Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent: Week 1: Hope

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope that my American readers all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Mine really could not have been better.  It was filled with family, good food, great conversations, and board games.  I'll be recapping it later this week!

Today I am kicking off a 4-week post series about the season of Advent.  Advent began yesterday and for those unfamiliar with this season, it is a 4 week preparation for Christmas that is recognized by most Western Christian churches.  I did a similar post series the first year I started this blog so I decided to bring it back this year. 

Advent is one of my favorite times of the year, mostly because of the fond memories I have of it from my childhood.  Each night, we would try to gather as a family to light a candle on the Advent wreath.  We'd pray together as a family, and then we'd all gather around the piano and my mom would play Christmas Carols and we'd all sing along.  It was a really nice way to end the day together as a family.

It seems like the Christmas Season is so rushed these days.  While I love the hustle and bustle, the shopping and holiday parties, I also miss the quieter times of Advents of my youth.  So this post series is my attempt to recapture some of the peace and quiet of the Advent season.  Each week I'll post some of my reflections about the theme of the week.  Regardless of your position on faith and Christianity, hopefully you'll find these posts worth reading. 

The theme for week 1 of Advent is Hope.  In the words of Emily Dickinson: 

"Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sing the tune without the words and never stops... at all."
I am not going to even try to pretend that I have always remained hopeful.  Through the trials and tribulations of life, my sense of hope has faded and soared in regards to my career, my general direction in life, and my dating life.  No matter what I am going through, though, my mom is always quick to remind me to remain hopeful. 

Sometimes, though, it almost seems easier to choose despair.  At least that is the case for me.  Having hope for things in life kind of scares me sometimes because I feel like you may potentially be setting yourself up for disappointment.  I used to think:  What if I remain hopeful that my future will involve a husband and children - and then that never happens?  Does hope create more disappointment in the end? 

These days, I remain hopeful, but in a different way.  I don't hope for specific things, like a husband.  Instead, I remain hopeful that my life will turn out just as it is supposed to - whatever that means.  I will close with my favorite verse of scripture that I focus on when I find myself being tempted to choose despair over hope:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)"

20 comments:

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I love this idea- when I was little my favorite time to go to church was during advent, it was always so beautiful.

I think your thoughts on hope make sense. I sometimes fall into the trap of assuming the worst so I will be happy rather than disappointed about the outcome. It makes sense to go with your method though because then you can remain hopeful without being disappointed. I have faith that your life will definitely turn out the way it is supposed to :)

Raquelita said...

I usually try to be cautiously hopeful but to keep my expectations neutral if that makes any sense. Lately, though, I've tried to be more positive and optimistic in general, but it's a challenge because my other mode of thinking is so habitual.

missris said...

I love this post! You're such an inspiration :)

Marlys said...

Beautiful post, Lisa! I think the verse you quoted says it all! Have a peace filled, hope filled Advent!

E said...

I love this post, Lisa!!!!

I know I tell you all the time---but I know your life will turn out exactly the way it is mean to :) However, much easier said than actually LIVING through it!

I think you are taking a fantastic approach---realizing that life doesn't necessarily always turn out the way we envisioned when we were younger---but life can STILL be good and fulfilling :)

I am excited to read all of your Advent posts this sesason!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

What a great idea Lisa! I hate how Christmas is so rushed. I love to savour the moments, feelings, and everything associated with Christmas.

B and B said...

Great idea. Here is my favorite to add:

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." Albert Einstein

Carolina John said...

This really is the best time of the year to slow down and enjoy your family.

Abby said...

I love this post & series you do Lisa! And your description of hope is so well stated.

It is so easy to get too focused on hoping for certain things. When really our focus should be to hope for what God has in store for us.

Love Advent season!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I love this idea and am looking forward to learning more about Advent.

I think you are completely right. It is sometimes way easier NOT to hope, since you then can end up disappointed. However, we need to have hope or what do we have to look forward to!?

"Hope is like a road in the country: there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.--Lin Yutang"

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Love this post! I agree that sometimes it can be hard to stay hopeful about things because you don't want to set yourself up for disappointment. I like the way you've decided to stay hopeful your life will turn out exactly the way it should. I know it will!!!

San said...

I love the Advent season. I have very fond memories from my child hood as well and it involved an advent wreath, candles and Christmas stories.

Thanks for sharing your memories and I hope you can enjoy this holiday season.

I think it's always worthwhile to be hopeful....

Jess said...

I love your approach to life, Lisa. So positive!! I need to take a page from your book more often.

crystal said...

I love this post idea, Im excited to read more. Hope is such a beautiful word to me, simple and yet wonderfully complex!

Stephany said...

"Instead, I remain hopeful that my life will turn out just as it is supposed to - whatever that means."

I LOVE this quote. SO much. My hope for my life is a lot different now than it was when I was younger. I think we have to remain hopeful but it can be very hard, especially when life situations happen that hinder that hope. That's what I love so much about my faith. No matter what happens, I always have hope and belief that God will work everything out for His good which is ultimately my good as well.

I'm excited about this series!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I love that verse at the end. I seriously need to post that someone in my house, because I need to be reminded of it constantly. Thank you for being the one to remind me of it today.

Ohmy, I have a lump in my throat. I think I really needed to see/read those words.

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

I love hope! I also miss the childhood days when holidays could just be reveled in and you didn't have to do all the shopping, cooking, planning, partying. I feel like December will be gone before I know it.

Jeanie said...

I needed to read this -- Things have been so stressful lately. Physically unwell, work stress beyond belief. It's very easy to be down, to lack hope.

Interestingly enough, as I've had to sit still for two IV treatments a day that last a little over an hour, I've come to appreciate that downtime. I must remember to find that, to sit, to BE, in the weeks ahead.

Becky said...

Okay, I don't have enough words to express how amazing this post is! I was nodding to everything - the "youth" of Advent, not hoping for specific things - I love this series!

Amanda said...

Advent is one of my favorite seasons. My current church doesn't formally celebrate it, which makes me a little sad. I'm looking forward to finding an advent wreath and candles for my own little space next year!