Hoping for the impossible

Another wonderful gem from Ann Voskamp: How You Can Keep On Hoping for What Seems Impossible

Never got over this…
So if you turned right after Clappison’s Corner and drove real slow around the potholes, you might see it?

Sneeze or blink, and yeah, you might not.

But it’s there on the top of a mossy stake, pointing the way you gotta take, either way: Hope.

You don’t want to know where all thother roads lead.

Just down the road from Centerton, thats’s where my Dad grew up on a dairy farm.

Right around the corner from the Dykstra’s* dairy farm. Hank Dykstra had seven kids and a heart attack. Fell over dead to this world and alive to the next when their oldest boy, Richard, was only 14.Sometimes people are so quiet and brave, we forget that they are suffering.

Sometimes people are so quiet and brave, we forget that they are suffering.

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My Dad and Richard Dysktra were both farm boys about to start high school when Richard took over the farm and helped his mom raise the six other kids and milk 40 Holstein cows morning and night, 365 days of the year.

Dad said the high school bus would wait at the end of the lane for Richard and Dad would watch the door of the barn to see if Richard was coming from his cows to class. That only happened less than a handful times a month.

Because sometimes the road you’re on is more important than the bus waiting out on the road that someone else says you have to take.

My Dad grew up milking cows and growing corn, got married at 24, and bought a farm 3 hours west of Centerton.

Richard Dyskstra grew up milking cows, raised up his 4 brothers and 2 sisters, got married at 37, and bought a farm 3 hours east of Centerton.

6 long hours of unwinding road now stretched between the two neighbour farm boys and their farms.

You can read the rest here.

Chris Picco–a true witness to hope

Chris Picco–a true witness to hope . . .

Re-posted from faithit

Chris Picco should have been singing “Happy Birthday,” to his newborn son, Lennon.

But Lennon’s birthday was a somber one. On November 8, 2014, Chris’ wife of seven years, Ashley, passed away suddenly in her sleep. She was 24 weeks pregnant. The doctors who had fought to save her life turned their attention to Lennon, who was born via emergency C-section 16 weeks earlier than planned.

Chris, a worship leader in Loma Linda, California, lost his beloved wife and welcomed his newborn son in the same day. In the face of such an enormous tragedy, Chris did the unthinkable: He sang.

Then, after only four days of life, Lennon joined his mother in Heaven. And Chris used his voice again, only this time, it was at the funeral for his wife and son.

His beautiful rendition of, “My Father’s World” shows the power of God to bring people closer together, even through tragedy.

 

I reach for Mother Mary

“I Shall Not Walk Alone”

Battered and torn
still I can see the light
tattered and worn
but I must kneel to fightFriend of mine
what can’t you spare
I know some times
it gets cold in there

When my legs no longer carry
and the warm wind chills my bones
I reach for Mother Mary
and I shall not walk alone

Hope is alive
while we’re apart
only tears
speak from my heart
break the chains
that hold us down
and we shall be
forever bound

When I’m tired and weary
and a long way from home
I reach for Mother Mary
and I shall not walk alone
I shall not walk alone

Beauty that
we left behind
how shall we
tomorrow find

Set aside
our weight in sin
so that we
can live again

When my legs no longer carry
and the warm wind chills my bones
I reach for Mother Mary
and I shall not walk alone
I shall not walk alone

 

What are we to do when our footsteps are flagging?

Do you feel like your flagging during Lent?  Mother Mary Francis has the best answer for what to do!

[Jesus] is always going forward to save us.  How strange if we were not that eager to be saved in the little events of every day. His footsteps were on the way to the Father.  They were unflagging.  He always kept going.  His footsteps were always unswerving.  They went straight ahead in the will of the Father.  He knew where he was going . . .

For ourselves, we know that our steps are quite often flagging.  We lag.  We sit down.  We get tired.  What are we to do when our footsteps are flagging?  There is a simple answer.  We get up.  Sometimes we become discouraged in a prideful way and we think, “Well, what is the use?”  What we are really saying is, “I don’t want to make the effort to get up.”  For us to have unflagging steps fitted to his, we have to be always getting up, because of our weakness, our sinfulness.  It could be a wonderful thing indeed never to fall, never to flag, but it is a wonderful thing to get up.  This can be a true inspiration for the poor sinners we are: that our footsteps become more unflagging according to how often and how quickly we have gotten up.

“The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.”

How do I give thanks even in suffering?

I shifted my weight and paper crackled under me. My chest constricted, my eyes sagged and my mind tangled like an old cobweb.

The doctor looked up, “There’s hope for guys your age, this isn’t unusual.” I doubted that and continued rocking back and forth.

I come back to that room in my mind a lot. The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.

My father sat across from me, a steadying presence. My wife held my hand, scared. I rocked with chronic anxiety and depression. My fears had distended into sleepless nights, sweaty sheets and a sick and hopeless heart.

The walls of my life closed in when I was just 23, newly married and a grad student – and I wanted out. In the basement of my parents’ house I cursed God.

With tears carelessly wiped and flung, my fists pounded the bed. I yelled my pain into pillows. I screamed at God, scared he’d leave me.

He didn’t leave. He never intended to.

Fourteen years later, I still struggle with anxiety, but the doctor was right. There is hope. It’s the practice of giving thanks.

There’s a book I always go back to, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. A friend dared her to write 1,000 things she was thankful for in a year. A mother of six and farmer’s wife, Voskamp finds epiphanies around every corner.

The smallest thing, like the way sunlight hits grated cheese, fills her with happiness.

As a guy, I picked up the book skeptically. The cover shows a pair of hands holding a nest with robin eggs and a background just a touch lighter than “Lady Finger Beige”. Yes, I had to research that color, as well as how to spell “beige”.

But this line slashed through my skepticism: “I enter the world like every person enters the world: with clenched fists.”

You can read the rest here.

O Advent!

And this from Elizabeth Scalia:

Holy Advent; Holy Hope in Light

Welcome! Welcome! I shed tears of gratitude and joy that you have come round again, O Advent, to shake us from our torpor as early night comes, and the match is struck, and the message is brought home once more; that we are forever in the absence of light; it is beyond us and exterior until we make it welcome and bring it, like a lover, within. Welcome into our deepest void, welcome into the parts of us touched by human frost and stunted. Welcome, O Light, beaming glorious, into remotest apertures of our souls, rays aglow, warmth permeating where we have left old fires unattended and embers to wane, and our abysses to grow chill, and uninhabitable. Welcome light; dispelling illusion, and chasing old ghosts to rest.

Today the promise; the story begins again. The beginning; quiescence, empty and void. Then movement; an annunciation; a Word -one boundless, vibrant “yes” that shakes creation; “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior!” Soon their will be dreams, and silent wondering, and a gathering, and a starry night rent with song. The Word Present penetrates lonely, lost humanity, and enters into the pain and fear, the tumult and whirlwind; He and sets His tent with us not merely dwelling among, but literally with us; with hunger, with the capacity for injury and doubt -with enough vulnerability to be broken- and within this espousal, everything is illuminated!

You can find the rest here.

Fighting “the black dog”

Sharing this from Tod Worner:

The Vital Necessity of Advent

“Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

– G.K. Chesterton. 

Dear Jesus, do I need Advent. I just do. Living in the upper Midwest during the melancholic waning days of fall, begrudging the early arrival of snow flurries and enduring the bone-chill that summer had (mockingly) made me forget, I need Advent. You see, I am predisposed to what Winston Churchill once called “the black dog”. The black dog is an ill-defined woefulness that can gnaw at you at unpredictable times for indescribable reasons. Not classically a depression, it is rather a longing for something that is unfulfilled by anything here on earth. If not tilting into a fuller depression, perhaps this is a good thing. C.S. Lewis, after all, once wondered,

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

And that is why I need Advent. Advent, originating from the Latin “Adventus”, means “a coming, an approach, or an arrival”. It is a season of anticipation, of expectation and of reform in preparation for the arrival. But what is it we are anticipating, expecting, and preparing for? Nothing more than the entry of God into History, the Word Made Flesh, the Messiah, the Savior of Mankind. We are awaiting, expectantly and eagerly, the Central Event of Human History. The Incarnation. Nothing less than that. And that is why I need Advent.

You can finish reading over here.

The little everyday frustrations

Advice from St. Francis de Sales that is always timely–and contains one of his best jewels:

“Persevere in overcoming yourself in the little everyday frustrations that bother you; let your best efforts be directed there.  God wishes nothing else of you at present, so don’t waste time doing anything else.  Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are.  Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there.  Believe me, this is the most important and the least understood point in the spiritual life.  We all love what is according to our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking.  (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Call out to Mary

“O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land, if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star.  When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of temptation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.  Whether you are being tossed about by the waves of pride or ambition or slander or jealousy, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.  When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering the skiff of your soul, gaze up at Mary.  When the immensity of your sins weighs you down and you are bewildered by the loathsomeness of your conscience, when the terrifying thought of judgment appalls you and you begin to founder in the gulf of sadness and despair, think of Mary.  In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary.  Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart. Follow the example of her life and you will obtain the favor of her prayer.  Following her, you will never go astray.  Asking her help, you will never despair.  Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away.  With your hand in hers, you will never stumble.  With her protecting you, you will not be afraid.  With her leading you, you will never tire.  Her kindness will see you through.” (Bernard of Clairvaux}