I just received the most recent issue of the Stepping Stones newsletter. Stepping Stones is a ministry of Bethany Christian Services whose mission is to support Christian couples facing infertility and/or pregnancy loss. They publish a newsletter which is sent out six times a year, 4 by mail and twice by email. It has been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me. If you are struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss and have not already signed up to receive it, I would encourage you to do so by going here.
The latest issue has an article entitled "Hope Lifts Us Up" by Kat Smith. She writes about how walking the difficult road of infertility has caused her to question hope and the difficulty of understanding verses like Rom 5:5 which says "hope does not disappoint" when each month a cycle of hope and despair is repeated. She goes on to write of her experience walking through Hallmark, and I am guessing many of you will relate to this, I know I do, and seeing the Willow Tree figurines and then looking away. They are such a painful reminder of what we don't yet have. But then she sees one called "Hope Lifts Us Up" and can't stop thinking about it. The thing is hope is confusing to her, it almost seems like she plays a game with hope each month, and so she continues to pray about it. She thinks about asking her husband to buy her this particular figurine because it brought peace to her. But without knowing any of this, her sister ends up giving her this exact figurine. This reminded her that God hears her and says to her, "Hold onto Hope." He had not forgotten her.
And He has not forgotten us.
Back in December I had to attend a briefing with my boss. Afterward we went to lunch, but the restaurant we chose was not yet open. So we popped into one of those quaint little stores with all kinds of knick knacks. And of course they had Willow Tree figurines. I glanced at them and was about to look away when I saw one with a little boy holding a balloon that said "hope." I could not help but pick it up to admire it. Fast forward to after Christmas when my boss returns from her Christmas vacation and presents me with a beautifully wrapped box. I open it and what is inside but the Willow Tree figurine called "Hope Lifts Us Up" that I had admired:
I have it displayed on my bookshelf in my living room to remind me to keep hoping. I love that the little boy is looking up toward heaven because that is where we find "hope that does not disappoint." We find it in the One who knows the plans He has for us (Jer 29:11), whose will is good, pleasing, and perfect (Rom 12:2), who will fulfill all His purposes for us (Psalm 138:8), and is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).
I asked John the other day if he thought it was okay to get excited about the adoption and if it was okay to dream about names and nursery themes. He said yes :) I think I just needed his reassurance.
And so I am. I am hoping. I am dreaming. We are meant to hope.