How Happy People Stay Happy

In Hebrew, the word “morning” means “to break forth”. For many of us, morning also means alarm clocks and an unsettling rush. But, do you ever wonder what makes happy people so happy?

I’m sure happiness can be found on a remote island with beautiful ocean waves and impeccable first-class service meeting your every need or maybe their bank account is full of money, leaving them with no worries to their future. But, you and I know that doesn’t make a lasting life of happiness.

I find as I get older that the early mornings are the best time to focus on the day ahead and what I’m to do in it. Each morning is truly a brand new opportunity. Each day is a new day “to break forth” and set out all that needs to be accomplished.

Happy People
There seems to be a pattern with happy people and successful mornings, they have consistency and discipline. You sense a well-being and contentment around them. So I began to really think about what makes someone happy? What makes them get up and have a “break forth” attitude? Here is what I found:

They wake up with a Thank You on their lips – They start their day with gratitude. There is something about saying Thank You for another day that brings a joy to the day. They lean over and lean into their spouses, dogs, children, whatever it is, with a heart of thankfulness for the morning.

They are intentional about the day – It’s the after they get out of bed that their “to break forthbegins. The more we ask God what He has for us today seems to bring a happiness to serve. Each morning brings a new day. It’s during the day where we are intentional sets us up for a good day. You find happy people because they see their life’s purpose in the day to day.

They pray – Some of the happiest people are spiritual. Prayer is a way to give thanks to God for our blessings He has given us. Waking up with a heart of gratitude and speaking thankfulness establishes a peace within us.

They read – Whether they grab their Bible, a devotion, or a blog of affirmations, happy people are readers. Starting the day with the Word in you tells your day who is in charge and whose path you seek to follow.

They eat breakfast – They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is. Feeding your body a bunch of carbs will have you sluggish for most of your day. Connect your body to real foods that we were intended to eat. You will find your mind sharp and your body healthy.

They exercise – Morning people are great with adding exercise to their daily routine. Taking a walk or jog gets the heart pumping and stimulates the body. Walking is also proven to stimulate creativity in the brain, which isn’t a bad way to start the day either.

They are present in the moment – You won’t find too many cell phones around happy people that are in a conversation or at one of their kids ball games. They are there in the moment. To be present is to be in the now. 

At the end of the day, its people that enjoy the moment that seem to be the happiest.  You will find them with their family and friends soaking in each minute of the day, living as though it was their last.  Happy people are grateful people.  Happy people live life to the fullest with what they have and what they are given.

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”- Psalm 118:24

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C. S. Lewis

How many of these habits do you do in the morning? Add some in the comments below that you would like to share?

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Five Ways You Can Show Love This Christmas

In America, we have two dynamic types of people, one with excess and one with need, but what makes us similar is our ability to show love to others.

Jose and I have been married for 16 years and we have had plenty and we have had lack – yet no matter the season we were in we always made it a point to give.

Whether it was giving monetarily because we could or giving our time because that is all we had, either way we gave so that we can show love to others.

Homeless Christmas

Here are Five Ways You Can Show Love This Christmas:

Bake Cookies for the Homeless – Make that famous chocolate chip cookie you are known for and put them in a cute baggie with Christmas ribbon. Then, either on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, pile the kids in the car. Before you head out, pray and ask God for direction on where to go and that He would guide you to meet those people that need to be shown love. Then head for the city. Hand them your cute cookie package and ask them if they need any prayer.

Serve a Meal at your Local Mission – Maybe you live right in the heart of a need that you can easily meet by joining with other volunteers to serve a meal to the less fortunate. Some of them don’t require you to prepare any food they are just welcome to have someone to help serve.

Give Coloring Books and Crayons to a Nursing Home – I know, not the traditional Christmas craft of cards, but I have never seen so many faces light up with a coloring book. It’s as though they are a kid again and for those that are bedridden it is a time-waster they really do enjoy.

Buy a Coffee for the Salvation Army Bell-Ringer – That poor guy or gal stands out there in some parts of the country in blistering cold to ring that bell and bring attention to all us shoppers reminding us to give. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a coffee or hot chocolate in hand to give…along with a donation, of course.

Give 5 Hours of Your Time to a Cause – Maybe you’re strapped for cash, but know graphic design or organization really well. Maybe your Christmas list is financial over extended and you have nothing to give. Do you have a couple of hours that maybe you can help an organization that you believe in with your time as a volunteer. Offer your experience in accounting, marketing, creative design, cleaning, errands, whatever it is. Why 5 hours? Wouldn’t it feel nice that you just gave $100 worth of your time? The verse in Luke 6:38 still applies with time also and maybe even God will give you more in return that you gave…try it.

This Christmas lets not wait until we are wealthy enough or can afford to give to show Love. We all can do something that can bring a smile to someones face. We can show Christ and His love through us.

Will you join me?

Do you give to a specific church or cause? What stopped you from giving? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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16 Things I’ve Learned in 16 Years of Parenting

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Yesterday we celebrated our oldest 16th birthday.  So, in honor of his birthday and being our first child where we learned from and made mistakes, I wanted to give you 16 things I’ve learned so far as a parent:

1. Parenting Sucks – I thought I might go ahead and get your attention. It by no means is horrible, but is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. We don’t get to quit. We don’t get to throw in the towel when it gets too complicated. It’s hard, and if you don’t think it is I want to live in your glass house. To look into our baby’s eyes and see their sweetness when they are little, to see them win every softball game and catch every touchdown as they grow older, or to hear them say I love you every day makes you want to stop time and stay in those moments. Those are the moments when you love being a parent. I can do without the hard ones.

2. It’s Expensive – Kids are expensive. That’s it, they just are.

3. Let Them See Your Passion for God – We have to lead by example. I know most people say live, but I say lead. Lead your child on what it looks like to seek after God. Let them hear you pray in your prayer closet. Let them not just seeing you read your Bible, but leading a life from the Bible. Our kids mimic us at such a young age and as they get older they watch us. They watch how we will react to a family hurt, how we talk about our finances, how we talk about others.

4. Tell Them How Proud You Are Of Them – Children need affirmation, period. We don’t need to take a personality test to figure that out. All kids need to hear their parents say how proud they are of them. Proud of the win. Proud how they handled a situation. Whatever it is, tell them before they go looking for approval somewhere else.

5. We Don’t Get Refunds – You don’t get to take your kids back and ask if you can exchange them for another one, or if you can get a refund and try again later. This is where we get to do what God says..Love One Another. Jose and I have been joking lately as the kids are now 13, 14, 14, and 16, “Dang, we are living with people now. Like, we have to like them!” If you have young children, enjoy them while they are shaping their personalities because later those personalities may get a little personal.

6. Gather Around The Table – I’m sad to say I figured this out more this year than ever before. I posted this on Instagram and have still been going strong.

7. Find a MOPS Group – Every time I talk to a new mom, my first words out of my mouth are, “Get involved in a MOPS group. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself and your family.” After being with MOPS for 10 years, I still love what they do and believe in this incredible ministry. If you have a child 5 and under…find a group. You are not alone.

8.  Sorry is a 5-Letter Word – Teach forgiveness by showing it. It’s easy to ignore the past and move on as if our memories have somehow erased it. But let me tell you a secret – they don’t. Apologies move families forward. I learned with my father, you only have so many tomorrows.

9. You Are Who God Says You Are – One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a solid foundation of the Word. I find this more and more as the kids are right smack into their teenage years.

10. Talk About Your Heritage/Culture – Celebrate your culture with them. I’m Hispanic, the hubby is Hispanic and Christmas is coming up and our tradition is to make tamales for Christmas Eve. Celebrate those things that make you unique. God doesn’t ever see a color, He only sees people.

11.  God Gave You Everything You Need – In Romans 12, Paul talks about God allotting each of us a measure of faith. When I speak to MOPS groups, I talk to them about patience and how we as moms pray for patience, when God has given us all the patience we need when He created us. He didn’t say, “Well, now that little Johnny is here, I guess I’m gonna have to give Judy more patience.” He gave you everything you need for these moments. God doesn’t make mistakes or errors, He creates perfection which can only be found in our measure of faith in Him.

12.  Perfect is Impossible – I wanted to be a mom like Mrs. Cleaver or Mrs. Huxtable, then reality set in. Who cares if your house is a mess? Who cares if you didn’t have dinner on the table at 5pm and a scrumptious dessert? Work-Life-Balance, what’s that? There is no such thing as perfect, if there is then read #1 again.

13. We Are All Not The Same Size – I’m sure most of us have read, if not heard, the book – What to Expect When Your Expecting. I followed this book to a tee. When the babies were here it seemed at times what they were doing and what other books were telling me, were completely opposite. I would call my mom for help and get the, “gosh, it was so long ago, I don’t remember.” As if somehow I was 45 and not 25. We are all different, but we can all encourage one another.

14. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – Let them see you tithe and give offerings. Let them see you pick from the Angel Tree. Let them see you give to those in need. Talk with them how God met a need, made a way where there seemed to be no way or how the check came in just in time. They need to see this BIG God we serve and a faith that moves mountains.

15. Sex During Marriage with Kids Stinks – Oh, come on, really?? Ok, no, not really, but dang, let’s get honest. As the kids get older, you have to wait until they go to bed, fall asleep and by then you’re crashed yourself. And at 12:30am you’re just not feeling it.

16.  We Are Part Of A Bigger Picture – In the grand scheme of things, we get our kids for 18 years. We get to use everything God put in us to parent our children. We get to give them a solid foundation of who they are in Christ, guide them to become a Christ-follower and to seek Him passionately. We get to see them succeed and pick them up when they stumble. We get to put a band-aid on their boo-boo’s and hold hands as we pray in tears. And when they hit 18, we say, “Here they are God. I hope I used everything you put in me to use as a parent. I pray I did this parenting thing right.” But ultimately, we are part of God’s bigger picture, to love, make disciples, and reunite in Heaven. Isn’t that really what its all about?

What have you learned as a parent? I would love to hear!

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10 Books That Inspire Big Dreams in 2015

With the Christmas season upon us, I wanted to prepare a resource for you these next few weeks of perfect gifts for Christian leaders, bloggers, writers, and creatives on your list. Some of these I have not read personally, but are on my gift list.

Book

1. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless Godby Francis Chan This is a great reminder to read every new year that it isn’t about our to-do list or the don’t in life, but asking ourselves – Am I loving God well? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts–it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis Chan describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

2.The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fearsby Mark Batterson After reading this book be ready to begin praying audacious prayers for the dreams you have for 2015. Mark does a great job helping us understand what happens when you pray for your family, finances, and your future.

3. The Pursuit of Godby A.W. Tozer I am an old school girl when it comes to Christian authors. I love the writings of Tozer because he writes in a way that has you aweing after the presence of God. Can’t wait to add this as part of my daily readings.

4. Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like God Doesby Jon Weece I want to Love better every year. I have this on my bookshelf and can’t wait to dive in and have an extravagant party that celebrates the very people Jesus died to love.

5. Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Valuesby Sadie Robertson Most of you know we have two teenage daughters, 13 and 14 years old. They are asking for this book for Christmas. I am for anything a teen girl is willing to stay true to herself and her faith. Keep being the bright example, Sadie!

6. Devotions for a Healthier Youby Katie Farrell I will turn 42 in 2015 and for the last 2 years I have been able to maintain keeping the 30 lbs I lost off. Now I want to add more exercise, eating right and take care of the body God has given me. Can’t wait to add this to my devotions, plus, she’s a stinkin’ cutie!

7. Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influenceby Jenni Catron, I have sat across the table with Jenni and let me just say her wisdom for helping others succeed is who she is. What Jenni has done has put her passion into words that only she can do. She weaves us through the process of our gifts, talents and passions as leaders, whether it be in ministry or business and the influence we have and are capable of.

8. Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Visionby Andy Stanley Every new year Jose and I write our vision down (Habakkuk 2:2) for what we are asking God to do in the New Year. This is a must for those wanting a new vision for 2015. Andy Stanley leaves you with a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.

9. Good to Great in God’s Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Commonby Chip Ingram shows how Christians can honor God with the lives of great faith and excellent work. Believers become great in God’s eyes by applying the 10 common characteristics of great Christians. Using Scripture, personal stories, and examples of Christians who left a lasting legacy, bestselling author Chip Ingram offers practical steps for becoming great in all areas of life, in spiritual growth, family, relationships, and career.

10. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Usby Daniel H. Pink Often times we think money is our motivation to begin new things when ultimately things with no passion behind it will fail. Daniel discusses the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

So what are you reading? Would love to hear…

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A Challenge to the Church and its DNA

It’s been over a month since I wrote something here. I didn’t do it on purpose or set out to “take a break from blogging”. I guess it just happened.

These last few weeks I’ve been observing. Observing this “Christian” thing. Observing how we do church with, I guess you can say, a new set of eyes and open ears.

I’ve been re-reading Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. It is a definite must read.

A couple of things written had hit my Spirit and challenged the very core of my heart:

“I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally, and seriously, is rarely considered. That’s for the ‘radicals’ who are ‘unbalanced’ and who go ‘overboard.’ Most of us want a balanced life we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.”

“Our view of the Holy Spirit is too small. The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church, but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us. It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives that will change the church.”

The church has been on my heart lately. It’s as though an awe, a reverence if you will, has been burdening my heart.

Do you ever wonder if God looks down at the church on Sunday mornings and wonders why we have put Him in a box?

Why we sing 2.5 songs? You know the routine 2 fast, 1 slow, all to stay within the timeline of getting the congregation out for lunch, when God says “I don’t remember a schedule, I remember a suddenly (Acts 2:2).”

I don’t want to talk about denominations or get into a conversation that divides us.

I think…

When we decide, what Chan said, to allow the Holy Spirit to change the church through us, is when we begin to unify as one body, one accord. And when this happens, God will change the atmosphere of the house, the atmosphere of our church, our home.

I remember a day when we invited the Holy Spirit into those places.

Remember the Holy Spirit isn’t an IT. He is the third person of the Trinity (1 John 5:7).

We have created a place where Jesus is the One that sits with us at Starbucks or in the hospital, but really we are in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16).

Jesus is at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33), but the Holy Spirit is the One that wants to walk in the door of your house, sit at the foot of the bed in your hospital room, ride in the car with you.

And when He is in the room with you, He will remove burdens and destroy yokes, He will heal your body, bring peace to your mind, He will be an unspeakable joy in your life.

We must not forget, yes, He was not Word made flesh, Jesus was (John 1:14). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Living God (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

I know a lot of people don’t talk about this or for some of you reading this it may seem crazy, but I love what Chan said recently in a Keynote at CLA (Christian Leadership Alliance) :

He’s (Tozer) talking about the angels in heaven. You know how in Revelation 4 it describes the angels around the throne of God and screaming Holy, Holy, Holy, and talks about the big pillars of fire and sea of glass. Tozer than asking (in The Knowledge of the Holy), “What if one of these Holy Ones, one of these Angels, who spent his glad centuries by the sea of fire would come to earth? How meaningless to Him would be the ceaseless chatter of the busy tribes of men, how strange and empty would sound a flat, stale, and prophet-less words heard in the average pulpit from week to week.”

Chan – “What if one of those beings did come in? What if he is observing us after being in the presence of God? What would he think of my words coming out of my mouth – asking, “What are you doing up there?”

To listen to the rest of Chan’s talk, click here. You don’t want to miss his explanation of the clock!

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We are not serving a wind, a breath. We are serving, in Him, a Holy Spirit, the One that comforts us, lifts us up, makes a way where there seems to be no way.

God never determined His church to be a place of religious rhetoric.

He never determined the church to be a place of lifeless worship.

He never determined the church to be a place where we get bored or ask ourselves how quick can I get out of here.

He intended the church to be a life-transforming, body-healing, soul-saving, Spirit-filling, mind-changing church that seeks after His presence.

He intended the church to be something that was a transformation out of the old man into the new. But, instead what we are doing is constantly messing with God’s DNA.

The cynics say we don’t need that “Holy Spirit thing” anymore.

Yeah, we don’t need people on the brink of suicide being prayed for and being set free so they can live out their destiny.

We don’t need people that have cancer, dying and the doctors are giving them no hope.

We don’t need to pray for cancer victims, we don’t need to pray for the oppressed, we don’t need to praise God until the glory comes.

We don’t need to preach the Truth because the Truth is offensive to the culture.

We don’t need to be the church anymore.

We need to be surgically altered, yet somewhat close, but not really what it was designed to be.

No…

What was birthed was not a lifeless, powerless gathering of people.

What was birthed was a Supernatural being that would transform the world around them.

We need the church to resurrect from the DNA God intended it to be.

Let the church get back to what God created it to be.

We, Christians, challenge you because we are the Church.

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