I’m sharing some thoughts here that I’ve shared a few years ago, because once again I’ve found myself pondering the spirit of hope that comes with the season of spring. We’ve moved through the cold, quiet of winter and are stepping into a season that has arrived in splendor. A vibrant color palette and a crisp sweet fragrance have exploded in bouquets of pink, white, yellow and red. And our native bluebonnets are popping up all over. Look up. The sky seems bluer, don’t you think? Perhaps because it serves as a backdrop for blooms of fruit trees and budding leaves emerging from once barren branches. And did you see that dazzling full moon we had recently? Things are stirring indeed. We’re meeting each other on the greenbelt trails and in the fitness centers as we work off extra pounds we collected over the winter season. We’re busy with activities that warmer weather brings as our weekends include festivals, crawfish boils, ball games, concerts, camping, travel, and outdoor play. spring-cleaning is part of our agenda as we clear out the clutter and organize our closets, our garages, maybe even our lives. We seem to have more energy. More optimism. More focus. We’re waking up physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a time of renewal, a time of hope. HOPE. A four-letter word we seem to use often as we think about things we wish for. “I hope the economy turns around soon.” “I hope our team wins the championship.” “I hope the rain washes away this pollen soon.” “I hope I can get time off for a vacation.” “I hope the people of Japan can restore their country after the devastation from the tsunami.” “I hope you know how much I love you.” But hope is so much more than wishful thinking. When I speak of hope that comes with the birth of spring, I’m referring to the assurance we choose to have that what we believe will come to pass. When we set our sights on this kind of hope, we establish goals, develop plans, then move forward with confidence. We believe if we plan carefully, work diligently, choose an optimistic attitude, and don’t give up, we’ll meet success at the end of the journey. It’s that kind of hope that drives us to plant our gardens, prune our shrubs, take steps to improve our health, cheer for our children’s sports teams, press on through challenges we’re facing, and encourage each other as we place our trust—our hope—in God to guide our steps in this new season of our lives. Maybe it’s the new life budding around us. It could be the reconnection with others after the solitude of winter. It may come as we seek something to cling to in the midst of fear, pain or disappointment. And it may stir through a time of spiritual renewal we experience as Easter approaches and we reflect on God’s amazing sacrificial love and promise of life everlasting. Whatever the catalyst, we step out in a spirit of expectancy. A spirit of hope. Certainly we’re not naïve. We know that the best-laid plans don’t always bring about success. In spite of our dreams and efforts, life sometimes takes unexpected twists and turns. Yet when our hope is well grounded, we move ahead with a spirit of assurance, determined to extend our best effort, weather the storms, and experience the joys around us on our life journey. The Bible’s New Testament offers some words of encouragement that can guide us as we step out together into this new season of spring. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13 NLT). May we hold onto hope, celebrate beauty, experience God’s love, work diligently, encourage each other, and therein find true joy as this season unfolds. Nancy Williams, LPC, maintains a counseling, life coaching, and consulting practice and is the author of Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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