Archive | April 2011

failure

I purposely didn’t capitalize the title today, because we’re going to be talking about failure and I don’t want to give it the importance of a capital letter!  My happiness tidbit for today is: when you’re working towards a goal, work all the way to the last minute as though it’s going to happen.  What I’ve found in myself is that when it looks like things aren’t coming together, I tend to pull back before the finish line.  If you’re not on track to finish, work as though you are on track!

One of the ways in which fear of failure rears it’s ugly head in my own life is it sometimes keeps me from playing to win.  Instead, I find myself playing not to lose, and there is a big difference!  Here’s the mind game that creeps in.  If I work hard, but not my best; if I try, but hold back a little bit; if I don’t completely throw my heart over the bar… then I won’t be as disappointed if I don’t make it.  But if I do play all out, do my absolute best, give it everything and I don’t make it, how awful will that be?  I don’t have the excuse that if I had just worked a little harder, I would have done it.  Even as I write this, it seems silly.  But I know that there are people reading this who can identify!  We are too attached to the results!  Yet when I look back at missed goals that I did work at my best, I can still find the joy.  It’s not just disappointment.  And who said disappointment was the end of the world anyway?

Whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, recognize where you’re holding back and stop it!  God designed you for great things and giving Him second-best is never the best option.  I know you can do it!

Find ways to say yes

Thursday is my favorite day of the week, so Happy Thursday!  Today’s happiness tidbit is to find more things to say yes to.  It is a funny thing how often you find truths about happiness that are contradictory.  Do it now vs. Take your time.  Ummm…. lots of others that I can’t bring to mind because I didn’t go to bed on time last night and it’s 6:08am and my brain appears to be letting me down once again.  Seriously.  But today’s tidbit also falls into that category.  Most often we’re hearing how we have to learn to say no.  This can be very helpful and true.  If you’re not living your priorities, it’s time to think about what can be cut out of your schedule.  If you’re just saying yes because you’re a people-pleaser, that’s probably not the best motivation and not serving you well.

Now to the point.  One thing that brings happiness is seeing happiness in others.  For example, how many times a day do you say no to your children?  I feel like I’ve kind of programmed myself that it’s my automatic response!  And I don’t like that!  So every so often, I am aware of that tendency and I look for ways that I can say yes.  Not compromising, but being willing to deal with a little more mess for the project they want to do or play a game with them rather than doing something productive.

Saying yes does require sacrifice and it should be used judiciously.  It also may require taking a risk.  Maybe you say yes to trying something new, even though you’d rather do what’s comfortable.  Perhaps you need to say yes to trusting God with something in your life, no guarantees of the outcome other than He will take care of you.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the YES of Jesus.”  He is our ultimate YES!

Please share your stories of how and what you say yes to today!  I’d love to hear them!

My God story

As I have been contemplating my topic for this morning, I’ve considered several different things to write about.  After about 10 min. of thinking, I realized that maybe it would be a good idea to ask God what He would like me to write about.  As I did, my impression was that I should share my God story as my happiness tidbit today.  Growing up, we would call this our “testimony”, but I have come to call it my God story since that is a bit more descriptive.  Granted, every story is really a God story and of course it is a story that is continuing to unfold.  But here is at least part of the story of how God got a hold of my heart.

I grew up in the most amazing family (strange, as we learned yesterday, but amazing).  Two parents who loved each other and loved me and my sister.  They also loved God and did a wonderful job of modeling what it looked like to have a relationship with Jesus.  I always knew that it wasn’t just about following a set of rules, but that God loved us and wanted us to know and love Him as well.  My dad was a pastor, so we spent a lot of time in church, but it was mostly a good experience for me, not a bad one.  The “church people” we knew and spent time with also modeled what it meant to be on a spiritual journey of growth with God.

I was about 4 when I first asked God to come into my life.  I don’t have a clear recollection of that time, but I remember deciding that I wanted to follow God.  One of my downfalls has always been my tendency to be a “performer”, to want to “get it right”.  So along the way, even though I knew it was a relationship that God wanted, I found myself more and more slipping into the pattern of performing for God.

I never went through a teenage rebellious period.  As a teen, I was at boarding school most of the time and it also was a very loving and nurturing environment where we were encouraged in our spiritual walk.

I came to college in San Diego while my parents lived 10,000 miles away in Africa for another year.  I started out as an Education major my freshman year, but changed it to Christian Ministries the following year (this is the degree I graduated with).  I found my Religion classes to be interesting and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, so I figured it was a good major!

Fast forward to March of my senior year of college.  I was engaged to my now-husband who had graduated with a Chemistry degree, but felt called to go to Seminary.  And I came to a crisis point in my spiritual life.  I had become very disillusioned with God and began to believe the lie that walking with Him didn’t really make much of a difference in my life.  I would be a good person even if I didn’t pray and read my Bible and go to church, so why continue to make the effort?  I told God that if He wanted me, He could come and find me, but that I was not going to try anymore.  And I was right: from the outside, no one could really tell any difference.  I still went to church with my fiance.  I didn’t go out and get drunk or steal a car or start swearing like a sailor.  But on the inside, I began to harden.

This lasted for 2 1/2 years and it was the darkest time in my life.  There were bright spots: I got married (to the man who wanted to go to Seminary!), my sister came back from Africa to attend the same college I had just graduated from and we got to spend lots of time with her.  And then we had to make the move to Kansas City so said husband could actually attend Seminary.  It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I trusted him and was committed to him, so we came.

And it was here that I rediscovered God.  Or rather, God found me.  He had been pursuing me all along, but I finally was able to hear Him and respond.  We were in a Sunday School class that really was not a great fit for us, but we liked the teacher.   We moved to KC in July and this was Sept.  Someone was sharing a prayer request and said something to the effect that “we know that God has a purpose in all of this and we’re trusting Him.”  That day, I couldn’t get away from the ache inside my heart to know that there was a purpose in my life because I had become purpose-less.  As trite as it sounds, my longing for my life to have meaning was what drew me back to God.  I spent that evening in our spare room with the door closed, praying and crying for God to show me if He was real.  I recommitted my life to Him that night.  I told Him I would follow Him, but that I was going to need a lot of help!  But I was afraid that it wouldn’t last, that I would end up right back where I started, so I didn’t tell my husband what had happened in my heart for another week.

These last 11 years have been the richest growth times of my life, as I have re-learned what it means to become more like Jesus, to ask Him for wisdom in my daily decisions, to completely surrender to Him and accept that He is in control.  It is an adventure, not a chore, to walk with God and to become more of the woman that He designed me to be!

This entry was posted on April 27, 2011. 4 Comments

Strange things

I believe it’s time for a lighter, sillier happiness post today!  One of my favorite National Sales Directors in Mary Kay, Jan Thetford says, “People are fascinating and highly entertaining!”.  I would love to hear some strange and “entertaining” facts about YOU!  Message me if you’d like to be featured in a future “strange things” post.  For today, I only have my own family for material, but that is a never-ending source of strangeness, so we’ll be okay.  I know you’re going to be jealous once you read these fun facts!  Or perhaps bored, one of the two.  I’m willing to take the risk.

  • Growing up, we did not have a TV.  This was not because we lived in Africa (we didn’t move there till I was 14).  Actually during most of that time, we lived in LA!  My parents just believed that there were better, more educational things to do than watch television.

  • Growing up, Dennis (the hubs) always skiied over Thanksgiving break, so they usually had spaghetti or pizza or Chinese food for Thanksgiving dinner.  Such sacrilege.  I really couldn’t believe it when he told me this.

  • I have a sister who is 3 years younger.  One of the games we made up to play together as kids was called Mommy Skunk and Baby Skunk.  We would make a place in my closet for our burrow.    I’m pretty sure it was my sister’s idea.  See, Mom– this is what happens when you don’t have a television!

  • I have never purchased a  box of mac and cheese, nor a package of hotdogs.  I don’t think my children even know what mac and cheese is.  For this I am grateful.

  • As a kid, my mom cooked very healthfully.  However, there was a period of time when we actually did eat mac and cheese with Spam.  I cannot believe this, but it is part of my history I cannot ignore.

  • I’m an eater.  I love to eat.  BUT, I am very specific about what I want to eat.  If it doesn’t sound good to me, I would rather be hungry than eat just any old thing.

  • I have read all the Harry Potter books AND the Twilight series.

  • I was speechless when I discovered this fact: as a child, if Dennis didn’t like something his mother made, she wouldn’t make it again.  This is one of many reasons why my children love their Gram much more than their own mother.  Lol!

  • My husband washes the dishes 90% of the time (without complaining, no less!) and he always does the ironing.  He also does most of the laundry.  I wrote this into the pre-nup.  Just joking about the pre-nup, but it would be a good idea!  🙂

  • I am inordinately proud of my ability to drive a stick shift (we don’t have any cars that are manual and I didn’t learn to drive a stick till I was 25– but I can do it at will!) and parallel park.

  • I have been told that I have a “hearty laugh”.  I’m pretty sure this is code for “very loud and somewhat obnoxious”.  I am okay with this.

  • I can touch my nose with my tongue.  I know you’re jealous.

All right, well now that you know many strange things about  my family, go out there and share somethings strange about yourself with someone else.  Let’s just call this “Share a Strange Fact About YOU” day.  You may start… NOW!

This entry was posted on April 26, 2011. 1 Comment

When in doubt…

Amongst all the wonderful-ness of Easter, celebrating the sacrifice of Yeshua (the Jewish name for Jesus– I often prefer to call him by this name!) and rejoicing in what He has done for us, I had a major meltdown.  It was not pretty…  Hey, this is supposed to be a happiness blog, not a whining blog!  What’s all this talk of meltdowns, you say?

My happiness tidbit for today is to make sure you have truth-tellers in your life.   When you’ve got tunnel-vision, when you are way too up-in-your-head, when all seems lost… you MUST have those who remind you of who you really are and who God has called you to be.

Several stressors converged this weekend that happened to hit all the triggers of my insecurities.  As they came flooding to the surface, self-doubt took over and I was pretty much down for the count.  My two biggest fears are fear of failure and fear of insignificance.  Can you relate?  I could elaborate, but I want to spend time what happened next.

First, I talked with my husband, who is one of the best listeners in the entire world.  He is not a fixer.  He listens compassionately, tells me that he still loves me and thinks I’m amazing and doesn’t understand how I could ever doubt myself, and then suggests I should talk to someone else for advice!  This used to frustrate me because I wanted solutions.  Now I know that advice is not his role to play.  For you, it may not be a spouse who is your listening person, but I betcha you have someone who will play that role for you.

Second, I reached out.  Most of us have a tendency to expect others to know when we need their help and to offer it unprompted.  That is typically not very realistic!  I was with my parents yesterday and after spending some family time, I told my dad, “I need some Dad time.”

After pouring out all the things I was upset about, we started talking about worry (the anticipation of a negative outcome).  Dad talked with me about some business strategies that I had been overlooking, reminded me that the outrageous behavior of my 5 year old would pass, encouraged me to trust God with the details, and when all was said and done, he said, “you cannot believe how proud I am of you!”.  He knew me better than I was allowing myself to know myself in that moment.  Who in your life believes in you when you are doubting yourself?  I wish every one of you had the kind of dad who verbalizes his love and pride in you, but I know that isn’t the reality for a lot of people.  Who can play that role in your life?  God has a person to speak those words into your life, so ask Him to show you if you’re not sure.  And don’t forget to ask!  Be honest and authentic.  Let someone know “I’m really doubting myself right now” or “I need someone to listen”.  Today is a new day!  Don’t believe the lies and find someone who will remind you of the truth!

What you do today

Do you ever buy into the lie that what you do today doesn’t matter?  My happiness tidbit for today is that your daily thoughts, activities, words, and behavior DO matter.  This is reassuring, but also challenging.  One of my favorite quotes is “Your success is hidden in your daily routine.”  I”m not sure whom to attribute this, but it has so many applications.

First of all, I’m really not a routine kind of girl.  I’d much rather have every day be different, mix it up, be spontaneous.  But there are things that I have built into my days that create my success.  One of those is my quiet time in the morning.  Okay, so that’s possibly the only thing, now that I think about it.  Ha!  At least it’s something important and not something like, “every day I dust the furniture.”  If you know me, you know that’s not true! 🙂

On the flip side, I find it reassuring because one of the biggest ways that Satan gets in my head is when he tells me the lie of insignificance.  When I feel insignificant, like it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m not making a difference– that’s when I can really get off-track.  I have come to recognize it as a lie, but even still it’s hard to overcome when the emotion is there.  Can you relate?

Let me remind you.  What you do matters!  What you do daily matters!  You may not see the results of your daily choices today or tomorrow.  But you will reap a harvest (for good or for bad).  Go out there and impact your world today!  I believe in you!

This entry was posted on April 22, 2011. 1 Comment

Spend out

When I read this portion of The Happiness Project, I wasn’t really sure what “spend out” meant, but I loved the concept once I understood it.  Gretchen (the author) to0k a month to focus on the relationship between money and happiness.  She challenged the idea that money doesn’t buy happiness and looked for ways in which it did or could.  These included: indulge in a modest splurge, buy needful things, spend out, and give something up.  I won’t delve into the rest of the subtopics today, but my happiness tidbit for today will be “spend out”: use things up, give things away, throw things away and stop worrying about keeping score and profit and loss.

This is so applicable in many areas of life.  We’ve all heard, “use the good china”.  This is a somewhat cliched version of spend out, but let’s go with it.  What is something that you  hoard because you don’t want to use it up or risk it breaking or wearing out?  This happens to be one of the very few things that I don’t struggle with often.  I’m a user-upper.  It doesn’t take much to convince me to utilize the beautiful things in my life, even on ordinary days.  This is probably more a function of my personality than any virtue I possess, however.

What is much more challenging for me is to not keep score.  I don’t want to keep score!  My husband is amazing at not keeping score and I so admire him for that.  Mentally, though, I always want to know where I stand and if I’m doing “good enough” in my relationships.  To give, love, expend without expecting praise, appreciation, reciprocation– this is my ideal.  Don’t think about the ROI– just do it!

In what ways have you learned to spend out, with possessions, money, time, relationships?  I’d love your personal comments and stories!