That Scrappy Little Thing Called Hope

Hope.

I keep coming back again and again to this word.  I’m not really sure why.  I felt God whisper it into my spirit a little over two years ago as my word for 2015.  It turned out to be an anchor for my soul that year, as we began the lengthy and emotional process of pursuing adoption.  I took a highlighter to every phrase or scripture or sentence that mentioned hope and guzzled the truth of it down like water.  I wrote an entire blog series on what I was learning about hope that fall.  It began to grow hands and feet and meat and bones and come to life as a powerful thing for me that year.  And only God knew how much I would need to hang on tight to hope with my clenched fists.

Lately, I haven’t always wanted to see reminders of hope though.  To be honest, it’s been easier to push hope down and close my ears to her whispers of remembrance.  She feels pesky, and I don’t want to listen.  I want to go on with the details of my life without feeling the pain of unmet desires that she often brings.

But now, a year and a half later, I still can’t seem to shake this pesky little friend, Hope.  And even though she feels irritating at times, if I’m honest with myself, I’m glad she’s stuck around.  I have reminders of her on our walls, on my phone, in conversations.  She keeps popping up everywhere.

You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away.  And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning.  And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security.  ~Job 11:16-18

Hope is the joyful anticipation of good.  ~from sermon notes on January 10, 2016

There’s an episode of Friends (‘how you doin’?’) where Phoebe and Monica try to ‘freeze out’ an annoying friend.  As they come up with a plan for cutting her out of their lives, it becomes apparent that Phoebe once tried to do the very same thing, unsuccessfully, to Monica.

Hope is basically Monica for me.  No matter what I’ve tried to do – ignore her reminders, stay busy, tick through life like a checklist, push all-the-feelings about adoption and the waiting process deep down inside – she just keeps clawing her way back in.  She’s scrappy like that.

Maybe you can relate.

Do you feel like you can’t keep up, can’t measure up, can’t do all the things that need to be done?  It would be so much easier to throw up your hands and give up.  Hope is that voice that comes up behind you and says, “You need to know that it won’t always be like this.”

Do you feel like you’re teetering on the edge of burn-out, running on adrenaline and your 16th cup of coffee by 11:00am?  You just can’t handle one more person putting one more thing on your plate or you’ll snap.

Is your soul bone-tired and in need of a shot of courage?  And yet even the thought of courage seems laughable right now.  Courage takes work…and you’re tired.

Are you in a season of waiting that seems unending?  You’re sick and tired of answering the question in everyone’s eyes with one more ‘not yet.’

Everything in you says the easiest thing would be to tell Hope to shove it, to move on to someone else who has the energy to give a rip right now.  And so you do.  You slam the door in her face.  But somehow, SOMEHOW, that scrappy little voice of Hope claws her way back in, comes up behind you and says, “You need to know that it won’t always be like this.”

Sometimes, that’s all Hope is…the tiniest glimmer. That little spark that says, ‘It won’t always be like this. This too shall pass.’

Against all odds. Against all discouragement. Against all the endless waiting and sameness of whatever season you find yourself in.  THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Because hope…she’s a scrappy little thing.  She’ll claw her way back in even when we try to cut her out so we can wallow in our sorry.  Been there, done that.

One of the definitions of ‘scrappy’ is ‘inclined to fight.’  It’s humorous, really.  Because if that’s true, and hope really is scrappy, then that means that she’s inclined to fight.  Sometimes it feels like she’s fighting against you…and all you want is for her to go. away. already.

But really, hope is inclined to fight for us.  She’ll fight through the discouragement, the exhaustion, the weariness, the unending sameness to bring courage to our hearts and remind us that it won’t always be this way.  That Christ is for us.  That we are not forgotten, but we are wildly loved.

And the truth is that hope that’s built on Christ, built on the Truth…well, she’s more than scrappy.  She’s downright victorious.

 

 

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Weekend Reads – Episode 17

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It’s Friday y’all, and according to the calendar, it’s the first official Friday of the summer.  Although I don’t know about you, but here in Mississippi it’s already been summer (read: 80+ degrees and ThankGodforAC) since the beginning of May.  Calendar-shmalendar.  But in the spirit of things, I hope this weekend finds you sipping lemonade, dipping your toes in the water, eating something grilled, and all manner of summery fun!  Here are a few good reads along the way.

1 Real Cure for Burnout by Ann Voskamp

“All except One will assess your performance.  Only One will accept you before your performance.  Pillage and loot the world for all it’s worth, but only in Jesus is there 100% acceptance before even 1% performance.”

Get Off Your Porch by (in)courage

“I’ve always felt that I deserved people to move toward me to create community, especially when I’m the new girl in town.  The problem is that we’ve moved a lot and I’m almost always the ‘new girl.’  Some of us need to get off of our porch and stop expecting people to come to us.”

Ouch, yeah, I needed to hear that.

Why We Need to Start Calling Each Other Names – For Real by Ann Voskamp

“With the richness of the party draped still over my shoulders, I thought once again about how one of the great tragedies of our Western culture is that we have a nasty habit of waiting until we’re standing at someone’s funeral to speak the very truth about them that we saw all along, the truth that most made them who they are and the truth that, perhaps, they most needed to know if they were ever going to step into the person they were created to be.”

The Best Question to Ask When Things Are Going Hard by Katie Ganshert

“We may never know why something happens – why this circumstance, why this outcome, why this dratted, discouraging setback.  Those aren’t answers easily found.  But whoWho is all around.”

THIS.

Confessions of a Contributor by Alia Joy for (in)courage

“Sometimes we think to make room for someone else in our circles we have to reach out.  But really, more often, we just need to step back.  Isn’t that always how the kingdom gets things done?  Backwards and upside down.  Because when we all step back, the circle widens.  The gaps become apparent and the silence in between begs for us to hear each other.”

Happy First-Weekend-of-Summer!

 

Weekend Reads – Episode 16

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Summertime is almost here, can you smell it?  Well, let’s be honest, here in Mississippi there’s no ‘almost’ about it.  Thank you God for the blessing of air conditioning.  Here are a few good reads for your summery, holiday weekend.

Rename the Days by Trista Payne

“We are story in process, telling of all His purposes.  We matter because Jesus gave everything for us and His story is repeated through every tiny life – mine and yours and all those estranged from the life of God.”

 From Good to Grace by Martha Kimball

“Sometimes we have to lose everything we’re clinging to in order to see and know and experience how held we are.”

The 19 Best Children’s Book Quotes

This one is just plain fun…there were definitely more than a few of my childhood (and still!) favorites here, including this one:

“And so for a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to an end; but that was not to be…

How to Survive in a World of Loud Critics and Judgers – Including the Repetitive One in Your Mind by Ann Voskamp

This line – “Jesus unsettles the comfortable and He comforts the unsettled.”

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Happy Memorial Day, friends!  May there be barbeque and swimming and cold drinks and lawn chairs and friends and family in abundance.

10 Must-Reads for Your Summer Book List

Summertime.  Longer days.  Warmer temperatures.  BBQ.  Lounging by the pool.  Afternoons on the porch reading a thick book, sipping sweet tea while the dog snoozes at your feet.  If you’re anything like me, you love and long for the slower pace of summer, and at the same time thank the good Lord for the genius who invented air conditioning.

Because those lazy days of sunshine are just around the corner, here are 10 books perfect for your summer reading list…

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This post first appeared on Flourish, the Noonday Collection blog.  Continue the reading party with us over here…

On Being Willing to Go First

Can I be completely honest with you? Friendship is hard for me. It didn’t used to be. At least, I don’t remember it feeling that way. But since I’ve been married and moved to a new-to-me state and town, I’ve found myself fumbling with the intentionality that it takes to really make friendships work. In my single days, I was placed in positions where I had no choice but to be intentional in my friendships and relationships. I lived for four years in Beijing, China, where I was part of teams that did life together on a daily basis. Those were ready-made friendships – for better or worse. When I moved back to the States, I taught elementary school and had roommates who shared life and shoes and jewelry and late-night snack attacks. You have to be intentional when you live with someone.

Read more here…

This post first appeared over on Flourish, the Noonday Collection blog, last week.