What inspired a series on the Valley of Hope? What is it? Where is it? Why is it important?
To be clear, the Valley of Hope is a real place but the concept is a state of mind. The place is the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It was where early settlers came, many of them immigrants, with hopes and dreams for a better life in a new land.
I grew up in that beautiful Valley with its rich farmland and breathtaking landscape. The opening words to America the Beautiful capture the pristine beauty of the countryside.:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
As a child I took it for granted, didn’t seem all that special. In fact, it was a boring place to live, or so I thought.
Except for a brief stop in Middletown, most of my growing up was in Strasburg. Mom and dad lived in several different houses there but the place I have always claimed as home was on Capon Street. That’s where my grandparents lived and the central location for my fondest memories.
Can’t tell you why, maybe it was all the personal tragedies, but as high school graduation drew near I couldn’t wait to get out of there. My father died when I was eleven, mom remarried and soon after suffered a debilitating stroke, and I was a fat kid who was often picked on. Can’t believe I just told you that. Just needed a new start.
Music was my ticket out and off I went, leaving the Valley of dreams to chase my dream.
Trombonist in the Navy Band, radio personality, Southern Baptist pastor, published author, and a wonderful wife and family is what followed. So, I’m confident that physically leaving the Valley was the right decision. However, there’s a part of me that remained, like an anchor, firmly holding me in place, keeping me from drifting aimlessly away from my roots.
My heart still lives there, in the Valley of Hope. Never left. The seeds for my future were planted there. They just bore fruit elsewhere.
So, the Valley of Hope is a real place where life happens, good and bad. Seeds of hope are planted there that blossom into something beautiful and better which is what I want to happen with my books.
No matter how difficult the trials in your life, it is my fervent desire that you will discover hope and inspiration IN THE VALLEY OF HOPE.