Homemade Happiness

I have this in the center of my kitchen table. Our kitchen is kind of the “hub” of the house. This table sees a lot of activity throughout the week. This table gets family meals, single-man breakfasts (when my son is headed to work at the crack of dawn and no one else wants to get up), late night homework binges, random board game ambitions and Sunday afternoon chillin’-on-FB-and-WP time.

I found this trivet, as they call it, and I knew I needed to sit it in this spot as a constant reminder to myself, our boys, and anyone who enters our home, of its vital truth. Too often, in today’s society, especially in the realms of media, we hear so much of what will bring happiness, what will bring fulfillment, what will bring an inner peace to one and all. Some claim more money, materialistic endeavors, fame, fortune, popularity, and even more political based ideas and agendas, will bring you all the happiness you need.

Yet, I wish I could scream this phrase from the rooftops and write it in the sky for the world to see. Happiness IS homemade. Happiness is found within rather than “without.” In all actuality, happiness is never truly found…

You see happiness is simply a feeling that will come and go with the trials of life. It is an emotion that will rise with the next success story and plummet to the depths in the next failure. Happiness does not last longer than the event with which it enters.

Oh, but JOY does! Joy is that homemade “happiness” that doesn’t just rise on occasion or fall with common mistakes. Joy is birthed within one’s very soul, and it can sustain the midnight hour of grief, sorrow and pain.

So many mistake happiness for joy, because it brings a smile to your face and a spring in your step. Others replace joy with the temporary seduction of happiness, because a greedy heart is satisfied or a fearful mind is momentarily calmed. Yet, this kind of happiness dwindles when the storms of life roll back in with the tide of broken hearts. This kind of happiness dissipates as the rocky road of despair and doubt settle in for the long haul.

No, joy comes from a deeper source. Joy is a state of being that, often times, can’t be described in mere words, but rather, it must be experienced. Joy like this is only found in the One who gives life, the One who brings all things good, the One who knows every intricate part of you and me and who has unfathomable, unforgettable plans for each of us.

Yeah, He is the only One who can give you this kind of JOY. He is the only One who can give it, because He IS that joy, and that joy is Hope in Him!

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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.”

Learn to Dance

I saw this pic the other day, and please forgive me, it hit me all wrong. Yes, I do understand the concept. I do understand that everyone wants to not feel broken. I do understand that being happy and free feels so much better than being heartsick and broken beyond repair. I get it.

I’ve had my share of brokenness. I’ve had my share of broken dreams, broken promises, broken images, and broken foundations in my life. I’ve had more than my share of tears shed through the years. I’ve experienced more than some and not as much as others. Brokenness is not comfortable, enjoyable, or even a bearable element of my soul.

But I cannot embrace the cultural trend that forgetting from where I came makes me more joyous, more loose, more free to live. I refuse to welcome the notion that to obliterate my past makes me a better, more balanced, human being. I will not accept the propaganda that tells me “a forgotten past brings a brighter tomorrow.” (*chosen words before seeing similar quote online. No correlation or reflection. Unaware of that author, quote or beliefs.)

When someone is hiking up a mountain, forgetting from whence you came will only cause you to lose your way back down the trail. When someone goes on a long extended trip, obliterating the road map will only cause you to never return to home.

When someone tries to erase history, history is never truly erased. What has been has been, and there is no way to live as if it never existed. That is just pretending, and pretending just makes you as a child.

Being a child is wonderful while you are of a physically young age, but once you have crossed the threshold of maturity, that immaturity only makes you look like an ignorant fool. (…and yes, those can mean two very different things.) So then, you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the hard questions…

How old am I? How old should I be acting? Will I live my life in immaturity, ignorance and foolishness, or will I live in maturity, knowledge and wisdom? The choice is truly yours.

I choose to walk in integrity, maturity, wisdom and truth. I choose to embrace my past, my pain and my brokenness, even the shattered pieces that may always carry a shards of irreparable moments. I will carry on, even if I walk with a limp, and even if my scars are evident for all to see.

I choose to be full of joy. I choose to have peace. I choose to love and be loved. I choose to have life and give life.

Is it hard? Heck, yeah! Is it uncomfortable? Always. Telling you that’s it’s not would be returning to those childhood days of pretend and make believe. Life is so much better than the fairytales. Not because it never rains and not because there is no pain, but rather, because through the rain, I learn to dance, through the pain, I learn to sing.

And this song and dance is better than any mythical enchantment I could ever dream. This song and dance gives birth to a beautiful melody called life created by an unimaginable symphony of experiences and awakenings. Without these notes on the pages of my soul, I could never leave the legacy of song for my children, my friends, my family, for one who is ready whom I may never know.

So, I will choose to dance even when it’s raining and even though the storm brews darker. I will dance and sing, and sing some more, to bring a little memory of sunshine through the pain; so, the legacy will live ever more brightly for my children and those who are to come.

**Listen to this.

*I do not own nor possess this song, video or photos. These are all from simple Google search.

Good Friday or Bad?

Today, many of us celebrate what we call, Good Friday. The day Christ died on the cross with the promise of rising in three days. The day the earth shook, the sun darkened, the veil was torn, and the believers were scattered with their dreams of majesty shattered. The day the Holy Lamb of God was beaten, bruised, pierced by those who hated Him and forsaken by the very Father God who claimed to love Him.

So, if all this bad happened on this day, how can we call it Good Friday? How can we join together to celebrate such a horrific, gruesome, unimaginable death? How can anything good be taken from such a terrible day that is forever written in the annals of time?

If you don’t know Him, I can understand why you’d wonder. If you’ve never realized His love for you, I can believe your confusion and doubt. If you’ve only heard of Him in storybooks and seen Him portrayed as “just a man” in cults and Hollywood box office hits, I can comprehend your skepticism, ridicule and even rejection.

But for me, I know Him on a personal level…

He was there before I even took a breath. He was there when I was in my mother’s womb, and her guidance counselor tried to convince her to “get rid of the dilemma,” because, after all, she was just 16. He was there when I was born six weeks (8 wks to today’s standards) too early and fought for life for those 10 days in that tiny incubator.

He was there when I was six months old, and my alcoholic parents split up. He was there when my four year old self waited by the door with packed bags for a father who never showed up. He was there when my twelve year old self received a “new daddy” who took us away from a comfortable, small town to a great big city with so many unknowns.

He was there when I met the man of my dreams and said, “I do.” He was there when our first child never grew in the womb, and we buried him under those great big oaks at my childhood home. He was there when our firstborn aspirated meconium, and we were told by a young nurse that it could be fatal. He was there when our second son fell off the changing table onto a tile floor while being babysat. He was there when I lost my precious grandfather to cancer, the man who had protected me, loved me and cherished me, the man who been my “Daddy” for so many years. He was there through all of the grief and sorrow.

The stories could go on and on with so much more detail, but I won’t bore you with my life story. I can just say, with 100% confidence, He was there. In my darkest days and in my happiest hours, in my finest moments and in those times that I wish to never be repeated, He was there.

He has always been there.

So, I call it Good Friday, because I know He was there hanging on the cross pouring out His blood for me for redemption. I call it Good Friday, because I know He rose just a few days later with the promise of victory, and heaven and eternity for my soul if I just believe. I call it Good Friday, because I am a witness to all that has come from His sacrifice, His love and His grace just in my own life.

I call it Good Friday, because often times, out of the bad, the horrific, the most unimaginable things comes such beauty and goodness and promise that you can’t call it anything but GOOD!

Watch and listen…

https://youtu.be/Is6weMrenls

Wisdom, Faith or just plain Stupidity?

Yeah, some will look at this picture and recognize at first glance this sign is stupid, that there’s no wisdom in trying to jump this chasm with no ramp or expertise. Others would come up to this sign and believe with all their being this is the sign that will bring forth their destiny; if there’s just enough faith, this will be the day of change! Still, others will see this and “throw caution to the wind” and go for it with gusto!

Often, the truth of wisdom is shown in the tenacity within the mundane, the fortitude through the process of change and the ultimate risk of doing something completely out of routine.

The proof of Faith comes when it is joined with wisdom and it brings forth power and anointing.

The reality of stupidity comes when the choices made bring about calamity, failure and destruction.

Which will you choose??

Yesterday or Today?

I saw this quote while at lunch the other day, and it triggered me to purpose and a challenge of heart. It made me think of so many I know who constantly live with regrets, remorse and shame. It reminded me of my own tendency to return to what could’ve been, should’ve been, and would’ve been, had it not been…

It brought me, once again, to the recognition that yesterday is what it is, today is here, and as long as there’s breath in your lungs, everyone has a shot at tomorrow.

The question is not whether today will come, rather, the question should be, what will you do with what you have received?

Use it well. Make the memories. Cherish the moments. Savor what is yet to be.

And as my husband loves to say, “When it comes to living life, ‘Drive it like you stole it!'”

Queen or Slave?

How are you feeling today?

Do you live like a queen or a slave?

A queen has rights, responsibilities and rightful ownerships.

A slave has excuses, exemptions and evictions.

A queen has power, personality and principles.

A slave has pity, problems and polysemy.

A queen makes choices, has character and a conscience.

A slave has disdain, degradation and disrespect.

A queen is never a victim, but rather a product of the chosen one she has become.

A slave is always a victim, never realizing her justification for hate and sin destroys her potential, her dreams, and her future.

Fight to win the victory.

Stand with royalty and honor.

Walk in the queenship you’ve been given.

1 Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Life: It’s a Process

I was walking down the back staircase of a hospital when I saw this mural. My husband chuckled when I stopped my descent to take a pic, but when told him it would be for a blog, he totally got it, because he’s amazing like that.

To every challenge, every improvement, every healing, every victory, there has to be a process of steps to bring you to that positive outcome. Courage, strength, endurance, recovery and accomplishing goals don’t just happen miraculously or overnight. There are always steps involved, and sometimes, those necessary steps have to be taken meticulously and can even be excruciating.

However, if you are willing to put forth the time, effort and tenacity to take them, you can reach your goal, and you can shout your victory!

Be the Fire

No one said this life would be fair. No one said you’d always walk along a path of daisies and roses. Sometimes, life just stinks, and you have to live through the pain and agony it presents.

Sometimes, this life is going to be set on fire, and you’ve got to decide whether you’re going to grab a bucket and put out the flames , stand your ground and walk through the blaze, or lie down and become the ashes. The choice is yours, and no one can make that choice for you.

You can be destroyed in the fire, or you can slow it to refine you, strengthen you and teach you. If you decide to lie down and allow it to consume, you must know that your life may not be the only one that is devoured. There may be children, grandchildren, friends and family. Often, we do not realize, we stand as a shield for those coming behind.

If you choose to walk through, the road may not be easy, and it may get hotter and more strenuous before it gets better, but there is one who promises you will not be diminished from the inferno.

His name is Jesus.

And He loves you.

With God by your side, the flames may lick at your being, and the temperatures may rise beyond comfortable, but YOU WILL MAKE IT. He will walk beside you. He will guide you, and when needed, He will carry you.

Give Him a chance. He will not disappoint. He is able. He is faithful. He is true, and His promises are unbreakable…inflammable…in-consumable.

When you choose to walk through the flames with Him, you become resilient to the wildfires. You become a pillar of stone that cannot be singed. You become the firefighter who rescues others from the flames.

Grief: It is a Process of Pain

One of the best articles I’ve read lately in grief is this one. If you are grieving due to anything other than a physical loss, such as divorce, abuse, neglect or estrangement, this article may not bring much healing to you, because your circumstances yield a much different needed response. However, if you’ve lost a loved one, and you’re walking through this painful journey, you may find some comfort and encouragement as you read through this widow’s pages.