Sunday, January 31, 2016

“One thing you can count on is the way I’ll love you.”

Today, January 31, 2016, the hubby and I celebrate 29 years of marriage!!
It seems so surreal!! It definitely doesn’t seem like we have been together that long! We’ve lived and enjoyed so many blessings, as well as experienced many difficult and challenging years together. But through it all, God has been with us, guiding us, giving us His wisdom and love.
I am so thankful for this man in my life!! He is my best friend, my prayer partner, the one I love and who has loved me through thick and thin. 
Through the years of blogging, I’ve shared posts on our anniversaries. Each year, I found many reasons to celebrate and shared pictures, stories, and videos.

Blog post for our 28th anniversary - 2015

Blog post for our 27th anniversary - 2014

Blog post for our 26th anniversary - 2013
Here is a video of us renewing our vows at for our 25th anniversary - a bit belated, but what an awesome day!!!

Blog post for our 25th anniversary - 2012

Other posts about our love story:
January 25th, 2015 - When God Made You...

January 27th, 2013 - How I Met Your Father....

February 7, 2012 - Tea is Romantic!?!

March 24, 2012 - Relationships Take Work (Emotional Intimacy)

My heart is so full of joy!! God has been good to us!!

I look forward to many more blessed years together with the love of my life!!!

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

With a Grateful Heart!

Today, I am sharing the many gifts God has blessed me with over the past few weeks.
"...if joy is a matter of gratitude, and gratitude is a matter of perspective, then giving thanks changes not only your perspective — but also changes your life."
#1783 - Full moon on a frozen lake.

#1784 - Starting an online Bible Study Group with the book, "Fervent". What a wonderful group of ladies!!

#1785 - Attending church again, after missing several weeks, due to weather issues and family gatherings.

#1786 - A family meeting that could have gone badly, but went well.

#1787 - Celebrating my mom's 79th birthday with ice-cream cake.

#1788 - Laughing at the fact that my hubby left the ice-cream cake out and it melted...but still tasted good! :) 

#1789 - Taking an invigorating, brisk walk on a cold, overcast day!

#1790 - Being able to watch a Bible documentary, with proof of Israel's exodus from Egypt and crossing the Red Sea.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

God and Happiness

Ever have one of those weeks that goes from bad to good to bad and back to good again? Well, I just had a week like that. I have to say, I'm exhaused and trying to write has been a challenge. So I will probably make this one short.

I recently pulled out an older Bible that I haven't used in several months to get a different version of some verses I was reading. When I opened the Bible, a few sheets of folded paper fell out. The sheets had some study/meditation questions typed up on them. I recognized them coming from a Bible study I had attended close to a year ago. The first sheet said to read and meditate on Psalm 51, followed  by some questions about confession, what we are trying to gain in our lives, and how the Holy Spirit may be prompting us with the truth about what God wants to provide in our lives. Underneath it I wrote "happiness" and also "I'm content, but not very happy a lot of the time."

Wow! Those two responses really struck me! When I filled out that sheet many months ago, I had no idea that I would be choosing the word "happiness" for 2016. Neither did I know about the book "Happiness" (by Randy Alcorn) that I am currently reading. I feel the Lord had been prompting me for quite awhile to seek the happiness that only He can give. 

As I continued to read in the book, Happiness, the Lord has worked through many avenues to help me see how I need to desperately seek happiness through Him!

Why Does Our Happiness Matter?
It’s understandable that people long to be happy. But, if they believe there’s no happiness in Jesus, they won’t turn to Him. Christianity is often perceived to be about tradition and morality and not happiness. Also, some have know professing Christians who go out of their way to promote misery, not gladness. Some Christians also feel morally superior to those who engage with the world and make world-condemning judgements. Because unbelievers understand the happiness in Jesus by whether they see it in His followers, we have a duty to rejoice through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. 

Quotes from the book:
"We cannot passively wait for joy. Rather, we must take action to lay hold of joy in God. The narrower our view of God’s presence in the world – and in our daily lives – the less happiness we’ll experience."(pg.21)

"A different perspective:
 God, who created all things deserves the highest place in our hearts. While we can enjoy the gifts God has given us, in their appropriate time and place, they will never be able to give us the happiness and satisfaction we find in Him."

"Even in a world filled with hardship and suffering, God's presence brings incomparable happiness to all who know Him."(pg. 33)

"God is glorified when we are happy in Him."

"Happiness in Christ is one of our most powerful evangelistic tools."(pg. 28)
God is desiring of our happiness - and in Him, being the Source of it!
Once again, I opened my Bible up to Psalm 51:1, 6, 8, 12, 15:
  1  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
  6  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
  8  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

15  O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” is my cry! 
The Christian life that has little joy is a poor testimony to the grace of God. 

This past week has been a challenge for me to be happy, in spite of the ups and downs of life. I realized what I meant when I wrote on that old Bible study sheet  - about being content, but not very often happy - I was saying that I wasn't unhappy in my life as a whole, but while I'm going though the hard days, I often find myself not being a happy/joyful/grateful person. I realize that when I'm unhappy, I can bring others down, too. Happiness is a choice, a decision to remember God's goodness and salvation, rather than my own circumstances.
I pray for God's grace and that He will remind me in those times that I need to find the joy of the Lord. It is the calling of all who believe!!

I will be sharing the blessings and gifts that God gives me in my life in my next post, which will be soon. For now, I just wanted to share from my heart!!
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Friday, January 15, 2016

Our Primary Source of Happiness

As I continue to read through the book, "Happiness" by Randy Alcorn, I will be sharing different parts of the book, as well as Scripture, and my own thoughts about true happiness.
We live in a consumer-oriented, materialistic, hedonistic society bent on pleasing self. Most of us are accustomed to living with easy access to comforts, pleasures, and securities of life. Because of this, many people also believe that happiness comes in accomplishments, in recognition, and in material possessions. We are told by the world and media that if we just acquire certain things, then we can be truly happy and even secure. As a result, we seek to achieve happiness through these gains, much to our disappointment and regret. After years of striving for happiness, some even come to terms within themselves that happiness is not possible to achieve in this life. 
The problem is most people’s definition of having joy(happiness) is feeling good all the time. But, that’s impossible! Even for those who are naturally upbeat and optimistic, that’s impossible. {Rick Warren}
Why do we anticipate greater happiness than this life seems to offer? Could it be that God has put this "longing" within us? C.S. Lewis compares this desire to "a yearning for a far-off country that's, at least temporarily, unreachable." (pg. 13)
But, we have to start somewhere more realistic — and closer to Scripture. Solomon, author of Ecclesiastes, had much to say about happiness and his own experiences with trying to find it. 
"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." 
(Ecclesiates 1:14)
 "There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon humankind: those to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that they lack nothing of all that they desire, yet God does not enable them to enjoy these things, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous ill. A man may beget a hundred children, and live many years; but however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life’s good things, or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; moreover it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to one place?
All human toil is for the mouth, yet the appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage have the wise over fools? And what do the poor have who know how to conduct themselves before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire; this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what human beings are, and that they are not able to dispute with those who are stronger. The more words, the more vanity, so how is one the better? For who knows what is good for mortals while they live the few days of their vain life, which they pass like a shadow? For who can tell them what will be after them under the sun?" 
(Ecclesiates 6)
Solomon does not leave us despondent and in despair, though. He gives a realistic view of life, a view that admits problems and shortcomings, that recognizes inequities and uncertainties, and leaves us thinking there is no joy to be found in life. 
Yet, as one reads further in this book, he shares a view of life where hope and the possibility for some happiness do exist.

Solomon writes, 
  • “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work” (2:24). 
  • “There is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.(3:12–13). 

  • “So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot” (3:22).
  • “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot” (5:18). 
  • “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun!” (8:15). 
  • “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningful life that God has given you under the sun—for this is your lot in life” (9:8). 
  • “However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.... Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth” (11:9).

"Yes, all can experience limited joy, but when we know and love the Creator, our heartfelt delight is magnified. Any attempt to separate God from happiness is futile."(pg. 16)

Ultimately we learn from Solomon one thing, for certain: There is no true happiness without God who is our primary Source of happiness!!

Each week I will be sharing the blessings and gifts that God gives me in my life, whether it be one blessing or many blessings. I have done this over the years, off and on, but I want to make this a habit and eventually make it a part of every day.

#1778 - Quick recovery from the flu.(less than 24 hours)

#1779 - Safe travels through snow-covered roads.

#1780 - Heartfelt prayer and discussion time with my hubby.

#1781 - Morning ladies Bible study group, gathering together again, after a break for the holidays.

#1782 - Reading about how Abram believed God, who counted him as righteous. (Genesis 15:5) and that we  also are counted righteous if we believe. (Romans 4:5)

#1783 - A beautiful orange winter sunset.

#1784 - Long discussion time with a friend over coffee/tea.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Our Compelling Quest for Happiness

"Happy is {she} who puts {her} trust in the Lord!"(Proverbs 16:20)

I bought a new book just the other day. It's a book I have wanted to read from the moment I had decided that my "word for 2016" was going to be Happiness.

Randy Alcorn is an author and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to teaching principles of God’s Word and assisting the church in ministering to the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled, and unsupported people around the world. His ministry focus is communicating the strategic importance of using our earthly time, money, possessions and opportunities to invest in need-meeting ministries that count for eternity. He is also a New York Times best-selling author of almost fifty books.

So far, the book has been pretty basic. The preface and first chapter have described that, over the years, philosophers and religious sources have agreed that All Men Seek Happiness 

Augustine: “Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.”
     “There is no man who does not desire this, and each one desires it with such earnestness that he prefers it to all other things; whoever, in fact, desires other things, desires them for this end alone.” 
Pascal: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception.”
                “It is as natural as the reasonable creature to desire to be happy, as it is for the fire to burn.” (pg. 5-6)

If this desire is deeply planted in our hearts, Who planted it?

"The feverish pursuit of happiness in our culture might lead us to believe it’s a passing fad, equivalent of bell-bottoms or Beanie Babies. Not so. The desire for happiness isn’t, as many misrepresent it, the child of modern self-obsession. The thirst for happiness is deeply embedded both in God’s Word and in every human culture."(pg. 3)

The thing is, even though every human being seeks happiness, we often get it wrong - even Christians do. This can not only be hurtful for ourselves, but damaging to God's testimony of His love and goodness to others around us.

“Seeking happiness is a given – a universal constant. It’s present in every person of every age, era, and circumstances. So, it’s entirely unrealistic and counterproductive for Christians to tell people that they shouldn’t  be happy.”   (Pg. 6)

"Sadly, too often our message to the world becomes a false gospel that lays upon people an impossible burden, as in “to be a Christian, you must give up wanting to be happy and instead choose to be holy.”

"Oh wretched lot of man when he has lost that for which he was made...he has lost the blessedness{happiness}for which he was made{that comes from knowing God}, and has found the misery for which he was NOT made!" ~ Anselm of Canterbury(1033-1109)
The truth is, God wants us to seek real happiness in Him. This compelling desire for genuine happiness, while at times painful, is in reality God's grace to us! Longing for the happiness we once knew(in the Garden of Eden), we can be drawn toward true happiness in Christ!

I have a feeling that I'm going to learn a lot about the real definition of happiness, starting with this book. Happiness is not a bad or selfish thing for all - believers included - to have. In fact, I'm learning that God may actually want us all to be happy in our lives here on earth!! Wow!! What a concept! 
I want to also do my best each week to share the blessings and gifts that God gives me in my life, whether it be one blessing or many blessings. I have done this over the years, off and on, but have struggled to pick this practice back up again. 
#1773 - beautiful color - flower bouquet given to me by my hubby - on a dreary, overcast day.

#1774 - A loving, supportive, and compassionate husband.

#1775 - The moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart to become even more diligent in prayer.

#1776 - A new dimple-faced, great-nephew at our Christmas table this year.

#1777 - Family time together, after a long, challenging year.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

My word for 2016: Happiness

Hello and welcome to my first post of 2016!
I'm a bit shocked at writing this post, as I
I haven't picked a word for the year for myself for a few years. I hadn't planned on choosing a word this year till recently. 
But because last year had SO many challenges for me and I gave so much of myself and felt so drained of energy by the end of the year. it just seemed appropriate to decide on a specific word for 2016.

Definition from
"The state of being happy."
pleasurecontentmentsatisfaction, cheerfulness, merrimentgaietyjoy, joyfulness, joviality, jollitygleedelight, good spirits, lightheartedness,well-being, enjoyment;  exuberanceexhilarationelationecstasy,jubilationrapture, bliss, 

I've been reading and praying about the word - happiness - in Scripture, in Christian theological writings and blogs. I'm learning that happiness is not something God doesn't want us to have. In fact, the opposite is true. It's not that we shouldn't pursue happiness, but instead we should understand where to pursue it and what we base it on. Hopefully, in 2016, I will learn and grow and share about what this word really means. And ultimately allow true happiness through Christ to fill every part of my life. I pray that, as I share, others may find happiness in their lives, too!!

My Scripture for 2016:
Psalm 16: 1-11(specifically vs. 6,9, & 11)
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
A favorite song by Chris Tomlin that comes from Psalm 16:6

Here is another verse. I have chosen to be my specific verse of the year:

Feel free to share you new "word" for 2016 in the comment section, if you have one!

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