I initially set out to help children going through tough journeys in life, beside their adult caregivers. Every little book portrays that walk: words at the front and back for adults, and words and pictures tucked in between for the children; isn’t that a wonderful picture of anchors of hope? When children are surrounded by resilient adults who are ready and able to go the distance, and convey love and understanding, they are then equipped for life. We can’t shelter children from all of life’s hard knocks, but we can equip them with resilient hope to weather the fall-out. Yet, what happens when the adults in their lives lose their anchors of hope? That thought has grieved my heart greatly. Reaching out to families through hope-filled stories is simply not enough. I want to do more to provide lasting anchors of hope.
From my first presentation to a cancer support group in December 2009, I’ve wanted to bring the message inside my books to life. At first, I focused on events and workshops. I thought that if I could reach the adults, I could make a bigger difference for the children beside them. I also reached out to the children through classroom, library and church visits. Yet, those approaches still weren’t meeting my expectations. I knew that somehow someway I needed to merge learning, understanding, and helping to strengthen those anchors of hope, outside of reading a book together. I wanted to magnify hope in a more palpable way.
The sense of urgency I have felt about this often startled me. Were my days numbered shorter than I imagined? What was I missing? I prayed for God to show me the source of that urgency. For over two years, I prayed for understanding. One night while lying in bed, it came to me all at once. The urgency that fills every family inside these tough journeys is mirrored within my heart. To walk beside them, to care for them, to make a difference—I had to understand and value the urgency that is part of their daily lives, inside their journey through cancer, deployment, Alzheimer’s, and more. As an instrument of hope, I must maintain an urgent sense of the need for life-saving anchors of hope!
So, in the midst of finally being at peace that I’m not dying and I’m not missing something essential, a new pathway opened up. Later this month, we will have the honor of delivering an interactive program to Army 7th Special Forces and their families. Meetings with their Chaplain revealed the same sense of urgency. Chaplain Rich pointed to our society’s reactionary model of care. Why wait until there’s a problem and then race to rectify the issues that emerge? This model has always deeply disturbed me too. I believe it is a huge culprit in destroying anchors of hope. How does a parent maintain resiliency when they are thrust into a difficult journey without essential equipment?
The best way to ease stress, improve coping abilities and increase resiliency is to equip families before the difficult journey begins. While we can’t prevent some of the fall-out, we can lessen the impact, ease the pain and strengthen family units through hopeful measures. Just like the structure of a little book, we can bring parents and children together to strengthen their places inside the difficult chapters which are ahead of them.
My urgency to help families in these tough journeys is now shared with an Army Chaplain. He has set the standard for equipping his soldiers and their families with hope, and Hope Matters is honored to respond. I’ll deliver our recently developed Choose Hope Program beside my team members, Deborah Kern and Derek Makekau. God willing, we will equip military children and their parents with new anchors of hope for the deployment journey, and beyond.