I recall, as a child, the thrill of hope I felt, when my parents returned from town after having done some shopping. Hope that they might have brought us something special.
In Mexico my parents’ trips to the city were a rare thing, partly due to poverty, and partly distance. But when they went, we anticipated their return with great excitement, hoping that they might have brought some small treat. A candy. Some gum, maybe. Or some other little surprise.
I recall running out to meet them, and targeting dad. If there was some treat, it came from him, almost without fail, because he controlled the money, the spending of it, and the distributing of anything special. I skipped beside him, sometimes in silence, hoping he might mention the treat, but most often I asked questions as I skipped beside him.
The exception to this enthusiasm was if his gait indicated anger, rage or some sort of upset. Then I stayed clear. Treat or no treat, I wouldn’t risk it. And, truth be told, when his footsteps had that heavy ‘thud’, I had no ‘hope’ left that he might have done something special for us.
Sometimes that hope was fulfilled, sometimes it was not.
In Canada that hope increased in strength, and the fulfilling of it increased in frequency. Each week, when my parents did the grocery shopping, that anticipation was there. And, for a time, they brought us each one small bag of corn chips as a treat. The last few minutes before their return, I could almost taste them, and ran to the window, watching for them. Any sound that indicated their return was met with a dash for the door.
Hope: The belief…even strong expectation… that what we cannot see, will come to pass. Sometimes the hope is based on a promise. Sometimes it is based on a particular outcome in the past. Sometimes it is a deep desire within, expressed in faith that it will one day be reality. And sometimes it is defying everything that current circumstances offer, and believing that there is something better ahead.
Sometimes people lose hope, and surrender to circumstances. They lose their will to fight, and give up on hope. We talk about offering hope to someone, and we do this, most often, by sharing our stories, our testimony of overcoming something similar to their struggle. When they say that we have overcome, or maybe even finding hope in the middle of a struggle, a temptation, a challenge, they find hope that they too will overcome.
And that is what our Extraordinary Hope Conference is all about. We will share stories of hope, in spite of tragedy, and invite you to let Jesus bring hope and healing to your experience, where tragedy and disappointment have suffocated hope. Where you feel like giving up, and tossing in the towel, we want to encourage you to get up one more time, and hold on, for the dear life, to hope that defies your current circumstances, or past pain.
My very good friend Jane Valenta, and her team, will lead us in worship. Jane’s music and worship style reflects her heart, and her heart reflects the heart of God.
Carol Weicker will share her story of being born with a severe facial deformity, and being bullied, isolated and rejected. She will talk of her mother’s incredible example of love, and sacrifice. She will tell you how she lost her father at a very young age.
Through laughter and tears, in the rise and fall of her experience, you will hear the message of hope. Hope that goes beyond those things that were meant to destroy us.
I will share my story of overcoming a childhood filled with violence, sexual abuse and death threats. I will tell you about the years I spent running from God, further wounding myself, and allowing myself to be used, as I pursued a life of rebellion and sin. In the extreme of my choices, that landed me in USA, I ended up living with an ex-con drug dealer, surrounded by the same violence that I had tried to escape when I left home at fifteen. I became desperate, hopeless and suicidal.
There God found me, and loved me. In my broken, lost state, God restored my hope by offering me Jesus… Offering me hope.
Hope… Extraordinary Hope…
At the conference we will spend time in prayer, worship and praise, ministering to you, allowing the love of Jesus to flow through us, and over you.
We would love to have you join us for the Extraordinary Hope Conference, to be held September 27-28, 2013, at Listowel Evangelical Missionary Church. The early bird deadline, saving you $20 per registration, ends August 22, 2013.
To register online, visit http://www.faithgirlsunleashed.com/events_3.html, and scroll down to the event. To register via snail mail, scroll down and click on the registration form, fill it in, and mail to the address provided.
If you have questions, please email email@example.com.
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Return to Part One: A Story of Overcoming Self-Harm (WARNING: Graphic content.)