Saturday, June 28, 2014

June Hope Chest- There Are Glimmers of Hope Every Day by Stephanie Hodges

 Have you ever been so excited about something that somehow all sense of reason and reality completely leave your mind? 

You know the feeling I’m referring to…the “Oh my goodness! This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened in my ENTIRE LIFE!” kind of feeling. It’s like when you find out you got accepted into THE college you never thought would ever take you but you submitted that application thinking, “Just maybe I’ll get a chance.” Then when that nice, fat envelope arrives in the mail…BAM…”The Feeling” arrives. You share the news with everyone you’ve ever known in your entire life, including the four people you just met waiting in line at McDonalds, and you tell them how wonderful and perfect everything is with the world. 

Then, slowly, your mind brings reality back into focus. 

Your heartbeat begins to race. Your palms get sweaty. You get a very frightened look on your face because…you just remembered everything else that comes with your great news.The extra hours you’re going to have to spend studying to keep up your grades. The part-time job you’re going to have to get to help cover the added cost of your dream school. The unbelievable added stress just came crashing down like a Mack truck on your shoulders and you feel a little queasy.

I just had one of those moments. 
A dear friend asked me to share some thoughts and feelings about hope. And then…BAM…”The Feeling.” WOOOHOOO!! No problem!! I’m your gal!! I got this!! You have my back (because, let’s just be honest…Shakespeare, I ain’t)!! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. 

And then, like it always does, my mind focused on everything else that came along with my news. Talk about burnin’ biscuits. How in the world was I going to talk about hope? 

Of all things. Hope. Right now? With everything ELSE going on in my world…I’m supposed to share positive thoughts and inspirations of HOPE? Wait a second, is this a joke?

 The queasy feelings started and I had to take a seat.

But then I thought a little more. Then I prayed a lot. Maybe it wasn’t so much a joke as it was a test. Maybe this was one of those subtle whispers from God. Maybe I was supposed to share my thoughts on hope to remind myself as much to inspire others. 

Maybe, just maybe, God was using my friend to remind me that we all have times when our faith falters. Our hope dwindles. Our confidence takes a vacation. So, I pressed forward.

At first, I thought about all of the trials I’ve had to overcome in my life. Then I reminded myself, “Stephanie, this is a blog. You aren’t writing a book.” 

I finally settled down and started to try to focus on one or two times in my own life when my hope had dwindled. Every draft looked more and more like the ramblings of a crazy lunatic. What was I going to do? How was I ever going to finish this in time? And then it occurred to me. I was feeling hopeless. Right now. This very moment. And I had to laugh out loud. I’d been so consumed with picking the right situation to discuss that I’d completely lost sight of the one thing that happens more often than not…our days, every one of them, are filled with situations that can cause us to lose hope. But only if we let it. 

I’m 42 years old, and I’ve battled with cancer for almost three decades. I’ve been through an awful divorce after a very long 15 years. I’ve dealt with the devastation of the death of a child. I’ve had plenty of dark times in my life. I’ve definitely had times when I questioned God and I’ve even lost my faith. 

As I said before, I was concerned about sharing my thoughts on hope. Especially right now. As I sit in this bed recovering from yet ANOTHER surgery and staring another one in the face, I had my doubts. 

But then I saw it in the distance…my glimmer of hope. My reminder of faith. 

The morning after my surgery, I knew what was coming. I had to get out of bed and walk. The first time is always the toughest. I was only a few steps out of my room when I noticed the unique room numbers. Normally, when you’re in the hospital, everything is cold and sterile. Nothing feels like home. There isn’t anything warm or welcoming. 

Not this time. 

This time, instead of the plain, simple room numbers on the wall there were small inscriptions on each one. The first one I saw read “Ask and it will be given to you.” I recognized it immediately. It was the first bible verse I ever memorized as a child.  “ Matthew 7:7- Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

There was no doubt in my mind that God was with me. He was walking with me every step of the way. Just like He is every day. He is my strength. I sometimes have difficulty remembering that in order to be strong, I have to give everything to Him. It’s one of the hardest things I have to do and I sometimes forget. I’m sometimes willful. I’m not proud of it and it’s something I try every day to improve upon. That sign in the hospital hallway was my gentle reminder from God. It was my glimmer of hope. 

I firmly believe there are times like this in each of our lives every day. Little things, sometimes even insignificant things, can make each of us lose hope. But if you make an effort to look for them, there are reminders of hope all around each of us. 
  • A warm summer rain. 
  • The laughter of a child. 
  • A flower growing in the crack of the cement. 
  • A gentle breeze across your face. 

God is everywhere. In my heart I know if God is with me, there is always hope.

Even now as I fight to recover, the wonderful things in my life completely outweigh the bad. I’m married to a wonderful Christian man who adores me. We have three beautiful girls; the oldest is happily married and the mother of our three unbelievable grandchildren, our middle daughter has chosen to serve our country in the US Air Force and our youngest is about to start her senior year of high school. I am blessed to have an extended family that is simply outstanding. I have the most amazing friends, both near and far. I have so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it, good or bad. It has made me the person I am. 

So bring on the craziness. I got this!! I’m your gal!! 

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