34 Days of Favorites: Quote

Seeing as there are almost endless amounts of great quotes in the world, it’s hard to choose one as a favorite.

There is only one quote, however, which made it to my fridge door and remained there most of the year. It even survived our move, and found it’s way to our new fridge door:

That quote kinda sums up what I learned this last year. I’ve shared about how last spring, I realized I was not very happy with my life, with no good reason, and decided to do something about it.

This last year has been about reading fantastic books to gain new wisdom, and developing new habits and ways of thinking. It’s been about praying and memorizing Scripture, and working at this thing until I can honestly say I feel completely different about my life today.

I still mess up, and have a lot of work left to do, but life is different, and I am so thankful.

So what does this quote have to do with it? Well, on that spring day last year, I realized I was waiting for my life to change. I was waiting for annoying dilemmas to disappear, and dreams to fulfill themselves in my life. I had somehow slipped into thinking that my emotions were at the mercy of my circumstances.

In my head, I knew this was not the right way to live, but I got mixed up somewhere along the way.

I had to make a choice. I had to decide what to do when hard things happened in my life. I needed to know, right down to the bottom of my heart, that I believed God was in control, and joy and peace were possible in the midst of any circumstances.

When I saw this quote in a magazine, it hit me in exactly the right spot. It sums up much of my journey – I will choose for today what kind of life I’m going to live. Today I start to change bad habits. For today, I cannot control what issues will come into my life, but I can control how I react to them.

And that is what makes all the difference.

I want to write my story on purpose. I don’t want to sit around waiting for my life to happen. I would like to make good things happen, and fully embrace the everyday blessings I might have overlooked before.

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Any favorite quotes you want to share? Or how about ways in which you are choosing to write your own story today? Please share! Because I’d love to hear about it, and…..because you might win a prize! (Get the details here.)

Laugh an Extra Laugh

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin writes about how she tried to add more laughter to each and every day.

Since I read that book in spring, this thought has stuck with me. How does a person laugh more? Being married to Ben has made me laugh more. Having kids has made me laugh more. Could I find a way to add some more laughter?

I think I have found a way. Over the last few days, I’ve found myself laughing longer. The girls say funny things, and I laugh just like I usually would, and then I laugh it little bit longer.

Maybe it’s not that funny.

But maybe it is. Maybe I’m okay with being overly amused by the little things.

I remember being in junior high and high school, and having to hold back my laughter – I could only laugh at what everyone else was laughing at, or  I would be mocked. And I could only laugh as long as everyone else did, or I’d be made fun of for finding something funnier than it really was. Or I would be made fun of if I didn’t laugh at all when everyone else was laughing.

Thank goodness that high school does not last forever. Now I can laugh whenever I want, for as long as I want.

So I think I will. While I’m in the mood, I’ll laugh an extra laugh.

A cheerful heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.(Proverbs 17:22)

I Choose Happiness

A few months ago, I was going for a walk and having a good think, when I realized that I was stuck in a grumpy rut.

I think it’s possible to go through hard times, and get so in the habit of things being hard, that we keep thinking everything is hard, even when it isn’t anymore.

I think it’s possible for us to get so used to looking for the bad in a situation, that we keep on looking for it in every situation. And as Pollyanna’s father said, “If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it.” I think that goes for situations, too, not just people….

So I walked along, thinking about how attitude is a choice, and I was in the rut of always choosing a grumpy attitude. There were times when I felt quite legitimate about being grumpy.

And there were lots of times when I wasn’t grumpy – it’s not like I was an awful person to be around. I was just very consistently able to find the negative in any situation.

And as I walked along, I realized that I was very tired of that. Maybe there were times when I was legitimately grumpy, but it’s still my life, and I would like to enjoy it a lot more than what I was.

I realize that “the joy of the Lord is my strength”. I knew all the verses about being content in every situation, and rejoicing in the Lord, but I felt like I needed something more.

Is it wrong to feel like I needed more than God’s Word?? Oh dear. But I did. I needed some practical tips. It is very practical to rejoice in the Lord always. But I needed more detail, some step-by-step instructions on how to be happy.

So I ordered Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”. And it exactly hit the spot.

source

I loved this book. It fit my need for charts and lists and oodles of practical suggestions. Gretchen Rubin wanted more happiness in her life, so she figured out very specific ways of breaking bad habits, and growing positive new ones. She identified the problems, and then figured out how to fix them.

And she wrote over and over again about how happiness is a choice.

I definitely needed the kick in the pants to start making better choices. I needed to realize that the amount of joy in my life is controlled by….me. It doesn’t matter what problems I face, I still get to choose how I will respond to life.

Example: A couple of weeks ago, I was stuck at Superstore at 5:30pm on a Friday. If you ever want the truest, deepest weaknesses of your character to be exposed, go to Superstore at 5:30pm on a Friday.

It was pure madness. I was indescribably frustrated. The lines were longer than I would ever have guessed possible at Superstore, everyone there was grumpy, and the rotisserie chicken I was buying was dripping juice all over my pants.

I was trying to find my way through the crowd to the end of the line, when suddenly, who should appear at my side but my former youth pastor. For a second or two, I was actually tempted to sneak away before he saw me, because I was so grumpy that I did not feel like being social.

In that moment, I had a choice. And I realized that no Superstore line was worth being so grumpy that I couldn’t squeak out a friendly greeting. So I took a deep breath, cleared the impatient expression off my face, and greeted him with the most cheerful voice I could muster up. We battled our way to the back of the line together, and then proceeded to catch up on life for the next 20 minutes.

Those minutes went by in a flash. I’ve never enjoyed myself in a Superstore line as much as I did that day.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes we end up in crumby situations. That’s life. But I believe there is always some goodness to be found. I’m going to start looking for it a whole lot more diligently.

For Times When I Want To Be in Control…

I like to be in control of my life.

That’s kind of a problem, seeing as there are so many aspects to life that I am not in control of.

I’ve spent years dealing with the struggle between the desire to be in control, and the conviction to surrender everything in my life over to God.

From what I’ve seen, heard, and read, I know that I am not alone in this struggle. It’s one of the big struggles of the Christian life – surrendering to God, giving up control. I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated – I want to surrender control to God, but I have all this energy and emotion that won’t co-operate. What do I do with it all?

But I had an epiphany last night.

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (which you will hear much more about yet, believe me, because that book is amazing), and she ended the book by observing that one of the biggest ways that her Happiness Project made her happy was by giving her control of her life.

But here’s the thing: She didn’t get control over what happened in her life so much as she got control over her reaction.

I’ve been seeing my desire to control as such a weakness – a bad desire that I must get rid of, in order to surrender my life to God.

But the Bible makes it clear that God wants us to be in control of certain things – of our reaction to things, of our thoughts, of the choices that we make.

Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit. We are told to take every thought captive. We are told to “consider it pure joy” when we face hardships.

Control over the right things in our lives is actually a good thing.

It only becomes wrong when I try to control things that are not mine to control.

What if I have a desire to control because God gave it to me? What if each of us has a God-given longing for self-control, for the ability to choose grace under pressure, for the ability to rise to the occasion, and control the things that He desires for us to control?

What if every time I’m frustrated about my lack of control in a situation, I switch my focus to control my reaction, instead of the situation?

No, I won’t end up getting my own way, but at least I would have a new direction to point my energy and emotions. I would still be surrendering to God what He wants me to surrender, and would get to work on controlling the stuff that He’s actually given me responsibility for.

And now all of the calm people of the world, like Ben and my dad, are probably reading that and wondering why on earth it took me nearly 33 years to figure it out.

I can’t control when I get an epiphany. Since I am not one of the calm people of the world, some of these things take a little longer…