Tag: peace

Are you as happy as you could be?

being who we are/google images

google images

It’s summer. A time of family, fun, vacations, swimming, cycling, hiking………ily, fun, vacations, swimming, cycling, hiking………

But for people with mood disorders, summers often trigger depression. It’s not hard to understand why and much of it stems from comparisons. When we’re around people who seem to be having a great time, families who seem to have it all together, lots of laughter, we often wonder why we aren’t that happy. Everyone else is laughing and suddenly we feel like crying.

What has happened?

We feel isolated and lonely. What is wrong with us, we ask.

There was a song from the sixties that went like this “Everyone is going out and having fun. I’m just a fool for staying home and having none……Oh, lonesome me.” Have you ever felt that way?

This is not to rain on anyone’s parade because those people we see may, in fact, be having a great time. It’s genuine. But it’s their present moment. It’s probably not what their lives are like all the time. And we all have those times as well. Days when we’re on top of the world. Days when other people look at us and wonder why they aren’t as happy as we are.

It’s called “comparing”. Or as I like to call it Facebookitis. You know what I mean. If you went by FB, you’d think everyone’s life is perfect. The crazy thing is, everyone else is doing it, too. So here we are, all of us going through life in a constant state of wondering why we’re not as happy as the next person.

But the crazy thing is, everyone else is doing it, too. So here we are, all of us going through life in a constant state of wondering why we seem to fall short on the happiness scale when the truth is we’re all pretty much the same. No matter how rich, famous or educated, we all do it, compare ourselves to others.

One of the bubbliest personalities ever is Goldie Hawn. And yet she suffers from depression. How many times do you suppose people looked at her and wished they could be like her never dreaming that inside she was miserable?

But since when does our happiness have to look like someone else’s? Or theirs look like ours?  I’m simply not a rah, rah kind of person. I have fun. I laugh. But I’m definitely more low-key. I experience lots of joy but it looks different on me. I am never comfortable in crowds;  that used to bother me.

Not anymore.

Sometimes I wish I could be more “over the top”, but I’m not. This is how God, history, and circumstances have molded me. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m not sure it should.

Comparing doesn’t end with the comparison, though. It seeps into every part of our lives, souring our present moment and pretty much guaranteeing our future will be negatively affected, too. It steals our peace, the very peace Jesus promises. But maybe that peace depends on us making peace with who we are not who we think we should be.

Romans 9:20 says it all.

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”

The next time you’re at a holiday gathering or anywhere there are a lot of people celebrating, be comfortable with yourself. You don’t have to act like anyone else. You don’t have to laugh or be outwardly exuberant if that’s not your style. (I’m not talking about social anxiety issues. That’s something else altogether.)

But if happiness is alluding you overall, you could be depressed and that would mean a visit to your doctor.

For today, be brave enough to be yourself and to be comfortable with yourself. I contend that as long as we’re trying to appear or feel different from who we really were created to be, there will be conflict and unhappiness within. Jesus was always who He was even though those that crucified Him wanted Him to be someone He wasn’t either.

They wanted a king, they got a servant.

Don’t let other people do that to you either.

God bless and have a good day.

hydrangeas

A beautiful reminder of my mom

Sometimes God visits us in a unique way, a sunset, a sunrise, a stranger’s words, a book, a flower.

We should never be surprised with how God “speaks”, and yet we always are.

It was last Sunday morning. I had gone to church (hubby was at the cabin as the electrician was coming) and heard a much-needed sermon based on Psalms 139. It soothed my aching heart as Sunday’s are particularly hard for me during this grieving process. My husband and I almost always stopped by my mom’s after church.

Last Sunday I did that again as I needed to drop off something for my brother. I knew he would be gone but he left the door open to her house. It was hard walking in as everything is the same. I’m hoping my brother buys some new furniture soon so things will look different.

Her Hydrangeas are in bloom so I debated, “Should I pick a bouquet or not? How hard would that be?”  I decided I would.

It was hard.

She grew the most beautiful and largest Hydrangeas I’ve ever seen. But here’s where the surprise came. Without a doubt, these are the largest Hydrangeas ever on her bush. I wanted to take them in the house and show them to her. I always did that;   I would cut a bouquet for her and me.

The one in front and to the right is just one hydrangea. Huge! If I were to place it on a cardboard pizza disc (the largest size), it would be that big.

hydrangeas

But she wasn’t there.

I came home and arranged them, tears flooding my eyes. Why were they so huge this year of all years.? Why not last year, when I could show them to her?

And, of course, that question we tell ourselves we will never ask but we always do.

“Did I do all I could? Were there things I should have done differently?”

So to be reminded that I am “wonderfully, and fearfully made”, brought me comfort. And the Hydrangea reminded me that I, too, can flourish. It’s OK to get on with things, to enjoy my life, to laugh, to enjoy her Hydrangeas. God knows us intimately. He sees our struggles. When it’s the darkest in our life, he is there.

Nothing we can do can interfere with God’s love for us and nowhere we run can keep us hidden from his loving care.  

 

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts Or How amazing are your thoughts concerning me God!
How vast is the sum of them
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

hydrangeas

God can comfort us in all kinds of ways with all kinds of “props”. For me, it was Hydrangeas.

God bless and have a good day.

How to make good decisions, part one

how do we know

……..when we’re making the right decision?

Sometimes, it’s so easy. Our thinking, our circumstances, God’s direction all fall plainly into view. We just know. I love times like that. I’ve always found decisions easy to make for the most part. Some people are paralyzed by the prospect. I find sometimes making a decision is better than letting something stagnate.

But then there are those times, like right now when I’ve exhausted every possible avenue in my “tired of thinking it through” mind. I’ve thought through every possible angle, read every possible Scripture verse that applies, been praying for days. I’ve decided one way and then another and found justification to support both opposing views. I’ve felt great peace and then no peace. When I made my final final decision, my hubby asked me, “Are you sure?” 

“Of course, I’m not sure.”

There are some decisions we will simply never be sure about. Even if everything turns out o.k.  And even when it doesn’t, it may not mean we made the wrong decision. No amount of Monday morning quarter backing will make it any clearer either. That’s why sometimes we just have to make our decision and live with the consequences of our decision. When it directly impacts others, we just need to be as sure as we can.

In this case, I’ve done my homework. I’ve  worked through every possible scenario. Unless God makes it clear I’m heading down the wrong path, I’m going on the assumption that my decision-making process has been directed by God and my decision meets with his approval. Every day I ask for wisdom for whatever comes my way. God promises that wisdom is ours for the asking and I sure have been asking.

I know it’s possible to convince ourselves of anything but when I look back over the decisions I’ve made over the years, I feel a certain sense of confidence in my decision-making ability. Often those of the Christian faith refer to having “peace” about their decisions. But there is such a thing as a “false” peace.  We can talk our selves right into a  feeling that mimics peace and thus convince ourselves that because of that feeling, we have made the right choice. But it’s not the peace that comes from God. (Jesus said there is his peace and then there’s the peace that comes from the world.)

The peace that comes from God is almost never accompanied by a feeling. It’s more of a quiet confidence that he is in control because you’ve asked him to be. In fact, we can be making the right decision and still be uneasy about it. God never said doing the right thing or making the right decision will always be accompanied by positive feelings. In faith issues, we too often let our emotions get in the way. I posted a few days ago about “dizzy” emotions being a good indicator of how we’re living our lives. I don’t have any of that “dizziness” going on inside so that makes me feel good.

We’re human. Most of us try to do the right thing.  Sometimes we get it right.  Sometimes we don’t. We can feel good with the first and we can learn from the second.  In a few weeks.

I’ll know the results of my decision but whether it was a good or bad decision I may never know. Sometimes decisions are neutral.

I told you back week that we are adding on to our cabin. That was a difficult decision. It’s difficult to know whether you have a good contractor or not. Sure, you can get references. But who knows even then. We all different definitions of what a “good” contractor is anyway. For me, a good contractor is someone who does quality work is, who knows the codes and requirements of the area, who comes in at the budgeted amount, and of course, who is willing to work with me. We’ve had a number of conversations with this young man and so far, so good.

However, we also just had some work done on our deck and in that case, I’m not so sure it was a good decision. ‘

There are times when even with our best effort, we make a mistake.

When that happens, I try to remind myself that it’s a “thing” not a “person, so I try to not be so hard on myself.

I’ve looked back on the years I took care of my mom and the huge amount of decisions I made about her and her health. There were lots of them. She was almost deaf, had vision problems, had high blood pressure, A-fib, fell a lot, suffered from depression, etc. In each of those areas, there were multiple layers of decision to be made. I’m fairly confident I stayed on top of everything and always did what was best for her. But there were times I had no time to think and I had to trust that God was leading me.

Because we never know when we may be called on to make a decision, I pray for wisdom every day for every decision that comes my way, whether big or small.I would be afraid to start a day without that request.

How about you?

Are you praying for wisdom?

Are you trusting that God will direct you?

Remember, every decision we make has repercussions.

God bless and make good decisions today.

 

 

 

doubting my ability to cope

doubting my ability to cope tomorrow

I’m sitting here watching my little five-year-old grandson play with his toys.

Everyone is gone but him and me. He’s oblivious to my pain. He’s absorbed in his own world, just like a five-year-old should be. He looks at me and giggles and I smile.

How can I smile the night before I look on my mother’s face one last time?

The funeral is tomorrow. How am I going to do this?

I’ve done really good today, too good maybe. Does that make me uncaring? Am I insulting her?

God promises peace in the worst of times and this is most definitely the worst of times. I’m glad my little guys are here. Maybe looking on their faces will help me keep it together.

I wonder how anyone does this. Says goodbye with such finality.

A dear friend of mine just lost her sister the day before my mother died. We’re both Christian women who know God will sustain us in this loss. But we both agreed we still want them with us.

Such is the selfishness that plagues us all.

And yet it occurs to me, it’s a good thing to feel this pain. Wouldn’t it be awful to lose a mother and feel nothing? I should add my mother loved me with her whole heart. I told her once years ago, that I would never desert her, no matter what and that I would be with her to the end.

I was. To the very end.

 

 

What is the foundation of your choices?

I am continuing from yesterday. As I wrote then,  I am listening to a series of sermons that Pastor Andy Stanley is doing on the Beatitudes. I wrote yesterday about the tenuous situation I find myself in because of my mom’s health and about how I will be making lots of choices this summer. Last week I wrote about that sometimes transparent line between hope and reality.

While his series focuses on happiness, I’ve chosen to pair it that subject with choices because happiness most certainly piggybacks on the choices we make.

Andy further says that “we suffer for doing the right thing and we suffer for doing the wrong thing, so which side do you want to be on? But you can only be happy on one side of that equation.”

Even an unhappy person can find happiness doing the right thing but an overall happy person can not be happy doing the wrong thing.

Andy Stanley again, “You sow and reap  your way to happiness.”

In my own words,

“The path to happiness is sowed (choices) along life’s way. Happiness is harvested (reaped) when the time is ripe.”

Matthew 7:24-28 is all about house building. The wise man makes the right choice by building on rock, not sand. His house will stand any storm. The foolish man makes a wrong choice and builds on sand. Well, you know what happens when sand castles get hit by waves, don’t you?

This story is often used to make the point that we are to build our lives on the only foundation that will stand, Christ. But maybe the lesson to be learned is that even that decision begins with a choice. Our “home” will either stand the storms or it won’t. It all depends on what choice we make from the very first part of construction.

So it goes with our future.

Our future dwelling places depend on the choices we are making today. I have chosen to build my life around the teachings of Christ. They have proven to be a strong and enduring foundation. That doesn’t mean my “house” hasn’t been shaken a few times. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had to shore up the foundation. But it (me) is still standing.

What are you building your future on? Do you even know?

God bless and have a great day.

 

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