Courage, hope, love…and the Cross

April 2, 2012 | My Jottings

My friend Ember went on a family trip recently to a place Michael and I fell in love with when we visited England in 2007 — Yorkshire. As he and I drove the back roads and visited some of the villages, and as we walked in awe through the York Minster, we dreamed of living in northern England. Silly dreams, I guess, but we dreamed them anyway.

Recently Ember sent me a beautiful carved wooden cross from Thicket Priory in Yorkshire. Its soft, rounded edges and diagonal slant make it perfect for holding in the palm of one’s hand. I keep it on my nightstand near our bed, and love to hold it in my left hand and ponder what it means to me.

Of course this gift makes me think of a caring friend who prays for and encourages me. She makes me laugh and blesses my life in many ways.

I also think of what the cross of Christ means to followers of Jesus. I read this quote recently and gratitude welled up in me once again, for how truly astonishing the love of God is…

“For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God,
while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man.

“Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be;
God sacrifices Himself for man and puts Himself where only man deserves to be.

“Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone;
God accepts penalties that belong to man alone.”

John Stott, from The Cross of Christ

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

Ember also sent three cards with words representing what I need right now in my journey. Courage for whatever difficult, beautiful things might be ahead, hope for the sale of our house and possible move to a new home, and love.

I am blessed.  🙂

I woke this morning to flashes of lightning and hard rain hitting the windows of our bedroom, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I came downstairs, turned up the heat a little, and read my email and a couple of my favorite blogs.

Today will be a full day of appointments and appointment-making. And even though it’s Michael’s 63rd birthday, I will be driving one of our gals south so she can spend time with a family member this week.

Last night our family gathered at Michael’s favorite Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate his birthday a day early, and it was noisy and sweet. My seven grandchildren seem to change and grow before my very eyes, and in a little over three months I will meet my newest granddaughter when she is born. Sharon and Chris are calling her Baby Shamrock right now.

I think of all the things I dream about for my children and grandchildren, and I guess these three words really do express my deepest prayers for them all.

I know they will all face hard times, and I want them to take courage when those times come. I want them to be brave, knowing that challenging times will pass, that courageous, good decisions really will change the course of their lives, and that they can trust in the Lord when their own courage fails them.

I want my peeps to have hope. I want them to hang on when things seem hopeless, and wait patiently for the God of all hope to make Himself known in whatever circumstances they face. I will remind them that I’ve felt hopeless in my lifetime, and God has always come through and given me hope just when I’ve needed it most. My family knows that cardinals are a wondrous sign of His hope for me.

And I want my loved ones to know love. Not love as the world so falsely portrays, but real love. The kind of love that is patient and kind, and not envious or boastful or proud. The kind of love that honors people whether they seem to deserve it or not. I want the kind of love that causes people to lay down their selfishness and anger, to permeate their lives. The kind of love that doesn’t tally up all the wrongs done, but is truthful, protective, loyal and persevering.

I certainly didn’t always model this kind of love in my life. It’s this very sobering confession that makes me want something different for my own kin. Of course they knew I loved them and would give my life for them, but I have a memory or three that I would give anything to do over.

I believe that true courage, hope and love were spectacularly displayed by Jesus, all during His life on earth and especially on the cross. So when I ask Jesus to give my husband, my children, my grandchildren and me courage, hope and love, I know I’m going to the One person who has a limitless supply of all three.

God bless your week, dear ones…


  1. Roberta says:

    Wishing Michael a very blessed birthday, with endless blessings for hope, love and courage throughout this year, in the company of his beautiful, caring family.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Awww….thank you Roberta! I will tell him about your good wishes. God bless your week! xxoo

  3. Helen in Switzerland says:

    Just lovely….and happy birthday to Michael.
    Julie, I come from Northern England – believe me you wouldn’t want to live there – the weather is horrible most of the time!!!

  4. Just Julie says:

    I have heard that about northern England, Helen. I wonder if it could be worse than northern Minnesota though? 🙂 Thank you for the birthday wishes to Michael too….

  5. Ember says:


  6. Tauni says:

    Please wish Michael a Blessed, and Happy Birthday from me as well.

  7. Just Julie says:

    Yes I will Taun! Thank you… LY

  8. Dorothy Sooter says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Michael also. My son Jim’s birthday is
    Also today and I did not get cards off to either one of these
    wonderful men. Julie, your love for the Lord is such a blessing
    and your writings warm my heart. God Bless

  9. Just Julie says:

    Happy birthday to Kacie on the 26th (Dad would have been 92!) and happy birthday to Jim today too! Love to you all….

  10. Ganeida says:

    Late again! But happy birthday to Michael anyway! 😀

  11. Just Julie says:

    I will tell him Ganeida! Thank you….

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