Hope’s Battleground is Upon Us

I am so honored to be with you each day sharing hope. The outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. There are over 50 new subscribers a day. The site just past 105,100 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

+ WE HAVE A WINNER IN OUR PROMOTION.  THE PERSON WHO HAS THE 105,00O REGISTRATION WILL WIN SOME NICE PRIZES. 

We are starting a new promotion tonight. The person who is our 110,000 followers will win some great prizes. As you can see it goes fast. Don‘t miss out. 

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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.

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I am excited to say Linda Clare is back with her monthly guest blog. This one is her best in my opinion. As always she speaks directly from the heart and doesn’t pull any punches. 

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Hope’s Battleground

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I Timothy 1:7 KJV

The day the doctor pronounced my mother legally blind in one eye, we both cried. That same day, a close friend, also in her mid-eighties called me, worried her only son’s fourth heart attack meant he might die before she does. I was still reeling over my own son’s recent psychotic episode—a meth-fueled outburst I’d never witnessed from him before. All the while, more mass shootings rocked the nation as gunmen took aim at innocents.

A man had shot and wounded US Congressmen during baseball practice. Whether from personal loss or mass shooting, that day we stood with our arms wrapped around one another, grieving in unison. Each fresh sorrow strained our shoulders. Spring would never come and our hearts would always be frozen, stuck in the numbness that presides over tragedy.

That day, hope got whupped by fear.

Fear like we’d never known—until. Until the Twin Towers fell. Until Dad got cancer, until the long-awaited baby died in his crib. Until. Now fear stormed our psyches, bullied optimism into the corner.

In airports, we’ve learned to be afraid of bombs in shoes—from now on we’ll glance about nervously at the stadium too. Fear will follow our days and lie down with us at night. We’ll worry our sons and daughters will die before we do and terror will stalk us if we go blind in one eye.

Life is so much scarier than in the good old days, some say. Now just going to the mailbox or heading out to ball practice might end it all.  But as the world grows more and more dangerous, we must not lose sight of life’s most dangerous thing.

Love.

Love is the most dangerous way to live. It runs into burning buildings. Real love swoops you up the day you come home and find your suicidal spouse sitting with a loaded gun. Love risks getting hurt, and doesn’t make blanket assumptions. Love hopes all things.

Love knows that if we cannot resurrect hope, our fears will surely come true.

I saw this up close and personal the night my son went berserk on a meth high—screaming obscenities, he threatened to shove a pot of boiling water off the stove and onto me. After the cops left, I went for a walk. I needed to pray.  I walked and sobbed.

I cried for my lost son, whose meth addiction has gone on so long that it seems intractable. I wept tears of rage for my failure to do as the cop admonished: kick out my two grown sons. Most of all, I cried because I was afraid. Afraid I couldn’t trust God anymore. Afraid God wasn’t there.

Over and over in scripture, my faith tells me not to be afraid. Christians are supposed to trust God, even when it makes no sense.  That day, I was terrified, not of the prospect of my son living his entire adult life as an active addict, but of something deeper. Love was excruciating. Hope had left the building.

I stumbled along, raking in gulps of air as my nose ran and my throat ached. I kept my head down in case neighbors saw me mumbling like a crazy woman.

At that moment, I feared God didn’t exist.

Living in fear instead of hope has chilling consequences. When bad stuff happens—like blindness or heart trouble or when a nut job with an automatic rifle shoots up a ball field—fear orders us to assume the future, too, is loaded with horrible events.

Fear said to me, “Don’t trust anybody. Keep your fists clenched, ready to fight. Lock the doors and sit in the dark. Don’t make eye contact with strangers, in case they’re ready to blow themselves up and take you with them. And by the way, your addicted sons are hopeless.”

Fear laughed. “There is no hope.”

My heart turned leaden. The beautiful mystery of an aspen tree’s leaves left me. Every prayer I’d ever aimed at heaven seemed stuck to one side of the sky—the way the wind pins trash against a chain link fence. What if the whole story—heaven, the God of Love, Jesus—is just a myth?

“God. You have to be there,” I said, “You have to be real. If you’re not, nothing matters.” My tears grew hot as I thought of my poor feeble-sighted mom, my worried friend, my struggling, addicted sons. How could a loving God allow so much heartache?

Fear gloated, but something else said, “Dare to love anyway.”

I sank down on the street curb; gazed up at the aspen’s shimmering leaves. I had no answers. Still, a strange sense of peace came over me as I thought about those I care for. “God, be there for them,” I finally said. “Be real to those who need love.”

Somehow I saw that hope takes its marching orders from the One who is Love. Hope says, go ahead, love your neighbor. Open your fist. Look people in the eye. Forgive them when they screw up. Be generous and compassionate and stop letting your judgments about other people splatter all over everybody. And even if you can’t quite do all of this, Hope says don’t stop trying. Keep right on loving, right on hoping.

It isn’t easy. If I could work miracles, I’d spit on the dirt like Jesus did, rub mud on Mom’s bad eye and she’d see again. I’d give my friend’s son a decent heart and I’d cure my son in his fight against meth. But even if I can’t work miracles, I won’t stop loving. Or hoping for a better tomorrow.

For a while, I let fear take over my life. I questioned the faith I live by. And Fear delighted in my weakness.

But Love answered, bringing with it hope I sorely needed. All sorts of disasters happen in life, but Love says don’t live in fear. Don’t assume the worst. With Love, we can hope for the best, trusting that we are all valued, watched over, loved.

I stood up and drew my sleeve across my wet cheeks. My tears were spent but I walked home surrounded by renewed hope in the Lover of souls.

If you get a horrid disease or you go blind or your child becomes addicted, that’s awful. I’m sorry. But as we grieve, look to love, not fear. And then we can get up and shine our love on somebody else’s hurt, another person’s tragedy. Tell them we love them and hand over a piece of our hope. Some may push us away, but we can’t stop loving, we won’t stop hoping. We’ll march out to the sandlot to play ball, even though there’s a chance people might die. Love smiles when hope beats the tar out of fear.

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Thank Those Who Serve in the Military

We have a winner! We past 86,000. The winner was notified, and we have started a new promotion. The next winner will be the person who is our 90,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes very fast. We average over 50 new subscribers a day. We will get there pretty fast. We just passed 87,150.

If you haven’t already subscribed please do by clicking on the icon right after the title of this post.

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written 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, 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.

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I am one happy camper today. My wife has been on a business trip since Monday, and will be home tonight. I have really missed her.

I was thinking about that, and how others may be missing their loved ones as well. This last week we had Armed Forces Day. That is one day we thank all of the military in one day.

Think about it. There are literally thousands of military who are away from their loved ones as I write this post. They can’t hug them. They can’t see their children playing in the yard. They have to  do their duty and only wish to be home.

The sacrifice that these heroes do is beyond many peoples thinking. There aren’t many that are willing to leave their families and go to places where they are put in harms way.

I come from a military family. I am a veteran. I served in Korea during my deployment.  I had three Uncles that served in WWII. I have a son that just retired from the Army as a Colonial after serving two tours in Iraq.

We have all been there and done that. If I could I would do it again. My love for this country goes far beyond signing up to look like a hero. I never had that in my thought process when I enlisted.

The people in the military, have done more sacrificing than any other people on this planet. We should thank them everyday, not just on special holidays.

If you are in the military and reading this, THANK YOU! God bless you and your family.

This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend. I just got home from putting flowers on my mother’s grave. As I was doing that about fifty kids were going from site to site looking for veterans so they could put a flag on them to recognize their service. As I looked across the huge cemetery I saw hundreds of flags that had been put up. I think that says it all.

We can not forget our military. Not while they serve, or not when they have passed on. Millions have died for us so that we can have the freedoms we have.

If you are a wounded warrior, or suffer from PTSD, may God comfort you and give you peace. You went beyond your service to your country. You paid the extra price.

To those who lost a loved one in the service. Know that there are many who thank you and hope you are finding some comfort in knowing that we all grieve along with you.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up! 

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Gaining Hope through Hopelessness

It is not an easy thing to allow ourselves to hope when our hopes have been disappointed over and over again in the past. Learning to hope, however, means opening ourselves to the possibility that the future may be different from what we have known in the past. To hope is to allow ourselves to anticipate the possibility of good things. Hope is the expectation of good

How many blessings have we continually missed without notice, by fixing our eyes instead, on what we feel to be our trials and our losses? And, do we not think and talk about our trials until our whole horizon is filled with them, and we almost begin to think we have no blessings at all?

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Forgiveness is the Most Wonderful Gift you can Give

 

The Most Precious Things in Life Cannot Be Bought

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together imperfect unity (emphasis mine).

Colossians 3:12-14

 

Have you ever walked around balancing a chip on your shoulder? It’s heavy on one side of your body and makes you walk funny. Have you had an argument with someone and then never spoken to them again for years? You have to put on an unhappy face every time that person comes by. That is very difficult.

I felt resentment against my father for over 60 years! He gambled and played poker, which sometimes left our family without grocery money. This went on for a few years until my mother divorced him.

I had a great deal of resentment against him for what he had done to our family. He didn’t keep in contact with my brother and me very often—maybe once a year for a special function or a trip of some kind. He had married a woman with several children. I thought he didn’t have time for us. I didn’t think he loved us. This went on for years.

            I used the word resentment in my short description of my father. The word resentment literally means “to feel again.” I spent 60 years filled with resentment. I kept reliving the past. I felt abandoned. I felt unloved.

Philip Yancey, the renowned Christian author, wrote in his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?: “Not to forgive imprisons me in the past and locks out all potential for change. I thus yield to another, my enemy, and doom myself to suffer the consequences of the wrong.” 1 He then goes on to quote Lewis Smedes, who has written extensively on forgiveness and interpersonal relationships: “When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”2

My father was not my enemy. I should have put the word father in the quote. He was my father, and I desperately wanted his love. I needed a father like the other kids had. My heart ached when my friends told me about their fishing trips with their dads or about their dads taking them camping.

My resentment grew to a point where I didn’t care if I ever saw my father again. I hurt even more when I saw him with his stepchildren, joking and laughing with them.

Then the worst happened. My father had a massive stroke. He lay on his bedroom floor for several days without help. Finally a concerned neighbor called 911. Someone called me and I rushed to the hospital, arriving just as the ambulance got there. My father was awake and coherent. He was aware that I was there as they ran various tests. He seemed upbeat and even smiled. I began to feel saddened by his demeanor. This was a man I had spent 60 years resenting, and he was trying to make me smile!

They moved him up to a room and I spent many hours by his side. He lived about a week longer. In those few short days, we drew extremely close. I held his hand as we talked about the past. When I’d return after a short break, my father would hold his hand up, waiting for me to come back and hold it. He seemed to know he wasn’t going to make it.

He wasn’t supposed to have any water because the nurse said that people his age (he was 86) get pneumonia very easily, and the water might fill up his lungs. He begged me for water. I knew he didn’t have much time left. I went ahead and gave him some ice to wet his lips. He smiled a very big smile and called me his water boy. He told all of his visitors the same thing: “This is my water boy.” My father was a sports fanatic. To use the term water boy was a gesture of affection.

My heart nearly broke. I was his water boy. I can’t tell you how wonderful those words sounded to me! He was not always the most tender in his words of love, but to call me his water boy was his way (at least to me) of saying I was special to him, and that he loved me.

I wanted to talk to my father about Jesus—to tell Him how he could have eternal life. I went out in the hall and prayed for God to give me the words to say. When I opened my eyes after I prayed, I turned to my right, and walking down the hall was the pastor of my church! I couldn’t believe it. How could that be? He was at the hospital at the right time, on the right floor, and coming down the hall just as I prayed for help? Was this just a coincidence?

Of course it wasn’t. God sent him, and he went in and asked my father some questions. My father assured him that he had accepted Jesus as his personal savior. My father died two days later.

I was very saddened by his leaving. It is all right to grieve for your loved ones, but if you know they are Christians you have tremendous comfort. You know you will see them again one day.

Yes, I totally forgave my father that night when I heard that he had accepted God’s gift of eternal life. I probably would have forgiven him eventually, but knowing he was a believer made it so much easier to forgive him right then and there. I tossed out my resentment like yesterday’s lunch, and we had a wonderful time the last two days of his life.

Now my resentment is that I wasted 60 years of love and understanding of my father that I could have shared with him. If I could have taken the first step and overlooked my resentment for my father, I could have spent many years as his water boy.

As Christians, we have the comfort of knowing that we have eternal life. My father had that comfort once he accepted Christ. Death comes to all of us. (See Romans 5:12.) We have to go through the process all living things must go through. However, we can be assured that we will have new bodies and be in heaven with God at the end of that process. Being with God, and having new bodies at the same time. Can’t have anything better than that on this earth—or in heaven!

 

He who loves a quarrel loves sin;

he who builds a high gate [around himself] invites destruction.

Proverbs 17:19

 

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

1 Corinthians 15:55-56

 

Further adventures

When you have a loved one die who is a Christian know that they are waiting for you in heaven. My father is there, and when I go to meet him, we will have eternity to catch up on all the years we lost here on earth. I see pictures of him golfing and fishing. I love to do both. Maybe there will be a special golf course in heaven that we can play on forever.

I had played with my dad on a couple occasions. He was a wonderful golfer. He had three holes in one over his lifetime. He can teach me all the good things about how to hit the ball and putt when I see him in heaven. When I play now, I will remember him telling me to concentrate on what the goal is (hitting the ball) and to keep my head down.

You and I do that all the time. It is called praying

 

Something to ponder

Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we mess up our life we could simply press “Ctrl Alt Delete” and start over?

* Excerpt from: Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.

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