Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Building my own kind of happy...



 My mama used to eat her crab or lobster with gusto,  picking the shells clean of the meat, then sucking all the juice and flavor from them.  I'm savoring summer like that, slurping up all that I can of hot summer afternoons and letting them sit on my tongue until I've enjoyed every nuance of flavor I can suck out of them.  There's only one summer that my grandchildren will be twelve and eleven, six and three and one, after all.  I will never get back this one special summer with them.  So, although I'd prefer that June, July and August have totally blank calendar pages, though I'd prefer that the there be some kind of mandate that summer is all about fun and pleasure and time with family and friends, the reality is that we have some pretty big life changing events on the calendar this summer.  We have a potential buyer on the home we've lived in for sixteen years, so it looks as though a big move is happening for us before summer's end.  There are also two overseas ministry trips happening during that same time frame.  Exciting? Yes!  Stressful?  Yes!  Will I take time to play with the grandkids anyway? Yes, yes, yes!


I think the saying "happiness is a journey, not a destination" is a profound truth.  It may sound like a trite cliché that looks great on a sign you hang on your wall, but I propose that it's a good guiding motto for life.  Too often I've lived with the wrong mindset that I'd be happy if this person would change, or that circumstance in my life were different.  Happiness became as elusive as chasing the wind.  There were two events in my life that dramatically changed that way of thinking for me. 


The summer I turned fifty, I went to the beach by myself overnight.  I knew there were some things twisted up inside my heart that could only be straightened out with a good long talk with God while I walked by the sea.  My heart was full of unforgiveness and bitterness towards others and about circumstances in my life that I was unhappy about.  I can take you to the exact spot on the beach where God spoke to my heart these three simple words, "Build your life".  He gave me the understanding that I had been focusing on all of the unchangeable things in my life, other people and certain circumstances that I had no control over, while I had been ignoring things I could change. Shortly after that I quit a job that had become way too stressful and which was limiting my availability for ministry at our church.  I also began pursuing things I love to do,  such as writing and photography.  
Not long after that trip to the beach, I also began to keep a gratitude journal, which I have now been keeping for over six years.  Every day I take notice of at least three things to be thankful for and I write them in my journal.  Each Sunday evening, I write a blog post about all of the blessings that I counted from the previous week.

It was those two things, choosing to shift my focus to the things I could change about my life rather than focusing on what I could not change, and learning to see and give thanks for the many daily blessings in my life, that caused me to find happiness in the journey instead of waiting for everything in my life to line up perfectly.  


In a perfect world, my dream house with a river view would become available in our price range, closing and moving would not happen until after all of the upcoming travel was over, and someone else would miraculously do all of the packing and moving for us.  Meanwhile no one in our church and ministry would have any crises for us to have to deal with, our kids and grandkids would be trouble free, there would be world peace, and I'd win the lottery even though I've never bought a lottery ticket in my whole life.  

On the other hand, it's a beautiful summer day here in Portland, Oregon, a bit cooler and milder than it has been.  Carpé Diem! There's a whole beautiful summer day to be seized, to be savored, to be enjoyed.   Today,  I'm choosing to build my life, to build my own kind of happy in the middle of my perfectly imperfect, messy, busy real life.



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32 comments:

  1. Love this reminder! It's so applicable to our lives right now!

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    1. Yes, it is! You are going through a lot of change right now, too!

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  2. Well said, dear friend. Just the reminders I needed today. As I walked on my favorite beach yesterday there reminders of days long past at that same place. Reminders of hard times - but happy, good times, too. I began to ponder how to make the good moments 'real'. In the moment. Now. Your words are perfect for where I am today. At this very moment. Thank you.
    ~Adrienne~

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    1. Love you, friend, and I am so blessed that this blessed you.

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  3. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp changed my life as well. I have my own gratitude journal and it keeps my focus on what is important! Thanks for sharing your summer with us! (Your neighbor at Holley's place)

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    1. That is so wonderful that we are fellow gratitude gatherers!

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  4. I love how you continue to inspire me on your journey.

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    1. And I love you back, friend! You are a blessing!

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    1. Thanks for being a sweet encouragement to me Jill.

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  6. Oh, how I love this post. And your pics--oh, wow, Elizabeth! So much talent and I'm soooo glad you took that little break and spent a night away. Hmmmm.....that sounds like a wonderful idea. A personal retreat with God. xo

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    1. Julie, thank you so much. I just love you. I know that sounds strange to some, but not to sisters in Christ, right? You are a real blessing to me.

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  7. This is so beautiful--and yes, enjoy those grandchildren--even they grow up and don't have as much time for Mimi and Boompa as they used to--looking back with love and awesome memories of when our grandchildren were those ages--

    We do have a 10 and a 2 year old still but they live in another state--sigh!

    The others are 25, 22, 21, 18, 16, and 15--They still bring lots of joy even though their lives are much busier now.

    Your photos are exuberant and full of life! I am choosing to embrace this day sitting looking out the window with a torn meniscus (which won't be treated) because I will be having kneee replacement surgery August 11--I am still so very blessed and have so, so much to be thankful for--

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    1. I love you much, my friend. Oh my, how life does zoom by! I tear up at the thought of my grandkids being grown and gone. Knee replacement is a big deal, so I will be praying for you. Feel free to email me, or Facebook message me, when you are recuperating and getting bored!

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  8. Elizabeth, I needed to read this today. Of course, I find myself saying that a lot when I read your blog posts. Thank you for sharing your heart and the way the Lord has grown you in your walk with Him.

    Blessings...

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    1. Oh Anne, thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate it very much!

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  9. I hear ya, Sister!!! Yes, as I turned a milestone birthday last year, it had me thinking a LOT. What are my next steps? Where is the Lord leading me? How can I be of service to Gods' plan? I've been thinking about a BIG move also. This move is kinda out of necessity, Oh! who am I kidding...it is necessary. I know what has to be done but where to go and when?
    Could you put me on your prayer list? So that I make all the right choices at just the right time. That God would foresee the whole process. I am alone in this and very anxious about the WHOLE process.
    Your grandchildren are adorable....that little guy, inspecting the water and the rocks is adorable!!!!
    Addie

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    1. Addie, I will definitely be praying for you, my friend. Change, even good change, necessary change, is not easy!

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  10. Ah, this post speaks to me, Elizabeth! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Love to you, Marilyn! You are such a blessing!

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  11. beautiful Elizabeth...thank you for sharing- I needed this xo

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    1. Robin, I'm so blessed that my post blessed you!

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  12. Love these photos of your grandkids enjoying the summer! And you are in the midst of a BIG story! Praying your move goes smoothly. And that you love the place you end up moving (river view or no . . .)!

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    1. Sharon, thank you so much! Your prayers are very much appreciated. Change, even good change, isn't easy!

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  13. I saw your post first via Instagram & replied to you there. Your words resonate with my heart... and fit perfectly with a pic I'd taken a few nights ago when my "Little" as I call my granddaughter asked... "DeeDee, please 'cam' I bubble bath in your room?" Seriously, what could I say!?!?! I filled the big bath tub with a few inches of water and a lot more inches of bubbles. I tood this pic of her shere joy. She reminds me daily that I need to build my own kind of HAPPY :D Thanks for your post. I shared this via Twitter & google+ but, couldn't find you on Facebook... but, I shared it from there too - LOL! Have a blessed day... I KNOW YOU WILL!! c

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    1. Your sharing my post is such a blessing! Isn't being a grandma just the most amazing thing!

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  14. Wonderful Elizabeth, thank you for the reminder to build our life, change what we can, ourselves. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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