. It’s taking a lot longer than two hours, but I’m okay with that because God walks with me and gives me strength (Philippians 1:6).

If you’re not sure how your story ends, look to God. He loves you, broken parts and all. Tell Him your misgivings, spend time with Him and trust Him with your life. Just don’t give up. Only God can truly fill that ache in your heart, and make you feel complete (Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 15:13).

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Blessed To Be A Blessing

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Thank you, friends, for reading my humble blog! It is such a blessing to bless others, especially when I hear that a post encouraged someone. It’s why I keep writing.

In preparing this post, a simple thought came to me:

Thanksgiving and Christmas are closely linked – not just because of Black Friday, marking the beginning of the Christmas season – but they are also in the perfect order. One holiday is set aside to give thanks to God for how much we have, and the next is focused on sharing with others from that abundance, because God the Father gave His Son out of His abundance. For those who have gratefully accepted that free gift (Ephesians 2:8), the natural response is to give back to God by paying His grace and love forward to others. At Christmas, and all year long.

Here’s a poem I wrote last year about paying it forward:

“Blessed To Be A Blessing”

Counting blessings is just the start;
our grateful joy should be shared
freely with others, from the heart,
because for us no expense was spared.
God gave Himself through the Son
with a thousand good gifts beside.
Who are we to hoard what’s been done
or to embrace such foolish pride?
All we have, do, or will obtain
is from His endless supply of grace.
Faith in Jesus compels, even through pain
to give with a smile on our face.
For through every trial, His light will glow;
the Hope of our life expressing
His love, so that all may know
that we’re blessed to be a blessing!

5-6-16
©Ladeena Bell

Although the two holidays seem to get lumped together through countless store sales and online Cyber Monday deals, let’s give Thanksgiving – and the Lord – the time they deserve. If you skip ahead, you may not fully appreciate and remember all you’ve been given. The more thankful our hearts, the deeper the joy in giving! That same cyclical “give and take, and give again” spirit can only grow stronger by maintaining an attitude of gratitude throughout the year; and no matter how hard you try, you can’t out-give God!

As I’ve mentioned before, there are many moments when it’s hard to be thankful. Life in this world seems to get crazier and more polarized by the minute. So instead of focusing on the problems, and what is lacking, I focus on the blessings I do have. Like the rose in my photo above, I find the beauty and blessings in (or after) the rain.

When counting my blessings in prayer each day, I always end up first listing them all out, naturally flowing into praying, “You are so good to me”, which then quickly turns to simply, “You are good”. Every second spent just reveling in God’s goodness uplifts my soul, propelling me to share my blessings with others (2 Corinthians 9:8). May it be the same for you!

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

 

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Unravel the Loopholes

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Look up – through the mess – and seek Him… Oct 9, 2017

 

God is so awesome! Once again, He gave me a new poem to share at Simonka Place on Friday evening. I finalized and printed it up only an hour before nervously reading it during chapel time at the women’s and children’s shelter. My new nickname could be “The 11th Hour Poet”! I’d been told that the message theme would be “justifying our actions”, but I waited until Friday afternoon to begin looking through my works for a poem to share. Nothing quite fit, so immediately I prayed, “Okay, Lord, do You have something special I can write for the ladies?” With a pencil and notebook at the ready, this is what He inspired me to write:

“Loopholes”

Lord, I get so tangled in myself
– every loophole becomes a noose,
cutting me off from Your truth,
trying to justify with an excuse.
Yet there’s no excuse I can make
that You cannot see right through;
Any loophole I identify
unravels in light of You.
Your Word cuts to the heart,
exposing the enemy’s lies;
The truth behind every “reason”,
each sidestep and disguise.
So in humble awe, I surrender
my faulty wisdom for Your grace.
Laying down my foolish pride
– running into Your embrace.
For You gaze right through me
even as You see me through;
I’m justified only by grace,
through faith, not what I do.
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
and for Your patience when I stumble.
May all the loopholes in my life
remain unraveled as I stay humble.

11-10-17
©Ladeena Bell

To some degree or another, we all rationalize our actions. We are made in God’s image, so among other things, we have intellect, emotions, and a will, but because we also live in a fallen world, our clever minds can easily get us into trouble. I myself tend to over-think things or selfishly want my own way, more often than I’d like to admit. There are several loopholes or spiritual gray areas we’ve all used to justify our actions.

For many, one struggle is telling white lies. It seems like the most loving thing to do, but it actually isn’t loving at all. A white lie is still a lie. Yet there are gentle ways to tell the truth. I’m generally honest to a fault, so the challenge for me is to avoid stepping on toes through my matter-of-fact comments.

Some folks act as if they can hide things from God, or attempt to somehow outsmart Him. Those notions have never made sense to me. It’s silly to think that we can convince God that He’s wrong by using the seemingly sound reasoning and logic of the world. It is also dangerously foolish to cherry pick doctrine to serve our selfish purposes. The enemy delights in twisting the truth. By picking and choosing what we believe or turning it to justify our agenda, we’re playing right into his hand.

God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can’t even begin to comprehend the full measure of His wisdom, or fathom the depths of His understanding (Isaiah 40:28). Basically, God is God, and we are not!

That being said, the Lord actually invites us to reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:18). He welcomes dialogue. Yell, scream or even shake your fist at God. He can take it. Just know that no matter your argument, He will win. Yet when you lose, you win, for in surrendering yourself, you gain His wisdom and a deeper understanding of His will and workings.

Once again, the crux of the problem is trust in self versus trust in God. The more you trust in His perfect will and infinite love for you, the wisest (though not the easiest) choice becomes clear: to pray and seek His will ahead of your own. The God of the universe has your best interests at heart and has the unlimited resources to accomplish great things, even out of our knotted-up messes.

So with humble hearts, let us seek the perfect wisdom He offers freely (James 1:5), daily committing to follow Him with no pretense and no agenda except to do our best, by His grace.

May all of our clever loopholes be replaced with threads of joyful obedience, in light of His goodness, wisdom and love!

Faith Notes
Here’s one of my favorite songs that fits the theme of this post:
What You Want – Tenth Avenue North

Wisdom of the Word
“For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’.” 1 Corinthians 3:19

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:21

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

A Pumpkin In Progress

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Phase Into Fall – October 17, 2017

 

Last week it became glaringly obvious that I have a ways to go in controlling my stronger emotions. I am a pumpkin in progress. (Stick with me; this will make sense, I promise!)

My manager made an email suggestion in response to an inquiry from another office. I didn’t think it was a good idea, and decided to speak directly to him about the matter. While I was quite animated and mostly in control, still my voice was elevated and I could sense that my face was flushed with raw frustration. After some debate, I finally retreated to my desk, and, wouldn’t you know it, staff in the other office replied with concerns mirroring my own. In a matter of moments, it became a non-issue. If I just would have waited, or thought outside myself to realize that others might feel the same way and dismiss the idea, my minor outburst could have been avoided. Looking back, I should have been much slower to speak and much slower to get upset (James 1:19-21). It was definitely a “stop and pray” situation, of which I did not take full advantage.

Growing up, I actually wasn’t allowed to question authority or assert my own opinions around my father. Everything was “backtalk” to him. Therefore, normally I’ve not been known to get all up in arms about things, as I’ve found myself doing over the past few months. The quiet, easygoing soul that the Lord saved nearly 30 years ago still yearns for peace, but lately my powerful inner reactions catch me off guard at times. In short, I often drive myself crazy, caring so much and over-thinking things!

I thank God that He isn’t finished with me yet.

As our church prepares for Trunk ‘n’ Treat again this year, and I get ready for Halloween, I’m reminded again of the little evangelistic fliers that ask, “Are You God’s Pumpkin?”. Perhaps you’ve seen them. In part, they speak of God scooping out the yucky stuff inside and placing His light in us so that all may see. Living as God’s pumpkin isn’t easy, but in every struggle I also rejoice, because I am a work in progress. He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Yes, Jesus saved me from death, and scooped out my less desirable traits, but as my heart remains surrendered to Him, the Lord keeps working in me so that the light He’s placed inside is more and more visible, and glowing ever brighter.

Here’s a new poem I wrote today, with that in mind:

“God’s Pumpkin”

I’m so glad to be God’s pumpkin,
for He pulled me from the field;
The dirt of my sin was wiped away,
and He works on me as I yield.
The Spirit gives easy access –
God gently reaches in to clean:
Removing the seeds of doubt,
the stringy mess of fears unseen.
He carved out a goofy smile,
and placed His light inside of me,
to not only shine on Halloween
but all year, so the world can see.
Yes, I’m thankful to be God’s pumpkin.
No trick! His treats are the best!
Some may say I’m out of my gourd,
I say I’m monstrously blessed!

10-29-17

Are you God’s pumpkin? Has God plucked you out of the pumpkin patch, cleaned off the sinful dirt, works daily in your life to scoop out the yucky stuff, “carved” a smile on your face and put His light in your soul? If so, rejoice and tell others how they can become God’s pumpkin, too!

Just remember, we’re all works in progress, with our own struggles, so lead with love!

Don’t be afraid to shine His light, especially into the conspicuous darkness of this holiday. No matter the current trends or the origins of Halloween, what the enemy intends for evil, God will use for good as you make yourself available!

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Faithful Through the Flood

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Reflection on life – October 14, 2017

My heart is heavy today. Someone close to me is going through multiple struggles, and on the brink of giving up completely. Though I trust that God has a plan, and this dear one is just a step or two away from deliverance and victory, I also know that I cannot make decisions for them. So I wait and continue to pray that the powerful love of the Lord will become undeniably real, thwarting the enemy and exposing his lies.

Today I decided to distract myself by finally taking the time to type up some of my earliest poems. Most are handwritten in pencil, on pages pulled from an old three-subject spiral notebook that I had long since pulled apart to consolidate my keepsakes. It has been an interesting afternoon, glimpsing back into the thoughts and hopes of my younger self.

One poem I wrote as a teenager actually echoes some of how I feel today. While I don’t recall what exactly had been troubling me at the time (life at home was definitely no picnic, for one thing), I thank the Lord that just as He was faithful in the midst of an overwhelming flood of cares back then, He is still my source of strength, hope and peace in the midst of uncertainty today.

“The Flood”

A great many things
have been flooding my brain;
Each time nearly swept away
by the hard downpour of rain.
The residue that’s left behind
are my exposed feelings and fears
that I’ve buried deep beneath the dirt
only sunken deeper with my tears.
Too many things have happened
– I keep getting lost in a dream
Forgetting that it’s reality,
but knowing things aren’t how they seem.
I’m just so scared of the future,
though I know it’s all in God’s hands;
I keep wondering, “What if…?” too often,
for I know not God’s plans.
But I do know I can’t recall a time
when God wasn’t there for me.
So I’ll get through it all with Him,
no matter how bad things seem to be.

10-22-91
©Ladeena Bell

When you feel like you’re drowning and there are just no more words, cry out to God. Look to the heavens and simply pray “help me, Lord!”. He loves you and He is listening! In fact, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, expressing the deepest cries of our hearts (Romans 8:26). When we are at the end of ourselves, it may be the beginning of something miraculous through Him!

No matter how big or small the flood, lean fully on God – as He has carried me, He will carry you! You are NOT alone!

Faith Notes
We can trust God in the Eye of the Storm! This is a great song by Ryan Stevenson.
(Note: Link will open in a new window.)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

God Is Good – All the Time!

20170914_182822Cyclamen – September 14, 2017

 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I’ve been thinking about this verse lately. Specifically, about how hard it can be sometimes to give thanks and worship God in all circumstances, especially with all that’s going on in the world these days. Sadly, less people seem to seek God, let alone worship Him. It’s become more difficult to rejoice and be thankful.

Why does the Lord ask us to do something that sounds nearly impossible at times? It’s a part of God’s command to love Him (Matthew 22:37), not just because He deserves it, but because He loves us so much, He knows what’s best for us, and by His grace He makes it possible. For me, maintaining a thankful heart keeps my mind from dwelling on any present hardship and instead focuses it on His indescribable love and grace. Hope lingers and grows as I recall how He has brought me through similar circumstances in the past. I don’t always know what I’m doing, God does, and by His grace He’ll continue carrying me into the future. So I rejoice and worship!

There’s really nothing else on earth quite like the deep peace and overwhelming love I experience in worshipful prayer: the eyes of my heart looking heavenward and my soul laid bare before my creator, with full trust in God’s care for me. His Spirit removes each thorn of sin as I confess it, replacing every ache with an inner strength and a sense of wholeness that is hard to explain. I am filled with gratitude for all He has done for me, in me and through me!

Here’s a little poem I wrote after a particularly uplifting time of prayer led to praise:

“A Peace of Praise”

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ forever!
The earth and everything in it are His.
I am His child
I am His unfinished masterpiece
I am His gem
I praise my Lord, my King, my Savior.
Peace comes like a wave;
All doubts, fears, anger, pain
disappear.
I can truly say
there’s nothing on my mind,
there’s nothing wrong,
because my Lord Jesus is on the throne
Peace will ever be my song
Forever!

7-6-94
©Ladeena Bell

A Thankful Heart
Worship truly is the natural out-flowing of a thankful heart. The more I praise Him for what I have, the more I realize just how good He is to me, and in turn how good He is overall. Yet worship in its purest form is praising God for Who He is, not just what He does. Only out of full surrender and the deepest trust can I say “God is good” even when my circumstances are not.

Made For Worship
God thoughtfully created us to glorify and to worship Him (Psalm 8:4-6; Isaiah 43:7). We are made in His image, meaning that we each have emotions, thoughts and a will. As a result, sometimes we suffer when people exercise their free will by inflicting harm on others, or because we live in a fallen world and on a planet that is constantly shifting. Yet, the hurt, doubt and fear we feel do not make God any less worthy of worship. No, He is perfect in all of His ways, and His love for us never fails (Psalm 136:1).

How easily we’re able to rejoice and worship the Lord, particularly in difficult situations, reveals how deeply we know and trust the God we say we believe and follow. Only by daily acknowledging our need for Him in prayer and trusting that He truly is who He says He is, can we avoid living like mere “fair weather Christians”. My prayer for you and believers around the world is that you will trust Christ with your whole heart, and keep praying and praising every day, even if He doesn’t take away your burden or rescue you from every trouble.

My relationship with Jesus Christ is the firm foundation of my life. He lightens the load and lifts my spirits as I surrender my cares to Him (Psalm 55:22). He will do that for you, too, if you let Him!

Faith Notes
Even If – by Mercy Me is a powerful song that speaks of praising God in all situations, and being able to say (or sing!) “it is well with my soul” even in the midst of struggles.
(Note: Link will open up in new window.)

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Dare To Be Different!

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Tulips – April 18, 2017

Last Sunday evening , on my way home from serving at Simonka House, I was chatting with a younger friend of mine. We were talking about being a light where you are, and being true to who you are and who God called you to be. We agreed that it’s difficult for many people not to go with the crowd. Without thinking, I said, “It’s hard to be a shining light if you’re too busy blending in with the dark.”

It is definitely hard to be different in this world, to stand up for what you believe. The world makes it easy to go down the wrong path. The road to destruction is wide, but narrow is the path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). It isn’t easy being a Christ follower because living for Him goes against the flow of the world (Colossians 3:1-17).

Here is a new poem I wrote about daring to be different:

“Dare To Be different!”

God’s love through us reverses the tide,
goes against the flow of selfish pride.
We’re called to serve as His hands and feet,
showing compassion to all we meet.
Not by power, but by His Spirit alone
we follow His lead – our hearts are His throne!
Living for Him, we shine most brightly
giving up things once held so tightly;
To humbly walk the narrow way,
honoring Him through all that we say:
Speaking grace and truth, in equal parts,
lovingly engaging wayward hearts.
So dare to be different, let His light glow,
Dispel the darkness with the hope you know.
Dare to stand out, lead with truth and love,
pointing everyone to the Father above.

9-23-17
©Ladeena Bell

As Christ followers, we obey God and not men (Acts 5:29), and some of our ways will seem strange to others. Hopefully, because of the outrageous love of God that we show, it will seem more intriguing than odd. For example: Success in the world’s eyes means “looking out for #1”. In God’s economy, success comes when we look out for others’ interests, often above our own (Philippians 2:3-5). As God works in and through us, His quiet power will shine brighter than the flashiest sports car, biggest gleaming trophy or glittering jewelry! If you’re smiling when the world says you shouldn’t be, that gets people’s attention.

Overall, living and sharing our faith takes a lot of prayer and humility. When we do engage others in tough topics, we can remain true to our faith and beliefs and still be loving about it. Many well-meaning Christians have preached (truth) more than they have shown love (grace), and turned people off (although these days, it seems that just appearing to have differing beliefs seems to offend some people). We must balance God’s truth with love. To love others as He loves us, the key is to abide in His love (spend time with and daily surrender to the Lord) everyday through quiet time, prayer and reading His Word. After all, it’s not really us who is doing the loving, but Christ in us! In our human strength and power, we can’t love the way God calls us to – only by His power can we love and serve the way we are commanded to in His Word (John 15:9-13; 2 Corinthians 3:5).

That being said, we should never back down from calling sin for what it is, and not candy-coat what God so clearly states in His Word. Sharing God’s truth with love, the ultimate goal must be salvation, not to convince others that we’re right and the way they are living is wrong. It’s not about being right, but about God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. Our part is to humbly share. Whether they reject the message or not, it isn’t about us, for Jesus himself said people will hate us because of Him (Matthew 10:22). There will always be a few folks around us – even extended family members – who merely tolerate a Christian’s presence. Yet those are the souls who need our prayers the most!

Dare To Be Different!
Where there is hate, show love. Where there is anger, offer forgiveness. Where there is fighting, be a gentle force of peace. Where there is selfishness, show love and give sacrificially. Where there is hopelessness, show others there is indeed hope, and more love, peace, and joy than what they’ve experienced before, in Christ!

Pray, be available and watch how God moves when you dare to be different!

“..for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:13-16a

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

My True Home

DSCN9075Yellow Rose (Thinking of Texas, Louisiana & Florida) – September 10, 2017

Last week I discovered that the house my husband and I had most recently rented was torn down. Driving over to the old neighborhood to check it out, my nostalgia turned to disbelief as I neared the corner where a house, huge willow tree, fence, ash tree and shop once stood. My eyes filled with tears, staring at the vacant lot which was now only dirt, gravel and a few stakes surrounded by a chain link fence. A large sign announced the townhouses to come.

It’s amazing how attached we all get to places and things. There’s a keen sense of loss when the familiar disappears, either by wrecking ball, fire, storm, or simply relocating. It feels like small pieces of ourselves and our memories go with it.

Yet, as a follower of Christ, I know this world is not my home. As the old song goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…”*. I am in fact an alien in this world (Philippians 3:20), because by His Spirit, the Lord has made His home in me (Ephesians 3:17)! Feeling a little wistful about things is okay, but my ultimate happiness and security do not hinge on where I live or what I have.

Wiped Clean
In a way, it is a blessing that the house we called home for seven years is gone. There were good and bad memories, and now the slate as well as the lot are wiped clean. It’s time to build something else. Something better.

Similarly, reconciliation is a long process that starts with a demolition of sorts. You have to break things down and get back to basics before you can begin to build again. The same is true for ending relationships and starting over, however I’m still praying and working toward healing and restoration. My life is continually under construction as the Master Builder works out His will in and through me!

True Home
I’m looking forward to what God has in store, both in life here on earth, and my true home in heaven that will never be demolished! Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you….” (John 14:1-4). In the King James Version of the Bible, it’s described as a mansion, but I’d be happy with a quaint country cottage, log cabin in the woods, or a cozy beach bungalow! Really, though, no matter what form it takes, just to be with Him in heaven will feel more like home than anywhere on earth!

Here is a poem I wrote about my true home:

“My Home”

At home with my Savior,
heart’s door open wide;
No fears or worries there,
for love and peace abide.
His will, my goal,
His love, my only need,
His guidance through all things,
my willing soul to lead.
I’m in God’s holy family,
trusting in His perfect plan;
Committing all to His control,
though I don’t understand.
But wisdom comes with patience;
Through the Spirit, with my sword,
I simply pray for contentment,
for my home is with the Lord.

©Ladeena Bell
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Where is your home? Where do you turn when what’s familiar goes away? As followers of Christ, we have hope for today as well as the glorious promise of heaven: eternal life with the Lord, where tears, loss and pain are no more. The hope of heaven that I carry in my heart lightens my spirit and gives me strength during the uncertainties and losses of life. Remembering how far I’ve come, I have joy knowing His plans for me are perfect and good (Psalm 18:30). Every step taken and every word written leads me closer to heaven, trusting that as I bear witness of His grace, by His power others may also experience that reassurance. I hope and pray that you have the hope of heaven that comes through personal belief in Jesus Christ.

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all of the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

Faith Notes
I love this song about our true home: Where I Belong – Building 429
Note: Link opens up in new window.

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

 

*Credit: Albert E. Brumley ©Copyright 1938

I Still Have Hope! Do You?

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I really didn’t mean to take a two week break. Things in my personal life threw me for a loop even before Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas and Louisiana, wildfires ravaged the Northwest and Hurricane Irma began tearing a path toward Florida.

The relationship that was on hold is not yet resolved, but at least we’re in the same state. I wish I could say that things were progressing nicely, but we still keep hitting the same old roadblocks. The added stress caused chronic headaches and increased my fatigue, which severely hampered my desire and inspiration to write. Thankfully I’m better now.

What Differences?
The eclipse was a literal bright spot of these past few weeks. It was amazing! Here in Salem, Oregon, we got a perfect view of God’s handiwork. It reminded me just how small we all are, and more alike than some prefer to admit. There was a short-lived peace as all eyes peered heavenward, setting aside their differences, if only for a while.

With the floods and wildfires, there arose entirely different reasons for setting aside differences. What an encouragement to see people rise up in love and compassion, helping others in times of crisis and disaster! It’s one of the good things that God brings out of what the enemy uses for evil. Strength and resilience is tested and grows through struggle and heartbreak. If life was always easy, we’d all be a bunch of wimps!

Here’s a poem I wrote about the source of my strength, and hope:

“Only God”

Only God has the answers for every troubled soul;
Only Jesus’ blood has the power to rid us of death’s hold.
Only God will be here now, understanding all we go through:
Because He loves us so much, He helps us in all we do.
Only Jesus is the answer to your deepest of desires;
In this contrasting world, His love smothers hateful fires.
Only God will be listening when all courage disappears:
When other people turn away, He’s the One Who always hears.
Only God will be here tomorrow – we may be at the end of our rope;
But God works all things together for good, and gives us hope.
For Jesus walks close beside us along the path of light;
As the Spirit guides our hearts, we’ll reflect His love into the night.

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©Ladeena Bell

Near the End?
We’re told in Scripture that there will be various calamities, wars and rumors of wars before Jesus returns. All that’s happening right now may be only the beginning of the “birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8). We know from His Word that it is all going according to His plan, so no matter what happens, whether storm, fire or threats of war, I know my God is still on the throne. I don’t understand how all of the puzzle pieces of life go together, but He has the puzzle box and sees how glorious the finished picture will be!

In church last Sunday, we had a missionary couple speak about their work in India. It was refreshing to hear some good news in the world. Of special interest to me was just how many unique dialect groups live in isolated and remote villages that have yet to be reached with the Gospel of Christ. With all that’s going on in the world today, many folks are wondering if Jesus is coming soon. Yet the Bible says that the Good News must be shared with ALL nations (all groups and tribes) before He returns (Matthew 24:14), and that doesn’t seem to have happened quite yet.

Shine and Serve
While we’re still here, the call to shine His light and serve others remains on those who claim to be followers of Jesus. The biggest disaster that can befall your family and friends won’t come from earthquakes, fire, flood, or the like. No, the biggest calamity is that loved ones might perish without ever standing on the solid ground of hope or experiencing the cleansing power of forgiveness by grabbing the life ring that is saving faith in Jesus Christ!

The darker this world becomes, the more obvious the light that we carry becomes. Be a beacon of hope! Help and donate whatever you can, but more importantly: pray for those affected by the disasters both near and far. Pray that those without hope will find it in the Lord, through the prayers and actions of the believers who surround them.

Faith Notes
Here is a great song that expresses a lot of my thoughts right now:
I Have This Hope – by Tenth Avenue North
(Note: Link opens up in a new window.)

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Eclipsed By Glory

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Tomorrow morning the sun will be eclipsed by the shadow of the moon. Scores of people across the nation are converging in the path of totality, getting prepared to witness the celestial event.

The total solar eclipse reminds me of a few metaphorical truths:

Just as the light of the sun will be darkened by the moon, a spiritual darkness has been threatening to overtake the Son’s light on the earth. As I’ve written before, we as Christians must do all we can to keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus, and He will give us the strength, wisdom and courage to continue shining the light of the Son into the darkness of hate, ignorance, pride and selfishness. Living for Christ, our lives are to be eclipsed by His glory and love; for all we do, are, and have is from Him, and so we joyfully share that with others. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven .” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

When struggles try to dim our view, making it hard to see around the next corner, that means we’ve taken our eyes off of Jesus! “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Here is a poem about staying focused on Jesus the Son:

“Sonset”

The Son is the center of my life,
and just as the sun above glows,
With each passing hour of day
love for my Savior grows.
At the break of day, my soul rejoices
along with the sparrow’s song,
And at high noon, I still sing a tune
for His light in my heart shines strong.
Then at the day’s close, the ember yet glows
– my soul’s fire brightly aflame;
As the sun sets, the sky blood red,
I give praise to His holy name.
For in the Son, my sins set low,
nevermore to be seen;
At the dawn of day, my mistakes far away,
I begin again wholly clean.
Following the light of the Son,
I shine for all to see;
Forever to the Father and Son above
All honor and glory be.

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©Ladeena Bell

The eclipse also reminds me that without the shadows – either of the moon or the dark of night – we wouldn’t appreciate the the light as much. That’s why when those who’ve had especially hard-knock lives come to the full knowledge of God’s love for them, their experiences make them even more credible and powerful witnesses of His mercy and grace to those who are still in the darkness.

Finally, though the moon will darken the sun for a period of time, it will not shade it forever. As followers of Christ, we have a confident hope that though the prince of this world works to fill it with sin and darkness, his days on earth are numbered. Ultimately, the Son will emerge victorious when He returns once again in the clouds! No one but the Father knows the day or hour (Matthew 24:36), but the conquering Light is coming!

No matter where you are, whether you’ll get to personally (safely) experience the eclipse or merely see it on a screen somewhere, I hope and pray you take these truths to heart and be encouraged!

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)