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Hopegrams

Hope Rays

Shining the light of hope into dark places

Place - Five Minute Friday

Karen Sebastian - Friday, August 11, 2017

PLACE

This is a fun adventure in writing with the Five Minute Friday community. You get to write for just five minutes on a word prompt. It's a great way to stimulate your writing and overcome the procrastination of perfectionism. Join us -- we would love to hear what you have to share.

Almost five years ago my precious husband moved to Heaven. Our home had always been the place where the family gathered on holidays. Besides, as his health failed due to Muscular Dystrophy, the kids and grandkids knew they would always find him sitting in his chair in the TV room. So much love was shared in that place. 

When Bill moved to Heaven it seemed like he should have still been there in his chair with his cell phone in one hand and his remote control in the other. It was like from this place of connection he reached out to so many with no concern for his own pain and discomfort.

This week I have finally managed to clean out the cabinets and nooks and crannies of this place to have an Estate Sale. It has been a lot harder than I thought it would be since I have moved. It seemed like I had very little still there. But it is hard to let go of a PLACE that is filled with memories.

Here's the hope lesson. 


You don't have to be in a certain place to have memories. You can carry them with you any place you go. They will never fade and will grow more precious with time as you honor the ones who have died. I encourage you to lighten the load and be ready to continue to tell the stories about the place without guilt or sorrow.

STOP

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Feasting with Gratitude

Karen Sebastian - Friday, July 28, 2017

Feasting with Gratitude

A glad heart has a continual feast {regardless of the circumstances}. Proverbs 15:15 Amplified

There is nothing better than a ripe, juicy raspberry on a hot summer day. It can truly be a feast. 

I love that this verse declares that gratitude opens a door to a feast. A feast implies abundance of what we love to eat. As we see the goodness of the Lord we respond with kindness and joy. 

Gratitude opens the door for abundant and consistent provision. Abundance is fertile ground for hope.  

Hope in the midst of difficulties opens the opportunity for fun adventures and non-stop blessings. 

Joy abounds when we trust for a good outcome and we end up laughing at what we've gone through. 

May your heart be filled with gladness today as you recognize all your blessings and God's consistent provision. Get some juicy strawberries or some juicy raspberries and enjoy!

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Comfort

Karen Sebastian - Friday, July 14, 2017

Comfort

So comfort one another with this hope and encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Voice

After my first husband died, I was amazed at how few people really knew what to say. They seemed uncomfortable about the topic and would blurt out platitudes like, "He's in a better place." Now this is true but at that moment I didn't want him to be gone. I was hurting. Their words seemed shallow and empty.

I like this verse because it admonishes us not to grieve as those who have no hope. Hope comes from a deep knowledge of our relationship with the Lord and the promises in His Word. He says in this passage that those who "fell asleep" in the Lord will one day be reunited with us. That is a comforting thought because my husband did not wake up. I believe that his first breath of Heaven was especially sweet because of the physical difficulties his earth suit was having in that area.

It's interesting that the comfort comes from HOPE rather than words. I give courage with words but HOPE must come from a conviction that there is more to this life than what we see with our eyes. The conviction is that we are eternal beings and that our loved one is truly having a glorious time with Jesus. Not only that, we can say it confidently because it is in God's Word.

May you be encouraged today with these words and comforted with this hope.

#fiveminutefriday #hopeispowerful #hope

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Shift from Perfection to Progress

Karen Sebastian - Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Shift from Perfection to Progress

Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. Hebrews 12:2

Are you a perfectionist? I used to be. Quite frankly, it seemed like I got a lot more done but was tied up in knots on the inside. I would discard perfect starts because they were not good enough. Over the span of my life there were more false starts than true beginnings. I was so hard on myself that I gave up before the many seeds planted had enough time to germinate and become what they were to be. I talked anyone who complimented me out of the blessing they had just given me.

No more! 

Perfectionism-Busting-Declarations

  1. I put my focus on Jesus who has a perfect, hope-filled design for my life.
  2. I prioritize all activities around what only I can do.
  3. I cease all comparisons with others and their life journey.
  4. I am exactly where I need to be at this precise moment in time.
  5. I will do the next thing in front of me and continue to make progress.
  6. I enjoy and celebrate this ride called life.
  7. I reach back to encourage others to let Jesus design and perfect their faith.
I encourage you to do the same. I am sending in my manuscript for The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride by the end of this week. I have to quell the perfectionism that threatens to return as I know the editors will go to town with corrections and suggestions. ( embrace their input and look forward to reaching out to other caregivers who need hope.

What is your stretch this week? Join in making the Seven-Perfectionism-Busting-Declarations with me. What's your story? Please share.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Listen With Your Eyes

Karen Sebastian - Friday, February 17, 2017

Listen With Your Eyes

Pay attention. Listen well! Isaiah 17:28 Voice

A few years ago when my kids were little I had a very hectic schedule. Between pastoring a church alongside my husband, I worked a full-time job.The rush to get homework done, dinner on the table and kids ready for bed was usually a blur. One such evening stands out in my mind. I was at the kitchen sink washing the dishes when I felt a tug on my pant leg. I looked down and saw my son sitting on the floor looking up at me.

"Listen, Mommy," he said.

"Okay sweetheart. Mommy is listening," I said impatiently.

"No, Mommy, I mean really listen," was his reply.

He did this several more times until finally he said something that caught my attention.

"Mommy, listen with your eyes."

It is easy to get so busy that we stop truly listening to the most important ones in our lives. Listening is an action not an afterthought. With all of our electronic devices it can be harder than ever to truly focus on what others are saying. You need to look at them to observe their body language and validate them.

There is no act of love greater than thoughtful, loving listening.

How do you increase the listening factor in your family gatherings?

Create a signal

In our household, the signal that you need to be heard is pulling on your right ear. It's the same movement as when you play 'charades'. You will usually have the other person say, "Sounds like..." The response can be "...that I need someone to be a sounding board." It may take a few times but they will get it.

Use a cell phone basket

Last Christmas dinner I put a cute bow on a basket. I put my phone in it and passed it around. I didn't have to make a huge speech. I simply let the kids know that they could get their cell phones back once the meal and presents were over. It worked! In fact, the teenagers were policing their parents on the use of cell phones at the table.

Prayer

Forgive me, Lord, for my self-absorption and concern for the wrong things. I appreciate the reminder that these little ones  will soon be grown and will not need me to listen. In fact, allow me to teach them well so that when it's my turn to want a listening ear they will put their electronic devices down and 'listen with their eyes'. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Slow Down and Accept the Help

Karen Sebastian - Thursday, February 16, 2017

Slow Down and Accept the Help

So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:16 (MSG)

We are experiencing an early spring here in North Texas. What that look like at my house is lots of dandelions and other weeds in my yard. They are emerging with a strong root system and fun puff balls that my granddaughter loves to scatter throughout the whole yard.

This morning I felt a sense of panic grip my heart as I looked at the way the weeds seemed to be taking over. I only have 5 minutes to spare. I went out and started to pull the weeds. I was overwhelmed with how much needed to be done. Then I felt a cool breeze.

I made the decision to slow down and ask for help. As I said a prayer I felt a surge of purpose in picking one small patch and making that one area weed free. What a revelation! I don't have to do it all at once.  Instead, I can celebrate every bit of progress and keep going tomorrow.

The second decision is that I can ask for advice and help. It's as simple as going to weed and feed store to ask for the best weed control lawn food. Then I can ask the guy who mows my lawn to apply it properly.

Slowing down can bring clarity

The decision to fully enjoy every part of the process focuses in on what's important. Be intentional and clear about expressing your love and appreciation to those closest to you. Just pausing for a few minutes to take a break to enjoy the cool breeze was refreshing to my body and my spirit.

Slowing down can lift the weight of responsibilityi

There is a part of me that enjoys getting things done. I could be what you would call a workaholic at times. My focus streamlines to the end result and leaves out the people around me. I become curt and defensive. 

Slowing down can help us see that others are willing to help

I avoid being a martyr when I openly ask for help instead of hinting around about it. Open and clear communication of what I need is a gift to those who love me and want to serve me. I am still going to clip as many of the puff balls on the dandelions as I can. For the flowers, I am happy to let the bees enjoy them for a few more weeks as it get to them gradually and steadily.

How about you? How are you going to slow down and ask for help?

It is a wonderful way to show you love someone.

Prayer

Father, forgive me for trying so hard to do it all on my own. Underneath all the defenses of trying to do things my way I can say that I truly want to come boldly to You. I lay aside all my self efforts and relax into the purposes You have for my life. It may not look like what I thought it would, yet I will rest in what You have planned for me and trust, with hope, that is good.  Teach me your ways. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home


Linking up with Katy Motaung  - Five Minute Friday  

Today's prompt was "Slow" 
You are given five minutes to write about the prompt, no editing, no erasing, just writing for Five Minutes. For more information and to read other's writings, go to the above link.

View Life through Your Hope Filter

Karen Sebastian - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

View Life through Your Hope Filter

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Faith, hope and love are intricately linked. Faith if believing for the impossible. Hope is a confident assurance of a good outcome. Love is the sense of belonging and knowing that we are a family. Hope is hard to hold on to when someone you love seems determined to keep going in the wrong direction. That was our oldest daughter during her teenage years. This happened a few years ago before we all had cell phones where you can track where your kids go. One night, after a heated argument, she slammed to door and didn't come back for two weeks.

It was during this difficult time that I had a life-changing experience around the reality of hope. I remember that I was sitting at the kitchen table crying uncontrollably. My prayers were angry cries that the Lord teach her a strong lesson because I was so tired of this behavior. (Have you ever thanked God for not answering your prayers when your heart was not right? I do now.)

I was begging for wisdom to know what to do. When I finally had no more tears to shed I was prepared to listen to His answer. I felt Him speak to my heart, "Paint her a picture of hope. Look at her through My eyes of hope."
You can read more details about this miracle in my book, The Power of Hope for Prodigals: Prepare the Way Home.

Get out of the way

When you are angry because of the choices of those you love you want to withhold your love. Instead, be loving while you let your teen suffer the consequences of his/her behavior. This really works. It can be a hard balance to find so practice it regularlyl for when you really need it.

Share hope generously

You can share hope without showing approval. Put your confidence in the plan God has for your loved ones and trust Him to continue to work in their lives no matter what it looks like right now.

Change the atmosphere

Hope changes the atmosphere of any room you enter. When you stop being the ruler of your world you can relax, laugh and enjoy the memories you are creaating. One day this will be hilarious. Trust me! I know it's true.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that you define yourself with the word HOPE. That means that you will provide the joy and peace that I need in the midst of the hardest situations. Others may give up hope but You never do because it is who You are. It would be like giving up on Yourself and we know that is never going to happen. When I trust You to work out the details You fill me with ALL joy and peace in the middle of the mess. I release my loved ones to You. Forgive me for painting a dismal picture of what the enemy will do in their lives instead of encouraging them with who they already are in You. Fill me with so much hope that I slosh on everyone around me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Keep Communication Channels Open

Karen Sebastian - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Keep Communication Channels Open

Words have power in matters of life and death, and those who love them will savor their fruit. Proverbs 18:21 Voice

One of the last conversations with my late husband, Bill, was filled with tension as he gasped for breath. I was upset and angry that he really didn't want to go to the doctor to get it checked out. Looking back on it we were both afraid. I regret that our last conversation was not full of loving words as he told me how he really felt. I won the argument and we got good news and bad news. The good news is that he qualified to get a ventilator so he could get the oxygen he needed. The bad news was that he was put on a ventilator so he could no longer speak as he had to keep the C-Pap mask on full-time. The good news was that it had several filters that allowed him to continue hanging out with our beloved grandsons. The bad news is that we were unable to hear his voice ever again because he did not have enough air to make a sound. The vocal chords were in good shape. What had happened is that his diaphragm failed.

A few weeks before Bill moved to Heaven, our oldest daughter came to see him. I was gone and so she was unable to get in the house because she forgot her key. She sat on the porch and yelled at him through the window. He responded by texting on her cell phone. When you can no longer speak then use whatever means you have to still communicate and speak honoring words.

Our other daughter had the custom of telling Dad she loved him every time she said good-bye. She usually said, "I love you to the moon and back." He also used a white board to communicate and therefore wrote, "I love you to Pluto and back." 

"Dad, Pluto isn't even a planet anymore," she chided him.

"I know, sweetie," he replied. "But it is the furthest away from the earth."

To this day, we still say "I love you Pluto and back," every time we say good-bye.

Speak honoring words

Your words are important. Speak positive, honoring words every opportunity that you get. If you are tempted to say unkind words, say nothing. Words establish an atmosphere and change the course of lives.

Develop special code words

There are times that you may need a hug or for someone to be quiet for a few minutes. The code in our family was to pull on your ear (like when you are playing charades). Just as soon as you pull on your ear the other person says, "Sounds like...." The response to that "silence." Sometimes we would forget what they meant and would start laughing as they kept tugging on their ear lobe. This little code actually helped us put out many potential firestorms in our family as we laughed together (after apologizing for whatever offense caused the need for an ear tug).

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the truth that our words are so powerful. I choose today to speak encouraging, life-giving words to those closest to me. I love positive words and the fruit they can produce in everyone I meet. I choose to be known as the one who inspires and lifts others up. I choose to change the atmosphere in every room I enter by the power of hope and love manifested in how I speak.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home



Strengthen Weaknesses with Hope

Karen Sebastian - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Strengthen Weaknesses with Hope

So, with confidence and hope in this message, strengthen those with feeble hands, shore up the weak-kneed and weary. Hebrews 12:12 (Voice)

Despite the adult-onset Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD), my late husband, Bill, had strong legs. He had worked diligently as a young man to strengthen them. The disease began to take its toll on his body and first affected his core. He would often say, "At least my legs are still strong."

I will always remember the night I sat by the side of his bed and had to lift his legs on up to the bed because he no longer had the strength to do so. As I lay in bed that night, I wept to think of the wasting away of something that brought confidence to him. Yet, through it all, he maintained a positive faith-filled approach to life. 

In the last few months of his life he had to use a ventilator full-time in order to breathe. He chose to use a C-Pap mask with the ventilator and so was unable to speak. Each morning he would point to his legs. I knew what he meant. He wanted me to pray for the healing and strength of his legs. I would pray and then he would somehow manage to get out of bed and take faltering steps with the walker. We used a scooter to get him to his lift chair in the living room. And he made it - every single day.

We continued forward with hope and confidence. In his weakness, we saw miracles every day.

Our confidence in the Lord grew and our hope knew no bounds.

Point out potential strengths

We often are very aware of the weaknesses of those we love. Instead of a direct attack, stop to consider what needs to be strengthened. Pray about it. Speak to the areas where God is working.

Paint a picture of hope

Fear torments us when we see the shortcomings of others. Instead of focusing on their weakness recognize that God is working to bring an upgrade in those very areas. Also, if you are super irritated, it is probably an area where God needss to work in your life.

Show kindness and grace

Demonstrate the same grace you would like to receive. Come along side that person with encouragement. They may just need a nap so give them a chance to rest when they are weary. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the honor and privilege of coming alongside those we love with hope and strength. We joyfully hold up their tired arms and help them up when they fall down. Thank you for the strength that comes from you as we  life in peace no matter what is happening. We ask for your wisdom in taking in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for your sake. Give us the wisdom to recognize that when we are our weakest, You makes us strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (Voice) In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home


Join the fun by writing for five minutes every Friday. This is a dynamic group and opportunity to link up with other bloggers.
 

Honor the Meaning of Their Name

Karen Sebastian - Sunday, February 12, 2017

Honor the Meaning of Their Name

Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient. Revelation 2:17 Voice

The meaning of names is important even though many times we don't act like it is true. Our culture does not put as great a significance on what a name means when picking names for our babies. It is a different story in the Bible. In fact, significant things happened when God changed names. We see examples in Abram (meaning exalted father) when it was changed to Abraham (father of multitudes). Sarai (princess) became Saran (mother of nations). Jacob (meaning supplanter i.e. deceiver and one who grasps) to Israel which means honest man of God. In Heaven, we will one day get a stone with our new name engraved on it.

Ways to honor names

  • Do a little research to find out what the names mean. Write it in a card.
  • Find a verse that goes along with the main concept defining the name.
  • Tell stories of how they have fulfilled the positive aspects of their name and explore ways they can grow in those areas.
  • One of the most loving things you can do is create an acrostic for the names of your loved ones. Look for the words that personify how you see them and their potential. I created photo books for my grandsons and used a significant word for each letter in their name. They still ask to look at them. One day I will give it to them to pass them on to their children so they can honor their names as well. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for your commitment to the details in our lives even down to the very meaning of our names. I am so very grateful that you speak life and newness over us. You have great plans of hope and purpose no matter what we are going through. Bless our loved ones with fulfilling their destiny. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home



Hopegrams

Hope Rays

Place - Five Minute Friday

Karen Sebastian - Friday, August 11, 2017

PLACE

This is a fun adventure in writing with the Five Minute Friday community. You get to write for just five minutes on a word prompt. It's a great way to stimulate your writing and overcome the procrastination of perfectionism. Join us -- we would love to hear what you have to share.

Almost five years ago my precious husband moved to Heaven. Our home had always been the place where the family gathered on holidays. Besides, as his health failed due to Muscular Dystrophy, the kids and grandkids knew they would always find him sitting in his chair in the TV room. So much love was shared in that place. 

When Bill moved to Heaven it seemed like he should have still been there in his chair with his cell phone in one hand and his remote control in the other. It was like from this place of connection he reached out to so many with no concern for his own pain and discomfort.

This week I have finally managed to clean out the cabinets and nooks and crannies of this place to have an Estate Sale. It has been a lot harder than I thought it would be since I have moved. It seemed like I had very little still there. But it is hard to let go of a PLACE that is filled with memories.

Here's the hope lesson. 


You don't have to be in a certain place to have memories. You can carry them with you any place you go. They will never fade and will grow more precious with time as you honor the ones who have died. I encourage you to lighten the load and be ready to continue to tell the stories about the place without guilt or sorrow.

STOP

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home



Feasting with Gratitude

Karen Sebastian - Friday, July 28, 2017

Feasting with Gratitude

A glad heart has a continual feast {regardless of the circumstances}. Proverbs 15:15 Amplified

There is nothing better than a ripe, juicy raspberry on a hot summer day. It can truly be a feast. 

I love that this verse declares that gratitude opens a door to a feast. A feast implies abundance of what we love to eat. As we see the goodness of the Lord we respond with kindness and joy. 

Gratitude opens the door for abundant and consistent provision. Abundance is fertile ground for hope.  

Hope in the midst of difficulties opens the opportunity for fun adventures and non-stop blessings. 

Joy abounds when we trust for a good outcome and we end up laughing at what we've gone through. 

May your heart be filled with gladness today as you recognize all your blessings and God's consistent provision. Get some juicy strawberries or some juicy raspberries and enjoy!

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home








Comfort

Karen Sebastian - Friday, July 14, 2017

Comfort

So comfort one another with this hope and encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Voice

After my first husband died, I was amazed at how few people really knew what to say. They seemed uncomfortable about the topic and would blurt out platitudes like, "He's in a better place." Now this is true but at that moment I didn't want him to be gone. I was hurting. Their words seemed shallow and empty.

I like this verse because it admonishes us not to grieve as those who have no hope. Hope comes from a deep knowledge of our relationship with the Lord and the promises in His Word. He says in this passage that those who "fell asleep" in the Lord will one day be reunited with us. That is a comforting thought because my husband did not wake up. I believe that his first breath of Heaven was especially sweet because of the physical difficulties his earth suit was having in that area.

It's interesting that the comfort comes from HOPE rather than words. I give courage with words but HOPE must come from a conviction that there is more to this life than what we see with our eyes. The conviction is that we are eternal beings and that our loved one is truly having a glorious time with Jesus. Not only that, we can say it confidently because it is in God's Word.

May you be encouraged today with these words and comforted with this hope.

#fiveminutefriday #hopeispowerful #hope

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

 Facebook  | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Home




Shift from Perfection to Progress

Karen Sebastian - Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Shift from Perfection to Progress

Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. Hebrews 12:2

Are you a perfectionist? I used to be. Quite frankly, it seemed like I got a lot more done but was tied up in knots on the inside. I would discard perfect starts because they were not good enough. Over the span of my life there were more false starts than true beginnings. I was so hard on myself that I gave up before the many seeds planted had enough time to germinate and become what they were to be. I talked anyone who complimented me out of the blessing they had just given me.

No more! 

Perfectionism-Busting-Declarations

  1. I put my focus on Jesus who has a perfect, hope-filled design for my life.
  2. I prioritize all activities around what only I can do.
  3. I cease all comparisons with others and their life journey.
  4. I am exactly where I need to be at this precise moment in time.
  5. I will do the next thing in front of me and continue to make progress.
  6. I enjoy and celebrate this ride called life.
  7. I reach back to encourage others to let Jesus design and perfect their faith.
I encourage you to do the same. I am sending in my manuscript for The Power of Hope for Caregivers: Honor the Ride by the end of this week. I have to quell the perfectionism that threatens to return as I know the editors will go to town with corrections and suggestions. ( embrace their input and look forward to reaching out to other caregivers who need hope.

What is your stretch this week? Join in making the Seven-Perfectionism-Busting-Declarations with me. What's your story? Please share.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Listen With Your Eyes

Karen Sebastian - Friday, February 17, 2017

Listen With Your Eyes

Pay attention. Listen well! Isaiah 17:28 Voice

A few years ago when my kids were little I had a very hectic schedule. Between pastoring a church alongside my husband, I worked a full-time job.The rush to get homework done, dinner on the table and kids ready for bed was usually a blur. One such evening stands out in my mind. I was at the kitchen sink washing the dishes when I felt a tug on my pant leg. I looked down and saw my son sitting on the floor looking up at me.

"Listen, Mommy," he said.

"Okay sweetheart. Mommy is listening," I said impatiently.

"No, Mommy, I mean really listen," was his reply.

He did this several more times until finally he said something that caught my attention.

"Mommy, listen with your eyes."

It is easy to get so busy that we stop truly listening to the most important ones in our lives. Listening is an action not an afterthought. With all of our electronic devices it can be harder than ever to truly focus on what others are saying. You need to look at them to observe their body language and validate them.

There is no act of love greater than thoughtful, loving listening.

How do you increase the listening factor in your family gatherings?

Create a signal

In our household, the signal that you need to be heard is pulling on your right ear. It's the same movement as when you play 'charades'. You will usually have the other person say, "Sounds like..." The response can be "...that I need someone to be a sounding board." It may take a few times but they will get it.

Use a cell phone basket

Last Christmas dinner I put a cute bow on a basket. I put my phone in it and passed it around. I didn't have to make a huge speech. I simply let the kids know that they could get their cell phones back once the meal and presents were over. It worked! In fact, the teenagers were policing their parents on the use of cell phones at the table.

Prayer

Forgive me, Lord, for my self-absorption and concern for the wrong things. I appreciate the reminder that these little ones  will soon be grown and will not need me to listen. In fact, allow me to teach them well so that when it's my turn to want a listening ear they will put their electronic devices down and 'listen with their eyes'. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Slow Down and Accept the Help

Karen Sebastian - Thursday, February 16, 2017

Slow Down and Accept the Help

So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:16 (MSG)

We are experiencing an early spring here in North Texas. What that look like at my house is lots of dandelions and other weeds in my yard. They are emerging with a strong root system and fun puff balls that my granddaughter loves to scatter throughout the whole yard.

This morning I felt a sense of panic grip my heart as I looked at the way the weeds seemed to be taking over. I only have 5 minutes to spare. I went out and started to pull the weeds. I was overwhelmed with how much needed to be done. Then I felt a cool breeze.

I made the decision to slow down and ask for help. As I said a prayer I felt a surge of purpose in picking one small patch and making that one area weed free. What a revelation! I don't have to do it all at once.  Instead, I can celebrate every bit of progress and keep going tomorrow.

The second decision is that I can ask for advice and help. It's as simple as going to weed and feed store to ask for the best weed control lawn food. Then I can ask the guy who mows my lawn to apply it properly.

Slowing down can bring clarity

The decision to fully enjoy every part of the process focuses in on what's important. Be intentional and clear about expressing your love and appreciation to those closest to you. Just pausing for a few minutes to take a break to enjoy the cool breeze was refreshing to my body and my spirit.

Slowing down can lift the weight of responsibilityi

There is a part of me that enjoys getting things done. I could be what you would call a workaholic at times. My focus streamlines to the end result and leaves out the people around me. I become curt and defensive. 

Slowing down can help us see that others are willing to help

I avoid being a martyr when I openly ask for help instead of hinting around about it. Open and clear communication of what I need is a gift to those who love me and want to serve me. I am still going to clip as many of the puff balls on the dandelions as I can. For the flowers, I am happy to let the bees enjoy them for a few more weeks as it get to them gradually and steadily.

How about you? How are you going to slow down and ask for help?

It is a wonderful way to show you love someone.

Prayer

Father, forgive me for trying so hard to do it all on my own. Underneath all the defenses of trying to do things my way I can say that I truly want to come boldly to You. I lay aside all my self efforts and relax into the purposes You have for my life. It may not look like what I thought it would, yet I will rest in what You have planned for me and trust, with hope, that is good.  Teach me your ways. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Linking up with Katy Motaung  - Five Minute Friday  

Today's prompt was "Slow" 
You are given five minutes to write about the prompt, no editing, no erasing, just writing for Five Minutes. For more information and to read other's writings, go to the above link.

View Life through Your Hope Filter

Karen Sebastian - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

View Life through Your Hope Filter

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Faith, hope and love are intricately linked. Faith if believing for the impossible. Hope is a confident assurance of a good outcome. Love is the sense of belonging and knowing that we are a family. Hope is hard to hold on to when someone you love seems determined to keep going in the wrong direction. That was our oldest daughter during her teenage years. This happened a few years ago before we all had cell phones where you can track where your kids go. One night, after a heated argument, she slammed to door and didn't come back for two weeks.

It was during this difficult time that I had a life-changing experience around the reality of hope. I remember that I was sitting at the kitchen table crying uncontrollably. My prayers were angry cries that the Lord teach her a strong lesson because I was so tired of this behavior. (Have you ever thanked God for not answering your prayers when your heart was not right? I do now.)

I was begging for wisdom to know what to do. When I finally had no more tears to shed I was prepared to listen to His answer. I felt Him speak to my heart, "Paint her a picture of hope. Look at her through My eyes of hope."
You can read more details about this miracle in my book, The Power of Hope for Prodigals: Prepare the Way Home.

Get out of the way

When you are angry because of the choices of those you love you want to withhold your love. Instead, be loving while you let your teen suffer the consequences of his/her behavior. This really works. It can be a hard balance to find so practice it regularlyl for when you really need it.

Share hope generously

You can share hope without showing approval. Put your confidence in the plan God has for your loved ones and trust Him to continue to work in their lives no matter what it looks like right now.

Change the atmosphere

Hope changes the atmosphere of any room you enter. When you stop being the ruler of your world you can relax, laugh and enjoy the memories you are creaating. One day this will be hilarious. Trust me! I know it's true.

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that you define yourself with the word HOPE. That means that you will provide the joy and peace that I need in the midst of the hardest situations. Others may give up hope but You never do because it is who You are. It would be like giving up on Yourself and we know that is never going to happen. When I trust You to work out the details You fill me with ALL joy and peace in the middle of the mess. I release my loved ones to You. Forgive me for painting a dismal picture of what the enemy will do in their lives instead of encouraging them with who they already are in You. Fill me with so much hope that I slosh on everyone around me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Keep Communication Channels Open

Karen Sebastian - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Keep Communication Channels Open

Words have power in matters of life and death, and those who love them will savor their fruit. Proverbs 18:21 Voice

One of the last conversations with my late husband, Bill, was filled with tension as he gasped for breath. I was upset and angry that he really didn't want to go to the doctor to get it checked out. Looking back on it we were both afraid. I regret that our last conversation was not full of loving words as he told me how he really felt. I won the argument and we got good news and bad news. The good news is that he qualified to get a ventilator so he could get the oxygen he needed. The bad news was that he was put on a ventilator so he could no longer speak as he had to keep the C-Pap mask on full-time. The good news was that it had several filters that allowed him to continue hanging out with our beloved grandsons. The bad news is that we were unable to hear his voice ever again because he did not have enough air to make a sound. The vocal chords were in good shape. What had happened is that his diaphragm failed.

A few weeks before Bill moved to Heaven, our oldest daughter came to see him. I was gone and so she was unable to get in the house because she forgot her key. She sat on the porch and yelled at him through the window. He responded by texting on her cell phone. When you can no longer speak then use whatever means you have to still communicate and speak honoring words.

Our other daughter had the custom of telling Dad she loved him every time she said good-bye. She usually said, "I love you to the moon and back." He also used a white board to communicate and therefore wrote, "I love you to Pluto and back." 

"Dad, Pluto isn't even a planet anymore," she chided him.

"I know, sweetie," he replied. "But it is the furthest away from the earth."

To this day, we still say "I love you Pluto and back," every time we say good-bye.

Speak honoring words

Your words are important. Speak positive, honoring words every opportunity that you get. If you are tempted to say unkind words, say nothing. Words establish an atmosphere and change the course of lives.

Develop special code words

There are times that you may need a hug or for someone to be quiet for a few minutes. The code in our family was to pull on your ear (like when you are playing charades). Just as soon as you pull on your ear the other person says, "Sounds like...." The response to that "silence." Sometimes we would forget what they meant and would start laughing as they kept tugging on their ear lobe. This little code actually helped us put out many potential firestorms in our family as we laughed together (after apologizing for whatever offense caused the need for an ear tug).

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the truth that our words are so powerful. I choose today to speak encouraging, life-giving words to those closest to me. I love positive words and the fruit they can produce in everyone I meet. I choose to be known as the one who inspires and lifts others up. I choose to change the atmosphere in every room I enter by the power of hope and love manifested in how I speak.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Strengthen Weaknesses with Hope

Karen Sebastian - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Strengthen Weaknesses with Hope

So, with confidence and hope in this message, strengthen those with feeble hands, shore up the weak-kneed and weary. Hebrews 12:12 (Voice)

Despite the adult-onset Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD), my late husband, Bill, had strong legs. He had worked diligently as a young man to strengthen them. The disease began to take its toll on his body and first affected his core. He would often say, "At least my legs are still strong."

I will always remember the night I sat by the side of his bed and had to lift his legs on up to the bed because he no longer had the strength to do so. As I lay in bed that night, I wept to think of the wasting away of something that brought confidence to him. Yet, through it all, he maintained a positive faith-filled approach to life. 

In the last few months of his life he had to use a ventilator full-time in order to breathe. He chose to use a C-Pap mask with the ventilator and so was unable to speak. Each morning he would point to his legs. I knew what he meant. He wanted me to pray for the healing and strength of his legs. I would pray and then he would somehow manage to get out of bed and take faltering steps with the walker. We used a scooter to get him to his lift chair in the living room. And he made it - every single day.

We continued forward with hope and confidence. In his weakness, we saw miracles every day.

Our confidence in the Lord grew and our hope knew no bounds.

Point out potential strengths

We often are very aware of the weaknesses of those we love. Instead of a direct attack, stop to consider what needs to be strengthened. Pray about it. Speak to the areas where God is working.

Paint a picture of hope

Fear torments us when we see the shortcomings of others. Instead of focusing on their weakness recognize that God is working to bring an upgrade in those very areas. Also, if you are super irritated, it is probably an area where God needss to work in your life.

Show kindness and grace

Demonstrate the same grace you would like to receive. Come along side that person with encouragement. They may just need a nap so give them a chance to rest when they are weary. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the honor and privilege of coming alongside those we love with hope and strength. We joyfully hold up their tired arms and help them up when they fall down. Thank you for the strength that comes from you as we  life in peace no matter what is happening. We ask for your wisdom in taking in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for your sake. Give us the wisdom to recognize that when we are our weakest, You makes us strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (Voice) In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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Join the fun by writing for five minutes every Friday. This is a dynamic group and opportunity to link up with other bloggers.
 

Honor the Meaning of Their Name

Karen Sebastian - Sunday, February 12, 2017

Honor the Meaning of Their Name

Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient. Revelation 2:17 Voice

The meaning of names is important even though many times we don't act like it is true. Our culture does not put as great a significance on what a name means when picking names for our babies. It is a different story in the Bible. In fact, significant things happened when God changed names. We see examples in Abram (meaning exalted father) when it was changed to Abraham (father of multitudes). Sarai (princess) became Saran (mother of nations). Jacob (meaning supplanter i.e. deceiver and one who grasps) to Israel which means honest man of God. In Heaven, we will one day get a stone with our new name engraved on it.

Ways to honor names

  • Do a little research to find out what the names mean. Write it in a card.
  • Find a verse that goes along with the main concept defining the name.
  • Tell stories of how they have fulfilled the positive aspects of their name and explore ways they can grow in those areas.
  • One of the most loving things you can do is create an acrostic for the names of your loved ones. Look for the words that personify how you see them and their potential. I created photo books for my grandsons and used a significant word for each letter in their name. They still ask to look at them. One day I will give it to them to pass them on to their children so they can honor their names as well. 

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for your commitment to the details in our lives even down to the very meaning of our names. I am so very grateful that you speak life and newness over us. You have great plans of hope and purpose no matter what we are going through. Bless our loved ones with fulfilling their destiny. In Jesus' name. Amen.

28 Ways to Honor and Love Series


For more inspiration on how to honor and love those closest to you during this season of love click here.

Author, speaker, corporate trainer, ordained minister and Hope Catalyst, Karen Sebastian enjoys sharing her rich life experiences with others – engaging them in adventurous discoveries of the beauty of hope in a dark, cloudy world. Her books will inspire you to embrace hope no matter what you are going through. To increase hope and improve relationships with yourself and those that you love, sign up to receive Karen's emails.

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