When all Hope is Gone

Staring into our backyard pond, I knew the koi were dead. The evidence was undeniable. We’d seen the scary-looking Blue Heron circling the yard, caught him standing in the ponds, and found his sandy footprints on top of my husband Rick’s truck.

I wrote about Rick’s beloved koi here in Guideposts magazine. They were given to him a long time ago and must have been about twenty years old. He built two small ponds in our backyard for them.

Boy, he loved those fish.

When he got home from work, the koi would be smiling at the top of the water waiting to be fed. He’d tell them hey, and toss in a handful of food.

But there’d been no sign of life for six weeks. Not since we saw the Blue Heron.

Rick inched a boat paddle across every inch of the ponds.

No air bubbles. No movement except for frogs.


Every night since they disappeared, I found find him staring into the water, but I quit looking for them. Hanging onto hope would be foolish.

Last weekend, Thomas’s girlfriend Brittany came over. Walking by the ponds she said, “When did y’all get new koi?”

Sure enough. There they were–six yellow, orange, and black speckled koi, putting on a show for us!

Somehow these remaining six had survived the Blue Heron.

“Must have hidden way back under the bushes,” Rick said. “But I don’t see how. I ran the paddle along the sides too.”

 Watching the remarkable fish, God seemed to suggest a thought.

When things look dark and hopeless, Julie, when there’s no movement whatsoever, hang on tight to hope. I still have a plan.

“Let us continue to hold firmly to the hope we confess…” Heb. 10:23 ISV

*picture of Blue Heron Lake Nock from Flickr Creative Commons. (dbf photos)

Praying for you, my dear friends.




  1. Oh Julie, I was holding my breath reading this hoping that some of those itty bitty fishes were still there!
    Perfect word picture on HOPE! So many times it seems like nothing is happening…no answer is forthcoming …thank you for the reminder that in those times He’s there. And we can still have hope.

    • Especially in those times when it seems like nothing is happening because we can’t see beneath the surface!!! Thank you, Robin.

  2. Anna Haney says:

    Bawling. This past week I have had the worst round of bronchitis I can remember. Typically, a visit to the doctor, a shot in rear, some steroids and a zpac and in a day, I’m back to my old self. Did not happen this time. Add to that some hormonal issues, worries about my mother’s health situation, lingering sadness over losses from September, and I was a wreck. One down side to prednisone, at least for me, is that while it knocks out the inflammation, it can make me DEPRESSED and late Sunday, I was there. I felt unneeded, useless, unworthy of the love shown by my husband and the prayers being sent up. When I woke up, I was not coughing (first time in at least four days), I knew that HE had never left. I am a princess. A daughter of the king and He has me sheltered—just like your fish. Have a WONDERFUL day

    • Anna, I read your comment and just had to say that I hope you feel better real soon. It’s not fun to go through all that stuff and sometimes, when I’m feeling blue and have one of my blinding migraines, all looks black (especially behind the ice pack I lay over my eyes to block out the light!). But I trust that it will get better, and it does. Happy for you that you are on the road to mending as well. Hugs, one of Julie’s friends to another, B.J.

    • Hey, Anna and B.J. Oh, Anna, I thought for sure by now you were better. I commented (a couple of weeks ago??) maybe on FB that I was praying. I’m so sorry you’ve had it rough lately. And that prednisone can do weird things to you–like it makes me stay awake all night!

      So grateful your cough left you this morning. I’m going to believe it’s gone for good!

      Much love to you, my friend. Feel Better.

  3. Mike says:

    HOPE ~ Happy the Koi were not food for the Blue Heron! Happy for Rick. Happy for secret hiding
    places…….happy for happy endings. I have a friend who may need this, and I am happy to forward
    to him!
    Thanks Julie, for yet another encouraging word ~ blessings.

    • Thank you, Mike! So glad you’re forwarding this to your friend. Hope it blesses him–there’s our word again. HOPE.

      Your encouragement means so much. Thank you.

  4. Mike says:

    Not too happy about the spacing
    of that last post :- ?

  5. You said: “When things look dark and hopeless, Julie, when there’s no movement whatsoever, hang on tight to hope. I still have a plan.”

    Beautiful words from God. And ones I am so happy you shared. Things are a struggle sometimes, and in many different ways in our lives, but God is ALWAYS there, just look at those colorful koi he saved so Rick could once again feel joy by being around them. Thank you, God!

    • I know, BJ. And He’s ALWAYS there. Thank you, my friend. We have to schedule phone time soon. Miss you!! XOXO

  6. And amazing because what did they eat? :o) God indeed is trustworthy with our smallest desires. How He loves us!

    • That’s right, Ane. Ohhhhh, how He loves it. My sweet husband kept feeding the “dead” fish for weeks. A few days before Brittany spotted the fish, he ran out of fish food. He didn’t buy anymore, but maybe God provided manna. 🙂

      Miss your smilin’ face!

  7. Hi Julie,
    I’m so glad to hear there were still fish there! I’ve always loved to watch blue heron and we have many around here, but I didn’t realize they would feast on a koi pond until Brandilyn Collins told me at the ACFW conference that she hated them because they ate the fish out of her pond too! Can you keep them away?
    Thank you for giving us yet another positive message about hope. I needed that badlly today.

    • Hey, Marilyn. There are different ways to keep them away–build a net over the pond, or there’s a little automatic water/sprinkler that goes off with movement. Mr. Heron moved in a hurry. In just a few days, hardly ANY TIME at all, he’d eaten them.

      Thanks so much for writing. So glad this post hit home. xoxo

  8. What a beautiful story, Julie! And your analogy was perfect. Very happy that some of the koi are still there! And it did look like she was smiling 🙂

    • I know, CArla. They DO smile. Can’t wait ’til my husband reads that part….especially that he talks to them. 🙂

  9. Melba Fletcher says:

    Julie, your words always minister to me, but this was extra special. I will hug it to myself and continue to draw strength from it. And I will keep running my paddle around the edges.

    • Sooooo powerful, Melba. “Keep running my paddle around the edges.”

      No other way. And my husband never gave up.

      I love you, my friend. Mom called today and asked if I’d heard from you. I was driving. Will call her and read her your email. Told her about your beautiful picture!!

  10. What an encouraging story, I always enjoy reading your posts, Julie, and then to read your ending that goes, “Praying for you, my dear friends” adds even more encouragement. I was praying for you this AM!

    • Thank you, Julie. I pray for you too! Means so much that you read. 🙂

      Coffee. Soon. I’m serious.

      Love you,
      Other Julie

  11. Julie,
    I just love it when God gives us these kind of happy surprises.
    Thank you for your lovely words which always inspire. You’re a blessing. Much love, Bev

  12. Oh, Julie. Just beautiful. Stretched straight into my heart today. Thank you…

  13. Arie Strobel says:

    Well, I was pretty surprised to be crying about Koi. I love the birds and certainly have nothing against the Koi. But your way with words about life hit a nerve. Like your friend Anna H above, my week has been rife with “life on life’s terms” including illness and death of my dog in my arms…aaiiiieee. So I guess I should not have been surprised to cry about Koi. Love, Arie

    • Arie, isn’t is odd how tears come at the oddest times. I’m so, so sorry about your dog. And sometimes one death can trigger tears for past hurts.

      I’m lifting you up, my friend.

      And isn’t it neat when God brings new friends together from across the states! So glad you and Anna met.

  14. Shawnelle, that’s beautiful–what you said. “Stretched straight into my heart today.”

    Love it. Miss you, my friend. Praying for you and yours.

    So glad the Lord has joined our hearts and lives~~!

  15. Hi Julie,

    I am new to your blog. I love how you wrote this… full of hope and expectation. God does have a plan and I am learning that when I let the fist of doubt close over the plam-lightness of faith it is difficult to hope. So here I am knees bent and palms open. Thank you for your confirming words. God is good!!!


  16. Welcome, welcome, Tonya! Love your body posture–knees bent and palms open. So very glad what happened with our koi found a home in your heart!

    Blessings to you, and thanks for reading and writing to me.


  17. Sandra Walker says:

    Thank you, Julie! I’m holding on to hope!

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