Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When Hope Looks a Little Crazy


While the blizzard of 2016 swirled around the east coast, Florida got gusty winds and the coldest weather of the new year. I grabbed a denim jacket and went to visit my dad in the hospital.

I stepped off the elevator and before I could even look for the sign to direct me to his room, I heard my dad’s voice.

He was walking the halls with a therapist, showing off with a few sprightly hops that he could walk perfectly fine on his own. I was surprised to see him up and around since my mother said the day before hadn’t been so good.

My dad spotted me from end of the hall and waved. The therapist watched him and then asked in a voice that clearly questioned his faculties, “Do you think you know her?” 

My dad looked at her like she might have a few screws loose. “Of course,” he said. “That’s my daughter.”

Hope sometimes looks a little crazy.

* * * * 



My friend Erin and I feel like we’re sort of related. Maybe it’s because we’re both Italian, maybe it’s because we’re both aunties of nieces, and maybe it’s because our sisters are our best friends. 

We get each other.

She was telling me how happy she was that her youngest sister announced she was pregnant, but she has some mixed feelings. Erin’s the oldest in a family of three girls and although she and her husband have been married the longest, it’s just the two of them so far. Her middle sister already has two girls and now her youngest sister was having a baby too.

She told me this might sound silly, but she’d always wanted to be the sister that had the first boy in the family. It was kind of a dream of hers.

She laughed as she told me and said she was praying about her feelings. 

I felt compelled to offer her a worst-case scenario and said, “Well, you’d better prepare yourself just in case, because your little sister just might have a boy and steal the show.”



I didn’t even realize what I’d done until days later.

I was a hope-squasher. A dream-killer. I threw cold water over the heartfelt words a friend shared with me.

I know what it feels like because I’m there too.

{And maybe you are too?}

I have a few things buried deep in my heart that seem practically impossible. They look absolutely dead at times, but every so often things look up, and there’s hope. 

Then it’s bleak and cold again.


I’ve sat across the table from my friends who were excited with me at first. Cheered me on. But as time dragged by, {for God's timeframes are always longer than we expect} they'd ask for the latest update and start looking at me like I'm a little crazy for hoping.

“I’d say there’s a 50-50 chance of this thing reviving,” one friend told me, although she dropped her eyes and I knew she really thought it was more like zero.

“I wish you’d get closure with this so you could just move on,” another friend said, as she moved on to another topic.

“I can’t understand it,” said another, shaking her head. “I just don’t know what to tell you.”

My friends meant to be helpful, but their words stung.



I desperately wanted someone to say, 'I don’t understand what God’s doing either in your life, but I’ll stand with you and pray with you and hope with you.'

Then I remembered the unasked-for opinion I was so quick to give to Erin a few weeks ago. I realized I’d said the very discouraging words that so many have said to me. 

I grabbed my phone and sent her a text and told her I was sorry for the words I'd said without thinking and I wanted to pray with her for this desire of her heart.

* * * *

As I sat in my dad’s hospital room, my phone buzzed with a text. It was from my friend Erin.

Her sister’s having a girl.



I left the hospital as the wind gusted around me on my way to the parking lot. I decided to stop at a store on my way home in search of some cozy pajamas for this coldest night of the year. 

At the far end of the store I spotted it. A pillow with words as plain as the letters on a typewriter.

Hope. 

Standing stark in gray and cream. In the colors of my new bedspread.

I carried the pillow into my house as my mother texted me. All the hospital tests came back clear and my dad could go home.

Even when it’s cold and bleak and sometimes when it looks a little crazy  {and maybe because that’s when you least it expect it} hope shows up.

Don't give up hope.



I'm having coffee with my friends Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Join me there for more posts from my blogging friends!





And here's a little invitation for you: Beginning Feb. 15, my friend Heather at Recollected Design and I will get together via a Facebook group to study Angie Smith’s Seamless, to see how the people and promises of the Bible fit together and what they mean for our lives. Get a copy of the book here or here and come join us on Facebook! 


26 comments:

  1. This was so beautifully written Valerie... ♥ So glad your dad is ok! Jesus truly knows all our tomorrows. I'm definitely going to be more mindful of standing on the promises of God rather than the opinions of my own sometimes out of whack heart. What a great reminder. All your photos are divine and the pillow really is perfect. ♥ When you think of all the crazy hope God gave people through his promises in the Old Testament (babies at advanced ages, walls tumbling with a shout, armies defeated with unmatched numbers, a Savior coming as a baby...) well it kind of makes our 'crazy' hope somehow seem normal. Love you so! xoxo

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    1. Heather,
      Oh I love all those stories of crazy hope in the Bible! And I love it that it can make our crazy hope seem okay, no matter what we're hoping for. I want to be more mindful, more intentional about my words - {ha -- maybe I've just discovered my word for the year!!} and realize that I can share in the hope when God moves in the lives of those around me!

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  2. What a great post! I am a first time reader who stumbled upon this through Bonnie Gray. Your post reminds that Christ came "full of GRACE and TRUTH." (John 1:14) I tend to lead with "truth" but need to lead with "grace" and speak the truth only in love. Your post underscores this point for me and I hope to become a "recovering dream dasher." Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by -- I'm so happy to have you here! And I love your phrase -- recovering-dream-dasher- -- LOVE IT!

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  3. What a great sentiment! I love everything about this post! How thoughtful to put yourself in a friends perspective and support their dreams, no matter how you feel about the likelihood of them coming true.

    I think that is what we look for sometimes when divulging these hopes, less discouragement and judgement, or even encouragement - just simple support and understanding from a good friend.

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    1. You're so right, Brittany! And you're just the kind of friend to me that you describe above! xoxo

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  4. NEVER, EVER gift up HOPE - because it changes EVERYTHING. I love this post!!! At Holley's today in slot #85

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    1. Susan,
      Thank you so much for your kind words -- I'm so glad you stopped by!

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  5. Oh Valerie, this line especially made my eyes tear up - your desire to hear "I don’t understand what God’s doing either in your life, but I’ll stand with you and pray with you and hope with you." I wanted so much to give you a big hug. So do you hear me saying it with all my heart? To YOU? All things are possible with God, no matter how pointless our hopes and dreams may seem to some. I know you mentioned before of your desire for a husband and children. Whether it's that desire or another or both, know I am hoping and praying with you. May we together travel this journey of HOPE in life, keeping our eyes to the ONE who has the power to do anything. Blessings and hugs to you, my friend!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      I love that you are praying for me and standing with me -- your prayers mean so much to me, dear friend! So grateful to have met you on this blogging journey! And yes, all things are possible with God!

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  6. I have a person in my life, a close person, who lives to throw cold water on other people. This person has shown me it's no way to live and I'm determined to not be the same way. I pray everyday for this person and beg God to not let me be like them.

    Saying something off-handed is human and there is grace. And I love how you realized what you did and reached out to your friend. Unfortunately, some people do not see that their own bitterness from squashed dreams affects others.
    Thank you for reminding me it's so important to keep a tight reign on my tongue and for my words to be grace, love, and kind.
    I missed popping in here, so glad to be back!

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    1. Hi Alecia,
      So happy you're back and blogging! It's hard to see ourselves sometimes, isn't it? But I'm praying to recognize more the times my words are thoughtless and offering grace to others (and to myself, too!)

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  7. What a beautiful story about your Dad, Valerie! That is so funny. Hope does look a little crazy sometimes. It's hard to know what to say when people share their struggles, isn't it? I'm glad your friend's sister is having a girl. :-)

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    1. Hi Betsy,
      Thanks for stopping over and thanks for your kind words about my dad, too!

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  8. Hi Valerie- Thanks for your beautiful post. My eyes are a bit teary as I have something I have been wrestling through and hoping for and it looks like it isn't going to happen. :( and it has made me very sad- I am talking to God about it and trying to hope that His plan is better than mine even when it feels hard. Have felt like giving up hoping but this has encouraged me not to- and to put my hope in a good father who loves me and has the best in mind. (even if it looks a little different than I planned!- Thanks for the beautiful post- So glad your dad is ok too! Sending hugs and love

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I've been pondering your words here and prayed for you last night in your own hope-filled situation. I've come to the conclusion that God is a God of hope and he is the giver of hope so he doesn't want us to live our lives without it. When I'm discouraged I think of the verse in Psalms that says we will still see God's goodness here - in the land of the living -- so he will work all that's in our lives for our good. Even when it doesn't feel like it or seem like it, right? Praying with you and standing with you in hope for we know that nothing is impossible with God. xo

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    2. Thanks so much for your prayers Valerie and for these words and for hoping/ standing with me!! You are so kind! Thankful for encouragement and the truth you always point my heart to- xo

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  9. Such a beautiful post. All of us have the potential to be hope-killers and dream-squashers. Fortunately we all have the opportunity to be the hopeful, dreaming, encouragers. With grace.

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    1. Jenni,
      So grateful for your kind words and encouragement here!

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  10. Val - what a super great article - just loved it. You have such insight and an avenue of thoughtfulness and understanding for others that is amazing....and you put it into words so beautifully. Thank you for doing your blog - you'll never know how many people you encourage. Hope does come - in God's timing! So glad your dad is ok, too!

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    1. Hi Sharon,
      I'm always happy to hear from you here! Your faithful encouragement means more than I can say!

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  11. I loved this post, Valerie, for so many reasons. But mostly because you wanted to have that person in your life who'd say, "I don't get it, but I'm here." And that's the reason we write, isn't it?! So that people can find hope and know that it's okay to feel that, to say it. So they can learn from what God has taught us as we share it with honesty and transparency. You've done that beautifully in your space, friend. So glad your dad is okay too. Hugs.

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    1. Tiffany,
      You are so right that we write (ha!) to get the "me, too!" Thank you for always being here with your kind words, friend! xo

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  12. Oh the times I have waited on God to act! You do start to lose hope or feel crazy for the little bit you cling to.
    Right now I have hope for several situations, as praying is all I can do to help. And it is all I need.
    Glad your Dad is OK!

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  13. Oh my, I think I have been one to squash hope in others too. Why should I think my "great insight" would supercede what God actually might have in store for one who holds tight to hope in Him? OUch! Thank you for this post Valerie. Blessings to you dear friend,
    Patti

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