Five Minute Friday – Happy

Five-Minute-Friday-4-600x600Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted… and that is wrong and sad. Fittingly, today’s Five Minute Friday word is Happy… and that’s just how I feel about posting again!

First of all… I’m excited about the release of a new book that many of my favorite writers are raving about. AND, Jennifer Dukes Lee has an awesome website… where you can take a Happiness Assessment (to see what kinds of things make you happy). Fun and free and well marketed šŸ˜€ I bought the book. And, I learned that I’m an Experiencer. Which, according to the description, is spot on.

Alright, on to FMF!

I think Happiness is something Jesus-followers often skim over. I mean, it’s all aboutĀ joy, right? Happiness is the superficial, shallow, lesser-emotion to be pursued only by those who don’t truly understand the gift of joy. I mean, surely, why would one pursue the carnal realities of happiness when you can haveĀ joy?Ā 

I don’t mean to downplay the beauty of joy. The deep-seated grace that comes and holds your hand regardless of life’s ups and downs. The gift that stays just as strong and available in heartache as well as celebration. The mercy that doesn’t rely on our circumstances, but rather on an inner peace and trust. Joy is precious.

But I’m beginning to wonder if happiness is as frivolous and un-holy as we’ve made it. Yes, we’ve watched many people sacrifice much, including their families, their jobs, their future… in the name of the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness has sometimes been devastating to everyone else.

The U.S. constitution even includes the right to the pursuit of justice alongside life and liberty! And that these unalienable rights are given to us by our Creator.

What? Our forefathers and foremothers believed that God gave us a human right to pursue happiness.

But wait… what aboutĀ our Biblical call to sacrifice? To take up our crosses and suffer? To die to ourselves? To not be conformed to the patters of this world (which often idolize personal happiness?) I imagine the Happiness Dare will address many of these questions and I’ll leave it to her book to unfold.

But it does make me realize the ways we’ve lost our way to happiness… in a healthy, God-gifted, humble way. I believe God delights in our delight, just as I am excited when my children enjoy life- the gifts I give them, the moments we spend together, etc. I’m afraid we’ve flushed happiness down the toilet in fear that we will want it, find it lacking, or find it addicting and lose our way. Instead, let’s face our fears, delight in the delightful, and experience the riches of joy and happiness as our Creator designed.

{Dad’s} Lessons in the Waiting

The more I get to know my dad… the more I’m learning to endure the need to wait.

As a child, the thought of waiting was unbearable. My little mind could understand nothing but immediate self-gratification. Any pause on my desire was unthinkable. Cruel.

I learned to make up for his delays by doing things on my own. Why wait for dad’s wallet to open up when I have my own? And it buys what I want more quickly?

Only to come home and find a wrapped gift on my bed… just the thing I’d been pining away for… and bought on my own.

If only I’d waited…

I noticed how often his heart was to bless me with my heart’s wishes… but in his time, in his way… small surprises of delight in his daughter. And I was good at ruining it.

So I decided to try this whole “waiting” thing out.

I waited until he approved of the man I’d marry. And I’m so glad I did… no broken hearts, no ex-relationships to haunt me, minimal regrets.

Then came a halt to my life abroad. A time of waiting. Rooting. Things I’d never done.

My dad has raised me to love people, cultures, languages, new experiences.

Then told me I couldn’t do any of it… for an indefinite amount of time (which turned into eight years!)

I was obedient… albeit depressed and grieved… and took to figuring out this whole “rooting” thing.

One of the best things I’ve ever done.

Because he asked me to wait.

And I did.

Now here I am.

Living in Germany… the life I’ve been waiting for.

And oddly enough, there are still things he has me waiting for.

Our empty parking space… also waiting. šŸ™‚

A car.

He told me he’d buy us the perfect car when the time was right.

He’s never ever lied to me, so I know He will.

And now we’ve been here two and a half months.

It’s pouring rain and I have two toddlers to take on a fifteen minute walk… in the downpour. Twice.

I’m tired of waiting.

I toy with the idea of getting it myself. Shop around. Count the change in my wallet.

And keep waiting.

Because by now I know the gift is just around the corner. And there is so much I can learn from this moment.

  • The generosity of car-endowed friends and the rides they offer.
  • The clean, fresh air detoxifying my lungs.
  • Watching him provide the things that only a car can get us… in other ways.
  • The time with my children… hopping through puddles, peeking down at creepy crawly worms, conversations about life.
  • Rainboots, umbrellas, and rain coats… all things my dad has given us while we wait for our car.
  • TheĀ exerciseĀ we get walking up and down all of Kandern’s hills, together.
  • The mental map of all of Kandern’s back alleys, side roads, and walking bridges… only known by my wandering feet.
  • “Hallo”s and “Guten Morgan”s exchanged with the many other walkers in Kandern’s keeping.
  • The new gratitude I’ll have for the gift of our vehicle when it’s given… a pleasure not taken for granted. A gift to share.
  • My brothers and sisters, near and far, asking dad to help us out, offering him their time and resources to make it happen.
  • The pure joy of seeing my daddy respond to my heart, know my needs… and provide.

All things I’d deny myself if I rushed through the moment, submitted to the immediate self-gratification of my childhood, and distrusted my dad.

Who has been so faithful to me… discerning between the wants that would harm me and the wants that would grow me.

While lavishing his abundance all over my life… and the life of my brothers and sisters… each in their own journeys of waiting

and trusting

and seeing.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:24-25

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 10 of 31 Days in 2012.

Me Me Me- The Power of the Me

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Forgive my slight absence… we were able to travel during the holiday. Phew! Four kids in a van for a LONG drive… crazy and fun.

A couple of days ago, while playing with my 1 1/2-year-old daughter, I asked “What’s your name?” to see if she knew how to respond.

Her answer:

“Me!”

She even pointed to herself. Try again. Ā “Hannah, what is your name?”

Big smile.

“Me!” points to herself again.

Mind you, this child DOES know her name. She answers when we call her name. She points to herself in pictures and says “Hannah.” Plenty of evidence that she knows her name.

But she also knows how to say “me.” And boy does she use it! She used to say “mine.” Ā Now she says “me.” If she has one of her sibling’s toys and they want it back, she moves it as far from them as she can reach and says “Me!” with a pouty face. I’d love to correct her but I don’t much like hearing “mine!” either.

This whole situation reminded me of how people do not have to be taught selfishness. No one taught me to care about myself. No one had to teach me “survival mode” inĀ desperateĀ situations. It is all very natural. Rooted in the depth of the human soul and conscience, we are a people born to think of ourselves. I certainly have not taught my daughter to take what she wants without regard for who it belongs to or their feelings!

Fortunately, we can be taught to consider others. These two desires- loving others and loving ourselves, will always butt heads. Unless loving others somehow satisfied our own selfish desires, we will battle the tension of those two loves.

I’ve been challenged recently with my own walk of faith as well. I get excited over the little things that God does that seem to say, “I hear you” or “I know you.” I pray for blessing and health and favor and safety…. and for friends and family. But it struck me. How often to do I ask, “Lord, what can I do for YOU?” Instead, I’m thrilled by what He does for me. That is not entirely bad. Every parent wants to see their child’s excitement and gratitude over a thoughtful gift! In fact, parents can feel hurt if their child doesn’t respond with some glee.

But how nice it also feels to hear, “Mom, what can I do for you today?” or “Dad, tell me more about you.”

I can’t have a relationship with others or God if I am always so inwardly focussed. How I long to wake up and breathe “Lord, show me my day!” and then follow it sweetly! Or to wake up and naturally think, “How can I love my kids and husband this glorious morning?” Instead, I tend to wake up and think, “Already? Ugh! Just a few. more. minutes.”

I know my story is not necessarily yours. Maybe you do wake up and think of others right away (and sincerely, too. Not in regard to how others effect YOU. That doesn’t count! šŸ™‚

But our stories will all cross over as they relate to our natural tendency to think of me, as my darling daughter so joyfully proves each day. And not just her, but my other three as well. Then again, I usually notice their selfishness because their behavior is impeding on what I want (i.e. a peaceful home!). Bring the selfish-people-total to SIX for our home.

What a beautiful thing, though, that we don’t have to succumb to our natural thinking. We have been given resources galore in how to deny ourselves for the sake of others. And not for our own glory, but for the glory of the One who equips us and guides us into the ultimate love gift: laying your life down for a friend.

Weed your way through my meanderings and decide today whether you want to live a life that is so inwardly focussed that you miss out on many good thingsĀ or the deeply satisfying walk of setting yourself aside for the sake of others- and watching God meet your needs in the process!


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