Category Archives: Hope

A Summer’s Rain by Lydia Floren

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[Note: I wrote this in the summer (obviously). It is the intro to a book I am writing called “Beloved Adventure.”  Hope you like it…]

It is raining outside. I am safe and dry, in our tree-house-like back porch, and it is raining. The water taps against the leaves, gurgles from the downspout.  The moist breeze brushes coolness on my face, and tickles my nose.  It rains, and I remember.

My first panic attack happened the day before I started my residency. I had struggled the first 2 years of med school, wrestling with a massive amount of material, never feeling like I mastered it very well. It finally started to make sense my last two years, and on the eve of beginning my residency, I was ready for a fresh start.  I desperately wanted to make a good impression with my new colleagues.

On that eve before my first day as a “real doctor,” I was alone, sitting on the hand-me-down couch of my new apartment.  It had started to rain, gently at first, and then with massive sheets pounding the pavement. I was fretting. Despite my prayers, my anxious thoughts multiplied. My skin broke out in a cold sweat. My heart raced. The room seemed to close in.  I felt like I was suffocating.

In my panic, I jumped up, threw open the front door, and flung myself out into the storm. And stopped. I just stood there for I don’t know how long, soaked to the skin, water dripping down my face and limbs and puddling in my shoes. At some point I remember raising my hands to the sky and declaring  “God, if You can do this – if You can make rain appear from the sky and water the earth – you can take care of me in this residency.”

As I stood there with my hands raised, God responded. He didn’t speak audibly, unless you count the drumbeat of the rain. Yet, He answered me clearly, as He settled His peace deep into my spirit, and  gently washed my fears away.

Today, many years later, I am safe and dry on my back porch.  And I am enjoying the sights and sounds of a summer shower watering the lush Wisconsin greenery.  At moments like this, when I am quiet enough to notice the rain, I smile to myself.  On that night long ago God met me at my point of need, and He has done so many times since.  Each time I reach out to Him He meets me, and answers by raining His love and mercy down on me.

In Psalm 37:25, David said “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet, I have never seen the Godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.”  NLT

Like David, I’m older now. I have practiced medicine, married, raised a family. I’ve pulled up roots and put down new ones. I have experienced joy and pain – and yes, a few more panic attacks.

God has never left me. He has filled in the cracks of all my imperfections with His unfailing love. And I know from years of experience, that each time I step into His presence, God gently washes my fears away.

The Lord is my Shepherd

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the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want

The Lord is my Shepherd

by Lydia Floren

This week’s blog is the first in of a series of pictoral blogs on Psalm 23. Take a moment to think about this phrase this week.  What does it mean for THE lord to be your shepherd?  What pictures or scenes make you think of the phrase “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”?  

Snap a picture, or jot a few words down, and share it with the rest of us.  It’s easy–simply post it on the Belovedlove Facebook page. (with photos, if you have time include a few words about your photo, such as why you chose it, or where you took it.)

Everyone’s eye is so different, and God speaks to each of us in special ways!  Thank you for sharing part of your world with the rest of us!

Lydia

I thank God in all my remembrance of you!

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Focus

7:30:16 Focusby Lydia Floren

“O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?”

These are the first lines of a great old hymn. Even though Helen Lemmel wrote these questions decades ago, they are relevant today, aren’t they?  Here’s what she says next:

“There’s a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

We all feel overwhelmed at times. Lemmel simply reminds us, when we get discouraged, to take some time to focus on something—Someone—else.  As we shift our attention to Jesus, our troubles don’t disappear. They just settle into a different perspective.

Turn your eyes away from your troubles, and look at Jesus.

Listen, as He says:

I love you in the mess of your life, and day by day I’m redeeming it and setting it right. It is beautiful now, and it is becoming more beautiful. You don’t have to fix anything. You just have to rest, and follow and let me work.

Live in the present, aware of God’s loving presence. The past is redeemed. The future is secure. The present is really all you have at any given time.

Perfect love drives out fear.”  1 John 4:18

The Father’s Love Letter

The Father’s Love Letterthe father's love letterI am sharing something different today.  It is a powerful and personal message of God’s love called The Father’s Love Letter written by Barry Adams.  The Father’s Love Letter started outas a simple sermon illustration, but has reached many lives in the past 15 years.  It  has been translated into over 100 languages.  (Check out their website  FathersLoveLetter.com to learn more.)

Hope this blesses you as much as it continues to bless me!

-Lydia Floren

The Father’s Love Letter

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32


Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Father’s Love Letter used by permission
Father Heart Communications ©1999 FathersLoveLetter.com

Share with Us:  How have you experienced God’s love recently?

Belonging

belonging-1Belonging

by Lydia Floren

A few years ago–well, maybe more than a few–“Cheers” was a popular TV show, and launched some major acting careers. (Woody Harrelson, Ted Danson, Kirsti Allen). The show revolved around a group of people who became friends by hanging out at a bar together.

The theme song of Cheers goes like this:

“Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name,                                                         And they’re always glad you came;                                                                                                        You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same;                                                You want to be where everybody knows your name.”

Don’t we all want a place where “everybody knows our name, and they’re always glad you came?”  Sure we do. We want to feel welcome, a part of things. We want to have that intimate group that knows and loves us, and is always glad to see us.

A sense of belonging is not just something we want–it’s something we need. God made us relational creatures: we are all hardwired with the drive to belong.

But there are times in life when we don’t feel like we belong. We may have just moved to a new town, and haven’t yet made friends. We may feel a little wobbly in a new job, or are finding our way in a new community. We may be isolated by illness, or language, or culture. We may feel “unsafe” or misunderstood.

But no matter how we feel, we can be certain of this: if God has put us somewhere, that is where we belong. And whatever situation we face, God will provide for all of our needs, including our need to feel a part of things.

Sure, there are times when no human arms welcome us, no voices call out our name in joyful greeting. But God provides in His own unique way. He sends a beautiful sunrise, or a birdsong, a dog’s wagging tail. He refreshes us with a warm breeze, a new insight, a fond memory. He encourages us with a message from an old friend or an invitation from someone new. And most of all, He welcomes us with His tender spirit, constantly calling out our name in love.

Because we know we belong to Him, and belong where He has placed us, we can step into each day confident that our loving Father is with us – within us – providing for our needs before we even ask Him.

And we can be certain that, when it comes time to step into our forever home, the one He is preparing for us right now, a crowd of folks will be waiting for us.

And everyone – everyone – will know our name.

I have called you by name; you are Mine! Isaiah 43:1

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matt. 6:8

What unique ways has God met your need for belonging?

Encountering God Our Father

Encountering God our Father

by Lydia Floren

When we step into God’s heavenly throne room for the first time, I imagine we will be juuuust a little bit intimidated. God’s “glory”—His powerful presence, His bright beauty—will surely take our breath away.

But here’s what I see happening next:

God glances down the great hall, and spies us near the door. His eyes light up, and a big grin spreads across His face. He steps down from the dais and strides toward us, arms open wide.

We, His children, we know that smile. We know those arms. We break into a run and race down that gilded throne room until we reach our Abba. He scoops us up, swings us around, smothers us in a big hug, and then carries us back up to His seat. Settled on His lap, we chatter away. He listens intently, His warm eyes never wavering, His strong arms encircling us. Once our words are spent, and any tears dried, He murmurs a few words in our ear–words of wisdom and encouragement, kindness and grace. He gives us a squeeze; we smile and nod. Then He puts us down, and sends us on our way.

God wants–and invites–this kind of encounter with us now. Every day. Isn’t this what WE also want?

Each morning, choose to enter your Father’s presence, confident of His warm welcome! Soak in His love and wisdom. Stay in His arms long enough to be restored and refreshed. And then joyfully walk along the path He has shown you.

Be loved. And then love.
Soak in God’s love and shine!

You encircle me from back to front, placing your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5 NSV

Baby 7:2:15

Related Posts: Savoring A Taste of Heaven. Joy Lives In Contentment.

Recent Post:  All I Have Needed Thy Hand Hath Provided

No Shadow of Turning

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by Lydia Floren

It is so easy to doubt God in a crisis.

Is God really going to provide?

Is He really going to take care of my current situation?  Or is it all up to me? 

In his song “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” Thomas Chisholm answers these questions with a remarkable image:

Great is your faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee. 

What is a “shadow of turning?” When you are walking in the sunshine, you have a shadow.  Every little motion you make is reflected by your shadow.  Any time you turn a little to the right or left, your shadow also turns.  And if, as you are going along, you notice that your shadow has changed, you can be sure that your direction has also shifted.

When Thomas Chisholm says “there is no shadow of turning with Thee” he is pointing out God’s consistency.  God is steadily walking toward the light, toward Truth, and He invites us to follow.  As we do, we are, naturally, in His shadow.  If God were to get off course—to turn to the right or left—we would no longer be directly in His shadow.  The shadow would have turned.

In whatever crisis we face, we can count on God.  He will lead.  He will provide.  He will see us through.  100% of the time.  There is no shift—not even a slight one– in God’s faithfulness to us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   James 1:17 NIV

ThomasChisholm

Related Posts: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Recent Series: NOMB Part I, NOMB Part II, NOMB Part III

 

 

 

Sharing a sunset. Enjoying the presence of God.

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by Lydia Floren

“Solitude is not withdrawal in order to get away.  It is withdrawal in order to be with Someone who normally gets crowded out of our lives…. it is the place of love and trust.  It therefore puts presence before action and seeks companionship before help.”   (Charles Rigma)

So many times when I am alone with God,  I have an agenda.  I might want perspective, or wisdom, or direction, or healing of some sort.  But I think much of that time with HIm  would be better spent not seeking anything, except to just hang out with Him.  No agenda. No words, really. Just two friends relishing a companionable silence—aware of each other, but not expecting from each other.  We have an understanding: I enjoy His presence, and He enjoys mine.  

I liken it to sitting with a close friend at the beach watching a sunset.   Though no words are exchanged, the  connectedness is almost palpable.  And the silence between us seems to magnify the beauty surrounding us.

In Heaven, I expect God and I will share many such quiet moments, enjoying the sweep of a mountain vista, the trill of a child’s laugh. Or the velvet touch of a horse’s nuzzle, or the fragrance of a rose in bloom.  But those experiences will pale compared to the stunning beauty of God Himself. His integrity. His wisdom. His vitality. His strength. His gentleness.

heaven is a ways off, thought, and there is much yet to do in this life. People to help.  Commitments to keep.  Plans to make, and then to follow.

There is a journey.  And I am on it. 

However, I must remember: part of that journey includes tasting a bit of heaven from time to time.  It is dangling my legs over a seawall with a Good Friend, watching the horizon together in companionable silence.  It is enjoying My Creator’s presence, not for what I can learn from Him, or for what He can do for me—but simply because He is there, and I love Him, and He loves me. 

And because it is just nice to share a sunset together.

Share with us: How do you find the time to enjoy God’s company?

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Recent posts – Time Management Series: Taking Aim: Goal Series – Part IBeginning With The End In Mind: Goal Series – Part II, The Right Things For The Right Reasons: Goal Series – Part III

The Blessings of Giving Thanks

blessings of giving thanks titleby Lydia Floren

What one habit has most transformed your life?  For me the answer would be                           the practice of thanks-giving..  Here are a few of the blessings of giving thanks that I have experienced:

Attitude. I see even a little blessing in life as a bonus, not a right, when I appreciate that my life—and everything in it—is a gift from God.

Contentment.  I am free to enjoy each day–even if things are difficult–when I give thanks that God is working all things to good.

Trust.  It is easier to trust God’s direction, especially when the future seems uncertain, as I give thanks for God’s love and goodness.

Fearless following. I can boldly follow God’s lead–the best i know it–as I give thanks for God’s commitment to safely guide me. I know that He will make any mid-course corrections if I misunderstand or just wander away for awhile.

Self-concept. I am at peace with who I am when I give thanks for my life–the unique blend of attributes that makes me “me”.   It settles me.  I have nothing to prove. I am valuable, and valued by the most amazing being in the universe, the person that made me.

Encouragement.  I am en-couraged—given courage to be myself, when I appreciate my identity and value.   And I can then en-courage others.

Hope.  I have hope to see beyond a hardship when I am giving thanks in the middle of it.  I can also more readily see benefits of those challenging situations.

Perspective.  Giving thanks for eternity reframes my perspective, and reminds me  what is really important.

Focus. Giving thanks for others takes my focus off myself.

Tolerance.  When I give thanks for the unique gifts of others, I more inclined to celebrate differences, instead of being annoyed by them.  I can appreciate that each person’s individuality makes life rich, just like one spice combined with another creates a wonderful flavor.

Freedom.  Giving thanks for Christ’s sacrifice allows me to leave the past behind, and to quit beating myself for being “imperfect.”  God completes me. In Him I am perfect.

Calling.  There is nothing like the deep soul-satisfying joy of God working through me to love another person in my own unique way.  Giving thanks to God for calling me to be loved, and then to love–Him, myself, and those I encounter–brings me joy.

Presence of God.  Giving thanks in all things brings me into the very presence of God.

The practice of giving thanks in all things has changed–and continues to change–my life.

How has giving thanks blessed you?  We’d love to hear from you!