Tag Archives: happiness

Handiwork

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 New International Version (NIV)

Background derived from Pixabay image.

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It Is Well

My floors struck me this morning.

No, I didn’t fall. The concrete didn’t rise or move at all. However the metamorphosis that’s occurred since I’ve been here at the ranch gave me a long pause today.

For most of my adult life my house simply couldn’t be clean enough, pretty enough, stylish enough… with four boys growing up around me…  Uh huh. A Psycho-Mom in the making.

Roo explains on Niece’s 1st visit, “we don’t touch black lacquer… or Italian glass… or brass…”

In hindsight I see how I drove my sons to the very edge insisting they swept and wiped up after themselves – constantly. Okay not literally – but I now realize I was too close to OCD for comfort.

So, believing this is my home now, that I actually live here happily may be a stretch for my sons.

I emerged from my parents’ dysfunctional household a huge, hot mess. Back in the day I desperately needed acceptance, approval and, dare I say it… recognition. Only perfection was acceptable. Decades later I began to understand that:

  1. happy, well-adjusted children care about stability and comfort – not sanitation standards, and
  2. God’s approval beats all others’.

After I arrived here I initially tried to keep the cottage up to my old standard. I made lists of items needing repair, sprucing up and this-just-will-not-do. They’re still on the side of the ‘fridge.

Today I noticed that I’m actually okay with daily visitors tracking assorted patterns on my floors – shoe, boot, various sizes of paws in a mixed media (mud, paint dust, dirt, grime and we-really-don’t-want-to-know). What’s more, the trails can be there for hours until I get around to cleaning – even overnight sometimes.

I’d like to say I never notice them.  Those first weeks after arriving here, Cole strolling in directly from the shop (actually checking on me), usually on freshly washed floors made me want to cry – or punch something. But now when I notice traffic residue I typically walk right over it on the way to something I enjoy doing even more than clean floors.

Housework will always be there. It can certainly wait as God and I watch the sunrise over a steaming mug, a covey of quail bobbing across the lot or the sun set after a day-long work party.

Instead of a constant stream of housekeeping I now enjoy the antics of fur kids, friends and extended family. Our combined circumstances often make the hope for my offspring coming to visit seem like a pipe dream. But instead of disappointment, sadness or occasional hopelessness, feeling how it actually is well keeps me in check.

 

Meanwhile, the pups are a constant source of amusement.

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?'”

Luke 10:41 The Passion Translation (TPT) *

*The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Parachute

talk absfreepic

Erin recently asked me if I’m uncomfortable when I’m not in turmoil about something – anything. I had to laugh out loud. Hours before I had remembered a scenario where my mother stated flatly, “Daddy’s not happy unless he’s miserable about something.” Erin had me wonder for a moment if I’m a formidable chip off Daddy’s block.

rosannadanna pinterest

 

My next thought was Roseanne Roseannadanna,* saying, “It’s always something. If it’s not one thing it’s another.”

 

In The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis wrote, “…While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?”

My Life has never been simple. In fact, my life has usually been confounding. It’s my normal.

That may seem harsh, but hardships forged a remarkable relationship with God. There were unmistakable villains in the stories, and sometimes it seems my hand came from a short deck, but my point today is  I want to please God. While my focus is upon Him I have peace.

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I [Jesus] came to give life with joy and abundance.” The Voice

That doesn’t imply that we’ll always – or ever have everything we want. I’ve always wanted a comfortable home. A house is not my highest priority, but a permanent home would be nice. Erin is often concerned about my happiness here while I care more about a stable environment.

Living with two cats makes me physically miserable. I knew I’m allergic coming in. I could go on about clutter, the property’s state of disrepair, and our health challenges, but those are circumstances. Sure, it all often seems crazy, but again those are circumstances.

toon roo erin pixabayOver the years Erin and I spent many long conversations “fixing the world,” so I know her values. Aside from health challenges, I don’t worry much about her. Sometimes she makes me wonder if her brain is firing on all cylinders. She’s always known I need an overhaul.

parachute absfreepicIn the same vein, Lewis also wrote, “…‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’” I may not be giddy in our present circumstances. Still, I have the blessed assurance they can change. Until they do, as with most all things, I trust the God I am certain brought me here – and I’ll hang with Him daily. I’ll probably slip, get lost in the chaos occasionally, make myself miserable, Erin and I will likely butt heads like a couple of old goats. No worries. Love wins.

He is my God, my First Love and my friend; not just my parachute.

 

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33

*Gilda Radner image courtesy Pinterest, View Rosanne Rosannadanna clip on YouTube.

Parachute image courtesy ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy Pixabay

*The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Lest We Forget

Memorial Day

funny-memorial-day-2016-pictures

Reflect Memorial Day

An Iraq War veteran waves as planes fly over during a Memorial Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

zay kids vets

With all due diligence honor the sacrifices of those we remember today.

 

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)

 

Images courtesy, Memorial Day 2016 and Nathan Lambert/E.V.A. Lambert

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Happy

woman-with-thought-3316x2488_48760

“Are you ever surprised when God answers your prayer positively?”

It’s a question from CelebrationNet,* a daily devotional I receive from City on a Hill in Fort Worth.

It’s a good question wherever one is.

Up to the challenge, I tried to write a clever, earth-shaking answer – to no avail. That’s not unusual once in a while, but what actually was odd was I wan’t upset, concerned or preoccupied – with anything.

As I dug deeper into my bag of inspirational tricks, I noticed a peaceful silence. Under such circumstances this rarely happens in my world.

Feeling I needed a touch with reality I looked at the local news. Yep, the sun came up and air is in good supply. I stared at my screen and then began keying Richard III – again, to prime my creative pump. “Now is the winter of our discontent…” But I stopped and I laughed. Key. Delete. Delete. I realized I’m not remotely discontent.

Reflecting upon another of my standard primers, I keyed from Sense and Sensibility: “..that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself…”

That was it! Content to simply breathe, I rested my head back against my hands and enjoyed doing absolutely nothing for a while.

As I did, I realized I feel safer and more comfortable than I can remember. The pantry and refrigerator are full and the bills are all current. I enjoy the company of my oldest and best friend daily. My kids, grand kids and my long-distance friends check in with me regularly. For days now I’ve been energetic and up to every task presented to me without pain (on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 late in the day).

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I believe I’m happy! I looked it up /ˈhapē/ adjective: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment; fortunate and convenient. Wow.

I’ve often prayed for peace and joy to dominate my being. I have spoken happiness into being, calling things that are not as though they are. * I always believed I would be happy someday – in heaven. Today I’m not actually surprised, I’m simply happy.

What’s more, I’m not looking for anything to make me unhappy or concerned – I’m relatively confident such will find me soon enough. And I intend to be ready with this post bookmarked to my desktop.

So,maybe Tony DiNozzo is gone on to life outside of NCIS. More of Moriarty’s evil deeds loom ominously before Holmes and Watson. Nobody knows how Kate and Richard Castle actually survived – but they did. I shall continue to pray over the Presidential Primaries – fervently. Alisan Porter won this season of the Voice. And it’s still only Thursday.

Though the words feel peculiar in my mouth, I’m calling it: I’m happy.

Thank You so very much, God.

When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.” Acts 12:14-16 (NLT)

 

* “That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Romans 4:17 (NLT)

Images courtesy ABSFreePic

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Now

bathroomWhile the sickness healed in my throat… What? Okay, now that the pressure’s mostly in my inner ears, I’ve had more time to reflect on life.

I recently recalled the time a beautiful, water resistant shower curtain and rugs display grabbed my attention and held it, I liked them so much. They were pricey for my budget. Still, they inspired a need for change in my house. Usually a spend-thrift, knock offs would not do that time. I cut corners and saved for months until I had enough to buy them.

Lending the illusion of a life I once dreamed of, the bath/spa room is important to me. Having purchased my curtain and rugs I could hardly wait to get home to stage the new look I’d imagined for months. While saving I’d run through every detail in my head and my vision was clear.

old bottlesWhile buying my treasures I remembered I was nearly out of supplies. I have always been careful about cleaning products, but without a spare dollar for the rest of the month, I took a bottom-shelf product and hurried home.

My usual routine was to start with a clean slate, but I’d scoured the entire house the day before. I pressed and then hung the curtain. Taking in the finished scene, I noticed a fresh smear on the wall next to the new curtain. Glad I got the spray cleaner, I pulled the curtain back just a bit, aimed, sprayed and then wiped away the offending smudge. I was delighted with my new decor and how well it blended with my towels and wall color the way I’d imagined. I took a photo to send to friends and flex my bragging rights.

After pasting the photo into the email I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on my new curtain was unmistakable bleaching in the beautiful color! I dashed to the bathroom hoping my eyes deceived me. But no… My wailing brought neighbors running.

In my hurry to make my vision reality and then get back to work, I’d inadvertently grabbed a bottle containing mostly bleach that had been misplaced in the non-bleach section. I’d been so preoccupied with my happy thoughts I didn’t notice the caustic smell. Arrrrgh!cleaner

I wasn’t quick enough to arrest the damage. After sulking a while and, of course bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I began brainstorming ideas to recover some of the original beauty of the curtain. Eventually my imagination kicked in.

What my situation meant for defeat, God used for good. I creatively sprayed more of the the cleaner all over the curtain and then some Ritz dye remnants consistent with my color palette. Eventually I created a poor-man’s Monet, very slightly reminiscent of his Rose Walk.

Even after several washings, the curtain performed it’s primary purpose very well. With every wash the pattern took on new characteristics. Now it’s more like a Wildflower Walk. Yeah, Ritz still bleeds and fades.

I do not recommend intentionally ruining a lovely curtain or settling for less than what we can achieve either. But I can share the worthwhile lesson from that whole process:

Life takes us through lots of twists and turns and we adjust our original plans. In high school I imagined my life in showcase homes. Over the years, with each relocation I told myself, “this will do for now.” I usually settled on the best location, the nicest home with the most space I could afford. While I’m thankful for a great imagination, I graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks, but I’m not the most creative person around. Fortunately, home and garden magazines are always freely available and I regularly thank God for HGTV and DIY network. With that I got by – for now.

Now that I’m used to a healthy over-all lifestyle on a tight budget, it’s all I can do to stay focused on my set priorities. I’ve minimized dramatically while still hoping to become a piano virtuoso. Hey, I can play either one or the other part of Heart and Soul. While I admire friends’ beautiful homes and still aspire to own something similar someday, for now I’m content with a roof that doesn’t leak, food, electricity, and especially good company. Is it just me or is that actually funny now?

Compared to my dramatic, dynamic early years I’ve developed a very ordinary life from extreme conditions. While my long Bucket List continually grows, I have what I need and I’m confident I am exactly who and what God created me to be now.

I believe all the tragedies, hardships, the bad times of my life worked together to bring me right where I am now – I’m good. When we question why God allows so much trouble, sadness and evil in the world, we can too easily lose sight of the joy in life.

victorian house

I won’t lose sight of my ideal house, complete with writing room, and neither will Voithos. Today I’m glad for a modest, comfortable home. While modest, it has been my status quo for more years than I want to admit, with a good, old friend it’s quite good enough for me now. While I keep my focus upon God’s will, He always takes care of the details. I have experienced time and again how He guides me through the necessary clutter with more colorful variations I could never have imagined.

Like the rest of my life, that’s my story – and I’m sticking to it.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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How to be Happy – Reblog

I hope What’s Next readers enjoy this delightful reblog by my blogosphere buddy Mitch Teemley:

being happy

How to be Happy

My holiday comedy sketch The Thanksgiving Fairy features Rick and Toodie, a married couple who are having one of those “nothing-to-be-thankful-for” days. Ever had one of those?

The setting is a laundromat:

To read more see the original post at Mitch Teemley’s blog, The Power of Story

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What’s Next

The world is changing. The changes didn’t start on 9/11/2001 yet that was a distinctive milestone.

Despite the many changes, some important things are the same as when I was a child – a very long time ago. I’m talking about what makes the world go ‘round; what makes us happy.

Above all the violence, tragedy and the madness, more than ever before I see people care about people. The technological advances in my lifespan alone, the blogosphere all have presented us with more opportunities, advantages that were only Sci-Fi when I was growing up.

We have gone global. Our family, friends, and neighbors – our community has become immense.

Even from my limited perspective life occasionally seems overwhelming; health issues, ecology, economy, strife… We all have dark days when the world feels hopeless. And yet the globe continues to turn, the sun keeps rising on a brand new day.

My dear, sage friend Zoe once said, “Don’t worry. Every day, step outside your door. Really look around you and help the first person you see. Sometimes a smile, a kind word or maybe helping someone carry out the trash can change everything. You continue on your way, but you did something.”

Even when it feels like we’re at the end of our ropes, we can get radical and possibly change the course of a day, a life – the world. Like Zoe said, we start by simply responding to the question, What’s Next? What can I do to help, right where I am right now?

I suggest we keep doing the next right thing.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus, The Bible (NLT), John 16:33

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