Yet I Still Dare to Hope

When I met them it was under the most dire circumstances. I had crawled out of two years that contained some of the most horrifying, painful and heart breaking moments of my life.

They sat with me in my pain in the kindest and most gracious way I could imagine.

Their home became a safe place for me. It became a place where life slowly was breathed back into my weary heart.

They know how to sit with those in pain. They do that for people.

They are wise and can handle tears. They know when to be silent and how to be present. They know how to pray and give scripture in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s a quick fix or a patch but feels gentle and life giving. They know how to entrust the Lord to fix someone and not try to do it themselves.

This past week my friend’s lives were turned upside down by the unexpected death of a child.

Nineteen year olds are not supposed to die.

It has been a devastating week.

We weren’t meant to die. It’s why death is always so heartbreaking. But there is something about the death of someone young that cuts in a different way.

I have wept this week with my friends. In the way they have loved me, I have wondered, how can I ever love that well in their pain? I don’t know. But I have learned so much by watching them love others well, I can only hope to emulate it a tiny bit back to them.

I have also been humbled by my friends.

There are pains I have experienced that have nearly made me lose hope. I am a Christian. I have hope. I should not live as one who has no hope. Yet, there have been points that my hope has nearly been gone I’ll be honest.

Yet watching my friends this week, they have had an unshakeable hope in the God who loves them, loves their son, knows their tears and can carry their griefs.

There is something remarkable about unshakeable hope in the middle of suffering.

I have spent time reading 1 Corinthians 15 quite a bit this month.

It’s about the resurrection of Jesus and the certain hope we have because of that. I had a nudge from the Lord a month and a half ago that my trust in the resurrection had wained. As I went to the memorial service a few days ago I was reminded by the way my friends’ son lived well, loved others and loved Jesus how the resurrection of Jesus gives the assurance of his resurrection and gives us all hope in the midst of pain and suffering.

His hope of eternal life is that because of the resurrection of Jesus, that he will rise. Our hope to find life, even after death is anchored securely in the resurrection of Jesus.

Our hope that “everything sad will come untrue” is anchored in the resurrection of Jesus even when the earth feels like it will give way.

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Please Don’t Let me Die in Florida

I have a confession.

I like cold weather. I grew up under the near constant cloud cover of Northeast Ohio skies. My dad taught me how to control a car in vast amounts of snow. Every year. Well after I learnt to drive, I was still getting snow driving lessons from him. He still reminds me about putting heavy things in the boot of my car, keeping candles, matches on board and a flashlight “just in case” in the winter.

Then I moved to England. And stayed for a long long time. Other people would get S.A.D. but not me. This was like home, only greener, and nicer temperatures in the winter. I could handle a bit of dreary drizzle. Actually it wasn’t at all like home. But Northeast Ohio did prepare me for the clouds.

I stayed a long time. I like belonging to places. And people. I belong to a city in the north of England. And those people belong to me. It feels like home. I like putting down roots and owning a place. A funny characteristic for a wandering cross cultural worker like myself.

Which is why ending up in Florida this year was the last place on earth I wanted to live. I have a top ten list on the reasons I hate Florida. Wanna hear?

1. It’s freaking hot.

2. The humidity makes me wanna cry.

3. Nobody belongs to this transient city I live in, local life is hard to find.

4. It’s a whole state full of tourists.

5. Let’s add horrendous driving norms because of the tourists.

6. It’s a whole state of creatures that can kill you. Poisonous snakes, gators (in every. body. of. water.), bear attacks, cockroaches. Cockroaches can’t kill you. But why oh why can’t we kill them? I swear they could survive the apocalypse. They make me wanna die.

7. Old people in my country abandon their families and roots to come collect shells on the beach for six months a year. The snowbirds are some of why it’s transient.

8. Billboards. Wreck. The. Landscape. Smarmy lawyers smack giant billboards all over the roads, the forests, the cities, the countryside. One. After. Another. It looks awful.

9. It’s flat. It has some decent beaches, but overall the state is a swamp that is not very pretty. And because it is a swamp, it has alligators everywhere. They can eat you.

10. Did I mention how hot it was? I despise sweating unless I am doing exercise or a sport.

Yet, here I am, living in the middle of Mickey-ville Florida. I started sweating a month ago when I walked outside.

Yet, there has been the oddest thing about this place. It’s not where I wanted to live. But I have found people and places I love here. All of my top 10 list is true, but somehow Florida has had a little bit of grace that came very unexpected.

You should still click Patty’s song below. It is pretty awesome.

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