January 31, 2011

Happy or Content? … Content and Happy!

Happiness. It seems to be a national obsession: attaining happiness, the lack of happiness, the search for happiness, the pursuit of happiness. This is so much so, that there are happiness seminars, college courses on happiness, scientific studies and research on happiness, and there is even The Happiness Institute. In a recent survey of college students, happiness was ranked above money and health. Happiness means different things to different people, but it is very much a dictating factor for each and every one.
To be happy is to be delighted, pleased, cheerful, in high spirits or satisfied. It’s been said that happiness is related to: genetics; having relationships; income levels; goals; quiet time; ease of anxiety and stress; if you want to be happy, act happy; discover what makes you happy and keeps you happy.
Maybe those are all factors in happiness.
Standing still with the concept of happiness, I have come to a few conclusions.
Happiness is enjoyable. It is a pleasant and wonderful state of being. But it is temporary. Happiness is often fleeting. It is a feeling which is based on circumstance. It’s not really an attainable lasting state of being that will bring true joy or peace.
The only real way to possess joy in life (‘true happiness’ for those that are stuck in that mindset) is to be content.
Contentment. To have fulfillment, to be at ease, gratification, pleasure, serenity, peace.
People need to LEARN to be CONTENT. Contentment is a state of being which does not rely on circumstance. When one can have contentment, there is no need to possess material things or have outer experiences and actions to attain a feeling. Life will always be filled with challenges, sickness, sadness and obstacles. But, contentment brings peace … satisfaction … joy… and therefore then and only then can one possess ‘true happiness’.

So...I have happiness at times and sadness at times; joys and sorrows. But through it all I am content – satisfied and at peace.
I want happiness in life but I value and enjoy contentment so much more.
I wish all my family and friends happiness but I pray for them to be content - as I do for each of you.

Philippians 4:11-12
… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Proverbs 19:23
The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

January 28, 2011


I experienced the tears of a friend recently – I hugged her and prayed.

Personally, I have shed plenty of tears - most likely more than some. Tears of frustration, confusion, hurt, doubt, inadequacy, sadness, and those of great loss.

Tears. It’s been shown that once crying stops, the body moves from a state of high arousal to one more associated with relaxation. Breathing and heart rate slows, sweating decreases and the period of the relaxed state tends to last longer than the time spent crying. So actually, crying is a form of stress release. “Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water (French essayist, Antione Rivarol.)”

Later, I happened to view a rainbow. It was my turn to be hugged – by the Father. This sight is His Promise. It is a promise to each of us. A reminder of a covenant. In a very visible way, it is a promise of HOPE.
American poet John Vance Cheney once wrote, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” Rainbows more often than not make their appearance in darker skies.
“Not in the time of pleasure
Hope doth set her bow;
But in the sky of sorrow,
Overt the vale of woe.”
I stand still with the thought of tears producing a rainbow in the soul. There’s a cloud overhead – circumstance blows strongly that vale of woe. But HOPE sets her bow in the soul with the tears that were shed. I marvel at the timing of my LORD. I had the opportunity to comfort a sister – she found comfort sharing the tears. After heartfelt prayer I found comfort as my Father saw to it that “Hope set her bow”. We all find solace and peace in knowing that our tears do not have to be shed alone brought by a burden we must carry alone. Those that love us lighten the load and offer comfort. God, who personally loves YOU, hears your cry (always) and will give you HOPE. From your lips to His ears; He hears and responds personally.
Standing Still with this knowledge may cause tears…of joy.

Psalm 18:6
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into his ears.
Psalm 34:17
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.
Psalm 55:17
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.

January 23, 2011


Restful insomnia --- sounds like quite an oxymoron especially to those of us who frequently suffer from the sleep disorder. I am somewhat of a chronic insomniac. I never sleep a full night. I have stretches of days when I am unable to fall asleep. Usually I can handle going two nights without the sleep but after night 3 I’m compromised physically, mentally and emotionally. As I cope through Day 3 with minutes of sleep, I sometimes notice raised eyebrows or baffled looks as I, not quite with it, interact with people. “You haven’t slept for a few days have you?’ – friends state the obvious.

The condition is frustrating. Sleep is supposed to be a natural function. For some of us, refreshing slumber and tranquil dreams are unattainable. There are those whose health and well being is quite adversely affected by the disorder. I’ve learned to cope for the most part.

Although I may not sleep, I’ve learned the attitude, habit and value of rest. I use the night to quiet my being. I use a bedside notebook to write down what is on my mind. Some items go on a ‘do’ list. Some items are added to my prayer list. Either way, I am able to release whatever is on my mind. If it is on the ‘do’ list it will wait until it is checked off. If it is on the prayer list, I use some of those quiet night moments to whisper in my Father’s ear and release it into His loving and very capable hands. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually releasing my cares and thoughts prepares me to rest physically.
I am thankful that our God never sleeps.  He is ever vigil.  He knows our needs, our troubles, our anxieties, our fears and our frustrations.  Blessedly, He meets our needs and offers comfort and encouragement as well as strength and rest. Eventually sleep comes… and I am thankful and will be rested.
So….Relax; be at ease; be quiet; have tranquility; lie still.

Psalm 62:5
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Matthew 11:29
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Psalm 3:5
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

Psalm 4:8
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 121:4
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Proverbs 6:10
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—

January 21, 2011

Problems and solutions

I’ve had a few conversations with people as of late who find themselves in “situations”. One friend is frustrated with attitudes of self-centeredness and combativeness on a child’s sport team. Another is struggling with a familial relationship. Then there was the friend who had gotten an accusatory email questioning motives in handling something.

Conflict. It is unavoidable as we go through life. I’ve stood still with this word before. I’ve learned that conflict isn’t necessarily always a negative thing. Even more recently I learned something about conflict from writer Miriam Fox Gabler. She wisely stated…

“If you look at a problem long enough, you can see the part you play in it.”

My first reaction to this was “nah huh – I’m not so sure.” But as I’ve been standing still with Miriam’s statement and spending time in God’s Word, I’ve begun to see the blaring truth of this statement. Personally, I realize that I have not always been the shining example of grace under fire in those times I find myself in a “situation”. At certain points, I have been guilty of defensiveness, dislike, anger, selfishness, resentment, speaking out of turn, avoidance and admittedly even apathy. I know that there are times when a person can be a victim, a bystander, mistakenly unaware or sincerely wrong when “situations” arise. However, if one doesn’t take pause and care in response and reaction, one can add to things and definitely create ownership somewhere in the problem as a whole.
Solution? I’m continuing to learn and trying to practice looking ‘at the problem long enough’. Pause; breathe; stand still – in prayer – then move forward towards peace. Listen; clarify; speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15); communicate and find the solution. Resolve.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Matthew 7:3-4 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

January 17, 2011


“When in doubt don’t!” I hear these words echo in my head sometimes as I weigh decisions. Funny – I hear them in the sound of my mother’s voice. I’ve actually said these same words to my kids. For the most part I think it is great advice. It helps one avoid the spur of the moment decision – that impulse buy – or a flippant decision which later you realize you should have just walked away. It encourages one to pause – think – weigh. The intention in these 4 words is pretty good advice when facing doubt.
However, there are times when facing doubt in which the saying may not be the best advice available.
Doubt: to be uncertain about; hesitate to believe; apprehension; confusion; dilemma; quandary; fear.
Doubt may hijack the intent of this saying and lead one into becoming immobilized; unable to decided; frozen in uncertainty.
Two days ago I read a quote by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of Cleveland Ohio. She stated, “When in doubt, just take the next small step.” Hmmm… Perhaps Regina Brett was on to something better.

So as I stand still with the topic of doubt – I see good advice; better advice…
I contemplate what would be the BEST advice. The Father’s words given through King Solomon come to mind covering me with peace:
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

So....When in doubt – seek Him; listen and just boldly take the next step.

John 20:27b - “Stop doubting and believe.”
Mark 9:24 – “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

January 14, 2011

Not for naught.

I have been privy to several conversations coming from multiple directions in which people seem to be at the “end of their rope’ (9-1-10). Questions, doubt, anxiety. Once again all I can say is hold on, tie a knot and swing. Soon you will see and understand.

All for naught?! My answer to that question in N-E-V-E-R!!!
One could say…”But I gave it my all only to have failed completely”. I would say that you don’t know that for sure.
You might be thinking that I don’t have a clue what you are talking about – but I do. If it is the effort for a job – the mere fact that you worked giving your all is a success in and of itself and will be rewarded in its own time. If it is effort to guide one down the path of life so they may avoid the dangers and struggles and consequences of choice – your seeds have been planted; ultimately it may not be you who waters or weeds, but Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” The Master gardner lovingly tends your seeds. Giving it your all – “working at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord …for it is the Lord Christ you are serving(Col.3:23…24b)” – always brings fruition if done or “if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us (1 John 5:14b)” fruition comes. GOD DOESN”T FAIL.

The Hard Part:
You say “I have loved in great amount; I have had long suffering; I have endured pain and it hasn’t made a difference.” The short of it is you are asking WHY? Only God can ever answer that question fully. Sometimes he allows us to see glimpses. He says, “My child – your path and character witness to others”; My child, you aren’t quite listening to what I am telling you – you need to let go of your plans so you can take hold of the plans I have waiting for you. My child, you’ve been on the wrong path – when you are ready, the correct path will be made visible to you – SEEK.” My dear, dear, child – success is not yours; it is not in your hand, your control, your job or anything you do - “It is by grace you have been saved through faith, not because of your works lest you should boast”(Gal. 5). Let go – Let ME. For I so loved the world, I so love YOU, I gave my one and only Son…”
Hard Decisions…Wrenching tasks – “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” He is capable of giving “immeasurably more that we can imagine”.
As a child of God, it is he who succeeds through us. It is not for naught. He cannot, does not and will not ever fail.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

January 10, 2011

The Resolution

Many take the New Year to reflect. Hence, the resolutions – those personal goals, projects or reformations of habit. The top resolutions people make are: to spend more time with family and friends, get fit, tame bad eating habits, stop drinking, quit smoking, enjoy life more, get out of debt, learn something new, help others and get organized.

I recently read that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals.
So reading and considering the prior statistics I wonder – Do I really want to dive in with a resolution of my own and what would mine be?
Where does this leave me with the whole resolution process.
After standing still and having some prayerful consideration, I’ve decided to make my resolution not an action but rather a word:

WILLING - inclined; cheerfully consenting or ready; agreeable; accommodating; amenable; eager; prepared.

I would like to go through this year developing, integrating and cultivating the word WILLING into my life.
This word faces obstacles – my willfulness; some stubbornness; tendencies to be opinionated and stuck in ways; and fears and anxieties. Obstacles that can be huge hurdles to overcome. Obstacles that may result in several detours along the way.
But consciously implementing “WILLING” will bring benefits I would like to reap: a daily positive attitude and outlook; determination; perseverance; learning; new experiences; new friends; health; and renewal of joy.

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.