Finding Hope Within Disappointment

The holidays have come and gone. I didn’t get the white Christmas I was dreaming of.

Unseasonably warm, it rained most of the day. Ironing my mother’s tablecloth reminded me of holidays gone by; highlighting the fact she is no longer with us.

As the morning wore on, I received texts from my three daughters each stating that someone in their family was struggling with a health issue. It seemed we would prepare our Christmas feast, only to make deliveries to our children instead of enjoying their presence at our table. Certainly not the “merry and bright” experience I had hoped for.

Memories are made every holiday season. Some I cherish, others I’d just as soon forget.

Like most, I started the season with great plans and good intentions. Then an ice storm canceled the annual cookie baking day with my daughters. I was sick and had to make two visits to urgent care.

The Christmas cards I planned to send early? They’re still in the box, ready for next year; I hope. My budget wasn’t quite enough to meet my expectations and disappointment threatened to hijack my holiday spirit.

Trying to create the perfect experience often leaves me short on hope and long on disappointment.  By Webster’s definition, to disappoint means to “Fail to meet the expectation or the hope of something.”

Unfulfilled hopes and unmet expectations often do me in, wasting energy in what should have been, instead of seeing the new potential in what could be given new circumstances.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. This year I decided to enjoy whatever came my way.

My father used to say, “Nothing is as good or as bad as it first seems.”

Trying to apply his wisdom to my holiday plans helped turn the disappointments into new appointments for memory making and holiday fun. Trying to see things from God’s perspective instead of my own, helped create hope for something better than my original plans.

The ice storm prevented my daughters from gathering together but my grandson was iced in with me. We enjoyed baking and decorating Christmas bears; not the beautifully decorated cut out cookies I’d hoped for but fun none-the-less. While we didn’t end up with 10 different kinds of cookies to share, we did make extra shapes to send home with him for his siblings to decorate.

My month long illness racked up unplanned medical bills. My disappointment in my budget turned into a divine appointment. I was humbled and surprisingly humiliated when I unexpectedly received a check in the mail to cover the cost.

Trusting God’s plan and provision came with a lesson for me on pride. Once dealt with, I was grateful beyond expression. A burden lifted created space for unexpected joy.

When the texts from my daughters came in I began to ask the Lord if there was someone we could encourage by including them at our table; a lonely shut in perhaps? Or maybe God would have us make other deliveries, not just to our family.

However, within the hour, more texts came to inform us that each family would be able to make it after all. Wishing I would have thought of opportunities to bless others before we were faced with an empty table, I tucked the idea into next year’s holiday plans.

Another year is on the horizon. Disappointments can cloud our vision for the future, or we can turn to God and find fresh hope.

The Bible speaks of a time when God’s people were taken captive.  The prophet Jeremiah lamented their troubles, disappointments, and unmet expectations. Then, he as he recalled the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy, he was infused with hope.

Alexander Pope, an English poet said “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

At first glance if seems like good advice; a way to protect ourselves from the harsh realities of life. Yet as we learn to trust God with unexpected and unwanted circumstances, like Jeremiah, we are infused with hope.

Remembering the Creator of the universe as the lover of my soul gives me fresh hope for a future filled with good things. God takes my disappointments and turns them into divine appointments with him.

©2017 Cindy Richardson – for GateWay of Hope

Cindy Richardson seeks to encourage, challenge and inspire women in their journey of hope through Bible studies, speaking and writing. Cindy weaves God’s truth and shares her faith with kindergartners at St. Joseph Christian School.

Residing in St. Joseph, Missouri with her husband, Tom, she enjoys the friendship of her three grown daughters and loves being Nana to six grandchildren.

For more inspiration, visit cindyrichardson.org.

How to Find Our Lost Creativity

What happens to women when they lose their creativity? How can they find it again?colored pencils

A recent sermon by my pastor focused on the fact that we were created to create. The Bible reminds us that we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Since God is the Creator – to operate in his image – we create.

But when trauma or the circumstances of life or just plain busy-ness overwhelm us, we lose the energy to create.

And sometimes, we don’t even realize this is happening to us. We may feel a nudge to paint a landscape, to sew a pillow, to write a story, to bake a pie – but we talk ourselves out of it.

“I’m too busy. I really should do that other project or clean the house or something. I don’t have time to play.”

We squelch the Holy Spirit by refusing to create.

Being creative matters to God and in many ways, mankind has accepted the challenge.

We figured out how to add milk and flour to yeast and formed a loaf of bread.

We learned how to use physics, geometry and speed to invent cars, trains and planes.

We captured light and put it into a bulb.

We wove the same 26 letters of the alphabet into stories that became articles, newspapers and books.

We opened our mouths and found our voices, then learned how to work our diaphragm and sing.

But then – we women – sometimes closed down all that creativity and the opportunity to make something better of what we were given.

We believed lies told to us. We “shoulded” ourselves or “what-iffed” ourselves so that guilt and fear overrode the desire to create.

It’s time to take that gift back. It’s our calling to create, to make something beautiful out of what we’ve been given.

Creation matters to God, and we matter to God. Joining ourselves to his work results in eternal blessings and gives us joy in our todays.

So … the next time you feel that nudge – do it. Create something. Play.

And then let us know about it at GateWay of Hope. We are praying for your healing.

©2015 GateWay of Hope

Cup of Tea

cup of teaThe cup of hot tea sparked flavor sensors on the tongue in ways never before imagined. Hits of vanilla and honey wrapped in an earthy floral-like essence. What a disappointment to discover this tea was too costly to justify regular consumption!

1 Corinthians 13 reminds us about the amazing “flavor” of love. When steeped well and consumed at the right temperature, love flavors our lives with more abundance than we ever imagined.

However, this kind of love is costly to give and receive. It requires something from us, and often just the thought of the requirement keeps us from expressing it.

True love is worth the risk, because it is an expression that does not begin or end with us. Love originates with our Creator as a complete expression of who He is. He invites us to experience this costly essense for ourselves with lavish abundance and to get so filled up with it that it naturally flows to others.

Love is not a commodity; however, the only way for this costly essence to be distributed is through sharing. The cost is determined by the effort.

Let us share God’s love with you at GateWay.