BOLDT CASTLE: LOVE & HOPE

In 1900 there lived a wealthy man named George Boldt, who loved his wife, Louise. He hired the best architects and hundreds of construction workers to begin building a “castle” for her to commemorate his love. Its setting was a heart-shaped island — Heart Island — in the Thousand Islands area of New York.  This may sound like a fairy tale beginning, but it is a true story without an ending of “happily ever after.”

Sadly Louise was frail physically, and she died of heart failure in 1904 before the castle was completed. George was broken-hearted. He ordered work to stop on the castle and never set foot on Heart Island again. He would never see his dream of a six-story 120-room modern-day castle become reality. His dream of sharing a grand home almost beyond imagination with his wife that He adored and his plan of spending the remainder of his life with her would never be his reality.

Even without his romantic love story, castle dream, or tragic loss, George Boldt’s story is interesting. He had arrived in America as a penniless 13-year-old Prussian immigrant, who became a self-made millionaire because of hard work, personal moral character, wise business practices, and hotels that included Waldorf-Astoria and Bellevue-Stratford. Unfortunately his great wealth could not buy the life and love that he lost.

Boldt’s story brings more sadness than hope. However it reminds me of a true story that does give hope. There are other mansions built because of love. There is a love even stronger than George Boldt’s love for his wife. There is a work that will not be stopped because of life’s losses or tragedies.

Jesus Christ Himself is the Architect, Designer, and Builder. He promised a dwelling place prepared especially for His true followers. That promise and His other promises motivated by and given in love offer me hope today.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be also.
And you know the way where I am going.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”   (John 14: 1 – 6)

JULIE HERSH: FROM DEPRESSION TO HOPE

Depression is a real problem that can have devastating effects to many individuals and to their loved ones. Today in a world of pandemic concerns and social-isolation, symptoms of depression may develop or worsen in those who already struggle with it.

Too often those who suffer do not seek help. This is unfortunate, because it is possible to move from depression to hope. Today’s post features an important resource that candidly shares how its author learned to move from depression to hope.

One author is living proof that mental illness can be managed. Her informative book offers hope. She genuinely wants to share help and hope and knows from personal experience with clinical depression that hope is possible.

An advocate for mental health, Julie Hersh is well-credentialed. She earned a BBA at the University of Notre Dame. Her blog, Struck by Living, is a feature on the Psychology Today website. Hersh is a guest blogger on the Menninger Clinic website, ”Say No to Stigma.” She was awarded the Mental Health America Ruth Altschuler Community Advocate Prism Award and is President of the Hersh Foundation.

Thankfully Hersh has authored STRUCK BY LIVING: FROM DEPRESSION TO HOPE and is donating proceeds from book sales to help programs on, research in, and victories over mental illness. Hersh shared, “Despite medical advances, too many people die by suicide, because they are afraid to seek help.”

I agree with this author’s statement and am sharing about her important book. Now it’s your turn. If you or someone you know may benefit from STRUCK BY LIVING, then please check out this book that has been called a story of courage, love, hope, and victory. Do it today, because hope may be desperately needed now. Tomorrow may be too late.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24-hour crisis hotline):  1-800-273-8255

Confidential online chat is available @ suicidepreventionlifeline.org

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  (Psalm 34:18)

TIM HUGHES: WORSHIP AND HOPE

Timothy Hughes may be unknown to you unless you know modern worship music either as an active participant or contemplative listener. Those who have been blessed by this style of music may know well and even love his songs. His beautiful music does more than give pleasure — it gives hope and connects us with God.

British Tim Hughes has written songs that have led believers in worship all over our planet. “Here I Am to Worship,” “Happy Day,” “Beautiful One,” “Jesus Saves,” “At Your Name,” and “The Way” have won Dove Awards.

Here I Am to Worship” is even considered by some as the greatest modern worship anthem ever, and Hughes earned two Dove Awards while still in his twenties.

Tim Hughes, born July 23, 1977, celebrated another birthday last week yet is definitely still young in this blogger’s opinion. I am thankful that he blesses others with his talents and leadership activities.

A worship leader, a singer, a songwriter, and an Anglican priest, Tim also leads Worship Central, an international worship training and resource centre. Once the director of worship at a large Anglican church in London, he was later ordained as a minister in the Church of England and appointed Vicar of St. Luke’s in Birmingham in central England.

Tim’s heart, efforts, and music bless our world with hope, because he understands that he is here to worship Jesus Christ. He accepts Christ as the only One worthy of worship and leads us to join in a hopeful, worshipful, and life-changing experience.

HERE I AM TO WORSHIP

“Light of the World,
You stepped down into darkness,
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You,
Hope of a life spent with You.

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You’re my God.
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days,
Oh so highly exalted,
Glorious in heaven above.
Humbly You came to the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor.

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You’re my God.

You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

Well, I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross.
Well, I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross.
Well, I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross.

Well, I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross.”
(Timothy Hughes)

BEAUTIFUL ONE

“Wonderful, so wonderful is Your unfailing love.
Your cross has spoken mercy over me.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart could fully know
How glorious, how beautiful You are.

Beautiful One I love You.
Beautiful One I adore,
Beautiful One, my soul must sing.

Powerful, so powerful Your glory fills the skies.
Your mighty works displayed for all to see,
The beauty of Your majesty awakes my heart to sing.
How marvelous, how wonderful You are.

Beautiful One I love You,
Beautiful One I adore. Beautiful One I love You,
Beautiful One I adore, Beautiful One, my soul must sing.

Beautiful One I love You.
Beautiful One I adore,
Beautiful One, my soul must sing.

You’ve opened my heart to wonders anew.
You’ve captured my heart with this love,
‘Cause nothing on earth is as beautiful as You, Jesus.

You’ve opened my eyes to wonders anew.
You’ve captured my heart with this love,
‘Cause nothing on earth is as beautiful as You, Jesus.

And You’ve opened my eyes to wonders anew.
You’ve captured my heart with this love,
‘Cause nothing on earth is as beautiful as You, Jesus.

Beautiful One I love You.
Beautiful One I adore,
Beautiful One, my soul must sing.

Oh, my soul, my soul must sing,
My soul, my soul must sing,
My soul, my soul must sing,
Beautiful One.

Oh, my soul, my soul must sing,
Oh, my soul, my soul must sing,
Oh, my soul, my soul must sing,
Beautiful One.”
(T. H.)

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.” (Psalm 145:3)

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power….” (John 4:11)

FORTY-YEAR MILESTONE: WISDOM & HOPE

A forty-year birthday marks a milestone that I can hardly believe my son has reached. It does not mean that he is old or “over the hill” as some say — but perhaps it does indicate that his parents are!

How well I remember his birth as a time of joy, hope, thankfulness, and with prayers for him and his future. Having him as a son still fills me with the same feelings of joy, hope, and thankfulness. I continue to pray for him, his future, and his beautiful family with whom he is blessed.

So many prayers have been answered along his life’s journey so far. I have experienced exceeding parental pride through these 40 years. I have loved watching his gift of encouragement impact others. I have learned the value of wisdom for his life perhaps through recognizing its need in my own.

Proverbs, a book of Wisdom, is a good reference for living well. It offers wisdom for all generations — mine, my son’s, and his child’s. It offers hope that all of us need at every age of life.

Today my prayer is for my son to always know God’s  Wisdom and Hope. They are found in the Bible and can be easily instilled in the head by reading. They can only be deeply ingrained in the heart by God’s Holy Spirit. They are worth the sacrifice of time and study.

Happy birthday, my beloved son! May your life be full of Wisdom and Hope always!

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.
My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof,
For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
and the man who gains understanding.
For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold.
She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.
Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.
By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, and the skies drip with dew.
My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
So they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck.
Then you will walk in your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  (Proverbs 3: 1 – 24)

BIBLICAL WISDOM: BIRTHDAY HOPE

“Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.” (General Douglas MacArthur at age seventy-eight)

As wise General MacArthur realized it is one’s  outlook more than one’s age that makes one old. Today is the birthday of my beloved. He has spent decades studying Biblical wisdom, and this is a good example the rest of us could follow. He maintains interest in this study; perhaps he will never grow “old.”

Happy birthday, Dear! May you always have HOPE. Below are some verses especially pertinent to one who is accumulating years and wisdom. I am thankful that God and His Word never change despite radical changes in our world. I am also thankful to share your golden years and God’s blessings.

“For You are my HOPE; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You…. But as for me, I will HOPE continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me until I declare Your strength to this generation. For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.”  (Psalm 71: 5, 6, 14 – 19, 23)

“They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green,”  (Psalm 92: 14)

“The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.”
(Proverbs 20: 29)

“Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.”  (Isaiah 46: 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4: PEACE AND HOPE

If there is one thing we want today it is PEACE. We need it — and we need HOPE. Everywhere on the planet people seek peace.

Peace is more than the circumstance of our surroundings. It is a condition of the heart. So many desire it, yet so few seem to have found it. Is peace too far out of reach? Is it meant to be elusive?

What does the Bible say about peace? Perhaps it is not as complicated as one may think. I have found that this Holy Book is usually straight-forward in its instruction.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
(Philippians 4:8, 9)

Maybe peace is simply focusing on “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute… any excellence… anything worthy of praise… dwell on these things…. and the God of peace will be with you.”

Does it sound too simplistic? I am certain that if one has found the God of Peace, then one can know peace. Rather than seek peace perhaps one should seek the God of Peace.

I have hope and confidence that the Bible is true. If it says knowing God of the Bible brings peace, then I believe it. This is a matter of faith, but there is more. I have experienced its truth. I know the God of peace; I know His peace.

When I focus on the God of Peace I am filled with His peace. This practice gives me hope. He gives me hope enough to face this difficult world. Even through these uncertain and unprecedented times He has proven faithful. In future trials to come there is no reason to doubt His Word.

For peace I shall continue to trust God. For all good things I shall do the same. Of course that means I must do what He says. As a wise old hymn says… “Trust and Obey.”

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:4-7)

Philippians 4 happens to be one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It gives me HOPE. It tells me how to have PEACE, His peace, the only real lasting peace.

Can I do what it says? It reminds me of the way that I can. “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

It assures me of the outcome. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

With a grateful heart of devotion and hope I will close. “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Philippians 4:20)

INDEPENDENCE DAY: PATRIOTISM & HOPE

Tomorrow — July 4th — is like any other day on most of the planet, but in the USA it is recognized as Independence Day. In pre-pandemic times celebrations would be held with many crowds gathered for special patriotic events.

On July 4, 1776, the status of 13 British colonies with taxation but no representation under the oppressive rule of King George III  changed significantly to the “United States of America.” Brave signers of the Declaration of Independence risked everything for freedom.

Requiring more than a document with signatures, a war was unavoidable between seemingly unimportant colonies and a powerful world force. The war would last 7 years and cost thousands of American lives, but with Providential help the USA emerged victor to become a light on a hill.

The new nation had one thing that led amateur soldiers to triumph over the threat to their freedom, their families, and their fortunes. Their very lives hung in the balance. They had patriotism, and that one essential thing gave them hope to carry on.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, patriotism is “love for or devotion to one’s country.” For about 250 years America has been home to many patriotic individuals. I am thankful that many Americans have patriotism today.

Patriotism is still greatly needed to maintain the Judeo-Christian heritage and national life gained and held by Founding Fathers. Has too much patriotism been lost? Has the light been extinguished? I think there is little doubt that it has dimmed and burns less brightly than it once did.

Whether celebrating jointly or separately patriotic music can be a part of our 4th of July. I recommend adding the songs below to your playlist. I am glad that recorded music is not quarantined.

As long as patriotism exists, I am hopeful for “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” I admit that this is not reality now, but I prefer to be hopeful rather than hopeless.

Together may we heed an Old Testament verse that says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

When God’s words are followed, then we may have real hope that can impact not just our nation but our planet. Tomorrow may we celebrate safely, fly our American flags, enjoy our music, show our patriotism, be hopeful, and pray. May we thank God everyday for our land of the free and our home of the brave.

 

PATRIOTIC SONGS:

THE PATRIOTIC MEDLEY
(Bates, Howe, Berlin)
I WILL STAND”  (Allegiance Trio)
IN GOD WE STILL TRUST”  (Diamond Rio)
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”  (Gary Moore)
MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA
(Weldon Kennedy)
AMERICA”  (Chris Tomlin)
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL” (Katharine Bates)
“GOD BLESS AMERICA”  (Irving Berlin)

PLEDGE of ALLEGIANCE:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

DANNY GOKEY: HOPE IN FRONT OF ME

You may think that little has changed since my last post… still a pandemic around our planet… still problems in most places… still pain in many people… still panic in some hearts.

Where is hope? Today this is an important question to ask. It may be even more important to answer this question.

Danny Gokey saw the answer through eyes of faith. He expressed it musically and shared it in a song. Listen to “Hope in Front of Me” as often as needed and be blessed by his answer.

HOPE IN FRONT OF ME

“I’ve been running through rain
That I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith
In a struggle against the wind.
I’ve seen the dark and the broken places,
But I know in my soul
No matter how bad it gets
I’ll be alright.

There’s hope in front of me.
There’s a light, I still see it.
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it.
I might be down, but I’m not dead.
There’s better days still up ahead.
Even after all I’ve seen,
There’s hope in front of me.
There’s a place at the end of the storm.

You finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain All fall behind.

You open up your eyes and up ahead
There’s a big sun shining.
Right then and there you realize
You’ll be alright.

There’s hope in front of me.
There’s a light; I still see it.
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it.
I might be down, but I’m not dead.
There’s better days still up ahead.
Even after all I’ve seen,
There’s hope in front of me.

There’s a hope still burning.
I can feel it rising through the night,
And my world’s still turning.
I can feel Your love here by my side.

You’re my Hope.
You’re the light; I still see it.
Your hands are holding me.
Even when I don’t believe it
I’ve got to believe.
I still have hope.

YOU ARE MY HOPE.”

(Danny Gokey)

I am thankful for Gokey’s song and for his many others, too. I am thankful for faith to know the One Who is Gokey’s hope and my own as well.

Regardless of temporary darkness in this world, I am not hopeless. I know I am blessed. Christ’s light burns eternal, His grace is sufficient, His peace sustains, and His love never fails.

Where is hope? His HOPE is right in front of me.

 

Sometimes we don’t discover our purpose until the darkest moments strip us of everything, and all we are left with is brokenness and heartache. It is in these moments, ironically, when hope becomes our strength and carries us.”  (Danny Gokey)

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.”  (Psalm 4:8)

PEACEMAKERS: BLESSING AND HOPE

Protests… unrest… chaos… violence…. In many places on this planet there is no peace. In many lives peace has never been known. Does this describe your place… your life?

Sadly where there is no peace, there may be no hope.

I realize injustice exists. I understand life is too often unfair. Abuse and suffering reign in too many lives. What is to be done? How does one experience relief? Is peace even possible?

Peace… calm… rest… comfort…. To ponder these words may inspire some to reach toward achieving them. Unfortunately these words describe the opposite of reality for many who do not know how to obtain them.

Is there an answer to this dilemma? Is peace obtainable? The Bible teaches there is One Who is the Prince of Peace. Not only can He be known, He wants us to know and experience Him and the peace He offers.

It is no accident that He is called Prince of Peace. It was not on a whim or by chance. God knew this world would need peace, His peace. Contrary to those who do not understand His character and His timing, God provides that which we need. God understands our need, and He is our Provider, because He loves us so. That should give us hope.

When we seek Him and find Him, then we can become peacemakers and share the Prince of Peace and His peace that He gives. Then we are promised blessing.  “Blessed are the peacemakers” is a promise that brings hope.

As I am now mature enough to reflect on my life and past, I regret my failure at times to be a peacemaker. Although it is the past, these recollections should stir me to try harder and do better in the present to bring peace to others, to situations, to this planet.

I confess that those times of failure were when I chose to be defensive, to escalate situations, and even to retaliate. How much better it would have been to have chosen peace instead… to have been led by the Prince of Peace. I admit that so often I failed Him and missed His blessings.

Remembering that I can share peace only if I know the Prince of Peace, I look to Him — Jesus Christ — and to the Source of Wisdom, the Bible. I am thankful God provided this Book of Truth and especially that He gave the One Who is the Truth.

I am also thankful that when I make peace, I reap benefits — God’s blessings that include hope. God is good and faithful all the time. When I believe this, then it is my desire to be faithful, and that means making peace in a world where peace is desperately needed. Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant (you and) me peace (and hope) in every circumstance.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Matthew 5:9)

Finally, brethren, rejoice! Be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  (James 3:18)

Setting your goal to become a peacemaker like Jesus will bring God’s love and peace to your life.”  (Lynette Kittle)

“… if we can catch God’s vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker — to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation — it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives.”  (Nicki Koziarz)

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”  (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Continue reading “PEACEMAKERS: BLESSING AND HOPE”

JEREMY CAMP: HEARTBREAK AND HOPE

Jeremy Camp has more than a decade of successes as a minister singer and songwriter. With four million albums sold, four RIAA Gold albums, a multi-platinum DVD, three American Music Award nominations, and a GRAMMY nomination, he is influencing this planet with his inspired music. He has toured 25 times across the US and has performed in more than 30 countries. Camp calls himself, ‘a minister who happens to play music as a way to minister.'”

If you are not very knowledgeable about Jeremy Camp, then you may think his life is all rosey. Great musical successes… and now there is a movie that features him, his wife, and their marriage. “I Still Believe,” is a new movie about Camp… and his wife who died.

Wait…. His is a love story touched by death? He suffered great loss? He has known spiritual lows? Suddenly it does not sound so rosey. He has experienced lots of love… but love AND loss.

Focus on the Family’s Plugged In review of the film stated, “‘I Still Believe‘ is a poignant portrait of faith and doubt, love and grief, heartbreak and hope.'”

Jeremy Camp has allowed his experiences to bring into focus his priorities that give him hope and help him share that hope with the rest of us. His is a hope that helps him live through each day of his life and will lead him home when it ends. His hope is in Jesus Christ.

I remember hearing for the first time his song below. I immediately loved its meaningful and powerful message. I relate to its lyrics, and I think they will become even more meaningful as life becomes more challenging.

I am thankful that Camp expressed so beautifully his need and desire, because I realize they are mine also. Jeremy Camp, his ministry, his music, and especially his Savior all give me hope.

“Give Me Jesus”

“In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
When I am alone,
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Just give me Jesus.

Jesus.
Give me Jesus.

When I come to die,
When I come to die,
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Just give me Jesus.”

(Jeremy Camp)