Hope of Kindness: The Jesus Place

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 103,200 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are in a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. That is only 1,800 away It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more updates about the new book. 

________________________________________

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor recently. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂

There will be some incredible interviews with veterans in this book. Up to twenty different veterans agreed to let me ask them some very personal questions. Some answers will have you in tears.  

___________________________________________________________________

I am very happy to see Linda Claire back as our guest blogger. Her posts are dynamic, gut wrenching, and full of true. Thank you so much Linda for opening up your heart to us. 

________________________________________________________

The Jesus Place

By Linda S. Clare

I’ve always thought of myself as a reasonably kind person. I’ll hold open doors for wheelchair users. I smile at an elderly man on a park bench. I brought home every stray cat I ever saw. But put the same old man in front of me at the grocery store, counting out his bill in pennies, and my saintly kindness melts into impatience and even indignation.

When I was around twelve, Mom worked so I had to babysit my younger sister all summer. Sis was pretty typical for a second grader—she loved to play with her Barbies, her friends and since we grew up in Phoenix, she loved to swim. I was not especially kind to her and more than once lost my temper, swatted at her and then for several hours had to plead with her not to tell our parents.

One day, when I just didn’t feel like watching her and her gabby second-grade friends, I was extra mean. I locked her in the bathroom and then went to my air-conditioned room to read. Not exactly the picture of virtue. Big Sister Fail.

For that and many other sins, I doubt I’m winning the Good Girl Award any time soon. Then and now, it’s too easy to stay safe, to be cocooned in the familiar, to resist any push to step out into nothing. Supposedly, this desire for control over our lives goes way back—to that Tree with the fruit and Eve, who didn’t know a serpent from a stick. Any way you slice it, we’re stuck with sinful natures that get us into trouble and lock true kindness in the bathroom.

As my own family has struggled with addiction and mental health issues, I’ve been told to get some Tough Love so many times. My friends don’t like to watch me suffer and others just wish I’d shut up. Tough Love seems like the perfect answer to a really terrible problem.  Most people who see our circumstances from the outside think my addicted/alcoholic sons are simply playing me. Why, they’re having the time of their lives, sponging off mom and dad, getting drunk or high without consequences. I should tell my sons to get out, grow up and by the way, get a job. Right?

Well, hallelujah, you nailed it. Except that life is never so simple.

Fear of threats to our beings and our cultures is a natural human response. When we face a dangerous animal, natural disaster or in times of war, our fight or flight response kicks in to help us survive.

But at times, we trick ourselves into self-serving misperceptions of danger, and it is then that we cling to baseless fears that only hurt us. The early Christians had every right to fear the Romans and others who were trying to kill off the early Church. Over the millennia, we’ve made laws and statutes to keep our ways of life intact. Yet again and again in the New Testament, we are reminded to be kind to one another.

As in the early Church, today it’s easy to slip back into the clutches of the Old Covenant—the Law. The only way to grow in faith is to “long for the pure milk of the word,” which tells us to be humble, not thinking ourselves more than we are. The first step in growing a Just Love is to stop finger pointing and confess our own shortcomings. We can love the Law but we don’t always have to enforce the Law—especially when it comes to those we look down upon. This is grace.

So with my sons and their addictions, I’m compelled to extend to them the grace God freely offers to me. Every day I see my grown children’s brokenness adding up. The scars of addiction, as well as poverty, under-employment, mental health issues are etched deep into their expressions, like crevasses carved by glaciers.

I know this sounds odd, but I genuinely believe my sons hate what they’re doing. Life has become a vicious cycle of mental illness compounded by drug and alcohol use that only temporarily eases the pain.

Every day, the only truly kind act—that mercy thing God is so famous for—stares into my soul. Mercy, compassion, lovingkindness—call it what you wish. It dares me to love my boys again, by yes, first offering a way out. I say, “You’ve been trying things your way for a while now. How’s it working out for you?”

Some days they answer. Other times, they duck their chins and slip out of sight. On days they stay, I can say, “If you want to try treatment, I’m here for you.” On the days they run, I pray for them to run—straight into God’s arms.

Either way, I cannot change their minds. But what I can do no matter what, is treat them with respect. Look them in the eyes. Remind them how very much they are loved. This is the kindness I am learning from Jesus. Trees and serpents aside, I am so much less apt to sin again when I stay in the Jesus Place.

For me, the Jesus Place is about the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus reached out to the poor, the disabled, the ones more successful people looked down upon. When He modeled for them the Lord’s Prayer, he was showing everyone, at any time, that we are so much more than our latest screw-up.

When He said, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” He was tapping into much more than the problems we have if we max out the credit card. In biblical times, if you were a subsistence farmer, one bad harvest might not only result in you losing your land. You could wind up an indentured servant (slave) until you repaid your debt. The ones Jesus spoke to were the most vulnerable in that society. The ones living on the edge. Those with little or no hope.

The Jesus Place promotes mercy because it hands out mercy. Mercy is getting a break when you don’t deserve it. In turn, compassion upends cynical stereotyping and replaces it with hope. Hope we desperately need.

I know. It isn’t easy. Giving undeserved passes to rule breakers is really really hard. I’m not good at it either. But love is dangerous, people. It asks you to put your very tender heart out there on the altar when you know full well some bully is going to stomp on it.

But because Jesus was tempted in all things and yet did not sin, He could take all my stinky socks and my catalog of dumb, dumb moves and hang it all with Him on the Cross.

I used to think that made Him seem like some awful Poindexter—teacher’s pet who always knew the answer. My reaction was a little bitter, like Dana Carvey’s Church Lady from old SNL. Isn’t that special?

Trouble is, I wanted to sit in judgment of everyone else (because I’m almost always right) but run crying to God when someone dished garbage back to me. I didn’t see the connection between blue-eyed movie Jesus being annoyingly preachy and the actual Son of God, who is very serious about bringing Light into the world.

For me, His light used to be made of being nice to kitties and old grandpas and kid sisters—but only if they didn’t interfere with my day. It was like earning a Gold Star from the Big Guy if I held open the door for some poor wheelchair user, which by the way, is required by Jesus and not optional at all. Real compassion asks for real love and real hope that love wins.

You don’t have to listen or do what Jesus says. That’s not how He rolls. But He reaches out to those of us who aren’t so tough anymore, those for whom life and awful things like addiction have locked us in the bathroom. He promises that if we are merciful, we shall receive mercy. That if we show mercy to others, we are actually blessed. Blessed! Just for being truly kind, for merciful acts big and small. We don’t even always have to be in control, which is OK although some days, I’d still rather drive than ride. And even then, Jesus is really patient with me. Mostly.

I have to believe He is patient with my sons, too, and doesn’t wish for them to suffer. Tough Love says they deserve to suffer, and maybe that’s right in some cases. But Just Love keeps pointing me back to the Jesus Place, a place where the downtrodden, the forgotten, all of us debtors can find comfort under the Yoke of Love.

And in modern times, if we run up a big bill, we aren’t thrown into debtor’s prison or enslaved, at least not yet. We can, however still be financially ruined for a few bad spending decisions or an unexpected health crisis. The serpent is alive, I’m afraid.

Yet Jesus calls across millennia, looking us in the eyes and saying, “You’ve been trying life your way for a while now. How’s that working out for you?” Hang out at the Jesus Place for a while, friend. You’ll find it full of mercy, love and hope.

 

Share This Post
Share

What Can Help Me Through a Tough Day?

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 103,200 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are in a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. That is only 1,800 away It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more updates about the new book. 

________________________________________

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂

There will be some incredible interviews with veterans in this book. Up to twenty different veterans agreed to let me ask them some very personal questions. Some answers will have you in tears.  

____________________________________________________________________

It has been a hard week for me. I am having trouble with fluids building up around my heart and in my lungs. My Cardiologist has increased my “water pills,” but it doesn’t seem to be helping too much.

This is not something new to me. I have had trouble with fluid build up for several years now. It is a part of life I would like to get rid of,  but it hangs around like long lost relatives who come visiting, unannounced, and want to stay forever.

Enough of my pity party stories for today.

How are you doing? Have you been sliding down a slippery slope? Are there days you would rather stay in bed, and not face the day? Do you seem to be taking one step forward and two steps backwards?

You are not alone, my friend. Life doesn’t always come out the way we want it each day.

So, how can we get out of the muck and mire of life and survive?

Here are some things I have learned:

What I have Learned

  1. I have learned that your side of the story isn’t always the best side.
  2. I have learned that when people are trying to help-let them.
  3. I have learned that you really aren’t on an island alone. God is everywhere. He is probably right there with you enjoying the vast oceans he has created.
  4. I have learned that you don’t need to tell anyone your ailments. They have enough of their own.
  5. If have learned that if you are hurting, the best thing you can do is go to someone else who is hurting, and help them smile and therefore you smile back.
  6. I have learned that good friends are worth all the gold in the world.
  7. I have learned that tough love is sometimes needed actually help someone.
  8. If have learned that you do not have to try to cure the world and everything in it. God is in charge.
  9. I have learned that some of our choices are wrong. Learn from them and adjust.
  10. I have learned that hope shines bright in the darkness of light. (Learned from Sara Young: Author of Jesus Today.)
  11. I have learned all the storms that come your way are for a purpose. Some will be raging storms, like health, others will be winds that you can face with perseverance.
  12. I have learned that not everything that looks hopeless really is.
  13. I have learned I can only control things I can control. Good Yogi Berra line but mine just the same.)
  14. I have learned that hope is the only four letter word that over comes anxiety, fear, or depression.
  15. I have learned that if we threw all of our problems into a pile, and saw everyone else’s we’d grab ours back. (From my daughter-in-Law whom I call princess. There’s a reason.)
  16. I have learned that I cannot avoid trials, but they often help me grow.
  17. I have learned that the innocence of a little child can brighten my day.
  18. I have learned that in every season and in every change in life, God is there.
  19. I have learned that I should never forget God’s promises.
  20. I have learned of a place where sin and shame are powerless.
  21. I have learned at God’s Name Mountains roar and crumble.
  22. I have learned that this world is great, but heaven is greater.

 

 I hope these things I have learned will help in some way.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

Share This Post
Share

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We just past 94,990 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We have a promotion going with prizes. The person who is our 95,000 follower will receive two nice prizes, which we will not name. (This is called a hook in writing.) The number of followers are rising fast. We are down to our last 100 before we have a winner! We are averaging close to 50 new subscribers each day. WE WILL HAVE A WINNER SOMETIME TODAY, so don’t hesitate! Click on the icon right after the title of this post to subscribe to be eligible for the prizes. 

______________________________________________________________________

Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Doug Is also seeking military who would be willing to do an interview. It will be part of the book. Sharing by actual soldiers will help many others. Doug just interviewed a WWII veteran. Fascinating! Look for updates here.

____________________________________________________________________

It is so exciting to see where we have come in the last eight years. In 2009 when I first started this blog, not knowing what end was up, I was ecstatic if a got just one new subscriber a day, and now we average 50 a day.

It took a lot of learning on my part on how to write a good post. I had some pretty hilarious ones at the beginning. My proofreading couldn’t prove anything. My thoughts were about my, day and what I had for breakfast, much like you see on Facebook. I thought that was cool, and it wasn’t.

I learned that I needed to talk to my readers. I needed to share with them my hurts; my disappointments; and my frustrations. That is what they really needed to hear. They came back, because they were on the same ride I was. They too have disappointments, hurts, and frustrations.

Some of you have been with me for all of those eight years. Thank you so much for that. We have both grown a lot through those years, don’t you think?

I am so honored to know that my posts may be helping someone in need.

If you are in dire straits. If you are not sure if you even want to get out of bed each day to face the world. If your world has turned into a raging storm, then stay with me. Come back and let’s talk. I have been through many storms in my life, and I know how hard it is.

If we walk the path together, we should be able to help each other.

God is my strength, and my fortress.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

Share This Post
Share

Time to Whine and Complain Again!

We have another promotion where there will be prizes. The next winner will be the person who is our 95,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes very fast. We average over 30 new subscribers a day. We will get there pretty fast. We just passed 92,225 If you haven’t already subscribed please do by clicking on the icon right after the title of this post.

______________________________________________________________________

Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides ever day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Doug Is also seeking military who would be willing to do an interview. It will be part of the book. Sharing by actual soldiers will help many others.

______________________________________________________________________

I bet you get tired of me whining and complaining. I started this blog in 2009, and it has been one post after another where I share my ailment and adversity.

Well, I have had comments to this in that many want to hear about someone struggling and how they overcome it. Others like the guest bloggers who bring a fresh and new approach:

I love my guest bloggers:

1st Sunday of Each month-Taylor Wilkens-Salem, Oregon

2nd Sunday of each month-Lynn Mosher-Tennessee

3rd Sunday of each month-Dennis Booth-Australia

4th Sunday of each month- Linda Clare-Eugene, Oregon

Each of them has their on approach and style. Each one shares hope, which is what this blog is all about. Thank you guys for staying on this ship and guiding me.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Now, back to the whining and complaining.

I had some testing done last week to check out my neck. I am having tremors in my left hand. It is very annoying, and painful at times. I can’t hold a glass with the left hand. It is also very hard to type.

The test results were: Severe Stenosis of the spine in the neck area. That means there is severe narrowing of the spine at that spot. I will see a neurosurgeon next week to discuss the options.

The unknown is hard, at best, to handle.  Wondering what will happen next causes more stress than the actual outcome.

I cling to God’s Promises on this:

  • I will not abandon or forsake you. You are never alone.
  • I love you because I made you in my image.
  • I will be there when the storms come to help calm them.
  • I know the pain you are going through. My only Son went through more pain than any human could imagine.

So, He will always be there for us through the terrible trials we have to face. He will be there holding our hand. He knows or pain, and feels deeply for us.

Never take on this world alone. I advise you to also cling to God’s promises, and stand strong.

Let me repeat:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all….never, ever, give up

 

 

 

 

Share This Post
Share