Prisoner of Hope – The Colors of Hope

part 12 ……. cropped-dscn0438.jpg

I have a friend who loves to tell stories of hope.   They’re the kind of stories where you could sit back and close your eyes and see yourself in your daddy’s lap, holding onto every word, feeling safe and secure.  No matter how many times I hear his stories I get more out of them.  I hear things I didn’t hear the last time I listened.  I cry and I laugh.

One of his stories talks about perspective.  At least, that’s what I get out of it.  I think perspective is very much intertwined in life.  I grew up in a home where the perspective was very negative.  Because of that, I grew up thinking I was basically something other than I am today.  In this hope story my friend talks about – well,  I don’t want to spoil it for you so you need to go to: and listen to Best View in Town.   

When something throws a wrench in your life and suddenly you’re facing a crisis or a dilemma that you just don’t understand, at that very moment you have a choice.  Well, that’s not very fair of me, actually.  When you lose someone a lot goes through your head or you are very numb, or both.  But once you get through the news of what happened and you get through the plans of burial and memorial or what have you, it is then that you make a choice.  At least it was for me.

How will I go through life now, you wonder.  We all have different personalities and different thought processes.  Some, when they loose a loved one, get rid of all their stuff and reminders.  Some keep everything as it was. And I’m sure there are countless other ways to deal with the hole in your life.  I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way.  For me, I knew I had to move forward as best as I could.  I knew my daughter would have expected that.  Her personality was one to never want any of us to not do what we were suppose to do because I something she did or something going on in her life.  So that made it a little easier to pick ourselves up and move forward.

About perspective – I was thinking about my life, now that’s it’s been eight years since we lost Vanessa.  I like puzzles and I like mysteries.  But I like them to be completed and solved.  I was thinking about how my life was like a jigsaw puzzle – I pictured all these pieces laid out on a table – some were put together and some waiting.  But what I saw so far were black pieces.  No color.  I love colors – so to picture this was a bit un-nerving to me.  I realized these black pieces were how I felt about the loss we have as a family.  Life feels black sometimes.  But then I saw that I only saw part of the puzzle.  That God saw the whole puzzle – he has the “box” so to speak, with the completed picture of my life on it.  He sees the end result.  He has the “best view in town”.  That is when I realized that hope has color.  Hope has a view that is good and sees more than what is right in front of it.  It’s not a which on a star – it’s a deep routed view of what our life truly is and can become.  I want to always choose life and always choose hope.  It is a daily choice for me.  But it is colorful and I believe it is right.

hope in Pink

cate b

I want to thank you for reading the last 12 “chapters” of my journey.  I will continue to blog about ………. life.  But the Prisoner of Hope series will be expanding and publishing as a book.  I do invite you to continue reading my posts and join me in the book that is in process.

God bless you all in your journey of hope.

Prisoner of Hope – The Beauty

part 11 …….

The thing about hope is, it is always there.  Just within reach whether we want it or not.  Everyone hopes.  We hope for good weather and we hope for a great day, we hope for so many things.  But, to me, real true hope is not wishing.  It goes so much deeper than a wish.  Hope is solid.  Hope is strong.  Hope is tangible. Hope is spiritual.  Hope is just plain real.

I use the title Prisoner of Hope.  It is taken from scripture – God says, “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”  Zechariah 9:12  I am not a bible scholar, at all.  I just know that this passage speaks deeply to my heart.  I know that I feel comforted when I read it.  There are many “prisons” in life, in our hearts.  And when God can tell me that I am a prisoner of hope – well, what a glorious prison!  I see a cell with no walls.  I see freedom.  I personally believe that this hope and freedom only comes from him.

It’s because of that hope that I know we will see our daughter, sister, friend again in eternity.  Does it ease the pain of loss?  Yes, but it still hurts.  But I have hope.

A dear friend, who I will call “J” in this post, recently wrote to me. She was like a sister to our daughter.  Therefore, another daughter to us.  Needless to say, the loss of Vanessa was difficult for J.  But I read the most beautiful words in her letter to me.  They speak of another person’s journey of grief and loss and pain.  But I saw beauty in these words:

“Grief over Vanessa has been put on a distant shelf and I have not gone there.  I even avoid pictures, not conscientiously, but I do.  Yet I dream about her a lot.  It breaks into my mind and feelings whether I choose it or not.  In the few days since I received your package I have thought and remembered a lot and have been  surprised at the amount of emotions that have come out. I realized I have been robbing myself of the beauty of grief.  It sounds weird, but grief in this last week has not been terrible, but beautiful.  There is hope in it and sweet memories.  Yes, I miss Vanessa and tears flow as soon as I think of her, but it is sweet right now.”

J put it so sweetly and clearly.  The pain and the beauty – when you have hope.

butterfly heart

Cate B

to be continued …….




Prisoner of Hope – A Typical American Family

part 5 …….

Our family was, what I thought to be, your typical American family. By that I mean we loved each other, we worked hard to make ends meet, my husband and I tried to raise our kids the best way we knew – instilling morals in them and enough discipline so when they are adults they make good, mature, kind decisions, etc.

My husband and I met in the middle of the Jesus People Movement that had spread across America in the early 70’s. We had joined a Christian commune that worked to serve the many young people in the streets during the “hippie” days – the days when so many of all ages were “finding themselves”. Good times 😉

When we married he was my pastor. We wanted a family right away so 10 months later our wonderful son, Jonathan, was born. Twenty months later, Vanessa Joy was born.

As a minister’s family I tried really hard to raise my kids to be pretty “normal”. Meaning, I wanted them to be individuals – to be who they were made to be. Not to be who other people thought they should be. Those raised in the church or those leaders in church who raised their children in the church know what I’m talking about. I knew my kids would be labeled as PK’s (Preacher Kids or Pastor’ Kids) – but by golly, mine were going to be normal. So I told them – the boys – if they wanted long hair it’s OK with me, as long as it’s clean and not hanging in your food while you eat. I let them dye their hair if they wanted, etc. and so on. Be creative! And they were good – no really BIG problems as teens – just the normal “I’ll use my mouth against my parents” kind of stuff – haha.

About 5 years after Vanessa came another boy and then 2.5 years later, our last, another boy. They grew and I tried to enjoy every minute of it. As they began to grown into adulthood and leave home to “spread their wings”, we let them. We encouraged them and loved them even if we didn’t 100% like the way they were doing things. We knew we had to let them go and try things on their own – while watching and listening to their every move. Were we perfect parents? Heck no! I still tell our oldest that I am sorry for anything I did that wasn’t good for him – I told him he was the first and we had NO IDEA what we were doing. He was basically the guinea pig. He laughs – now.

Our daughter’s decision to move to California was a tough one. We didn’t like it I think because of who she had gotten involved with. We decided to love her through this and pray like crazy that things would go a different way. Did we, as parents, really know what way they should go? No. We just knew that a different partner would have been better. Would a different way still have her here, still alive and with us? Not necessarily. We really don’t know the outcome. We all see only a part of the puzzle of our lives. So we do our best.

She had decided to move to Seattle after the relationship broke up with this friend of hers. She was ready for a new start and it felt right by all of us. This was in November of 2004. She made many good friends in California that are like family to us now.

Her youngest brother was living in KCMO and had gone to California to spend Christmas with her. The middle son was in Shanghai, China studying at the University there. The oldest and his family were just a few miles from us in NJ. All was good.

Until that phone call. That one short phone call that changed our life forever. You really cannot prepare for such an event. We’ve walked through this with friends when they lost their son – but he was their son. It was a tiny bit of preparation – but not.

Bad things do happen to good people. We think we’re good people. We are not by any means perfect in anything. We are human, after all. But all we knew was to reach to the author of our faith, Jesus Christ. The anchor of our souls. He was amazing during that horrific time. We could feel Him holding us. We saw Him in so many people – the ladies at the church we used, who picked up snotty tissues with their bare hands – the many who stopped by with food and hugs – even strangers. Those who loved us afterwards and became part of us. It was incredible. Terribly, wonderfully incredible. And extremely painful.

We hurt daily as a family and individuals. But we embrace the pain and try our best to keep going. It has become part of us. We feel for those who have loss. Everyday you can see it on the news – we live in an imperfect world. There is pain, disease, heartache, violence, etc. , all around us.

I hope when any of us – our family and friends who know this heartache firsthand – or even you, Reader, come across a fellow human being who has suffered loss of some degree can look into their heart and reach out a helping hand. A hug? A word? A look? Pick up a snotty tissue? See past the walls of social standing or racial barriers or just plain old likes and dislikes – and see them in a different light.

To be continued …………


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