Welcome to the Well

Welcome to the well.  Sit back, breathe deeply, relax and be refreshed!  This page is intended to be a place to gain and share insights into this sometimes crazy, sometimes wonderful, usually messy but always blessed life we live.  This is an environment rooted in respect for one another, where we can be transparent with each other, encourage each other and accept ourselves and each other where we are in this moment.  I am a follower of Christ, and this will be clear at times.  But those who do not identify as Christian are every bit as welcome as those who do, and will be treated with kindness and compassion.  Again, welcome to the well!cropped-cropped-cropped-dreamstimemedium_14466151.jpg

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Myth-Busting the Quest for Purpose (Part Two)

Last week I told you what I used to believe about the “Quest for Purpose,” and how God lovingly corrected me, pointing out to me what I was missing. This week I’ll tell you how He filled in the blanks and graciously turned on a light bulb in my head, giving me clarity on what our one true purpose in life really is…

What God Says

You see, God has gifted us all with a unique combination of specific gifts, talents, passions, personalities, and temperaments. And I believe in various seasons of life He gives us assignments to accomplish utilizing those gifts, talents, passions, etc. As it turns out, our purpose is to be obedient to Him and to use them however he requests.

DON’T MISS THAT.

It is our purpose on this earth to be obedient in every season, no matter what tasks God assigns us! OBEDIENCE IS OUR *ONE* PURPOSE! Our gifts are not our purpose. Our passions are not our purpose. Our talents are not our purpose. Using them IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD is our purpose.

Throughout the Bible God calls His people to be obedient: Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Matthew, Peter, Paul, and countless others, including the generations to come (that includes us).

  • God required obedience of the Israelites in the desert: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples…” (Exodus 19:5). Note the promise attached to this request for obedience!
  • Jesus says to his followers: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
  • The Holy Spirit, through James, admonishes believers to be “doers of the Word” (James 1:22).

Jesus set the example:

  • “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8)
  • “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42, emphasis mine).
  • “…but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31, Jesus speaking, emphasis mine).
  • “So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:50, Jesus speaking, emphasis mine).

There are promised blessings attached to obedience:

  • God will make His home with us (John 14:23).
  • We will “eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
  • He will “open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it” (Mal. 3:10).
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21, emphasis mine). Note that this one begins with a warning!

There are more, and I encourage you to search the Scriptures for yourself to learn what God says about being obedient, along with the blessings that come with it – AND the dangers of disobedience.

Making it Practical

Here’s another example: Say my vocation is “auto mechanic.” That does not mean it is my purpose, even if I am the best auto mechanic ever, anywhere, in all of history. It means merely that that is the VOCATION God has blessed me with and skilled me to do. Now, if a single mom comes in with three kids in her car, which has a leaky exhaust that will prevent it from passing inspection, it is my JOB to fix her car. But let’s say God tells me to slip a $50 bill into the console where she can find it later on, or to do the repair without charging her for labor. My PURPOSE in that moment is to be obedient to His instruction, in the situation He has placed me through my vocation.

But let’s make it a bigger stretch: Say that in this same scenario God asks me, the mechanic, to find out who in my neighborhood is in need and anonymously put a bag of groceries on their doorstep. Now, even though my VOCATION is as a mechanic, God is asking me to do something completely unrelated to that vocation. My PURPOSE is still obedience to Him.

For the longest time, I thought my purpose was synonymous with my job. Not true. My purpose is to be obedient to whatever He asks me to do, whenever He asks me to do it, whether I’m at work, at church, crossing the street, shopping for groceries, or sitting inside my home watching Netflix.

So Stop It Already

Stop searching and striving for your “purpose” in life and start resting and trusting and listening for that still, small voice. He will tell you what to do, where to go, who to reach out to, what job to take, which school to go to, who to date/not to date, and on and on and on. Your purpose is to say, “YES, LORD!” To be obedient to WHATEVER He calls you to do.

Now, I know some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking I’m a bit slow. I’m sincerely overjoyed for you that you have figured this out already!

But for the rest of you folks who, along with me, have toiled and searched and grieved over what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives to serve God best, what He put us here to do, “what our purpose is”; it is this one simple, yet often incredibly difficult, small but often overwhelming, thing:

Our purpose is to be obedient to God. To say, “Yes, Lord.” To say, “You chose me, and I will go.”

That’s it.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog and like my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/angelaglicklifecoach) to stay up to date on future blog posts and other meanderings.

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Myth-Busting the Quest for Purpose

STOP SEARCHING FOR YOUR PURPOSE!

Yes, you read that right. I want you to stop searching for your purpose. Those words are hard to write, because for years now, I’ve spent hours in prayer concentrated on figuring out my purpose, toiling, taking assessments, crying, journaling, reading the books and doing the Bible studies, striving to the point of exhaustion. The “Quest for Purpose” has become a billion-dollar industry, and I’ve done my share over the years to contribute. All along, I was missing the forest for the trees! Thankfully, God recently shed some light on this for me. You know, like He does.

What I Believed (Erroneously)

I have long believed the sometimes-troubling idea that we do not have onepurpose in this life. Rather, I believed that our purpose changes from season to season, though there is often something of a common thread running through those seasons.

An Example

For example, if a young woman is gifted in finance, has the appropriate degrees, and excellent job prospects, but becomes pregnant, there may be a period in her life when she is a stay-at-home mom. Her purpose, under my former way of thinking, may then be to use her financial prowess to the best benefit of her household. Then, perhaps, at a future time in her life her purpose (again, according to my former way of thinking), might be to use part of her income from one of those excellent job prospects to sponsor a missionary or help fund the building of a church. 

The common thread is her financial skills. The seasons are her youth, stay-at-home motherhood, and attending to her career goals.

The Missing Piece

This is a good start, but an important foundational piece is missing here – her actual purpose. The above example merely demonstrates how she uses a specific gift from one season of life to the next. That is not to say that God won’t use us to bless others through our gifts, because He will. That is why He has given them to us; not for our benefit, but to bless others!

But understand this: Her gifting is not her purpose. Which is reassuring because we are blessed with multiple gifts and talents. That being true, this is where many of us get confused, bogged down, frustrated, and sometimes lose hope and motivation. Here’s why: If we have four outstanding talents (cooking, making people laugh, painting breathtaking art and juggling, for example), and we don’t understand what our ONE TRUE PURPOSE is, we may spend a lot of time, energy and money barking up the wrong tree. FOUR TIMES (or more)!

The Answer

Next week, I’ll share with you what God has laid on my heart about the “Quest for Purpose” – a topic I’ve talked about, blogged on and completely misunderstood for years! Be sure to subscribe to this blog and like my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/angelaglicklifecoach) for part two, and to stay up to date on future blog posts and other meanderings.

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Hope in Times of Hardship

Recently, I found myself wondering why it is that we have to look so far – all the way to heaven – for joy, peace, comfort. Why this life “must” be so full of hardship, as we are told in Scripture that it will be (1 John 16:33). Then a few things happened:

  1. I remembered that it is sin that has our world so upside-down and inside-out, so full of strife; and that it is a gift from God that we do, in fact, have heaven to look forward to!
  2. As I began to read Scriptures involving suffering, I found an interesting takeaway: the majority of them come with an encouraging promise! A few examples:
    • “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19, NIV, emphasis mine). (Note that you are made righteous when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (Romans 3:22), so this promise is for all believers.)
    • “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (1 Cor. 4:17, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sinAs a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” 1 John 16:33, NIV, emphasis mine).

There are more, but I encourage you to find them on your own.

  • God reminded me that heaven isn’t so far away, particularly since believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:21-22). I mean, for me that feels like a piece of heaven living right inside me!
  • I remembered that when I keep my gaze to heaven, a couple of things become clear:
    • Heaven doesn’t seem so far away; and
    • I am no longer focused on the suffering of this world.
  • I am reminded that if I choose to, I can see much good in the world, even good that comes from suffering. Is that always easy? Well, no. But it does get easier the more I intentionally practice it. So, my perspective, as usual, largely dictates my emotional state, and my perspective is up to me to adjust (and is one of the few things in life I can actually control).

I came away from this prayer time (and from writing this post!) encouraged and at peace. I hope you will, also!

If you are struggling to find hope in your current circumstances, please reach out to me, or to someone, for help. You can reach me at angelaglicklifecoach@gmail.com.

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How to Help a Hurting Human – the “Dos”

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year that has engendered a lot of pain in a lot of people. Furthermore, the holidays are now approaching quickly, and many people struggle during the holiday season during years that are otherwise not quite as  challenging as 2020 has been. Without a doubt, you know someone who is hurting, and most likely, you’ll be getting some practice on what to do and not to do when interacting with them, and I want to help set you up for success.

Last week, we covered four “don’ts,” things we should avoid doing when interacting with a friend who is hurting. This week, I’m sharing a few “dos” to help you and the person you’re communicating with navigate potentially difficult discussions, so you come away feeling like you honored them and didn’t add to their pain, and they feel like you added value to their life (or at least didn’t make it worse!). Here are three things you can do:

DO

Listen. When someone talks to you about their trials, whether the trials are physical, emotional spiritual, relational, etc., just listen. You don’t actually have to say much. You can let them know you’re listening by occasionally telling them some version of “I’m with you.” Or you can ensure they know they still have your attention by making eye contact (preferably not with glazed-over eyes). Nod and/or make sympathetic noises. Occasionally confirm that you understand by saying a version of, “It sounds like you’re saying ______________, is that right?” You’ve got this: speak less, listen more.

DO

Minimize Your Exposure

  • If you can’t resist minimizing the other person’s issues, minimize your time with them. You can do this tactfully, if you try, and it may preserve your friendship. We can’t stay in the mud with someone else forever. However, I urge caution here: if you value the person and the relationship, don’t abandon them. Just make the visits farther between and shorter. I have recently discovered the value of scheduling particularly challenging people to meet at a location an hour before it closes. Disclaimer: It doesn’t mean that’s always the case when I schedule late appointments – sometimes it’s because I only have an hour and I really want to spend some time with the other person, even if we have to be brief. But this scenario takes me out of the hot seat for finding a way to end the conversation if I simply cannot endure much of it and I don’t want to further tax an already-hurting person’s feelings.

DO

Steer Them Toward Help

  • Sometimes the other person’s crisis lasts a long time. Hopefully, if this is the case, they will seek professional help, or, as I’ve referred to it, hire a “rent-a-friend.” There have been seasons in my life when it began to feel to me (and most likely to my friends as well) that I was sucking the life out of my friends by dwelling on the negativity in my life every time I was around them. I realized I needed a “rent-a-friend” to listen and help me sort out my junk before my friends wisely jumped ship and renting a friend was the only way I’d have one.  There is no shame in finding a qualified counselor to help us when we’re in a rut, and it may well save the relationships we value and hope to still be a part of when the darkness abates and the sun comes out again (and it will come out again).
  • If you are close enough to the hurting person and their issues have been going on a while or you think they’re sinking in quicksand, AND if you can do so from a place of love and concern for their best interest, you may be able to recommend they find a counselor.
    • Before you take this on, be very honest with yourself about your role in the person’s life. As a counselor, it would not bother me if someone I know loves me told me they feel like it may be time for me to seek help from a counselor. That said, not everyone in my life has earned the right to speak into my life at the same level.
    • Be gentle, loving and cautious with your words. Getting professional help can be very scary and may make your friend defensive if they’re uncomfortable/unfamiliar with counseling. They may feel like you’re calling them crazy and pretty much no one wants to hear that. Employ wisdom and loads of grace and love here.
    • If you’re a super-duper-amazing friend, and you’re in their inner circle, you may even come to this conversation with the names and numbers of a couple of counselors you’ve researched, who seem reputable and seem to share the other person’s values.

I hope these pointers help you breathe a little easier and enhance your relationships by equipping you with (or reminding you of) some ways you can best be there for those you care about who are going through a rough season in their lives.

Keep in mind, you’ve probably been that person at one time or another, and you may yet bet that person in the coming weeks. Wouldn’t it be nice if the people you talk to, especially your closer friends, had these tools in their pockets, too? Well, they can; feel free to like and share last week’s post and this one!

I look forward to reading your additional suggestions in the comments!

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How to Help a Hurting Human – The “Don’ts”

There is a LOT going on in the world right now. I know you know this, but I mention it because a byproduct of this truth is that people are struggling. Lots of them. Struggling HARD. I guarantee that at least some of them are in your sphere of influence, and there are some points that bear mentioning now and then when it comes to interacting with someone who is hurting.

So, I thought I’d share some dos and don’ts to help. You probably are aware of some or even all of these, but a refresher might be timely, particularly with the holidays approaching.

While I’m only scratching the surface, this post was a bit long, so I split it into two posts. This week, for brevity, I’ll share four “don’ts” with you, and three “dos” next week. So, without further ado, the “don’ts” (see how I did that?) …

DON’T

Tell them it could be worse. 

  • It is doubtful that any of us has ever encountered an adult who doesn’t fully understand that “it could always be worse,” so don’t say that. Or any version of it. When people come to me with troubles, they often tell me early on some variation of “I know it could be worse,” or, “I know it’s not the worst thing in the world that can happen,” or, “I know others who have it worse than I do, but …” and frankly it bothers me that people have become so accustomed to other people’s callousness that they feel they need to minimize their own problems in order to appear rational.
    • While I suppose it’s healthy to acknowledge that whatever is bothering us is, in fact, not the worst problem any human has ever experienced, it is nonetheless the situation we are in at this moment, and it’s a legitimate problem for us or we wouldn’t be talking about it.
    • (Also, I wonder if sometimes people don’t say it as a preemptive strike, so they don’t have to endure hearing it from the other person).
  • Let’s face it: it’s an insult to the hurting person’s intelligence and it often comes across as, “yeah, yeah, yeah … cut to the chase, and get happy already because I’m uncomfortable with your discomfort.”

DON’T

Say “At least…”

  • If at some point in the conversation with a hurting person you feel compelled to allow yourself to say anything starting with, “At least…” STOP YOURSELF. Bite your tongue as hard as you have to, but DON’T SAY IT. Examples:
    • “At least today’s better than yesterday.” This can come across as, “Wow! So, you’re good now! What a relief for me!”
    • “At least it’s only going to cost you $300 instead of $1000.” That $300 is big potatoes or they probably wouldn’t be bothered about it. There have been times in my life when $300 might as well have been $5,000. Allow for their perception of the issue.
    • “At least it’s fixable.” They probably are aware of this, but the waiting time for the fix may feel like an eternity. Maybe they’ll be in a lot of pain until then. Maybe the fix comes with its own scary challenges.
    • “At least you’re not alone.” Nope, they’re not – they have you, dear friend, so be good to them and don’t assume you know what their other relationships are like. They chose you to be vulnerable with. Don’t teach them they can’t be.
  • Almost anything coming after “at least” is going to minimize their issue, and here’s another truth: many, many people find it far more difficult to express their feelings than to ignore or minimize them. In other words, they are very likely needing someone who doesn’t need them to minimize their struggles for the other person’s comfort or attention span.

DON’T

Trivialize, Even Accidentally.

  • Do not quote Romans 8:28 unless they are a brand-new believer and there is a genuine possibility they don’t actually already know this. Just don’t.
  • Do not tell them “This, too, shall pass.” Yuck.
  • Do not tell them “It will get better.” Yuck again.
  • All of the above convey that you don’t have the patience to listen to them, you don’t care or don’t want to be bothered with their problems, that they need to “suck it up and move on,” or that they’re not the sharpest crayon in the box. Just don’t do it.

DON’T

Play Mr./Ms. Fix It.

  • Do not feel like you need to fix the problem. This one has been around so long and is so obvious that I will not belabor it. As a refresher, just remember that usually your friend just needs to feel heard. Most often, they will make it abundantly clear if they want your advice. Maybe you have to wait until the end of their “rant” for them to ask, “What do you think/What would you do?” but that’s okay. It often helps us sort out our own issues when we simply process them aloud.
  • If you’re in doubt about whether they want your help or just a listening ear, ask them. If you’re uncomfortable with this, just know that many people value this type of clarification and most likely the other person will feel like you’re actually interested in the conversation. You add value to them by asking what they need from you rather than assuming what they need (you’re terrific and all, but not everyone wants or needs to be “rescued” or “fixed,” and your perspective on how you’d handle the problem may or may not actually be a good fit for them).

I look forward to your other recommendations in the comments!

Be sure to check out next week’s Monday Moment at the Well for part two, the “dos,” where I’ll share a juicy nugget I have figured out when dealing with a hurting person who I need to spend less time with.

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The Chains I Chose

Self-condemnation is a place where I’ve spent too much time. Maybe you can relate? I have been living in my heart with the same attitude toward myself I had back then, before I began passionately pursuing the heart of Christ. I have been merely existing, feeling shackled to condemnation, isolation, and “never-good-enough-ness.” I’ve been standing at the back of the room desperately wanting to be near my Savior, and at the same time fearful he would notice me and scorn me.

Mercifully, God has been working with me to help me see the truth; in large part that I am not the same woman I was 15-20 years ago and beyond (or even yesterday). He is showing me that she – the old me – is gone, along with the old life, and that a new life has begun (1 Cor. 5:17)!

One of the chains that Christ wants to break in your life is the one that keeps you bound to thinking you are still the person you were before you surrendered your life to him!

The enemy would be all too happy for us to choose to chain ourselves to our sin and shame. He’d thrill to know that we choose to keep our focus on what has been, rather than on what God says will be; on who we once were rather than the person God says we are now!

See, those chains were broken the moment we acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we, as sinners, need him to save us from ourselves, from sin, and from our greatest foe. So why on Earth have I chosen to hold onto them for so long?!

I want to live free, and I can’t do that if I let the ghost of who I used to be hold me hostage daily!

If you can relate all too well to this, I urge you to pray the following courageous prayer with me:

God, search my heart, and I pray that you would find the good in me and help me to see it, too, for You, in your boundless generosity and grace, created me in Your image. You have molded me over the years, taking every good and every bad experience, and made me who I am today:  a broken but beautiful, flawed but forgiven, weak but washed in the blood of the Lamb, person who loves you – and is loved by you – passionately! Lord, forgive me for submitting to the enemy of my soul and gazing into the pool of shame he has shown me for far too long. Today and every day, help me choose to keep my eyes focused forward and upward, wherever YOU are! Amen!

I Was Drowning

Before Christ saved me, I was drowning. Flailing, sputtering, sinking, choking and utterly helpless to save myself.

Then he came. He put his arm around me, but as so many people who are drowning do, I resisted my rescuer.

Why is it that drowning people so often do this? They (we) tend to struggle against those who would protect us and lead us to safety, even though they are perhaps the only thing between us and certain death. It’s about fear. It’s about losing control.

In order for him to save me, I had to surrender to him. I had to stop fighting. I had to give him total control. I had to let go and be still and let him rescue me, pull me to safety, completely dependent on him.

Lord, I thank you for being my rescuer. I pray that every time I find myself in over my head, I will surrender to you, giving you control and trusting you completely. And God? I’m sorry for all the times I make you work so hard, and for the times I resist you. Amen.

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Small Things

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not doing much in the kingdom of God. I’ve been a bit down about this; I want to be doing big things and I feel like I’m doing much of nothing.

Then I got a card in the mail the other day from a friend, and it made a big difference in my day!  I haven’t been feeling well, and for that moment I felt not just okay, but special, loved, valued.

When I thought about how that card made me feel, I remembered that I’ve had people tell me when they’ve received something in the mail from me that it “came at just the right time,” and a light bulb went on for me! Maybe, just maybe, God has been using me in ways He can use me, particularly in these crazy times of physical distancing!

Never underestimate how God is using you. We don’t have to move mountains to move a heart.

And isn’t that what really matters?

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other … if we love each other, God lives in us and His love is brought to full expression in us.” – 1 John 4:11-12

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Sticky Fingers

Surrender sounds easy, doesn’t it? 

I mean, it’s putting down something, unburdening.  It’s the opposite of striving. 

Most of us get pretty attached to things, often without intending to, and if you’ve tried surrendering, you probably already know how hard it really is.  It’s some of the most challenging work we’ll ever do.  (And some of the most important.)

I’m a crafter, and as God tends to do, He used one of my passions to make a point with me (maybe this has happened to you?):

When I’m playing around in my craft room, I often get glue on my fingers, and if I don’t get it all off, suddenly I touch something and it sticks to my fingers.  I imagine life is like that sometimes.  We reach for a thing and it gets stuck to our hands.  A dream.  A goal.  A job.  A relationship. 

Before we know it, there are so many things stuck to us that if God tried to give us a gift, a person, or a purpose, it would slide right out of our grasp, and we couldn’t receive it.

It takes effort to surrender all that stuff.  We have to consciously peel our hands away from the things that we become glued to and lay them aside.  It’s hard, and sometimes painful.  But wow, do my hands feel better without a bunch of junk stuck to them!  I can wash them and open them up before the Lord and receive whatever He chooses to give me. 

What do you need to peel your hands away from today?  What do you need to surrender?  Don’t be afraid!  God always has better gifts for us than we could ever dream of!

So go ahead, start peeling.  Start unsticking yourself from all those things that keep you from receiving God’s best for you!

I pray that as you let go and surrender to Him, that He gives you peace and rest and a sense of sweet release. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Hope is a Choice

If you know me you probably know that I believe everything we do, where we find ourselves in life, the people who are in our lives . . . all are the result of choices we made.  It took me a long time to accept this truth (because I’ve made some colossally unhealthy choices in my life) and now I “preach” it often. 

Our choices lead us to people, places and situations in life, and they are almost always choices we have consciously made.  Furthermore, we are responsible for choosing our responses to people, events and circumstances.  Accepting that our choices are ours alone, and taking responsibility for the harmful ones as well as the healthy ones, is vital to our growth.

Recently, I gave a talk to a group of women about choices – taking responsibility for them and making healthy ones.  A couple of days later God used my own words to snap me out of a very dark place I was [choosing to be] stuck in.  I had been going through a major season of struggle and felt like I was losing.  I finally came completely untethered in my prayer time one morning and was railing at God through my tears of hurt and anger, and yelled out to Him that I was tired of hoping and being disappointed, and “why should I bother to keep hoping anyway?!” And you know what He graciously said? 

God’s response: “Hope is a choice.”

That pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks. 

I made the healthy choice.  The circumstances haven’t changed.  The answers haven’t come.  The waiting continues.  But choosing hope – sometimes multiple times a day – has made it easier to be where I am, in the uncertainty and the often uneasy stillness.  Choosing hope gives me the courage to dare to look forward to whatever God has in store for me and to rest in the knowledge that it will be good because He is good.

Of course, I can’t post something about choices or about hope without saying that we can also choose whether or not we respond to God’s call on our life, be it to salvation, a career, a geographical location, or whatever.  If you want to talk to me about that choice, and about the ultimate Source of hope, please message me and I’d be honored to talk to you about this.