What happens next ?

It’s been a month since I ‘rested’ this blog. In that time I’ve been sharing some words in other places and wondering what the future holds for The Hope Diaries. I’ve decided that keeping those diaries for one year was just about perfect. It was quite a journey! The journey is continuing but in a different space with a new name, because sometimes the old needs to be left behind.

I have loved your company here. I would love to have you move on with me. I’m not sharing the name of the new blog here because for me it’s a definite transition, and it won’t be quite as this space was.

If you want to join me there please, please, please send an email to caiobhesblog@gmail.com and I will send you a link to the new site :)

I’ve been asked about what I plan to do with the content of The Hope Diaries. I’m not quite sure yet, but I do know that somehow God has used my honest telling of his work in my broken-ness to encourage and hold other women who are also finding marriage hard. I would love to make the content available in some way but I will let you know if and when that happens.  (If you have ideas as to whether or how I should do that then please let me know!)

For now – thanks for being with me. Keep holding on to Hope. Lean into God. Go well. IMG_4912

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Blogiversary and what happens now ?

Yesterday I’d decided to do some re-structuring on the blog, and the easiest way to do that was to shift it into private mode whilst I work on it. However today I realised that it is exactly one year since I began The Hope Diaries and that made me think about all the readers I’ve connected with over the past year. You have made this blog what it has become. I had to come back to say thank you for being here :) . I will be leaving this post up for a little while, along with guest posts, but I won’t be putting anything new here whilst I re-vamp things. I’m also,  in an effort to rationalise resources e.g. time, no longer on Twitter.  If you would like to continue to stay in touch and read more of my writings leave me a comment and I will contact you via email or find The Hope Diaries page on Facebook and there are details there about how you can receive more content.  Thank you.

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50 Days of Hope: Day 25 : Through the door – a guest post by Cara Strickland

Today I welcome Cara Strickland to The Hope Diaries. Recently Cara and I have found ourselves part of an online community but I was reading her words long before I connected with her personally. I was drawn to Cara’s writing because of her honesty and vulnerability and today’s post is no different. Thank you for writing here Cara.  “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15 (NASB)   I’m not always very sure how the Bible works. I know that somehow humanity and inspiration and mystery have woven together this Book and that it remains alive. I know that sometimes verses minister to me in ways that I cannot explain, even though they were written for a long-ago context and another purpose entirely.   The verses above are like that, for me.   There is something comforting about the book of Hosea when I lean into it. When Hosea goes after his unrepentant and promiscuous bride over and over again, I see a picture of a God who is bigger than the things I have done, or will do. I see unconditional love, so elusive in earthly relationships (even the one I have with myself).   Perhaps that is why I have returned to these verses over the years. They first jumped off the page for me when I was about twelve. I have returned to them often, mostly in times of stress or turmoil.   I have spent a lot of time in the wilderness, it seems. Sometimes, it was my own choice, a break from an abusive church situation or a fast from unhealthy relationships, other times, it felt like something which was imposed upon me, an illness, a move, or something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.   I’ve studies these verses (and the ones that finish out chapter 2) extensively over the years. One of the things that has continued to fascinate me is the translation of the valley of Achor. It means: “the valley of trouble.”   It’s confusing, right? The valley of trouble as a door of hope? It seems counterintuitive and counterproductive. It seems to fly in the face of reason (as the words of God so often seem to do). But then I think about my life. I think about the trouble I have seen. I wonder: were those valley of trouble doors of hope?   I used to be a very try-hard Christian. I wanted to get it right, to check the boxes and cover my bases. I made sure that I was doing my quiet time and felt resoundingly guilty when I didn’t make time for it in my day. I read the books about what to look for in a Christian girl, a possible wife, and I made my to-do list accordingly.   But trouble still came.   I’ve found myself in bad relationships with friends and lovers. I’ve wandered in the troughs of depression. I’ve been in the midst of hard circumstances beyond my control. I have been lonely. I have been alone.   But I have not been forgotten. In fact, hard as it is to admit, it is in these moments, often, that I have felt the arms of God most tangibly. It is in these days that I get through with tears and gritted teeth that I see the flourishes of grace most clearly. It is in the midst of weeks and days where I let go of my to-do list because it is too much to hold, where I feel the most caught and suspended.   I wish it weren’t so.   I wish that I saw the face of God when I felt joy that threatened to overwhelm my ribs. And I do, just not as clearly.   I don’t think that God sends calamity upon me to force me to look up. I don’t think that He delights in thinking up trouble. I think that the trouble in the valley acts like magnifying glasses. I think that trouble helps me see.   Only then can I walk through that hopeful door, even as the trouble swirls around me.

CaraStricklandAuthorCara is a writer, editor, and food critic living in Spokane, Washington who can often be found writing about food, singleness, Christian feminism, and the way faith intersects life. She writes about her community of faith, from the intricacies and liturgies of the church year, to her journey of hope and healing (with some baggage along for the ride). She blogs at Little Did She Know and you can find her on Twitter @littledidcknow

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50 Days of Hope: Day 18 – Unfailing Love – guest post Jamie Wright Bagley

I intend to welcome guests to post here each Saturday, and today I am delighted to introduce Jamie Wright Bagley to you. Her words have nourished me in the months that I have known her and I am sure you will find your soul fed through her writing.

 

I hear a lot of stories about hope. In fact, I often seek them out. Hope is a constant hunger; a pursuit of something we can’t yet see but choose to believe is possible. It is an act of courage and defiance against despair. Sometimes, though, even when we are purposing to live faithfully, it feels like God isn’t showing up in practical ways. How do we continue to cling to hope?

 

In the book of Psalms, the sons of Korah felt as though God had forgotten them even though they remained faithful.

“All this came upon us,

though we had not forgotten you;

we had not been false to your covenant.

Our hearts had not turned back;

our feet had not strayed from your path.

But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;

you covered us over with deep darkness.

If we had forgotten the name of our God

or spread out our hands to a foreign god,

would not God have discovered it,

since he knows the secrets of the heart?

Yet for your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Psalm 44:17-22 (NIV)

 

I will say, poets are all about getting creative with imagery, and the sons of Korah are no exception. How does it feel when things keep happening outside our control? Things that break our hearts and weigh us down? It feels like we are helpless as sheep, and like them, have to sit there and watch our ill fate unfold with no way to halt it. We sometimes even cry to the heavens, “make it stop!” That is what the Psalmists are doing here. But they don’t end with lament. While there is no resolution to this Psalm, there is a call for justice and holding God accountable to deliver them.

 

“Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?

Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

Why do you hide your face

and forget our misery and oppression?

We are brought down to the dust;

our bodies cling to the ground.

Rise up and help us;

rescue us because of your unfailing love.”

Psalm 44:23-26 (NIV)

 

There is a certain confidence in these words. A confidence borne in an undying hope that God will indeed extend a saving power, and they have the right to ask for it. They cite the unfailing love of God, because even in the midst of darkness, the love connection is still there. The very presence of the Lord was a comfort and hope, because no matter how difficult the circumstances, the love was real and it was felt in spite of the anguish and sense of helplessness. I get this so very well. The apostle Paul, too, felt this same connection.

 

In 2 Corinthians 1: 8-11 (NIV), St. Paul relates a very similar experience:

 

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” (Emphasis added.)

 

Did you catch that? We have “set our hope” on God. Hope is not passive. It is an active placing of our trust in the divine, and an active practice of remembering our deliverance in the past.

 

Think about this. What is one way God has come through for you in the past? Recall and give thanks for it, and rest in the reminder that the unchanging God who was with you before is with you still. But don’t stop there. Like the sons of Korah, bring your distress into your prayer, and ask God to remember, too, and rise up to deliver you again. Ask others to join with you in bringing your petition before God.

Set your hope on Unfailing Love.

jamie's picture

 

 

authorphoto112514Jamie Wright Bagley resides in Chicagoland where she spends her days wearing an assortment of hats, including writing, homeschooling, and being a special needs mom. She prioritizes family and simple living. She values quality time, and will never ever turn down a good cuppa [tea]. In stolen moments she writes her heart out at http://www.jamiewrightbagley.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter @BagsEnd04. 

 

 

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