Tag Archives: Hope

When Hope is All You’ve Got

31 Aug

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles


Reblogged August 31, 2019

“Good morning everyone,” the TV announcer said. “Let me correct that. There is nothing good about this morning of September 26, 2004.”

Trying to maintain composure, we tracked Charley’s path. At first, the action outside was not much different than the usual storms in Florida. But we knew that this was no ordinary storm. It was a preamble of a dangerous hurricane

“Everyone grab a pillow and a blanket,” I said. I made a mental note of the supplies we would need: a flashlight, water and our cell phones. Grabbing the small transistor radio with fresh batteries; a bit of reassurance trickled in while huddled in our confined shelter.

As expected, the lights went out. The TV was silenced. In the dark, the rage of the hurricane became more audible. As the wind howled, it whistled as if to announce, “I’ve arrived.” Its ominous nature intensified our vulnerability.

Charley had a vicious and unique personality. It was capricious. First, giving the impression it was headed in one direction and then at the last minute, changing directions. It had its own madness as it ripped through neighborhoods mercilessly.

“Hush!” I ordered. I turned the volume up on the transistor radio I held on my lap. “Listen!” I added with urgency.

Our family huddled, attempting to tune out the loud roaring outside. We hung on each word coming from the radio, the only device connecting us to the outside world: “It’s headed for Orlando, the winds here are unbelievable. With the last moments of daylight, we could see the roaring winds snapping trees in half like pretzel sticks. In other areas, the trees were yanked with force, their roots entangled in blocks of cement tossed aside like toys. Some static interrupted his description. Then he continued trying to catch his breath: “The huge glass windows of buildings nearby moved in and out in a swaying motion, attempting to resist the fierce wind with no success.”

“Lord,” I cried out in my thoughts, “guard our family.”

Then the serenity of my prayers was interrupted with more reports. I appeared calm on the outside, but with every sound outside and every detail of the report, I wondered if God was indeed listening. I questioned whether He’d answer before the worst happened. I doubted if my words were appropriate enough to reach Him. And I was certain that my emotions were blocking my pleas to Him. The more I tried, the more the hurricane of doubt thrashed in my heart.

“Now the road is in total darkness,” the reporter said. “Even some traffic lights are gone.”

Without air-conditioning, our cozy area turned into a small oven. But safety replaced comfort. Charley’s rage grew closer. The strong winds thrust sporadic bangs, rattling our garage door. The hurling debris against our front and back doors as well as those slamming against the large windows gave the same sensation as a “tic…tic…tic” of a bomb. We knew it would strike, but didn’t know exactly when, nor did we know which window would burst or what part of the roof it would yank away first.

No one spoke. But suddenly I heard a strange noise.

“What is that scraping?” I asked.

“It’s my yogurt cup,” my mom said in her characteristic calmness. “It’s my bedtime snack,” she added with a matter-of-fact tone.

How can she eat at a time like this? Does she not realize the danger we’re in?

“My hope is in the Lord,” she said, “He will protect us. Do you think this hurricane is catching Him by surprise? He is always faithful. Hope in Him is all we have.”

I had heard those same words from the pulpit. They brought mild reassurance as I sense no danger in that pew surrounded by painted glass windows.

But now what painted my mind was images of us under a rubble of destruction.

Outside noises emphasized my imagination. We heard more banging and crashing outside. I changed my please: “Lord, I know you’re in control. I have the certainty that You will see us through. And I know that You will calm this storm in my heart and also outside. But my words still echoed with doubt.

Charley’s furious winds struck with more intensity in some areas, yanking off roofs like box tops, and the roaring winds hurled traffic lights, smashing them to the ground. Some fatalities were reported.

“The tracking shows Charley is now in Orlando’s downtown area,” the radio reporter announced. We all went silent to make sure that we’d heard the good news (for us, at least) correctly, then it was confirmed. Charley had moved north; it had finally passed us.

God did show up timely and swiftly.

We breathed a sigh of relief. And I gave a silent, Thank you.

We stepped out of our stuffy room and headed outside, glancing with disbelief at the mess, the debris and broken pieces of items from tree branches to trashcan lids, to unidentifiable items.

While we all gasped at the destruction, a deep yawn slipped from my mom’s lips, and she tossed her empty yogurt cup in the wastebasket. “There was no need to worry then; no need to worry now. God is in control. Good night everyone,” she said.

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” (Psalm 33:20)It was in the “waiting” that God worked in me—teaching me to trust in the midst of winds of fear. To be secure when I hear threatening sounds, and to rest secure when others blurt bad news, gloom, or warnings of destruction.

With renewed faith, gratitude removed the last of the dark clouds of the storm, and new meaning. My hope was in God, not in the circumstances or in those around me.

The next morning’s sun uncovered the radiance of God’s promises that He will answer our pleas, timely and swiftly. His faithfulness becomes visible not so much in the calmness of my life, but during the storms and emotional hurricanes that test my faith.

Let’s Pray

Father, as we face all storms that threaten our lives, we rest in the comfort of Your promises that You never abandon us, never leave us. But without fail, You shelter us with Your love and protection. In Jesus’ name I thank You. Amen.

What is testing your faith right now?

Janet

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Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.

CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.

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Janet Eckles Perez

Some say she should be the last person to be dancing. Her life is summarized in this 3-minute video: http://bit.ly/1a8wGJR

Janet Perez Eckles’ story of triumph is marked by her work as an international speaker, #1 best-selling author, radio host, personal success coach and master interpreter. Although blind since 31, her passion is to help you see the best of life.

www.janetperezeckles.com

Happy Place

30 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

When I was creating a graphic for my Monday church post I decided to use a beach theme. A lot of my extended family claim the beach as their happy place.

Today I listened to an author speaking about the power of fear. He said “don’t put your faith in fear.” I find myself doing that, facing a problem and my mind races ahead to the possible negative outcomes. I don’t have to do that. Hebrews 6:1 says:

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.

Today I choose hope.

While I enjoy the beach, my happy place is wherever I am surrounded by mountains. Where is your happy place?

Christmas 2018

28 Dec

My friend, Pam has lived for 13 years without her much loved husband, Bill by her side. She shares her love and positive personality in her church WIdow’s ministry and also serves on the bereavement committee as a coordinator. When she emailed this to me, I was honored to be allowed to read her intimate thoughts. I asked permission to share it on our blog-Onisha

 

 

 

Christmas 2018

by Pam Gheen

I don’t normally write those Christmas letters that people place in their Christmas cards each year; mostly I don’t even get my Christmas cards out in the mail; maybe next year!

I especially don’t write or talk about the sad, deep things one may think about at Christmas.  I am a widow of 13 years, and I certainly should have moved on when it comes to “Christmas milestone sadness”. But……

But you know what? – our Christian journey, until we end it in Heaven, is alive and changing each day. Perfect healing for sadness comes daily if we need it!

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal”  Irish Poet-Thomas Moore

 

This Christmas, I deal with my emotions, as each one needs to do.

The house is quiet but my thoughts are not.  My fingers are itching to say something with words.

Think on this thought: God made us human and we feel feelings, we ponder the past, and we have empathy for others. Thank You God!  

I think of the little page that comes up on the computer, when I shop on-line, “I am not a Robot”! Check that little box on that little page and say you’re not-NOT made of hardness and steel, but made with a pliable, caring heart.

Maybe your normal tendency is to “shove down” and “ignore” the very attributes of our humanness, our “made in the image of God” capability to love, to embrace loss, and to reach out to others.  Some isolate, some want to become as busy as they can to forget and move on.

So how do you run away from the way God made you and me?  I’m thinking you can’t run fast enough; you turn around and face and embrace the “learning moment” from God.  

You may even find a quiet place in your home and light a candle in remembrance of the home-goings this past year of a loved one or friend. 

Or you may think of the ones in fragile health this Christmas, or those who have precarious relationships that still need to be healed.  You think of friends who say to you, “enjoy the time with your family; I have no one.”

You lift up your prayers and you wait in stillness.

Silence, communion and love is received in your heart and you know you are better; you turn TOWARDS the Father, to the WORD, Jesus, and to the COMFORTER, Holy Spirit.

“Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant”. 

Psalm 119:76 NLT

This Christmas, as in the last twenty-years, I am enjoying my youngest daughter and her family, here from California.  I am blessed in so many ways when they come “home” to family and friends.

This past Sunday, we all filed into a beautifully decorated sanctuary and took our seats in a comfy pew after greeting numerous friends with hugs.  As we sit there, I’m tapped on the shoulder from behind; there’s my friend who’s husband went home to the Lord a few months ago; she is sitting beside her daughter and family also.  “Good”, I think, “she has family with her.”

Another widow walks in and sits in front of me. She is my “new widow friend”, as I didn’t really know her until I helped with her celebration meal for her husband this past year.  She sits beside her loving sister and her husband.

The choir sings and leads us in uplifting songs, and then disperses themselves into the congregation to hear the message.  Another beautiful choir widow of three weeks slips into a pew; how is she strong enough to resume her place in the choir so quickly, I wonder. She hugs her friends and smiles through her tears.  Our close friends become our family even more when we need them.

By now, it is hard to think of anything else except of all the victory memorial services of the past year. My thoughts rush to two other friends I’ve know almost fifty years, who have said to their spouses, “goodbye, see ya later”, this year. They are making their way through the grief process and through one of the many “firsts” that come along during the year.

Finally, I think of my brother-in-law who is not seeing his only son this Christmas, and I pray for him, “God, comfort him in his sadness this Christmas.”

So today, after going through highs and lows, tears and hugs, I light my candle and I lift up my friends and family on Christmas Eve, the night of HOPE and RENEWAL and EMBRACEMENT of my very own “image of God’ . 

My fingers finish their clatter on the keyboard, my whole being asks God to fine-tune me into His loving image, and I wait…..wait for the Holy comfort and joy to fill-in the sad places in my heart, and help me overflow to others.  

I am “good again”, and move on, finding JOY in my sad thoughts, and HEALING in my communion with my Maker.

Signing off now….I need to make a few love phone calls before the day is done.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in Your Presence.”  Acts 2:28 NIV

What Thanksgiving Meant To Me This Year

23 Nov

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

What did Thanksgiving mean to me this year? It meant I made it through a year of deep, personal pain and am far stronger in my faith The brief moments of dipping into past memories, were nostalgic rather than tragic. I took joy working in the kitchen, side by side with my daughter to prepare our Thanksgiving meal. It was a soul satisfying day. My life and relationships don’t have to be perfect for me to experience hope and joy.

Romans 15:13-May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To all my friends on Facebook who shared pictures of their families , thank you for including me in your celebrations. I enjoyed them all. To my friends who shared pictures of food……well that is a different story! Just kidding.

I made my first cheesecake this year. Low carb pumpkin. It was amazing.

 

The recipe is from Cooking Keto with Kristi on You Tube. If you want to try it, click the show more button to get the recipe.

 

Heart Cleaning

11 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

It is good to daily ask God to examine our hearts so we can realign ourselves with His will- Wordsnackers

 

 

 

I have to admit that by day’s end, I often feel as if my heart is clouded and grungy like the canister of my vacuum cleaner.

 

 

Know God, Know Hope No God, No Hope

1 Sep

From the Heart

Louise Gibson

 

 

What a difference the spelling makes.
To know Him is to love Him and others.
To love Him is to serve him,
as we reach out to our brothers.

 

If you have yet to meet Him,
here is all you have to do.
Confess you are a sinner –
He’s waiting at the cross for you.

 

Hang on to hope, as on Jesus you wait.
“I will go before you and make
the crooked paths straight.” Isaiah 45

 

No God – No hope,
I can’t imagine such a scenario.
Why? My heart is too full of love,
since Jesus I came to know!

 

“Therefore, having been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have
access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:1,2

 

How to turn our ugly past into a beautiful future.

19 Aug

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

 

His Way

 

August 18, 2017 Reblogged

Why do we look behind and long for what we had yesterday to come back? We wish we could roll back time and go back to days where life was easier. Have you done that? God knows we all do at times.

“Okay, here’s another box full of VHS tapes,” Jessica said. She’s my teenage friend who comes to help out as she’s earning funds for a mission trip.

“Can you read the label on some of the?” I asked.

As she read the content of those tapes, my mind went back to that time when my two younger sons were in diapers, and I was living a “normal” life. I had eyesight back then. And with not a care in the world, I’d pack all three of them in the back of the car and zip to the store or appointments, or to the park.

What a long road it had been as I transitioned from full sight, living a full life to being blind, completely blind and terrified.

But before my physical darkness turned to emotional darkness, this verse came alive in me: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18).

How beautifully He had brought streams of hope in the wasteland of my blindness. When I cried to understand why, instead of an answer, He gave me peace, sweet peace.

When I grumbled with frustration after burning my finger when cooking, God soothed my pain when my boys asked for seconds.

I also brought back memories of the times when hubby and I would go out to dinner and he didn’t have to lead me by the hand, but what joy when God took me by the hand and led me to the banquet He had prepared for me.

And what a privilege to be able to write these lines and remind you to look at the present and gaze at God’s power that’s making a way in your desert and creating streams of hope in your wasteland.

Father, help me to focus on the good of the present, on the blessing of the moment. On the new things you’re still doing. On the gift of your provision as my eyes read this. In Jesus’ name, amen.

How will you overcome the past to see the new beginning?

Janet

Video sneak peek: http://bit.ly/1JodQQQ

Source: How to turn our ugly past into a beautiful future. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

How to face painful moments. 

15 Jul

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

 

Was this God’s way to teach us how to face painful moments?

Hubby and I, along with our dear friends, headed to North Carolina for a fun visit.

As we crossed from one state to another, the driver took instructions from the rest who did the navigating.

“Oh, oh…I see the red line, that means traffic coming up,” my friend said. “Let’s take a different route.”

For the next few minutes alternate routes were discussed, considered and explored to avoid “the red area” because after all, that meant traffic. And we were having none of that.

But before we knew it, we reached the dreaded “red zone.” And to our relief, the slowdown was slight, so very slight. All that fretting for nothing.

That’s what we humans do all the time, don’t we? We dread the red zone of adversity, the time when we might not be able to handle life. We cringe at the thought of reaching a place where we might be stuck in helplessness or in illness or in financial trouble.

So, worried about that day, we work hard to avoid that at all costs.

But all the while God is preparing the way for us to face those painful moments. He does this through His almighty, supernatural power; He’s already present at those upcoming “red zones” of life.

And that reassurance comes in two different ways:

He established a prerequisite for us to be safe, completely protected: “’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).

Since He knows the danger, keeping us safe is His promise:

“’Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’” (Isaiah 43:2).

How lovely life becomes when we truly believe in these promises. And as we ride on the highway of life, we know God is ahead making the way, waving the green flag, and making sure that with His help, we will navigate through all the red-zones of life.

Father, guide me away from fear of the pain that tomorrow might bring. Guard me from the worry about what might happen. I invite you to be the driver of the vehicle of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What adversity are you dreading these days?

Janet

Video sneak peek: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EnobbFT3QeE

How God helps us prepare for painful moments?

Source: How to face painful moments. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

How to find triumph in tragedy

24 Dec

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

hanging-stockings

My son Joe’s empty stocking on the fireplace seared my heart. It had been twelve years since Joe’s tragic death.

Christmas no longer called for a celebration. Not anymore. Not when you have a vital part of your life missing. Festivities don’t have the joy they should.

And Christmas trees don’t emanate the usual scent.

Actually, my days needed to erase the Christmases, the birthdays, the holidays—all ushered pain rather than delight. They reminded me of what I once had and now what was gone.

The world celebrated, greetings of good wishes filled the room. But when tragedy turns your world upside down, no amount of cheer can bring clarity to the fog of sadness.

Strange, though, often, it’s the scorching pain that forces our eyes to open to a bigger picture. It did for me as I rewound memories of past Christmases.

Years ago, when our three sons, including Joe, were still young, I focused on providing a perfect Christmas; a perfect tree to wrap a perfect celebration. As a result, little things tended to roil in me such as a light strand that refused to shine because of a burned bulb. Annoyed at the glitch, I promptly set off to resolve it. I fussed, I rearranged, plugged and unplugged until frustration grew hot in me.

How foolish and silly. I focused on that one bulb, dismissing the glow of the star atop the Christmas tree.

I’ve done the same with light bulbs that burned in my life—from broken relationships to shattered plans. Exerting tons of energy trying to fix them, I missed Christ, the newborn King—the star that gave significance to my life. The star that covers shadows of gloom and sorrow.

Joe’s memories changed—his sweet smile, his tender hugs and his sense of humor now sit atop of my life, casting off that glow to bring back the joy.

To remind me that he’s not gone, not from my heart, not from my mind, nor have the images of his spunky self vanished.

When that void in our heart aches to be filled, it’s Christ’s star of comfort that makes it whole. When bitter sorrow robs the spirit of Christmas, it’s the star of His everlasting love that whispers joy. When a health diagnosis shakes our world, it’s His star of reassurance that shines the certainty of new tomorrows. When our finances rob our security, it’s the star of God’s provision that ushers the radiance of reassurance. It’s the same star that never loses the brilliance of hope. The hope that, through Christ, tragedies turn to triumph.

Source: How to find triumph in tragedy. | Janet Perez Eckles

How to use your sad yesterdays for a bright tomorrow.

23 Jul

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

His Way

07-15-16 Faith

Meet Faith

 

Hubby and I sat in the family room as we visited friends in their condo on the beach. Suddenly lights began to flicker. Then electricity went out for a few moments. I sat on the couch while all dashed out to the balcony to see the cause.

What they saw was a fire burning in one of the nearby electric transformers. Fire trucks and police rushed to the scene and took care of the situation bringing safety back.

But the fire was the hardest on a large dog. The fire burned her front yard and the experience scared her so much she won’t walk into the house. The owner has to carry her inside and give her Benadryl to keep her calm. Interestingly enough, this fearful dog’s name is Faith!

Experiences can do that to dogs and to us, too. We sometimes experience the fire of rejection that aches or the fire of disappointment that leaves its mark. We may experience the fire of wounds that sear or the fire of abuse that leaves its scars. Or and even the fire of cruel words that still echo in our head.

All are real and often build a thick wall, keeping us from the happiness and the freedom of joy that can be ours today.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what God has to say to you and to me when it comes to past experiences of fires of yesterday that smolder in the crevices of our heart:

“Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

And refreshed by that stream of His love, He will carry you through the front door to the new dwelling where He houses these promises: “I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:1b-2)

What past experiences is God asking you to leave behind?

Janet

Source:  How to use your sad yesterdays for a bright tomorrow. | Janet Perez Eckles

 

Have you been to Legoland? Janet shared this story in her newsletter:

With backpack filled with snacks and bottles of water, hubby and our two grandkids filed through the entrance to Legoland. And what do we encounter first? A roller coaster which sent the little ones into the excitement mode.

They pulled my hand. “C’mon, Nana, you have to come with us!”

This blind Nana does not do roller coasters. But I wasn’t quick enough with my excuse.

“Nana,” my six-year-old grandson said, “you don’t have to be afraid, and Papa is going to sit right next to you.”

And he did. I shook, and jerked from side to side as the ride took sharp turns, rose up and came down again. But, I smiled because I was beside my strong hubby.

If you happen to be on the roller coaster of life, shaken up with heartache or worry, God is beside you, strong enough for you to hold on to so you can feel secure.

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