I’ll Be Happy When …

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“Are we there, yet?”

We think of this as the quintessential question whiny kids always ask in the car. The truth, though, is that many of us spend our lives with this question rattling around in our brains:

Am I there, yet? 

Where, exactly, is there? It’s a mythical place somewhere in the future when the Next Big Thing will make me feel good. I’ll be happy when Friday comes … when I can go on vacation … when Christmas gets here … when the holidays are over, and the kids go back to school.

The problem lies in always expecting to be happy — sometime in the future.  We steal the joy from the present, by constantly looking ahead. Anticipation is great, but

we make a soul-sucking mistake when we suppose that only epic (and usually expensive) moments can refresh our spirits.

The key to preventing (or fighting) “I’ll Be Happy When Syndrome” is a simple change of attitude.

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” I saw this message on a card, and bought it as a reminder to myself, struck by how it illustrates the substance of Philippians 4:11b. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. So how do we learn this skill?

There is a new catchword in our culture — mindfulness — that means “the state of being conscious of something; focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.” A good concept. I think of mindfulness as a 30-second vacation because it doesn’t have to take any longer than that.

green mug, tea cup, coffee cup,How does a 30-second vacation work? By sinking into the experience.

I have a favorite mug that one of my daughters gave me. I love my mug!  Every time I use it, I feel loved because my daughter chose a celadon green glaze she knew would please my eye. It’s heavy pottery; I enjoy it’s weight in my hands and its smooth texture. Its heat warms me. I enjoy the taste and smell of my drink.  Then I rinse my mug, put it in the dishwasher, and go on with my day.

LavenderThe hospital where I work has a beautiful campus. On my way in from the parking lot, I pass plants that change with the seasons.  In the spring, I pause under a pear tree, look at the blossoms and inhale the fragrance, then head into the lab to work. This morning, the heather was in bloom.  In the autumn, I stop for a close look at a burning bush. Winter comes, and I notice that the frost on the drain cover looks like a spider web.

And the list goes on.

I soak in a spectacular sunset. Peruse the stalls at my local farmers market. Read the Sunday funny papers on my front porch. Savor a Fannie May milk chocolate vanilla butter cream melting on my tongue. Sit entranced by the sizzle and flash of lightning Front porchduring a thunderstorm. Afterward, I stand in my yard inhaling the freshness, trying not to step on the worms.

Living in the moment takes nothing away from the big events of life. They will still be yours to enjoy. But instead of packing all of your fun into a few limited experiences, look for the 30-second vacations God puts in your path on a regular basis. You’ll be more refreshed, and when you do take an extended vacation, you won’t be so desperate for everything to go perfectly, or so devastated when it doesn’t.

Where to start?

The next time you find yourself enjoying something, stop and give yourself fully to it for 30 seconds. Then, start actively looking around you for things to relish. Concerned that people will think you are crazy? Just tell them that you are “practicing mindfulness,” and you will impress the socks off of them!

God’s ideal for us includes joy, both now, and in the future. Psalm 23 reminds us that God not only walks with us through the shadows, but that he restores our souls on a daily basis. “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.”

Have you taken a 30-second vacation yet? I can’t wait to hear what it is. Please share below, and know that you finally have an answer to the question:

Are we there, yet? Yes! 

LauraGuest poster Laura Hulce ( sister to Mary and Jane) lives in Western Michigan, a few miles from “The Big Lake” (aka Lake Michigan) which is the scene of many of her 30-second vacations. She and her  husband Andy have three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and one grand-dog — all currently living  in the U.S., which was not the case for a number of years!  Laura works full-time as a clinical laboratory scientist, a profession which a co-worker once described as hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror when a patient goes south. Actually, Laura likes her job very much — most days.

Leading a discipleship group is Laura’s primary ministry. She is convinced that she learns as much from the terrific and wise women in her group as they learn from her. Free time? Reading, hiking, bike-riding, resale shopping, and geocaching.

 




Bible Scripture Art: by Mary Kane

Bible Scripture PicHe has filled them with skill to do all manner of work …
those who do every work and those who do artistic works.
Exodus 35:35

 

Creating is a very God-like activity. In the very first book of the Bible, we read God created the earth and filled it with wondrous things; the work of His hands. After gazing upon His creation He pronounced it very good.

Bible Scripture Art combines the joy of creating with the joy of studying God’s Holy Word. You do not need to be an accomplished artist to enjoy Bible Scripture Art; neither do you need expensive tools. An inexpensive supply list is provided at the beginning of each Bible Scripture Art lesson. Written instructions as well as step by step pictures will  make your time with God enjoyable and fulfilling.

You will experience God’s Word in a new way as you interact with Scripture through drawing, writing, coloring and painting. The possibilities are as deep as God’s Word. Get ready to release your inner artist and breath new life into your time with God.

 

2015-02-02 05.45.30 Bible Scripture Art: Lilies of the Field

 

Joy!

  Bible Scripture Art: Bubbles of Joy




Scripturegraphic Bible Study, James: Part 1, Trials to Joy

James 1 Scripturegraph correct jpegTrials, hardships, challenges are a part of everyday life. Usually we are glad if we just survive them. The Bible, however, takes a different view concerning trials … we are to count them as joy. How is this possible? What good could possibly result from a trial? Study the Scripturegraph (a biblical infographic) to discover why we can count every trial as joy.

Scripturegraph: Trials to Joy




Safe in the Tunnel

Mark and I were cycling recently on a muggy, Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t wait to enter the shade of a tunnel just ahead of us. We tunnel 14548586351rode into the cool, dim passageway, and I could barely see a little boy of about 6 racing toward us on his bike from the other end, his dad just a little behind him.

“Daddy, I love youuuuuuuu!” he yelled, delighting in the echo his voice made as it bounced off the walls.
“And I love you, bud!” his dad yelled back.
“You’re the best dad EVERRRR!” the boy shouted as he zoomed by us, his face lit with a huge grin.
“You’re the best son ever,” his dad yelled back.

I smiled as their voices and love danced through the tunnel washing over us, thankful that God made us privy to their joy. As that little scene replayed itself in my head, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that it is a perfect example of God’s love for us. Sometimes we hit tunnels in our lives where we can’t quite see what’s ahead of us. But we can do just what that little boy did. We can lift our voices in praise to God.

“God I love you! You’re the Only God ever!” we can yell, letting our voices echo over any fear and uncertainty.
And God yells back to us, “You’re the best kid ever, and I love you too!”

Even when we can’t see our way clear, we can listen for His voice, His encouragement, His comfort, secure in His love in the darkness. Where do you need to hear Him today?

photo credit: mripp via photopin cc

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Unconditional by Mary Kane

Rejoice! And again, I say rejoice! Wouldn’t it be great if you could be joyful all the time? With God all things are possible–even unconditional joy! To do the study, “Unconditional,” just click on the link!