Fall had come early to this lovely picturesque town along the Mississippi River. The morning was crisp.
Many women were entering through the main double doors of the Davenport Conference Center. Most were dressed comfortably, wearing long pants, jeans, sweaters, or jackets.
I saw new friends and old acquaintances wandering around, searching for the perfect table to sit at during the conference.
As I had done so often in the past, I gathered the notes I had prepared for this weekend, ready to share with these women how others, just like themselves, have gotten through tough times.
I stood behind the heavy green velvet curtains that separated me from the several hundred women in the audience.
“Sandra Siemens is a licensed, independent social worker in the state of Iowa. She has over 20 years of clinical skill and experience. Sandy opened her Christian Counseling and Psychological Services company in 2000, where she functioned as the President and CEO.”
The applause begins. That was my cue. I walked to the mic.
“Good Morning! I’m happy to see you all,” I said, smiling confidently.
After taking care of a few housekeeping duties, I dove in.
“There is nothing going on in your life that God doesn’t know about. Let me say that again. There is nothing going on in your life that God doesn’t know about. He’s got me, and He’s got whatever it is I’m going through, and He has you too.
The truth is, however, back in 2006 when I was diagnosed with an incurable, chronic illness called Crohn’s disease, I wasn’t so sure that He knew what was happening. I wasn’t convinced He had my back.
My diagnosis was a complete shock to me. One day I was working at my office, and the next day I was in the hospital with a life-changing illness.
In that instant, everything changed.
Over the next fourteen years, including up to this very day, I have become acquainted with grief and loss, pain and suffering, shame, and loneliness in ways I never imagined.
One of my absolute favorite quotes is by R.T. Kendall, who served for 25 years as pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, England. He said:
“Whatever has happened to you was not when He had his head turned. He was looking straight at you.”
We all go through hardships—sickness, divorce, death of a loved one, rejection, suffering—and many others.
Sometimes it seems that the darkness is thicker than ever.
After my diagnosis, one of the first things I discovered in myself was the need for a place of hope.
When my family lived in Colorado and my children were young, I would notice a flock of Canadian geese as they settled on our pond for the night. Their noisy honking and beating wings brought me a feeling of hope.
In the summer, the memory of fireflies hovering over the cornfields next to our house in Iowa, or the serenity of a starry night after the kids were tucked into their beds, were simple pleasures that brought hope to my soul.
Over the years, I have learned to search for places of hope. My absolute favorite “hope spot” is to sit in my familiar chair with my Bible and my journal open on my lap. I usually get up early and find the quietness of those early hours helps me get through my day.
Perhaps you will be able to identify a “hope spot” that comforts your soul. Let me know where your favorite hope spot is; it could encourage someone else.