“When does the magic hit in a new place and you suddenly fit in?” – Hope Was Here
In the soul-sister way of women on the move, we get Hope. We get boxes and suitcases, finding a place for the few things that stay constant in the midst of transition, and longing for connection in a sea of new faces. As we jump back into Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer today, I feel like reaching through the pages to squeeze teenage Hope’s hand. “You are brave, girl. One step at a time.”
In the midst of all the upheaval of settling in for Hope and her aunt Addie and an intense campaign process that involves the entire town of Mulhoney, I love learning that G.T. plants trees. I’m a big fan of monuments, marking time and place to remember God’s faithfulness or the ways that He has moved mountains and parted seas. Although not as finite as roots deep within soil, I have a few items that have become these memorial stones. There’s a bright pink mug I purchased at Starbuck’s in Bangkok after I found out the tumor the doctor removed wasn’t cancer. I spent a week in that coffee shop trying to keep fear at bay, trust despite far too many questions. The Father tenderly cared for my heart in that week and when I wrap my hands around the pink mug and sip coffee in the soft morning light, I remember His mercy and hope that can be found in the hard things. Do you have any “memorial stones”, or memorial trees?
As we go deeper into the lives of the characters in Hope was Here, I must admit that I judged Lou Ellen pretty harshly in the first section. She was not exactly welcoming to Hope and her aunt, spurring a competition through her comments and making things difficult overall. After she opens up to Hope about her daughter’s health struggles, I was struck by the compassion displayed by her co-workers and friends. They rallied around to love on her daughter and allow Lou Ellen to keep working and bringing in income. I’m not sure I could have been as forgiving and compassionate as Hope, but I love this moment between her and Lou Ellen: “’I think you’re real brave,’ I told her, and for a minute her whole face lit up. She was real pretty when the light went on inside”.
I tend to hold on to resentment and mark another tally on my never-ending list of the wrongs committed against me. It’s hard to love the people who speak harshly to us or act like we don’t belong, like we aren’t wanted. This section of the book reminded me that so very often when people are hurting they lash out and in our own pain or surprise we miss an opportunity to show compassion. Hope hung in there with Lou Ellen and was able to meet a need and start a friendship. Have you had a similar experience in life or ministry with someone who was initially difficult to love?
With the theme of hope infused in every aspect of this book I can’t help but want to cheer on G.T. in his mayoral campaign! How do you think the race is going to play out as we keep moving through the book? I can’t believe the dirty tricks some of the opposition have been playing! Mouse in the salad, anyone?
I can’t wait to hear what you think about Hope Was Here! Post a comment and let us know who you think is going to win the campaign, if Braverman and Hope will ever get together, and what food you would like to have Addie make for you. All other insights are welcome as well! (No spoilers though from you speedy readers who have already finished!)
Here’s the plan for the rest of the book:
July 24- Chapters 12-16
July 31- Chapters 17-21