Happy

Have you ever felt like you were in a pit of misunderstanding, a dungeon of disbelief or in a hole that hindered you from seeing any truth?  I have been there during my life.  The journey from there to here has been one filled with tears and prayers.  I would like to share some truth that has lifted me into a much better place.  It is based on Psalm 89:15-16:  “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.  They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.  They exult in your righteousness.”

“I just want to be happy,” I remember telling myself in the midst of a time of hurt in my life.  I had never experienced weeks of the feeling of loss, sadness and despair until then.  I refer to that experience as being in the pit.  In this pit, my companions were loneliness, grief, and brokenness.  I have come to realize that there is purpose for the pit, but at the time, I could not see it.  Although I will not discuss my pit in detail, rest assured that it was a horrible pit just like the one described in Psalm 40:2.  In that verse, the psalmist David wrote this: “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.”  I can say that over time, I was rescued by Jesus who brought me up and out of that awful place. Thankful to be set on a rock and having my new path established, I have walked into newness.  The memory of the pit sometimes comes to my mind, though.  Memories of that dark place wrestle with my new found peace.  I have to choose to not dwell in the memory of the pit, but walk in the light that God has provided by His presence.  Through the help of the Holy Spirit of God, I was brought to a stable place and have peace in my heart and mind.

As I have sought to stay in my happy place, I have realized that there will be ups and downs.  Even so, God’s Word guides me into truth and shares what to do when you want to be happy.  The psalmist speaks in Psalm 89:15 and 16 about what happens to people when they hear the call to worship God:  “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.  They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.  They exult in your righteousness.”  In all of my life, I can’t remember even reading these two Scriptures until recently and they continue to resonate with me.  

When I choose to hear the joyful call to worship, my focus shifts from the pit to the One who rescued me.  I realize His presence is with me, in me, working for my good and for His glory.   So by worshipping, I walk in the light of God’s presence.  This must be why I feel so close to God when I am singing, meditating on Him and His word and praising him with my words.  Not only do I worship with song and meditation, but I also worship by the choices I make moment by moment.  Hearing the “call to worship” is one that I can choose to hear or ignore.  If I choose to hear this call and worship Him with my life, my words, my time and my choices, then I feel a contentment knowing that I have obeyed my Father, in heaven.  I am in His presence as I worship which gives me the ability to walk into truth.

When I read Psalm 89:15, “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence,” I see a result.  “They will walk” means that we move through our days not in darkness but in light.  If you can’t see, then it’s hard to walk.  You fumble around in a state of confusion when nothing is clear.  In the midst of the pit, it’s hard to walk.  You are stuck in the miry clay confined by the depth and the depravity of it.  When you worship, you allow God’s light to enter and your mind is able to walk into God’s presence where there is fullness of joy.  There is still the heartbreak, but the healing of His presence is ushered in as our minds worship God.  Just being in His presence offers me comfort and fills my broken heart with strength and hope.

As I meditate on Him, I begin to thank Him for being such a good God who has rescued me.  In His Word, God has a reputation of being holy, loving, righteous, merciful, sovereign, unchangeable, graceful, good, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, just and loving. In a study at this site, https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/attributes.cfm, the attributes of God are described with Scripture reference.  I think this is a powerful way to understand God when you study His attributes.  When you get to know someone, you begin to get a feel for who they are and what they are like.  When we study His Word and see times when He showed himself as, for example, loving, we can meditate on this part of His reputation.  If he made this reputation for himself, then he will again do what he needs to do in my life to show His attributes.  

I can rejoice all day long in His reputation.  It’s not just that He has a good reputation.  When I am faced with a concern or an issue, I can reflect on how good that God is and can call on Him.  As I pray, I can ask for Him to again help me because of his many attributes.  I not only know of times in the Bible when He made His reputation known, but know of times in my own life when He has made His attributes clear.  When I needed to know if I should move jobs back in 2007, I asked.  His word revealed that he would guide me like the Israelites by a cloud by day and a fire by night.  He led them so I was confident that He would lead me.  I had no doubt that after several days of praying, I sensed that I should take the job.  I passionately wondered and asked Him if it was the right thing to do and He knew my heart’s desire.  Because He answers prayer, He gave me direction and allowed me to know that He would be there with me and guard me.  In many instances, I have seen Him guard me and protect me in my job.  It was because I sought His will that He made it clear to me.  Because He is omniscient, He knows what is best for me.  I can trust in His direction because he is all knowing and will lead me into truth.  

When I see how God has answered prayer, brought me up and out of the pit, set me on a solid foundation and established my goings, thankfulness and appreciation for Him erupts in my heart.  Psalm 89:16 in the New Living Translation says that “They exult in your righteousness.”  The word “exult” means to show or feel a lively or triumphant joy.  When I exult in His righteousness, I can show joy by my actions and words, not being boastful of how God answered prayer, but in celebrating the fact that He brought me up and out.  Sometimes, I wish that I could sing and play piano loudly while other times, I am assured of His faithfulness to me in my life without the fanfare.  I think though, that when we hear David in Psalm 89:16 use the verb “exult” we should realize that it is perfectly okay to feel a lively joy and to rejoice because of what God has done.  I want to always remember how he rescued me from my pit of despair and because of His lifting me up and out of there, I want to rejoice.  I need to be more thankful as I reflect on all the many blessings He has given, all of the issues that He has worked out, all of the love that he has restored in my life.  Because of His righteousness, I have been given a new hope.

How can I be happy?  Hear the joyful call to worship.  When I hear it and participate, then I can expect to walk in the light of His presence, rejoice in God’s reputation knowing that He will again show His attributes in my life and jubilantly show and feel a joy about what He has done.  If we choose to not hear the call to worship, then we can expect other emotions besides happiness.  
I would like to also think that when we hear other calls to worship the world and things, then they will provide a sense of happiness, but just for a little while.  The temporary trappings of the world bring pleasure for a season.  I am so glad that as I go through my life, I can be confident that in whatever season that I am in, I can choose joy and a path that leads to happiness.  This happiness is one that is not just for a little while, but forever.  Meditating on God’s word and worshipping Him allows His presence to light up my darkness.  I know that there are still days when darkness tries to cover my heart.  Clinging to the hope that I have in Jesus is my choice.  I hope you will choose to hear the call to worship, walk in His light, rejoice in His attributes and celebrate His goodness.  

See

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I am celebrating a new way of seeing my marriage!

In my 23 years of being a teacher, I can say that I rarely have taken days off during the school year for personal time.  When I have to be away from school, it is usually due to sickness.  My husband asked me, however, if I would like to travel with him to Destin, Florida so that he could attend a veterinary conference. How could I resist the offer to one, be with him, and two to have some rest and relaxation.  Little did I know when I accepted his offer, that with the rest and relaxation would come reconnection and rejuvenation of my marriage!

Upon arrival to our resort, we decided to have dinner at the ACME Oyster House Restaurant at the Baytowne Wharf. The craw puppies started the meal with the perfect combo of crawfish and hush puppy all neatly tied together with a honey infused dipping sauce.  Next, the meal arrived which could have been a meal for four not two people.  It was stacked with fish, shrimp, oysters, more craw puppies and hush puppies.  Although I never had been a fan of oysters, I loved the lightly battered, golden fried oyster bites that were sprinkled all over the dish.  There was so much left over after we ate all that we could, that we took the rest back to our place and had it for dinner on night two!

We slept in the next day and recovered from some busy days that had preceded this trip.  Before heading out for the day, I read this Scripture from Psalm 90:  “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.”  I prayed this Scripture in my heart.  I smiled and knew that we can trust in God to answer our prayers.  Whatever “beauty” needed to look like that today, I thought, please Lord Jesus, let it be on us.  I had waited for this day for so long and it was finally here.  It was our day to focus on us.

On our first morning in Destin, we had a lovely breakfast on the porch of Another Broken Egg Cafe, a  French country cafe, on their outside covered bricked porch area.   As we sat by the bay, we sipped our coffee, watched the wind blow the palm trees then were filled with pancakes, eggs and bacon.  Having time to sit and have a conversation around a table with my husband was truly a gift.  Since we also were counting this trip as part of a celebration of my recent birthday, this breakfast gave me just what I wanted.  The food was delicious but the presence of my husband was better!  I look forward to some brunch dates in the future with my hubby in my home town at the Another Broken Egg Cafe located there.

After the breakfast, we journeyed over to the Gulf shore.  When we stepped into the white powdery sand, it did not stick to my feet, but felt like pure bliss.  I looked at the water and from a distance, it appeared an emerald, bluish color and was reminded of trips that I have taken with my husband to the Caribbean islands as we walked to the water’s edge.  I stepped into the water and it was clear!  Hand in hand we walked out into waist deep water where we found a sand bar upon which we sat.  The gentle waves approached us and we just sat, looking into the distance at the horizon.  The clouds drifted in the sky and laughter of toddlers digging in the sand on the shore wafted into my ears.  Finally, we decided to take a walk on the beach.  Getting to hold his hand, walk and talk gave me time to process this togetherness.  We love our family and spend as much time as possible with them, but it was during this walk when I let myself live in the moment.  This was my moment with him.  We started our relationship while dating with so many moments which allowed us to fall in love and later marry.  Having time with him now reminded me of those dating days.  We could just be us and not try to be anything else. There was a wonderful rejuvenation that I felt while relaxing with him on the pool deck by the beach.  Eventually, the wind kicked in and we decided to leave and go to get snacks.

After spending all of this time with him, I was sad to part when he had to go to the Conference.  I decided to head to the beautifully manicured pool with innumerable palm trees dotting the area.  I began reading a book that I have had for a while but have not made time to read yet.  It is Renee Swope’s “A Confident Heart”.  At first, it was so breezy that I had to cover up.  I read the first chapter and noticed a sentence which the author wanted me to reflect on.  It asked me to describe what happens in my heart when I read God’s words.  Specifically, the following Scripture was referenced:  Isiah 43:19: ” See, I am doing a new thing!”  Suddenly, the clouds literally broke and the sun came bursting through warming me. It dawned on me that I am in the process of being refreshed and renewed.  I chose to sit at a spot which has a beautiful waterfall streaming down rocks.  Hearing the trickle of water at the waterfall even sounded refreshing to me!  I also felt the need to repeat that Scripture out loud because faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  The first word of that Scripture tells me to “See”.  Of course, I have to see if I am to realize the new things that God is doing, but that word, “See”, continued to ring in my ears.

Sometimes in my marriage, I have chosen to see things that were not always as pleasant as they have been on this trip. I have chosen to see the struggle and dwell there.  As the pool guy came by with a power washer to get the dark layers off of the cement bricks that edged one side of the pool, I realized that I am witnessing that God is slowly power washing the layers of hurt and sadness that have built in my life.  I am seeing that I have to pray His Word because it will align with His purpose for my marriage and for me.  I have spoken His word today and in just one sentence, The Holy Spirit of God allowed me to see that He is doing a new thing in me and in my marriage.

I know that the plan is to head home in a few days.  There will not be swaying palm trees, fountains, white powder sand and time to sit, but for today, I am glad that God has given me the gift of seeing that He is doing a new thing.  There have to be times when the old layers get washed away so that new memories and experiences can get poured into my mind.

I am thankful for the gift of seeing not only my husband, but not feeling like I am hindered from walking through darkness in the past.  It is true that we will face shadows but they are only visible when we are not facing the light.  I am not looking behind or to the left or right.  I am looking at the gift of marriage that God designed for my husband and me.  God planned for me to find my husband and walk through the dark as well as the light.  It is only when I have read the Word of God that this newness began to seep into my soul.

Jesus used mud which he spat on into the eyes of a blind person when He was on Earth and the blind person received sight!  He used natural elements infused with Him to bring about rejuvenation to the person in the Bible story and is using the natural elements in Destin which He made on Earth to renew me.  Today, I am feeling that I have received insight into a happier me as I have allowed time to treasure the moments with my best friend and husband.