I’m ok with hard, as long as there is hope.


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Last night we were all told by his hospice nurse that if there was anything we wanted to say to Chris, now was the time. In the moment it seems so unreal. Can this really be happening? We’ve been through tough, seemingly impossible times before, can this be any different? We all spent individual time with Chris, giving family members the space and time to be alone. In my times alone with Chris they are often in silence. I have always known that this day would eventually come, and in the past recent weeks Chris and I had a mutual understanding that it was coming soon. We were unfiltered, open and honest. I didn’t hold back in telling him how thankful I was for loving me so well and for giving us a beautiful daughter. I told him how he has taught me how to take the risk and trust God and also to work hard in selflessness in order to be a Christ-like example to others. I told him that I was going to be ok, because he has shown me that my first love is God and that our love for each other is a reflection of God’s love for us. There is very little to say at this point that we both do not already know. So we hold hands and I pray. Sometimes I pray out loud and other times to myself but I know that God is there with us in that quietness. (Isaiah 30:15 . . . In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength . . .”) 

Standing right here in the midst of everything and recalling all of our past memories, it doesn’t seem real, but in the times of silence and prayer it’s very real. I am reminded in those times that this life is not our home and leaving our physical bodies is far from the end. I glimpse for a short time all of this through the eyes of God and there is peace. God knows and loves my husband far greater then I ever could and His plan and purpose is good. And as much as I wish that Chris could live and stay here with me, he will soon be with God in a perfect place that we all long for. 

I am happy . . . I am happy for him and more than ever before I feel the longing to just be done with this world and go with him too. Perhaps this is why the Lord gave us our little girl. She gives me purpose. I know that each of us have a place and purpose and for a short while we will have to be apart. It’s hard to think of much purpose being here besides taking care of Gabriella. I’ve always known that she needs me, and I know that she will help to keep me going, but my heart and my longing right now is to just be with Chris. 

Then a couple days ago here at Chris’s parents house I heard from God that someone else will need me as well – his family. It would be so easy to move away and start over, leaving behind everything that makes me think of my life with Chris. It’s very tempting even now as I am writing this, but I know that God wants me here. Chris’s family is amazing and his Mom and Dad are my Mom and Dad, his brother, Matt, is my brother and his sister, Nikki, is my sister. Being here at their house and taking care of Chris has only brought us closer together. Even in the last few days, my heart is drawn more and more to each of them in a strong and undeniable way. Through the eyes of God I am able to catch a glimpse of his perfect plan. 

There are still so many fears and unknowns. I try not to think about going home to our house in Grand Rapids, cooking now for only myself and waking up without a husband beside me. I know it will be hard, but I’m ok with hard as long as there is hope. And there is hope. There is everlasting hope and beautiful hope. An unseen hope but a hope that I can feel with my entire being. Hope with promises given by an all powerful, all knowing and all loving God. Promises of hope like Romans 8:38-39, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

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82 thoughts on “I’m ok with hard, as long as there is hope.

    • We love Chris. And the Hinshaws. Our hearts ache with yours, and pray for comfort. Grateful for the promises of eternity together, and still believing that healing is in God’s hands. He is able. I often hate this broken world, and yearn for Christ’s return. May His arms very tangibly comfort you both – you all – today and onward.

  1. What a precious moment that picture captures. Gina, your strength and poise at such a painful time show the depth of your faith in God and your knowledge of his love and plans for you and Gabriella. Your support system and outpouring of love from friends and family only grow deeper as your posts preach God’s faithfulness to you through this tragic time. You are so loved and prayed for constantly.

  2. Gina, your reflections at this time are incredibly inspiring. Chris’s legacy will live on in many ways; through you, Gabriella, his students lives (my son CJ being one), etc… I just shared with “my men”, what your shared with Chris on loving well, and loving God first, taking risks while trusting God, being selfless….oh that I and more men live life as Chris did…. My/our prayers are for you, Gabriella and those Chris left behind, but we rejoice with as well for Chris! Thanks for sharing, Chris Muller

    • Thank you Chris, I am hoping by just sharing Chris’s story and his life that his example will go far beyond what we ourselves could ever do but only what God can do. I think of you and your family as well having a son in Chris’s class and how that will be a difficult loss as well. Love and Peace- Gina

  3. Your strength and love for God, Chris and family are amazing. May peace find you and memories keep your heart happy. You are truly a blessing for your daughter and prayers are being sent in abundance! God Bless….

  4. Thank you for sharing your most tender time. Your words are and encouragement to me. Praying for you and thanking you again, your family has been such a blessing to my Grandbabies Kenzie and Leah Cook. Jesus does indeed love you and your sweet daughter, Vickie Cooper ( Angie Cook’s mom)

  5. Hold onto hope. I lost my husband in April. It is a tough journey. My hope is that I will see him again in Heaven. He is my inspiration to hang on and become more Godly. My prayers are with you as you begin this journey.

  6. Our hearts are full! Aching for the loss of Chris, and celebrating that he is with his Savior, who he loves with all his heart! SO thankful for the chance to work with him as a fellow youth leader, and even more thankful that my own children were impacted for Christ through Chris and through, you, Gina! xoxo

    • So sorry, Friends, I am sad I commented so quickly, having heard incorrectly…but I’m not sorry to have you know how much we love you and pray for you and thank God for your influence in our lives! Peace and Grace through each step!! xo

  7. Gina, you are such a bright light in a dark place. Praise God for all He is doing in and through you and Praise God for all of the strength He will give to you through those who love you. May you and your precious little girl remain in His grip of love as your journey on one day at a time.

  8. Thoughts and prayers for all of you. Chris taught my daughter Robyn and he very much was a big influence on her. She had a hard time transitioning from one school district to another in middle school and felt lost. I appreciate his encouragement and pushing her to do what he knew she was capable of. Teachers like him are rare. Robyn is now almost ready to graduate and off to college. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful person with all of us. He will never be forgotten. Prayers being said for all of you in this time.

  9. Gina, Chris, and Gabriella
    While we’ve never met, I want to tell you that I am praying for your entire family. When my daughter Amy Burchfield told me about her visit last week with the 4 children and Becky, I was so pleased that all of you had an opportunity to spend time together. I told her on the phone at the hospital to tell Chris I was praying for him. You are a special person to write the story you did. It takes a lot of faith and inner strength to do this. I believe God has a special place for Chris. So many others in Heaven will benefit from Chris.

    May God Bless You
    Bob Burchfield

    • Thank you so much for you message. We love Amy, Becky and the kids so much. That day at the hospital was so special and I will never forget it. 🙂 Thank you also for your encouragement and prayers.

  10. My niece in law, Amy Bracken, shared your blog to inspire others…me being an other. As a hospice nurse I can truly say the nurse(s) having the privilege to walk the journey with you have been blessed with an immeasurable degree of humility and honor. Your faith speaks so loud with GOD’s words of promise and hope and possessing Jesus as our savior will only help you to continue the journey once your husband moves on to do GOD’s work. May you continue to be blessed with the Holy Spirit and THANK YOU~!! for sharing your inner most feelings and faith with us all!!!! Jill Palecek

  11. Gina, I hope you know how many people are lifting you, Chris, Gabriella, and all of your family up in prayer daily. May you not only have hope, but feel the peace that transcends understanding in these days to come. Please let Chris know that he is leaving a legacy with all of us to grow our faith and hope in our Lord, keep him number one in our families, and trust Him with His plan and purpose. Thank you, Gina, for sharing this with us. All our love and prayers, John & Kristin Germanceri

  12. Dear Gina,
    You, Chris, and Gabriella are an inspiration to us all. May God bless all of you with the strength and peace that only He can give. We continue to lift you up in prayer during your time of need.
    God Bless, Jeremy

  13. My husband and I don’t know you and Chris personally, but we are members of Ada Bible Church and learned about your family via Daniel Koons. Your story and witness is truly an inspiration and a blessing to many people, even those who have never met you. I am praying that our Lord will continue to sustain you in His love and hope.

  14. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13
    Praying for you and your family

  15. Love and prayers to you. Gina, you are such an inspiration! So sorry you have to go through this, but rejoice that their is indeed hope!!!

  16. Gina – your words are so inspiring to read and so equally painful at the same time. My heart aches for you, Chris and his family for what you’ve gone through and yet through all these brutally hard times, God has given you a love for him that all of us crave. We love you guys and love the way that through all this, you keep pointing everyone toward him and what great gifts he offers us. Keep hoping…and God will keep seeing you through. Love to both of you!

  17. We don’t know each other, but my sister-in-law, Kim Rutan, posted your link. I am all at once deeply heartbroken and inspired. Earnest prayers have been sent for you and your family from Columbus, OH. Not only praying for your comfort, peace, and strength, but thanking God for your courage and example.

  18. Gina, you and Chris have inspired us by reflecting our great God so well. You are a blessing and we pray His blessing on you all. Thank you

  19. I just read your recent entry with tears and a smile. I lost my mother at a very young age and we lost our infant son almost two years ago.. hold on tight to that little girl of yours, she will be your only reason some days to keep going. Even now in the times of waiting and good byes. Our oldest daughter was the only reason for me to get out of bed some mornings after our son’s death. Even now two years later she holds my hand and just says it’s okay to be sad mom. The tears are for the sadness and loss you are experiencing and will experience. My smile is for the fact you are sharing it with the world and showing everyone your love and faith as a mother and wife.

  20. What we can hope to take from you Chris, is your strength and positive attitude! Despite all that you have been going through, we never saw you without a smile! All of us at the office thank you for that! On a personal note, I always appreciate our Michigan State conversations, GO GREEN:)

  21. I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I just experienced all that you are experiencing now. My wife, Jeanah (pronounced Gina), passed away Super Bowl Sunday after a 17 month battle with cancer. She was 29 and we have two children, Owen (5) and Charlotte (2). We live just a little ways down the road in Jackson, MI. Just wanted to let you know that I am praying for peace and comfort and although you don’t know me, I know what it’s like sitting where you are sitting. If I can be a sounding board or anything, I am here. You are not alone and neither is your husband. Keep faith and rely on your faith to carry you through this. It’s easy to say, but it’s a lot harder to do when the time comes. God Bless

  22. Incredibly transparent look at one of life’s hardest challenges. I am moved and inspired by your heart-felt and honest words. I especially like the line, “Through the eyes of God I am able to catch a glimpse of his perfect plan.” Thank you for taking the time to share your own pain and perspective. I will be praying for you, your daughter, and your husband’s family. Take care.

  23. May the Lord wrap His arms around each of the beautiful Hinshaws and hold you in arms.. May He give peace comfort , strenght and understanding at the time. Much love and prayers We love you all .
    Bonnie and Denny

  24. You and your family are close in our thoughts and our prayers! I was blessed to pray with your mother-in-law, a while ago. The Lord shines through you and through your willingness to share your journey. May He hold you all in the palm of His loving hand! We will continue to pray! God bless, Nicole L

    • Thank you for your message. I told Dawn that you messaged me and she said she was really appreciative that you prayed with her in the back of the store. Continue to pray for Dawn as this is hard for her.

  25. Gina,
    Your courage and faith are truly an inspiration. Chris was my son Adam’s middle school track coach. We have many fond memories of those days as well as the East Coast trip two years ago. Adam jumped for joy when he found out that Chris was one of the chaperons for his trip. Chris has touched our lives, he’s a great educator, mentor, and friend to so many! His greatness will shine on in you and your beautiful daughter Gabriella. The world needs many more special people like you and Chris. The entire Hinshaw family will be in our thoughts and prayers now and in the most difficult days ahead. Seek comfort in family, friends, and the gift of love from our almighty God!

    Blessings,
    Debbie Heukels

    • Thank you for your encouraging message, Chris always loved to chaperone those trips because it gave him a chance to have fun with the kids and be a friend as well as a teacher. The same reason why he coached track. Thank you for your prayers!

  26. My son transferred to Kraft this fall and was blessed to be in Mr. Hinshaw’s class. In that short time my son experienced what an amazing person he is! Our family watched the video Chris sent to the students and will forever remember his inspiring message to them. Tears filled my eyes as he encouraged them to great things. His love for others is unmistakable. In that short clip my husband and I understood why Jacob says Mr. Hinshaw is unlike anyone else! We would like to tell him, in his own vernacular, “shut it!”

  27. I knew you and Chris for a mere 12 hours. And in those 12 hours I witnessed an example of love, faith, and strenght that I’ve never seen before. There’s no doubt he has touched and changed many lives. Prayers for all!

  28. This story is not over. It will linger in the hearts and minds of so many young people beyond this time. Our hearts over here at the DeJong home have been squeezed hard as we join you in focusing on the eternal light beyond the shadowlands. God will never waste anything we suffer and only time can reveal how He will use this pain…. but He will.
    We Praise God for the whole Hinshaw family, and your courageous testimony of facing what we all must face some day…… eternity.
    Thank you for such a real glimps into what it has taught you. We are better for being a part of your grief and we have quietly shed tears with you. Gina and Chris, and Gabrielle, you are dear to so many here in Caledonia!
    We will continue praying for you. Mr. and Mrs. Hinshaw, you are remarkable parents, and we pray for you also.

  29. Gina – you don’t know me but we have been a part of Dawn and Bruce’s small group. We love them and therefore love their family. Our hearts ache for all of you as you go through this difficult time. As a mom, I cannot imagine what Dawn is going through. You are such an inspiration and your faith is so encouraging! I can see from your writings and those who have commented here what a very special man Chris is. His love for The Lord has certainly been a testimony to so many. May His love surround you and squeeze you tight :-). Sending our prayers and love to the entire Hinshaw family.

    Kathi Landon

    • Thank you so much Kathi for your prayers, it is especially difficult right now at the end. Please continue to pray and comfort Dawn and Bruce! I’m so thankful that they have so many people there for them as I will be too.

  30. Gina, Chris and Gabriella,
    Your story is an inspiring testimony of faith, hope and love. I had no idea that Chris has been fighting this battle. I read the story on Sunday evening. Last night I attended a retirement reception in Jackson, MI and I sat down with David Robinson. I knew him from my days at New Covenant Christian Church and School. We visited for a few minutes and I asked him about his son and daughter. He told me about Dan and his schooling and work. And then he told me about his daughter Gina who had married Chris Hinshaw. I was surprised because I didn’t realize the two of you were married! I told him that I had just read your story and I was praying for Chris and his wife and daughter.

    Thank you for sharing with us during this time. My prayer for you all is for strength and peace. Our God is well able to carry you through this, and your story is so revealing of where your hope lies.

      • Dear Gina,
        You are an inspiration and a gift to anyone who has ever lost a loved one. I thank God for your love and walk with Christ. I know that God will bless you and guide you thru these dark, dark days. I trust with my whole heart He will continue to be there for you to love, guide and direct you and Gabby
        But Gina, I also pray with my whole heart for Dawn, Chris’s mom. The thought of losing a child is so unbearable.
        Please tell her for me, how much I love and care about her. I pray all thru the day for her (and the whole family) I pray for peace, comfort, and for her to feel God;s love at this time, and always.
        Chris has been so blessed to be brought up in such a loving, wonderful Christian family. Of course he choose a wonderful woman like you to marry. He grew up with one of the most wonderful women in the world, so of course he would pick someone just as wonderful. Bless you Gina, Bless Chris, Dawn and the whole family.
        In His Hands-
        Bonnie

      • Thank you Bonnie for your message. I passed along to Dawn your message and she told me how thankful she is to have you in her life and how much she appreciates you. Thank you for your prayers and love. -Gina

  31. Your strength is inspiring. Your story is beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. I was drawn to your blog by the title of your last post…I’m ok with hard, as long as there is hope…it is perfectly written.
    I pray for comfort and peace for you all….that adorable little girl you have will be your reason to continue to carry on. Your story of faith and love is truly uplifting…it is in your faith and love that you are truly inspiring. Your husband will live on in you and your daughter. Thank you for sharing your story and we will all continue to pray…

  32. I’m pretty sure we’ve never met, but reading your story I have to tell you that your faith is absolutely inspirational. Praying for you and Chris and your family.

  33. Hi Gina, I see your last post was about 6 hours ago, so I’m guessing every second with Chris is more and more significant. If he’s still with the living, tell him Kay sends her love. Gina I loved one of your comments in your blog where you said you and Chris were given the chance to grow old together. Of everything, that made me cry. Thank you for letting so many of us be part of this experience.

    • 🙂 He’s such a fighter, I’m telling ya! With us being new to this dying process, including Chris, we have all said good-bye many times thinking it might be that time but it has not yet. Even though I know its hard, God is good and His timing is perfect.

  34. Your faith and strength is so inspiring! Even during these dark days, God will continue to bless you and hold you up. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

  35. I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
    Mother Teresa

    Gina & Chris,
    Thinking of you. Praying for your peace. We are missing all of you. Thanks for inspiring us to be better, kinder and to love always. You are showing us all how to live with grace and courage.

  36. Gina,
    I haven’t seen you are Chris for a decade now, but there is pain in my heart and tears in my eyes as I read this. Praying that the Lord, who is able to understand us in our weakness, will bring you peace and comfort in this time.
    Josh Puuri (and my wife Colleen who has read your blog)

  37. A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us, they live on. Please accept our condolences, Chris will not be forgotten. Through the gift of salvation, we are comforted in knowing that we will all meet once again, in heaven. Our prayers will be with you and your family.

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