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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Don’t Despair-Mighty Mouse Will save the day

 * I am again sharing and excerpt from my book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.”  This is the conclusion of Part I of my book. It is a good one to help you plan for a wonderful New Year if you follow and believe what it said:

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Don’t Despair—Mighty Mouse Will Save the Day

I used to love the cartoon “Mighty Mouse.” The song always got me pumped: “Mighty Mouse is on the way. Mighty Mouse will save the day!”

You probably have had some down moments in your life in the year 2010. Here are some thought to help you start out the new year with a positive note:

I have some mighty answers for you. It is the Doug Bolton “Top 20 Countdown” that will help you save the day and love God. With apologies to David Letterman.

20. Do you have trouble getting to know someone? Is it hard for you to make friends? Remember: Strangers are family once you get to know them.

19. The world is divided into two categories: the ones who will accomplish a great deal, and those who won’t accomplish anything. You will be the one who will accomplish much, if you allow God to help you.

18. No one is going to love you more if you are fat or skinny. They will love you because of the person you are. 

17. When you hate someone and want them to hurt, you hurt yourself. Spend more time trying to help others feel good about themselves, and you will feel good about yourself too.

16. You do not need to let stress control you. You do not need to be a workaholic. It is OK to rest. Jesus takes over when you can’t cope.

15. When you feel depressed because of losing a loved one, remember God knows your pain. He saw His only Son buried.

14. When someone is trying to degrade you, it is time for selective hearing. 

13. You just took another breath while you read this. Thank God for it.

12. When you marry, you need to stay together even when the skin starts to wrinkle and the excitement fades.

11. God’s goal is not to make us happy; it is to make us His. It is not to give us what we want; it is to give us what we need.

10. If God doesn’t come to your rescue right away, maybe He is waiting until you give away your pride.

9. Don’t apply labels to people until you have examined the contents.

8. Everyone is unique even down to the fingerprints and DNA. God has a plan just for you and wants you to use the talent He gave you. Yes, you!

 7. The greater the future you have, the greater the attack will be from the prince of darkness. Pray for God’s protection, and Satan will be fish bait!

 6. While you can’t control someone else’s heart, you can control yours.

 5. Don’t say, “Thanks, God, I can take it from here,” and then not check in with God until the next crisis. Pray without ceasing.

 4. All the great hitters in baseball fail two out of three times.

 3. The most common command in the Bible? “Fear not.”

 2. Practice makes perfect. Study God’s Word each day and learn more of His love for you.

 AND the number one reason you will conquer depression is … (Drum roll please)

 1. God made you in His own image. Shouldn’t that make you think He wants everything to go well for you? Trust Him to provide all your needs—emotionally, physically and spiritually.

The teacher blood left in me now has an assignment. Start your own positive list of thoughts to help you fight off depression. Read it every day and add to it. 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

You made it through a life that was a swamp full of alligators and horrible storms! Now we move on to more sunny days. We move on to where there is hope. We move on to the light at the end of the tunnel. We move away from those alligators that will be made into shoes if they don’t leave you alone.

Depression and the many other mental afflictions do not go away in a flash. I still have bouts with them from time to time, but I quickly concentrate on the positive. I concentrate on God and all His love He has to share with me. I concentrate on my family, my children, my grandchildren. I concentrate on the good things that have happened in my life.

Because I do all that, I see that the pluses far outweigh the negatives every time. It is like the song says: “Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God has done.”

If you can’t think of enough blessings, know that I love you with all my heart, and so do millions of other people who suffer with the many afflictions in their lives. We know your pain, and we are praying for you daily.

We are many, and Satan is only one stupid misguided angel. We can defeat him if we all work together. We are an unbeatable team when we have one goal. That goal is to live productive Christian lives in which we stand on solid ground, not on the shifting sands of our emotions.

* What follows is a lead in to the second section on prayer.

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The rest of the journey through this adventure guides you to a stronger relationship with others and God. As you read, place the thoughts in your memory banks so you’ll never face bankruptcy. Use them to build a foundation that is strong. Positive words are like building a home on cement. Negative words are like building a home on sand. Let positive words soothe your broken heart, broken dreams, and broken relationships. Use them to open your heart to love, open your mind to God, and open your future to everlasting life.

The next few pages share the importance of prayer and how it affects your life. Prayer has saved my hide more than I want to admit. My hide would be hanging on Satan’s prized trophy wall if God hadn’t saved me. Now Satan is grass and I am the lawn mower with God’s help.

I will be sharing some excerpts from the second section in future posts, if they relate to what we have for topics on this site. I am not trying to sell books; I am sharing from the heart of what I actually wrote on the subject.

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When Days are More Than you can Handle, Pray

 

Life Is Fragile; Handle with Prayer

 

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 145:18–19

 

I received an advertisement for a book that claims to have information in it that no industry wants you to read. It says it is full of ideas to beat the system, pay less for everything, and how to beat death.

The last claim intrigued me because I may want to live forever. (I know what you’re thinking: We all are going to live forever together with God in heaven anyway. I just wanted to tease you little bit.) I looked at the section of the ad where it listed several “forbidden” secrets to long life and good health.

The most interesting thing they found was that patients healed faster when they were prayed for—even by strangers. This was a claim that Duke University researchers set out to test in a double-blind study of heart patients. They wanted to find out if prayer works not only if you pray for yourself, but also if some stranger prays for you.  (They probably could have saved time and money by asking us—right?)

What they found out was amazing to them: Patients who were prayed for by people who didn’t even know them had drastically lower rates of complications. The interesting thing is that these patients were never told that anyone was praying for them just in case knowing that would make them feel better by the power of suggestion.

I read through the rest of the amazing secrets, and I may check out how bananas help fight depression, or how frozen peas kill foot pain, but that will have to wait for now.

The fact that there is research on prayer is encouraging, but you and I know that it works, and we never spent a dime on checking it out. Kind of like the Nike slogan: We just do it.

I have a shocking revelation for the entire world, including those researchers: God is real and does answer prayer! I am living proof of that. I cried out to Him one day in 2001. He heard my cries, comforted me and lifted me up.

God isn’t some idol or figure you stand in front of and worship. He isn’t something artificial you pray to about something and then hope for the best and watch the movement of the stars for an answer. He came down to this earth in human flesh and became one of us. He cried. He was in pain. He was in fear. He showed anger. Then after all this, He died for you and me so we wouldn’t have to feel the eternal pain of sin, fear and sadness. When He was placed on that cross, everything changed. He bled and died so that we would have a place to come home to when we go through our time of physical death.

God listens to every word we say during prayer—or any other time—and wants to help us through the bad spots and smiles with us in the good spots.

Does it seem like there are more bad spots than good spots? Do you wonder why everything seems to be piling up? Do you want to stay strong only to have the burdens of the day weigh you down as if a rhino were sitting on you? PRAY!

God wants to hear from us. Like the bumper sticker says, “Life is fragile; handle with prayer.” When days become more than we can handle, the best option is to talk to God about it.

Day after day, the paycheck you’ve been promised doesn’t appear in the mail. The water heater bursts and you have no hot water to bathe your children. The used car you just bought has decided it would rather sleep in your garage than be driven. The landlord had said you could have a little more time to pay the rent, but he is under pressure from his boss and has been knocking at your door every day now. You fear going to the doctor because he has some tests he wants to talk to you about.

You are not alone, my friend. There are many people in very similar circumstances. PRAY!

God is a loving God, and He wants us to come to Him with our burdens. This world is tough enough with God in our lives. How scary it is to try to go through life without God. We can give Him our worries, our illness, our failures and our anger, and let Him calm the storm—or calm us in the storm. Maybe He won’t take the storm away, but He will give us His grace and peace while we go through it.

I try to focus on what God wants for me instead of on what I want from God. God wants us to depend on Him for our needs, but He is not there to fix everything for us. We can ask for direction and He will give it to us. We can ask to be rich and famous, but that may not happen.

We can—and should—ask God to fill our hearts with His love to sustain us through troubled times. We can—and should—ask Him to calm our spirits so that when the storm hits, we will not let depression overcome us. Depression lets Satan in the front door to try to convince us that God does not care or want to be of help. The prince of darkness wants us to struggle on our own—a sure road to defeat.

I have had my own battles with depression for years, and God has had His hand on my shoulder ever since I turned my depression over to Him. I still have some low days, but now I know God is there for me, and I can make it with His help.

To say that life is fragile is an understatement. I have been battling illnesses for years, and had more surgeries in a three-year time span than most people have in a lifetime. That is why I am very encouraged to see the “forbidden” news that prayer works for patients.

The nurses at my doctors’ offices know me by my first name. (Not really, but it seems like it.) And I think there’s a bed at the hospital with my name on it since I’m there so often.

Before my most serious surgery, a quadruple bypass, my whole family was there praying for me. I was smiling and joking. I had turned it over to God, and I was at peace. After the surgery the doctor said my heart was in amazing shape considering all the arteries that had been clogged. I am alive today because God was there holding my hand and guiding the doctors’ hands.

God doesn’t want us to waste our lives by worrying about anything. Jesus said that worry never added one inch to a person’s height or one day to his life. He is right. Worry only tears at the mind and soul. Life is too short to spend even a minute of it in fear.

Give it all up in prayer. Let God carry you the rest of the way—just like He is doing for me.

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91:14–16

 

Further Adventures

Do you feel down trodden? Looking at high walls around you? Does it seem like you are sinking in the quicksand? You certainly are not alone. There are many people on this plant that are in the same sinking boat you are. But you can get out of that boat; climb over those walls, and hold your head high if you let God take over your life. Don’t try to face life alone. It is a tough battle at best. Take five minutes and speak to God about the barriers in your life. In my own life, I felt an instant change come over me. I wasn’t out of the woods yet, but the path I was hiking on had beautiful flowers, and lakes to see. I wasn’t walking alone either. God was there reminding me that He created all those beautiful things I was enjoying along the way to recovery.

 

Something to ponder

Isn’t it funny how people are amazed that prayer works?

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

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Your Relationships help Define You

Our lives are made up of different types of relationships. We depend on our relationships for many reasons. For companionship,  comfort,  laughter, routine. No matter the reason for the importance of the relationship, there is one that will always stand out clearly in my mind. My relationship with my mother is one that stands out, it was special. She passed away when I was only 22 of a brain tumor.

Other relationships have come and gone even with other loved ones. I’m not saying that they weren’t or won’t be painful, but I just remind myself that if I survived the loss of the closest relationships I’ve had, i will also survive the loss of any that may come My relationship with her has had the most impact of who I am, more so than any other relationship since. Not only did I lose a mother, a confidant, and a mentor, I lost my best friend.

She brightened my life with her laughter, generous hugs, and endless loving in any situation. She provided me with everything I needed and wanted in life. To me, she was the most beautiful person, both inside and outside. Whenever I cried, I relied on her shoulder for comfort and relief. I fled for her shelter when I was feeling ashamed or hurt. I relished in her excitement and happiness when I achieved something. Of course, there were times where she was upset or angry with me. When my lip would tremble and my head bowed down low in shame. Her eyes would soften, unable to hold back laughter and she held her arms out to me. I never knew how deeply she cared for me, how dear she was to me until she was gone. She passed away on January 11, 1988. This was, and still is, the most important relationship in my life. It has help molded me into the person I am and who I will be. I’ve stumbled along the way, as have most, but I know my mom is still smiling down on me with her arms still open.

I have compared every other relationship, unfairly, to the one I had with her, sometimes consciously and unfortunately even subconsciously. My relationship with my mother has impacted every other relationship I have ever had. Trying to have other relationships measure up to how I saw and related to her, I know this is an impossible and unfair task to ask of anyone, but still unconsciously I’ve caught myself doing this very thing. For the majority of us, no one will ever hold the place in our heart our parents do. That not to say they aren’t just as special, but our parents hold a different part of our heart.

Every relationship we form whether it be between our parents, friends, lovers, co workers or employers affects who we become as people. Our relationships are determined ultimately by the relationships that we have made with our parents and our loved ones and it may seem a little abnormal to say your parents are at the fulcrum of you relations with others but we incorporate our parents subconsciously into our lives. If not careful it can be the ultimate downfall for relationship building, its like trying to build a strong, firm & long lasting relationship without a crane to lift the vital pieces into place.

Our relationships with others reflect who are through the way we choose to interact with them. Relationships have a way of defining us as people. People look at us and let the relationships tell them what they need to know.

They say something about who we are. Along the way we may develop bonds that change us for life. These life changing connections instill values and lessons for a lifetime. It is as if they remain with us forever.

At the core of all relationships is the most important relationship of all: the relationship to self. The more we know ourselves, give to ourselves and love ourselves, the more we can truly know and connect to others. If we cannot give love, attention and caring to ourselves, how can we truly share these with others? In order to heal our relationships with others, with God, or anything else we deem important, we need to nurture our relationship with our self. When we are filled with an abundance of self-affinity and self-esteem we see the world and others in it in a new light; one that supports us to create rewarding and fulfilling relationships

The relationships we choose to invest in demonstrate what we value as important and non important. For example, if a person has a friend, and he seems to be into all the wrong things, this will let that person know that something inside them is going on that they desire to be associated with someone of this nature. Every person we spend time with lets us into who we are. In may be gradually, but it happens little by little over time.

The relationships we have with our parents define the rest of our lives. In most cases, a person will look back to those moments as a guide to other relationships. This is the only connection that has that kind of power. A person might say ” My father use to tell me to keep going no matter.” My mother would be there for me.” Since the first of all things are special, that type of relationship is no exception. It carves a space into the heart and mind of every individual. If the relationship between the mother and father was strained, this will have an impact on the person. They could expect conflict elsewhere.

When a person moves to other relationships, they may project what they learned on the person they are with. In friendship connections, this could happen as well. When a person has past issues that are not dealt with, other relationships may be affected in many ways.

Be careful of the relationships you choose because relationships act as mirrors to who we are. I suppose that is what they are there for. Some of them help to remind us of who we are in the first place because it is easy to get away from everything. Some encourage and support our growth, some remind us of the good within us, at the times we need it most, and those are usually the relationships that blossom into something special. These are the relationships that support a lifetime of growth and companionship. Every now and then, we all need a reminder. Sometimes we need the support, encouragement, and honesty to keep us grounded, that is the job of relationships. We may, at times, need a friend to help keep us standing on both feet. We are strongest when have two feet placed on solid ground

 

Excerpt from :

Hope in the Shadows by Michael Clark

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