I ask him where he is from while he puts the pile of change in my hand.  “St. Louis,” he says. I tell him how I lived in St. Louis, was born there.  “Where, what part of the city,” he inquires.  I tell him Jennings, started out there with my mom after the divorce.  He goes on to describe Jennings as a washed up old shirt: tattered, torn, dirty, useless.  A fragment of what it used to be.

Thankful I am a fragment of what I used to be.  Hope brought me here.

Oh Lord, you alone are my hope, I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Psalm 71:5

My mom and I live quiet in a small bottom floor apartment in Jennings.  She works long hours, picks me up at the sitter’s house across the street after dark. I worry myself to sleep with coveres overhead while mom drinks from the bottle to wash the tired away.  

Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. Psalm 71:6a

That red haired sitter shows me family, pushes me toward hope.  I eat cookies warm from her oven, play dolls with her daughters, build sheet forts in the basement, watch Flipper and the Flintstones in the quiet, cuddle up in a blanket on her couch when the fever is too high.

No wonder I am always praising you! My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. Psalm 71: 6b-7a

On the weekends, I fill a suitcase, crawl into the yellow Buick with my grandparents. Lay on the vinyl back seat, stomach knotted up in pain on the way to their house.

Grandpa holds me tight on his lap, we watch Carol Burnett, belly laugh together.  Grandma teaches me the Lord’s Prayer, how to say my own prayers before I fall off to sleep. She kisses my eyebrows, reminds me not to pluck them.

They love me hard. My heart goes soft.  It beats in hope.

That is why I can never stop praising you; Psalm 71: 8a

My son, he rolls over, looks at me.  I pray words of life and destiny over him.  Kiss his eyebrows, tuck him in, tell him I love him.  He says, “I know mom.”

Hope got me here.  It brought him here when I was too afraid to have a boy.  I don’t know how to live outside of hope.

I declare your glory all day long. Psalm 71:8b

Joining Ann Voskamp to share The Practice of Hope with you today. How do you practice hope?