Is Happiness Relevant?

There is a cultural push in today’s world to “do what makes you happy,” “do what makes you feel good.” Honestly, these phrases and this mentality boggles my mind and even infuriates me. This type of mindset can even be dangerous and detrimental to any and all it impacts.

Go ahead. Get annoyed with my approach. Get frustrated. Get angry with my words if you’d like. However, before you turn away, click the back arrow and decide to never again visit this blog, finish out this post. Read till the end and then decide…

Struggle doesn’t feel good, but it brings the ability to persevere. Conditioning doesn’t feel comfortable, but it brings a strength and durability that wouldn’t exist without it. Conflict isn’t something that brings enjoyment and “all the feels,” but it brings more wisdom and experience than the avoidance of conflict ever could.

When I struggled to teach my sons to bathe themselves, dress themselves and wipe their own backsides, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses, but as I persevered, they learned how to be little men. When I conditioned my mind to not dwell on the thoughts of my father’s abandonment in my childhood or on other broken relationships that have wounded and scarred my life, it was never comfy, but in my consistency, I have learned to stand strong. I have learned to be stable on my own, forgive the craziness and pain of the past, and become a durable, strong and reliable woman. When I have had conflicts throughout my years, never once did I look at those conflicts with giddiness or excitement, but every single trial has brought me closer to my God, deeper into wisdom and has instilled more insight, more perception and more maturity than any truce and moment of surrender could ever bring forth.

Living for every “happy” moment not only causes us less growth, but it causes us to miss out on so much richness that is freely available for our character and soul. Seeking only the thrill moments and avoiding every difficult moment, causes us to be selfish, self-consumed and altogether blind to anyone else in our life.

Living for only what “makes me happy” causes us to seek personal pleasures, eventually, at the expense of everyone we love and care about. This only leaves us lonely, desolate and desperate. Addicts, divorcees and abandoned children can all attest to this truth.

So, I choose to grow. I choose to mature. I choose to be strong, resilient and dependable. I choose to dig deep and persevered through the storms of life. I choose to choose life not the fantasy or the fairytale.

And because I serve God, and I love Him, I choose to glorify Him in all I do rather than allowing the winds of cultural “happiness” seduce me to believe that “doing what makes me happy” will actually bring me happiness and “all the feels.”

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The Sweet Perfume

Over the last month or so, I’ve been trying to get consistent with walking daily through my neighborhood. I’m not crazy consistent, but I’ve definitely done better than before I started. Ha!

Our neighborhood is beautiful, and it has plenty of curves and hills; so, I feel I’m getting quite the workout, and the whole thing, all cul-de-sacs (5) included, is just shy of 1.5 miles. So, I try to make 2 loops, which gives me right at 3 miles. Woohoo!

The weather was absolutely perfect today. The humidity was extremely low, and the temp was maybe in the high seventies by the time I stepped out my front door, right at sunset, to try and get in a full 2 loops of walking before it was too dark. I asked my youngest son to go with me; so, I wouldn’t be by myself, and he wouldn’t be left home alone. So, he rode his bike alongside, while I walked. Well, to be more accurate, he rode past me and waited at the top of the hill before crossing the main road while I tried to speed walk to catch up! Lol! 😂

We crossed the road and proceeded to the other side of the neighborhood and down the hill. The sun was shining; the birds were singing, and the breeze was blowing just a bit; so, it felt glorious as I tried my best to catch up to my son who had coasted and proceeded to fly, down the moderate incline to the next cul-de-sac.

As I reached the cul-de-sac, the most beautiful fragrance reached my nose, I closed my eyes, and it was as if I was transported right back to my 5th grade year and my 10 year old self. I was standing in my front yard taking in the beautiful fragrance of the giant magnolia tree standing 100 feet tall (or at least, that’s what my 10 year old, little girl mind believed). I remember standing beside that tree, climbing way up in it’s branches and, sometimes, just staring up at it for hours, believing I was just as big and strong as that lovely green giant.

When it bloomed, we would take down one bloom at a time, bring it in the house, set it in a small bowl of water, and place the bowl on the dining room table, letting the fragrance fill the house. We would repeat this everyday, as the former flower would begin to wither, until the tree had no more blooms to share. It was glorious.

As I made my loops through the neighborhood today, I would pause beside that big lush tree each time, savoring the wonderful aroma, while cherishing those sweet childhood memories, and then I’d continue on my way to finish the tiring, but rewarding, three miles before dark. I even had my son go by and savor the beauty, hoping he would make a little memory, too.

As I finished my walk, I was reminded, again, of the sweet perfume of the beautiful magnolia tree, and I thought of several sweet friends who are walking through a tough journey right now. Their journey is hard and painful, and it even seems to grow a little darker at the moment; yet, they hold on tight to their faith, and we all hold onto the Hope, believing a brighter day is just around the corner for them.

That Hope is sweet perfume in the midst of struggle. That faith is the sweet fragrance of the magnolia tree in the midst of the sweaty, tiresome walk they are walking at this very moment. And I know, as they hold onto their faith and that blessed Hope, one day soon, this journey is going to be but a memory, with those sweet fragrances of the magnolia tree, to remind them of His grace and love in the midst of their storm. 💗

Be encourage, sweet friends. Enjoy the fragrance of beauty along this most difficult journey, and know I am here praying for you, and believing for your brighter tomorrows!

Fear or Fire?

When troubles come, what do you do? Do you cower, shivering in fear? Do run away and hide? Do you stand, paralyzed by indecision and doubt? Do you run to the flames, ready to encounter what comes?

How you endure the heat will often times dictate who you become when the embers cool. What wisdom you to use to conclude your decisions will often determine your promotion or your failure. The whys of your choices will always impact those who follow.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

When the Struggle Comes

What do you do with struggle? What do you do with change? How do you handle life when it just doesn’t work out the way you planned, or when it throws you a curveball or a great big surprise?

Do you stop in your tracks? Do you back up? Do you turn around and retreat? Or do you throw a fit and let everyone know it’s not as you expected? Or do you press onward, keeping the end goal in sight, never wavering or giving up?

What do you do? What is your reaction? I would love to hear from you, my friends.

It’s an interesting journey when change comes. Everyone reacts differently, and no one can prepare you for many of those surprises along the way, and some tragedies will knock you to your knees, and you’ll wonder if you’ll ever be able to stand again.

How you handle change, and how you react in the struggle and in the tragedies of life will often determine whether you’re a leader or whether you’re a quitter. Your response in the hardest moments of life will determine who you lead and who you turn away. It may sound like a harsh judgment, but it’s true.

Everyone will encounter struggle, hardship and tragedies throughout life. If you haven’t yet, well, keep on living and count your blessings for the moment. But talk to an older person, spend some time with someone who has weathered the storms of life. You’ll find that in those darkest moments, character is chiseled and destinies are designed. Friendships are forged and lifetime relationships are created or crumbled. And often, each are determined by the words we chose and the attitudes we allow.

So, I ask you again, what do you do? How do you react? Think about, and choose today what your words and your actions will be. It doesn’t matter that the struggle or tragedy isn’t on you at this moment. Being prepared mentally, emotionally and spiritually is half the battle. If you wait for the moment of crisis, then you wait for knee-jerk reactions of the heart, and no matter how good you believe your heart is, it can never be trusted.

Set your foundations on solid ground. Set your thoughts on higher ways. Then, when those struggle of life gets difficult, and when the tragedies hit that you’d never expect, your heart an mind will be ready. Doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, but it does mean you will survive through it!

Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

What Do You See?

Recently, I had lunch at the Swan Coach House in Buckhead, Georgia. If you want to see the Old  Southern Belle style of Old Atlanta, this is your place! It is rich in history and character. 

Behind this restaurant is the original Swan House (mansion) steeped  in even more history and character.  It was amazing to see the richness of decor, even to the detailed carvings above the door frames entering the library study. It seems this family spared no expense, lavishing the halls with beautiful furnishings of the time and even building out the master closet wth marble and huge vanities and closets. The gardens, lush and magnificent, capturing the attention of Hollywood with the filming of The Mocking Jay and various weddings of the area. It was simply breathtaking. 


Yet, as we traveled up the four flights of stairs to the very top floor of the house, we entered two rooms which were very plain and practical with no decorations or fanfare. It became apparent this was the former slave quarter and the ironing/folding/cleaning room. The slave’s room was said to be very close to what the actual room had been like. There was a bed with a simple quilt, a dresser with a few essentials, including a handwritten note on “How to prepare a perfect evening (bed) turndown,”  a little side table with a fan, and a rocking chair by the window. 


In comparison to the rest of the mansion, this room was so unattractive, it shouldn’t have made much, if any, impact. However, as I walked over to the gigantic, porthole-like window, I was struck in awe of the beautiful view. It looked out over the magnificent gardens below, and I began to imagine what it might be like to live as the slave within this home. 


The work would probably be unimaginably difficult, taking care of all the household chores, caring for the children (the children’s room was just down the hall), taking those four flights of stairs everyday to go to and from the various duties throughout the home. Oh, but that view kept drawing me in. It was simply breathtaking. 

I could imagine sitting by the window at night, gazing up at the full moon that might shine through. I thought of the early rising sun, chasing away the dark of night, the dew glistening in the gardens below. The work of the day ahead shadowed just a bit by the beauty which greets you in the morning light. 

In this life, we will have trials. We will have tough times, hard work and difficult obstacles which will threaten to overwhelm us. Yet, we must push through to survive. We must set our sights on the important things, and our perspective must be in the right place to not only survive but to thrive

What do you see before you? Do you see pain? Do you see difficulties and turmoil? Do you see brokenness and despair?

Or do you see an opening to life, a porthole of hope, a window of beauty that will sustain you through the storm?

Just Roll With It

“Roll With The Punches” … Definition: term is used to explain how boxers will often angle themselves in certain ways to help lessen the impact of incoming blows. 

Sometimes, you just roll with the punches. You know what I mean, don’t you? Things just keep piling up, and there seems to be no end to the “punches” that life is doling out. There seems to be no relief to the amount of “adulting” we have to endure. 

I have found there are times when “the rain just won’t let up,” or “”the hits just keep coming,” and if you’re going to survive, you’re just gonna have to roll with it or DIE! You have to make a decision in that moment. Are you going to give up and quit, or are you going to dig in for one more round, one more punch, one more hard blow before the bell rings? 

As Christians, we’re called to roll with the punches. We’re encouraged to endure till the end. We’re to finish the fight, complete the race, and finish it well. Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Romans 5:3-5 tells us, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Finally, Hebrews 12:1 reminds us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” 

Our ‘commission’ from God to endure, to persevere is not simply so we can suffer through hardships, and it’s not just so we can prove to the next person how tough and strong we are. No, we are encouraged by God to finish so that we might be a witness for Him. 

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We are stirred to continue on so that we might share our story with others and they might see Him through our faithfulness. We are inspired to remain steadfast, regardless of the obstacles or the hinderances, in order to inspire someone else along the way that they might see His goodness, His love and His grace. After all, this earthly home is not our destiny, this is just a season. We have an eternal home to which we look forward with desirous anticipation! 

So, get up! Dust off those gloves. Get that grit back in your eyes. Get ready to swing, and roll with those punches! He will give us strength for each and everything we encounter. He will never leave us nor forsake us, and He will always fight for us! With God by our side, we cannot lose!! 

A King’s Gift

Mephibosheth…what a name. He was crippled in both feet, too…his nurse had dropped him as a child…and his Daddy and Grandaddy had been killed in battle…and he was born to royalty, but his kingship had been taken away, because a new king had been crowned. By law, he could be killed by that new king. He just wanted to be left alone to die in his misery…but the new king had called upon him. 

I wonder what he was thinking when he got that message. I wonder what he thought of his life. What hardship he had endured. What tragedy he had survived…I don’t think he was thriving in his current life. I don’t think he was too excited about this call either. He had to receive the call…and he had to answer; after all, it was the King

If it were me, I think I might just tell that messenger, “Will you just kill me now?? I mean, really. I’m crippled. I’m broke. I have no family. I have no heritage. I have no inheritance, and now, the very one who’s taken my inheritance away from me is calling for me to come to him…probably to kill me! What more do you want from me? Can’t you just leave well enough alone?!” What a terrible lot in life. 

He followed through with the request. He went to see the king. Could you imagine his anguish as he entered the Kings’ courts? Could you imagine his resolution, probably, to just take his death sentence and be done with this sorry life he’d been handed? In your mind, can you see him??

Now, could you imagine his relief when King David told his servants to clothe him in the finest robes and seat him at his personal table for a fine dinner? That’s what happened! He was seated at the king’s table to eat of the king’s meal, and then, he was welcomed in to live at the king’s palace for the rest of his days! 

You see, before he died, his father had been best friends with this king. This king grieved over losing his best friend. This king longed to show kindness to his best friends’ household, and Mephibosheth was the only one left. 

Oh, what relief. Oh, what utter JOY!! Could you imagine the turn of events? To be given such a gift, I would be elated! To be given such grace, I would be ecstatic!! I would be overjoyed

Did you know, you and I can actually receive such a gift??

It may not be in an earthly kingdom, but it is in a heavenly one. Here on this earth, you and I are destined for a life of sin and an eternity of hell, but we have a Father in heaven who sent His Son to die for us, to forgive us our sins, and if we’ll just accept His invitation, He promises to give us an eternity of heaven!

What an incredible story…what an incredible ending…it’s a true one,* by the way…

What an incredible opportunity for you and me… How about it? Will you accept the invitation today? All you have to do is believe. 

*2 Samuel 9:1-9 
*John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

The Old Gnarled Tree

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What caused those knots?
Blistering winds, relenting storms, sickness that threatened death? A tiny animal who burrowed its way in, stunting growth and nourishment?
Maybe it was just simply the challenge of growing upward that proved to be too hard, maybe the weight of growing older was just too heavy, and that pressure tried to bend and hinder the life of the tree.
Yet, somehow, it kept thriving, kept pushing forward, kept pressing on. Even past the knot. Even past the “pain,” always striving for greater heights, always moving beyond the simple expectations.
It kept reaching upward regardless of the hardships that came. The hindrance may have made it pause, resulting in the knots, but the tree strained and pushed beyond the limitations to continue on the path up toward the heavens.
Isn’t that how our lives should be? We will face turmoil. We will face strife. We may even face death a time or two, but where is our resolve? Where is our tenacity to carry on through the trial? Where is our strength to push back against this adversary called life and reach toward our destiny?
Don’t let the pressures of this life pull you down! Don’t let the winds of defeat threaten you and cause you to quit! You can make it through! You can do this! You can reach the end with dignity and grace. You can choose to win.
It may not be easy. It may not even be fun! Just remember there are those coming behind you who need your courage. There are those coming behind you who need your faith. Show them the way by shining in the darkness. Clear the path so that they may cross over as well.
We all have a purpose. We all have a place. Even when you feel battered and bruised, hindered and held back by the limits of this life, you have a destiny to reach.
So, keep fighting the cold; keep pushing back against the winds. Even when the twists and turns leave knots and gnarled bark in your way, Stay the course. Remain vigilant to the path. You can do this. You can win.
Just remain. Just have faith. Just believe.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14