I’m pouring over photos of the people I long to be with.
I am dwelling in memories.
Even before my heart is ready for it, it’s time to stop dwelling and to start declaring through testimonies.
A vocabulary shift from story to a testimony can change a lot.
A Source change.
A story can fill a blog.
A testimony appeals to heaven and says, “Do it again, God.”
It says, “We know You and who You are. We bear this testimony because we can access You here.”
So, this morning, I offer up Hopewell’s testimony as a plea to His goodness and to help me get up again.
Because when I met Hopewell, I encountered the Light that makes eyes shine and hope that makes it worth getting up again.
Hopewell is a 5-year old boy that looked like a very sick baby when he entered the hospital in June. He was bed-bound by the chords and wires keeping him alive.
His chart was full of letters… initials of terrible diseases that plagued his tiny, malnourished body. His lungs were full of fluid that made breathing almost impossible.
I remember asking the nurses one day if he was going to be ok, only to receive a “tsk, tsk” kind of head shake and those dreaded words, “We’re doing everything we can.”
We watched Hopewell. But we could never interact.
And we consistently thanked the nurses for loving him well.
Then, almost two months after being admitted, my cousin Laura came to visit Hopewell with me. And he made eye contact. And he sat up!
Laura never broke eye contact with him.
For almost an hour, she leaned over Hopewell’s bed, while that fragile little boy reached out his paperweight arms for her. Hopewell stroked her hair. And then her face. And wouldn’t stop.
While they gazed and oogled into each others’ eyes, a doctor came by and reviewed Hopewell’s lung x-rays with me.
And, somehow, long hair leaning over a bed and question-asking at the foot of a bed, grafted Hopewell into the family and the hearts of these two cousins. I think he felt it too.
When it was time for Laura to go, she wrapped him in love and covered him with kisses.
And Hopwell stood up with outstretched arms to go with her.
In less than an hour, Hopewell found enough hope to get back up again.
Locking eyes with love and belonging to a family overcame his immobility.
The next time I went to the hospital, I found Hopewell sitting in the hallway on a bench, holding a water bottle and an apple, and just taking things in. As soon as we saw each other, we locked family-eyes.
Family eyes that say and understand, “I’m here for you. I know you. And I came just to scoop you up.”
Hopewell spoke. And smiled. And responded. And my heart exploded.
Healing was taking deep roots.
We passed that tiny boy from lap to lap, lavishing our affection and laughter over him. And he drank it up, as though that was the only nourishment he’d been lacking.
|Hopewell and Ginger|
The next time, I found Hopewell with a jaw-dropped specialist. Hopewell was talking to her. And she’d never heard him respond.
He reached for me. As soon as I picked him up, Hopewell began checking himself out and flirting with his reflection in the mirror. The specialist was floored… even more so when that deep, never-heard belly-laugh exploded out of Hopwell’s little body.
And then she told me Hopewell has reached his goal weight.
Motionless months with no progress.
And then Love made eye contact. And reached.
When Love reaches, we reflexively reach back.
Because we were made for it.
Designed in the image of Love Himself.
A well of hope is rising up in its namesake.
Love-reaching, body-healing, soul-satisfying.
That’s the testimony.
That’s Love’s story.
That’s Hopewell’s story.
That’s the story of all the people whose pictures I study.
That’s the story of you, me, and the people we fall asleep praying for and thinking about.
Spoiler alert: I read the end of the book.
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:11
Love reached us and covered us through the blood of the Lamb.
And Love got up and left the tomb so we could get up too.
So Hopewell could find the strength to reach again.
And so my picture-stories sing Truths of His faithfulness… and that the best is yet to come.
Update: Please continue praying for Hopewell. Due to his amazing recovery, he was released much sooner than expected! The nursing staff didn’t seem to have much confidence in his mother’s capacity to care for her child. Please pray without ceasing for this chosen and dearly loved little boy and the great plans God has for him.