Remember when you were a kid, and 60 seconds took forever?! I remember sitting in my hallway after my mom told me I had to wait 5 minutes. I sat down in front of my door, counted to 5, then went back and asked her for whatever it was I was oh-so-patiently waiting/hoping for. She laughed and told me that wasn't quite how it worked. I was 6; give me a break.

Remember when you were a teenager, and you were desperately hoping for either a spot in the play or orchestra, or a date to the prom, or a friend to sit with that first day at lunch? Or, remember when you were graduating high school and you were hoping for an amazing summer, followed by an all-around amazing life?

Every one of those has a finite time connected to it. I had 5 minutes, then I had the time between auditions and the posting, then I had a concrete date (prom and first day), then I had summer, then I had life. While "life" doesn't sound like a defined time, in the mind of an 18-year-old, it kind of is. Looking back, there is absolutely no way I could have laid out the 4300-plus days that lie between that day and this one. But I thought of my life as a comprehensive, a whole thing that would be wonderful and freeing and full of every hope and dream I had thus far stored up.

Well if you're over 18, you know that isn't how it goes. There are more ups and downs between 18 and 30 than there are ants in a Southern ant hill, and if you're lucky enough to still have some hope left by the time you get to this point, I honestly believe you've already succeeded.

How long do you hold on to hopes for your life? Little and big ones, I mean. And when you do hold on to them, and then they don't work out, do you succumb to the eventual "grown-up"/"realistic" view of life and assume that things will go wrong, and therefore stop hoping? Or do you push onward, knowing that hoping is more fun - and more fruitful - than doubting?

Do you hold on to the hope of having a child, even if it's been 5 years and your womb is still empty?
Do you hold on to the hope of a place to live, when your lease runs out in 4.5 weeks and at every turn nothing works out?
Do you hold on to the hope of an everlasting love, even though you're 5-years-divorced and have yet to meet a suitable mate?
Do you hold on to the hope of a dream job, even when you're sitting in what you consider to be 9-5 Hell with no sign of a way out?
Do you hold on to the hope that your marriage can be restored, despite the arguments you've had every night for a month?
Do you hold on to the dreams you've buried deep in your heart, even when your heart has been broken time and time again?

I am going to say, loud and proud from here to the ends of the earth: YES. Hold on to that hope, hold on to every one of those hopes. Your heart speaks to you for a reason, and when you give up those hopes you are giving up a part of yourself that we were never meant to give up.

I believe, with all my heart, that our Heavenly Father, has big dreams for each and every one of us. Those big dreams will take different forms for each of his children, because for some, achieving motherhood is the summit. For others, it's climbing Everest or skiing down a bunny hill. For some, conquering a fear of roaches is equivalent to another's completion of a Ph.D. (okay, I had to throw that in there). Either way, whatever we hope for, when aligned with God's will and what we truly feel is right deep down in our spirit, is not to be tossed to the side. It is not to be forgotten, ignored, or doubted.

You will have people tell you that you're being stubborn. That you need to move on, and that something else must be in store for you. But you know what? They haven't heard your spirit whisper to you from deep down. That whisper that says, "It's coming. Please, just keep believing. It's coming."

We have such a temporal, short-term view of our life here on Earth. Cue our spiritual direction from a Father above who lets us know what He wants for us, if only we'd pay attention. If only we'd believe that He has something great and that we're worthy of something great. If only we'd hold on to that hope and refuse the doubt that enters our soul at the time when we're most vulnerable, the time when we're most likely to throw in the towel.

Don't let anyone steal your hope. Hold on to that hope with every bit of strength you have in you. On days when you know you just don't have it in you, ask a friend to have it for you. Be honest and say, "I don't have the strength to hope today," and a true, life-giving friend will be your hope intercessor. They'll keep your hope alive until you're ready to take it on again. Because it's worth it. Hoping is always worth it.