Waiting With Joyful Hope

Romans 15:13 I think I want this as a tattoo | Bible quotes, Word of god,  Words

I wrote the following devotion for my church’s 2021 Easter devotional book titled, “Waiting With Joyful Hope.” As I read the pages of this year’s devotional, I was inspired by the stories of hope and tremendous faith expressed by the authors. After reading my devotional below, about a vivid childhood memory, may your heart be filled with hope and joy knowing that God the Father is here to rescue His children.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Rescued By Hope

It was the summer before I started fifth grade and my family was traveling home to Illinois after visiting relatives in Maryland. After countless miles in the van, navigating through mountains and rolling hills, we knew we were close to home when we saw flat land. Then, only forty miles from home, our mini van began to smoke. The oil light came on and we found ourselves stranded on the side of the road. The sun was setting and there was nothing but corn fields for miles. No gas station, home, or business was in sight! There were no cell phones back then, so calling AAA for help was out of the question! We felt hopeless, isolated, and alone.

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever been in such a dire situation that you felt as if all hope was gone? As darkness enclosed upon us, my mom began to pray. Although we were tired, scared, and longing for home, we had hope that God would protect us and provide for us. We trusted in Him. Has God rescued you just when you were about to lose all hope? Has God given you exactly what you needed at just the right time?

The minutes felt like hours and my dad decided he would begin the long walk to the nearest town. Just as he began to leave, a car stopped and a young woman stepped out. She was traveling alone and said she had no intention of stopping and even passed us by, but “something” told her to stop, so she turned around and came back to help. My dad told her that the oil light had come on. This good Samaritan happened to have purchased oil earlier that day and still had the oil cans in her trunk! She helped us fill our van with 2 cans of oil and our van started right up.

God had His hand in our rescue that night by placing the young woman in our path who had a trunk full of oil, which was exactly what we needed! And the power of the Holy Spirit was working in the woman who rescued us by calling her to turn around and help strangers stranded on the side of the road.

Isn’t it comforting to know that God is with us throughout our journey through life? I have hope knowing that God is beside me and that He travels with each and every one of us. When the road in front of us is smooth and clear, God is there. He continues to be our compass when we travel through bumpy patches or become lost during our travels. God isn’t an annoying backseat driver because He loves us even when we make a wrong turn, run a red light or arrive late to our destination. We should rejoice with thanksgiving knowing that He is guiding us through every twist and turn; protecting us, rescuing us and providing joyful hope.

Dear Almighty God, Help me to always trust in you. When I feel there is no hope give me strength. Lead me to find hope in You. Fill me with the peace and understanding that by trusting in You I will never be abandoned. For You will always give me exactly what I need. Amen

Advent By Candlelight

The Christmas season can be stressful for a variety of reasons. For some it’s an overwhelming “to do list” that appears to have no end. Or it may be the pressure of feeling financially strapped and unable to give your family the Christmas of their dreams. You may be experiencing emptiness thinking about loved ones who will be missing from the dinner table this year. While others may feel loneliness, simply yearning for family and friends to spend Christmas with. I’m sure all of you can relate to one of these scenarios and I find comfort knowing that I am not alone. One of the things I did this year to help me focus on the true meaning of the Advent season is participate in “Advent By Candlelight.”

Advent By Candlelight– In early December I gathered with other women and participated in a beautiful evening called “Advent By Candlelight” at my church, Zion Lutheran. “Advent By Candlelight” was new to me but after signing up to be a table hostess I discovered that women from all denominations kick off the advent season by holding “Advent By Candlelight” events at their churches. A simple search of “Advent By Candlelight” on Pinterest yields hundreds of lavish table decorations, delectable desserts and meaningful programming suggestions. I quickly realized I had been missing out on something very special.

My Table– I enjoyed decorating my table for “Advent By Candlelight.” I used my Lenox Christmas China (Holly Berry Pattern) and placed the dessert plates on gold chargers. I borrowed festive gold flatware adorned with a sprig of holly from my parents. Matching tea cups and glasses completed my table setting. I used a cream table cloth and glittering gold napkins. Nuts, candy and a variety of tea bags were placed in candy dishes that match my china pattern. My centerpiece was simple with two cream candles sitting among a bed of evergreen and white flowers.

I found the perfect gold detailed porcelain ornament favors. They matched my dishes perfectly and the messages of Blessed and Believe were appropriately written across the angel and star design.

The evenings program, “A Personal Journey to the Nativity” set the tone of the Advent season. Through singing, scripture and fellowship, I left the event feeling renewed and exhilarated; ready to great the craziness of the season head on.

Advent Wreath– Christians all over the world have adopted the tradition of lighting candles during Advent to observe this as the time of the coming of Christ who is the light of the world. One tradition is lighting an Advent wreath at church and at home to mark each Sunday in Advent. This Advent tradition dates back to Germany and the Lutheran Church following the Reformation.

Today Advent wreaths are made out of evergreen and are shaped like a circle to represent eternal life. The Advent wreath we use at church has five candles with three of the candles being blue in color to match the liturgical colors. The candle lit on the first week is blue and represents hope. The candle lit on the second week is blue and represents peace. The candle lit on the third Sunday is pink and represents joy. On the last Sunday of Advent a blue candle representing love is lit. The candle in the center is white and is know as the Christ candle. It is lit on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

The Advent wreath we are using in our home was carefully molded out of clay by my daughter’s tiny hands. Plastered with green paint it is adorned with five skinny birthday candles. Mrs. Stanglein helped Lillian craft this Advent wreath in preschool and although simple in design it glows with radiant splendor.

Lillian and her class learned an Advent song to go along with their wreath and they have been singing a new verse every week. We also sing the simple song in church as a new candle on the Advent wreath is lit. Lillian learned the song quickly and she had enjoyed singing it at the top of her lungs every day this month!

Light one candle for hope,
One bright candle for hope.
He brings hope to everyone.
He comes. He comes.
**For verses 2-4, replace hope with peace, joy, and love.**

Jesus Joy– I was once again reminded of my focus this Advent season during a recent children’s sermon at church. Lillian’s preschool teacher gave this particular children’s sermon a few weeks ago.While talking to the children Mrs Stanglein declared she would rename Advent, “Jesus Joy.” Her words reminded me to focus on the joy that the season brings instead of becoming overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. We should be joyous during the season of Advent for it is a time of triumph, exultation and joy as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Lillian with her teacher after singing at the preschool Advent service.