How We Can Be Happy Anywhere

6481715361_5595056efc_zDo you ever long to be somewhere other than where you are right now? Maybe live in a different locale or a different home? Work a different job? Maybe even be in a different stage of life or out from under certain family obligations? If you haven’t felt this way in your life yet, chances are you will at some point. I think we all do.

The good news is we don’t have to let our current circumstances dictate our happiness. God can give us a different outlook if we take our eyes off the things we are unhappy about and instead look to him and his Word for peace and joy.

Here are a few things to remember directly from the Word of God that show us how and why we can be happy anywhere, in whatever situation we find ourselves. May we all be blessed, encouraged, and strengthened by the reading of God’s Word today!

“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.” Psalm 119:54 NIV

“‘. . . Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’” Joshua 1:9 NIV

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

 “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13 NIV

*Which of these speaks to you most powerfully today? Can you think of any other scriptures to add?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by mike hamerton, Creative Commons License

The Bride’s Hair: A Trial Run

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Mother of the Bride, here’s an important hair tip for your daughter’s wedding day: Be sure to schedule a trial run. You don’t want to gamble with something as important as the bride’s hair on her dream-come-true day. It’s best to have a trial run to avoid disappointment and unmet expectations on the big day itself.

Many brides accomplish this crucial trial run when they have their bridal portraits done. Not only does this special photo session provide an hour’s worth of gorgeous photos of the bride in all her wedding adornment before the I do day arrives, it gives the bride and her hair stylist a chance to nail down and perfect the style the bride has envisioned for herself.

Not all brides choose to schedule a bridal portrait session, though. If your daughter falls into that group, MOB, be sure to suggest a bridal hair run-through. It’s worth the expense of an extra appointment to prevent unwelcome surprises—and unnecessary stress—on the biggest day of your little girl’s life.

Mother of the Bride, as with so many other areas of life, better safe than sorry, right? And don’t forget to snap some photos to help chronicle your wedding planning adventures. It’s all part of the fun!

*You might also like to read Cake-Cutting Wedding Day Tip and Wedding Photography Tip: Candid Shots of the Guests.

*My photo

Focus on the Positive

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Anyone in need of a reminder today to focus on the positive? It’s not a new message by any means, but it’s one I need to hear from time to time. Maybe you do, too. And there may be some who especially need this kind of encouragement during dreary winter days.

It’s so easy to notice the negatives in our lives—the things we’re dissatisfied with or wish were different. In fact, it’s only natural since these things have a way of popping up frequently.

Dissatisfaction or unhappiness can start with something as subtle as a look in the mirror. We don’t like a certain feature of our faces or bodies so that’s all we focus on when we look at ourselves. Or it might be something deeper. We may hate our tendency to lose our tempers or become prideful or . . . you fill in the blank. And even though, yes, we need to work on conquering certain weaknesses or sins, it’s not good for us to see only our deficiencies.

Other areas where we may fall into the trap of focusing on the negative might include difficult or challenging relationships, the places where we live or work, our children’s schools or teachers, or even our churches. In fact, we can fall prey to this unhealthy thinking in just about any area of our lives.

Since dwelling on the unpleasant aspects of a person or situation reinforces our negative feelings and makes the problems seem even bigger, the healthier way to deal with such situations is to instead take note of the positives and then focus on those. Even with the hardest cases, we can usually find some good points to keep uppermost in mind.

As we focus on the positive, we’ll feel happier and more content. Gratitude will grow. Some difficult people or situations might even change as they respond to our more positive approaches. But even if they don’t, we’ll experience more peace within ourselves.

Let’s determine to take a fresh look at our homes, our marriages, our communities, and the winter season if we’re struggling on that front, or any of the things or people in our lives that seem to be full of negatives. Let’s focus on the positives. Let’s allow an old message to breath new life into us today.

“. . . whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b

*When has focusing on the positive made a difference for you?

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamini

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out next week. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Adjusting Our Vision: Battling Dissatisfaction

It happens almost every time. Returning home after a few days away stirs up mixed emotions in me. Like most folks, I’m happy to get back to my own comfort zone, but I also struggle with some unwanted feelings. Feelings of dissatisfaction.

Here’s the problem (and I’m probably not the only one who experiences it): Many times when I go out of town, I get to enjoy nature’s beauty in more spectacular ways. Of course, this occurs during vacations, but I also sometimes experience it while visiting family for a few days.

Not long ago I spent some time in Arkansas with my oldest daughter Kristin while her husband was away on business. Their backyard is landscaped with flowers and several beautiful bushes and trees and is surrounded by a privacy fence. It feels like a garden oasis. Add the music and the beauty of the birds, and my heart sings as well. I experience the same soul satisfaction while soaking up the woodland beauty found at my parents’ home in Missouri.

When I return to my own home, it’s easy for me to focus on the things I don’t have. I don’t have a garden oasis or the beauty of the woodlands right outside my back door—and I miss them during those first few days back home. I long to experience that kind of beauty each day right here in my own surroundings.

The first morning back after my trip to Kristin’s, that old familiar ache surfaced again as I spent a few minutes outside. Within seconds, something else surfaced as well.

Dissatisfaction. Thoughts like why can’t we live somewhere beautiful, too . . .

The Lord immediately pricked my heart with a reminder that dissatisfaction is dangerous business. At his prompting, I adjusted my vision and rejoiced in the beauty I do have.

And what do I have? I have the sky. I may not have a private oasis or the magic of the woodlands outside my door, but since we have no trees in our front yard, I have the sky’s expanse to rejoice in each morning. Without trees to obstruct the view, it’s so easy to look up and imagine heaven and talk with the Lord, the Creator of all beauty. After all, he is where my real satisfaction lies.

Of course, I noticed the birds, the colors of spring, and other things, too, after my vision adjustment. I realize it’s only natural to relish the beauty of other places, but I need to remember to focus on the beauty right before me. As I do that, dissatisfaction has a harder time getting a foothold.

I wonder if any of us are struggling with dissatisfaction in other areas of our lives. Could focusing on and rejoicing in the beauty and blessings we do have make a difference in those areas as well? I think so. Let’s guard against the dangerous business of dissatisfaction. Let’s adjust our vision before it has a chance to do its damage.

“. . . be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5b

*How do you guard against dissatisfaction in your life?

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani