“I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope” (Acts 26:2 MSG).
So how does a person, or a couple, go about “pitching our tent in the land of hope”?
Since God is the Creator of EVERYTHING, God can create a way forward on the path of hope! I recently released Renewing Hope Journal as a “tent of hope,” a place to gather verses that give you hope and quotes about hope and create drawings and doodles to help you capture the hope building in your heart and mind. It can be used in your individual devotional time, but my husband and I recommend using a hope journal together!
Hope comes from our choices, as an individual, as a couple, and as a family. My working definition of hope, based on studying verses about hope, is: “Waiting expectantly for God to show UP and show OFF for YOUR GOOD and GOD’S GLORY.”
You do not have to journey to hope alone, you can team up as a married couple and pursue hope TOGETHER! Here are several activities that have helped me and my husband, Bill, cultivate hope:
Spend Time in the Promises of the Word of God:
First and foremost, to gain more hope, we need to get our hearts in the Bible, a book full of precious promises from the Creator. Max Lucado, author of Unshakable Hope says, “God’s promises are pine trees in the Rocky Mountains of Scripture: abundant, unbending and perennial.”
Second Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NIV).
Pick a time to traverse the Scriptures with your spouse.
Over coffee, share a favorite Scripture from your individual quiet times, or pick a simple devotional to read together, like our A Couple’s Journey with God.
Spend Time with Jesus:
The good news is Jesus came out of love for you, for me. He lived sinlessly, then GAVE His life in our place. “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 KJV) Max Lucado shares, “When Jesus died on the cross, so did your sin; when He rose from the dead, so did your hope.” Our deep, abiding, faithful hope comes from what, or rather WHOM, we are placing our hope in. God has the surety to cover all His promises of hope. Your friendship with your Creator is the rock-solid, gold and diamond, bedrock wealth of eternal hope.
When you are in the car, turn up some praise music and worship your way to hope! Or at home, shout, “Alexa, play Christian Music!” then dance together and watch the smiles reappear.
Spend Time Creating:
Paint, sew, build, draw, doodle, mold, whittle, carve, string together your hope! While writing Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we (me and my co-authors and Harvest House Publishers) decided to include creative expressions and Scripture coloring pages, in part because the science behind creativity is powerful. In addition to writing the Bible study book, I did more research and wrote a blog for Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s ichoosemybestlife.com on the many benefits of creativity.
Dr. Bea adds that coloring “relaxes the brain.
When thoughts are focused on a simple activity, your brain tends to relax … we are not disturbed by our own thoughts and appraisals. The difficulties of life evaporate from our awareness ….”
Additionally, Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist adds “concentrating on coloring an image may facilitate the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones.”
As a couple, do sidewalk chart art or paint rocks with encouraging words or Scripture and place them along your prayer walking path. Create your own backyard “paint and sip.” Pop up a blank canvas and create a work of art to hang over your bed. My friend Lexi painted the traits of 1 Corinthians 13 on her headboard as a gift to her military spouse. What a nice welcome home!
Spend Time in Nature:
We live on a boat, and we concur with the studies that show people who live near water are jovial! “Water makes you happier, healthier, more connected to other people, and better at what you do,” says Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., the author of Blue Mind.
As a couple, take time to plan dates to gaze at a beautiful sunset, stand in awe at the sight of a majestic mountain, sense the calm of wading in a cool babbling brook, rest under the stars, or feel the refreshment of breathing in the fresh country air. We, the created, connect to the Creator when we rest in creation.
Princeton researchers found that even “gardening at home had a similar effect on people’s emotional well-being (or happiness) as biking, walking, or dining out.” So as a team, pick up a trowel and rake and plant some flowers or a vegetable garden, or create an outside romantic garden oasis with twinkling lights and a bistro table for two.
Spend Time with Life-Giving People:
We are made for relationships. In our book, 10 Best Decisions Every Couple Can Make, we encourage people to create a success net for their lives by inviting positive, proactive, productive, and philanthropic people into their world. “According to Psychology Today, face-to-face contact can reduce the risk of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.”
Call up a mentor couple for a double date, invite friends over for a backyard barbeque, or gather friends at a lake or beach for a campfire, s’mores, and honest heart-to-heart conversation.
Spend Time Moving:
Exercise boosts your happy hormones! In studies reviewed in the journal Brain Plasticity, movement “boosts mood, lowers stress levels and even improves cognitive functions like attention, memory and problem-solving. According to LiveStrong.com, these benefits may be rooted, in part, in exercise’s ability to increase our brains’ production of the chemicals dopamine and serotonin .…”
In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, we quote multiple studies that show that couples who exercise together have more “red hot romance.” Make a weekly date with your mate to walk, run, bike, dance, hike, kayak, paddleboard, stretch, or take an exercise class. In short, exercise accompanied with these other proactive activities will help you both feel happier, healthier and more hope-filled.