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What’s your definition of being happy?

Everyone wants to be happy, but a lot of us don’t know what our definition of happy is, so we settle. Okay relationships, okay jobs, okay health, and o – kay everything. Don’t mess with what is working, even though it could be a whole LOT better.

My definition of being happy is not a textbook, but nothing about me or you is strictly a textbook, and so I suggest that you don’t settle for less. Part of our definition, and I say a collective ‘our’ because most if not all people equate to having ‘stuff’ to being happy. Somehow if by appearances we can show the world what we have and hide what we don’t have then were successful. But what are we really being successful about?

How Much Stuff Do You Have?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine treated me (an early birthday gift) to a show called, The Minimalist. It’s comprised of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who both grew up in Dayton, Ohio and who have also been friends since childhood. I won’t go into their stories which you can read on their website, and what led them to live a minimalist lifestyle and their definition of it.

I have one problem with living as a minimalist. It’s living without knowing God. Maybe you know what I am getting to but it’s the whole idea that less is more, but it’s a bonus, and I think it’s easier if you have God as your foundation. You see I know I don’t need all those supposed extras because I know stuff won’t fill me like God can and will. I know not everyone lives this kind of life with God, and maybe they’re great without Him, but could I suggest that it is easier? Before I got to know God better, I would buy tons of stuff that I thought would somehow make me a better person. We’re big on appearances but exteriors do lie

What I am trying to get at, is that most things that we do is to find a purpose, it’s just a fancy way of humans looking for God. We are looking for the truth because well, we were made to want the truth. It’s like looking for those earrings in the couch. You will keep pulling apart the cushion until you find it. Why? You know it’s there. This is where you want to insert value and meaning into what is called your life.

We Are Being Pulled In So Many Ways

We’re told to stock up, to buy in bulk, and were bombarded with sales flyers in between the doors. It’s easy to order online with the promise of free shipping and handling and arriving at our doorstep in two business days. Don’t use cash when you can whip out your credit or debit card.  By doing without, I have learned that stuff is not what I am looking to fill myself with. I think a lot of it has to do with how messed up a world we live in. It’s hard to pass by our faults, our sinful self that lurks in so much of who we are. By living with less we have the opportunity to experience more of His goodness. Somewhere in all the cobwebs, we discover a world that most don’t see or even want to. It is a life that may seem empty to some but is fuller than the kind of life you only think belongs in dreams.

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Love My Dad

Who you were, who you are and who you will be are three different people –  Author Unknown

 

Your identity is the most valuable part of you, but most of us, some of us have no idea what it is. Knowing who you are minus all the titles we play day in and day out can blur out the truth of your identity. Confusion is a big deterrent and a likely suspect in losing ourselves to the constant swirl of life.

~

As a little girl, I loved the feel of the cool green grass under my bare feet. I believe at the time that I had the biggest backyard than anyone I knew. I could hide in our tree house that existed out of weirdly shaped trees that bordered our property. In the summer, I would walk over the cracks in the cement in our backyard because I never knew for sure if stepping on them would break my Mothers back. Clothes hung on the clothesline overhead. I could go visit my (Hebrew for grandmother) Bubi anytime I wanted. I remember the sand stuck between my toes and ants crawling over the big peony buds right before they would bloom.

Fear that no one wanted me

Ever since I started this blog, I have used each post as a place for my healing. It has become a place where I have been able to share who I am without fear of rebuff of any kind. Finding my identity and claiming it has been a long process. From an early age, I have been shy, preferring to stay close to my Mom.  When I met Jesus, I became more aware of myself, and at times it was extremely painful. Slowly, I would surprise myself at how well I would speak to others. Over time, the shyness that I assumed was a part of me disappeared, as I would go to reach for it. It was my protection over what I felt I couldn’t control. From the world that I had a hard time processing through.

Shyness is a reaction to feeling rejection. This was at first confusing because as that little girl with the ash blonde hair I thought knew who I was. I believed that the shyness was a part of the package of my personality.

If we lived in a perfect world, I would be living my dream. I wanted to be loved. I didn’t know if I deserved it but it was this silent, persistent need that over time gave my credence of what I didn’t see as acceptance. You see I wanted my Dad to see me as a lovable little girl, but what I didn’t know at the time was he didn’t have the skills on how to fill my emotional needs.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I learned that daughters’ need their fathers love as much as we need oxygen to breathe. The extreme anxiety and depression that I struggled throughout my childhood through to my early 30’s. spoke volumes of how I tried to teach myself on how to handle my emotions.  I can’t breathe unless I know my father loves me unconditionally. It was the root. I really believed I was a terrible person.  Desperate, I was for my Dad to notice me. To take an active interest in who I was.

Before I go on, this is not a post to bash fathers because they are hurting too. Too many men are being pushed down, or believe it’s not good to be masculine and to be as they have been created.

As I have learned about all my parts, or at least the ones He has chosen to show me, I have had many aha moments. He has brought clarity into my being, and a peace that is everlasting. And get this! People really do like me.

Knowing who I am, the peace can flow into every part of my being

As a little girl, I desired for my Dad to notice me, to see me and pursue me. I wanted him to be interested in who I was, but as time went by, he did none of what of what was in my heart. So I did the only thing I knew and I began shutting down emotionally, mentally and physically. Instead, I sought out my Dad, I asked him about the rules of Canadian football, what and why he washed his car. Nothing I did got the attention I was desperate to have from him.

It took me a long time to realize I couldn’t change him, no matter how many times I initiated something with him. I had finally got it, that it had never been my job in first place. It was his job as my father to delight in me – as his daughter. To show me his love, protection, values, and everything that was important to him. I wanted to know who he was and is, but that part of his heart to me has never been opened to me.

My Dad is without the skills I need. I believe his own father didn’t give him what he needed as a boy growing up. His own feelings about his Dad (my grandfather) aren’t the memories that you hold close to your heart. Rather they are the kind that you push away, and you let everyone else teach you how to be a man. Yes, we need our parents, a mother and a father to show us how to be a man or woman –  learned from their parents. A family is about love, trust and passing it down because it is good to know that there is a place where all of us can truly belong and be accepted. There is no cost to join, we simply need to be the product of our parents love that is between them. I believe how we are brought up determines a lot of who we become. It guides our perception of the world, it certainly leads mine.

I speak with my Dad once a month, we chat for about 15 minutes on the usual things. I would love to go to visit him but that just doesn’t seem to be his thing.  Does my Dad love me? Yes. I have no doubt that he does, he kind of gives it away in the way his eyes shine and sparkle when he first sees me. This could be a whole other post because I know my heavenly father has and is filling me with what I lack.

I’m not the shy, scared, self-hating little girl with ash blond hair anymore. Nor am I am the girl who hid from her peers. I am not the awkward adult who didn’t feel that she was a full-grown adult and just a child in disguise. Don’t get me wrong there are still times, the child in me comes out and gives a sly smile at those around her, and allows some of them into her heart so that they can see for themselves that God still saves.

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Discovering the Real Value in Christmas

 

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Christmas always left me feeling sad and empty when I was a little girl.

After all, the presents had been opened, and the wrapping paper was in the garbage, the whole idea of Christmas always seemed to be a waste – at least – to me it was. It was a race against time to get all those presents, and then a few hours later it was done. I wondered what the point of all of the gifts was. I was focused on a tree strung with bright sparkling lights, a man in a red suit who travelled with reindeer flying all over the world to give out gifts.

Forget the actual day of Christmas, the magic of Christmas Eve struck a chord in my young heart because I knew whatever was happening was special. Everyone leaves work early to go home and be with their families and close friends. Part of the problem I think was, I didn’t even know that we were celebrating and remembering a baby being born.

It’s a few days after Christmas, and it is still about hope, and though the majority of us have already been out to pick up a bargain from the leftover sales from Christmas, we make-up excuses for more stuff. Just another day to spend time buying stuff. And the question is: do you even need it?

Everything and nothing leads us to pause about what has gone wrong, except we don’t know what it’s all about. It’s a season of where paradoxes’ emerge. It’s a time to be wowed by the hope given to us by a baby born in a barn – in a complete lack of luxury, the complete opposite of what most people think of when they speak of Christmas. This is a time when it’s easy to overeat, over-shop, just plain over the top consumption! Another chance to fill the emptiness inside of their souls, but sometimes you need to empty yourself to feel the poverty of the situation.

It refuses to be extinguished

A small flame of hope lingers hidden underneath anger, shame, depression, and anxiety, etc., with all the gems that are the sum of our desires. Christmas doesn’t seem to be enough but it is, with the simple gift of hope in a birth of a baby in a manger. The problem is most of us equal Christmas with more stuff, more doing than waiting as we are called to do so during the season of Advent. Taking time to enjoy the Christmas lights on front porches, for example, this can help remind us of the hope that is in the waiting. Instead of holding onto negative emotions, make an effort to seek out the good that Christmas does offer, and even the opportunities that are given to us the time in between Christmas and New Years. For myself, I have found I need fewer activities and more time reflecting to appreciate what is going on.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is usually a chaotic time for me. It’s hard to put into words how I feel in this time of undetermined celebrating. It’s mostly an emotional and spiritual battle, but this year, I decided I was going to do something more concrete. I started with Advent:

  • This year I made the plan not to go into a mall once December came, I didn’t want to see the busyness when it should be a time of waiting, not rushing around. I start my Christmas shopping in March/April so that around November I can tie up loose ends.
  • I bought a devotional from Magnificat specifically for the season of Advent. I don’t normally read devotionals, but I figured reading something about Advent might help.
  • During Advent, there were times that I felt little reminders of joy and hope. I let the Lord fill me with these emotions, and they led me to anticipate(joy) the coming of His arrival.
  • I make a point each year to work 2-3 days to help with confusion of days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve

 

I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and all the best for coming year of 2017!

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This is for You

 

Do you sit and let the silence from within you rise up?
It’s there you know.

His silencephoto-1452723312111-3a7d0db0e024 (1)
that prays,
that heals
that fills you with peace.
The kind that can’t be manufactured in a factory.

He is bigger than our hate of one another and ourselves.

He prays in you and
if you stopped, and listened
to your heart you would hear him

He gives life to what is considered dead.

Do you scorn the solitude
like when you hide from your shadows?

The shadows of regret, hate, fear, guilt, and shame
These burdens push out His peace.
He is not holding back his arms to you,
you are.

He’s not out to get you, he does not have an agenda
He is not trying to punish you
He is the peace you’re striving for.

He knows you so well, and that scares you.
You’re scared he might make you do something you don’t want to do.
Giving up what you don’t want to let go of.

But he has something that you don’t have,
and that is patience,
and mercy, to lavish on you.
It is unlimited to what he can do.

A photo by Austin Schmid. unsplash.com/photos/5Dga0T0x6GY