by Reverend Emily Shipman

Isaiah‌ ‌55:10-11‌ ‌

10‌‌ ‌For‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌rain‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌snow‌ ‌come‌ ‌down‌ ‌from‌ ‌heaven,‌ ‌

‌and‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌return‌ ‌there‌ ‌until‌ ‌they‌ ‌have‌ ‌watered‌ ‌the‌ ‌earth,‌ ‌

making‌ ‌it‌ ‌bring‌ ‌forth‌ ‌and‌ ‌sprout,‌ ‌

‌giving‌ ‌seed‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌sower‌ ‌and‌ ‌bread‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌eater,‌ ‌

11‌‌ ‌so‌ ‌shall‌ ‌my‌ ‌word‌ ‌be‌ ‌that‌ ‌goes‌ ‌out‌ ‌from‌ ‌my‌ ‌mouth;‌ ‌

‌it‌ ‌shall‌ ‌not‌ ‌return‌ ‌to‌ ‌me‌ ‌empty,‌ ‌

but‌ ‌it‌ ‌shall‌ ‌accomplish‌ ‌that‌ ‌which‌ ‌I‌ ‌purpose,‌ ‌

‌and‌ ‌succeed‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌thing‌ ‌for‌ ‌which‌ ‌I‌ ‌sent‌ ‌it.‌ ‌

I‌ ‌struggled,‌ ‌talking‌ ‌to‌ ‌my‌ ‌four-year-old‌ ‌about‌ ‌hope.‌ ‌ ‌

Partly‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌finding‌ ‌the‌ ‌words.‌ ‌ ‌

Mostly‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌telling‌ ‌my‌ ‌hope-filled‌ ‌daughter‌ ‌ ‌

that‌ ‌sometimes‌ ‌what‌ ‌we‌ ‌‌want‌‌ ‌to‌ ‌happen‌ ‌

Doesn’t‌ ‌happen.‌ ‌

I‌ ‌know‌ ‌that‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌good‌ ‌for‌ ‌‌her‌‌ ‌to‌ ‌know‌ ‌that.‌ ‌ ‌

I‌ ‌want‌ ‌her‌ ‌to‌ ‌know‌ ‌“hoping”‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌candy‌ ‌for‌ ‌supper‌ ‌

isn’t‌ ‌always‌ ‌going‌ ‌to‌ ‌work‌ ‌out.‌ ‌Hopefully‌ ‌ ‌

isn’t‌ ‌ever‌ ‌going‌ ‌to‌ ‌work‌ ‌out‌ ‌-‌ ‌ ‌

But‌ ‌also,‌ ‌I‌ ‌can‌ ‌envision‌ ‌a‌ ‌situation‌ ‌in‌ ‌which‌ ‌ ‌

I’d‌ ‌be‌ ‌all‌ ‌for‌ ‌it.‌ ‌ ‌

Some‌ ‌days‌ ‌are‌ ‌like‌ ‌that.‌ ‌ ‌

My‌ ‌difficulty‌ ‌explaining‌ ‌hope‌ ‌ ‌

wasn’t‌ ‌so‌ ‌much‌ ‌about‌ ‌her‌ ‌

But‌ ‌about‌ ‌me.‌ ‌ ‌

I‌ ‌‌struggle‌ ‌with‌ ‌hope.‌ ‌

I‌ ‌struggle‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌hope‌ ‌that‌ ‌late-night‌ ‌phone‌ ‌call‌ ‌

might‌ ‌actually‌ ‌be‌ ‌good‌ ‌news.‌ ‌

I‌ ‌struggle‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌hope‌ ‌that‌ ‌ ‌

her‌ ‌anger‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌about‌ ‌something‌ ‌I’ve‌ ‌done‌ ‌

his‌ ‌frustration‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌my‌ ‌fault.‌ ‌

I‌ ‌guess…I‌ ‌struggle‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌hope‌ ‌that‌ ‌ ‌

it‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌all‌ ‌about‌ ‌me?‌ ‌

Which‌ ‌is‌ ‌interesting…‌ ‌

because‌ ‌my‌ ‌4-year-old‌ ‌sort‌ ‌of‌ ‌ ‌

does‌ ‌think‌ ‌everything‌ ‌is‌ ‌about‌ ‌her.‌ ‌

And‌ ‌yet,‌ ‌her‌ ‌hope‌ ‌is‌ ‌ ‌

Fierce.‌ ‌ ‌

I know I’ve let her down a good deal


And yet, 

She still has such fierce 



I admire her.


She gives me strength to believe.

Strength to hope.

She reminds me hope 

is a possibility.

“I hope we get to worship in church next week!”

Me too…

“I hope we get to go to friend’s houses soon!”

Me too…

“I hope we can have peanut butter and apples

for breakfast AND supper today!”

Okay, I don’t hope for that so much.


She reminds me to have hope.

I am so grateful to God for blessing me 

with this precious reminder.

It’s okay to hope.

Hope fiercely. 


Isaiah speaks with such certainty:

This is going to happen.

God’s word accomplishes 

what God sends it out

to accomplish.

God is at work 

healing and

restoring and

reconciling and

breaking free and 

giving new life.

God is massaging 


into the world. 

Into me. 

At times, through very 

unexpected avenues.

Thank you, God

for hope. 

I love you.

Reverend Emily Shipman was ordained in 2014 and serves the
NW United Lutheran Parish, a 4-point parish in northwest North Dakota.
She serves with her clergy-spouse Zachariah and their 4-year-old Sophie Sue.