Thursday, July 13, 2017

Do you deserve to be happy?

What do you deserve? Deserve means to be worthy of, to be entitled to, to have a right to.  There is a current song by Little Big Town that says "we all deserve to be happy while we're here." Why? Why are you entitled to happiness? Where is this written? The Founding Fathers seemed to understand happiness wasn't an entitlement. They said we had the right to *pursue* it, not that we deserved it.

Our culture programs us to equate happiness to the material pleasures, sexuality and other bodily gratification. Choose the right partner with the right actions to stroke your ego and you'll be happy. Do this activity and you will be happy. Buy these clothes, cars, gadgets, etc, and you will be happy. Marriages are destroyed and families are broken because we look for other people to make us happy and when they don't, we abandon ship and create ripples of unhappiness for others as that ship sinks. How many children are damaged by divorce and fighting because their happiness was secondary to the egos or material needs of their parents?  We teach them that other people are expendable if they don't gratify our selfish desires. We teach them that obtaining material things is crucial to finding joy. Pursuing money to gain material goods becomes more important than time rearing children, making memories with spouses, and even proper rest.  The idea that happiness comes from "entertainment" leads to time spent in emptiness and immorality, opening the door to more temptation and destruction of the values and people who are truly important  There is so much ugliness that tends to accompany the concept that we "deserve" to be happy. Throw in the concept of being entitled to it and a blind eye is turned to the negative until far too much damage is done.

The Bible tells us this, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." and Psalm 144:15b "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" Godliness is the key to happiness - and being content, not constantly looking for more and more, but being satisfied is profitable. One way I can see right off the bat that it is profitable is because you aren't striving, striving, striving to have things or a movie-perfect marriage.  When you are looking at and truly appreciating the things you have, you can build upon them. Try gratitude. Seek contentment.

Philippians 4:12 - 13  "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Luke 12:15 "Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”"

Psalm 37:3-4 3 "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Monday, July 10, 2017

A message from beyond...

My friend, Sherie, lost her mom the day before Patrick, passed. I was trying to figure out if she felt the same sensation I did (that I also discussed with my daughter, Erin, this morning). I said:
"Do you feel the void more strongly now that it is one year? I feel like being in the same physical place in the solar system where we were when going through the trauma of it all somehow intensifies the feeling. Like a rock thrown in a pool of water sends out strong ripples. It's like hitting that place again and the ripples are still present - or an echo or shadow or something of the intense emotions is still there."

When I was talking to Erin just this morning, I was speculating about tesseracts and folding the fabric of space/time and trying to illustrate what I meant/felt with a blanket and an envelope. I talked of wormholes and physics. I likened it to a person pushing forcefully upward from down in the realm of the sea and the pressure of bursting through the surface tension of the water and up, up into the realm of the air. The force of the departure creates a burst, waving and rippling. SO to what effect does the departure of a soul leaving its body create when leaving the earthly realm into the heavenly realm?? And to what extent does the emotional intensity surrounding that departure affect the size and the resulting strength/length of the reverberations of that ripple?

 In talking about this with Jenna, she offered that when a star dies, its energy in the form of light, continues on and we see that star ages after its death. Erin and I had discussed how time isn't the same for God/heaven - that a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. That there is no sorrow and mourning in heaven and it is likely due to no knowledge of loved ones suffering while in bondage to the earthly clock and no worries of unfinished business in this realm.

And now I'm going to add a freaky, touching, wonderful part to this: Today I've been cleaning out my computer room which has become a receptacle for all things I don't know what to do with or don't have time to deal with. I have boxes spread out in the middle of my living room. I took a break and AS I WAS WRITING THE ABOVE to share, I went into the kitchen. When I returned, THIS was laying in the floor about a foot and a half from the doorway to the room, right where I had to walk. I HAD NOT STEPPED OVER IT ON MY WAY PAST; NOTHING WAS THERE BEFORE. No junk, no clutter - no where near the boxes I was sorting - empty carpet and this laid there in full view upon my return to my desk. A love note from my late husband...

This seriously just happened and I cried...not tears of sadness. Tears of loss, tears of joy, tears filled with the knowledge that God is in control and loves me as He loves Pat. Call it coincidence, say that I overlooked it when it fell out of who-knows-what. I know that it is a message from my husband and from my Lord.

Mark 12:26-27 "As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Where my strength comes from...

If there is one thing I can say about what has gotten me through this past year since Patrick left this world, it is this from Nehemiah 8:10: "The joy of the Lord is my strength." Strength is the quality or state of being strong - well, what is strong?  To be strong is to have the power to move heavy weights and/or to withstand great force or pressure. And what is joy? It is delight, great pleasure, happiness. "Of" expresses a relationship or a connection between a part and a whole. When I say the" joy of the Lord" has been my strength, I'm not talking about a crutch that I lean on (that is a support), a cushion when I fall (a soft landing), an insulator (to keep bad things out), or a piece of armor (He does arm us mightily). When I say the "joy of the Lord is my strength" I'm talking about POWER. Defining "is" is hard, but it is a state of active being. This, strength, this power, is of God. It is a happiness that flows like liquid steel into the fiber of my being from the mighty God who created the universe. It is power to be more than an overcomer in Christ.

Over a year ago, my cousin who went to be in glory last week, Monica, and I had a conversation about this. This was before my husband passed, before her daddy passed away. We had both been both challenged and afflicted by those who challenged our beliefs, who came against that joy with a radiating sort of negativity.  She told me that she had learned that she was *never* going to let anyone or anything steal her joy. She wasn't going to stifle that joy of the Lord no matter what and joy was like a fountain spewing forth from her. I think everyone she came in contact with it was touched.  Her joy was that "joy of the Lord" and she wasn't hiding it from anyone. What a testimony she gave as she walked in that joy. We had some similar challenges and shared some prayers concerns - and in a discussion about those things back in December she reminded me we were "Walking by faith not by sight!"  It was a proud moment, indeed, when this woman who shone her light so brightly told me she was proud of me for "pushing ahead even in my grief."

It is one thing to get through the battle unscathed but why settle for merely making it through each day? .Romans 8:37 tells us we are MORE than conquerors. A conqueror prevails, defeats and masters.  Just absorb the rest ---
Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A friend of my cousin's shared this quote from John Piper, "Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have."   This past year has seen a lot of weeping and grief, but there have been many reasons to smile and rejoice. When God took Pat home, He did not take His joy from me.  If anything,  He poured me some more and taught me how to better access it.  He taught me how precious every single day is and to embrace this life. So while this is bound to be a difficult week of reflecting on the the anniversary of the  loss of my husband, the recent loss of my uncle, and the fresh loss of my cousin full of Sonshine, the Lord has given me blessings to remind me that I am well-cared for.  As Monica would say with confidence, they took the glory train. They are in His presence now - but as for us, nothing can separate us from His love.

The joy of the Lord is, indeed, my strength.