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.

My {Dad} – The Defense Attorney

About seven years ago, my family endured a tragedy that led to the need for attorneys.

The defense attorney on the case of our loved one, in the name of creating “doubt,” began to insinuateĀ preposterousĀ ideas.

Like, perhaps the person charged in the case didn’t do his crime alone… perhaps one of us had helped!

How this aided his plan of proving the innocence of the accused is beyond me. But he was promptly asked to leave our home. (Yes, he made this suggestion in my home)

And he failed.

His client was proven guilty, we were proven innocent (even though the prosecutor never even questioned our involvement, or charged us of anything).

In fact, in the end, the position of the defense attorney to stretch his imagination and createĀ fictitiousĀ situations because his job was to “win” (as opposed to discover and uphold truth) brought me to a sad reality about the state of attorneys.

Or at least that one.

Then I looked at my dad… who also happens to be a defense attorney.

And breathed relief to know that his work is based on justice, not “winning,” on upholding and fulfilling law, not finding ways around it, and doing what’s right for the sake of right… and not the paycheck.

And there’s one more difference.

My dad pleads the cause of his clients… then offers to take their penalty.

Yeah.

He doesn’t make it sounds less than it is. He doesn’t exaggerate what isn’t. He doesn’t ask for an exception for his clients.

He looks truth in the eye… and when it deserves prison time… he takes it on himself.

If the client will let him.

You should be in the courtroom when that happens!

Imagine this. A murderer standsĀ on trial. My dad is his lawyer. The man is guilty and it’s proven. The charge is given… along with his punishment. Death.

My dad looks the judge in the eye. Looks at his client, defeated.

“Your Honor… I’d like take the punishment on his behalf.”

The courtroom is silent.

Then it uproars.

The guilty man just stands there stunned. Could he let this honest attorney take his place? Could he live knowing that this innocent man had died for whatĀ heĀ had done? If he returned to his “previous” lifestyle… would any other lawyer ever make this same offer? He imagined only a place like Hell awaited the likes of himself… the gates were within view.

The judge returns the strong gaze of my dad.

“Are you sure about that?” he asks.

My dad nods. Smiles at the guilty man. Love for another human.

“Then son… you may give your life for his,” the judge answers… tears in his eyes.

The room explodes in confusion. This isn’t justice! This is… kindness gone too far! Generosity that certainly isn’t for the pride of the giver. And did the judge say son? What kind of soap-opera insanity is going on here?

But it’s not a soap-opera… though for some, it is insanity.

The bailiff steps forward. Handcuffs the hands of innocence. Opens the door of freedom for the guilty. Ushers my dad to his fate… his chosen fate. His fate of love for others. Self-less. Unheard of.

That’s my dad.

He’s taught me more than I could ever truly live… without his constant whispers. His hand in mine. His voice. His tender ways of walking me through life. Never alone.

Not even when he gives his life over for a criminal.

But you’ll have to find out how that works on Wednesday… my last day of this series of posts. Ā šŸ™‚

I know, right?

Do you need a defense attorney? If you were to stand before a judge… ruling over your thoughts, beliefs, actions… your treatment of others, your taxes, your driving record, every minute of raising your children, marriage, your work life, your honesty, integrity… every exam you ever took… where do you need a defense attorney?

I know a good one.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Fatherā€”Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:1-2

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 29 of 31 Days in 2012.

Grace for Writing

My brush swish-swishes on the wooden project, dib-dabbs into the water, and swirls in new and vibrant colors. The creature in my hands is transforming slowly. First one coat of paint, then another. Details here and there. At any given time during this journey, my art piece is anything but beautiful. But I don’t mind. That’s part of the work and I smile as I dream about what it will yet become.

Even though I don’t know what it will become. I don’t start knowing exactly how it will look. Colors blend. Bleed. A line here, a dot there can change the direction I thought I was going with it.

It strikes me.

How is it that I’m so gracious with my painted art, but not nearly so with my writing?

The tappity tap of my fingers beat an uneven rhythm. The story unfolds. It’s rough. I’m discouraged. I close my laptop and decide to wait for my next moment of silence and hope it coincides with a moment of inspiration.

But wait.

Just like a painting, a story never begins beautiful. The course of it’s adventure changes as the author adds a word here, a sound there. The story tells itself with time. Patience. It certainly can’t be rushed. It’s not supposed to be beautiful until the end.

The finishing touch completes my beautiful Tree of Peace. *sigh* I spray a delicate sealant to protect my hard work. The mess between then and now is not too far from my memory. But the beauty of this moment- holding the finished piece and knowing the journey it took- makes it priceless.

My writing deserves the same. The same diligence. The same appreciation of their messy process. The same hope of their future completion. And the priceless feeling of holding something beautiful and knowing from whence it came.

A new day.

I commit to loving my writing with the same tenderness that I show my other art.

How about you?