Friday, June 13, 2014

June Hope Chest- Hope Plants A Seed To Flourish by Tammy Holtzapfel

Hope, by definition, is not merely a wish but a great confidence concerning the future.  Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.”  Unswervingly means without doubt.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t stutter.  God is faithful.  He will fulfill all promises.  
The God of the universe gave us hope.  How incredible!
When I was asked to write about hope, I had difficulty narrowing my list down to a single instance or circumstance. My husband and I have been working with teenagers for the past 25 years in various capacities: full time paid youth leader, part time paid, volunteer, camp leader, counselor, coach, teacher, Young Life leader, etc.  Why do we do this one might ask?  It is something in which we feel very passionate.

 It was our youth leader that showed us the hope that Christ has for us and we truly believe that this needs to be shared with others, specifically teens.  There are so many changes that happen within the teenage years.  They are trying to find themselves, fit in, be liked, loved, accepted, etc.  They are very formable years while they are beginning to make decisions that will affect their life. It is a great time to share Christ.  Therefore, we have dedicated our life to showing teenagers His love and the hope He has for them.
One thing that I have encountered with teens is the lack of hope that they feel.  Teenagers have trouble seeing past what is happening in that exact moment.  They react to that very moment and cannot see pass it. Their emotions are all over the place.  They feel that they are the only ones that have ever felt that way.  Some have the worst home life imaginable. They have seen or been in situations none of us have ever encountered.   Some come from terrific families that give them all the love and support they need.  Teenagers come from all spectrums of life.  But, they are all equally important and need to know the hope that is in Christ Jesus.
Several years ago, Julie (name has been changed) was one of my 8th grade students. She is a smart young lady with a learning disability which she worked very hard to overcome all on her own.  She gave school work 100%.Her grades were mainly A’s with a few B’s.   She lived with the sister of her mother’s boyfriend.  Her parents were divorced and neither of them wanted her.  Her mom is a pole dancer and does drugs regularly.  Her dad is pretty much out of the picture even though she loves him very much.  He constantly broke her heart (not wanting to see her).  She chose to stay with this friend because she felt safe and wanted.  
 At the beginning of the school year, she was caught smoking pot in the restroom at school, and was suspended along with a couple of her friends.  The day she returned to school, I had a heart to heart talk with her about the choices she was making; drugs, friends, family, school and eventually about God.  We even talked about her future and what she truly wanted out of life.  She did not want to be in the mess that her parents were in at the moment.  She wanted to make something out of her life, but couldn’t see her future any other way.  From her vantage point, it was very gloomy.  However, I helped her to see the potential.  
Someone just needed to tell her about it and what her future could hold.  She needed some mentoring, someone to love her and show her the hope that Jesus has for her.  
Today, I am happy to say  she is a junior in high school.  She emancipated herself  from her parents and is living with an aunt.  She works a full time job, pays  her own way and goes to school full time.  Her grades are still incredible and she is planning to go to college to be a nurse or work with special needs children.  Through the past 4 years, she has been volunteering her time with special needs kids, and she is truly amazing with them.  She loves on them and tells them about the God of hope.  I am very proud of her and cannot wait to see her graduate from high school and from college.  She will be the first in her family to step out and be the person that God made her to be.  I have to believe that all this occurred because she realized there is hope!
There are plenty more stories  like this one.  And there are stories in which I do not know the end.  However, we are here to plant the seed, help water it and sometimes see it flourish.  

Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  

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