Posts tagged #hope

play in the pain

The other day, a student who graduated last year stopped by to see me. From the moment he entered the room, I knew something was different. His eyes darted around & he had difficulty standing [or sitting] still. "Hey. I just wanted to come say hi because I haven't seen you in forever."

It was good to see him. Although I never had him in class, he frequented my room in the mornings. Our conversations spanned a whole plethora of topics - college, life, religion, teaching, television, music, work, AP classes....I knew from other teachers he was a smart kid - sharp and witty.  Chatting with him as I prepared for each day I saw this first hand.

The other day was different. Although our conversation started off at surface level - I found out he decided to go to Baylor for college - he quickly jumped head first into deep waters.

The whole time he was in my room, he fought back tears - his chin quivering right before he swallowed his emotions and proceeded with his story. He jumped around a lot - unable to focus on one topic. The pain in his eyes though was evident.

Long story short: I wanted to turn away.

I wanted to hold up my hand, get him to stop talking, and push him out the door.

It hurt too much - listening to how his life spiraled out of control. I didn't want to know his family isn't talking to him anymore. I didn't want to know he turned away from the church because of judgment. I didn't want to know he turned towards the only community he knew.

I definitely didn't want to know how he thought his life meaningless and because of this, attempted to end it three times in the last few weeks.

But I did know. And something held me there - perhaps shock? Probably the Spirit. And as I stuck my finger in his face with tears in my eyes and choking out the words,  "don't you dare commit suicide. Don't you dare...."

He smiled at me and said, "Mrs. Ramirez. Don't cry. You'll make me feel bad. You should probably start singing 'You are my Sunshine' - that always makes me smile."

My heart broke.

I watched him leave after that - promising to check up on him via facebook and threatening him again with my watery eyes and shaky smile. "Your life isn't meaningless to me - remember this. And please, be careful. These people you're hanging with? They don't play."

He held up his hand, his lip curled up in a half-hearted attempt to grin. "Oh I know, Mrs. Ramirez. Trust me."

I turned around, shutting the door behind me and facing the students who are in my classroom now. I glanced around - realizing the similarity between them and the one who just left. Twelve months ago, you would have seen no difference. Now? You hear scathing remarks coming from the peanut gallery as he shares his nightmare.

I'm still reeling today. And I think, for the first time, I'm beginning to truly understand what Andrew Klavan meant when he said, "sometimes we just have to play in the pain."

Life is messy. People make mistakes.

But without the grittiness of the Cross, there would be no hope.

Without pain, there could be no redemption.

And if I believe there is hope for this student - which I do - then I have to take a moment and dwell in his pain.

This is the beauty of our faith. We all have stories - some more painful than others. If we aren't sharing this pain - if we aren't dwelling in the pain with others - than we aren't fully accepting the gospel. We aren't believing the power of the Cross.

Because [listen closely] - anyone can experience redemption. Anyone - despite the pain, despite the confusion -  can experience hope.

I'm holding on to this truth for my student - and for now, I'm holding on to his pain - hopefully one day, his story of redemption will be complete.

Posted on October 14, 2010 and filed under story.

my hope is real - devyne's guest post

For the past few months, I've been working with some kids in the art of storytelling. This past week, Devyne and Nijalon wrote a post inspired by hope. Today's post is what Devyne wrote. I love this poem. As soon as I read it, I couldn't wait to share it with you guys. Check back tomorrow for Nijalon's observation on connections to Christ.


My hope is real

it sings.

I know it’s real

it sits        stationary        in my soul

projecting it’s light into every crevice of me

banishing the darkness

pushing back the fear

destroying the doubt

it sings a song of love

a lullaby to my restless heart

soothing my troubles

- and -

calming my rapid heart beat

- and -

turning my attention upward

- and -

uncovering the white dove in every red-painted situation

- and -

fueling my faith

my hope is real

it manifests in everything i do.

revealing itself to doubters,

it’s not pushy or obnoxious -

cocky or rude.

it’s a fountain of faith

gentle and modest -

appealing to the spiritually p a r c h e d

open to everyone

my hope is real.

it hovers lovingly in my life

singing it’s joyous song.

Posted on May 10, 2010 .


5:15 came early this morning. I did my daily routines: brushing, yawning, coughing, sneezing, changing, yawning, drinking, reading, writing...

I missed something, though.

Unable to place my finger on it, I wrote longer than normal in my prayer journal - begging God for guidance and wisdom. Just move in me - through me - I wrote. Finally, realizing my words came incredibly short to what I felt - I gathered my things, kissed Russ goodbye, and walked out the door.

And then it hit me: I felt lonely.

Which seems a bit selfish. I prayed this morning for God to move - and He has. This past month I've witnessed incredible reminders of His mercy and goodness and grace. He's reminded me consistently of His provision.

But I wanted more.

Some of my favorite verses in the Bible speak of God's thunder. Whenever I read these verses my heart takes notice. Something inside me retreats and bows in submission. Yes. This. I want His thunder. It's almost a craving, a need to fill an ache. And if I'm not careful, I'll take this craving and put it on others.

So this morning when the feeling of loneliness crept up and grabbed me by the throat, I literally stopped and closed my eyes. Please God - please. Show me. Breathe through me. MOVE through me. I didn't want this - I didn't want the feelings of inadequacy paralyzing me - that's a dangerous game I don't like to play. I waited until the feeling subsided and then continued walking to my car.

And then the wind starting blowing. I could hear it coming before I felt it. The whoosh of leaves rustling against the power of this invisible force. When it hit me - my whole body shook. And then, just as soon as the internal quake began it stopped and an incredible peace washed over me. It took everything to not fall to my knees right there in the middle of the parking lot. The wind was powerful, yes. But its power isn't what was bringing me to tears - it was His voice.

Do you see? He said. The wind, like Me, is invisible. But it envelops you. Shakes you. Moves you.You can never deny its existence - or its worth. Listen. My song plays through the percussion of the trees and the howl of the wind.

I'm with you.

I'M with you.

I'm WITH you.

I'm with YOU.

I smiled. I asked God to move - and He did. I asked God to breathe through me - and He did. I asked God to help me battle loneliness - and He did.

He did all these things - and not because I asked. He did them because He loves me. Through His love, I am made complete.

No one has ever seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love! 1 John 1:12

Posted on May 7, 2010 .

where dreams go

I heard about this book last year from some of my creative friends but hadn't read it until today. (The full book is online if you click the above link)

I wonder what would happen if somehow this book was read to every single adult in America? I mean, this guy wrote the book for his kid - but I think we can all agree those of us over 21 need our fair share of creative inspiration. I consider myself an artist. I love to write and concoct stories full of hope and centered on what could be if we see the beauty in everything.


I'll be the first to admit sometimes, the creativity just isn't there. The desire isn't there. The what is sucks dry the what could be. I don't think it was meant to be this way.

Right now I'm reading The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani. It's rocking my world. The premise? Christianity has lost its imagination to the clutches of consumerism. According to Jethani, "consumerism is the dominant world view of North Americans. As such, it is competing with the kingdom of heaven for the hearts and imaginations of God's people." Looking around, there's not much battling his presumption. Christian retailers buy into the idea of "TESTAmints" and A Bread Crumb and Fish parodies - knowing we will see these purchases as proof of our greater faith.

The idea that the amount of Christian CD's, bumper stickers, videos, conferences, books, t-shirts and merchandise equates to our level of faith is highly absurd and deeply convicting.

We serve a mighty God. He is the Creator of the universe. Creativity and imagination is central to His character. Thomas Kelly says that "holy is the imagination, the gateway of Reality into our hearts."

I believe this and I think the world notices this as well. (Why do you think beauty - even in the twisted shape of lust - is so celebrated?) I believe God intended for His children to dig deep into their imaginative tendencies to create deep change within their society. We are not meant to look the same as the rest of the world. It's time we follow the dreams of our Father.

My challenge: read Dallas Clayton's book. Pay attention to your heart - the inner workings and stirrings of your core. Read it as it's intended: a letter from a Father to His child. After you're done, do something creative.

And more than anything, consider how He wants you to respond.

What is your biggest, most wildest and ridiculous dream?

Posted on May 5, 2010 .

standing on hope's shoulders

Much could be said of this generation. As a teacher, I hear a lot of judgments and assumptions about what teenagers are thinking and what makes them tick... but all they need is purpose.

Which is a huge part of me being the sponsor for Club ICU at my school. We've supported Invisible Children for four years. And while we are technically a "club" from the beginning we have believed that to be a misnomer. Justice has no elite membership. While our focus is n. Uganda, we understand social justice spans far wider than a tiny speck on the globe. Issues surface in our own backyard. Earthquakes bend the ground and waves crash against shaken poles. We never wanted to be the group who focused so much on one area we ignored all the rest.

So, when the earthquake hit Haiti, my students immediately began to question what we could do to help. We realized we had about 350 dollars in cash from fundraising the previous semester and it was just sitting in our cabinet - waiting for the next round of Schools for Schools. The students began to wonder - why wait? Why not give what we have now - all of it. So they did. And it wasn't very hard for them to decide to send it to Real Hope for Haiti and Heartline. I had been telling them stories from the Livesay blog and RHFH and they wanted to help. They had faces, names and situations. The perfect storm in giving.

Here's what they said:

After seeing the pain and suffering brought forth by the recent earthquake, giving to Real Hope for Haiti and Heartline was an easy decision. We as Americans are so privileged in every day life. Our ability to not only give but give generously to those in need is incredible.  It breaks my heart to see the Haitian people in this chaotic time, especially now that I'm a new aunt. The preciousness of a child is so much more personal to me, the well-being of a Haitian child is just as important as any other. Anything that is needed to help the people of Haiti should be done.

- Alex Leininger, 12th grader

A shockwave can be more than physical. It can be emotionally devastating, just like an earthquake destroys physical things. I remember hearing about the earthquake. My heart breaking I fell on to the couch, mouth agape as I watched the devastation and death. I wanted to help. Thankfully, our ICU Club came across Real Hope for Haiti. Not long after hearing about them I heard about Amos Ivey, Aaron Ivey's son. He is still in Haiti. What broke my heart even more, what really opened my eyes to the devastation the quake had on the kids was when Amos asked Aaron, "papa you comin'?" So many of the children in Haiti are orphans now. They have nothing and need everything. Real Hope for Haiti gives them the most important and valuable thing: Hope. Hope for a new life, hope for love. My heart goes out to all those who have experienced loss. I pray God's love and grace floods your life. Job lost all he had. He suffered great loss, just like those in Haiti, but in the end was blessed greatly. I am incredibly glad to be helping in some way. I am hoping and praying these kids have a brighter tomorrow. "I have told you these things that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

- Dane Kemp, 12th grader

**Note: Amos is actually on American soil. Dane wrote this just a few hours before Aaron and Jamie Ivey found out Amos was on his way to Florida. When I texted Dane to let him know, he replied: "Powerful emotions Aaron must be feeling. Only a daddy could feel that way. Papa found a way. Both did. Amos should be happy."

Much could be said of this generation. But I know what's true: this generation is not relying on standing on the shoulders of those who came before them. They understand change is not only desired, it's a necessity. They realize that in order to make a difference, they are going to have to blaze new trails and give generously. Risk will be involved. Adventure is a priority. Most believe this generation would rather sit in front of Mtv and daydream about starring in a reality show, but I know that most of these kids are discontent with the amount of excess they see in society and entertainment. Call it simple living, call it revolutionary it what you will.

I know it's just them standing on hope's shoulders, her justice flag waving in the breeze. They will not be content with living normal lives. Not these guys. You watch. It's addicting, this whole "changing the world" thing. Once you get hope in your veins, you can't get her out.

Posted on January 22, 2010 .