Gathering At the Well....giggle...giggle

I was rushing to pick up my 8th grader from football practice, a little frantic to get there "on time", i.e.: he is not the LAST player waiting in the parking lot. As I rounded the corner, I couldn't help but notice the car leaving the school. This mom had a radiant smile beaming from ear to ear. She and her son were talking about something and it looked like they were having FUN.

Instantly, it struck me that I wanted to be a radiantly beaming mom, enjoying the company of my son!

I want to enjoy my children (while they are children!). I want to have fun with my family. I want my legacy to be a life (and a home) filled with laughter and joy.

Now, I confess I can be a bit too serious at times. And, the Holy Spirit has been quieting me when my first reaction is to nag or complain. I am learning to close my mouth and listen more "quickly." I am trying to live out James 4:11: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Why is it that we sometimes think we are NOT supposed to be "happy" as Christians? There is so much dispute between "happiness" and "joy." I have heard people say something like, "Joy is within in our spirits, while happiness relies on our circumstances," as if there is something wrong with "happiness." Maybe you've heard the same things, and have even felt guilty because you are happy. And, even though we can't be "happy" all the time, 24/7, we can experience happiness regularly. Remember the mom with the beaming smile? She was GENUINELY enjoying herself!I believe God wants us to be happy....enjoying life. Jesus had a great sense of humor, and I find myself laughing at loud at times reading some of His parables. He said that He came to give us ABUNDANT to the full.

I know PERSONALLY what a sense of humor God has. Why else would He give me a husband that is so DIFFERENT from me, but children who are exactly LIKE me? I know so He can get a good laugh at the "fireworks" sometimes!

While "happiness" may be fleeting, and can depend on our circumstances, joy comes from who we are in Him. No matter what is happening in our lives, we still experience the joy of being His, knowing that He is getting us through, holding our hand. Jesus tells us to "remain in His love so that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete."

Paul, who should have been the most depressed and unhappy person according to his circumstances- beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and shipwrecked twice- was full of BOUNDLESS JOY- he said "in all my troubles my joy knows no bounds." He says, "In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." When he and Silas are praying and singing in jail and the chains fall off, I can't picture a man who is sad, but full of praise for His God! Paul prays for us, "May the God of hope fill you with all JOY..." Peter tells us that even though we haven't seen Jesus, we love Him and believe in Him and are "filled with an INEXPRESSIBLE AND GLORIOUS JOY." John tells us that through our fellowship with Father and with the Son our joy is complete.

But, what about "happiness?" Is it OK to be happy?Proverbs 17:22 says, "A happy (cheerful) heart is good medicine."

Psalm 128 says, "Blessed (happy, fortunate) is everyone who fears, worships the Lord, who walks in His ways and lives according to His Word. For you shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; happy (blessed) shall you be, and it shall be well with you." When we are walking in a RELATIONSHIP with the Lord we experience happiness.

Psalm 144 says, "Happy and blessed are the people (who trust in God) who are in such a case; yes, happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" When we TRUST God, we experience happiness.

Psalm 146 says, "Happy (blessed) is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God." When I put my hope in GOD, when I go to Him for help, I experience happiness.

A synonym of "happy" is contentment. Paul says "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is like to be in need, and I know what it is like 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 things through Christ who strengthens me."Again, this contentment comes from a relationship with Jesus...depending on His strength.We don't always "feel" happy, but we can turn our thinking around!

What makes you happy? A child's smile? Talking to a friend? A beautiful sky with puffy white clouds? A flower arrangement? What about making a craft for a neighbor and sharing happiness with someone else?

Colossians tells us to "set our minds on things above, not on earthly things." We can choose to focus and keep our minds on what is making us unhappy, or we can renew our minds in the joy of the Lord, counting our blessings and thinking on the many things God has provided for our happiness- chocolate, lovely flowers, leaves turning in the fall, puppy dogs, a warm bath, a child's embrace...

Philippians tells us, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things."We need to teach our children, and live by example, to enjoy everyday life, to have fun together, and to laugh. We must teach them that as Christians, we can experience true JOY no matter what our circumstances are. Even in sad times, even in grief, we still have joy in the Lord and who we are in Christ.

Mother Theresa said, "Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. One gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen. This I tell you my sisters. This I tell you."

Why do you think it is important to experience joy, happiness, and contentment as a Christian? How can you create a home filled with laughter and joy? Please allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about joy and happiness. Quiet your heart, allowing God to show you areas in your life where He wants to renew your mind.

Please join in the discussion At the Well. Write about what God is showing you and link back here. We would be so encouraged to hear your thoughts and what you have learned.

Giggle. Giggle. Wink. Wink. Giggle.

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