HAPPINESS in the New Year

Happiness in the New Year - Are you dragging the problems of the past into the new year? Here’s one way to deal with those struggles. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to say “Good-bye” to 2018. This past year has felt like one endless struggle to keep afloat in the tumultuous waters of life. And let me tell you, treading water has never been my strong suit.

So as the clock ticks toward midnight, I’m looking forward to kicking 2018 to the curb.

Sayonara.

See ya.

Good riddance!

The problem is, though, flipping the calendar page does not ensure that the struggles of the old year, the messes, the dilemmas, the hurts, are going to disappear.

If only it were that simple.

But the coming of a new year, a new beginning, gives us the perfect opportunity to embrace a different outlook, to change the way we view our world and to embrace the hope of good things to come.

Happiness can be yours – and mine – in 2019. It’s true! (I’m beginning to sound like an infomercial! For just one down payment of $19.99 and 3 monthly payments of $49.99, you, too, can find your bliss in the new year!! Ha! Ha! I need to be in bed. 😉 )

Seriously. No matter your circumstances, no matter the struggles that are following you into the new year, the one thing that can make the difference between faltering under the heavy burdens of the past year (or years) and freeing yourself from binding chains allowing you to live each day of the new year (and years to come) to the fullest is…

… your perspective.

Happiness in the New Year - Are you dragging the problems of the past into the new year? Here’s one way to deal with those struggles. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Problems will always abound. How you approach them is key. Do you buckle under their weight and succumb to the siren song of “Woe is me”? Or do you search for the lesson behind the struggles and look forward to the wisdom and growth you will gain from your endurance?

Don’t spend your new year throwing pity parties! Happiness cannot live where complaining takes up residency.

Embrace the struggles as growth opportunities. Step back and look for the big picture. And remember, these situtations are only temporary.

God’s Word says this:

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Well, the sound of rockets bursting in the air tells me that we’ve completed another trip around the sun. WooHoo! It’s a new year and as we begin this next revolution, let’s remember to keep our focus on the eternal unseen – the hope of “an absolutely eternal weight of glory.” That’s it right there, folks. Your new perspective for 2019!

How can you change your perspective in 2019? Do you have any problems, situations or people that you need to view in a different light?

*****When you have a moment, go check out the post, Lean Into Loneliness, by Dr. Andrea Dinardo at Thriving Under Pressure.  What an inspiration it was for me this week and a reminder to “make the space for the lesson beneath the suffering.”*****

Happy, Happy New Year!

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Always Choose HAPPY

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Today is International Day of Happiness!

March 20, 2018

I hope you’re finding ways to spread happiness throughout your neck of the woods today. If you’re not sure how to share happiness, check out the ideas over at www.dayofhappiness.net. By joining the “movement for a happier world”, you’ll be able to access all sorts of images to share on social media and ideas for children, adults and your community to make the world a happier place. BUT…

… if you’re finding it hard to smile and the circumstances of life are pulling you down today, the following music video by MercyMe is a must watch! By the end of the song, I guarantee you’ll be SMILING – maybe even dancing! – and I know you’ll want to pass the SMILE along.

“Happy Dance” by MercyMe

(By the way, the video begins like it’s a totally different song but hang in there til 0:24 – it’s totally worth it! Besides, that’s only a 24 second wait. You can handle it! 😉 )

Are you feeling happy, yet?

Good!

Now go spread that happiness to everyone you meet!

Have a HAPPY, HAPPY International Day of Happiness!

#InternationalDayOfHappiness

Happiness in Marriage

764D6E83-D815-46BB-9E71-F6B57F24328DThis week my husband and I celebrated twenty years of marriage. TWENTY YEARS! I feel as if I should be receiving an Olympic gold medal. Maybe two. I’ll settle for platinum, if available. 😉

I’m not a mushy, gushy kinda girl so I don’t want my husband to send me roses or buy me jewelry. That money could be applied elsewhere. And if he had presented me with the traditional 20th Anniversary gift of china, my first response would have been, “Do you still have the receipt?”

I know. I’m weird. Or maybe I’m simply practical. I don’t know. My husband thinks I’m awesome, though! (Hahaha!)

To celebrate my 20th, I thought I’d share a few of my secrets to happiness in marriage – twenty secrets to be exact. Now that I think about it, these may be more like things I wish I knew on Day 1 rather than secrets to success but valuable knowledge nonetheless.

So, here we go – my twenty “secrets” to happiness in marriage (in no specific order). I’ll try to keep them short.

20. Don’t buy into the whole “Wedded Bliss” idea.

Okay. I know this sounds horrible but hear me out. Nothing in life is perfect – especially a marriage. Although you’ll have times when you’re living on Cloud 9, you’re also going to have times when you feel your marriage is falling apart. It can get rough. So, if you’re expecting the Fairy Tale, you’re in for a shock. Remembering that you are two imperfect people striving to create a life together will do wonders for your wedded bliss!

19.  Don’t keep score.

Again, neither of you are perfect. You’ll both make mistakes. But marriage isn’t a game so don’t keep a record of each other’s wrongs. Forgive and forget!

18. Understand that marriage isn’t 50/50.

It’s 100/100. Marriage takes two people giving 100% of themselves to make it work. Sure, there will be times when you or your spouse cannot give 100%. We all have those times when we have to depend on the strength of others. So when your spouse doesn’t have 100% to give, take up the slack. Then on days when you are lacking, let your spouse take up the slack. Just remember – don’t keep score!

17.  Learn to say “I’m sorry”.

A LOT! Most of us hate to admit when we are wrong but those two little words go a long way – if you are sincere.

16. Always buy the bigger comforter!

Maybe you’ve been there. It’s the middle of the night. You wake up to find that your spouse has rolled over in bed and taken the blanket with him. All you’re left with is a tiny sliver of fabric to shield yourself from the arctic blast coming from the A/C vent. For newlyweds and cuddly-natured folk, this may not be a problem. For those of us who need a little leg room to get a good night’s sleep, having a larger sized comforter makes all the difference in the world. Separate blankets work great, too!

15. Respect your spouse.

Don’t undermine your spouse. Don’t contradict your spouse in front of your children. Don’t talk down to your spouse. Don’t argue in front of others. Don’t compare your spouse to the spouse of another. Treat your spouse exactly how you would like to be treated. This should be a no brainer but because of such closeness and familiarity, respect often gets thrown out the window. Don’t let it.

14. Never expect what you haven’t spoken.

This is a tough one, especially for wives, I think. We believe our husbands should know what we want or know what should be done without us having to tell them. It’s an unrealistic expectation and the cause of many arguments that could easily be avoided if we only learned to verbalize what we want or expect – even if we think our spouse should already know. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

13. Choose your battles wisely.

Not everything is worth an argument. Unfortunately, this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. <SIGH>

12. Remember that your attitude sets the tone.

It’s easy to let the mood of your spouse affect your own. It’s actually natural but it can also be a disaster waiting to happen. If your spouse is in a fowl mood, don’t let it pull you down, as well. In fact, your positive mood could just as easily sway the attitude of your spouse. So, set the tone.

11. Give each other space.

If you can’t keep from being affected by your spouse’s negative mood, you may simply need to give your spouse (and yourself) some space. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you have to spend every waking moment together. You really do need time apart.

10. Little things make a big difference.

I say this so often but only because it’s true! Buy your spouse his/her favorite sweets. Write a hidden “I love you” on the bathroom mirror which is only revealed by the steam of the shower. Little gestures go a long way.

9. Serve each other.

Give of yourself. Have a tall glass of cold tea waiting on your husband when he gets home. Wash the sink full of dishes so your wife will have one less thing to do after work. When you serve each other, you’re strengthening your relationship, providing for your spouse’s needs and showing your spouse how much you love and respect him/her.

8. Learn to appreciate his/her love language.

How does your spouse show his/her love for you? Does he keep your car in perfect working condition? Does she prepare five course meals for you? Figure out your spouse’s love language, acknowledge it and show your appreciation for it.

7. Listen to your spouse.

Turn off your device. Put it out of reach. Turn your face toward your spouse and make eye contact. Listen with all of you.

6. Laugh together.

Laughter is not only beneficial to individually health but also to the health of your marriage. Find ways to laugh with your spouse every day.

5. Be honest.

ALWAYS. Don’t even lie about the little things. Lies lead to mistrust. And trust is so very difficult to regain.

4. Compromise.

You and your spouse are not always going to see eye-to-eye. At some point in your relationship, compromises will have to be made. Be willing to meet in the middle or even give up your desire or point of view altogether.

3. Support your spouse.

Be your spouse’s biggest fan. Praise him/her at home and in the presence of others. Stand beside your spouse when no one else will. Support his/her dreams. Help your spouse reach his/her goals. When you build up your spouse, you’re also building up your marriage. It’s a win/win situation.

2. Dream together.

Plan your future together. Talk about it. Pray about it and make it happen – together.

1. PRAY.

Without ceasing. The key to happiness in marriage is God. When we strive to build a marriage that honors the Lord, all the other mess falls by the wayside. Pray daily for God to strengthen your marriage. Pray daily for your spouse. Be specific and be consistent.

Whew! Marriage is hard! I guess that’s why the Apostle Paul said it was better to remain single! But when you find the one you were meant to build a life with, it makes all the difference in the world.

Twenty years! My dad (who celebrates 57 years of marriage with my mom this year) says 20 is a great start. My husband and I have a long way to go to catch up to my parents but I’m looking forward to every single moment of it!

What about you? What would you add to my list of secrets to a happy marriage?

Happiness in Imperfection

Wonderfully Made

She walked in the room and looked down at me. I wasn’t surprised by her serious expression nor was I surprised by her remarks.

“Your pics are bad,” she reported. She glanced over at my husband and reiterated, “They’re bad.”

I simply nodded my head in agreement for even though I had not seen what she had, I knew her assessment was correct. She was my doctor, after all.

No, the pics she was reviewing were not head shots for my blog (although I could use a new one of those!). The pictures to which my doctor was referring were x-rays of my spine.

When life gives you Lemons…

Lemons and Grace

My scoliosis was detected in my preteen years. I was no stranger to physical malady, however. I had been living with a genetic muscle disorder all of my life. Scoliosis was just another lemon to add to the pitcher. But I have to tell you, these lemons were pretty rotten. How do you make the best of a muscle disorder that prevents you from living a “normal” life and a spinal condition that disfigures your body and promises even greater complications in the future?

Grace. My only answer is Grace.

God’s sufficient Grace

The way I see it, my life has been one big miracle. From walking when the neurologists said it wasn’t possible to roller skating, bike riding and tree climbing, a diagnosis didn’t seem to stop me. The typical activities of children were challenges that I faced with the love and support of family and friends. Some activities were (and still are) more challenging than others, like climbing a flight of stairs (Check out my post about the stairs of life here.), but I did it. I pushed myself to live a “normal” life. None of it was normal, though. I had to learn to compensate my weaknesses with my strengths. I had to take advantage of railings or whatever was available (including people) to pull me along or assist in climbing or getting up after a frequent fall. I had to adapt to make it through life. It hasn’t been easy and I know that if it weren’t for God’s grace…

Well, I try not to think about that.

God’s Work on Display

My Weakness

So, here I am, a few decades down the road from its first detection, and I find myself facing the inevitable. The scoliosis has progressed along with all of its lovely side effects – deformity, labored mobility and pain. I’ve been ignoring it, telling myself that it’s my norm. The reality is I didn’t want to admit that I needed medical help. It’s discouraging to face my imperfections and dependence head on (Have I ever talked with you about my stubbornness? 😉 ) but I’m doing my best to keep it all in perspective. (Really, I am.)

You see, I don’t believe I was cursed. I don’t believe God gave these problems to me. None of us are perfect. We all have something in our lives that makes us feel abnormal whether we admit it or not. What I do believe is that God can use my medical issues to display His mighty works. In fact, as I look at all He has enabled me to accomplish, in my physical growth and in every area of my life, I realize His Grace has always been shining brightly in me, through me and around me as a miraculous beacon of hope – a hope that will carry me through all that is to come.

Finally, Lemonade!

Since I began this post, I have had my first visit (in 18 years) with a chiropractor. He showed me my x-rays and as I already mentioned, my doctor was right. It’s not good. (I’d show them to you but that’d be taking transparency a little bit too far, don’t you think? 😉 )

On the bright side, though, I have learned that I am the topic of conversation throughout the entire doctor’s office. It seems I’ve presented them with a case unlike they have ever seen. In the words of the chiropractor, “There is no textbook for [me].” Well, what d’ya know! I’m one of a kind.

Now how’s that for lemonade! 🙂

And Fortune Smiled

My Post (2)

From a pile of 8 or so fortune cookies, the “Eeyore” in my life picked up this one. How fortunate!

(Check out my post on the Eeyores of life here.)

Immediately, he placed the cookie’s secret message in front of me without saying a word. The reveal had nothing to do with my blog posts, though – my Eeyore doesn’t read them. I knew that bringing it to my attention meant he heard the message loud and clear.

It’s a little disconcerting to be overshadowed by a cookie. You see, I’ve been preaching this same message to him day in and day out. He appears to be listening and always responds in agreement.

“Yes, I know it’s how I look at things.”

“Yes, I know I control my own happiness.”

“Yes, yes. You’re right.”

But the message never seems to make it past his earlobes.

I suppose it takes something out of the ordinary to get our attention every now and then. However, those attention grabbers may not always turn out to be as yummy as a cookie. For many of us, it takes a hard knock or two to wake us up and prompt us to make a change. We’re so wonderfully headstrong, aren’t we!

However, for some of us, we only need the wake up call to be delivered in an unsuspected or unusual method – like a fortune cookie.

So, go ahead, my Eeyore. Ignore the encouragement I’ve been giving you for years and listen to the stinkin’ cookie!

I’m pretty sure whoever wrote that fortune has been reading my blog, anyway. 😉

 

 

Happiness in Uncertainty

We all have those moments of uncertainty in life. If you're like me, those moments are experienced daily! In this post, you will find the secret to being happy even in those uncertain times.

“I know one thing for sure,” my husband declared as he walked through our bedroom door with a tall glass of sweet tea in his hand. The statement came out of nowhere but was made as if the two of us had finished a long debate on some deep subject about which neither of us were able to come to any conclusion and the only way to end such a debate was to state a matter of certainty. It’s highly possible, though, that my husband had debated the matter all in his head prior to entering our room and felt the need to sum it up for me with his enlightened statement of truth.

No matter, I was curious and eagerly inquired of his certainty. “What’s that?” I asked.

He paused for a brief moment at the foot of our bed as if searching for the perfect words to express his great truth. Finally he replied, “Give me a minute. I’m trying to remember what I was going to tell you.” Then he lifted his glass and took a long drink of sweet tea as I laughed at his forgetfulness.

And I did laugh – not because I was mocking him (well, maybe just a little – okay! A lot!) but because that brief conversation with my husband pretty much sums up my life. When I think I have it all figured out, life always takes a surprising turn and everything I thought I knew for certain gets thrown out the window. I find myself stumped and perplexed around every bend and when called upon to take action or make a decision or simply respond, I hear myself saying, “Uhm. Give me a minute.”

Ah, but maybe that’s the certainty: Life is uncertain. And maybe that’s what makes life worth living. If I had all the answers, if I knew every situation I would face, what kind of life would that be? Sure, if I knew what problems await me tomorrow, I could take steps to avoid them. But what if by avoiding a problem, I miss a valuable lesson that could help me in the future or make me a better me? And wouldn’t knowing all the good that was coming my way take some of the joy out of the blessing?

I don’t know.

I do know that in my moments of uncertainty, I can always look to the One who knows it all. He holds my every moment in His hands and He is working them all for my good. That doesn’t mean I won’t face any problems or that I won’t have those times when all I want to do is run and hide because I don’t have any answers and can’t seem to figure anything out. But it does mean that I don’t have to face any of my moments of uncertainty alone.

Yes, life is uncertain. But there is one thing I know for sure…

You’ll have to give me a minute, though. I’m trying to remember. 😉

The Power of a Breakfast Casserole

Wouldn’t you know it! As soon as I write a “How To” on maintaining happiness (Check out Happiness Is… A Keeper), the devil begins his attack. (That’s his M.O., though.) My focus has been the target and as I mentioned in my previous post, focus has a huge effect on our happiness.

Focus, KJ. Focus.

So, what do we do when our focus becomes a little blurry? I find it helpful to spend time doing something I love. It gets my mind off the negativity and boosts my spirits which always helps me tune in to the important things of life. Oddly enough, cooking has become one of my go-to refocusing tools. (Yeah. Completely surprised me, too!)

Okay, devil! I’ve got a skillet and I know how to use it!

This morning, I hit the kitchen around 9:15. I had my heart set on a breakfast casserole but first, I had to find a recipe. That always takes some time. Pinterest has way too many choices. I finally settled on Fully Loaded Cheesy Breakfast Casserole from “The Slow Roasted Italian”. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that this recipe was my inspiration. I didn’t quite follow it. (It’s amazing I ended up with something edible. I really have no idea what I’m doing! 😉 )

 Breakfast Casserole by KJ

First, I gathered all the ingredients – well, almost all. I kinda grabbed stuff as I went along. But here is a list of the ingredients I used:

1 lb. ground mild sausage
Half bag of frozen diced hash brown potatoes (it’s all I had in the freezer)
12 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 green peppers
1 medium onion
2 cups of shredded Colby & Monterey Jack cheese (almost 2 cups – again, I used what I had)
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
Salt and Pepper

How to (and how not to, in some instances) prepare:

Preheat oven to 350º. The recipe called for a temp of 375º. I have no idea where I came up with 350º but it turned out fine.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking oil and set to the side.

Defrost ground sausage. So, I didn’t plan ahead and the sausage was in the freezer. On top of that, it turned out to be 2 pounds of sausage. I only needed one but had to defrost all of it. I guess I’ll find something to cook with the remaining sausage tomorrow.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee. This is going to take a while!

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While waiting for the sausage to defrost, chop the onion and peppers. One of my peppers was a hybrid – half green, half orange. (Genetic engineering? Hmmm…) I only chopped the orange side so really I only used one and a half peppers.

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Once sausage is defrosted, add to a skillet along with the chopped onions, peppers and minced garlic. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.

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Scoop out meat and vegetable mixture, allowing the grease to drain back into the skillet, and spread into the casserole dish. You can use a slotted spoon or one of these handy scoops: (I’m not gonna tell you what I think this scoop looks like. You may lose your appetite. But, I promise, I bought it in the kitchen department!)

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Drain some of the grease from the skillet until there is about 3 tablespoons remaining. (Just eyeball it, I guess. ??)

Return skillet to stove and add hash browns. Cook according to the package instructions: spread in single layer in pan, cover and allow to brown for 4 – 7 minutes on each side on medium-high heat.

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While hash browns are browning, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper in large bowl. I repeat, LARGE bowl. It’s hard to whisk when you’re worried about sloshing egg all over your counter like I was!

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Switch to whisking with a fork because plastic whisk ain’t cuttin’ it. (Note to self: Find metal whisk! Where is that thing?)

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Check stove for cause of burning smell. Ugh! This is why I can’t do two things at once while cooking.

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Salvage the non-burnt potatoes and spread over the sausage and vegetables in the casserole dish. (Oops, I missed a burnt one or two!)

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Spend five minutes or more scraping out skillet while it’s still hot. (I learned that at the Japanese steak house where you not only get a fun show and great meal, you get a kitchen clean up lesson, as well!) Now, where was I… Oh, yeah.

Next, pour egg mixtu- – No, wait. That’s not right. I’m forgetting something. The cheese!

Next, sprinkle cheese on the casserole.

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Now pour the egg mixture as evenly as possible into the casserole.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean. (I actually knew that before I started all this cooking nonsense. 😉 )

Use baking time to clean up your mess.

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Reheat coffee for the third, maybe fourth, time and then wait.

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Beep, beep, beep. Look at this beautiful casserole! It was yummy, too!

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It took me 2 and a half hours to make (I told you I don’t know what I’m doing!) but by the time I was done, the thing that was stealing my attention no longer mattered. In fact, my only distraction at the moment was the rumbling of my tummy.

But that was quickly remedied. 🙂

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Happiness is… A Keeper

Adobe Spark (82)

Happiness is to know the Savior,
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior,
Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is a new creation,
Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine,
No matter if the teardrops start,
I’ve found a secret,
It’s Jesus in my heart.

Happiness is to be forgiven,
Living a life that’s worth the livin’,
Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
Happiness is the Lord.

“Happiness is the Lord” by Ira F. Stanphill

I learned this fun, little song when I was a child and as soon as I began this endeavor of blogging about happiness, the memories of singing this song in church so many years ago flooded my mind. And it has been playing over and over again in my head ever since. Even now, I can’t help but hear (and sing) it! But what a great message – Happiness is the Lord! And what a perfect introduction to this final installment of “Happiness Is…”.

What have we learned thus far about happiness?

We’ve learned that it is not an object, a person, or a desired set of circumstances. These are merely vehicles for temporary pleasure. They elicit short-lived feelings and never usher us into a lasting state of true Joy.

We’ve also learned that true happiness is not a goal to be reached but rather a by-product of how we live. When we live in such a way that honors God, the Creator and Giver of true happiness, only then will we find a Joy that can weather any storm and sustain us for all of our days.

That’s good stuff! 😉

Now that we know how to attain real happiness, how do we successfully retain it?

Yes, unfortunately, it is possible to lose our Joy. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Once we’ve found the true Joy of the Lord, it’s ours for keeps. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives will be filled with nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing. No, life is filled with storms – big ones! Difficult people, sickness, death, financial struggles and so many other trials of life are lurking around every corner waiting to steal our Joy. All of these “storms” have the potential to leave us lonely, depressed, sorrowful and hopeless. So, how do we make it through the storms of life without losing our Joy?

When the storms of life begin to threaten and we feel as though our Joy is waning, it’s helpful to stop a moment for some serious introspection. In times like these, there are four areas of our lives that we need to examine:

  1. Our faith
  2. Our foundation
  3. Our focus
  4. Our hope (Well, pooey! I couldn’t think of a fourth word beginning with “F” to complete my alliteration. How on earth do pastors do it every single Sunday? 😉 )

An honest look at these four areas is key to learning how to retain our happiness.

Where is your Faith?

The tendency we all have (as we learned in Part One of this series) is to stake our happiness on the desires of our hearts, obtaining one treasure, one relationship or one ideal moment after another. When we do this, however, we are trusting our happiness to the objects of our affection and allowing them to reign over us emotionally, mentally and physically. We are essentially placing our faith in our desires rather than in our Creator and Heavenly Father. Only when our faith is placed in God can we be filled with true happiness.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,  with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:2, 9-11 (NIV)

Is your faith in the pleasures of this world, temporary treasures that are here today and gone tomorrow? Or is your faith in the Giver of good things in your life and the Author of your Joy?

What is your Foundation?

Just like your house needs a firm foundation to keep it from slipping, sinking or falling apart, so does your life need a secure foundation in order to weather the storms that come your way. Unlike the several types of house foundations, though, there are only two options for the foundation of your life: Rock or Sand. Take a look at what Jesus has to say about your foundation:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ (‭NIV)‬‬

You see, your life’s foundation is your faith put into action. And the consistency of that foundation depends on where your faith lies (see question #1). If your actions, words and thoughts are driven by your faith in people, things or ideals, your foundation will be shifty and unstable just like the sands on the beach. If, however, you live your life in accordance with God’s Word, putting Him first and allowing Him to be Lord over every area of your life, you’ll find there’s no storm big enough to shake your Joy because your foundation is established on the Rock of your salvation!

Truly HE is my rock and my salvation; HE is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭62:2‬ (‭NIV)‬‬

Are you building your life on shifting sand by living out your misplaced faith? Or are you building a firm foundation by honoring God in every area of your life?

Where is your Focus?

There is nothing that can affect your happiness more than your focus. Even when your faith is sure and your foundation is firm, your focus can make the difference between a joy-filled life and a life consumed by negativity and sadness. When you choose to focus on problems, irritations, frustrations and other pains of life, eventually, that’s all your mind will be able to see. And what a shame that would be! God has given each and every one of us so many good things like family, friends, time, the comforts of home, hugs, beautiful mornings and on and on the list goes. Who would want to miss such wonderful blessings!

Focusing your attention on the positive is essential to maintaining your Joy each and every day. It reminds us of what is truly important in life and helps us to stay above those pesky, threatening waves of negativity.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Is your attention on the negativity of life? Or are you focusing on the good gifts the Lord has given you?

What is your Hope?

At this point (if you’ve stuck with me this long), you may be saying, “Come on! Sadness is a given. There’s no way anyone can be happy all the time.”

You’re right. We all experience sadness, anger, regret, grief and every other negative emotion there is. We are human. We are going to misplace our faith. Our foundations are going to crack under pressure and our focus is most certainly going to be diverted from where it should be. And all of this will result in the loss of our Joy.

But if you take anything away from this post, I hope that you will remember this: No matter your struggles, no matter your sorrow, no matter your pain, it will not last forever. The God who gives us our Joy also walks with us through the storms of life. He comforts us. He leads us and more often than not, He carries us. And when the last rain drop has fallen and the winds have finally settled, He will remind us of His great Joy that has surrounded and sustained us through our troubled times.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm30:5b (NIV)

That, my friend, is your hope. It is the hope to which I tightly cling.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

The Choice is Yours

There’s nothing easy about maintaining our Joy. I struggle with it more times than I’d like to admit but each time I let anger, hurt, disappointment or sadness overtake me, I try to remind myself of the questions of faith, foundation, focus and hope. Ultimately, though, hanging on to our Joy is a matter of choice. We can choose to live a life of misery or we can choose a life of Joy.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)

When your happiness is being threatened, you have a choice to make: either give in and allow your circumstances to steal your joy or stand firm and hold tightly to the precious Joy of the Lord.

As for me, well…

I CHOOSE JOY!

Happiness is… The Search Continues

Adobe Spark (78)

Did you know that not once in God’s Word are we instructed to seek out happiness?

It’s true!

While searching for the perfect quote to accompany this highly-anticipated second installment of my “Happiness Is…” series (Hahaha! You’re laughing with me, right?), I came across an article in which the author asserts that the pursuit of happiness does not line up with God’s instructions for our lives.¹ “Hunh!” I thought to myself as I was reading the article, “Could this really be?” I decided to do some digging into God’s Word on my own. What I found is enlightening.

Throughout the Bible, we are instructed to seek out many virtues and qualities in life. Some of these treasures to be sought are wisdom (James 1:5), understanding (Proverbs 4:7), peace (Psalm 34:14), good (Amos 5:14), righteousness (1 Timothy 6:11) and humility (Zephaniah 2:3). This list is certainly not exhaustive for the Bible is filled with instructions for living a godly life. Nowhere, however, could I find one direct instruction to seek out happiness.

What does that mean for us? Is God not concerned with our happiness?

Well, let’s not jump to conclusions. First, let’s take a look at the Biblical view of happiness and the source of that happiness.

So, what does God’s Word say about happiness?

In Part One of my “Happiness is…” series, I discussed our desperate pursuit of the objects of our happiness and the fleeting pleasures these objects or people bring. This temporary happiness comes and goes with our ever-changing moods and circumstances. If this type of happiness is all there is, we are doomed for disappointment. The good news is this fickle emotion is not true happiness as revealed in the pages of God’s Word.

The Bible speaks volumes about happiness. There is passage after passage that addresses our joy, especially in the Psalms and Proverbs. Here are a few: (Note that depending on the version you are reading, you may not find the word “happy”; often, you will find the word “blessed”.)

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. 

Proverbs 3:13 (NKJV) 

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.

Proverbs 8:32 (ESV)

He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.

Proverbs 14:21 (NKJV)

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.

Proverbs 16:20 (NKJV)

Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Proverbs 28:14 (NKJV)

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!

Psalm 144:15b (NKJV)

But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!

Psalm 68:3 (ESV)

What do you see in these verses?

At first glance, you may think that the “formula” for happiness in the Bible is the same as our own:

US

IF I DO THIS (obtain/do something, go somewhere, etc.), I’LL BE HAPPY.

BIBLE

IF I DO THIS (live righteously, trust God, give to the poor, etc.), I’LL BE HAPPY.

But a closer examination of God’s Word will reveal a stark difference between the two views. You see, in our formula, the goal is happiness. It is the object we seek in all that we do. In the Biblical view of true happiness, the goal is fellowship with the Heavenly Father, seeking His will for our lives and living accordingly. Happiness in this formula is not the goal but rather the by-product, a purposefully designed result of living a life that honors the Lord.

It seems Eleanor Roosevelt had it right!

You see, God is concerned with our happiness. He has a plan for each one of our lives, “plans to prosper [us] and not harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) And “the hope of the righteous brings joy!” (Proverbs 10:28a)

Above all, God longs for all of us to have an intimate relationship with Him. He desires that we trust Him with our lives, that we embrace His love for us and then share that love with others. God loves to bless us and give us “good and perfect gifts” (James 1:17) but His priority for our lives is clear: We must seek Him first in all that we do.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

All these things will be given to you!

God is the Source of true happiness. He is the Giver of our joy. It is a joy that endures, a joy that is unexplainable and a joy unmatched by anything this world has to offer.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 

Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9

Forget the chase of temporary pleasures. Who needs that drama! Follow the Source of true happiness and the Giver of everlasting joy!

Whew! We found it, my friend. But cling tightly to it for there’s someone out there who’s chomping at the bit to steal your joy. We’ll take a look at how to keep your joy in my next post.

Keep on the look out for Part Three of “Happiness Is…”!

¹Unfortunately, I forgot to save the link to the article I was reading and when I searched for it again, I was not able to find it in order to share it with you.