Posts Tagged hope

I decided to make a list: 20 actions to cultivate hope – Mary Hix

 

Mary HixLast Advent, in the midst of a family crisis, I did not feel hopeful. More like cynical and terrified, actually. But I wanted to find a way to practice or cultivate hope as part of Advent. Is it possible to practice hope when despair seems easier or more realistic?

Turns out there is a good bit of research about the importance of hope. Hope is NOT positive thinking, but changing my mindset was foundational in cultivating hope. Paul claims in Romans 5:4 that hope is the final good that comes from the character that suffering can produce. Huh? Character produces hope?

If character is doing and thinking the right things, even in the midst of terrible circumstances or deep fear, then perhaps undertaking specific actions could foster hope. Maybe this was worth a try.

I came up with a list of items and asked my family to help me stay accountable in practicing hope. I wrote down a list of action steps on the glass of the French door by the breakfast table. We each chose an item every day to practice and agreed to talk about our experiences.

This activity didn’t eliminate my fear, but I did feel hopeful that I was doing something. Maybe I could tweak my feelings. Maybe I could experience Advent in a new way. Maybe I could lighten my darkness. Maybe I could celebrate the coming of the Light of the World with a new appreciation for both light and darkness.

Maybe you can, too.

  1. Read a positive story about someone helping others.
  2. Call a friend who is hopeful or will make you laugh.
  3. Do something kind for a stranger.
  4. Give a compliment to every coworker today.
  5. Think of a different thing you are grateful for at every stoplight or stop sign.
  6. Journal about ways God has helped you in the past.
  7. Reframe one automatic pessimistic thought about a specific situation or person.
  8. Write a positive post card or note to someone.
  9. Reconnect with nature by taking a short walk, watching the clouds, listening to the birds, counting the stars.
  10. Adopt a positive breath prayer in the form of a simple, memorable phrase or sentence, and say it 10 to 20 times throughout the day.
    A few examples:  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.  The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.   Abba, I belong to you.   Holy One, heal me.   I am God’s beloved child.   Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
  11. Decide on one goal for 2020. Write it down and think about action steps for that goal.
  12. Watch a funny cat or dog video on YouTube – really!
  13. Pray a sentence prayer all day for someone else.
  14. Visualize a happy image, place or situation for 30 seconds.
  15. Keep a list of all the positive things that happened today.
  16. Fast from TV, radio, or Internet news.
  17. Make Romans 15:13 your prayer just before sleep.
    May the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in him, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  18. Engage in conversations about what gives people hope and what practices cultivate hope.
  19. Plant a winter bulb that will bloom inside and watch it grow.
  20. Tell someone a specific prayer need and ask them to pray for you.

A year later, my family crisis has passed. But in a world that seems dangerously out of control, I have other compelling reasons to commit to cultivating hope. Maybe you do, too. After all, as Paul points out in Romans 5:5, “hope does not disappoint.”

May we all find the truth of the power of hope during this Advent and throughout the coming year.

 

 

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Hope – Suny Side Up – Rev. Susan Sparls

Here’s the thing that I hate about living in New York City: you can’t see the stars. Oh sure, you can watch movie stars sip their lattes in the hipster restaurants in Brooklyn. You can observe television stars through the glass walls of the talk show studios near Rockefeller Center. And you can see the Broadway stars on . . . well, Broadway.

But I’m talking about real stars. The kind that gleam from the sky. Sadly, those stars are hidden by the lights shining from the city. That’s why every once in a while, I have to leave the Big Apple and head to a place where I can actually see the stars. I need remind myself that they are still there.

Last week, I did just that in Dubois, Wyoming. There, at a spiritual retreat center named Ring Lake Ranch, the night sky exploded with more stars than I could ever have imagined. Pulsing overhead were constellations and shooting stars and the dazzling Milky Way that seemed to leap out of the sky in three dimensions.

There’s something about looking up at a sky full of stars that transports us past our tiny, limited worldview. To see the stars on the darkest night brings a sense of hope. In fact, I think finding hope is just like trying to find the stars in New York City.

Sometimes in life, hope seems so near and clear to us, like the stars in a Wyoming sky. But then, sometimes hope feels more like the night sky in New York City where the celestial light is dimmed. During those dark times, we must have faith that hope still exists, even though we can’t see it or feel it. It’s as Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

A few years ago, a dear friend of ours, Ed Charles, passed away. Baseball fans may remember Ed as a member of the 1969 World Champion Mets and one of the first black players in the major leagues. Ed used to tell the story of when Jackie Robinson came to Daytona Beach where he grew up. Ed and his friends sat in the segregated section of the park and watched Jackie play, and after the game was over, they followed Jackie to the train station, running down the tracks and listening for the sounds of that train as far as they could. When they couldn’t hear the train any longer, they put their ears to the track so they could feel the vibrations.

That train carrying Jackie Robinson gave Ed hope, and he held on to that hope as long as he could. We, too, must hold on to hope. And when we can’t see the light of hope anymore, then we must listen for it. And when we can’t hear it, then in faith we must hold on to the memory of it through prayer, meditation, or scriptures such as “Do not fear, for I am with you,do not be afraid, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10).

Hope is always in our hearts. It may not seem like it, for the world tries its best to beat hope out of us, but the operative word is “tries.” We might have to dig, excavate, search, and wait for it, but hope is there—and if we have faith, we’ll find it. It’s just like living in New York City where even though you can’t see the stars, you know in your heart they’re still there—watching over us, shining down on us, and lighting our way.

This piece was also featured as a nationally syndicated column with GateHouse Media.
 

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AT FIRST LIGHT…GOD’S DIVINE PROVIDENCE – Thomas Crowl

JOB:37:16…dost thou know the workings of the clouds…the wondrous works of His which is perfect in knowledge?

In a number  of recent articles I have written of special signs God has sent to remind me of His presence, often when I was at a low point in life and without much hope. On a cloudy Monday morning recently I awoke in another hospital bed trying to get my heartbeat regular and allow me to go home. On a particular Monday of late I opened my eyes to a solid wall of gray cloud and just then my blessed family physician appeared. A constant smile on his face and the look of possibility in the air. As he spoke his opening lines I saw the solid bank of clouds break and a piercing light emerge to chase the gloom from the air. This would be the beginning of hope and divine intervention!. His mastery of my problems would quickly disappear as he called a close colleague to resolve a urinary emergency. It went on like this for some time til I realized the completeness of  God’s mercy. In hours I would have all my issues dealt with, an expert at arms length and what would have been a very long day shorten considerably. Being named Thomas doubt kind of went with the name!

     You are always the possibility of success and when God is in your corner that possibility expands considerably. This was the special lesson of the day God intended. As the day wound on I learned of the incredible work of my doctor. His calls to associates, his re-working appointments and bringing in the cooperation of many others. In a world of “what’s in it for me” I was confronted by God’s special instruction…that the best of what we are is available as a gift to be given at the first call for help. The glow of that day will last with me for many years to come…that love and kindness are His greatest gift and not to be doled out piecemeal…and that we can join this cadre of souls anytime.

     I thought on other issues then, the special gift in life of a loving wife, who though troubled by her own ailments, would rise each day to gather and solve my problems. The welcoming door of my home, though not perfect, was as warm and welcoming as any.

     It is my sacred prayer for you this day that God will open those clouds in your life and help you welcome in the brilliant life of promise…available in that next minute. 

JOB WOULD GIVE US SO MANY EXAMPLES OF THE POSITIVE FORCE THAT LIVES WITHIN THAT NEXT REQUEST…A FORCE THAT DRIVES AWAY

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Skunk Hour – The Rev. Deborah Meister* – The Daily Cup

Skunk Hour
 Oct 12, 2016 07:40 am

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Two weeks ago, I was sitting on a bench in a field, watching the sun come up over the river. A thick mist rose from the water and made the field, the trees, the hills, the river itself vanish into a gray haze. Near the river, I saw three tree-stumps, which then began to move. The fog had been so thick that I had not been able to see that they were deer.

After a space, there was movement: a frisking and frolicking somewhere near my feet. I looked over and saw a skunk, dancing its way along the ground. It was small and delicate; its white stripe painted jauntily over thick black fur. It hopped and skipped and smelled the flowers.

I don’t think I’d ever been that close to a skunk before. (It’s not wise.) And so it had never occurred to me that they might be joyful creatures. All we ever hear about is the stench: fear and reaction, and lingering soggy shame. But my eyes were opened to the beauty that was there, beyond my fears, beyond my stereotypes, in the real and living beauty of God’s world.

So much of our experience is like that, I think. It is so easy to take one thing, one event, and let it color your sense of a whole person or community. Sometimes, I guess, that’s appropriate. I would never urge a person to be alone with someone who had assaulted him or her, or pretend that there was nothing sick in Weimar Germany. But most of time, taking that narrow view merely deprives us of much that is good.

The person who let you down still has a rest of their life. The community that is facing change may well grow in ways that are more beautiful and sustaining than it has ever been before. All we can do is trust and hope — and work for the future we want, maybe even beside people who have failed us before. After all, each of us needs to be redeemed, and the hope we long for in our own lives is the same hope that nurtures others through their bitter, dark nights.

There s one Hope, and one Future. And when we get near it, the very thing we dread might surprise us by dancing.

“The Rev. Deborah Meiister serves as rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. The Daily Cup is one of my favorite blogs. This post is used with her permission.

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