stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


Hope always


Recently I have been inspired by all of the lovely typography people on Instagram who share beautiful hand drawn images of inspiring/funny/random words that they have written or painted onto crisp sheets of paper.

Since I was a little girl I have always loved pretty stationery, nice pens and beautiful writing and my ten year old self even did a calligraphy course one school holidays. I think as a result of this life-long love I find these beautiful hand drawn photos such a highlight of my Instagram scrolling and I always pause to look at them and wonder how they have been crafted. 

So, last weekend, in a fit of enthusiasm and a desire to be like these Instagrammers, I decided to buy myself a sketch pad and fine liner pen and have a go myself. When I buy nice craft supplies I often will hold back on using them, rather preferring to save them for when I have something truly special or ‘worthy’ to create, but this time I challenged myself just to go for it and get practising!

That evening I was sitting chatting to Joel when these two words popped into my head – “Hope Always” so I quickly jumped up and did this little doodle.

hope always

As I did it I started to think about these words…

Hope always. 

They can mean many things.

These words are a sort of motto of one of the breast cancer chat groups to which I belong. This particular group is for women with the specific strand of breast cancer that I had. Although it is a small group, as this type of breast cancer is so rare, it is also a group where lots of the women walk a very hard path due to the aggressive and unpredictable nature of the disease.  

I love that this is the motto of the group and that despite all of the challenges that members face that there is this thread of hope that runs beneath it all. I love that women often finish their messages of encouragement to one another with the words, “Hope always” and these words always resonate somewhere deep within my soul. 

I was thinking a bit more about these words yesterday and the tiny phrase of scripture, which is part of a much larger and great section in Romans 5 sprung to mind:

Hope does not disappoint 

Another translation says, “Hope does not put us to shame” 

I know in my own life that sometimes it can be so hard to be hopeful. When our hopes are repeatedly dashed, when our dreams only seem to get further away rather than closer, when we see others doing or being what we so desperately hope for ourselves, it can be hard to keep moving forward, to keep hoping.

Because hope is risky.  

Allowing ourselves to hope opens us up to disappointment. It opens us up to pain and the possibility that our hopes will never be fulfilled in the way we dream. And that is hard. 

But then, what is a life without hope? It is surely a very dark place.

I believe that life is so much sweeter with hope in it. In spite of the vulnerability it creates or perhaps because of it, I’m not sure. But I do know this, a place of hope is a good place to be.

I think the writer of Romans knew what he was talking about when he said that hope does not disappoint. He was talking about the one sure hope that is found even in the face of suffering in the love of Jesus and salvation through Him. This is a hope that we can cling to even when everything else seems to be so unsure. It is the sweetest hope of all and surely will never disappoint.

Because, in Him, we are never abandoned.

Hope always.


The bus of opportunity

Since moving to London I have been wondering how I should best use my time, my spare time that is. For the first time in a long time I have felt that maybe in amongst all my normal day to day commitments I had just a bit of spare capacity, some space in my mind, some energy in my bones, a longing in my soul to do something different… The problem was, I didn’t know what.

Seriously. Not a clue.

The peculiar thing about this was that every time I set time aside to pray, and think and plan, I came away with a big fat zero. No ideas. No vision. Just silence and an empty page with the word “ideas”, underlined and doodled around staring blankly back at me.

This had started to become quite disconcerting and I started to get frustrated. After all, now Jonty had started nursery I had a spare six hours a week which I needed to fill (I know! Don’t laugh!)

The years of university teaching me to be a rational economic agent, and productive member of society working and contributing to the economy weighed heavy on my mind… But still, nothing! No ideas at all!

It was at this point that I questioned why I never got a profession. Surely if I was a doctor, or a teacher or an electrician, I wouldn’t be having this crisis (this probably isn’t true but this was my thought pattern…)

But then, one day a few weeks ago an email popped into my inbox inviting me to apply for a job. It was part-time, with an organisation that I thought was brilliant. Hooray! The opportunity to become a productive member of society appeared once more. I duly filled in the application form (all the time wondering if it was a good idea… Mummy guilt and all that jazz) and waited to see if I would be shortlisted and invited for an interview. I was. Another hooray! This was going well.

The interview was on Tuesday. I had lost my voice over the weekend and it was just starting to return so I sounded like a chain smoker, but nevertheless, I was excited, if a bit apprehensive.

The interview was fine. Not spectacular, not terrible, just ok. Underwhelming I know. The problem was that I just didn’t feel at peace about this job at all. It just didn’t feel like a good fit for a host of reasons. But, of course I wanted to be offered the job. No one likes a rejection. No one likes having their ego squashed.

But, late on Wednesday night the email came through. I had been unsuccessful. There was someone more suitable than me.

There went my chance to be a productive member of society. There was my ego being squashed.

But, slightly surprisingly, I felt ok about it. In fact, other than feeling embarrassed they didn’t offer it to me, I felt relieved that the decision that I had no peace about had been taken out of my hands. And the next day I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. This sense of freedom hit me square between the eyes as I walked on the bridge over the Thames on my way into town the following morning. The river looked beautiful, the air was fresh and it was quiet, and I felt myself physically give a sigh of relief.

However, in spite of this sense of freedom, I found myself once again thinking about my lack of vision (old habits die hard). Why was my mind, that is usually so full of ideas and schemes and plans, suddenly blank?

Maybe it’s something in the water? Maybe. But more likely, I realised, maybe it is because now isn’t the time for a hundred new ideas and for filling up every scrap of time I have. Maybe now is a time of waiting. But not waiting and spinning my wheels. No, this is different. This is waiting with purpose. I suppose a bit like waiting for a bus.

This waiting comes with knowing that the next season full of opportunities and creativity and ideas is coming, in the right time, without me rushing to meet it.

I don’t want to miss it because I was so busy filling my last little scrap of time. I want to have the space to see it coming and have the capacity to jump on board when it does!

So, for now, I am waiting. I am parking my “productive member of society” hobbyhorse somewhere out of the way of the bus of opportunity and am allowing myself the time to enjoy the gift of the space to wait.

A view of the Andes from my last Peruvian bus of opportunity!