This thing called hope is up there with oxygen in value for me. So is Spring. They’re almost synonymous. I ‘hope’ you enjoy the wonderful stories included here from friends and family members who landed in the place of hope. And, please join me as I brainstorm ways to find hope when the hard things are crowding in.
Grandma Edla’s Story of Hope
Our family has many stories of hope. One that I loved hearing was when Grandma Edla (my maternal grandmother) left Finland as a teenager, sailed across the Atlantic, and entered America through Ellis Island. Her heart filled with wishes and dreams of all that could be in this new life for her. Her American journey took her to Alaska near the silver mines and then on to marriage and a home in Kitsap County, Washington.
Matt and Edla Kainulainen and family raised chickens to eat and sell. This was the family business and one day it all went up in smoke. They watched as the coop holding all the chicks burned to the ground. One of their younger daughters Elsie (my mom), cried that everything was lost. And, to anyone else, that would have appeared to be the case. However, Elsie’s strong-hearted, *sisu-filled, hopeful immigrant parents saw past the fire. They saw past the lack of insurance, the low bank account, and knew there would be a way to start over. They told Elsie and the rest of the family they would simply begin again. And, that is exactly what they did! They didn’t lose hope in their American dreams.
A Dark Journey Laced with Hope and Faith
Lee Anita Coleman is a Poulsbo friend who married one of my high school classmates, Steve. Over the last couple of years, she has walked that hard road called cancer; enduring misdiagnosis, pain, procedures, and treatments and all the other things that come along with the c-word. No one would fault her for sinking into fear and worry. But, she chose not to go there.
Instead, she followed her heart and faith and put her trust in God, keeping His words in the front of her mind. Lee explains, “During my time of cancer and going through chemo treatments I’ve kept the verses of Joshua heading into the Promised Land close. Starting with Joshua 1:7-9. The main verse for me being 1:9 where God tells Joshua and His people, ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go'”
Lee’s last treatment is next week (3/18/2020). We’re right in the middle of the Corona Virus drama and she’s being careful, not going out much while Steven (her strongest supporter and grocery shopper) takes care of the ‘outside’ things. But, when she shares about her journey or this most recent additional challenge, she exudes faith and hope and no fear. What a story of hope.
What is this thing called Hope?
There are times when the pain or the worry is too heavy, too hard to bear. During those times, we survive. We breathe. We put one foot in front of the other. And, in a little while, we might be able to peak out from under the covers to catch a ray of sunshine and the tiniest glimmer of hope to imagine that life could possibly go on. You might say, “Hope is the place to put your heart when your world is shattering”. And, you just hold on tight. Eventually, we start to dream and plan again. We’re back into life’s rhythm of challenges and bright spots.
How do you get from under the covers to out in the sunshine? Here are a few strategies that might be helpful.
Music to My Ears (and Heart)
I’ll let you know what works for me. Sometimes. Music helps. I love soft and happy piano music. And, worship music, either instrumental or vocal, lifts my heart. When I’m most of the way into the sunshine, oldies will bring back the happy memories, reminding me that things can be good again.
Hopeful Words Work
Words have the power to lift me up. I rely on parts of the Bible that have been meaningful in the past. And even better, the verses that I believe God has spoken through to me. You know, when you’re reading along and a section jumps out touching that hurting spot in your soul. Then, it dawns on you that He knows. He cares. And, He had you run into just the right words. I look at those times as double blessings. You’ve been given the perfect words, and you get more proof that He’s real and involved in your life!
Sometimes the words come through the author of a book or a blog or even a Facebook post. They can come through the voice of a dear friend or family member. (You might love this post on making ‘keeper’ friends-the best kind of all!) Sometimes the words from the other person aren’t words at all. Instead, they take a variety of forms; smiles, hugs, a hand on the shoulder. There could be tears, but hopefully, there are plans to move forward, to talk about the good things coming. The good things you’re hoping for.
Plans and Dreams and Hope
Finally, the last stage of moving toward hope begins. The time when I start to plan and dream and brainstorm. When I have the yellow legal pad in front of me to catch all the ideas falling out of my brain and start to see a path forward. Or, when I get out my planner and scope out goals and actions. (This is the Planner I use to do my dreaming and goal setting! The link contains a coupon for you!)
Spring = Hope
The time of year has an effect on my hope levels. Spring is my favorite season. Well, and summer. Anything with warmth and blue skies. In the Spring, the sleepy plants give rise to new life and beauty. And, the hope and predictability of all of that boosts me up! As I write, there isn’t much color in my backyard, but there will be. I know there will be. Red and yellow and purple and white. And, there will be huge, white blossoms on my Magnolias. I look out there and am filled with hope even in the middle of world-sized challenges. I look beyond my yard and see the growth of our friends’ new home. So much good!
A Final Word
Hope is simply a form of belief. Hope believes that good will come no matter what the circumstances. Fear, on the other hand, tends to believe the opposite of hope; worrying about worst-case scenarios. The suggestions above in this post could cause a shift in your belief. I’m sure there are other strategies you use to encourage hope. We would love to hear about them!
Also, If our hope is hooked to faith in a loving God there will be substance to that belief. If we believe He loves and cares for us more than any human could, we will believe He walks with us through the hard and sometimes heart-breaking times. In the middle of it all, He drops the gift of hope into our hands to do with as we please. And, that good will come. Maybe not right away, but it will come. (Romans 15:13, see below)
“Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and it is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English.” From Wikipedia
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Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.