“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.” – Emily Dickenson

I’ve always had a thing with June. When my husband and I got engaged on a chilly November day, I knew right away that I wanted to get married as far away as possible from the cold grip of winter. Being a lover of all things green and warm and growing, and wanting our marriage to start the same way, I knew we had to wait for June.

I still remember happily sharing the news with my grandpa.

“Ah, a June bride,” I recall him saying with an ear-to-ear smile and shiny eyes. “That sounds just about right.”

I thought so too.

When my husband and I got married, we were poor college students. Our first home was a 110-year-old fixer-upper that had been divided into three apartments. The bathroom was too small for one person to turn around in, there were holes in the kitchen walls where the plaster had deteriorated over the decades, and we occasionally had friendly visitors of the rodent variety that snuck up from the Blair Witch-esque basement. But to me, none of that mattered. The sunshine beaming through giant oak trees meant it was a happy and bright place during the day, and the original moldings and skeleton-key door knobs were to die for. Also, the door to the scary basement could be locked and our heavier-than-Hades old brown couch buttressed against it, which I suppose I believed might deter any potential old-house ghosts from invading my personal space. You know, just in case.

That summer was the hottest I can ever remember. Old homes aren’t usually known for the glories of air conditioning, and ours was no exception. But the landlord had given me free reign to paint and decorate the place any way I wanted, even funding my creative experiments. No sweeter gift could have been given to me. My husband worked a lot of hours that summer, and while he was gone I spent my days cleaning, painting, and uncovering the house’s tiny secrets, all while singing at the top of my lungs and sweating like an Eskimo in Ecuador.

This is our life. And it’s going to be so beautiful.

Then it happened. Hot summer days faded to cold winter nights spent shivering when the old furnace stopped working. There was the first night I didn’t say “I love you” before falling asleep. There were late night phone calls, lost jobs, scary diagnoses, and loved ones laid to rest in frozen ground. Winter has a way of making June feel so far away. There have been many days I’ve wondered,

Where is my beautiful life?

And yet, despite my questioning, spring always finds its way back. Renegade tulips push through trampled ground and fill our little world with color again. And as life cycles through its seasons over and over, I begin to understand why hope matters.

Whether in this life or our eternal home, June is coming.

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.” 2 Corinthians 4: 16-17 (MSG)

Today, it is June. I am sitting on the front steps of our house enjoying the sunshine while my three children turn the driveway into a sidewalk chalk masterpiece. As I watch the chaos of blue and yellow and pink swirls become flowers and suns and happy faces, I think about my upcoming wedding anniversary, and I recall the June day twelve years ago when, during a sudden thunderstorm, I looked up into hazel eyes and promised to believe in the sunshine, even when I couldn’t see it.

Above my children’s heads are three trees, branches bowing low to shade the busy work below, leaves whispering hope with every exhale of the gentle wind. Those trees, one day bare branches and deep roots, then suddenly an explosion of green.

I know that on a breezy day in late September, their little leaves, turned shimmering pinks and reds by frosty nights, will begin to fall. They will leave the trees naked and quivering in the biting wind. But as the leaves fall, it will look like a wispy flower girl danced and twirled down our driveway, covering every square inch with rose petals, singing at the top of her tiny lungs…

Get ready. June is on her way.