Afraid To Be Happy??

Is that a thing? Like a real fear? Turns out yes. It even has a name: Cherophobia

It’s a real fear, people.

If you’re a Christian, you’re more than likely aware that joy is a fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. But, joy and happiness are two different things. As a follower of Jesus, we can have joy even in the hard times because we (can/should) trust that Jesus is steadfast and never changes or leaves us. Joy in Jesus, regardless. But, happiness is a different animal. Happiness comes and goes based on our circumstances. We shouldn’t let people steal our joy, but they can definitely affect our happiness. The hurts and losses are hard and sad.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

The Bible also says to rejoice (be happy) with those who are happy and to mourn with those who mourn. This can lead to a quandary. We need to sympathize with those who are hurting, empathize is even better, but not let it affect our own happiness on our happy days.

Have you ever been so hurt or scared, that you’re afraid to be happy? I felt the Lord speaking that over me this morning. Letting others know you’re happy is not wrong, it’s not insensitive. It’s not rude or uncaring of their hurts. It’s the rainbow after your particular storm. And, I have dear friends who have been praying that for me.

The people who know you will be happy you are happy. The others will think life just comes easy for you. The thinkers and feelers struggle with even admitting happiness because we fear that we are not only “jinxing” ourselves, but that others will be jealous of our “perfect” life. It “must” be if she’s happy today. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let your happy days be just those. Happy days.

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Who over thinks being happy? It’s more common than you may think.

I’m sharing because I struggle with this too. I have “appeared” happy when I’m heartbroken. Appearances are just that. Appearances. But, when a true sense of happiness emerges to and from my heart, it’s like a warm gush. A gush I almost fear….because what’s gonna happen next? Something. It’s always something. Or is my happiness going to hurt someone else?

I’ve gone through a really rough patch in my life where I’m sure some people feared their happiness would hurt me. Consider the wonderful marriages when your friend’s is falling apart, or the pregnancy when your friend’s just came to an abrupt end or hasn’t happened at all yet, the Mother’s Day brunch when you friend is missing hers. The vacation you are about to take when your friend can’t. The relationship or engagement that you’re so thankful for, but your single friends are still waiting for that love… It can make you think and fear happiness. For other’s sakes. We may feel guilt over our own happiness.

With women’s ministry as my passion, I am confided in and trusted as a prayer warrior for many precious friends and women. I am aware of struggles and I pray for their hearts. My heart goes out for their sadness in the midst of my own. Can we still fight the fear to share our happiness when it shows it’s lovely face? Can we dare to allow the happiness that flows in to warm our hearts when they’ve been heavy with burdens?

I say yes. I say, being willing to share your hurts AND struggles AND your happiness gives people hope. Not being willing to share one or the other doesn’t ring genuine. We need both. We want our friends to have safe places, hearts, and friends to share hurts with (because we all have them), and then to see their happiness can literally bring tears to our faces and hope to our situations (because we all desire it). May we all DARE to let the happiness wash over us and not FEAR the outcome or fallout. It’s a gift that can and should be relished.

Happiness comes and goes, anyone who says they are happy all the time, I might give the side eye. That’s not possible in this life. But, to be real, admit hardships, and express happiness when it’s present is a blessing to yourself and to others.

I love to see my friends happy, so I trust they feel the same for me.

 

 

 

 

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The Day My Tire Blew…

Just a typical Wednesday morning in the summer, I drop my girls off at their dad’s house and get on the highway headed to work. Five minutes down the road and it feels really bumpy. My first thought is that the pavement was under construction and it would smooth out soon. But, it didn’t, so I changed lanes to see if that would make it better. It didn’t. So, I pulled over to the shoulder to check my tires. I also thought I might be dragging something under my car. My rear left tire was completely blown, side walls and all. Like rim was on the road blown!

Cars are whizzing by. I get back in my driver’s seat and I call my dad. My rolodex started turning. Was he in town? What do I do?

He picks up the phone, asks where I am, and says he’s on his way. Praise the Lord! I didn’t have my girls, I didn’t get hit, my car didn’t lose control. The tire looked awful. Still no idea what or how this happened. My tires were relatively new.

About ten minutes after hanging up with Dad, a white truck pulls up behind me. I assume it’s him. Nope, it’s two guys. One covered in tattoos and the other looked like an older white haired construction worker. The guy in tattoos comes up to my window smiling and says “Looks like you could use some help.” The other guy stands behind my car. My heart starts to race. I didn’t know what to do and felt a bit cornered and helpless. Matter of fact, I was.

I rolled my window down a smidge and thanked them both, but told them my dad was on his way. He said “Well, if you have a spare, we can put it on for you…”, (rolling window up) “Where’s your jack?” I responded sheepishly, “I don’t know. I need to wait on my dad”. Do I let them? Would Dad be upset if I let them start the repairs first? Would he be upset if I didn’t? Were they safe? I really didn’t know. I just felt lucky to be alive with my tire the way it was.

They got back in their truck…. and waited. They didn’t leave. They waited until my dad and stepmom got there. And, when I left the scene in the car they brought me to drive to work (another blessing), the guy covered in tattoos was lying flat on his back under my car… helping my dad.

They really wanted to help. So much so, that they waited on my dad to get there to see if he needed any. Complete strangers.

Another awesome reminder that we can never judge a book by it’s cover. They just wanted to help and I am so thankful for people like them. I was scared. My heart was racing for what could have happened and what might happen.

God bless them both today, wherever they are. Thanks to my dad, my blow out happened at 7:45 and my tire was fixed by 9:05. Thanks to God, I’m able to write about what happened.

When Taking is Giving

Contemplating my day yesterday and an interesting parallel came to mind…Let’s do a run down of my Sunday. This is one day in the life of what many of you can relate to.

  • Take clothes out of dryer
  • Take dog to groomer
  • Take kids to breakfast
  • Take car to car wash
  • Take care of flowerbeds
  • Take girls to play with cousins
  • Take ice to baby shower
  • Take kids to Vacation Bible School
  • Take trash to curb
  • Take kids to bed

As parents, it’s in the taking care of things and people that we give. Taking is giving. The giving of ourselves, our finances, our time and energy, our lives. We can’t do it all, but man, don’t we try? I think we’d all take our kids on more vacations if we could afford it. Vacations with kids can feel like anything but, but taking is also making memories that will last a lifetime for all of you. I want the memories as much as my kids do. Sometimes we need to take and sometimes we WANT to take. As a parent, it’s all giving.

Taking our kids to school and taking ourselves to work. Taking our kids to church, dance, softball practice, birthday parties, the doctor, the dentist, camp, the grocery store. Not easy, but still fills our hearts in a way we can’t describe. Because they are ours. Because of our love. Taking is giving.

It’s tiring, it feels never ending, and it’s so precious. It’s in these days of taking that we need to remember what a blessed assignment it is. I’m well aware these days don’t last forever.

It’s not until they become parents one day, that they will also recognize the incessant giving that taking requires. I hope this helps you. When you’ve taken (given) all you can, fuel up on the fact that you were given these children to take places and the ultimate blessing to them and to you that it is. It may not feel appreciated, but I applaud you and one day they will “get it” too.

Think of the gift that taking on someone else’s kids is. I recognize this even more as a single mom. Parenting is hard. Step parenting is ginormous. No one has to. They choose to. And, it may feel even less appreciated by all involved. Still, you take. Give and take.

Being with someone who is all “take, take, take” is frowned upon in relationships. We’d all rather be with a giver. But, with kids, we take, take, take everywhere. With all the taking required in parenting, we also need to remember to take care of ourselves. If married, it’s the same. Taking your wife on a date, taking out the trash, and taking the kids or grandkids out for snow cones are all giving. Yay for the takers, because they are the givers!

I’m so thankful for family that helps me with the taking in any way, shape, or form. I appreciate their giving and recognize it as such. I realize when we love, it’s what we do. It’s how we give. We load up and take.

Once they are driving, there will be less taking. But, oh how sweet to hear those words..”Mom, can you take me….” at that point. It won’t be necessary, it will be wanted. And, I’ll do everything in my power to jump all over it. Oh, how we love…

 

 

You’d Better…

Would you rather your kids “act right” or “love right”? Obviously, the better we love, the better we tend to act. But, if it’s just actions, where’s the love?

Loving “right” comes with all kinds of hard stuff. Courage to speak their truth, admitting anger and hurt, learning empathy, communicating their preferences, thoughts, opinions (that may be very different than my own). For them to love themselves and me properly, this all needs to come in to play. Still, I’d rather them love right than just act right and hurt quietly for shame that I won’t care about their pain or problems. I want them to love well, properly, healthfully.

This takes a lot of letting go. This will take a lot of prayer. This takes loving discipline. And, a lot less controlling. May they be raised seeing grace and care, so that they will be the first to recognize when it isn’t present. May they learn to love and appreciate the differences in themselves and others.

Loving is messy and hard, just look at the cross. It’s in the marriages, the loss of loved ones, the illnesses of children, and the rebellion of family members that this is tested and shown in all it’s painful brilliance. To love “right” isn’t easy. To act “right” can be. Superficial, but just that, an act.

May we love well. May we be willing to let go so that we can. They are their own beings with their own hearts, decisions, choices, and futures ahead of them. May I love them well through them all. Whatever they may be.

Being a parent opened my heart to the love of God when I realized that He loves my kids even more than I do. That’s hard for me to comprehend, but I know that it’s true. They were His before they were mine. But, it also reminds me that I am His child. And, I also think He’d rather me love right than just act right. And, I know now how much of a difference there really is.

He Lit My Fire…

I didn’t fall in love with Jesus until He touched me when no one else would or could. I grew up in church, went to church camp, went to private church schools, I sang about Him, I was baptized, I prayed. Seeds were planted, but I didn’t fall in love…until then. And, when this shift occurred, I rushed back in to be baptized again. I came out of that water, heart pounding and in tears. This time was different. My heart was awakened to this great love just waiting on me. My fire was lit.

When Jesus reached out and held me in the coldest and hardest (thus far) time in my life, I fell. And, I fell hard. It was THEN that I knew He was my Rescuer, the Greatest Love of my life. If I had known before, I wouldn’t have been in that spot to begin with. But, I didn’t. So…..that moment of greatest pain turned into my moment of greatest love. He was there for me. Turns out, always had been. I just didn’t know what was missing.

Since falling head over heels for the One who died for me, I look for Him in others. I know now that a heart for Jesus is the safest heart. It would take a fierce love for our Savior to spark and trust again. It would take someone else who has been broken. Someone who gets it. Someone willing to go there for himself and for me. Someone with a similar desire to love again, anyway, and regardless. And, we all know that’s hard.

In the man I’m with now, this is what attracts me the most. We’ve both been broken in half. We’ve been up, down, and sideways, but I’ve never questioned his love for Jesus or me. He’s a gospel man.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. John 13:34-35 (NLT)

Over and over I’m blown away be his capacity to love. Me, my kids, his kids, and others, even when it doesn’t seem returned. Tired, stressed, hurt. He loves anyway. And, we all know that’s hard too. This brings us back together and lights the fire over and over.

The fire Jesus lit in me is what, I firmly believe, will light my fire until the day it goes out on this earth.

Sounds strange to say “in love with Jesus”. But, being in love with Him helps me love others better too. It’s His joy and assurance in my heart that brings out the best in me. In all of us. He created us to love us. Embracing that love helps us to spread it like the wildfire that it is.

All consuming, all encompassing, unfailing.

This is the Jesus I want my girls to know. Because if they do, I know now, that they won’t be able to help but fall in love too. So, I just pray for this realization and recognition. The greatest love they will ever know.

He lights my fire.

Amazing Grace

I think, more often than not, the grace that people are afraid of, is the grace that sets them free. Being scared to be honest, taking off the mask, openly admitting struggles, voicing the bitterness, expressing the misunderstanding. These are all hard and they all take grace.

We tend to think “GRACE” means happy go lucky, peaceful, even “easy”…I know I did. But, now I view “GRACE” as strength, courage, the ability  (only way) to do the “hard thing”. Cheap grace is easy. God’s grace is power.

If we are called to a life of grace, God will allow a lot of pain. How else would it show? Showering those who have hurt us with grace is straight from God and goes against our flesh. When we allow ourselves to admit hurt from others and recognize the need for grace in ourselves, the power of grace is revealed. Showing grace to those who have hurt us, frees us and surprises others in today’s world. Just as I know that I don’t deserve God’s grace, they know they don’t deserve ours. It’s a gift we decide to give. Like God’s grace to us.

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 (ESV)

I’m thoroughly convinced that the ONLY way to do this is by grace. Now, that’s power! When you think you’ve been hurt one to many times, when you think you can’t take one more lashing or bloody heart. When the person you never thought would or even could hurt you, does. Because we all fail each other. Remember, the grace of God, is not cheap. It’s the only thing that will heal your heart. Receiving it and sharing it.

Do you need grace? Give it.

I can think back on those I have hurt and I praise God for the grace they’ve shown me after the fact, I knew I needed it and that they didn’t have to give it. But, oh the sweet picture of Jesus we get to see when they do. It’s truly a gift.

Jesus bled and died for us because of His grace towards us. When we run out, He is our never ending source.

That person that comes to mind, that situation that won’t go away, that conversation that scares you, that hidden struggle….May God grant us the GRACE to forgive, release, lean in, and admit. That all takes a supernatural courage and that comes from His power. The power of grace. It truly is amazing.

But I Thought…

This weekend, Jesus took me to therapy. You know, we can be told something our whole lives and when God brings it front and center, is when it actually sticks.

I’ve been assuming the worst in people…That they don’t care, that they don’t want to help, that they don’t like me, that they don’t approve of me, that they blame me, that they just wish I weren’t there, including the people I love.

Isn’t that a sad state of mind? To assume people are mad or upset before you even know if they are? Why not assume people are fine with you. People are busy with their own lives. That people don’t/can’t know your issue if you haven’t shared it, that they want what’s best for you, that they have their own issues going on, that they are happy when you are, and sad when you are. That their hearts beat in sincerity and compassion. This not only lightens your load, but takes the unnecessary pressure off of them too.

I was also reminded that “how we view people (for the better or for the worse) also shows how we view ourselves.” So, that must mean I’m assuming the worst about myself. How sad! Assuming the worst in people and ourselves is not loving others or ourselves. It’s exactly what the devil wants to cause division before a conflict has even taken place. What an evil trick on his part!

How about we lean on the Lord for strength, wisdom, understanding and start trusting that in ourselves? How about we make decisions based on our worth in Him and lean into the joy and confidence that goes a long with that? He is ever present in our lives and He bestows wisdom when asked.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)

You know what they say happens when we assume?

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How about we assume the best, then when someone has a problem, it can be dealt with appropriately when it arises. This seems simple, but it prevents me from assuming there are a lot more problems than necessary to address and tend to. Let’s take them as they come, not as we assume they are.

Let’s love others by assuming the best about them and love ourselves by thinking the best of ourselves. It’s in people’s weaknesses and frustrations that they need love the most, it’s the same with ourselves. We need to love ourselves through a hard day, the hard stuff. Consider God’s open arms of grace when we blow it. Because we need love too. We all do.