Hope is the thing . . .

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I have loved Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” ever since I read it a couple years ago while I was working on my master’s degree in education.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Hope keeps us going in the hardest of times. This poem describes hope as something that gives us what we need to go on, and it is just there, just with us. Do you ever feel like the bird in the storm, and you reach deep inside and find hope, the “thing with feathers,” is still there? In her personal life, Emily Dickinson struggled when it came to faith, but her poem speaks to me. She is one of my favorites.

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In Romans 5:3-5, Saint Paul writes about hope from a Christian perspective.

. . . but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

When we go through hard times or feel like we are encountering one obstacle after another, it’s the Holy Spirit that can lift us up. It’s the “roar” in your spirit that says to keep going when you are walking in God’s truth.

Over the summer, I like to start each morning by reading a devotional while my son is still sleeping. As a teacher, the school year demands more than anyone (except other teachers) could ever really imagine; I am very thankful to have a job that impacts so many lives, but it does mean I must fill my own tank so that I can meet the needs of those who are in my classroom. Every summer that I have chosen to start my morning with a devotional, I have not been disappointed. This summer, I decided to read a chapter from I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is by Michele Cushatt each morning. I highly recommend it. Another good one that I read one summer was None Like Him: Ten Ways God is Different from Us (and why that’s a good thing) by Jen Wilkin. I highly recommend that one as well. For Christians, spending time in the word opens us up for communication from the Holy Spirit, and it is absolutely necessary in this world of obstacles.

This morning, my devotional included the following thought about the Latin meanings behind the word inspire.

To inspire . . . has of course the stem spir in it. It is, very literally, to give or put spirit into someone. To inspire someone is way more than making them happy or amazed or even making them feel good. It is to lend them spirit when they are short. And of course because of the incorporeal nature of both air and spirit, the act of inhaling also became known as inspiration. In that sense too: it is like mechanical ventilation for a soul that’s lost its resolve for a moment.

The devotional points to how the Holy Spirit inspires us. Titus 3:4-6 says:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously.

For Christians, the “thing” that communicates what we need, that stirs the hope in our souls, is the Holy Spirit. When we ask Christ into our lives, truly believe in him for the forgiveness of sins, and seek to follow Him — when we become Christ-followers — we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not promised an easy life, but we can see how perseverance builds character. It gives hope a chance to break through.

If we are truly in God’s word, not everything that we read will be sunshine, moonbeams, and easy-breezy. It challenges us. Some of the truths are hard. I experienced that this summer as I read through the book of Romans. Sometimes we need to persevere even in reading the word. Even the truths we struggle through are ultimately good ones. There are days when reading God’s word might not make you feel good, but keep going. Pray about it. In with the hard truths, God is shaping something beautiful that is for our good.

Go forward in hope today!

Teresa

Bible Journaling Challenge: Find a verse about hope or the Holy Spirit that speaks to you, and create a page about it in your Journaling Bible. You could just write out the verse, or you could illustrate it with something meaningful to you. If you are not sure what verse to use, Romans 5:3-5 is a good one.

 

 

Turning Your Journey into a Legacy

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Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Whether you are a stay at home mom who could use some encouragement or a working mom who feels like you need a break from the to-do list, Bible journaling is a spiritual practice that can renew you and remind you of how God sees you — even when your day-to-day routine might leave you feeling unseen or under-appreciated. Getting yourself into a good spiritual mindset will impact how you interact with your family.

A good process to get you started is to pray, read the scriptures, ask what the scriptures are communicating to you or showing you about God, and then create your Bible journaling page based on that. All of the washi tape and bling are fun, but you can do this with a regular art sketchbook and your child’s colored pencils if that’s easier on your budget. For me – the huge literature geek that I am – looking up the words of verses in their original Hebrew or Greek and then considering the original meaning of the verses is one of my favorite ways to gain insight as I journal.

Bible Journaling with Your Family

Bible journaling together as a family is a cool idea, but you will want to keep the age of your children in mind. A younger child (like my Pre-K son) will do better with a sketchbook than a Journaling Bible. After all, you will want to teach your child to honor the Word; a younger child might have trouble understanding why it’s okay to color in the margin but not on the words. I know some people feel okay about covering up the words in the Bible when they journal, but I am not one of those people (I still like to look at what they are creating, but I personally do not want to cover the verses). When adults color over the words, hopefully they are still taking the words to heart, while young children might not have the understanding that they are covering sacred words. Teaching your child verses and truths through Bible journaling is so commendable, but respect and reverence are important to communicate too. A great option is teaching your child to do tip-ins with paper and washi tape (you can find how to make a tip-in online pretty easily, but ask me about it if you have questions). The child can write and draw on the tip-in, and it will fold up to still reveal all of the words.

Middle school aged children do great with Bible journaling. I know this because I lead a small Bible journaling club for middle school students. This is the type of template that we use often. The students draw and watercolor, and then we glue the template into the margin (Or use it as a tip-in. Yes, I really like tip-ins). Since Bible journaling incorporates prayer, reading the Word, and thinking about the Word, it is a great opportunity to communicate your faith when you do this together. Yet, Bible journaling as a family has a different dynamic than using Bible journaling alone as a quiet time. The quiet, alone times are important too.

Thinking Long Term

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Just as family Bibles used to be passed down in families, think about your Journaling Bible as something that you can use to communicate spiritual heritage. It could be passed down in your family someday. Seeing Bible verses in your handwriting could be a beautiful moment for the next generation. I plan to dedicate a page to my spiritual heritage through my grandma soon; she was a devout woman who loved God with all her heart. Even if the art is not always perfect (or even if it’s pretty bad), it is a tangible connection to you and your spiritual journey. Remember to write down times that God answers your prayers or He teaches you something new.

Join Me on the Bible Journaling Journey

Please join me by following Bible Journaling Journey via email or WordPress Reader. I plan on doing a giveaway next month. I hope to see you here!

Challenge #3: Think about how you can create a legacy with your Bible journaling. Pray about how God can help you use it to communicate your faith or to put you in the right mindset to make a real impact wherever you are.