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!

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.”

Are You Thirsty?

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Being thirsty in our faith can lead to grouchiness, scattered and haggard feelings, aloofness and just plain neglect or meanness. God never called us to lead lives proclaiming He is a great big God and He loves everybody while grouching on everyone we meet. He didn’t call us to be His disciples and share His light with this world and totally ignore those in need because our agenda is too full that day. No, this ought not be the way we live our daily lives, and when we get to this point, we really must step back and evaluate the root of the issue.

 

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I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Now, look, I’m going to interject here and tell you, this post is in no way giving credence to those who are in rebellion against the faith and are always trying to harass and demean the Word of God and His people. I am in no way, shape or form going to give credit to that kind of foolishness. I know too many great Christians who are loving, kind and compassionate.

However, I have seen too many really good followers of Christ who just simply “miss it” when God opens a door of opportunity, because they are at the point of parchment, and they can’t see for the dust in their eyes and the dryness on their tongue. I know this place all too well, and I have to daily refill or I will return to old habits that take me right back to that desert land. We all can get there when we don’t realize this truth:

WE HAVE TO WORK FROM THE OVERFLOW!

You see, it’s kind of like we are like a conduit through which the Lord flows, and when we stop getting filled, it’s as if we shut off His flow and try to continue on our own. Our strength is only so strong. Our faith is only so faithful. Our diligence is only so diligent, and that is because we are only human. We are not God. From God, all blessings flow. In God is found all the love, mercy, hope, joy, everything for which the world is looking. Through God, we have all the strength, faithfulness, and dedication we could ever need. He is our everything, but we must go back to Him for the filling.

When we allow Him to pour into us and through us, all this world needs comes gushing out. Let Him fill your cup to overflowing today; so, it might “gush all over” those around you and to whom you minister.

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Live Now…There’s Nothing New

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We toil, and we struggle to get the work done in a day. We hurry here and hurry there, scrambling to stack the hours into weeks and weeks into years. We are constantly busy with something new, something pressing, something important that must be done right now, in this moment. 

Then a crisis hits. A tragedy befalls our friends or our family, and it seems everything changes in an instant. We are then focused on that problem, that issue, that crisis which has taken center stage. 

Too often, the everyday life and the momentary crises can take over, and we forget to live in the moment. We neglect the importance of living in the here and now. We bypass any and all around us, like an ostrich, we have our head in the sand, seeking dutiful ways to bow out” gracefully” of the life and purpose we live.  

King Solomon reminds us that in Ecclesiastes that “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) There is no new emergency that hasn’t been before. There will be no new ‘created agenda’ which has never been thought of or tried. Everything we encounter, someone else has already experienced. In one way or another, someone has walked that journey of pain, sorrow, joy or apprehension that you are walking right now. It is only new to us and our lives.  
Sometimes, we have but one moment to make an impact on a life around us, and we miss it, because we allow the cares of this world to blind us. Sometimes, we are placed in strategic locations, a funeral home, a hospital hallway, an ICU waiting room, even a grocery store line, to reach someone right in the moment of their need. If we are not living that moment deliberately, we can miss it! 

Let us never be so caught up in the present crises, the present family issue or anything else, that we fail to remember why we are here. Let us never be so consumed by the present chaos of our lives that we can’t live in this present moment and reach someone else whose life needs His hope maybe even more than we do. 

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!! 

Debris Clean-up

Terrible storms and natural disasters have wreaked havoc across our nation the past few months. Hurricanes, tornados, floods and even earthquakes. When storms like this hit land, there are incredible clean up projects that have to be set in place to get things back to normal. If the debris is left, it can cause delays, confusion, more damage and even injuries or death. Trees have to be cleared, power lines have to be restored, roads repaired, homes and bridges rebuilt. The restoration process can take a while, but it must be done if the people desire to live again. 

Storms in our lives will bring lots of debris, too. Anger, bitterness, rage, fear, pain, brokenness. Just as the disaster crews have to clean up the debris from physical storms, we must clean up the debris in our own hearts and minds from crisis that happen in our lives. 

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Maybe it’s a new mindset we need. Maybe it’s forgiveness we have to give. Maybe it’s self control we have to learn. Maybe it’s even time we have to wait for a wound to heal. If the debris isn’t cleared, it can often cause even more damage, not only to ourselves but, eventually, to all those around us. Whatever the debris is, if we want to be whole, and we want to live again, we must clean it out. 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 52:10-12

The great advantage we have is we don’t have to do this alone! Jesus is always waiting for us to call on His name. He is right there longing to soothe our weary soul and mend our broken heart. All we have to do is call on His name. All we have to do is lean on Him, and He will pick us up and carry us through! He will help us clear the debris and learn to live whole again. 

The neat thing that also happens when this is done, we can share our story with others, and their lives will be impacted and changed as well! “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.” Psalm 52:13 When this happens, not only are our lives cleaned up and changed, but those with whom we’ve shared our story are changed. Then, they begin to share, it starts a domino effect on the world around us! How exciting would it be to see many come to know Him because of our simple clean up?!

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4


What Is Your Story?

My father-in-law shared this thought the other day, and I thought I’d elaborate on it a little and pass it along…

 

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Everybody has a story. A story of pain. A story of heartache. A story of victory. A story of healing. What is your story? God uses our stories to bring comfort to those around us. If we don’t share our stories, then, others miss out on huge blessings, encouragement and healing for their own situations.

God allows us to go through stuff sometimes; so, we can, in turn, share with someone else our struggles, our lessons learned and the moments we overcame. Why should we hold these within our hearts, never giving them away? You might learn things without a teacher, but isn’t it easier to hear of another’s experience and learn from his or her mistakes before going through the same thing ourselves? We all go through painful storms, but isn’t more comforting to walk alongside someone who’s been through it before rather than walking the journey alone?

We are the Body of Christ. We are made to be a community. We are created to help one another, to teach one another and to even “sharpen” one another. Share your story. You never know the impact you may have.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17