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)

MOVIE QUOTE & SONG LYRICS: HOPE & LOVE

I have not seen the 2020 movie, “Call of the Wild,” yet a quote from it kept speaking to me. While reading about the latest film based on the classic story by Jack London, I learned that Perrault, a mailman, says, “You see, Buck, we don’t carry mail. We carry lives. We carry hope. We carry love.”

I pondered the mailman’s comments and realized that this character said he did the very thing that Christian believers should do. I believe we should carry hope and love everywhere we go. They should be such deep-rooted parts of our being that we cannot go anywhere without those two elements being seen and felt by others. Everywhere around us are people who need hope and  love, so we need to share.

There are many song lyrics by talented Oscar Hammerstein II that I like very much. One of my all-time favorite movies is the 1959 award-winning musical, “The Sound of Music,” so I remember Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s song, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” The introduction for the reprise was not used in the film but is in theater versions. I like what those lyrics say about love:

“A bell is no bell till you ring it,
A song is no song till you sing it,
And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay —
Love isn’t love till you give it away.”  (Hammerstein)

Perhaps love that remains in a heart and never given away is not real love. Maybe love that is real has to be shared. I think Mr. Hammerstein understood love the way it ought to be.

Don Roth and Timmy Tappan, two songwriters, were inspired by and borrowed from Hammerstein’s lyrics when they wrote “Love Isn’t Love (‘Til You Give It Away)”, a song recorded by Reba McEntire:

A smile’s not a smile until it wrinkles your face.
A bell’s not a bell without ringing.
A home’s not a home when there’s nobody there.
A song’s not a song without singing.

Love isn’t love till you give it away.
Love isn’t love till it’s free.
The love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay.
Oh, love isn’t love till you give it away.”
(Roth and Tappan)

I have said that I have enough hope to share, and I try to do that via this blog. When I write about hope, am I sharing love as well? Love is said to multiply or increase when it is given away. Does it decrease when not shared? It seems selfish to try to keep love to oneself, and real love is not selfish.

It is generally understood that we cannot give that which we do not have. Who is the Source of love and hope? Where are they found? How are they accessed? Good questions! I know Who has answers.

According to the Book with answers to Life’s questions, the Christian’s Bible, God is Love. He wants to share His love that is found in Jesus Christ. To experience His love and hope (and forgiveness, peace, joy, and every good gift), one has only to accept Him as Savior and Lord. This is how one can have enough hope and love to share. Knowing Him, following Him, and trusting Him cause our faith, hope, and love to increase. The more we share, the more we will have.

If we know Jesus, then we carry love, and we carry hope — just as Perrault wisely equated with carrying mail. May we be intentional to not only carry but leave hope and love everywhere we go. When the world looks at us, may they see hope and love. May they see Jesus. They will if we carry His light to the world that seems to be growing darker.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1  Corinthians 13:4-7)

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)

Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:7-21)

DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY: HOPE AND PRAY

  • January 31, 1985, was unforgettable for me. A precious bundle of beautiful baby was delivered via C-section where a record winter snow had just covered the world outside.

She weighed “about 9 pounds,” according to an experienced doctor, who proved accurate (exactly nine pounds) according to the scales. A length of twenty-two and a half inches meant she was half an inch longer than her older brother had been four and a half years earlier.

She really was a beautiful baby, and every possible moment was spent just holding her and being awed by such a miraculous gift. Sincere promises were made to love her and to do my best to take care of her and to be there for her… always. From my heart came prayers for her physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and with hope for her future.

Today I wonder how 35 years have gone by so quickly. If I am alive another 35 years then I’ll be 100! It seems strange to ponder these thoughts of time passing and of aging, but… “c‘est la vie” (“that’s life”).

These past 35 years have been full of continuing love, joy, prayers, and special memories. I’m still thankful for the awesome gift she is and appreciative of her tender heart and gentle spirit. She’s still my “little dear” even though she now stands about four inches taller than I do (there’s a funny story about where she gets her “tall genes”).

We laugh when her actions sometimes show she is “a chip off the block.” We’ve (partially) merged my realism-leaning art appreciation with her abstract-leaning artistic talents. Together we share a meaningful special song…. She constantly broadens my horizons in many ways, and best of all she has caused my heart to grow exponentially in ways she cannot imagine.

I pray the best for her, which means God’s best. He’ll do His part; she must do hers. May she… “Trust in the Lord with all” her “heart, and…” “not lean on” her “own understanding. In all… ways acknowledge Him, and He will make” her “paths straight.”

I still pray for her, and as long as I have breath and consciousness I will still hope for her future.

Happy birthday, Little Dear!

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.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3: 3, 4)

JOHN TRANTHAM: HOPE IN SOLID FOUNDATION

During the last century sounds so long ago, but today’s blog post comes from a time more than three decades ago. However it is said it still seems a long time ago, but the message is timeless.

My family knew an old retired pastor, B. John Trantham, who loved God and sharing the gospel of hope in Christ. He did those things well with the helper God had given him when he was a young man, the sweet and (in my memories) always smiling Mrs. Trantham.

Even at an advanced age this Christian brother still had powerful thoughts and messages to share. I remember one in particular that he called Fourfold Foundation of Faith. It neatly presents John 3:16, a summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If any one verse could be the foundation of Christian faith, then surely it could be this one.

John 3:16 offers four important aspects: God’s Love, God’s Gift, God’s Gracious Condition, and God’s Great Salvation. This Bible verse says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

“For God so loved the world” presents the first foundation part of GOD’S LOVE. “That He gave His only begotten Son” shows the second foundation part of GOD’S GIFT. “That whoever believes in Him” is the third foundation part of GOD’S GRACIOUS CONDITION. “Shall not perish but have eternal life” offers the fourth foundation part of GOD’S GREAT SALVATION.

Together these four aspects of faith are one firm foundation upon which the Christian faith can be built. Together they explain enough of the gospel for one who believes to know the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

One doesn’t have to know it as Fourfold Foundation of Faith. Know that trusting John 3:16 as the foundation of faith makes an eternal difference. Ponder that verse, and trust God’s Love, Gift, Gracious Condition, and Great Salvation. Do it today!

OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME: HOPE FROM DESPAIR

I have liked the song, “Oh, How He Loves You and Me by Kurt Kaiser, since first hearing it probably in the 1970s. It has a lovely tune with an important reminder of the great love that Jesus has for us all.

A song can have simple lyrics and still relate a powerful Truth. I believe this short simple song does just that.

The lyrics remind us that Jesus gave his life then asks, “What more could He give?” Also we’re reminded that Jesus went to Calvary to show His love for sinners (meaning all of us).

One line especially makes this song right for being included in my blog. The song acknowledges that what He (Jesus) did there (at Calvary) brought hope from despair.

As sinners we would be left in utter despair with no hope if a perfect Savior had not willingly gone to Calvary to show His love for us and pay the price required by a holy God. What Jesus did there at Calvary truly brought hope from despair.

When we have received by faith the redemption that cleanses and gives new life then we can experience a sure hope. We can agree with these simple yet powerful lyrics, “Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.”

We know love by this, that Jesus laid down His life for us….” (I John 3:16)

NEDIM YASAR: HOPE TO CHANGE A LIFE

I want to introduce readers to ROOTS, an important book about leaving a life of crime by Marie Louise Toksvig. It is Nedim Yasar’s personal memoirs….

Nedim Yasar was born in Turkey, moved to Denmark at age four, and grew up to be the subject of this book.  His story is not ordinary, because he also grew up to become leader of Los Guerreros, a notorious gang heavily involved with the drug trade and related crimes, including violence, robbery, and blackmail.

In 2012 a major turning point in Vasar’s life contributed to his story becoming even more extraordinary. He made a decision to end his gang affiliation when he learned he was going to become a father.

After participating in a successful exit program in Copenhagen, he dedicated himself to help steer others away from gang life. Yasar mentored young people as host of a local Copenhagen radio station and became a respected voice for change.

Then murderers shot and killed 31 year old Yasar in November 2018. This cowardly act just as his book was being released could cause hopelessness, because it appeared that evil had won. Yet I think there is much hope to be found in Yasar’s life-changing decision and dedicated efforts to help young people avoid his previous path.

As his child, a son, grows up, may he be proud of his father and see Nedim Yasar as a courageous hero who took a stand for his son to have a better life. Yasar didn’t choose to “disappear” into anonymity — a much safer choice — but chose to proceed publicly via his radio show, this book, and other meaningful efforts. He must have realized the dangers of sharing his personal story in a public way especially after a previous attempt on his life a year earlier.

Yasar must have had hope that his son will never fall prey to the dangerous hate-filled lifestyle that he had experienced in his own past. Yasar chose hope to change first his own life then modeled hope for his son and other young people.

The hope presented here today is the reality of a changed life. Also I find hope in the fact that hope didn’t end with Yasar’s death. The book, ROOTS, is full of hope and impacts others. The legacy of Nedim Yasar includes countless changed lives. His heritage is a son to follow his determined walk in a different direction toward a better life.

I want to share Nedim Yasar’s story and promote the hope at the heart of his changed life. I believe that his murderers did not win. Nothing can stop real hope. Hope always trumps hate… always.

A quote by holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

RESCUED FISHERMEN: HOPE IN A GREATER PLAN

I remember reading the US NEWS & WORLD REPORT article entitled “Costa Rican Fishermen Rescued by Cruise Ship After 20 Days Adrift” (Alexa Lardieri, Dec. 24, 2018)… and thinking of hope.

Two fishermen found themselves lost at sea for twenty days, out of gas with little food and water gone.  This was their desperate circumstance when rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that “happened” along.

Their memorable near-death adventure lead them near Grand Cayman Island between Jamaica and Cuba. After leaving Costa Rica they cast their nets, and both men fell asleep while winds increased.

They awoke to find they had been blown far from their nets and ran out of gas trying to return to land. They had enough food and water for seven days. When food supplies were depleted, they fished for food, but the need for water became critical.

When rescued one of the fishermen was unable to walk and was carried aboard the cruise ship. Health care professionals examined them and provided needed care, food, and water.

Both fishermen disembarked the ship in Jamaica with both of them walking. The ship’s crew donated about $300 USD to help provide them with clothes and food.

The Royal Caribbean ship, Empress of the Seas, had not been scheduled to travel the route where the men were rescued. They were supposed to be enroute to Cuba, but storms and dangerous weather forced them to change course.

A ship spokesman commented, “Pure luck, lining of the stars, God, whatever you choose to believe, the facts are we would not have been in that area at the time had we not switched to go to Jamaica, and you can’t help but think there was a greater plan, but I’ve already seen a Christmas miracle.”

I agree with the miracle aspect of this deduction. I believe these two fishermen survived this near-tragedy because of a divine plan. I do not believe in coincidence; I believe the ship was divinely appointed to be in the location to rescue the men.

I hope they are thankful to the One Who coordinated their rescue on the Carribean Sea. I hope they trust the One Who can lead them through rough seas in storms of life and Who can see them to safe harbor when it really counts at the end of life’s journey.

May we all see the miracles in our lives and respond to the Miracle Giver with thanks, devotion, and love.

“Stretch forth Your hand from on high; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters….” (Psalm 144:7)

“… Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are Mine!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior….” (Isaiah 43:1-3)

CHRISTMAS NEWS: HOPE FOR IRAQI CHRISTIANS

According to “The Hill” News on December 25, 2018, the Iraqi government issued this announcement: “The Iraqi Cabinet has made Christmas Day, Dec. 25, a national holiday across its entire country.”

I believe this news brings hope for Christians in Iraq, who may now celebrate CHRISTmas openly. Because of the tragic history of persecution in Iraq by the Islamic State, I confess this announcement caught me by surprise. I consider it a huge blessing and pray for Iraqi Christians to be encouraged and filled with hope. I also pray that enemies of Christ will come to know the CHRIST of CHRISTmas personally and experience His hope, love, and peace.

A government tweet stated Monday this CHRISTmas greeting: ‘Happy Christmas to our Christian citizens, all Iraqis and to all who are celebrating around the world,’ and added Tuesday, ‘We extend our warmest wishes to Christians in Iraq and around the world for a very happy and peaceful Christmas.”

I am thankful that CHRISTmas hope still continues to be found on our planet!