Monday, November 3, 2008

Unexpected Delights!

Today I was feeling a little sad. A little lonely. I thought maybe I would send myself some flowers at work so I could enjoy them all week. I've never done that before but thought it would be nice. After some thought, the practical side of me won out - I can't really afford it. It's frivolous and unnecessary. And that was that.

Just now I received a bright bouquet of flowers from my sister! She had no idea I was wanting flowers today but she sent them as a thank you for helping her with a project!

What's the best unexpected delight you've received?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Remembering What's Important

This topic is a little bit removed from what I usually post about, but these stories are so poignant and touching that I wanted to share them with you. It's lives such as these that remind me to wake up and pay attention to what's really important; to savor my relationships and grow my faith while I'm blessed to walk on this earth. These women are true heroes, living courageously and joyfully in the face of their illnesses.

A friend recently shared this with me, she and her husband having known Amy's husband during college:

This story has inspired and spoken to many in the Orthodox Christian Church during the last few years, as well as to many others:

May they inspire us to pray for them and their families, as well as awaken our commitment to lives well-lived.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Personal Message

10 Uhr

This weekend I felt discouraged because of some unfulfilled desires and longtime prayers that still haven’t been answered yet. I do believe that God will answer this prayer and I am usually fine with handing this matter over to Him but sometimes … sometimes frustration just takes over. So when I went to church on Sunday morning I wasn’t really in the mood for it. I couldn’t even join in the first song. But when worship time started I made a decision to praise God even though I absolutely didn’t feel like it.
And then, in the third song, I got a personal message from God. I’ve sung this particular song many times before but now it hit me. There is a line which translates something like this: Whatever you give to me, whatever you take from me, you are and will be my God.
I can’t really explain why but this put everything back in order for me. It was just what I needed to hear from God that morning. This experience was overwhelming and brought me close to tears. I didn’t even pray for this and yet I received exactly what I desired. What a great God we have who cares about me and who makes sure I get the message that everything will be fine!

Friday, July 11, 2008

For my friend, Evis

To me giving hope to someone it can be as easy and simple as doing something nice for that person. It might give hope that kindness still exists, that friendships can be real, that nice gestures can be done just because...

What I am doing for a friend of mine this weekend is throwing a bitter-sweet farewell party. She was in the States for a year as a visiting scholar and at the end of the month, her time will arrive to return back to her home country, Albania. It's sad in one hand because we developed such a strong friendship and got so used to seeing each other once a week at least, chat, encourage each other, confess to each other, pray and share joys and sorrows. On the other hand, it's exciting to see what the future holds for her and how God will use her either in her country, or back here, or somewhere in Europe...

What makes me think this is a occasion to give hope and show Christ's love and kindness is the fact that there will be a fairly big crowd coming to this farewell party, people my friend Evis came in contact with throughout the year here, colleagues, older friends from Albania even who are here at the moment, co-workers, some friends from our church etc. It's a diverse, very international and fascinating group and just thinking how blessed I am to host all these wonderful people, reminds me of that verse in the Bible: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Celebration of Hope

Celebration of Hope

This is long overdue but life got in the way of blogging. Back in April I had the opportunity to attend the Celebration of Hope in Belfast. And it truely was a celebration of hope! So many new beginnings, so many eager to find true meaning in life, so many forgiven and made whole again.
The Odyssey Arena was packed every night and there were lots of awesome musicians (29th Chapter, Robin Mark, Tree63, Keith & Kristyn Getty, the New Irish Orchestra) and inspiring life stories and interviews. It was so moving to see the audience embracing hope and a new life in Christ!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Safe Travel

A lot of prayer goes into our road trips because I tend to worry much when traveling; I am thankful for safe travels on our 1350-mile drive north over the last few days. The weather was beautiful, we had time to do a bit of sightseeing, the roads were empty, and we saw many lovely birds. Now a blizzard warning is in effect, so I'm especially thankful that we've arrived!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I am tremendously thankful for the chance to go home again as well as for the awesome celebration of Orthodox Easter. (Sorry to just provide links - I'm in too much of a rush packing for our big drive to re-post all the photos again!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Allergies!!

This morning I went for a jogg outside and the fresh smell of spring, flowers, trees and grass was delighting my olfactory senses. I was thanking God as I was running that when this amazing season comes around bringing life everywhere, I don't have to hide inside scared that allergies might trigger. I am very greatful for being allergy-free!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For having someone there when I need to look up

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Waves on My Feet

The Gulf Coast isn't terribly far away, and although it's not the world's prettiest beach by any stretch of the imagination, it does fit the bill when one has had a long week and just wants to relax along the shore for a few hours. This photo is from last November. It is too easy to forget the simple things that restore us - after an hour walking on the sand, getting my cropped pants wet up to the knee from the waves, enjoying the sun's warmth (even though my fair skin typically keeps me out of the sun) - I was thoroughly refreshed. What a blissful day!
What simple things refresh you?

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7th, 2004

I just got a call from my mother. All my family is back in Romania where I am from and I know that if my cell phone rings and I see "Ioan Ciupe" as caller ID (my dad's name), there is something serious going on and I must pick up. It was my mother and she just wanted to hear my voice and to tell me that she loved me, thought of me the whole day and prayed for me. It took me a few moments to realize what she meant by all these.

Today's significance totally slipped my mind although it's one of the BIGGEST, GREATEST, AMAZING reasons I am full of hope, faith and optimism. It was a date when back in 2004 I had a surgery performed in Romania. It was an operation to remove my left salivary gland because it was contaminated with cancerous cells. The surgery was successful and a few weeks after I recovered, I continued with six weeks of radiation treatment. The entire experience happened so fast that I personally didn't even have time to realize what I had, the not so pleasant outcome that I could have had and finally the amazing miracle God performed on me. I am alive today, cancer free and full of gratitude for this amazing gift God gave me for the third time: LIFE!!

(I say third time because the first time was when I was just first born, 29 years ago, then secondly was when I received the eternal life, and thirdly when God extended my earthly existence... my words are too poor to describe this special gift).

Friday, April 4, 2008


As simple as it may sound, I find great fun in watching the many bird varieties that populate our neighborhood and region. It's been exciting because there are more varieties here than anywhere else I've lived, including beautiful cardinals. This week, the pair of cardinals that have apparently lived in our yard ever since we've been here have been busy constructing a new nest, right outside our kitchen window. The female cardinal began with sturdy twigs that she broke off of a bush, and then worked her way up to finer twigs, grass, and leaves. The male cardinal helps occasionally and also spends a lot of time chasing off grackles and blue jays. I can't help but smile when I see them working away outside my window.

Photo from wiki.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I will praise You in this storm!

I am just beginning to learn how to really praise God and trust Him in "storms." I am thankful for music that helps inspire and encourage me in this endeavor!!!

Monday, March 31, 2008

It's in my name!

First of all I want to say how honored I am to join this amazing ‘experiment’. I feel so privileged to be involved with these talented artists and women whom I’m looking forward to know and be inspired by.

Who am I? My name is Felicia Ciupe Oland and I am 29 years old. My name, Felicia comes from Latin and it means ‘happy, happiness.’ Most of the people who know me would say the name fits me perfectly. I am indeed a happy person, optimistic and with a positive outlook in life. I do appreciate my name now more than I did when I was little and I would ask my parents why didn’t they give me a more ordinary name… Felicia was too unique and different for me at the time. Funny enough, as I grew up and matured, those words: unique, different and other synonyms like original, creative, unusual were my favorite in everything I did: from clothes, to taste in art, culture, movies, to hobbies, friends, lifestyle in general.

I feel that hope is in my name. And happiness is something that goes hand in hand with hope, it’s like a deal I get, one for two. If I am happy, I am hopeful and if I have hope, I am happy.
Thanks for my name, “Mami” and “Tati” (Romanian for mom and dad).


"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
~ G.K. Chesterton

I immediately thought of The Hope Experiment when I read this quote. Have a wonderful day, dear friends!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Building altars

I have been reading a lot from the Old Testament in the last ... year. There are a few things that really strike me and have spoken to me. One of them is building altars for God in things where He has come through.

As I understand, altars are a reminder of the good things that God has done.

I have one by my entrance door. Every time I look at it, I remember the couple of months where I was fighting every day to keep my self-esteem up and not let the "no's" from rejection letters while looking for a job, get me down. It's a verse from Jeremiah 29:11 -

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."

It was a dark period but I got through it. Somehow. I felt like I was in a battle inside my mind every day. I felt attacked from all kinds of angles but I got through it and it didn't break me. Not because I was strong but because I was holding on to my faith in God with all my might. And it got me through and brought me to a place where I am today - with a great job and so many dreams fulfilled and re-assurance that He is worth trusting in.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Arts & Crafts

All of us here at the Hope Experiment love arts and crafts in some form or another. It's such a great way to express how you're feeling.

I can get really down sometimes, wishing I had more talent, wishing I was more like this or that artist.

I often wish I had more time or money to invest in arts and crafts.

But when I stop and think about it, I am SO BLESSED! I have sooo many art supplies! I have as much time as everyone else - 24 hours every day! I have books and other resources to teach and inspire me!

I'm so thankful for what I've been given and hopeful that I will keep growing as an artist!

This painting is something I did a year or so ago. I was just goofing around but was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. I've always loved to draw/paint trees, especially old, withered ones. I added the new leaves as a symbol of growth, calm after the storm, and also thought about the quote, "the walking wounded become the wounded healers."

I've really been into quotes lately. I've found much peace, hope and inspiration in them. I added the Hemingway quote to this painting. The quote has been very comforting to me and I thought it matched the painting perfectly!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Peace of Late Afternoon

Like Esther, I adore the cheering effects of the sun. There are only two south facing windows in our house, but I try to remember to catch the late afternoon sun when its calming rays make their appearance behind these windows. The light is so beautiful at this time of day; its effects so perfectly luminous. It also brings a small bit of peace when I see it, and adds even more layers to my decades' worth of memories of admiring the beauty of the late day sun.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008



Prayer is one thing I am always thankful for. Even when I am at the lowest points of my life, even when I feel emotionally and physically drained, prayer never fails to lift me up and to comfort me. Just to know my heavenly father is just a few words away, to know there's nothing too big or too little for him to handle, to know he cares about me, soothes my soul. Sometimes a desperate prayer is the most optimistic thought I can manage - but I know that I'm never worse off after I prayed.
And one other thing I love about prayer: It connects you with others on such a profound deep level. To become one before God is simply amazing!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Even though I spend on average about 4 hours a day getting to and from the work. Sometimes I am squished between 3 big men on a train, or I plant one on my knees in the middle of the street because I tripped and I get up at 5:30 am, I LOVE having a job. I am so thankful for being able to go to WORK. It's such a blessing. And even the commute in itself is a blessing - it could be so much worse! Imagine if I had to drive!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008



I've always been fascinated by history. My father has a passion for archeology so I got into it at a young age. What I love about history is that it allows me to understand the world better - on a large and a small scale. Through history I can see why cultures and country became what they are now, I can discover how events and developments are intertwined, why society reacts in a certain way to certain things. The same is also true for my own little world. Knowing my family history helps me understand where my parents, where I come from.
I am thankful for my roots and for being rooted in something larger, for having my own place and history in this world.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Seeing New Ecosystems

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not terribly fond of living in the South, particularly from the hot months of April - November, but there are beautiful things here that I'll never see anywhere else. The azaleas every spring are a delight; Spanish moss hanging from the huge oaks is an interesting treat. It's been a good learning experience to live in different parts of the US and observe how different flowers and plants mark the change of seasons in each place.


I have some wonderful ones!! Thank you!!

Friday, March 7, 2008


No, not that kind of sewing!!! But God holding me together at the seams! Sometimes life gets quite hard. I'm sure you all can relate. I'm so thankful God is with me during those times!!!

Sorry, the video for this isn't much to look at, but listen to the lyrics! They're wonderful!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring Weather!

Yesterday was a [relatively] nice day in my part of the country (United States). It's been a long, cold, and snowy winter and yesterday was in the 40's! It felt like spring! I didn't wear a coat for much of the day!

We were forcasted to get several inches of snow last night, then it changed to just one inch. When I woke up this morning there was NO SNOW! And the sun is out!

This really lifts my spirits! I'm so thankful for the weather shift! For the coming of Spring! For sunny days!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cheap phone rates

... because they allow you to keep in touch with your friends! I had two wonderful chats on the phone with two longtime friends (one on another continent) and I am so thankful for being able to keep in touch this way. Afterwards I feel loved, revived and full of energy.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Library Book Sale

It's been several years since I've gone to a library book sale. In fact, I haven't gone to any at all since we moved to this state over two years ago. I'm usually too lazy to get up early enough on Saturday mornings to get in line at 8:30 a.m. for the local library sale, but today I did it, in spite of a bad cold and grogginess from the Nyquil - all because a friend asked me to come and help her pick out some fiction since she is not a native speaker of English. I'm so glad I did! I was energized by the thrill of bargain hunting and came home with 17 books for a price you'd pay for one new paperback in a bookstore. Some old favorites, and some that may become new favorites. Of course, I was also blessed by the chance to have coffee with my friend before she returns to her native country for two months. Some things are worth getting up for early on a Saturday morning!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


on the way back

Today the sun is shining after several stormy, rainy days. The darkness of winter affects my mood and I always feel better and more lighthearted with sunny weather so I am thankful for this. It also reminds me that light comes after darkness. Nature shows us every day and it's also true for the dark times in my life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I am listening to Zero7, I LOVE them.

Sometimes, when I listen to really good music, it doesn't matter if it is techno, or chill out, or just a regular song, it really touches me and I feel so thankful to God for creating music. This probably sounds like a 7 year-old-speaking but I have this gratitude for giving me something that I can really enjoy.

Business cards

It's been a while since I've been in a really really good, excited mood. I realize now that it's a blessing in itself -to be really happy.

I do some design from time to time through my little studio citroand while I love it, I realize that there is so much I still need to learn. About a week ago I received a call from some really upset customers who said that their business cards have printed blue instead of black.

Usually I would get upset but I would not have the reaction that I had this time, I was in bed crying for 2 days straight. I accept the fact that it wasn't just the business cards, I think it was just a nice topping to the job-less cake I've been eating for a while.

Anyway, I didn't have the money to re-print them myself and they made it clear that they want new cards. The printer said I didn't do the black color in the correct proportions and didn't want to re-print them at their cost.

Today I finally called the printer and chatted with a lovely man. I explained to him what has happened and he checked the files and said it was a complete fluke and was not really anyone's fault, it just didn't flatten the file correctly and --- said they will re-print the business cards at their cost!!!


I have been blessed with some wonderful friendships! Some I've had since childhood. Some I've only recently met but they quickly became a kindred spirit!

Despite these wonderful people in my life, I sometimes look at other friendship circles and feel... lacking. I'll look at their close-knit little group and think it's better than my group. There are any number of reasons why I might feel this way on any given day.

I think I've always wanted to be a part of the gang from the T.V. show "Friends." I want all of my friends to also be friends with each other. I want all of us to be young and hip, to have everything in common, and to live near each other too!

That's not how it's been for me. My friends are of every age. They live all over the globe (now - they didn't when we met). We're not all "cool" or "hip" or "fashionable." We wouldn't make a very good T.V. show!! Some of my friends I actually have very little in common with. We don't see eye to eye on many things. Many of my friends are actually quite different from me! Most of my friends don't know or don't hang out with the other friends in my life.

As I stated above, this can leave me feeling sad. Like somehow my "posse" isn't as good, not as valuable.

But when I really think about it, it's this diversity that I love and cherish! It's what has helped me grow. It forces me to look outside myself and understand and even appreciate different view points, ways of life, etc. It's helped make me who I am!

I'm so, so thankful for my friends!!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pink Magnolias

Although we may not have lilacs and peonies down South, we do have pink magnolias. The sight of their blossoms delights me every spring as they burst forth from the bare branches before any leaves arrive. Their deep pink petals stand out in great contrast to the seemingly dead branches they spring from. I feel blessed every time I look out my window and see them!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Choosing Hope - Kristina

I’m delighted to be a part of this experiment of hope, and am looking forward to the framework it will provide to help make a hopeful attitude a bigger part of my life!

In my mind, I know that God has blessed me greatly and that I have many reasons to be hopeful. It’s very easy, however, for me to forget all of these blessings and become consumed by my fears and doubts. Recently, though, I’ve been astounded at how much difference can be made in my outlook by the simple act of writing down my many blessings. Often it’s the smallest things that, when added together, seem to mean the most: spotting a new bird in the park, a phone call from my sister or friends, the slant of late afternoon sun, the sound of leaves blowing on the sidewalk. We are surrounded by beauty and have so much reason to hope. And so, I am eager to continue the journey towards hope through The Hope Experiment.

I have a very fledgling blog here. I’m in my early thirties, have lived in a (somewhat) southern state for two years, and do a bit of freelance editing. Like the rest of our contributors, I enjoy getting my hands into all sorts of creative things. Lately I’ve been studying Byzantine icon painting, working on simple quilts, and enjoying paper crafts. We hope you will join us as we venture onto this new path!

Looking for Hope - Esther

I carry a garden in my hands

I'm really looking forward to be a part of the wonderful journey this is going to be!

My basic attitude is to find something positive even in bad experiences. But often it's a struggle to get there. I have to remind myself again and again to re-adjust my focus. To see the blessings in disguise, to trust God that he has only good plans with me, to get the whole picture. It's so easy to obsess about the stuff that goes wrong, about my faults and shortcomings. Sometimes my own strength is not enough to pull my self out of the hole of hopelessness.
I, too, want to count my blessings - especially when I just don't feel blessed because I know that I am blessed inspite of what feel. I want to hold on to faith and hope. I want to encourage others and be inspired. I want to be amazed by what is possible, by what God does in our lives. I want to give him credit for the small things and the big stuff.

You can find my blog here. I a 30-something assistant editor living in Germany and I love everything that has to do with being creative. Right now my favorite creative pasttime is photography but I'm also into sketching, cooking, reading, travelling, art exhibitions, ... and trying new things.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Hope Experiment - Ags

When people talk of hope, often times it is in the context of a tragedy or sadness or unexplainable things. From time to time we all need a little bit of hope to get through just an ordinary bad day. On my ordinary bad days I often have to remind myself to look out and up, I tend to concentrate on the in and down.

I don't want to keep taking all the beauty around me for granted. I want to celebrate it, I want to thank God for all the blessings that He gives me every day, I want to focus on the good because that creates faith. So I am counting my blessings and hoping for wonders.

My blog is here. I love to take pictures and do a little bit of design from time to time. And I love people, and also I like to drink a good cup of coffee in the morning, while reading blogs and emails. It's those little things that make life big. I like to notice them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

HI! I'm Jennifer...

I'm really excited to be a part of this experiment. As I said in the first blog, I'm totally a "glass half empty" kind of girl. I am so ready to change! I'm hoping this blog will help me do that!

I'm also super excited to be a part of this with a group of absolutely wonderful, talented, inspired women! I only know some of them outside of the blogging world. I'm looking forward to learning more about each one of them!

I blog over at Sundries Sublime. I enjoy arts and crafts of all kinds! I always tell myself I should just pick one and concentrate on it so I can really develop in an area but whenever I've tried to do that I miss my other crafts or I hear about something new I just HAVE to try!

Hmmm... what else about me? I'm a 30-something, educated, single, working woman living in middle America. I'm still trying to find my place and my way in this world. Maybe this blog will help me! :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hope Experiment!

Hello! Welcome to The Hope Experiment!

How this got started:
I, Jennifer (aka Sundries Sublime) was going through a rough patch. You can read a little bit about it here. I was emailing and calling my friends, looking for encouragement, positive energy, laughs - anything to get out of this dark pit I felt trapped in. I asked family and friends to pray for me, specifically that I would be filled with hope.

My friend Esther sent me a package in the mail to encourage me. Inside was this very cool pendant made by jewelry artist Nicole Honner of Moonwater Designs.

It was so, so encouraging to me to get this pendant. I was literally sent "hope"!! Right then I decided I had to choose to be hopeful regardless of my circumstances! In an effort to do so I decided to start a new blog just to record all the things in my life to be hopeful about. I wanted to see if "counting my blessings" would change my life.

This idea is not original to me. There are many gratitude journals on Amazon. I found several blogs on hope, gratitude, blessings and joy. There's even this blog that's turning "hope" into action! Apparently lots of people are finding benefits from "looking on the bright side."

I want those benefits too! I want to see the silver lining. I want to be a "glass half full" kind of girl. Ok, here's a confession: I am by nature a "glass half empty" person. A pessimist. An Eeyore. I don't want to be that way any more! So, I'm starting this experiment. The Hope Experiment!

Who we are:
So far, we're a few women of various ages living all around the globe! Each of us will post an introduction so you can get to know us a little better. The official list of contributors may change or grow over time but our hope is that you, dear readers, will post comments or send emails about your own hope experiences and experiments! We want to hear from YOU!

How it will work:
We are going to record things we are thankful for. Things that give us hope. It might be something as simple as a cup of coffee or a great new band! It might be a life-changing encounter with a stranger. Sometimes it might be very hard and trying circumstances that have taught us much and we are therefore so thankful for! Sometimes we might be very cheesy! Sometimes it might seem like we're grasping at straws, searching for something to post. I think those are the most important ones!! When we don't feel hopeful at all, but we are choosing to see the goodness in something!

Besides just listing things we are posting we plan to put our hope into action. Maybe do some random acts of kindness - individually or as a group. Maybe we'll post some "hope challenges" for our readers.

We will also record any changes we see in our lives. If "counting our blessings" does anything for us, we will post about it right away!!

This blog, this Hope Experiment, is a work in progress. There might be some growing pains. We may change directions along the way. We may leave it idle for weeks at a time. We hope you'll be patient with us!!

What we hope to get out of this:
I can't speak for everyone but I really hope to see a change in my life. I hope to cultivate a more positive attitude. I hope that after a while it won't be work to look on the bright side but it will just come naturally.

We also humbly hope we can encourage someone out there. Perhaps shine a little light in your corner of the world. Maybe, just maybe, make this world a little better than we found it.

Thanks for stopping by! Please look around. Make yourself at home. And if you're so inclined, we'd love to hear from you!!

~ The Hope Experiment