Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When Hope Seems Out of Left Field


It’s our brushes with hope that shape how we think when the odds are stacked against us.

I remembered this last week as the Cubs came from behind to win the World Series, because I once had a front row seat to see what happens when you keep hoping. 

Well, it was actually a second row seat. 

Behind home plate. 

I went to game 4 of the 1979 World Series in Pittsburgh when the Pirates played the Orioles. 

My ticket cost $12. 

I'm pretty sure today $12 wouldn't buy me a hot dog at the World Series.



But I was an eighth grader then, crazy about baseball and I remember my parents debating whether or not they should spend the money on the tickets. 

My mother told my dad that we should go since who knew if we’d ever get a chance to go to another World Series game? So we went.

But the Pirates lost the game and were down three games to one in the series. 

The mood was somber as we disheartened fans trudged out of the stadium that day. It seemed silly to even hope we could pull off such a miracle. 

I mean, there were only three teams in the history of baseball, since 1925, that came back to win the series after that deficit, and the Pirates would have to win two on the road. 

But who was crazy enough to think that far ahead? They just had to win the next game.



But the next day they did win the game and that tiny flicker of hope still alive in my heart got a little stronger. 

They traveled to Baltimore and won the next two games, winning the World Series in the best come-from-behind style you could imagine.

So I thought maybe like me, you could use a little story about hope today.

Because I’ve seen with my own eyes from my almost-front-row-seat what happens when you keep hoping when everyone says it's next to impossible. 



I think this early training ground in the stadium of hope was a valuable coach for me. 

Because to be honest, I’m not naturally all that hopeful. 

I tend to look at the glass half-empty. I wait for the other shoe to drop. I expect if something could go wrong, it probably will.

These days I'm a little unsure if I’m following a game plan or a life plan, some other kind of plan or no-kind-of-plan.

But I know when I lose hope it’s because I’m looking too far in the future, worrying about all the what-ifs when just taking the next step is what’s required of me. 

God is the miracle-maker and wonder-worker, not me. 



He asks me to pray, look for him and follow, but I make it more difficult with all the pressure I put on myself. 

Sometimes I need to remember the game’s not entirely mine to win or lose, but I do have a role to play.

It's to step up to the plate and take a swing at the curve balls in life.

It's to run down the foul balls because you never know when the wind shifts and the ball might turn fair.

It's to look up when I'm brought to my knees by a wayward pitch, because maybe on my knees is a good place to start to pour out my heart's lament.

And it's to come from behind when I'm down and out and my hope is barely breathing and realize it's a whole new ballgame. It's possible that my next turn at bat could serve up the winning pitch.

So I'm wondering if you want to join me in hoping {for whatever you're hoping for}, even though it seems hopeless?


Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." - Rom. 4:18

Have you ever played those icebreaker games in groups that ask you to share three facts about yourself, two true and one false? 

{I'm not a fan of them.}

For the truthful tidbits about myself, I always say I've ridden in a helicopter and gone to the World Series. 

{Separately of course, since I did not ride in a helicopter to the World Series, although wouldn't that be something?} 



No one ever believes those two things are true about me.

I'm not sure if it's because I don't look sporty enough to be interested in baseball or adventurous enough to ride in a helicopter, but {ha!} looks are deceiving. 

Maybe the next time I'm asked to play the icebreaker game I should say I'm hoping to sell my 2,000 baseball cards.


{Just between me and you, that’s true, too.}




I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image if you'd like to read more posts from my blogger friends.




34 comments:

  1. Yes, Valerie, I think the biggest obstacle to hope is we think it's up to us. That can deflate me in record time. Thanks for your wise words on our part.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Debby,
      Your word "deflate" sums it up perfectly! It is the biggest opponent to hope and from there it's a downward slide, isn't it? Thanks for adding your words here, friend!

      Delete
  2. Valerie, do you REALLY have 2,000 baseball cards? That's awesome! Seriously, I love this (and not just because I'm a KC Royals fan). The next step is what is required (not the 47-point plan of how it's all going to work out that I would love to receive via email). I needed this today, my friend. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lois,
      A fellow baseball lover! I hear you on wanting a 47-point plan of how to proceed -- oh I would love that too and I think that's why God asks us to just take it one day, one step at a time to those of us who like things a little more orderly, a little more instructive! :) Yes, I really do have that many cards -- it's silly, isn't it? I collected them all through my middle school years!

      Delete
  3. Dear Valerie,
    Thank you for your beautiful words and pictures again. This: "It's to look up when I'm brought to my knees by a wayward pitch, because maybe on my knees is a good place to start to pour out my heart's lament" is so close to where I feel many days. But, yes, God's HOPE is to be given to me right there, isn't it? Oh, and I love how you have such a fun way of surprising everyone with all of your adventurous ways! Now I want to hear about the helicopter! :-) --Hugs & Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bettie,
      I do think hope is for the taking, if only we can gather up our courage and grab it. But it's so risky, isn't it? I can't say I really enjoyed my helicopter rides, but I used to work for a helicopter that flew the news stations and occasionally the pilots would invite us along so I got to fly around the city and once to a hotel for lunch! :)

      Delete
  4. Definitely, Valerie. I will join you in a movement to believe in hope even when it's against all hope. I really needed to hear this today. I, too, am a glass half empty gal, and sometimes it's so wearying to keep hanging onto hope. As you say, we can put so much pressure on ourselves and look into the future and the what-ifs when we just need to take that next step and follow Jesus. I love the baseball analogy. As children, my brother and I enjoyed many hours listening to Twins' ballgames on radio. My husband and I were rooting this year for the Cubs since we always root for the underdog. :) It was 108 years for them. However, it was a long time for Cleveland, too, so we would have been ok with them winning, too. But we still kept hoping for the Cubs. What a wonderful surprise with that come-from-behind win. Thanks so much for this hope-filled post and for reminding me of that verse! Blessings of hope and hugs to you, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Trudy,
      Good to have you join me in hoping! :) It is wearying and exhausting but I'm convinced it's worth it. I'm with you on the Cubs and Cleveland being worthy champions this year, but somehow the Cubs seemed more hapless and needed the hope, I think! I'm so glad you enjoy baseball too -- it always brings back the nights of summer when I holed up in my bedroom, listening to games on the radio -- I actually loved it! Thanks for reliving the memories with me! xo

      Delete
  5. "God is the miracle-maker and wonder-worker, not me." I love those words, Valerie. I think having our hopes dashed can make it hard to hope again, but I love your perspective here. We can get caught up in the looking too far ahead, when really we just need to look at Him. Great encouragement and as always, your photos are just so lovely. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tiffany,
      Next steps are sometimes all we need to take but sometimes those can be the hardest too!

      Delete
  6. You're so awesome! Always love hearing about another facet of your personality, friend! And what a good word for a dreary weather day here in VA when all feels uncertain-- Feels like i'm on the no-plan plan right now and wondering if I need to step up my game with a life coach or something and then I remember to just keep praying and take the next step-- God has all the following ones under control. Loving your old baseball pics and the weathered coffee shop stools! If I can manage to find some light this weekend- (this time change...grrr) i hope to get pics of the old photos and goodies I brought back from Nashville. Thanks for keeping me grounded with your hope-filled posts Valerie ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather,
      I've missed reading your latest escapades and creative endeavors and can't wait for the Nashville Report {you know it's official when you add a capital letter to the word! :)} Those old baseball photos were from my grandfather's photos from the 1920s. I'm not sure if he played on the teams or not but that charm was his too, that says 1925! This time change always mixes me up too and I don't like the earlier nights -- our time after work seems so limited, doesn't it? But hope always makes it a little lighter (in more ways than one!) xoxo

      Delete
  7. I hear ya', Valerie. I'm not naturally a hope-filled soul ... more a glass half empty kind of girl. I have to work hard at allowing God to transform me because my natural instinct is that the end of the world could be nigh.

    I blame it on the gene pool ...

    But I know He has something better than that for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Linda,
      Ah -- the gene pool -- I love it -- my Italian ancestors were rather somber, melancholy folk so I'll join you in placing the blame there, too! xo

      Delete
  8. Hi Valerie,
    This is so good. I would like to join you in hoping. I find it hard as I too am a glass half empty girl- I love your baseball story and how you have been able to use that in your life! So thankful God is the miracle worker not me- that gives me great hope and freedom too. I love that verse so good thanks for sharing and encouraging me to hope so more! Xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susie,
      Missed you this week! :) Thanks for joining me in hoping and reading my baseball story -- I realize for non-sports fans it might have been a bit tedious! :) but sometimes I forget what I need to remember! And when I think about them again, I see them anew and I see things I've missed before. Not long ago when I was telling myself I had nothing to write about because my life didn't feel new or exciting, I felt like God said You have a lifetime of exciting things, now start writing about them. :) xoxo

      Delete
    2. I loved it that God said that to you - That is so perfect- I feel that way pretty much whenever I sit down to write-:) Its funny how I can have lots of ideas or thoughts driving around in the car when I can’t jot it down then when I sit down I have completely nothing!- I just loved hearing about your love for baseball and imagining you going to the game with your dad-and collecting so many cards! Also cool you have been in a helicopter! I look forward to that story some time! xoxo

      Delete
  9. Two thousand baseball cards? Wow! And perfect words today. I haven't been feeling like I'm living up to my tag line lately of 'inspiring Hope' as I question, 'why am I doing what I'm doing?' So really resonated with your words "These days I'm a little unsure if I’m following a game plan or a life plan, some other kind of plan or no-kind-of-plan." Gosh, I didn't even write a post this week, and did have time, so feeling a bit like I'm failing in the plans I have set out for myself! But one step at a time right? Thank you for inspiring hope in me today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lynn,
      I can so relate about knowing what we're doing but sometimes (since I'm such an orderly/organized person) I think God invites me to live 'unplanned' for a while to see if I can curb my thoughts and take things one day, one step at a time. Because it's actually so hard for me NOT to know! I'm never one to say, let's see how this goes - because I need to know the end before I even get started or it's not worth it to me! So I think maybe the plan for me right now is NOT to plan . . . Maybe you too! xoxo Always love it when you're here -- and I missed reading you this week!

      Delete
  10. I think we all can use your words of hope this week, Valerie. Thanks for being a bright spot of encouragement. I, too, can give up hope too easily so I need this reminder that God is the God of infinite possibilities. Love your story about attending the World Series for $12! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa,
      So sweet are your words! :) I almost didn't want to write about my World Series ticket since $12 makes me appear impossibly ancient! xo

      Delete
  11. I became a baseball fan around that age too, but for the Phillies. Now I cheer for the Braves. Things sure change, don't they?
    And yes, we can all use hope right about now. Thanks for passing some along!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah,
      The Phillies? Archrivals of the Pirates!! :) The Braves are much more worthy of your cheers!

      Delete
  12. You always surprise me Valerie! A $12 World Series ticket. Wow! Most of us probably need hope in some area of our lives. I have a huge miracle I am waiting on God for. Thank you for another encouraging post my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Patti,
      Oh I'll join you in hoping and praying for your huge miracle! Always great to see you here! xo

      Delete
  13. Valerie,
    Reading this took me back to High School and remembering how much you loved baseball. It always floored me that you loved it so. Having three brothers and having to go to so many athletic events; I had to love sports. But, for you not having brother you did it for the love of the game.
    In the mist of all the curve balls thrown at us we need Hope. For years my life was teaching and traveling until the curve ball came my way. I spent 11 months in the ICU unable to eat, drink or even able to have a ice chip. Breathing with a machine and unable to move my doctors and others lost hope sending a priest to my room to give me my last rights. However, all I had was hope in my loving Savior who I had put my faith and hope in.
    During those long months I don't think about my accomplishments or my work; I thought about every person that I had ever met and loved. Hope was all that I had. When my hope was almost gone God stepped in and miracles happened.
    Many a day my mind went back to are days at Wilson and you my friend. Thanks for sharing the importance of Hope :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen,
      Hello old friend! So happy to see you here - welcome to the blog family! :)

      I must hear more about your divine meeting with hope while in the hospital and hear what God is doing in your life these days! I know we are connected on FB so I'll message you there . . .

      And yes, even though I didn't have brothers I somehow found myself interested in sports -- must be the Pittsburgh aura that permeates all who live in the city! :) xo

      Delete
  14. I love the sense I hope I get from reading this. Remembering that it's not all on us...but we do need to cooperate. Good reminder for me today! Love this: "Sometimes I need to remember the game’s not entirely mine to win or lose, but I do have a role to play."--Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy,
      Always nice to see you here, friend! I'm often puzzled at what our role is to play as we walk through life and I know God miraculously invites us to partner with him, but so often it's a step of faith, isn't it? Thanks for being here!

      Delete
  15. Baseball! That's awesmore that you like that sport. I guess if you are from Pa they certainly like their pirates. Pretty dedicated. Lol I will never get that about this state.

    It really sounds like you are really pondering on the future. This post and the last seem really reflective. I really hope that God shows you the way He has for you soon and the meanwhile give you the peace and rest. I am in a season of life with some unknowns but I have been holding onto the verse in Isaiah 26:3-4. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is on you. Because he trusts in you. Trust in the lord forever for yah the lord is everlasting strength.

    Hope you are well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kristina,
      I see you've experienced some of the state's dedicated fans -- even on your side of it! :) Thank you for sharing the verse about peace -- I need it and I think a lot of us do these days! xoxo

      Delete
  16. Valerie, I love reading all the baseball references! Once you fall for baseball you never get it out of your system. It has the ability to make people feel nostalgic. Your writing is always so clever, so fun to read yet insightful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for stopping by and reading -- so grateful for the kind words!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Valerie as usual i got much out of this. I think it's interesting that Abraham hoped and is noted for it here. Yet there was time he lost hope and crafted his own hope. He failed. With Hagar. Yet God recognizes him as hopeful. Love that. We all lose hope sometimes. Just like the Israelites and Aaron. We turn to a hope of own making sometimes.
    My favorite lines are here"Sometimes I need to remember the game’s not entirely mine to win or lose, but I do have a role to play."
    I think its easy for me to lose hope when I believe all rests on me. When I narcissitically believe this and things don't change I can give in or give up. Wrong. It's not all up to us. That's a faulty approach. We do what we Can and ask Jesus for the miracle.
    Love
    U and I belive you are a baseball fan. I Know I'm a girlie girl but I used to be an obsessed basketball fan with my daddy

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading -- I love to hear your comments! To leave a comment, you can choose an ID in the "comment as" box or just choose anonymous. Choose your ID first, write your comment in the box and hit publish. Your comment will be visible just as soon as I can post it!