What’s So ‘Happy’ About the New Year?

It’s 2016 and to be totally honest, I’m having difficulty with the “Happy” part of the New Year.  Sure, I have a LOT to be thankful for.  I’m into my 8th year of transplant, I have a wonderful family, God has preserved and protected us for another year and there are many other reasons to be extremely grateful.  However, the more I think about it gratitude and thankfulness are choices and being “happy” is a byproduct of making those choices, it does not generate or create them.

New Year 2016

The dictionary defines ‘happy’ in these terms:

happy |ˈhapē| adjective (happier, happiest) feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

I don’t want to feel or show pleasure or contentment, I want to BE content and I don’t want to find pleasure in things but in pursuing God and loving people.

 (happy about) having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation)

Yes, but the only person I want to place confidence in or have satisfaction with is Jesus.

 (happy with) satisfied with the quality or standard of.

Satisfaction vs. contentment here.  For me satisfaction is settling, contentment is choosing, no matter the circumstance.

2016 will be a year of choices.  There is SO much happening in the world today that would give us ample reason to NOT be happy.  Worry about the future, or what the next catastrophic event might be, or the ever-increasing worldwide violence, political and social issues and a host of other reasons to be unhappy with the prospect of a new year.

In 2016 I choose…

  1. Faith over worry
  2. Prayer over fear
  3. Gratitude over whining
  4. Facts over feelings
  5. Love over hate
  6. Work over idleness
  7. Understanding over distrust

In 2016 I want to…

  1. Read more, speculate less
  2. Give more, complain less
  3. Help more, hurt less
  4. Study more, assume less
  5. Ask more, judge less
  6. Walk more, sit less
  7. Discover more, gaze less

Bring it on 2016!  Yes, this year will bring challenges.  Yes, this year will bring heartache and loss.  Yes, this year will bring tragedy.  Yes, this year will feature the unexpected.  Yes, this year will bring good things. But  no matter what this year may bring, my happiness will not come from circumstances or any external event.

The ‘happy’ part of my new year will be from me choosing that which won’t depend on my happiness, but on my choices!

 

 

 

A Season of Change

Fall, for me, reflects one of the most drastic seasons of change.

With every fall season that comes along I start reflecting on the past year and where I am in life.  When the leaves start to change, and then eventually yield to gravity and fall, it reminds me of how quickly the things we hold on to tightly in life change and disappear.

There is one fact that still holds true, the only thing we are promised, as finite, flesh and bones human beings, is death.  We are born, and we will die.  Just like the leaves on the trees.  They come out in the spring, and they die in the fall.

The Bible states it best, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.”  (Ecclesiates 3:1-2a  NKJV)

I’ve had several conversations lately with friends of mine about the “seasons of our lives.”  Perhaps, it’s because I’m getting older and reflecting, who knows. But I’m seeing my life in seasons now, more than EVER before. And I understand now, more than ever, that NOTHING is permanent.  That’s really great news, and freeing news!

Why is it such wonderful news that nothing is permanent?  Because that means there is nothing we can do to change or affect the end result that God has already ordained in our lives.  It doesn’t mean we are just swept along by the winds of chance, or allowed to float aimlessly through life.  It means that try as we might, we can’t control the future, or go back and repair the past.  We are forced to live in the now.  In the present season, if you will.

I LOVE Jeremiah 29:11, and have a plaque with this verse on my nightstand.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

The Lord has our plans already laid out, so the pressure is off!

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  (Psalm 139:16 NIV)

No matter what season of life you find yourself in, our Father ordained for you to be in it at this time before the foundations of the world!  Rest in it, rest in whatever change there is in your life right now.  Know that He is God and even though the seasons change, He never will!

What’s the Rush?

A couple of months ago I got a speeding ticket, ugh.  I have to say it’s only my second one, ever!  Both tickets I’ve received during my driving career have been on a Sunday, and one was on an Easter Sunday of all things!  I mean come on, does the Sabbath mean anything to police officers?  And we’re talking early in the morning on a Sunday in both instances!  Isn’t Krispy Kreme open early on Sundays?  Okay, that was a cheap stereotypical shot, sorry.

As part of my penance, I had to go to a driving class for 4 hours, again, ugh.  But I have to say, it wasn’t that bad and I actually learned a lot, plus I got to freshen up on my driving knowledge and bond with some folks, okay, not so much with the bonding.  The funny part was, the class was taught by a friend of mine and that did make it more enjoyable, or maybe I should say, less painful.

At any rate, the point of all of this is I came away with a new perspective on driving that I had never really thought about.  It has to do with the word “limit” in a Speed Limit sign.  It’s been there all along, but I’ve always viewed the miles per hour on a Speed Limit sign as, “Okay, this is how fast I need to be driving.”  Never really giving much thought to the fact that I really don’t have to drive as fast as the sign indicates, I would go on my merry way often times, you guessed it, speeding.  So, I know you’re thinking, duh, and besides, who even goes the Speed Limit, besides Mopeds and grandmother’s?  (No offense to either category of drivers)

Well, call it my guilt for getting a ticket, but I started thinking, what’s all the rush anyway? Do we really gain that much by not obeying the posted Speed Limit?  Maybe a minute or two, or maybe even only seconds.  Plus, our stress goes up because we’re frustrated with other drivers or traffic patterns.  And I’ve also discovered that if you slow down and do the Speed Limit, or maybe under, you see SO much you’ve missed along your way!  You also find yourself being more courteous to other drivers.

I’ve actually found myself more at ease, more focused and definitely less stressed by slowing down.  Plus, it’s fun to aggravate other drivers by NOT going fast!  So, what’s the rush?  I’m really not sure.

Try taking your time to your destination, you might find that there really are no limits to the good that comes your way!

Something Old, Something New

This past week I was at The Cove in Asheville, NC, the Billy Graham Training Center, serving as worship accompanist for one of Bible Intensives.  The “old” part was being at The Cove, although it never gets old!  The “new” part was the speaker, Dr. Walter C. Kaiser and his teaching on the book of Daniel, a book that most of us, if we were really honest, would confess we don’t understand.  However, Dr. Kaiser brought us all a little closer to understanding this amazing book of the Bible and not only that, brought each of us into a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father.

The other “new” part and one of the wonderful benefits of being able to serve at The Cove while being a part of these seminars are the people you get to interact with.  I am grateful to God for the many conversations I’m able to have at these conferences with some precious, precious people.  To be able to hear their stories and struggles in life and learn about them as a person.  It is something that connects you with them on a such a deep level and then you quickly realize, you’re not the only one that has trials and tribulations in this world.  There is also the paradigm of seeing how connected we are as believers in the Body of Christ.  The Church is more than just the local body of believers that we are a part of each week and these events help me see that so clearly.

I’m grateful to the Lord for the health I’m enjoying right now and being able to attend and serve at these conferences. I love the fact that both the “old” and the “new” collide at these events and through that collision, I am the one who is always blessed.

Thank you Father for you continued faithfulness and love!

Getting Started…

So, maybe I’m a little late to the blogging world but nevertheless, I’ve begun.  There’s a lot I’ve always wanted to share, or muse about and I hope in some small way what will be coming out of this new endeavor will maybe help you in your journey or perhaps allow you to help someone else.  Maybe it will challenge you, encourage you, it might even make you mad or sad, and you will probably disagree with me.  In whatever way it affects you I hope you at least do one thing…respond.

Whether you respond verbally in a reply or silently in your heart or mind doesn’t matter.  We are all created to respond to stimuli, that’s we have emotions, a soul, feelings, whatever you call it.  We’re all designed to relate to something.  There’s an emptiness we each have and we’re going to fill it with something, I just hope you choose wisely.  And again, maybe what I will be sharing here will help you find what you’re looking for and perhaps pass it along to others.

No, I’m not the end all of knowledge or anything like that, that’s the furthest from the truth.  I’m a seeker, I’m still learning and pray I never stop.  I’m a mess up, a slacker, a procrastinator, a failure and most of all, human.  But I do pray for grace and seek to start anew each day I live.

So stay tuned, there will be more to come, hopefully lots more.  Every breath of life is precious and I’m trying not to waste a single one.

We’re not promised past this moment so live it as your last, the time you have right now, may not be in your grasp.  In the next second, or tomorrow,  or as you blink an eye, don’t take for granted what is given, it might be too late to ask why.