The Color of Hope - By Kim Tate


Tuesday, July 27

We’re making a huge mistake. I just know it.

Stephanie Sanders London stood with her husband, Lindell, in front of family and friends in the activity center at Living Word Church, heart palpitating—or constricting. Or whatever word fit the slow but sure panic that had threatened all evening to overtake her and was about to make good on the promise.

Lindell, on the other hand, had an odd glow.

“I’m still so overwhelmed by your support,” he was saying. “I never expected this.” He paused, visibly moved.

Their pastor had asked them to say a few words to the crowd who had come to say good-bye. Stephanie had spoken first, which hastened the onset of whatever this was. She couldn’t even remember what she’d said after acknowledging that they were leaving.

Lindell continued, “I became a doctor because I wanted to help people. But candidly, I was also drawn to the lifestyle it would afford. I never thought that one day the lifestyle wouldn’t matter and medicine would become ministry. But a one-month trip to Haiti earlier this year changed my life. And now, because of you, I can alternate between practicing in the States and returning to Haiti on a regular basis. I can’t thank you enough.”

He turned to Stephanie to see if she had anything more to add. She looked out at her parents, Bruce and Claudia Sanders. Bruce had been surprised and moved that Stephanie had grown so close to his side of the family and would be planting herself in his Hope Springs roots. But he’d let her know how much he’d miss her. Looking at them now, it struck her that they might never live in the same city again. Her parents might never be a regular part of her life or her future children’s lives. She shook her head at Lindell. If she opened her mouth now, the only thing she’d add would be a retraction of all their plans.

Lindell wrapped up. “This will always be home. You might not see us every week in the first service, fourth pew from the front, left side”—he chuckled with the rest—“but you’d better believe we’ll be there in spirit. We love you, and we’ll miss you.”

Stephanie nodded her agreement as applause rang throughout the room. They walked down the steps of the riser, and Stephanie searched immediately for her older sister, Cyd.

“Stephanie! Lindell!”

They turned to see who was calling.

“You don’t know me,” a young woman said. “I’m new to Living Word, but when I saw the announcement Sunday at church, I wanted to come tonight. And I’m glad I did!” She regarded Lindell. “I’m in med school at Wash U and was so inspired by what you shared. It’s radical, really, when you think about making a total life shift . . .”

Alarm bells went off in Stephanie’s head. The only “radical” moves she’d ever made were things like wearing a dress with too much cleavage showing at her wedding rehearsal . . . which she only knew was radical by the feedback. Following-God radical was different. Harder. She needed baby steps. She needed her sister.

“Excuse me.” Stephanie was glad Lindell had taken up the response. “I need to find someone, but it was nice to meet you.”

She spotted Cyd a few feet over with her best friend, Dana.

Stephanie tugged Cyd’s arm. “Emergency. Now. For real.”

Cyd was laughing, barely holding on to her rambunctious one-year-old, Chase. “I know! He’s been in the dip, the punch, just got a fistful of cookies . . .” She rubbed noses with him as he giggled. “Why did I ever encourage you to walk?”

Dana pinched his cheek. “Auntie Dana understands, little man. You’re just trying to have a good—”

“Uh, hello?” Stephanie waved her hands at them both. “Does emergency mean anything to you two?” She gaped at her sister. “As in, I desperately need to talk to you?”

Cyd gave her the momma look—which she’d always done, but now that she really was a momma, it had more umph. Thirteen years older, she’d actually always been like a second momma. “Steph, it’s not an emergency.”

“It is an emergency.”

“I know what it’s about.”

Chase spied his dad across the room and lunged forward in Cyd’s arms. “Da-da. Da-da.”

Stephanie latched onto her nephew’s hand. “You’re just a little cutie, you know that? Auntie Stephy loves you.” Chase was her soft spot, and she wouldn’t be seeing him either, which brought her back to her angst. She looked at Cyd. “You do not know what it’s about.”

Dana laughed,