The Importance of Hope Heroes
I've just returned from a week spent with inspiring writers and speakers at the Write to Publish conference in Wheaton, Illinois, and am positively bursting with creativity! I promised you a book update so here's the good news: I have several agents and publishers who have requested my book proposal! This is the next step in the very lengthy process of getting Life After Infertility published so thanks to all of you who have been praying for me. For months before the conference, my prayer was for God to open doors and that's exactly what he did!
Fresh from the conference, I wanted to talk with you this week about the importance of hope heroes. Hope heroes are women (and men!) who have experienced a lifequake - a significant trial or tragedy - and survived to shout the truth of God's faithfulness. These spunky believers can't be kept down and they give us an earthly example of God's power to transform and redeem the ugliness in our lives. Girl, in the middle of real life, you need hope heroes. You need women whom you can emulate from afar, as well as those who are near enough to offer daily encouragement Here are a few of mine.
Carol was the keynote speaker at Write to Publish and my new hope hero. Carol and her husband, Gene, saw their only child, Jason, be sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole and then were estranged from their granddaughters for years. Carol has every reason to be bitter. Instead, she radiates the light of Christ to all around her. You can learn more about Carol by reading one of her many encouraging books (I highly recommend When I Lay My Isaac Down) or by attending an event where she speaks. Carol will be hosting the Speak Up conference in Grand Rapids July 13-15!
Joni Eareckson Tada
I remember reading Joni's book as a teenager and marveling at her resilience. A diving accident left Joni a quadriplegic at the age of 17, but Joni went on to create beautiful art by using her mouth to draw. She has written books, battled cancer and now leads multiple ministries, including a 5-minute radio spot called Joni and Friends. When I think of people who are filled with the Holy Spirit, Joni is the first one to pop into my mind.
Athena Dean Holtz
Athena's story reads like fiction. Having experienced a neglectful and abusive childhood with a mostly absentee father, Athena sought fulfillment in the arms of abusive men and the mystical appeal of the Church of Scientology only later to dedicate her life to Jesus. Now, she is a speaker, author, radio host, and owner of Redemption Press, a publishing company that helps writers share their stories with the world. Her book, Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God, is a fascinating read.
Sarah's story is one of cancer, infertility, and the death of her husband, Joel. Now she blogs about the "beauty we see being created in our midst." To learn more about Sarah, you can visit her blog, Journey of Sarah, and read her touching book, From Depths We Rise.
Michigan and Connecticut are nearly 700 miles apart, so "nearby" is a bit of a stretch, but April and I served as each other's accountability partners when we were writing our books. We now stay connected through social media and I adore watching her journey through infertility to build her family by way of foster adoption. April has written a beautiful book about seeing the image of God in every child. You can find Dignity and Worth at Amazon and visit her blog, aprilswiger.com, where she writes about adoption, faith, money management and the importance of hospitality.
Renee' Esper Yake
See those cheesy grins? That's pretty much how Renee' and I look when we're together, unless we're laughing, mouths open, eyes closed, over thirty years of memories and inside jokes. One of my BFFs, Renee' has survived teen motherhood and the death of her beloved father and gone on to become National Math Teacher of the Year a few years ago. She is an awesome mom, sister, and friend, and regularly offers me no-nonsense advice that starts with the words "Here's what you should do...". Sometimes I need that swift kick in the pants to flip me around and get me walking, once again, in the direction of hope!
Stephen Craig Sisson
Hey, I had to include at least one guy! My little bro, "Craiger" experienced a tramautic brain injury at 16 and has spent the last 25+ years battling short-term memory loss, shifting emotions, and other frustrations that accompany damage to the frontal lobe. He is a loving husband, father of four girls, musician, and most importantly, a Jesus follower with a heart for the hurting. When I have a tough day, pondering his extraordinary ability to persevere lifts me up.
The Encouragers - Pic 1
From left to right: Maggie, Casey, Carla, Kathy, Michelle, Me, Ronnell, Lisa, Heather, & Misty
The Encouragers - Pic 2
From left to right: Kolleen, Letitia, Moi, & Judy
The Encouragers - Pic 3
From left to right: Letitia, Ronnell, Lisa, Juliet, Heather, Moi
Simply looking at these pictures makes me giddy with hope! Is it strange that it's taken me 40 plus years to find my tribe? All writers with stories to tell, these women obediently follow Jesus' calling in their lives to share the hope of the gospel through the written word. Simply hanging out with them strengthens my belief in God's goodness and compels me to trust him more deeply.
Ladies, everyone needs hope heroes! Spend some time this week thinking about yours and make it your mission to select one far and one near. Take in their encouraging words, be inspired by their trust in God's faithfulness, and observe how their witness helps you too grab hold of hope.
Psst! I'd love to hear your HH picks in the comments section!