An Unexpected Gift

These past few weeks seem like years to me, since I got the email from the editor in New York.  The one from Real Simple telling me they chose my essay, one of nine from over 1,000 for the contest.  The first and only writing contest I enter.  And this gift, it seems unimaginable. 

Because this story is the one I live for over five years now.  About how I meet Speci in Rwanda and the way our lives converge to help orphans. A growing friendship recounted in 300 words. Prose penned in snatches of time swirling around family responsibilities. The final sentence scored after swiping dishes clean. 

This undeserved gift becomes a test in waiting.  Really, isn’t this most of life?  Living in the in- between of the wait.

So on Friday, the last day of September I check my email whenever time allows because finalists find out who wins “the end of September” and this is it.  It is the last day and anticipation pulls at my shirt sleeve all day long.

It is no longer about the outcome, just the knowing.  Because closure, it helps to move us forward, even when it is painful.

That email never comes. I think about that proverb, the one that says hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12) and this waiting is like shining a flashlight on that truth. But what unfolds a few hours later in the football stadium of our local high school makes my disappointment seem minute.


Letting Go of What We Cannot Control

My daughter works days after school on the class float for the upcoming homecoming parade, then finds out she has to work that day.  Doesn’t get to participate in the actual parade, see how all her work looks from atop the beauty. She meets us in the parking lot just as the game begins, and lightning lights up the sky.

That crack of light from the heavens evacuates the field and stadium, then rain pours buckets and all those people – football players, cheerleaders, band members, homecoming court, my daughter – they get back in their cars and drive away.  All the hope anticipated for one night shatters.


We all talk huddled together on couches afterward, about what will happen with homecoming.  Wonder how things will play out.  This door open, when it is supposed to be closed, it feels like carrying a backpack of bricks you don’t know where to set down.

This is faith isn’t it?  The constant assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.  It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. (Hebrews 11:1)


Thankfulness Restores Hope

And I realize that I am dust (Psalm 103:14).  Strangely, this brings perspective, renews hope.  Because when I place hope in what I see, it magnifies finite ability to understand the infinite.  My own expectations shroud the path of divine providence. Leave me empty.  

Thankfulness, it moves the dark cloud of disappointment, gives perspective.  So today, I join Ann in giving thanks, making this list.  Won’t you join me?

  • For cool air that wafts through open windows at beginning of Fall.
  • For blankets and comfy pillows.
  • For the warmth of my husband’s body breathing deeply next to mine.
  • For providence that comes in ways I never expect.
  • Waking up at 5am, without an alarm clock.  Because that time in the quiet is precious.
  • Leaders that love, show grace.
  • For full refrigerators, warm biscuits, a hot cup of tea and a warm shower.
  • For children who say they are sorry and ask forgiveness.