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Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

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(Reblogged from 12-30-13)

 

A new year requires a new calendar. Don’t you just love the crisp, uncurled pages–the empty spaces for each day, filled with nothing but optimistic possibilities?

Perhaps you’re starting the new year with a fresh journal. Again, the pristine pages are filled with nothing but hope and expectation.

We might also desire to start the new year with:

New eyes—to see the glory of God around us.
New ears—to hear his still, small voice.
New resolve—to follow God’s direction.
New courage—to speak his truth boldly.
New faith—to live with confident trust in our Heavenly Father.

These abilities cannot be bought at Barnes & Nobles, like a calendar or journal. They are procured through prayer and discipline.

A good place to begin? David’s prayer in Psalm 51: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10, 12).

Allow me to personalize it a bit.

Create in me a pure heart, O God (just as you created a perfect universe from chaos).

And renew a steadfast spirit within me (that my greatest desire might be to please you).

Restore to me the joy of your salvation (just as we experience in the euphoria of Christmas Eve)!

Grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (throughout 2016).

The typical new year’s resolution is made, broken, and forgotten. Rarely does someone make a once-a-year promise and keep it faithfully for the next 364 days.

Perhaps we’d be wise to see each new day as a fresh opportunity for beginning anew. To repent of yesterday’s failures and forget them. To strain toward what is ahead—with enthusiasm, expectation, and hope (Philippians 3:13).

And gradually those new abilities we aspire after will begin to flourish.

God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19a)!

* * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Father, for your mercy to forgive the past, and your grace to provide for the future. Thank you that each morning is a fresh start, and each new day holds hidden opportunities. With great anticipation I turn the page!

 

(photo credit:  www.news.health.com.)

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Two weeks ago Steve and I enjoyed a visit with friends we’ve known since college. Last week it was with two other couples we’ve also known for many years.  Shared memories include experiences at church, exceptional dinners at restaurants, excursions to other locales, watching each others’ children grow up, and more. Every time we get together, there’s much story-telling, teasing, laughter, and reminiscing.

One special delight of old friends is the “memory back-up” they offer.

  • “Who was the guy that…?
  • “Where were we when…?”
  • “What was the name of that restaurant where…?”

Have you experienced the flow of feel-good endorphins after such a reunion? Believe it or not, research has verified that our psyches benefit greatly from nostalgia.

New research from the University of Southampton shows that feeling nostalgic about the past increases optimism about the future.  The research examined the idea that nostalgia is not simply a past-orientated emotion, but its influence extends into the future, with a positive outlook.” (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2013/nov/13_202.shtml )

Might that positive outlook grow even stronger if God is included in the remembering?  After all, he’s the one responsible for everything good that happens (James 1:17). He certainly deserves our gratitude for delightful memories.  Each one is a manifestation of his loving care and provision.

With the remembering, we can give God praise: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

 

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And with the remembering, we can strengthen our faith for the future.

On the other hand, all of us have unpleasant memories, too.  Difficulty, hurt, and failure are part of the human experience.  But even in contemplating those times, we can augment a positive outlook as the psalmists did (long before any research validated their strategy).  They often reaffirmed how God had ministered to them in the midst of trials:

  • He did not forsake those who sought him (Psalm 9:10).
  • He encouraged and listened to their cries (10:17).
  • He delivered them from all their fears (34:4).
  • He offered refuge (61:3).
  • He helped and comforted (86:17).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Lord, as I think about my life journey or read my blessings journal, I see your faithfulness displayed again and again.  Thank you for the gift of nostalgic remembering, which expands our joy, encourages our spirits, and grows our faith.

 

(Photo credits:  http://visualphotos.com ; http://www.anextraordinaryday.net.)

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