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On Personal Happiness . . .

How do you define happiness, and what is the source of it?  Do you define who you are by your position/ title?  If you had to prepare a motivational speech to address a small group of business professionals with – how would you answer these questions?  I’ve had cause to spend some time thinking about this, recently – and I’ve come to some surprising conclusions.

The first, and perhaps the most important is a sentiment that I’ve heard expressed many times throughout my life – which I have for years found a way to avoid accepting/internalizing.  This is that no one is responsible for my happiness – except me!  As a result of several different, influential factors  – during my young adult years, I came to believe that if I’m unhappy then someone (or something) must be to blame.  It has only been over the course of about the last fifteen years or so, since I’ve become a parent – that that has finally changed.  I realize now that if I’m unhappy, feeling out of sorts or just dissatisfied with my life – it’s up to me to make changes.  Continuing along that path for a moment, I’ve decided that invoking some change in my life on an occasional basis is vital to my continuing happiness.  Another critical factor that I’ve found deeply impacts my general attitude/ outlook is who – what “quality” of friends I surround myself with!   For years, I have been a somewhat vulnerable and easily influenced person and I’ve discovered – throughout the course of some major life changes over the last nine months – that being selective about who I interact with, on a regular basis – makes a difference.

The second is that the admonition that many of us are given early on, when we’re first starting out – that we need to find professions which we are going to enjoy – is of greater import than we frequently realize.  After several years of working in a business office, I’ve come to understand that each of us has a role in contributing to and sustaining employee morale!  Most of us who work in business offices spend somewhere between forty and sixty hours weekly with our colleagues.  Considering that this is more time, for most of us – than we spend with our spouses or “significant others” – when we’re not working, we need to be cognizant of our attitude while we’re in the office.  What “type” of person are we impressing our co-workers as being – uplifting, and inspiring?  Or critical, condemning and quick to gossip?  Over the course of some eight plus years, now – I’ve had ample opportunity to work with both types and it’s been amazing to me the difference working with some who – even when confronted with challenge, and hardship – have somehow remained inspiring to me!!  As I’ve worked in a few different offices throughout the last several years, with colleagues in a variety of different positions – it has not escaped my notice that in addition to being popular throughout their offices, people with that type of character are the ones that frequently get promoted as well.

In conclusion, I’ve decided that professional persona is important – and is one of my many, personal identities.  I’m not sure what most of you believe, of me – but I really do enjoy what I do!  Recently, I’ve felt compelled to make some stronger efforts to “check” my attitude and to see if I can’t become a source of encouragement, and inspiration to those around me!  Thank you, friends – for giving up part of your day to visit with me!!  Take care!

 

On Life Coincidences . . .

Greetings, friends!  This afternoon, I have cause to be meditating on faith and God’s direction for my life – so please pull up a chair, and visit for awhile.

As many of you know, my husband and I have spent the last month or so making some monumental changes in our lives – and the life of our two, teenaged children.  As we’ve proceeded with different changes, in sequence – we’ve found ourselves asking – at times – whether the changes that we’re making have anything to do with God’s vision, for our lives – or if they’re all the result of our two, combined strong self-wills.  I don’t think that any of you that have ever made monumental life changes – before – would debate the fact that at times, that’s one of the things that we do – as couples.  We attempt to “control” our lives – ultimately – because on a day-to-day basis, it is difficult to always discern whether the decisions that we’re making are God’s plan for our lives – or are just paths that we, in our selfishness – want to follow.  It is my belief that sometimes – on rare occasions – they wind up being the same one.  The experience that I had earlier this morning seemed to support that fact.

Last Friday,  my husband and I signed a purchase agreement on a home in the Auburn, WA area – which is still under construction.  It will not be the home of our dreams – and the way that it has been designed, there are several different rooms that we are going to have to be creative about furnishing, in order to accomodate our furniture and our lifestyle!  However, it is a beautiful home – is within our budget as a couple – and is going to be completed soon enough that it will enable most of the rest of our current life “transitions” to be smooth, and uncomplicated.  Finding it, and being able to secure it – within two weeks of arriving in the greater Seattle area – truly was God’s first miracle, in our lives recently!  Until the builder gets it completed, and we are able to close on it – we will continue to live with a gracious, hospitable aunt and uncle of my husband’s.

Now that the matter of a home for our family is – more or less – taken care of, it was just now coming time for me to begin thinking about employment for myself, again.  Just yesterday afternoon, I had given some thought to exactly how – and with whom – I was going to do this.  Additionally, I had also just begun considering what – exactly – I’m going to do, with all of the time that I have on my hands – right now.  Coincidentally, earlier this morning I received a call from a high ranking manager of the company that I had been working for – before my husband and I left the Minneapolis, MN area!  It seems that one of the company offices in this area, is in desperate need of some administrative assistance.  Unfortunately, the district office that is in need of help is not the district office that is closest to me.  If the situation is to work out, it will be a situation wherein I will work – remotely – from Southern Seattle, for an outlying – satellite – company office.  If it actually comes to pass, it will be a bit of a unique situation.  However, you and I both know of similar situations which have been logistically maneuvered for much lesser, smaller companies!

I believe that the timing of this event transpiring in my life – completely out of coincidence – has been the result of a deep, and abiding faith in God.  As my husband and I began taking steps to terminate many facets of our lives, in the Minneapolis area – we frequently questioned whether doing so was something that we really should be proceeding with, and is in line with God’s plan for our lives – or whether we would arrive in the Seattle area and have everything fall completely apart, for us!  At the time, we felt no “guidance” from our Lord, and Savior.  It was our conclusion that at this time in our lives, God was – for whatever reason – being silent.  However, as together we have prepared, and slowly begun to establish a life together, here – it has become apparent that God has not forsaken us – but has been blessing our decisions, every step of the way!  This has only come as the result of having faith in Him.

Many years ago, as my husband and I went through many of the same processes – leaving most of our friends and family in the Seattle, WA area and making preparations to move to Minneapolis, MN – because my husband had gotten a job there.  In the midst of doing so, we experienced many of the same emotions/ fears.  But as we worked through technicality, after technicality, after technicality – and prayed together through all of it, it seemed that doors just continued to open for us!  Yes – it was difficult – physically, and emotionally.  At times, we found ourselves questioning why God would ever call anyone to move so far away from their families of origin – and the support structure that we had built, around us.  But we stepped out with faith – and God provided for us!  In the last two decades, these monumental life experiences have convinced me that what God has in store for us is not always just what we see laid out in front of us, or the path that we lay out for ourselves.

In parting, I just want to wish blessings on all of you!  Continue to live your life for God – and I think that you’ll see that He is not only able to meet your needs, but is sufficient to fulfill the deepest longings of your heart!!   In Faith,

Wendy

On depression, and personal fulfillment . . .

Good evening, friends!  For a few weeks, now – my lack of connecting with all of you has been on my mind.  So draw close and visit with me, for a little while.

About a month ago, the “Admin” team that I work as part of – was treated to lunch out of the office – as our district manager’s treat for “Admin Recognition” day.  During that meeting, five of us were given the news that – within the next four weeks, all of our jobs were going to be (more or less) “out” sourced – to a different part of the company – and as a result, we were all going to begin being “re” trained to do different tasks – on an ongoing basis.  That was just the beginning of what has – since then – become one of the most stressful periods of my life.  Since then, I’ve celebrated a – milestone birthday – which in itself, has been causing me to reflect on where – exactly – I am, in my life as I begin my middle years!  At the same time, my husband and I are currently in the process of preparing to list our home to sell.  I believe that things like this – compounded, all within a defined period of time – are things that psychologists would award “points” to, as part of a scale that is used to “rate” the amount of stress in a person’s life – at any one time.

Since I’ve never found more than a couple of viable, productive ways to deal with stress in my life – I’ve found myself turning to a few close, treasured (and candidly honest) friends of mine – and inward, to my blogging – for fulfillment.  Coincidentally, and surprisingly – some of the responses that I’ve gotten recently have made me realize that I’m not the only one currently experiencing some stress in my life.  That’s not to say that I have friends who are experiencing the same stressful events in their lives, that I am.  Most of them are in different “phases” of their lives, and have different events causing them stress.  In visiting with them, however – I’ve come to the conclusion that on a general level, the specific events aren’t that relevant.  When a valued friend “reaches out” to you – looking for an ear to bend, or a shoulder to lean on – they don’t expect you (me – in these cases) to have the solutions, to all of their dilemnas!  Frequently, they’re just looking for  expressions of sympathy – and perhaps prayer.  Strangely (for me), in the process of coming to this realization – the other realization that I’ve come to  ( a bit late in my life, perhaps) – is that it is psychologically beneficial to be involved in the lives of my close friends!  Having specific things/ developments to pray, for my friends – for – causes me not to delve into “self-pity” parties.  I believe that this is a tenant that many of us don’t practice, frequently enough!  The Bible admonishes us to pray for our friends, throughout the day and in various situations. Additionally, with the advent of Facebook – providing me ways, and opportunities to confirm – for myself – that although my husband and I have lived thousands of miles away from many of the mutual friends that we made when we were first married – several of them do actually still care about me, and make themselves “available” to me – when I occasionally begin slipping into depression, and really NEED to connect with someone who cares!

The other thing that I’ve found to be immensely fulfilling is writing.  It is an outward way for me to express some of my innermost thoughts.  As I make myself vulnerable to others, I’m able to look more objectively at my own situations.  Additionally, blogging provides an opportunity for my friends – and some of the mentors, in my life – to comment on my posts.  Many times, taking the time to read through any feedback that people give – or just getting some minutes, here and there – to discuss a particular “blog” with them – is fulfilling for me, as well.

I don’t know if I’ve really made a well-developed point this evening, or not – friends.  But this theme of close, and abiding friendship is one that I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about.  It’s been tremendously rewarding, and fulfilling – to be confronted with the fact that I do have several people in my life who – genuinely – care, about me.  Further, it’s been a humbling realization to know that for some of them – I’ve been able to be of some comfort to them, as well!  Just by being available, and “checking in” with them regularly enough to be able to pray for them, also.

Thank you for taking the time to visit with me.  As always, if something that I’ve said strikes a chord with you – I would be more than happy to know about it!   God’s blessings on your weekend, this weekend.

Good morning, friends!  Christmas is now upon on us, and I’ve been reflecting recently on the fact that I haven’t blogged since prior to Thanksgiving weekend.  So pull up a chair, and visit for awhile.

This early morning, I’m sitting in our Dining Room in front of our Christmas tree – with most of the lights in the room off, and Christmas music playing quietly on my husband’s iPod – and reflecting on the fact that I haven’t done nearly enough of this, this month.  This is the third of  four days that I get off of work, for the holiday.  For most of them, I’ve been watching with some heartache posts on Facebook – from cousins of mine across the country – referencing their activities, these last few days – and the plans that they have for celebrating the holiday with family members and close friends.  While more difficult emotionally for me, now – than it has been for the last seventeen years that we’ve lived here in MN – I find myself wondering why this is so?  Even here in the frozen midwest, God surrounds me with his love and his comfort!

Now that Christmas Day is finally here – and all the stress of picking out “good” pictures of the family, to send in to one or the other of the online photo-publishing companies to print Christmas cards for us from . . . . as well as making time to sit down and draft an annual letter, to be sent out to all of our relatives across the country, and close friends here . . . . and making time (amidst all of the Christmas parties) to get out and purchase that perfect gift – and then keeping it hidden, from a particular family member for weeks . . . . and then getting all of the gifts wrapped, and tagged – and many packed up, and shipped across the country to family . . . . is through – it’s a gift to finally have a quiet chance to sit down, and allow the impact of our candlelight service at church to work on my heart!

I’ve recently been struggling a bit with the realization that I’m getting to be middle-aged, and am no longer completely content with where I am in life.  I’ve always maintained that some perspective is a good thing – and as I’ve spent time recently reading through some of the letters that we’ve received from friends, this year – I’m confronted with the fact that I don’t have nearly the (physical) health, or the financial – issues, that many people are experiencing.  So contrary to what I sometimes believe, I really am very blessed!  In regards to no longer feeling content – feeling happy – with the circumstances of my life, I’ve begun praying more for God’s leading in my life.  I’ve realized recently that if I’m unhappy, I don’t have anyone to blame for it but myself!  I think that this has resulted – partially – from not keeping God first in my life, as I should have been.  I believe that if we remain in “right” relationship with God, he will bless us.

In the last month, I’ve been the recipient of more genuine love and encouragement, from close friends – than I could even begin to recount!  While my husband and I made a decision – some seventeen years ago, to leave our entire families and follow God’s leading in our lives – close friends in this area, and the advent of Facebook in the last several years – have gone a long way toward fulfilling many of our emotional needs.  More recently, I’ve come to realize that I am not the only one living far from family, either.  For me, cementing close friendships with other people who do not have extended family in this area has been invaluable, also.

I pray that as we celebrate the incredible gift that God gave all of us, by His coming – with family, today – that you’ll have an opportunity to recognize how blessed you are!  Enjoy participating in whatever Christmas traditions you have.  I’m grateful and I’m humbled that you had some time to visit with me, once again.  Joy indeed comes today, as the prophet foretold many years ago!!

 

 

On The Power of Affirmation and Generosity

Good evening, friends!  This shall be a shorter blog than usual.  This evening, I just feel compelled to share a bit about the power of affirmation and gifts in people’s lives.  This is common knowledge for most of us – but it never hurts to reiterate it again, every so often.  Earlier this evening, I had an experience that is probably going to se…

em fairly benign, to most of you.  But it moved me to start reflecting – once again – on the incredible power of affirmation in people’s lives!  I had logged on to Facebook – as I generally do on evenings that our family doesn’t have any activities, for a couple of hours.  Any of you that know me well, know that usually after logging on – I do spend about an hour playing FarmVille.  But this evening, I wasn’t logging on with the intention of playing, at all.  Just to monitor how many of my friends (and family in WA State) were online, and who is doing what – and thinking about what – this evening.  Not long after I logged on, an “Instant Message” window popped open, and I had greetings from an old, Senior High classmate of mine – who’s blogs I’ve been following for about four months now.  We didn’t wind up conversing for very long, but he opened the conversation by saying “You’re awesome!”  I asked him why (as I didn’t recall having done anything particularly deserving of that strong of a sentiment) – and he responded with, “You just are!”  Now – it’s not that I have a low self-image to begin with, but . . . . generally speaking, on a daily basis this is not the kind of sentiment that I receive from most people that I work – or associate – with!!  In the midst of a long week in the office, however – and some minor trials at home with my teenage children – it was amazing how just that – single, positive comment is still resounding within me, and has made my evening!  It also made me reflect on a time – back almost a year ago, now – prior to Christmas of 2011 – when I had gone into a Caribou (MN chain coffee shop) before work one morning – to get a cup of coffee.  The early morning line had progressed to the point where I only had one person in front of me.  When it came to be the customer in front of me’s turn to make her order, she stepped up to the counter and ordered her cup of coffee – and then told the barista who was waiting on her to put whatever I wished on her “tab”, as well.  I’d never been so surprised in my life!!  It’s not that people in MN aren’t – generally – generous, but believe me friends – even here, that is not a regular morning occurrence at Caribou!  But that generous gesture made the rest of my week, that week!  It wasn’t like I didn’t have enough cash – right “in hand” that morning – to pay for my coffee, but the generosity of the gesture made me feel so good that for the rest of my week, I found myself reflecting on the thought that perhaps I should start doing that for others – as often as possible! For many of us who work in fast-paced, demanding, emotionally draining jobs/offices – it is really amazing how far positive, affirming statements to others – and public “edification” – can go!  I’ve also found that occasional acts of generosity can go a long way towards making others feel that they’re important!  In several chapters of the Bible, God calls us to love and affirm others – and to share with our neighbors out of all our riches.  I believe that not only in the season of Advent, but all year long we need to bear these sentiments in mind as we go about our daily lives.  Affirmation and generosity really do impact others – and they’re both so easy to grace others with. These are my reflections for this evening.  Blessings to all of you and your families – and as always, I anticipate your feedback friends!   : )