Stronger

What has God asked you to step out in faith and do today?IMG_3109

Has He encouraged you to:
Write a letter to a friend?
Finally play that piano song for your mom?
Pray?
Make breakfast for your sister?
Share the story you’ve been writing for years?
Paint someone’s portrait?
Share your opinions at work?
Ask for help?
Encourage that friend who isn’t always kind to you?
Respond with a smile, when given a frown?
Choose to trust God, when your finances are in shambles?

Are you ready to give up the uncertainties and unknowns of today and embrace faith?

Are you ready to be hope for others?

I encourage you to step out! And when you choose to encourage and give hope to others, point to Jesus Christ. He is our ultimate hope! In this hard season, Jesus stands right next to His children, even when we don’t feel or see Him.

Come on, grab my hand and take a faith-step with me.

Below is the beginning of a story full of hope and redemption. It is not perfect…but this is God’s encouragement for me to step out! And start sharing the story Renewing Hope.

Dare to move forward in faith, friend! God will use your words, your music, your homework assignments, and your smile, to give hope and be a blessing! Open your eyes and see it!

Even when your legs feel shaky, choose to begin running. You muscles will grow stronger.

Let the opening of this story inspire you!

Prologue

A long roll of butcher paper covered the living room floor. It shone with its blankness. I couldn’t help smiling. 

    “You ready for this, Hope?” Dad asked. 

I gazed at my dad’s sparkling eyes, his tousled hair going every direction, and the huge grin on his face. 

Returning his grin, my voice followed. “I love you.” I snuggled his arm. “I’m ready for anything with you.” 

   He squeezed my shoulder. “Then let’s get to it!”  Dad sat down on the floor.  

    Brushing a long, tangled braid over my shoulder, my excitement mounted. “What do you want to use? Chalk, crayons, colored pencils, or markers?” 

    “Hmmm.” Dad scanned the choices laid out in front of him. “Hey, why can’t I use watercolors?” He teased.

    “Well, we could use them, but we would have to cover the floor to be safe from your artistic expression!” My hand patted the wood floor for emphasis. I was twelve, I knew these things.

Dad nodded. “Good point. Let’s use colored pencils. They are fun to work with.”

“Okay.” Shoving all the other things away, I spilled out the colored pencils. Every color winked back.  “What should I draw?”

    “Oh, I can’t tell you what to draw. It must be your drawing. It has to come from your own imagination, your own heart.”

It must come from my heart? I gave him a blank look.

    Dad caught my stare, and laughed. “Go ahead, draw. It’s not that hard.” He shooed me with his hand. “Try.”

    I gazed down at the white paper and tapped a pencil against my cheek. Draw from the heart. My family? Maybe? .

I started sketching our house as I imagined it, from the bottom to the very top. Slowly, the landscape surrounding the house took shape. The dainty flowers, and the large trees. Nothing was left out. A satisfied smile escaped my lips. Drawing always felt so right.

    “I’m home! Where is everyone?” A familiar voice called. 

    “In here, honey.” Dad answered.

    Mom walked into the living room.

   “My, my what do we have here?” She peered down at the paper.

    “You can’t tell?” Dad said in mock seriousness, rising to kiss Mom on the cheek. “You have two artists in your midst who possess great talent. I think my drawing is quite beautiful.”  

Oh. My stare went to his drawing. In the drawing Mom looked back at me with a soft smile, and merry eyes.

    “What is the other artist drawing?” Mom asked.    

    “I drew a picture of our house.” I brushed my finger across it. “You see, on the second story right through that window is my bedroom, then downstairs is your bedroom, and…”

    “Wait, honey,” Mom interrupted, “the picture is beautiful, but this isn’t our house. We live in an apartment.”

    “Well, Dad said to draw from the heart. So, I did. This is how I imagine our home—how I imagine us.” I shrugged. 

    Tears welled up in Mom’s eyes. “Oh sweetie, you don’t know how good…”

    Dad’s phone suddenly started to ring. “Oh, sorry.” He pulled it out of his pocket and answered.  “Hello? George. Hi. How are you?” Dad started walking around the room. “Wait, what? Are you serious?” He stopped in his tracks. “Yeah, I can be there bright and early tomorrow!” Dad pulled his phone away from his ear and stared at it, hardly moving.

    “What is it, Mark? Is something wrong?”

    Dad sprung back to life with a whoop. “Wrong? Oh no, everything is right! I got the job at Jackson Family Automotive, as the mechanic! I get to start tomorrow!” 

    “Oh Mark, that is an answer to our prayers.” Mom hugged him tight.

He got the job? Our drawings were practically garbage now. But what about me? Oh stop, you should be happy for Dad. He just got the job he’s wanted for months. 

     Frowning at my selfishness, I cleaned up. 

     Dad’s gaze bore into my back. Please don’t say anything.

He came over and hunkered down beside me. “What’s wrong, Hope? Aren’t you happy that I was able to get a job?”

    I forced myself to glance at him, squirmed, then avoided his gaze.  “Nothing is wrong. Really. I’m glad you got the job.” 

    “But?” Dad prompted.

Might as well say it. “We won’t be able to spend as much time together.” Sudden loneliness washed over me.      

    “Oh, is that all? I thought something was wrong. Hope, doing this job won’t change anything. I might not have as much time as I would like to spend with you and your Mom, but I will make it work. I promise to draw with you twice a week,”

    My hopes soared and it just wasn’t because of my name.  “Really?!” 

    He chuckled, “Really, honey.”

    I hugged him tight, burying my face in his shoulder. His shirt smelled like old spice colon. “Love you, Dad.” 

    “Love you too.”

This is perfect. I sighed. Just perfect.

“Why don’t you finish cleaning up this stuff, then we’ll go out and celebrate! What do you think about that?” He pulled away, happy.

    “Sounds great. I’ll hurry!”

      Dad leapt to his feet, “I need to get my jacket and wallet.”

     My hands moved as quick as lighting, cutting out our pictures and rolling up the butcher paper. 

        Mom slung her purse over her shoulder, beaming. “We haven’t been out to dinner in a long time. It’s going to be nice.”

     “Mm hmm.”    

     Dad walked into the room, his attention captured by the wrinkles in his jacket. He attempted to make them disappear, brushing his hands over them without success. “You guys ready?” He said, distracted. 

    Mom rose to her tiptoes and kissed his whiskered cheek. “I’ll iron it later, honey.”

     He nodded, his frown turning into a smile. 

     I folded Dad’s drawing and shoved it in my pocket–to keep it safe. 

Then with all three of our hands joined, we strolled out the door. And yes, if someone had snapped a photo, it would have been a beautiful picture indeed. 

Love,
-Amanda Joy

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