A Word For 2016

I came across an Emily Dickinson poem several weeks back. After telling Dave I felt hopeless. It wasn’t a pity party conversation starter. On the contrary, I was looking for nothing in return. Just saying it to get it off my chest. Can Christians say they feel hopeless? Not sure how many verses there are in the Bible about hope, but it’s more than a few. But I didn’t want verses. I didn’t want songs or platitudes. I just wanted a fellow human to hear me. And I know that Jesus is fully God and fully human. I am spending an entire month crafting that concept with my kids. But I needed my human to hear my heart, no matter how misguided. “Dave, I feel hopeless.” “I know. Sometimes none of our options seem good.” Yes. “But we keep moving forward.” He was right. We still move forward making choices.

Dave took a new job. He’s now a copywriter and graphic designer at a local marketing agency. It’s a beautiful fit for him. We are thrilled at this new opportunity.

But it changed our insurance and his commute and Adelaide’s preschool drop-off routine. We made it through the transition with few hiccups. We were finally approved for the new insurance alternative, although Adelaide’s preexisting conditions are excluded until January 2019. Dave leaves earlier in the morning, but gets home about the same time. We quickly fell into our new routine of mommy getting everyone up, ready, loaded into the van, and off to Adelaide’s school. We were tardy once. By three minutes. I call that success.

And in the middle of it all, I came across that Emily Dickinson poem I hadn’t read in two decades. Birds and feathers and all things that come to mind about Adelaide. We got a wheelchair this year. A handicap placard for our van. And it’s hard to even think about hope when the tenth person sends you that amazing video of that little boy surprising his daddy at his military homecoming by walking. And it’s a beautiful video. But I can’t watch it anymore. I parked in a handicap spot the other day. Unloaded the wheelchair. Strapped Adelaide in. It’s fine. It’s our life right now. But I seriously can’t watch that video one more time.

But in the middle of losing Adelaide’s coverage and therapy and feeling hopeless, I saw that poem. And I remembered how Bob used to sing the blackbird song to Adelaide. “Addie, take these broken wings and learn to fly.” And we can do this, right? This first Christmas without him. Another Christmas without Adelaide walking. Another Christmas of remembering that Jesus came and healed some people. But not all. And Adelaide might walk. But she might not until eternity.

But God gave me my 2016 word. Hope. And the first manifestation of my promise for next year: we’re starting the year in the black. For the very first time in three years, we aren’t carrying over any medical expenses into the next calendar year. Every single medical bill has been paid. We can start the year saving. Squirreling away for her uncovered expenses over the next 36 months. It was all God and I’m all grateful. And I can see how the new year brings hope. Not because it wasn’t available this year. His hope was always there. But because it’s sometimes easier to see God’s promises once you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep. And I slept so well after seeing all those confirmation codes. I felt hopeful. For the first time in a long time. 2016 is bringing us a lot of change and a lot of joy. And hope at every turn.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

Emily Dickinson


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5 thoughts on “A Word For 2016

  1. Jess Guest says:

    Hope was our 2014 word and it brought my youngest whose name is Amelia Jane Hope, our baby who didn’t need any tubes and healed our hearts. The sentence/thought/motto/whatever was “onward and upward, don’t let the critics get you down” which served me well. Next year? I’m not sure yet. “I can’t do this….but I’m doing it anyway”, or a Winston Churchill quote: “When you’re going through hell, keep going” or maybe that profound philosopher Dory “Just keep swimming”. One foot in front of the other, do the next thing…. I have an eternal hope that buns with a warm glow, the day to day hope is just a glimmer in a lot of ways right now. We will see what the New Year brings…


  2. […] Hope. Because things have been difficult, and maybe this year will have some respite? Someone once asked Dave if we were in a tough season. His answer: “We’ve been in a tough season for three years now. But we’re still moving forward.” […]


  3. […] 24 hours. It took only 24 hours for me to lose 40% of my children. But Dave keeps saying, “They aren’t lost. We have two children who are safe. We will see them again. Two of our five children.” I know it’s true. I know I will see them again. […]


  4. […] teased a few days ago in an angry/sad/hopeless text to a friend that I was changing my 2016 word from ‘hope’ to ‘hops’ and would most likely become an alcoholic. When I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding, I enjoy the […]


  5. […] Holy Spirit gave me during my own private hell. When I wanted to just give up, He keeps throwing hope in my face. And I danced in my mom shoes and the tears streamed down my textbook non-pregnant face […]


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