Tag Archives: joy

The Letter

10 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

My mom put a letter in my hands as I left her house and said “read this when you get home.”  I asked her if it will make me cry, she smiled her sweet smile and said “yes”.

I have held the letter in my hands for long minutes, staring at it, unable to open it. Wanting to hang on to the mom I have always had, strong in mind and spirit. Not ready for what is coming. Not ready to read her words.

I am so grateful for the time I am blessed to spend with her and leaving her gets more difficult. As her body grows weaker with every passing week, her spirit grows stronger. She is more peaceful, happier.

This is what the hope of Heaven looks like. Peace. I am blessed to see it in my mother’s eyes.She is at peace with her journey and is now beginning to look forward to meeting her beloved bridegroom. I am encouraged by her inner strength.

As I set the letter back down, my heart streams down my face. I say a silent prayer for her and I decide maybe I will open it tomorrow. Not tonight.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4 

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Hope

2 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

God gave my friend and I this word last night. It was just one word. A powerful word.
I have realized that Hope is what drives everything; Everything!
We go on dates because we hope for this to be the one.
We flirt, we share, we open our hearts up because we hope for the relationship to be important, we hope for love.
We begin new jobs, plan families, plan vacations, all from hope.
We fight disease from hope.
We stay in jobs because of hope.
We invest energy, resources and time in the hopes of outcomes.
We go on diets, and begin exercising with a hope of achieving a goal.
We look forward to an event, hoping for a fun time.
We pray from hope, and sometimes we pray for hope.
Today, we pray for a hurricane to move away, we hope for safety, for lives to be spared, for change.

Hope is hugely important and drives just about all we do or desire.
The Hebrew root words to describe Hope all stem around the word trust: To trust, or worthy of trust.  To put our trust in God is to put our Hope in Him.

The entire bible is about Hope. Jesus himself was about Hope. One of my favorite scriptures is the epitome of that Hope. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is a hope that comes from knowing that at the end of our time here, at the end of this amazing and turbulent world, we will no longer suffer and there will be joy everlasting. What a hope this is.

There is a hope that comes from trusting that even when we can’t see an outcome, with things out of our control, God is still in charge, still working all things out for our good. There is a hope that when we look back on our lives, we can see that we always came out of hardship. All the pieces made us who we are, gave us our purpose.

When you don’t have that hope, when you are trying to do this all on your own, when you have lost the ability to see hope, find hope, we become desolate and alone. We crumble. Sometimes hope is all that is left when the suffering is great. It can be just a thread, but it is life itself. Without that thread of hope, we have nothing.

Hopelessness is a rampant disease these days. People suffering and taking their lives, because they have lost hope. Our world isn’t becoming more evil, our world is losing hope.

In all that I have gone through, in all I have done, I can only give God that credit. It is because I learned from hopelessness, that He is my hope. And all my hope comes from the Lord. I have learned to trust in His sovereignty. I am grateful to not have to shoulder everything myself and I know this world will have it’s share of suffering and sorrows, but my strength and joy comes from the hope for heaven. For eternity.  I can lean on that when all else falls apart. This life is a vapor and it without the Hope of more, it loses all meaning.
Literally no one will know most of us even lived here 2 generations from now. We are not so important to be remembered like that.
However, we are so important to those people we love and those we encounter. We are also important to God.
We can be the ones that light the fire of hope in this suffering world. One smile at a time. We can be the hope that says to one person or many, every day, “I see you, you matter”. “There is still good here”. “You are loved, even if I don’t know you, I know God and He loves you beyond measure”.

Hope. We talk about being accepting, being love, but what we really need to be is hope spreaders.  We need to share what Hope looks like, feels like, and how we found it, how we find it every day.

That is our calling here. That is our legacy for the future generations. That is our light in the dark.

“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. “- Romans 15:13

Through The Tears

16 Jul

By Beckie Halaska

The thunder rolls, the rain pours down as I sit in complete still and silence.
I am in awe of our awesome God. His power. His love.

I bring my grief and sorrow to Him and just lay it wide open for Him.

I feel a sense of His presence.  When I can just be still, I become so aware of Him around me. My heart is so full. So overwhelmed.

This is a practice of being aware of Him. Seeking Him.
When I stop being me focused, silence the crazy world and be still, alert, aware of Him, He shows off for me in big ways.

How can I not worship this knowing, protective, worthy, infinite, unchangeable God?

I will never be strong enough.
I will never be loving enough.
I will never be whole enough.
I will never be beautiful enough.
I will never be worthy of His beautiful Grace.

It pours over my heart, my spirit as I soak in His greatness.
It is a free gift He showers on me. Over me
His peace is beyond all understanding.
It is well. Deep within my soul, my heart, it is well.

My beautiful Mom knows this God, this rescuer and lover of our souls as much as I do.
It is all well with her soul. This brings me so much comfort.

She may be preparing her goodbye’s to this world , but her joy has only begun.
As the storm gives way to blue skies, I am so blessed by His love and comfort.

As the tears fall, the sorrow leaves.
Because of Him.

Joy overwhelms me, peace that makes no sense in these circumstances, transcends through my whole spirit.

And I sit in gratitude. Such a good, good Father.

Amen.

When Evil Seems to Win

30 May

There is an ever present evil in the world. We can see it every single time we open social media or turn on the news. None of us will be spared evil in some fashion.

When your life has been touched by evil, one of the biggest challenges will be to not become embittered in the battle, especially if it seems to not touch the one that caused the harm.

We want things to be fair, and when there isn’t justice, we can lose sight on what actually is true. Evil may seem like it is winning but the truth is, there is no “win” in evil, only destruction.  Evil also loves to seduce in numbers.

Maybe that is the real goal of evil, to make us really question if there is any goodness left, to stop believing in the goodness of the world. Obviously we know the goal of evil is also for us to ultimately question our faith and hope.

Guarding our hearts against bitterness is very important during this battle. Bitterness can choke out the light in us, God in us. It is a daily battle; A war for our souls.

When we filter our thoughts on what has been done, no matter what has been done, we begin the battle of unforgiveness. When we begin to want justice, we begin our battle against bitterness. The battle will be fought in many ways, but at the end of the day, the real battle with be within your own mind, your own heart.

Trials will absolutely always come. Evil will be at times, be very strong against us. It is a spiritual war and a battle for our soul. Evil will come in many forms to wear us down. There will be attacks. There will be slander. There will be times you are or feel all alone in the battle. You will feel overwhelmed, defeated at times and you will want to give up the fight.

That is exactly when we must stay focused and steadfast in our faith. Practicing even what we can’t feel. Trusting in God’s plan for our lives even when it seems so unfair or worse, impossible. Reading His promises even when we can’t seem to believe it fully. He tells us that His word never falls void. Keep reading it.

Evil utilizes comparison, isolation, judgement and fear. The word of God, prayer and steadfast commitment to Him is the anecdote.

God will always triumph. This is His story. Evil doesn’t win. We may not appear to win in this world, but we are not to conform to this world, we are to remain in Him.

Our journey is not really about our success, how we fit in, or what anyone else does, thinks or says about us.  Our journey is to become Holy.

There is only one absolute truth, we are in a vertical relationship with Christ, He and us alone. There will not be anyone else with you when you take your knee at the throne.

When evil mocks you, pray.  Tell Him your wish for justice, He understands. He believes in justice as well. He is also merciful and gave you grace.

Praying not only for your faith to remain steady and confident, but importantly, pray for anyone being used by evil. That is the greatest weapon we have against bitterness.

Grace.

“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.” John 16:33

 

Suffer with Hope

20 Apr

I don’t know why we think life shouldn’t be hard?  Where did we ever get this idea from?We all (ALL) have this idea that life should be easy.  I had to work this out myself, this legalistic idea that I somehow had become “good enough” to deserve less suffering.

My non-believing friends speak about  controlling the things that happen by “what we put in the universe”

What if I told you that it was never intended to be easy or without sorrow. Jesus, the “Son Of God” himself drank from the same cup of sorrow we suffer, on our behalf.

He suffered rejection and betrayal, especially at the end of His life. He sat at a table, washed the feet of those that would abandon Him and betray Him.  The disciples fled and left him, Peter denied knowing Him; Judas sold him out!

I saw this photo and it really brings home the fullness of suffering.

Mary, who bore our King in the most difficult of ways, also had to watch Him be beaten, dragged, mocked, spit on, nails driven in his feet and hands so he could hang on the tree until he died. His side was stabbed.

This mother, aside from being the Chosen King, loved her child,her first born son!She loved him beyond measure. How her heart must have suffered! She must have begged and had her own prayers not mentioned in the bible.
Our Lord, how He suffered! Imagine the pain and the fear! His prayers in the garden, his frantic beseeching of  his friends, his disciples to stay awake while he prayed.  He was alone, afraid, he was human in that moment.

Yet, His words “Thy Will Be Done” is the overall theme of trusting in God, trust that has so much Hope behind it.

Life is hard! This world though it has life, love, joy, and health, it also has death, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, fear, unkindness, evil.  Our poor kids don’t get to see the posts on social media about all the good there is. There is an epidemic of hopelessness.

Jesus understood us.  He knows your thoughts even before you speak them and he completely understands, completely relates to you, because he walked through this world, just like us.  He is full of acceptance, love, encouragement and understanding.

If you really get to know Him and His life, you can see how he worked out his obedience through all the suffering he witnessed to and all that he endured. He modeled it all for us.
It isn’t about how you react, it’s how you walk out a trial. We work through things. It’s not that we don’t suffer at all. We will and we do.

We stumble, we fumble, we fear, we cry…BUT peace, hope and joy can co-exist within those same feelings, when we just come to Him with it all, with every bit of it. We are set free and placed back on the path. Our circumstances may not be changed, but our peace returns, even while our trial still rages.

Mary loved her son. She was chosen by God. She suffered terribly, I can’t even imagine her mama’s heart!  But Hope.

This world doesn’t need more politics, more laws, more leaders, more religion. This world needs more hope. Hope is what I see so lost in this world.

Placing our hopes on success or people, or politicians or husbands, or friends… we will never be at peace. Placing our hopes in the finished work of Christ, the hope of all hopes, our perfect salvation, the one we don’t have to work out for ourselves, gives us renewed vigor to get through everything.

There is a divine Hope, an unsinking, unshaking, unrelenting hope I have found in my Savior. It is there even when everything falls apart. I celebrate this with so much gratitude every day., even more on Easter.

Even in the hard times, even when I sorrow, fear, or have anger. He is always near.  I am unreliable to Him, but He never leaves me, nor forsakes me. He is who he says he is, no matter what we do or say.

This beautiful Easter season, find Him. Seek Him.  He died for everyone, even those that will never acknowledge Him. He is waiting, never giving up, always pursuing you.

1 Peter 1:19-20 – “He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, He was sent to the earth for all to see. And He did this for you.”

Choosing Joy

1 Jan

As we look forward to what comes next, we have to also know that what comes next isn’t always what we wish for, desire, or plan for.

I personally have family that is facing end of life. T is the bravest, strongest person I know. She is so inspiring to so many.  I have a close friend doing everything her little body can to rid her body of cancer. She is so strong and brave as well. Determined. These are not the things we plan for or wish for but they are as much a part of our life as the good.

Having had to face my own misunderstanding that life is always supposed to feel good; It isn’t and it doesn’t. The truth is, living gets really hard at times and sometimes we suffer deeply. Sometimes people do unkind things, sometimes people get sick, sometimes we are left out, sometimes relationships are really hard. … but God, but love.

Through all of the ups and downs, there is love. At the core of everything, love is there and love is truly all there really is. Some people may not treat us well or be kind to us and some may never love us, but there are those that do.  Hold on to those people.

Some people may be cruel, selfish, mean spirited. We may not want to love some people but do it, do just that! When we come from a place of love, regardless of other’s, we grow in peace and joy. We steady our hearts and minds. It isn’t determined by them, it is your heart that chooses to love no matter what.

Let go of control. We may make plans and we may think we drive this life, but at the end of the day, we really can’t control anything, and especially any one. We can only choose for ourselves how we react and respond to what we will never control.

As a woman seeking and thirsting for the truest lover of my soul, what I have learned most is this… God remains the same through all of it. When I stop comparing how I think it should be, or what I planned, to the way it really is, I can climb into the peace of knowing that through it all, He has it all worked out for my good. When we surrender to His omnipotent plans and power, then suffering last’s only a little while.

At the end of the day, we only have this very minute, to choose what we think on. To choose what we focus on. To choose if we cherish or complain.  We can choose to let go of our peace over things we can’t control, or we can gain peace by embracing what is good and steady in the face of turbulence.  We can love through the worst of times… because one day we will wish we had done more of that. I promise you that.

2019 will have it’s own wonder and it’s own trials… but today, I am centered on His Sovereignty.  Peace settles so well on my heart, knowing that through it all, He is there, working it all out for my good and for His glory.

Today… my cup overflows. This moment I choose joy.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 

choose this day whom you will serve Joshua 24:14-15

Re-Solution

30 Dec

Every year at this time, we talk about resolutions and goals.

In truth, 2018 was the year for me to heal. 2017 had so much loss, so much sorrow, so much crazy. I needed a year of peace and God was gracious. Though there were moments, some my own doing (and in some cases, my own undoing), some were completely out of left field but God in His amazing Love, truly walked me through quickly. He nourished me, refreshed me, tested me, and strengthened me. He made me suffer through my emotions and expectations to seek truth and to find Him, who He really is, not the God I had in my head.   I had to come to terms with what faith really meant to me, from the depths of hurt and disappointments and find what trust in God really meant.  What exactly are His promises and how do they apply to me.

At the end of this year, I can look back and see how much I have changed, how I have grown.  I can see the blessings.  Yes, I was able to do some really great things, a trip to Greece, trips to the kids, a trip to Minnesota.  I have been blessed with amazing friendships, a job I absolutely love, having a social calendar again.  But the greatest blessing is finding the truth that none of this matter’s without my full surrender to Him.

I have found the rest, joy and peace of knowing that God is sovereign.  My life will always have really difficult times. My life will have amazing gifts.   It is a constant receiving and letting go. The only true constant is God. He never changes; Never.

He tells us in His word -1 John 2:15- “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”
Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount to build our foundation of our acknowledgement of just this truth. He is sovereign. Our faith is a vertical relationship that is not distracted by the things that other people have, say, do or what we lose or gain. (Matthew 5-7) It is solid in the trust that as long as we stay focused on Him, we are okay.  He is able to work on us, through us, and for us.

I have discovered all of my barriers to really surrendering to His Sovereignty. My lack of faith in areas that I think I can do better I suppose. I hold tight to my idea of what this world should look like, fairness, goodness. I had this idea of what happiness was, especially if you are doing it “right” such as marriage, love, family, constant peace, no issues, no loss. I have grown weary trying to make it better. I have found the very last stitch of control I thought I had.
The truth says, stop looking to this world to give you anything you need. This world is flesh, this world is false.  It doesn’t last. Nothing lasts forever.

But God.

The truest lover of your soul is calling you, wooing you, pursuing you to love Him. It is the LAW.
Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. This doesn’t mean fit in, like run a 10k or drive a fancy car or be invited to the finest events. This means to love yourself enough to lose yourself completely, regardless of your circumstances.  He doesn’t just ask us to obediently surrender to Him every need for food and shelter; He asks for so much more. He wants all of it. .  He longs for every desire. Surrender every longing for popularity, fitting in, being loved, being accepted, success, things, beauty, adventure and of perfect joy.

From His perfectly designed place of surrender, knowing who God is, and who you are and are not, who can offend you? Who can speak against you, who can hurt you, what can shake you to your core?  Oh please let these trials shake off the lies and expose to you, God’s nature.

Why on earth do we think we should suffer less in this world than the one that sent His own Son, His Son that suffered so greatly , just for us?   If we get stuck in the place of trying to play God, trying to make it make sense, we become bitter or we lose our faith.

Our resolutions should be made, intentionally, to draw near to God. Our goal should be to shake of this world and the distractions and just Love God and Love People. Learn to draw near to Him at all times and in all circumstances. Grow in your trust that this is all for His glory and His purposes. These are healthy resolutions. These are the plans that do not direct our steps but give God the reigns to speak into our lives and direct our steps.

Surrendered.

James 4: 4-8 NLT

You adulterers!Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.