Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blessings in the Midst of Burden

The devil certainly did his very best this weekend to ZAP my happiness, but he did not succeed!

Here is a brief rundown of the obstacles that were placed in the way of my happiness-

  • I was all ready to leave right after school on Friday to go to a gathering of reading teachers, where I would make a presentation, when I got word that my daughter had come home early from school with a stomach virus. I made a pit stop at home to check on her and a quick run to the grocery store to pick up Sprite and good old fashioned chicken noodle soup. After making her comfortable and getting her reassurance that she would be OK, I headed out.
  • About halfway to my destination, 3 lights flashed on the car's dashboard. A quick call was made home and the mechanic was notified.
  • When I arrived at the hotel I learned that I did NOT have a room reserved. After looking in every list possible, the clerk called the lead director of the program and she came down to work it out and get me into a room.
  • Later that night I headed down to the first workshop only to learn that I was not registered there either. Thankfully, I was able to just sign in and enter anyway.
  • As I headed home Saturday afternoon I made a quick pit-stop at Dick's sporting goods to pick up replacement track spikes for my daughter, when my car quit in the middle of the parking lot. I was able to get it started again and eased it into a parking space. After I made my purchase I came back through the cold rain that was falling only to find that my car would not start. A quick call to my sweet hubby and he was on the road, ready to come to my rescue. When he arrived an hour and a half later, the car started! 
  • I exited the parking lot first, with hubby right behind me in his vehicle. About 15 miles down the road my car began to slow down and smoke. I eased it over to the shoulder and Hubby called a tow truck. I was still at least an hour from home.
As you can see, I was almost constantly bombarded with things that very easily could have put me into a depression, or at the very least, loaded me down with the pressure of stress. Yet, as I drove home in Hubby's car with him riding in the tow truck behind me I still found myself feeling grateful and happy. The rain had turned into snow by that point and I could see it flying in the light of the car's headlights. The tow truck driver had notified us that the charge for the tow would be at least $200. I still had no idea of how much the actual repairs would cost.

So, how could I still feel happy?

Well, I just kept smiling and thanking the Lord that he had sent such a wonderful, caring man as my husband into my life: he had not hesitated to come to my aid when I called, he did not complain when he got there and the car actually started, and he still has not blinked or uttered one word about how much the whole thing is likely to cost. At one point I told him, "I'm sorry." He said, "It's not your fault. These things happen." 

Don't get me wrong- I know that we will still need to find the money to pay for all of this..... but I have no doubt that God will help us with that! It will probably be difficult to go without my car until I get it back from the garage; we all have busy schedules which often send us in different directions, but spending the commuting time with family is sure to be a blessing.

Proverbs 31, one of my go-to places for inspiration, posted this picture a while back:

And that is SURELY what I have tried to do this weekend!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


When I think of anticipation, it immediately brings to mind an image of my daughter in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The lights, decorations, packages, and music are almost too much for her. As we get nearer and nearer to the actual holiday her anticipation builds so much that she is usually begging, "Can't we open just one package?"

The first happiness trigger discussed in Valorie Burton's book is anticipation.

As I read that first chapter I felt like someone had been gazing into my inner being. Valorie discussed how important it is to have events that you look forward to. Well, I haven't had a lot of anticipation lately. I have been too busy just mulling through my daily routines: get up, shower, fix my lunch, take a few minutes to read the morning devotional, then head off to school. Instead of anticipation, I find myself dreading a lot of things: meetings, paperwork, work duties, house cleaning, even cooking supper at night. I spend a great deal of my time just checking things off from my mental to-do list.

It wasn't always like this. I can remember in early marriage I would wait in the living room, anticipating my husband's arrival at home so he could tell me about his day and I could share my own happenings with him. I remember the smile on my face as my young children came bounding into the room, waving a paper that had been returned that day in school. I anticipated their joyful stories, their proud faces, and even the time spent sitting beside them, head to head, assisting with their homework.

Somewhere along the way, I became too settled.... too familiar with the same old day to day routines. The joy that anticipation should have brought was replaced with a need to just get through things, finishing them up, and putting them behind me.

I think back to Joshua, in the Bible. Before he and the Israelites crossed the river Jordan he told them in Joshua 3:5:

 “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

I think of the anticipation for that event- what joy the people must have felt! Surely there were murmurings of "Whatever will happen?" and "I can't wait to see what God will do." Their joy must have been even greater as the ark was carried into the waters the next day and the waters simply stopped flowing, allowing the priests to carry the ark through on dry ground.

I think again of Joshua, when later they marched around the city of Jericho for six days and then, on the seventh day the walls crumbled. Joshua had spoken with the Lord and had been told that....

 On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

I can only imagine what Joshua felt as he headed out that seventh day. He had faith in the Lord; he knew the victory was coming. Surely anticipation was pumping through his veins, along with his blood.

What can I do then, to reclaim that joy of anticipation for myself?

According to Valorie's book I need to start with the simple things, those little things that I can look forward to at the end of the day or the week. I can remember when a nice long bubble bath was my anticipated end of the work week, perhaps I need to allow myself that time and pleasure again. 

She also mentioned counting down to those milestone anticipated events. For me, that surely means the end of the school year, as well as my retirement in a few years. I think I have been doing those things, but I have not allowed myself to focus on the bright spots related to those. I have been counting down to the end-of-year testing rather than my last day of work for the year and I have been focused on the fact that there will be no more paperwork when I eventually retire. Instead, I think I need to begin focusing on what fun things I will have time to do. 

I think of that coffee commercial showing retired people enjoying a cup of coffee on their first day of actual retirement-- Perhaps I need to picture myself doing something like that. I need to allow that anticipation to build within me, bringing me happiness as I wait for the day.

Lastly I think I need to begin to build some anticipation for what God has planned for me. Yes, God still has plans for a 50 year old woman who is nearing retirement! I need to be in prayer that he would show me those plans and I need to allow the anticipation and joy to build and grow within me as I wait. 

Are you like me? Have you allowed yourself to fall into a rut of the regular, old, run-of-the-mill? Do you need to build anticipation so that you, too, can rediscover the happiness that it brings? If so, I would love to hear from you. (I forgot to mention that Valorie also mentioned that we NEED to talk about the things that we anticipate. That helps us to not only share our joy, but focus upon it. Won't you share your joy with me?)What little pleasures bring you joy? How do you plan to focus on that joy? Leave a comment and share. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Women Live Better

Hallelujah! Winter is over!...... At least it is according to the calendar. I know that the weatherman has already uttered the dreaded 4 letter "s" word in the forecast for next week, but I am choosing to stay positive. The calendar says spring, so I am embracing it.

All of the cold temperatures, snow, ice, and our visitor "The Polar Vortex" have all combined to put me in a fairly decent sized winter funk. I decided that the beginning of the new season would be the perfect time to pick up a book from my bookshelf and jump into a new study.

In December I made a list for my sweet hubby of the new books that I had been hearing discussed online and requested one or two of them as part of my Christmas gift. Always going overboard, he had purchased all 4 that were on the list. Among them was THIS book by Valorie Burton.

I think it will be the PERFECT thing to "defunk" me.

I would love for you to join me. Each week I will read about one of the "triggers" and post my reflections on it. (There are 13 Triggers.) You can purchase a copy of the book, if you like, or you can just read my blog entries and join in on discussion by leaving comments.

The book focuses on two things really: determining what things trigger your own personal happiness and finding out which triggers you can use to help you be MORE happy.

The first step in the whole process is to take an online quiz to determine what triggers most affect your happiness. You can find the quiz at this website:

According to the quiz, my "personal triggers" are connection, service, and gratitude. These are the triggers that I most often use to create my own happiness and the ones that come easiest for me.

My "power triggers" were winning words, smiles, and relaxation. These are the triggers that I need to make a greater effort to activate and use.

I would love for you to take the quiz and join in this discussion about women and happiness. Take the quiz and post a comment telling me what your triggers are. Maybe we can all get happy together!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Encouragement From God

Last post I told you about my scrap supply spending freeze. Well, this morning I got even further affirmation from God himself that this is what I need to do right now.

I sat down at the computer to do my typical morning thing: log into the "Encouragement for Today" over at Proverbs 31. The title of today's post is "Why Shopping Will Never Satisfy". As I was reading the devotion about a family who was downsizing and a woman who realized that she accumulated way too much stuff over the years, my mind kept coming back to me.

There I was, sitting in the midst of packages of stickers, alphabet letters, paper, and at least 40 or 50 different ink pads. (Truth be told, there are probably even more than that.) And it was then that I read the verse:

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

It literally made me stop breathing for just a second.  "Be content with what you have." Be content with the paper that I have. Use it. Make it work. (After all, I am supposed to be creative, right?) Be content with the storage options that I have, just figure out a way to change the layout to give me the space I need to organize the supplies that I have so I can find them and really use them.

I truly think that this devotion was meant for me right now! God knew that I needed encouragement right now and he sent it my way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Craftless...... Sort Of

Last week we entered the season of Lent.... That may not mean a lot to some of you, but for me this period always signals a time of great inner thought. What kind of person am I? How can I improve myself? What do I need to add into my life? What can I eliminate? It is also the time of the year when people often try to give up something- if only for the 40 days of Lent. Lots of people give up meat or sweets or chocolate. For me, I chose to give up something different.

One of my big weaknesses has to be that I like to buy craft supplies- those little sheets of labels in the Michaels dollar section often call out my name. As a matter of fact, that dollar aisle happens to be one of my favorite places. My husband has learned over the years that the way to make me happy in a new town is to find the nearest Hobby Lobby or Michaels and drop me off to cruise through the aisles and see what is new.

Lately, I haven't been purchasing as much on those shopping trips. The bags that I carry to the car are smaller and the stacks of items in my craft room are smaller. That is because I have built a large supply stash and I am not using it at nearly the pace that I would like.

Because of this, I have decided that during Lent I will not shop at either a Michaels or a Hobby Lobby. I will not walk down the paper aisle and randomly flip through 10 different paper packs, examining the colors and trying to decide if I need them. I will not pick up the 3 new shades of adhesive rhinestones or pearl beads, even if they are only $1 a pack. Instead, I will make a deliberate effort to actually examine what I have in my supply closet and decide what I can do with the items. Will I use them? Do I need them? Can I make something for someone else?

I won't kid you..... it has not been easy, and I am only into the first week of this craft supply fast. On Saturday I had to go pick up some things that my daughter needed for an upcoming prom. The ULTA where I was shopping is directly across the parking lot from........

Yep..... right there beckoning to me was the Michaels craft store. To make things even more difficult, I was all by myself. There I was, having driven an hour and a half, finished with my daughter's shopping, all alone...... but I didn't crack.....

I got in the car, drove to Chick-fil-A and had lunch, then I treated myself to frozen yogurt from my favorite fro-yo place before driving the hour and a half back home. It actually felt good to resist the temptations of paper, stickers, and rubber stamps.  I know that the next 39 days will not a breeze, but I am really going to try....

Who knows, when Lent ends I may continue this craft supply buying freeze...... We will see.

I would really appreciate whatever support my fellow crafters can offer. Have you entered a spending freeze? If so, what did you do to help you through it? Are you using more of your stash now?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Let It Go.......

Every time I turn on the television I hear that song.... "Let it Go". While I love the song, the only thing that comes to my mind when I hear it is that I wish that winter would let go! Sunday night the ice started and then yesterday the snow fell, measuring a full 5 inches in our front yard.

I have not braved the roads yet because our own side road is still covered. A friend posted this photo of the MAIN road that goes into town.

I am hoping that the road conditions will begin improving today; I have heard the snow plows go by at least 3 times in the last couple of hours. Maybe once they get the main roads looking better they will turn their attention to our side roads.

Today is the 28th day that we have missed school this year. I figure that it will take at least one, maybe even two days before the bulk of this snow melts, so we may not make it back in this week. My daughter, who is a senior, just keeps saying, "I will never get to graduate." I assure her that she WILL, it just may not be as soon as she would like.....

Come on Old Man Winter, just let it go and let spring come our way!