My sun porch

My sun porch

Monday, January 30, 2012

What's in your hand?

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." (Acts 4:32 NIV)

I have busy hands. In one day's time, my hand has held MANY things...a coffee mug, a steering wheel, a phone, keys, a computer mouse, books, a friend's hand, my debit card, a greasy hamburger, a dog leash, laundry, a dish towel, soap, my daughter's face as I kissed her before school. There's a wealth of things my hands have held in the last 24 hours...I have very wealthy hands!

I am the steward of all those things while they are in my hands, meaning it's my responsibility to take care of them while I have them. What I do with them while I am holding them in my hand is up to me. With some of those things, I serve myself...with some I serve others...some of them seem to have no purpose at all. But they all have been held by me...I have touched them.

The verse from Acts above and verses like it make me think of communes in the 60's. As John Lennon said, "Imagine no possessions." But we get ouchy when it comes to our stuff, don't we? It's MINE! Most of those things I held in my hand belonged to me...I don't want someone else holding my phone, my debit card, my car.

We are the wealthiest generation ever, and yet people are starving all over the world and right in our own back yards. What if we DID share more of our stuff??? I WANT to help others, but what can I do? I complain about not having enough money myself, and yet have no problem at all eating (and paying for!) fast food twice on a busy Sunday!!! There are MANY MANY ways I can get involved and help others and share my resources...I just have to act!

I think the key to the Acts verse above is the very first sentence..."all the believers were in one heart and mind..." Their hearts and minds were all focused on the same thing...Is it possible for a group of people from different walks of life, different socio-economic levels, with different likes and dislikes, to be focused enough to share their all their resources? I believe whole-heartedly YES...when God is the one they are focused on! Each person must have an open and like heart and mind.

How about you? How many things have you held in your hand in the last 24 hours? If you look to God, opening your mind and your heart to his wishes instead of your own, how might God want you to use those resources you held in your hands differently? You are the steward of them...could you be serving others more and yourself less? How might using those resources to help others benefit you in the long run?

What are you holding in your hand right now?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Give me your eyes so I can see..."

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that." -- Galatians 6:4 MSG

At the end of yesterday's blog post, I suggested taking a look at yourself, your past hurts and how they shaped who you are today. One reason I think that is an important thing to do is that it helps you understand who you are and helps you get past your hurts to see who God designed you to be. "God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." (Romans 12:6) But sometimes it takes time to figure out what those gifts are. When you realize what you are good at, and you want to be obedient to God, you start looking for ways to use those talents and gifts to help others.

There is so much pain, hurt, and need in the world today. Everywhere you look, you see people struggling to survive in one way or another. When you can get past your own pain, you see how who you are can help someone else. One problem I have though, is that I get overwhelmed by the AMOUNT of need in my community and in the world, and wonder what difference I can make. There is an old Jewish proverb that says "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." We CAN make a person at a time!

Read Acts 3:10. The lame man was begging for money. He probably needed money to survive. But instead of money, Peter and John healed him in the name of Jesus and he got up and walked. We sometimes ask God for one thing but He would like to give us something much better. The same could be true for the needy around us. Consider some ways to give more than the bare minimum to others and to instead bless them with more than they asked for or imagined.

Peter and John didn't turn their eyes away from the man begging in the street. They looked right at him, and then told him to look at them. So many times, we look past the need that is right in front of us...for many reasons, but mostly because it's painful to see someone else's pain and we just don't know what to do. But, I believe God doesn't want us to always turn a blind eye.

Try this...the next time you see someone in need, maybe it's someone begging for money or the girl crying in the school bathroom...try looking them in the eye. Let your kind eyes meet the desperate ones. This will take might be hard. But think about how it could make a difference to them and to you.

There is a good quote from Max Lucado - "Our society is set up for isolation. We wear our earbuds when we exercise. We communicate via email and text messages. We enter our houses with gates and garage door openers. Our mantra: 'I'll leave you alone. You leave me alone.' Yet God wants his people to be an exception."

Many times, when you help someone else, you end up helping yourself more. Look inside yourself...find the gifts God gave you and make someone's day today! You'll be blessed more than you could ever imagine!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hiding with modern day idols

"You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3 NIV)

When learning about the 10 commandments as a child and even as an adult, I thought I was ok with the one about no other gods...I am a Christian...I believe in one statues, no sun gods or moon gods for me. But I am discovering that I break this commandment every day.  ANYTHING that you put ahead of or before God is an idol. Work, family, friends, busyness, Facebook...I make time (sometimes TOO much time!!) for these things, and God seems to go to the back of my mind and the back of the line.

If in our hearts we know that God will provide, that God won't give us more than we can handle, that Jesus carries us when we are weak...why oh why do we push God aside and try to run our lives on our own??? 

I think we like to think that God is in control, but our hearts just don't REALLY trust that fact. We think God is holding out on us...we feel pain of everyday hurts and problems and don't immediately feel comfort from God and so then we think he's not there or that he isn't working with our best interests in mind. If you are a Bible reader like me, you KNOW that isn't true, but down deep, it's easier to believe in our own power than it is a God we can't see.

We are fallen people...we make mistakes...we compare our lives to others, we feel like our lives don't matter....we KNOW we are wrong, but we can't seem to help it so we HIDE!

We hide our true selves, our true desires behind those idols that we use to replace the God who in our minds has let is down, or the God we feel WILL let us down someday. We hide in our busyness...we hide in our jobs/careers...we hide in our friendships and families...we hide. Some of us become controlling and manipulative...we will MAKE our lives and the lives around us the way we want them. Some of us become desolate and meek and just let our lives float around us. Some of us are a combination of those two. But sure enough...we hide our true selves out of fear that God can't possibly love us enough to protect us from hurt.

We're going to be hurt in this life. Solomon, the wisest man in history, says "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"— (Ecclesiastes 12:1 NIV) There is GOING to be trouble...there is going to be hurt. It's how we handle the hurts in our lives that matters. We can't hide and bury our hurts...they will surface later on.

So...we need to take a long look at ourselves...we need to look at the hurts in our lives and how we have allowed those hurts to give us permission to hide in the modern day idols that have taken the place of God's power in our lives. If you are younger, you have a great opportunity to NOT follow in the footsteps of previous generations. Learn how to give your hurts to God...learn how to recognize when you are letting your life be filled with idols instead of God.

Think about a time in your past when you were hurt. What did you come to believe about yourself through this event? 

Ask God to reveal to you the ways that believing those things has shaped your life. Has it shaped your style of relating to others? Has it caused you to have fear or mistrust about certain things? 

What if the messages delivered with your hurts simply weren't true? IT'S NOT TRUE!!! Just because you were told something or experienced something doesn't have to have negative effects on the rest of your life. God DOES care for you...he thinks you are beautiful and wonderful. Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captives free! 

I always look to heaven with anticipation...think of tears...happiness! But...we don't have to wait for heaven to experience some of that kind of joy! When we learn to let go of our hurts instead of using it as an excuse to hide from God, we learn to let God heal us. That is hope...that is life. God has more planned for you when you put him first! Put away your idols...ok, you can't put away your job or your friends and family...but you can allow God to be first and stop trying to run your life! THAT'S what I am trying to do! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Out live your life...

"David had done the will of God in his own generation..." -- Acts 13:36 NLT

This week I have been talking about understanding your own beauty...understanding who you are, how God made you who you are...learning to love yourself, understand yourself, and your own motivation will help you be a happier, healthier person.

But...then what???

What good is all this self-study and understanding when we keep it to ourselves? 

My First Place group recently did a "time study" where we recorded our activities every hour for a week. My goal for this exercise was to get us to see that even though we are VERY BUSY with school, work and other things,  we DO have enough time in our day for Bible study and exercise.

What I saw when I looked at the charts was a lot of time focused on myself...Facebook surfing...Words with Friends...TV time...listening or reading books... and even a bit of exercise fitted in there. While I do spend a lot of time at work and church, I spend a lot of time on MY wants and desires. I may not have time to be involved in community theater as I dream of, or go out with friend's enough, but I think I do spend a lot of "me time." Wasn't that the whole idea behind the "Happiness Project?" Find things you enjoy them and you'll be happy, right?

Then how come I still have times when I feel discontent and even boredom with my life? 

Do you want to be remembered when you are gone? We don't like to think about our own mortality, especially when we are young. But I think we all would like to think we made SOME kind of difference in this world. There just seems to be SO MUCH pain, suffering and need in our communities, our county and our world...we don't even know where to start.

You will be hearing more from me in the near future about "Outliving our lives..." but for now...if you are looking for ways to serve in your community...if you are looking for ways to get connected with people in need...if you are looking for ways to use your time, treasures and talents to help others...I applaud you and encourage you to get connected!

In Muskingum County Ohio, there is an organization that wants to help you do just that. Go to
We Serve has lists of organizations in southeastern Ohio that need volunteers...they might be looking for you!!!

Know that you are beautiful and created in God's image and that God wants you to make a difference in the world he crested! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Eden relationship with God

We've been talking a lot about beauty this week. Beauty on the outside, beauty on the inside, the beauty of nature...even in the most ugly of circumstances, if you look hard enough, you will probably find some element of beauty within.  

Beauty...the desire to BE beautiful and the desire to HAVE or POSSESS beauty can cause us great pleasure and great pain.

Adam and Eve had everything they could ever want...MUCH beauty around them, plenty of good food AND a personal relationship with God. They got to walk and talk with person...seeing his face! It was God's original, perfect plan for his people.

So, if they had everything, why oh why did Eve eat that forbidden fruit??? It was partially because of the serpent's tempting words, but he didn't MAKE her take that bite.
* Hunger...the devil usually shows up when we are at our weakest...her tummy was growling and the fruit looked like it would satisfy her hunger.
* The tree and the fruit were BEAUTIFUL! they were inviting...they looked SO GOOD!
* She was promised wisdom and life if she ate it.

Eve knew it was wrong, but did it anyway. She liked it and wanted to share it with Adam. He also knew it was wrong, but did it anyway, probably for similar reasons as Eve.  

Genesis 3:10 - "He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." Adam knew he had done wrong...he was afraid of God's punishment. The fruit did reveal the knowledge to him that he was naked and that was wrong. He hid from God to hide his nakedness and his shame.

Before the fruit...Adam and Eve were blessedly ignorant of shame...what a life not to know sin and shame! But, because they chose the fruit instead of obedience, we can understand the human condition. 

Every person breathing is to some extent afraid and hiding. We are afraid of God's reaction to our sins...Even those of us who don't believe in God or sin deal with this issue down deep somewhere. Some of us try control our tendency to sin and try to control everyone else too...some of us are so depressed and desolate because we can't seem to get rid of our bad habits and sins that we just give up. Many of us fall somewhere in the middle between controlling and desolate about sins. Which way do you tend to go? Controlling and driven or desolate and needy?

Deep in our hearts, we long for the perfect Eden relationship with God again...we long to walk and talk with God again...we long to get rid of the fear, guilt and shame that our sins leave us with.

God knows why we do the things we do. He understand us. He longs for that Eden relationship too. It may not be perfect like Eden, but we can lean on to him...give our sins over to him...we can have a beautiful relationship with our creator and He will heal our fear and shame and help us learn to trust him down deep in our soul. All we have to do is ask and keep pursuing Him. He wants us to choose him and love him. He does and WILL return that love!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A "beautiful" message for my women friends today...

God's world would be incomplete without you...

Think about how God began this was a work of art and a labor of love.  The heavens, the earth and all the creatures on the earth...a masterpiece! And humans were special...made in His image.

"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7 NIV)

"So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:21-23 NIV)

Be honest...have you ever thought that because God made woman AFTER man that women are second in God's heart to men? I mean...I know there are men who think of women as second class afterthought to keep man company...but did you think that?

 The authors of "Captivating" look at it a little bit differently...woman was the LAST thing God created before he rested from his great labor. She was the "crown of his creation!" Eve was God's finishing touch...she was breathtaking! The earth and God's grand creations would be incomplete without woman. How does that make your heart feel, to know that you are the "crown of creation?"

Eve was beautiful... Beauty can come in many forms. In people or in nature, what is it about beauty that moves people?

We'll talk more about Adam and Eve tomorrow. For today...remember that as a woman, you are God's "crown of creation!" You ARE beautiful! See yourself through God's eyes today instead of your own critical eyes. If you could see how beautiful you really are...doesn't that make you want to take care of that beautiful body God gave you? When I think of my body, I don't think "beautiful." but...I think God does! Just for every inch of yourself and vow to love yourself enough to eat healthy today and get at least a little bit of movement and exercise into your day! When you catch a glimpse of the beauty inside yourself, you find you want to help others find it too! Compliment someone you meet today...a friend, a doesn't matter. Let your beauty shine through to brighten someone else's day!

Have a BEAUTIFUL day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We shouldn't be trying so hard...

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." -- Proverbs 4:23

Busy, busy, busy. Some of us race around each day, running from one event to the next, one sporting event to the next, one responsibility to the next. We try to squeeze in time to walk, spin, yoga, P90x...whatever the latest exercise craze is...we just have to TRY HARDER, right? We eat on the run, get less sleep and we are TIRED!

Whether you are young or older, do you feel pressure to just "try harder?" Do you feel you have to do more, and be more?

Living this lifestyle. (and I KNOW I am not the only one struggling with living this way) how are we to have the time to guard and protect our hearts?

Do you honestly think God wants us to be this hard on ourselves? Think about this for a moment...what do you HONESTLY believe God thinks and feels about you?

Many times, when our desires are not being met, we end up working harder, doing more. We think that by doing this we will MAKE our dreams and desires come true. Since it never works that way, I don't believe that's God plan and desire for us. God didn't place these desires in our hearts to torture us. If we learn to look at ourselves through God's eyes...if we learn to study who we are and the things we want, we can learn to see the secret of who we truly are, who we were created to be. 

What do you want for your life? Who do you want to be? When you understand that God MADE you the way you are for a reason, there is hope...hope to become the person you secretly long to be. 

Your heart holds those secrets. It is the source of all creativity, courage, conviction, faith, hope and of course, our love for ourselves and others. God knows this. God IS love, and God is at the heart of our secret longings because He IS our hearts. That is why it is important to guard our protect our hearts and our desires ABOVE ALL ELSE. How do we do that? It's not easy. Life is tough and seems to want to tear us down and break our hearts. Reach out to God. He will help you learn to guard your heart so you can freely give love to others.

I am on a journey to figure out how to be less busy in my life and allow God to show me how to protect my heart. I am doing this so I can discover how to love who I am and help the desires of my heart to come true. If I figure out how to work WITH God to live my life, instead of going it alone, I won't have to try so hard and I will be free to be who I am.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Be beautiful!

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

If you believe that you were created by God...that He made you...that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made"...than you can believe that you are beautiful! If you are a man and don't want to think of yourself as "beautiful," than think handsome, but even the "ugliest" people are beautiful to God. And, those who believe that also can believe that God BEGAN a good work in us the day we were born and then leaves it up to us to continue that good work.

Beauty...who is beautiful to you? Why are they beautiful?

I think, at least for women, we long to be beautiful. And, I think, down deep, we want inside beauty too...we want to be good. Yet, how many of us consider ourselves beautiful? Do you?

SO MUCH money is spent across the world every day on beauty products, exercise and diet plans, and even surgeries...all in the attempt to make ourselves more beautiful. WHY??? Because we have the inner desire to be beautiful. The  problem is, we have chased after that desire for so long, it has overpowered many of our other desires and our culture (we) have depleted the desire by our selfishness. We have taken the natural desire God gave us to be good and beautiful, and polluted it.

But, we also given ourselves a complex and feel bad about our desire to be beautiful. We feel bad, and when we don't feel we live up to culture's vision of beauty, we give up..."I am not beautiful and I am never going to be beautiful" and we put ourselves down and grab another piece of cake!

Do you want to be beautiful? What lengths do you or would you go to to be beautiful? Do you see beauty in others? Can you see beauty beneath an "ugly" exterior?

Think about how you can "unveil" your own beauty...God made you, fearfully and wonderfully...think of ways you can be more beautiful...ways you can SHOW others the beauty God placed inside of you. Being kind to others...comforting and loving other people...letting the love of God shine through you. Be confident! God began a good work in you and wants to work WITH you to complete those good works through your life! Be beautiful! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This is YOUR adventure story...write it WITH God!

"The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper." (Proverbs 19:8 NIV)

I search for meaning and comfort every day. This life is HARD...and dealing with all the hard stuff can be overwhelming sometimes. If I were left to my own means, I would melt away in a puddle of tears and curl up in a ball and give up. But when I reach out to God, try to understand him and his ways...when I study and think and meditate on why things are they way they are, KNOWING that God IS there...I gain wisdom and strength and the courage to move forward and try to make my life better than it is right now.

Right now I am learning that my need to save the world and solve the problems of my family and friends is natural! God made women DESIRE to play an irreplaceable role in the story of their lives. Think about life as an a great epic novel. Don't we all want to be the main character in our own adventure? Don't we dream of being the brave heroine that saves the day?

What were your dreams for your life when you were younger? What did you want to be or do?

Some of us have never stopped dreaming and changing our stories. I changed majors in college 3 times, and have changed careers a few times too. While that might be frustrating for my family is exciting to me! I allow myself to dream right now...if I could do anything...what would it be? Where am I meant to be at THIS moment?

Allowing YOURSELF to dream a little bit, if YOU could be or do anything you wanted right now, what would it be?

As you think about that...about the exciting role you are playing and COULD play in your own life story...remember this...any good story needs a good problem...some tension...a hard is an adventure. We need some hard times to appreciate the good times. 

But you say...I have had ENOUGH problems in my life...I don't want any more!!! Life is TOO hard sometimes! If I am writing my own story, I will write only happy things.

Well...I am sorry to tell you, it doesn't work that way. Jesus told us there WILL be hard times...we WILL struggle and we WILL have difficulties. BUT...remember the lesson that Jesus ultimately teaches us with his resurrection...Fredrick Buechner says it this way, "The resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing." If you believe that, then you know that your adventure story will ultimately have a happy ending!!!

In your adventure story right now...are you experiencing difficulties and struggles? Allow God to work in your life through the other "characters" in your story. The hero or heroine in any good story needs supporting characters that impact their lives. Also...don't be afraid to dream about what your life COULD be. Be brave and lean on your faith in God's promises to give you the courage to work to make your life better for you and for the people around you. How could you be impacting the lives of those other characters in your story? Can you be brave enough, strong enough, wise enough to allow God to work through YOU? 

This is YOUR adventure...what if you collaborated with God in the writing of your story? Think of the possibilities!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Protect your heart...

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." -- Proverbs 4:23

My First Place 4 Health group started a new study series, "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge. We are trying to figure out why we are the way we are and why the way we are causes us problems. 

Thinking about it this morning, I think one of the problems we have is loving ourselves and the way we are...loving the things we want and desire...loving ourselves enough to take care of ourselves....loving ourselves enough to want better for ourselves.

I think that's why we got involved in the First Place 4 Health group in the first place...To do better for ourselves. God wants better for us. He doesn't want us unhealthy...He doesn't want us unhappy...He doesn't want us not to have the things our hearts desire. As the authors of the book say, we are created in God's image...God's heart. Why would He give us his heart and all that comes with it and then say you can't have those things? 

Yesterday, we talked about movies and characters that we love and why we love them.  We don't all like the same kind of movies, but we all have dreams about what we wish our lives were like. Real life never lives up to our expectations, but those dreams we have give us hope.

What kinds of games did you play when you were a little? What kinds of dreams and fantasies do you have about how you want your life to be?

We read yesterday that the desire to be "romanced" comes natural to women because God Himself wants to be pursued and loved. What do YOU think romance is? 

When I was a teenager and in my 20's, I read a LOT of romance novels. I then would have fantasies in my head about myself in those roles as heroine. I wanted a guy to want me bad enough to fight for me...I wanted to be swept off my feet...I wanted a guy with a big heart, but also wanted the hero of the book.

We want these things, and when they don't turn out exactly like our fantasy, we sometimes let that make us think we aren't worthy of the fantasy. So, we squelch the dream...and our hearts break a little.

I think it's natural for us to want those things...God made us to want those things. But...remember the Proverbs verse above...we are to protect our hearts. We need to nurture our desires, but carefully... and have HEALTHY AND REALISTIC expectations. God knows our hearts...He GAVE them to us. Shouldn't we let Him be our guide through life instead of relying on our own, flawed expectations?

When we don't take care of our hearts, our addictions can take over...we eat too much, we drink to much, we look for other things to fill that void. We don't have to do that!!! 

I am hoping this study helps us all learn to love ourselves more...helps us realize we ARE worthy of the natural desires God placed within us, and helps us reset our expectations for our lives and makes us want to FIGHT for something better! Are you with me?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happiness is...paying attention...

"...weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

It is very easy to get so wrapped up in our own daily struggles that we miss important events and clues around us that could have amazing impact in our lives. If we just paid attention more often, we would see people trying to help us and ways we can help others. And the affects of this paying attention can help us work our way out of our own depression. Did you ever think that THIS is the way God works in our lives? Not by miracles and sending angels, but through the people in our lives?

I have heard them called "Godincidents" instead of coincidence.  These have happened in my life many times...probably more have happened that I was not "awake" enough to see. I've been in the right place at the right time when someone needed to talk...I got a check in the mail for the EXACT amount that I needed to pay a bill the next day...a friend recommends a book and when I begin reading it, it says EXACTLY what I needed to hear to pull me out of the funk I was in...

I do believe God still does miracles today, but I think he works through people as well. Have you ever felt "nudged" to go back and do something, or felt the need to go to the store and seen a long time friend while there? You may think it sounds "hoaky" but I believe there are times when we ARE nudged to do things that can lead to "little miracles." But, the key is to pay attention. I have ignored those nudges often too, and later thought I should have done whatever it was.

If we pay attention to the clues around us, and that little voice in our heads...we will find ways of pulling ourselves out of our own funk and find the rejoicing that comes in the morning, as the Psalm above says. I know that has happened for me several times, especially lately.

Happy moments come when you appreciate the "Godincidents" that come into your life. Open your eyes today...who will cross paths with you that you can help or that will help you? Pay attention...let God work in your life. A happy moment may not be far away from you...even if you feel like you are in the pits of despair!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happiness project lesson...The will of God is not our happiness but our faithfulness.

"I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." (Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13 NIV)

Two things I have read this morning smacked me upside the head!

First of all, I am working on this "happiness project" because...I want to be happier, right? I want to enjoy the life and the blessings God has given me and lately I feel all I do is complain about what's wrong in my life. It's got to be better than this, right? Oh really?

Seth Godin is a best-selling author and a popular speaker in the business world, dealing with mostly with leadership. He writes a daily blog and I read it most days. Today's blog seemed to be written for me. He called it "Trading in Your Pain." Many of us think if we find a better situation, we will get rid of our pain. The pain of a bad work situation...the pain of an unhappy marriage...the pain of poor choices...the pain of bullying...We think if we change jobs, get divorced, go to a new school...we we change our situation the pain will go away. The funny thing is, when we do find ourselves in a new situation, we find we still have pain. It might be different pain, but it is pain all the same.

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence" is an old saying, but it is so true. I tend to do that...when things get hard, I start thinking and dreaming of the next best thing. THAT will make me happy won't it? Reality is...probably not.

Then I read that God is not as concerned with our happiness as he is with our faithfulness. I sometimes get the idea that God WANTS me to be could a loving, caring parent not want his child to be happy? But even the verse listed above doesn't promise happiness. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says it is better to be happy and do good. It says the gift of God is finding satisfaction in our toil. God wants us to be concerned with the good works he has for us to do than with finding happiness. Don't you think if we really grasped that idea, we would find ourselves happier more of the time?

I am glad I am working on this "happiness project" because I think I am realizing that true happiness is much different than I thought it was!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happiness project lesson - less ME

"Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining." (1 John 2:8 NIV)

My happiness project is veering a little bit away from the book of that name, and is becoming more about a much-needed attitude adjustment. Yes, i do need to get more sleep, eat healthier and get more exercise so I have more energy to do the things that make me happy. But i also think my happiness has a lot to do with the attitude i have about what is going on in my life at any given moment.

We like to think about a new year as a chance to begin again...a clean slate regarding the mistakes we have made in the past year. Since most New Year's resolutions are broken before the end of January, I prefer to look at each day as a clean slate....I can't wait a year to start over again. I messed up I want to think about how I messed up yesterday and seriously try to do better today. 

I also want to look at today as a gift...the present is a present, if you will. I have been given a new day... It is mine to do with as I wish. Whether that day has me going to work or staying home, what I do with that day is my choice. How I face the choices and issues that will come to me in this new day is my choice.

2011 was a trying year for me and my family. We had money issues, a life-threatening car accident and the results of that accident, back problems, weight problems, job frustrations, furnace issues, mid-life issues, teenage issues...oh, and did I mention money issues? My husband and I went to bed Saturday night after we had watched the ball drop, and as we wished each other a Happy New Year, we both said we hoped 2012 is better than 2011 for our family.

But what if it isn't? What if more "issues" come our way? Will we be so frustrated and depressed that we will curl up in a little ball and give up? I certainly hope not!

Yesterday, a very wise friend saw that I was struggling with the "why me" issues and told me of a book that helped him better understand why bad things happen and how God's will is involved in those bad things. Being the book lover that I am, I instantly downloaded that book onto my new Nook and I have read the first 2 chapters. My wise friend has no idea how much his advice and that book have helped me already!

I want the first few days of this new year to be a time of contemplation for me...a "come to Jesus" moment when I get OVER myself and realize how all of my "issues" are not failures, but chances to allow God to work in my life and chances for me to begin again! I can't be "Oh woe is me!" all the time. I want to use this "starting over" time to plan how I will use each day as a new beginning. Life is not all darkness...the light is in me already! 

May this day bring me many chances to let God's light shine in my dark, issue-filled life and in the dark, issue-filled lives of others who cross my path today! Thinking less about me and more about others may just be the key to my happiness project!