NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Hope – A Light in the Darkness

Well I haven’t written a blog post in years. Honestly I just don’t have the free time that I used to. But I’ve been meditating on hope these past few weeks and I really felt like sharing what I’ve been learning. So for whoever needs a little encouragement, I hope this post blesses you.

It all started with my pastor’s first sermon for Advent. Advent always starts with looking at Hope. But I hadn’t realized why we celebrate Advent when we do. I’d heard rumors of pagan traditions and the winter solstice and that Jesus was actually born sometime in the Spring. But my pastor said celebrating the birth of Christ in December was intentional. It’s the darkest time of the year (for the northern hemisphere at least), and when everything seems dead and gloomy, that’s when Christ enters the picture and brings hope. And then after Christmas it gets brighter and brighter.

And I totally get it, as fall turns to winter and we have less and less daylight, it’s depressing. But then when suddenly all of these Christmas lights get put up, it’s not so gloomy, instead it’s cheerful. I know a lot of people have had a rough year in 2020 and many decided to start celebrating Christmas early. Many of my friends had their Christmas trees up before Thanksgiving, and my neighborhood is lit up with many more lights than in the past. It’s like we all need a reason to have hope. And that’s what Christ is. He knew we couldn’t fix this broken messed up world, that we were dying and lost and hopeless. So He came down, He entered in. God became man. What a miracle!

On top of this new revelation for why we celebrate Jesus’s coming at this time of year, I also found out that two planets, Saturn and Jupiter will be the closest they have been in 800 years, forming a bright “Christmas Star” this Monday December 21st. You can learn more by going here.

When I heard about it, I felt like it was a sign from God that we can still have hope. Even with the world-wide pandemic, and political upheaval in the United States, He is still in control and in Him we can still have hope.

So, wherever you are, I hope you take a minute to look at the “Christmas Star” and remember that Hope in Christ never dies.

Merry Christmas and here’s to a better year in 2021.

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Death is not the end

Hopefully I’m not ruining the new Avengers movie for anyone, but if you haven’t seen it and don’t want any spoilers, maybe you should wait to read this blog post, although I won’t give anything too specific away.

This last week has brought a lot of change for me and a lot of interaction with death and it’s nearness. Last week my grandma started getting hospice treatment. She started with still doing her normal routine of coming to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But she soon had a harder time walking to and from her room and then last Sunday we had her moved into a hospital bed and our nurse said she’s not leaving the bed. That was a big change for me. I didn’t realize how fast this was going to go. I knew she had liver cancer and she was slowing down and eating less, but going from walking to bedridden was a big step and seemed to happen too fast.

Since then we’ve learned all about caring for her while she’s in a bed, how to help her sit up and move around and get changed. And hospice has been great with helping us through that. But in only a week I’ve seen her go from a bit of conversation, eating, drinking and even playing dominoes, to barely responding to our voices and mostly sleeping. We’re getting close to the end now. Last night our nurse came to check on her and she said it’ll be about a week.

I’ve done a lot of crying, especially when all her kids and grandkids gathered to sing, pray and share stories with each other and her on Saturday. It’s hard to let go, but I know she’s going to a better place and this is not the end.

And well, in the middle of all this I saw Infinity War. In the movie a lot of characters die, but the first time I watched the movie I didn’t cry at all. It’s like I just knew this isn’t the end and there is hope, partially because there is a part 2 to this movie and the next one will probably have a lot or all of the characters come back to life.

But I just found it interesting that with the movie and my grandma I can still find hope even in the midst of the death. It is sad and I don’t want to say goodbye. But for those in Christ, we have a sure hope that there is a Part 2 for us too, that there is a future for us, one without pain or suffering, or death. I also was finishing reading Revelation this past week and it was so nice to read about the new heaven and new earth and what all I have to look forward to.

So in case anyone else out there is going through something similar. Here are two verses that are bringing me comfort.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” Revelation 14:13

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A Cure for Fear and Ability to Forgive

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So there was a bombing in my neighborhood last night. I didn’t even know it had happened till friends started texting me. Then I saw the news. It was weird. I’ve heard plenty of stories about bombings or attacks around the world, my country, state, and even my city. But this one hit close to home. I told my friends I was safe, but part of me didn’t feel safe anymore. I went to bed with helicopters circling overhead and the knowledge that I wasn’t allowed to leave my home until daylight while the police and FBI investigated.

It’s hard to feel like your sense of comfort and security is taken away. But as I thought and prayed about the situation, I was reminded again and again of God’s presence. He promises to never leave or forsake His children. His love drives out fear. His security never fails and even in the midst of these bombings, He is in control. I can’t see all that He sees and I don’t know exactly what He’s doing. But I know I’m not alone and that I belong to Him and I’m safe with Him. He doesn’t promise I won’t face hardship, pain, grief or suffering. But He promises to be with me through it all. And that knowledge gives me hope and peace.

And so my fear has subsided, and my trust and faith in God has been built up. And even though whoever is doing this should be caught and stopped, I also know that whoever it is needs Jesus too. We all need His peace, comfort, love and forgiveness. Just as Jesus forgives and redeems, I want to forgive whoever did this. So, yeah, I’m still processing what’s happened but I thought I’d share my feelings. Maybe someone else out there needed to hear this today.

So if you’re scared, spend some time with Jesus. If you’re worried, rest on His promises. And if you’re facing an enemy, choose to forgive, just as Christ forgave.

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Response to Evil

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Our world constantly bombards us with sin and its effects. Shootings, riots, murders, natural disasters, hate, racism, prejudice, envy, cynicism, pride, selfishness and so much more. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. A lot of times I don’t know what to say, how to react, or what I should do in response to these things I know are wrong.

On the one hand, I want to speak up against the evil, say it’s wrong, and point people to do what’s right. I’ve seen a lot of this type of reaction on social media in the aftermath of Charlottesville. And I agree that staying silent is not the answer, trying to pretend these problems don’t exist is not a Christ-like response. Jesus entered into our pain and problems, into this sin-filled world and He chose to love.

The more I’ve been reading in God’s word, the more I see Jesus not only pointing out sin and it’s root: our hearts. But I also see Him choosing to love the people who are sinning. Along with standing up against evil and saying this is wrong, I think us Christians also need to speak in humility and love and pray for people. Without Christ, this is where we’re all headed; to selfishness, pride, sin, and hurting the people around us.

I could have been one of those people rioting except by the grace of God, I could be a murderer, except by the grace of God. I am no better than the racists, murderers, and judgmental hypocrites. My only hope is Christ, and this world’s only hope is Christ. We cannot make ourselves be good, we cannot make ourselves care for other people, we cannot make ourselves live the way we should. God has to change us at the root of the problem: our hearts.

We have to realize that we can’t beat sin on our own, not in our culture or politics or classrooms, or neighborhoods. We have to let Christ remove sin in our own hearts, and pray, asking Him to do the same in our friends, relatives, congressmen, neighbors, and even in the racists and hypocrites.

And we do not have to despair about what is happening in our country, because we know that this is not our home. Although we can try to make it the best it can be, this place will never be perfect. But one day Jesus will return and He will set up His perfect Kingdom where there will be no more slaves, no more marginalized, no more poor, no more racists, and no more selfish sinners. He has promised His followers this perfect future, and we must believe Him and put our hope in Him. And while we are living here, we must live for His eternal Kingdom and point our world to the only hope there is.

So anyway, that’s how I want to respond to this most recent violence. I’m stumbling and fumbling along to do it Jesus’s way, to love, forgive, pray and seek opportunities to speak truth in love. And even though I fail again and again, He has changed me and He is continuing to transform me. And one day I know He’ll take me home. So I hope this post encourages you today to not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21).

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#LifeMatters

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I’ve spent the last week on vacation, where I got to visit relatives and see a life size replica of Noah’s ark and visit a museum dedicated to validating the Bible as true and reliable. On my way home yesterday, I found out about the tragedy our nation has experienced with more deaths and murder and violence. It was heart breaking. I saw post after post on Facebook where people were trying to identify with those who were hurting by saying #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLifeMatters.

Honestly, I didn’t know how to react to all the pain and suffering and fear that people were experiencing. What do you say? What can make a difference? I didn’t want to sit back and do nothing, but honestly, what is someone supposed to do when people keep dying and nothing seems to stop it?

I ended up praying, a lot. By myself, with family, for friends that were scared and for everyone affected. As I did this, I was reminded of these verses:

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18

Our enemy isn’t each other, it is Satan. He has come to steal, kill and destroy and he is doing a good job of that right now. But we don’t fight him in our own strength. We speak truth to counter his lies, and we share the gospel of hope to counter his hopelessness, and we pray and place our security in Christ.

I don’t know where you find yourself in the middle of all this, but God has been teaching me this week that He is the Creator. He made every single living creature with a purpose. Each of our lives matter, no matter what our profession or skin color. We are all extremely valuable and loved by the One who made us. We are not here on accident and we are not made to hate and kill. We are made to be like Him: to love, serve, give, comfort, encourage, protect and be there for each other.

All this evil in the world is horrible, it is wrong and should be punished in the harshest way. Even if I’ve never shot anyone, I still have messed up, lived selfishly and rebelled against God’s design. I, like all of us, deserve to die, to pay the price for sin and rebellion.

But God’s Gospel is true and the good news does bring hope! Jesus died in my place, in your place. He paid the price for sin, for ALL sin. And He conquered it and rose from the dead.

I am alive in Him and with His powerful help, I can be a part of changing this world. There is no policy or program that will fix all the evil in this world. There is only the cross and He who died on it and rose from the dead. He is the only answer and my only hope.

So I cry out to Him today, for our country, for our people, for my friends and neighbors, my sisters and brothers. For He loves us more than I can imagine, so much so that He took our place on the cross and offers hope freely to any who come to Him.

That is my only answer to tragedy.

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Me Before You

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Movie review time again, yay! I’ve been waiting to see “Me Before You” for a long time and I was excited that it worked out with my friend to watch it last night. This is definitely one of those chick flick movies, so if that’s not your preference, feel free to stop reading. But I found the film very enjoyable. It’s definitely more of a tearjerker movie and not as much of a romantic comedy. Although, there were definitely a lot of funny moments in the film and I enjoyed laughing along with the rest of the audience.

But in the end, this is not a happily ever after type movie. From the beginning we can tell that this romance is mixed with tragedy. One of the main characters William, is involved in an accident at the beginning of the film and has to deal with the pain, humiliation, and changes that come from having a spinal cord injury. The plotline focuses on his growing relationship with Louisa. She tries to brighten up his life, make him smile, laugh and focus on the good. It is fun and sometimes laughable to see her efforts at cheering him up throughout the film.

But then we find out that William has decided to end his life. It’s a decision that he made before he even met Louisa, and the audience cheers her on as she tries to change his mind. But despite her best efforts, the film progresses toward this assumed ending. This definitely brings out the tears. But more than that, it brought up some questions and a good discussion with my friend.

As Christians, we could see something missing from Louisa’s efforts to save William. She was trying to convince him to keep living in a world full of pain, loss and disappointment. She wanted to make him happy, but he didn’t want to trap her in his world and keep her from living. No matter what she said, she couldn’t change his mind. Then my friend said, “If only he’d known Jesus.” It was a short comment, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There are so many people that live through horrific circumstances and don’t give up. They may live in pain every single day and a lot of people see them and think it would be better if they were put out of their sufferings. But they have a hope and they refuse to stop living.

I went home after the movie thinking about this and then happened to read this passage:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

I think if William had known Jesus, he could have kept living. Because Jesus not only comforts us in our hardships and delivers us from our despair, but He also gives us a hope and a promise. No matter how hard this life gets, He has promised that those who follow Him will have eternal life. All of the hardships from this life will be redeemed, and will be worth it. All of the sacrifices we made will mean something. Jesus gives us a reason to keep living.

So anyway, those were my thoughts after seeing this movie. If you enjoy a good chick-flick, check it out.

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Little Rays of Hope

Little Rays of Hope

Sometimes it’s only in our darkest storms that we can finally see the most beautiful things

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