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margaretfleming21@gmail.com

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Saved

Many of my readers and my dear friends know that in the last year I have been grappling with a strong sense of call. A call to ministry that does not surprise me, yet scares the living daylights out of me. I wish I could write here that I eloquently praised God for this call, but to say that I did would only be a big, fat, ugly lie. I am a bit ashamed to admit that when I began feeling this strong sense of call a year ago I reacted like a terrible toddler. I did not cry out in praise, no, I cried out in grief. I mourned the loss of my big plans and ambitions. Rather than open my heart and hands with joy I curled my hands into tight little fists and tried to make my heart as small and hidden as possible. When I finally faced the reality of what God was calling me to, and released my hands and just a bit of my heart I resigned myself to accepting my fate. I felt as if my life was over, and if we are getting technical–my old life was coming to an end but only to be redeemed by God’s love with the offering of a beautiful new life, living into God’s plans for me. I uttered an “Okay” through gritted teeth and a whole mess of tears.

Since that utterance, nearly a year ago, I have been on a journey. A journey which has taken me to all sorts of new and beautiful places, introduced me to God, this world and so many of God’s beautiful children. This journey has led me places that I never thought I would go; spiritually, physically and emotionally. I have faced some of my biggest fears, been overwhelmed by the pure joy of freely given love, been betrayed and hurt by people I care so deeply for, tasted and seen the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. This last year has been one of great struggle, grief, fear, beauty, courage, love and joy. This last year has been one of discovery, adventure and learning to believe. This year will forever be marked as special in my life. It is the year that I have recognized how God saves me over and over again.

I was in a really dark place when I uttered “Okay.” I was severely disenchanted with the church; I had seen the hurts the church had inflicted on people I loved, I had witnessed the hypocrisy of the church, I had experienced the pain that comes when the church plays for power rather than love. I had lost hope in the church. Until, I wandered into an Episcopal church tucked into the corner of St. Andrews on a Friday morning in June. I still remember walking up to that front door and before opening it looking up to heaven and offering up a silent prayer of “Please let these people be welcoming.” When I opened the door I was met face to face with Christ. Her name is Sybil, she was petite, white haired and wore purple eyeshadow. She looked at me, welcomed me in, handed me a service outline and when I told her I was Presbyterian she simply stated “Oh that doesn’t matter” and welcomed me to the table. I saw Christ in Sybil and I was invited to share bread and wine. Sybil and the congregation of that Episcopal church saved me and restored my hope in the church.

I mentioned above that this is the year I have begun to recognize how God saves me. I know God has saved me throughout my life, constantly reaching into the mess I make for myself and pulling me out to place me back on the right path. I think Nadia Bolz-Weber describes it best: “God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over” (Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 174). This year I have begun to pay attention to when I have dug a nice little grave for myself and when God has reached in and picked me up out of that grave. If I think about my life I can pinpoint so many of these moments, thanks be to God! To believe in a God that will not stop reaching in and yanking me out of the grave I dig for myself, even when I tell God to buzz off (I have actually said this in with much nastier words) is incredible.

To worship a God who continually runs after me, welcomes me home with a big embrace and loves me despite all the nasty things I do is a wonderful gift. This season of Lent is challenging me and my faith in a number of different ways. God is asking me to trust when all I want to do is rely on myself (we all know how that works out for me). God is asking me to lay down my life and let God fully in when all I want is to let God have only a little bit of my heart. Giving my life to God is an everyday practice. Giving God everything that I have is so difficult but it is what we are all called to do. I guess I, like everyone else, have an incredibly difficult time believing that someone could love me as much and as well as God does. So as we make our way to the cross this season, I am trying to bare my heart and soul to God and myself, to open up my closed hands and heart, to trust in God’s love and promises and to believe that when God calls God will provide and go with me.

Wherever you are on your own journey, I hope that you recognize where God is reaching into your mess and pulling you out. I pray that you recognize Christ in the people who are in your life and see how God is working through them to help you. I pray you all meet, get to know and love your own Sybil and I pray that you are a Sybil to someone. As we make our way to the cross let’s be honest, let’s be courageous, let’s give all we have, and let’s love with all of our hearts our wonderful God and our neighbors.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,

Margaret

*The woman in the picture is Sybil. She is truly a gem!

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Tears

Crying is deemed a weakness in our society. Those who cry are stereotyped as incapable of handling their emotions and overly sensitive. Just last night I was speaking to a friend who claimed that he will not and does not cry. This baffles me because I am a cryer. If you have followed me this is quite obvious, the phrase, “I am a cryer” constantly makes an appearance. What can I say? I cry a lot.

I always tell people that my tears are a sign of me processing my emotions; whether they be happy, sad, angry, hurt, joyful, overwhelmed, or stressed–tears are how I express my emotions and process them. Tonight, as I sat in the Ash Wednesday service at my church and was reminded who I am and whose I am–I felt the hot tears fill my eyes and roll down my cheeks. As the tears made pathways down my cheeks I realized that with every tear that fell my heart was emptied. As the tears fell freely my heart became more and more empty of all the stuff that separates me from God. As my heart became empty I felt God’s loving presence begin to fill me up (which clearly only made me cry even more).

I just recently read The Shack (I am super excited that the movie is coming out this weekend!) and in this book there is a scene where the Holy Spirit, known as Sarayu in the book, comes to the main character Mack and collects the tears he cries. In Psalm 56:8 I see where this image must have come from:

“You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record?”

Every tear I cry, God collects. What a beautiful thought.

We are now in the season of Lent. In the sermon on Sunday, I listened as the pastor said, Lent is a time for honesty and tonight I was reminded it is also a season to be brought home. I have strayed, again, far from home. I have let my fears, my desire for control, my pride, my ego and my negativity lead me further away from home and further away from God.

During Lent we often choose to give up something that distracts us from our relationship with God. Or, in recent years, I have learned you can choose to put something on; to put on a practice that will serve to bring you closer to God. This year I think that I am going to give up focusing on the negative by practicing gratefulness. I also want to make time to spend with God (what I call Jesus or quiet time). As we make our way to the cross I want to draw closer to the One who looks at me, knows me by name and calls me Neshume-le (which means Beloved Little Soul). And I truly hope that you want to do the same. You are God’s beloved child with whom God is well pleased (Matthew 3:17 and Henri Nouwen’s Paraphrase which can be located in many of his books but especially in The Return of the Prodigal Son).

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

And may you remember: In Life and in Death We Belong to God.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,

Margaret

 

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Open Hearts

I found this quote in the February 2017 issue of Skirt Magazine

“Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay. Love isn’t love until you give it away.” (Unknown)

We have just had one of the most romantic and love centered holidays this week, Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a holiday people either love or love to hate, personally I love it. My mom is a kindergarten teacher and always taught me that V-Day was just a day to tell all those you love–you love them. I cannot express just how excited I was to write and send out my Valentine’s, just sending out a little love to people who are all over the world put me in a better mood.

I think about love, a lot, 99% of my posts are about love, it is the central theme of my faith and it is truly the one thing that I believe makes this world go round. One of the saddest realizations for me has been that one of my biggest fears is to let love in, to open my heart and allow it to be vulnerable–and I find that this fear is not just reserved to me, I talk to people all the time about how they are scared to open up their hearts because they may be opening it up to love but they are also opening it up to the possibility of hurt.

The quote above was at the very end of a monthly magazine I read, Skirt. This month’s issue was all about, you guessed it, love and Valentine’s Day! Although the quote is simple, it packs a punch, “Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay. Love isn’t love until you give it away.” The thing about hearts is, they don’t really fully function without receiving love and they don’t fully function without giving away love. I know my heart feels more at peace and I personally feel more like myself when I give love away. However, the flip side is to give away genuine love, my heart must be open and my walls down.

C. S. Lewis wrote:

“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

The second to last sentence brought tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine a worst fate for one’s self and one’s heart, to have a heart that is unbreakable, impenetrable and irredeemable. We don’t fear love, our fear is that we will be hurt. Love is beautiful, healing and brings us to life but the fear of being hurt is crippling. Yes, when you open your heart and allow yourself to become vulnerable there is a real possibility that your heart will be hurt and even broken; those we love often hurt us, some mean to while others do so accidentally. However, every time our hearts are broken, chipped at, sliced at and even stabbed–something wonderful does happen, they still beat and eventually they will mend and you will discover that your heart has the capacity to allow in a little more love and to give a little bit more love away. After being hurt, you must remember how it feels. We all get hurt but there are times when we are the ones that do the hurting. So when you have to break another’s heart, remember what it felt like to have yours broken and be gentle with it. Hearts are fragile and if you ever truly loved or cared about another person, you won’t want to inflict unnecessary pain.  (I think there is a quote along these lines, but I cannot seem to find it)

Too often we believe that our scars make us somehow less human. The world we live in places a heavy emphasis on appearing perfect, hiding our emotions (crying is seen as a weakness but I know it is one of my biggest strengths. I prefer to call it “processing my emotions”) and trying to make it seem like nothing really touches us. If we don’t feel then we cannot get hurt, but I don’t think life is about avoiding the collisions that will leave us with scars and bruises. In fact I found a quote that addresses this:

“Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the bruises. maybe it’s about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it.”

I want you to think about your hearts, think about the wounds that have been inflicted upon it, think about the healing process and all the bandaids that were laid upon your heart. Now think about what your heart looks and feels like after the bandaids were removed, it may not look pristine and perfect but think of it this way–your heart wasn’t untouched, it was used. It is incredibly painful when people we love hurt us but I will never regret loving them. I will never let the pain cause me to regret giving my heart away, opening it up to let love in and let love out, because my scars mean I showed up.

So I am going to leave you with words of wisdom from the incredible Maya Angelou:

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and All my Love,

Margaret

*I wrote a similar post, nearly two years ago, entitled Brokenhearted

 

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I Am Blessed

The other day I was in a foul mood. It felt almost as if my heart had been stabbed with a knife and I was too emotionally exhausted to pull it out so I made the decision that I would simply leave the knife in and let the wound fester. Fester it did, my heart ached in a way that I thought it might just be best to simply rip the thing right out of my chest. I let the wound and my mood fester until I felt numb and the hurt, anger and pain was only a throb. As I let myself wallow in this pain and this misery (dramatic, right?) I also allowed myself to throw a major temper tantrum with God–I mean I acted like a two year old in the midst of her terrible twos. I let myself vent, do a little yelling and a lot of blaming– then promptly rested myself against the cold, solid numbness of my once destroyed walls rather than in the warm, solid and loving embrace of God.

However, God uses many people, some very much alive and some who have passed on. God used a woman I respect greatly, love dearly and sorely miss, although I haven’t ever met her–Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou died in 2014, but this incredible woman’s glorious words and wisdom live on in her numerous books, articles and poems. So on Monday, as I was throwing myself a little pity party God used Maya Angelou’s words to break through the walls of hurt.

Monday morning I drove myself downtown to the Charleston County Public Library, where I got to use my brand new library card (I cannot express how excited I am about that little piece of plastic) and checked out three books: Letter to My Daughter and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings both by Maya Angelou and Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. I began with Letter to My Daughter, the back of the cover read: “I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.” As I perused the shelf filled with Angelou’s work, picked up this work and read the back I decided this was a book I desperately needed to read; I managed to finish the book all on Monday. It is in this colorfully bound book that I found just the bit of advice that my heart and mind needed to hear.

In Chapter 11: Porgy and Bess Angelou recounts a story when she felt that she was going crazy:

“I told him I was going crazy. he said no and then asked, ‘What’s really wrong?’ and I, upset that he had not heard me said, ‘I thought about killing myself today and killing Guy [her son], I’m telling you I’m going crazy.’ Wilkie said, ‘Sit down right here at this table, here is a yellow pad and here is a ballpoint pen. I want you to write down your blessings.’ I said, ‘Wilkie, I don’t want to talk about that, I’m telling you I am going crazy.’ He said, ‘First write down that I said write down and think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir, or symphony, or their own babies crying. Write down, I can hear–Thank God. Then write down that you can see this yellow pad, and think of the millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall, or flowers blooming, or their lover’s face. Write I can see–Thank God. Then write down that you can read. Think of the millions of people around the world who cannot read the news of the day, or a letter from home, a stop sign on a busy street, or…’ I followed Wilkie’s orders and when I reached the last line on the first page of the yellow pad, the agent of madness was routed.” (Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter p. 66).

I found myself feeling just as Angelou did. I didn’t want to talk about and think about my blessings, much less write them down. But I decided to listen to Wilkie’s instruction and pulled out a pad and pen and began to, begrudgingly write down the things I was thankful for. I get so caught up in the things that hurt, the things that I don’t like, the circumstances I don’t have any control over that I lose sight of how blessed I am, how much beauty is right in front of me and how simply lovely it is to live in the here and now. So as Angelou ended her chapter, I will end this post with: “Today I am blessed” (Angelou, Letter to My Daughter, p. 67).

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Peace, Joy, Blessings and So Much Love,

Margaret

P.S I hope everyone had a lovely, love filled Valentine’s Day!

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Chasing Sunsets

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If I look outside around 4:30/5:00PM I will begin to see the sky change colors and the sun sink lower in the sky. This is my  signal that the end of another day is approaching and is an indicator that a gorgeous, God made show is about to begin. Tonight I chose to be present in the moment and present in this place; I didn’t want to let another stunning sunset go by without witnessing it. The funny thing with sunsets is, you can go out to the same place every evening, at the same time and sit in the same spot but the view that dances in front of your eyes will always be different. Somehow each evening the sky will be illuminated with an array of a variety of colors. Some sunsets paint the sky full of pastel colors that reflect off the clouds reminding me of cotton candy, while other evenings the sky resembles a fire, with all different shades orange and yellow. Tonight I stuck around and watched as the last orange light faded, the sky turned navy blue and the silvery moon made her appearance accompanied by a star.

As I walked further down the old bridge, towards the benches, I met a couple watching the sunset from their golf cart. I stopped and told them that they were doing life right and discovered that they come to watch the sunset every evening and had watched the sunrise that morning! Maybe that is what I need to start doing, taking time to slow down, enjoy the quiet of the evening and let myself feel small and overwhelmed by the beauty of the sky.

The gallery attached to this post is full of pictures from a few different sunsets that I have witnessed in the past few months, from four different countries. Some of the pictures are not the best quality, I took them on my phone! Even though the pictures are not perfect they are still gorgeous; however, nothing will ever compare to the magic that is watching the sky transform before your own eyes.

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Peace, Joy, Blessings and So Much Love,

Margaret

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Relationships

I have this nasty tendency to look at God’s gifts as a burden to bear rather than a joy. On a good day I might see it as a joy but as soon as something hurts or feels uncomfortable I immediately look at God accusingly and demand, “Why did you give me this anyway?!” or “Why’d did you ask me to do this?!” Rather than look at it as a gift I only see it as hurtful. I am ashamed to say that this tends to happen quite regularly. Today, however, is one of those rare days where I simply look around me and at this big beautiful world and simply rejoice.

The good days tend to happen as a result of doing the things that I know help my heart, things like being honest with myself, with God and those I love about where I am, how I feel and who I am. I am always in much better form if I have done my journaling and shared my life with God; shared the struggles, my nasty feelings and thoughts and invited God into all aspects of my heart and my life.

This past week has actually been a very difficult one for me. I have felt a heavy cloak of despair and darkness drape across my shoulders and its weight has caused me to feel severely exhausted. When I feel this cloak drape itself across me it is like I am trapped behind a mask, my authentic and and joyful self is locked behind a mask of despair. When this happens I know that going to God is the only thing that will lift the cloak; however, I struggle to go to God because digging into my emotions is a long and exhausting (in a positive way) process. By the time I go I am so worn out it is like I am limping home but as I begin to share what is on my heart and mind, no matter how many times we have gone through the same conversation (God’s patience is never-ending and I am incredibly thankful for that) I find the peace my heart was seeking.

Today, I felt the cloak lift, today is one of those rare treasures where despite everything the world looks a little brighter and I feel the love that is present a little bit stronger. I just finished reading, for the second time, The Shack by WM. Paul Young. A difficult but magnificent read, The Shack, much like Redeeming Love, is a book that I constantly return to and will continue to do so throughout my life. The Shack is full of beautiful little gems of advice about life, love and relationships. This post is not a review of The Shack, I will do one of those at a later time, but this post was inspired by the things which stuck out to me as I read it. A brief background of the book is, the main character, Mack, loses his youngest daughter in a brutal and violent manner and he distances himself from life, those he loves, and God. He receives a letter that is supposedly from God asking Mack to meet at the place where his daughter was murdered, an abandoned shack in the woods. Mack shows up to the shack and meets God in a beautiful, incredibly difficult but healing manner. This time as I read the book I really focused on the themes of love and relationship.

 

I truly believe God has the most wonderful sense of humor, as I am writing a post about relationships I am rewarded with a lovely couple sitting in front of me at a coffee shop. As I glance around to gather my thoughts I keep catching little things this couple does. I am a stranger, an outsider looking in, and yet I can see the affection that each one holds for the other. I see the beauty of a simple hand hold or a loving smile and it touches a part of my heart that feels like it has been locked away for too long.

I am going to let you into my heart a bit and tell you that one of the beautiful gifts that I haven’t really graciously received is the gift of love and relationship. In the past few months something and someone beautiful came into my life and this person and our circumstances challenged me to face one of my biggest fears–letting my walls down and learning to love without expectation. There have been times, sadly not enough, that I have joyfully praised God and wholeheartedly rejoiced in the gift of love but sadly there have been too many times to count that I have glared accusingly at God wondering why would she ask me to carry this burden and tried to shut my heart off to the love (yeah, God really must have a lot of patience to deal with me). Try as I might my heart won’t let me quit, my heart will not let me reject this precious gift that God so lovingly enriched my life with. The gift of a loving, difficult, sometimes hurtful real and magnificent relationship is one that I am thankful for, even on the days that it is hard.

As I read The Shack this little tidbit stuck out to me, “‘It’s simple, Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing right now–just doing this–and being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people, and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job, and I’m actually pretty good at it,’ Jesus said with a chuckle (The Shack, p. 191).

As I was driving over the bridge that connects so many different areas of Charleston I thought about all the incredible relationships that have enriched and colored my life. I have so many people I love who are spread all over the United States and all over the world. When I send my snail mail I send letters to a variety of states, zip codes and countries and that is such a beautiful thing. How lucky I am to live in a world where nurturing a relationship with someone thousands of miles away is as easy as picking up the phone or sending an instant text message or email–I can even see someone face to face who is in a different country and timezone!

Just today I had a friend say he would drop a book in the mail to me so I don’t have to go out and buy another copy (he lives in another state and we are still going to share his copy of the book), I am going to be doing a long distance book club with a friend who lives in another state, I email and write letters to a dear friend who is a few hundred miles away from me, I Skype fairly regularly with a friend in another country, I communicate with someone nearly everyday via snapchat–the world has shrunk! I have relationships that are sustained in seemingly unconventional ways and yet they nourish my soul and feed my heart. As I drove over the bride that connects Charleston, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and West Ashley all together I just thought about how wonderful it is to be able to have relationships and to be capable of loving. As Jesus said in The Shack, “life is all about relationships.”

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do no just live in a world but a world lives in you” (Frederick Buchner, Telling the Truth but I discovered this quote in The Shack p.227).

As we near one of my favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day, expect more posts centered around love and relationships! I would like to write more for this post but I am afraid I have already rambled on too long!

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Peace, Joy, Blessings and Love,

Margaret

 

 

0 In Beloved Little Souls/ Blog

Snail Mail

“Think in Ink: While many revel in the ease and convenience of instantaneous communication, and are addicted to the instant gratification of a text or email, writing by hand focuses the mind. There is no delete button, no backspace, so words must be considered and chosen carefully before being committed to paper, making their meaning more succinct.” (This Quote is from the inner cover of a Debrett’s journal I found in Harrods).

As much as I love typing things out digitally, sending things instantly and how small the world has become–nothing will ever replace a handwritten letter sent through good ole’ snail mail. I think when we sit down with pen and paper we have no other choice but to be careful and intentional with our words.

One of my favorite things is picking out stationery, buying pretty pens and using those supplies for writing out letters or notes to those I love. There is something so satisfying in addressing an envelope and dropping it in the mail! I just bought myself a booklet of stamps today, I am quite excited that my postage stamps say love on them; so now when I send my letters I am literally sending love your way. (Super cheesy, but true!)

I write letters and send them because I know how much it means to me when I receive a handwritten note or card in the mail. But I never write with the expectation of people responding; however, it is a wonderful treat when I am surprised by a response, as I was last night.

This past year, while I was in Scotland, I realized how important it is that we utilize snail mail. One of my grandmothers does not have an iPhone or the newest technology so she would write me letters. When you can’t talk to a person everyday, you realize just how special of a gift a hand written card or note is.

Maybe it is the historian in me that loves pen and paper so much. Come to think of it, I do have friends who have sorted through countless letters for their dissertation. There is just something nice in knowing that these words, intentionally written and heartfelt could still be in existence a hundred of years from now. I love the idea that these words I physically write will not have been saved on some digital server but instead, in someone’s drawer or a shoebox. Isn’t that just a lovely thought?

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more letters! So far I have done fairly well with it and with the amount of postage stamps I purchased today, I have hope that I will be sending more! I am also preparing myself for Valentine’s Day! Yesterday I purchased my Valentines and I am way too excited about them. Are you planning on sending any Valentine’s?

Friends, I hope that you will be inspired to take up pen and paper and send someone you love a handwritten note telling them how much you care!

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Peace, Joy, Blessings and So Much Love,

Margaret

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Here is to Hoping

Just a few short months ago those four words, “Here is to hoping,” felt like a slap in the face. What was meant to be an offering of positivity and support instead felt like an expectation of failure. I guess how we interpret certain things is all about the state our hearts and minds. At the time, my heart and mind was in rough shape; I didn’t feel hopeful so the message was interpreted as an insult.

I have yet to publish a post that directly deals with the fact that we have just rung in a new year. I have been pondering my resolutions and have decided that I have a few things that I would like to add to 2017 to help make it a better year and to help me feel like I am really engaging in life. This post crops up from a place of deep longing to feel hope. Hope for a beautiful, loving and joyful 2017.

Currently, I am experiencing some really incredible things in my heart and my life, things that I am not yet ready to share on my blog. I find myself repeating the phrase, that a few short months ago, was nothing but an insult to me. Here is to hoping. It has become a sort of mantra for me in the last few days. Hope. Something so many of us struggle with, and up until just a few months ago, I struggled greatly with.

I can list so many reasons why I shouldn’t have hope for beautiful things to happen but you know what, my heart just wants to feel hopeful. So instead of trying to convince myself of reasons why not to hope I am going to just let my heart hope. I am going to have hope that the love will win. I am going to have hope that even in the midst of so much brokenness, fear and hatred that healing will happen, peace will triumph and love will always win. And do you know why I will cling to that hope? I cling to that hope because I see so many beautiful, hardworking, loving, kind and giving humans working to keep hope alive all over this world.

Over Christmas my mom and I went to visit my brother and his fiancé. During our visit my brother insisted that we all go see the most recent Star Wars film, Rogue One. I am so glad he insisted we go see it because one of the central themes of the film is hope and the main character, Jyn says one of the greatest quotes: “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!”–Jyn (Star Wars: Rogue One). *Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen the movie, I suggest you skip the next part*

This quote stood out to me, as I sat on the edge of my seat and watched Jyn deliver a powerful and inspiring speech, encouraging rebel forces to take a leap of faith I found myself inspired! Her speech does instill hope in some rebels (and certainly instilled hope in me!) and it is because of this hope that the rebellion was able to continue. The movie ends with Princess Leia receiving key information and when asked what they have received she claims, “They have given us hope.”

So that, my friends, is what I am trying to give to you–a reason to hope.

I am determined that 2017 will be marked by hope. Hope that the darkness will not overcome light. Hope that love will win. Hope in the people that I love and who are doing brave, incredible and lovely things. And hope in God.

So, Here is to Hoping!

Psalm 39:7:

“‘And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.”

Now my friends, May the Force be with you!

Peace, Joy, Blessings, HOPE and So Much Love,

Margaret

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Redeeming Love

I have just finished reading, for the third or fourth time, one of my all time favorite books, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The first time I read this book I was in high school, it was suggested and given to me by a friend. I am so thankful that she gave me the gift, that Redeeming Love truly is. Even now, after reading this book for the third or fourth time (I rarely reread books), I want to curl back up and follow Angel’s story again from the very beginning.

This book is a rare gem that seems to help my heart with something new every single time I read it. I find myself, I find the people I love and I find God in the pages of this book. My heart and soul has been reassured that I am so loved. I have been taught how I am meant to love, the book and River’s beautiful words wrap around my heart and remind me of God’s grace and love. Even now, after reading it again, I am in awe of the beauty that I find within this book and its fictional characters. I am offered hope and I hear God’s promises whispered into my life, through the life of the main characters Angel and Michael. I have seen, every time I have read the book, parallels in my own life and have gained some knowledge and wisdom each time I have devoured it.

When I ordered the book, through my aunt’s Amazon Prime account, it must have peeked her interest because the next thing I knew she was devouring the book. As I climbed into her car this evening she and I gushed over Rivers’ beautiful tale of God’s incredible redeeming love.

The book is based loosely off the book Hosea found in the Bible (where the name Michael Hosea comes from). Set in California in 1850, Redeeming Love, follows the tragic early life of the prostitute, Angel. Michael is drawn to Angel and God calls him to make Angel his wife. Love is one of my absolute favorite topics and this book is built around just that. The book is structured around two broken humans’ relationship with one another and their relationship with God but also serves as a bigger example of God’s relentless, everlasting, ever pursuing, incredible redeeming love. We are all sinful and the book serves as a reminder that none of us are too far fallen for God’s redeeming love. The description on the back of the book reads: “A story of Love that won’t let go–no matter what.”

If you decide to read this book–I believe that you will discover some truly amazing things.  My heart continues to be changed by this book and Rivers’ stunning words.  I must say, there is material in it that is hard to handle but we can’t avoid mess, hurt and difficulty because that is what life is full of and in the messiness, hurt and difficulty we will always
find God. Despite possessing some “hard to stomach” material, this book wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is without this material. I think one gift that this book also provides is the reminder to not judge.

I hope that you will choose to pick up this book and I pray that if you do it will provide some comfort to your heart!

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessing and So Much Love,

Margaret