The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Does “Hope Endure” Through the California Fires?

Dear friends, personal email here…

I sent out an email last night to many saying we were likely going to be evacuating from the Southern California fires, the second time in 4 years, the last time being the "worst fires in the history" of California –in 2003. The people in charge have called this a "de ja vu" of the 2003 fires, only with Santa Ana winds MUCH, MUCH worse. Who could have thought they could be any worse?

Fires I stayed up the entire night listening to the radio and cutting little Hope Endures cards. Bagging little Hope Endures pins and magnets. And before I left today I threw in one of our new tote bags that I absolutely LOVE… that says– you guessed it — "Hope Endures."

But I didn’t feel joyful. I felt a bit resentful. Was God going to test my proclamation that HOPE CAN ALWAYS ENDURE?

By 5 a.m. I woke up my husband, who was lightly sleeping with the radio on and I said, "We have to pack the car. It’s getting close." By 7 a.m. a neighbor who works for the city reported back that the smoke on the hill above us was getting close and to "GO! GO, NOW! GET OUT!" And then, as we all started walking towards our doors, biting our bottom lip to stop any tears he yelled out, "It’s an adventure."

I am beyond spoiled. While people are gathered at Qualcomm Stadium (for the Chargers football) I am sitting comfortably at a Residence Inn. I woke up my sister at 5 a.m. –she works as a manager for Mariott–and said, "Is there anything? Can you find me anything?" She stumbled downstairs and coherently made us a reservation in… La Jolla. So here I sit, in one of the vacation destinations of the world. We aren’t really supposed to be outside and it’s hard to get away from the TV. I just called my house for the 2nd time today and the answering machine picked up, which means the house is still stading. Over 50 homes in Poway (our little "city in the country") have been lost.

Over 300 homes just up the street are gone. It brings back an awful feeling of the lost homes in 2003. It was like a war zone with nothing but chimney’s standing an occasional perfectly untouched BBQ or Play House.

Your outpouring of thoughts and prayers strengthen me. We try to think "best case scenario–worse case scenario…" Either way God is in charge. It’s out of our hands.

But honestly… I am scared. Because I feel like this could be a perfectly acceptable way for God to grab ahold of my blessed life and put it to the test. "Does your hope REALLY ENDURE, Lisa? Could you go to the Joni and Friends conference and stand there and say, ‘God is good and faithful and hope will always endure? Prove it!" Not that God is mean, but He desires to see us grow spiritually and lately I feel like I’ve been the slacker disciple.

For example, I skipped church yesterday. I was so sore, tired, and we had a lot to do to get ready for the conference and then… Legoland in the afternoon. (Yes, it was a sin, I know….but I’d promised my kid and I couldn’t do both church and Legoland and we couldn’t do Legoland Trick-or- Treat the next week because he is going to be with me helping with my ministry at the conference. He wants to "pass out free pens" and "talk to  more people in wheelchairs" — he said in his own words.)

He watched the Joni and Friends new TV show with me just Friday and said, "There’s Joni! There’s where I ran! There’s your meeting!" He saw Joni talking to  Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs and said, "why did God do that?" So I skipped church… but we were still doing ministry, right?

So anyway, the TV was on Dr. David Jeremiah preaching about struggles and then I went in the other room and I hear a muppet yelling "Today’s word of the day is STRUGGLE!" I thought, hey, cool, Dr. Jeremiah has a kid’s thing. But I checked the TV and since we were Tivo-ing Sesame Street it had turned to that channel. In all my years of watching Sesame Street I don’t ever remember the word of the day being STRUGGLE. The word of the day is something like "weather" or "feelings."

So, thank you my dear friends, for your journey through this all with me, even the ramblings of a woman who has not slept in 40 hours. I pray our home and the RM office will be safe… But I pray regardless I will pass the test that I can always tell people, "Yes, Hope always endures."



  Constance Gilbert wrote @

Prayers are with you in great abundance. Yes, God is in control but He understands scared & tired. He had to have felt that & more as He trudged up Golgotha for you, your child, your husband, me & everyone ’cause YOU are loved beyond measure!!! Connie

  Sharian wrote @

Dear Lisa,
Please be encouraged that God is not waiting nearby with a 2×4 to respond to your actions. (That was the Pharisees:)
He knows your heart, and has the same tenderness toward your special little guy that you do- even more so.
In fact, I would venture to say that He would be displeased at keeping up the outward behaviors while knowing the needs of a little boy’s heart were being sacrificied in the name of religion/tradition.
So don’t be harsh with yourself- only you and God know if your heart is right before Him, that will always be your bottom line.
Oh, and by the way, there will also always be someone willing to misinterpret your actions- it goes with the territory no matter what you choose.
I leave you with a verse that has nurtured me through many a similar challenge as a single person /teacher…
“It is better, should God allow it, to suffer for doing what is right than to suffer for doing what is wrong.”
I like to think that I have all Heaven on my side when I do right by God, and so do you.
BTW, so glad for the good news re. your home, know that God is in this, even through the fire.
Being human,real, and therefore vulnerable, makes your message of hope all the more relatable to your sisters, and we love you for being just as human as us.
Hugs to you, may you & every person coping with this fire be aware of the presence of God’s compassion in many, many ways.

  Jennie Krogulski wrote @

That is so scary. I am in prayer for you and your family. Keep us posted as you are able and know that you are thought of and loved.

  Mark Wenthe wrote @

Lisa: So thankful that your home has been protected so far. I have been praying for you and your family these past days, as those Santa Ana winds blow the fires in so many directions. May God protect your home, and keep your familiy in his palm of protection. May His blessing feel close to your heart. Love to you. Mark

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