11:46 PM

Tonight, I cannot stop thinking about Hope.  

   Not 'hope' in the figurative sense, as in, "to cherish a desire with anticipation" or to "expect with confidence" as the merriam-webster would put it, although I suppose in this case, that also would apply.

   But rather, I am thinking of Hope in the literal sense, as in, Hope Krabill, the woman who lives just down the road from me.  Hope, who is a wife and mother, excellent neighbor, and lovely friend.  The type of friend who lent me a book that just might have changed my life a little bit.

   Hope.  The type of neighbor who came by to welcome us to the area with a plate of freshly baked goodies.  The type of woman who comes caroling with her whole family, all wonderful singers, and once again, baked goodies.  The type of mother who shares her daughter with us as a wonderful babysitter/house cleaner/helper. 

   The same woman who just last weekend suffered a terrible fall and broke her spine, and is currently recovering in the hospital.  

    When I heard the news,  I was in shock, and could hardly believe it.  I had just talked to her two days before.   We were chatting about babysitting and shopping and normal, mundane things.  I had just seen her not long before that.  It was at a party at her home, and I love going over there, because it is always so warm, pretty, cozy and inviting,  just like she is.  And her daughters are just as lovely, and we had a good time chatting and catching up.  So it just can't be.  Not Hope.  Not the one who has her married children here for the holidays and is busy cooking and throwing parties, and taking her boys to games and being a Grandma to little babies. It just can't be.

     It is a blessing, perhaps even a miracle, that she is still alive.  And it is that same blessing and miracle that each of us lives to see another day, although we almost always open our eyes without thinking twice about it.  Without breathing one word of thanks.  Without taking a single moment to just pause and appreciate the gift of LIFE we have been given.  I know I do.

   As I write, there are dishes in the sink that I would like to complain about.  There is the never ending pile of laundry that I would like to ignore, and the lunches for Mr. Smucker that I would rather not make, and the diapers and the leftovers and the dirty floors, and the list goes on.  Just today, my girls woke up early from their naps and I was Just. So. Annoyed. About it.  That time is MY TIME, and I didn't get it to have it.   They weren't  supposed to be up yet!  Is it so hard to just SLEEP LONGER?!

But what if....just what if, I put them down for their naps one day, and they never woke up?

Or the laundry was a tiny little pile, because I was single and never married or had children?

Or the dishes were sparse because we didn't have enough to eat?  

Or I never had to make a lunch for my husband, because he didn't have a job?


    As my wise, 5-yr old niece reminded my sister the other day when she caught her mom in a moment of complaint about a normal, daily duty...."I'll bet Hope wishes she could be doing that right now."  Ouch.  Talk about a reality check!  From the mouth of babes.....How is it that sometimes they can see so clearly, and we still see through a glass darkly?

   I believe that is the reason, right there, that Jesus said we needed to become like a child.

   Not too long ago, something awful happened to me.  We were trying to download some things off of my phone, and something went terribly wrong, and I lost ALL of my photos and videos.  I wanted to be furious.  I wanted to have a meltdown.  Most of my pictures of Charlotte were on that phone, as I don't get my camera out nearly often enough.  What was I going to do?!  What would I use to make her baby book, and our family yearbooks, and....and....it was just AWFUL.

   But then there was a more awful, terrible, horrible day.  The day of the massacre in Connecticut.

    And suddenly, my troubles seemed pitifully small.  Because somewhere out there, there were parents who were going home to quiet, cold, empty homes.  Moms and Dads who had to feel their chests split open in pain every 10 seconds for the following days/weeks/months, as they stumbled across toys, clothes still in the laundry bins, teddy bears on beds, and untouched, neatly wrapped Christmas gifts with certain names on them.  To think of all of their pictures....pictures everywhere.  On their computer, phones, albums and walls, that they could hardly look at anymore because it only reminded them of what once had been, and is no more.  My heart breaks for those parents.  As I type, tears spill over onto my cheeks and the pain wells up inside of me.  But even so, I know their hearts have shattered in ways I can not even, or ever will begin to imagine.

   And yet on dark days I grow weary of dealing with my girls, and wish I could just rewind to the days it was just Randy and I.  


   It is so ironic that it could almost be funny, but it just isn't. How quickly we lose sight of the things that matter, as we focus on the things that don't.  How we never even really know what we have until it is gone.  How we always think somehow, in some way, we deserve a perfect day every day, until that day comes that turns our world upside down and only then, only then do we realize we had been walking on water until now.  Breathing, eating, sleeping, walking miracles.  Using up blessings and gifts and pure straight-from-Heaven miracles like they would always just be there, and never even thinking about how magical it all is.

That the sun warms the Earth, just enough, and not too much.

That water keeps on cycling and re-cycling, and we don't have to worry about there not being enough.

That children grow up.

That husbands come home and keep loving us after we make mistakes.

That winter ends.

That gravity keeps us from floating into space, but not too much that we can't ever jump for joy.

   And a million, billion, more things.  I just cannot stop thinking about Hope.  Wanting to thank God she's still here, still mother to her children and wife to her husband, and able to spread light and life wherever she is, like she always does.  And in the same breath wanting to ask, "Why? Why that?  Why her?"  

   But then I remember, the questions I should be asking are,  "Why grace?  Why these many, many blessings?  Why this perfect day?  Why me?  Why health?  Why such a beautiful family?  Why so much love?  What did I ever do to deserve this?"  Nothing.  And yet He gives and He gives, and He gives.

   I just feel so unworthy.  I feel like I should never, ever complain again, and the sickening thing is, I know I will.  I will stand here, waist-deep in my ridiculous bounty of riches and goodness and grace and I will shake my fists up at Heaven and scream, "Why me?"  I will sit here, in my world of love from a wonderful man and adoration from two beautiful creatures that we made together and I will think "I have had SUCH a bad, bad day.  I wish it could all go away."

   I am so narrow-minded and short-sighted and disgustingly shallow and blind and mute and dumb and deaf that I can't begin to fathom why God puts up with all of this nonsense.  Why doesn't He choose someone worthy? Someone who recognizes blessings for what they are, and falls on their face in gratitude for the ability to walk, talk, see and hear?  Why doesn't he shower grace on someone who weeps for the gift of it, and never dreams of taking it for granted for a moment?

Why me?

    Oh, but He loves us.  He LOVES us.  And I am just beginning to catch a glimpse of it, I think.  Hope has shown me something.  She already had, with her kindness, her generosity, and her spirit, but now she has shown me something else.  The gift of the moment.  The blessing of a new tomorrow.  The beauty of life. 

  My prayers are with her and her family, and for all of those that know, and love her. 

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  1. You are so right! Thank you for putting it so eloquently! We've had a trying week here and I have been thinking some of the same things about my lack of gratefulness for the blessings I have.
    Lisa Hernandez

  2. Such a good article, you really have a way with words. And the message is oh so true. Thanks

  3. This really touched me. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I think we can all identify.

  4. Perspective is beautiful thing!! Thanks for sharing and reminding us of that. I remember play dates at Hope's when I was little, back when my mom just had Erin and I and Hope just had Brianna. Long time ago! I remember Brianna and I discussing that you were coolest if your last name was Roth or Krabill. Haha.

  5. such an important message! and I like your description of a good neighbour. A good neighbour is a wonderful thing

  6. Very beautiful, Shelley, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I linked this on my blog and Facebook and wanted to share a comment from my cousin Paula Troyer Pickerell: "This woman needs to write for a living. What a beautiful tribute to Hope! (No doubt you've heard this before!). And my teenage niece Dannette Gerber wore: "So beautiful. She says it perfectly!" I am Hope's sister. I hope we meet someday!

  7. This was just such a good reminder and makes me think again of my word/words for 2013- ALL IN. I pray your friend will recover quickly and that we can all continue on our journey of being more grateful people who are ALL IN each day! I love that book, too.

  8. Aw! Thank you for such a lovely post! We've been doing the same thing all week as we think about and pray for Mrs. Krabill. My 12-year-old brother hurt himself and then said it was nothing compared to Mrs. Krabill. Our hearts go out to her, our dear friend!

  9. Beautiful, thoughtful & a great reminder to be thankful even in the trying times. Praying for Hope here in Oregon.

  10. You are so right. Beautifully said and a lot to ponder.

  11. You put your words on paper, so very beautifully. I do understand, waking up with thoughts of Hope and wondering why. God is in control, I know. Often I do not understand. thanks Shelley. We do love our neighbors :-)


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