Why Am I Happy?

This post has been on my mind since my mom told me about Grandmommy, and when my BFF Jackie called with the following question, I knew I had to blog this out:

"I have a friend whose mom died about 6 years ago, and I'm not judging, b/c I can't even imagine how horrible it would be not to be able to call my mom on the phone and chat, even from 16 hours away...but she *still* dwells on it all the time. I feel weird saying this, but there are times I totally forget you even lost your dad! I know that was awful for you, too, but my question is, why aren't you all depressed over the loss of your parent so young? What is it that makes you so happy all the time and not dwelling on the loss?"

Whoa - what an HONOR for her to see me that way!!! I answered right away without hesitation: "God. Jesus. Prayer. My faith in knowing that He has a perfect plan for my life, and that was apparently part of it."

I *am* a pretty happy, positive person. Debbie Downers irritate the fire of out me. What a waste of life! I'm not saying I don't have my down times (I hear the "amens!" ringing out from those of y'all who knew me 5 years ago ;-)) and isn't it a womanly "privilege" to claim hormone insanity for a few days each month? :-D But seriously, one of the biggest lessons I've learned over the last 10 years is that happiness is a CHOICE that you have to WORK at, and I refuse to let little junk steal my joy, (most days. ;-)) Is it easy to find the good in a trip I was looking forward to being canceled or getting stuck at the service station for an oil change lasting hours longer than I planned? Well, actually yeah. It gets easier every day. 10 years ago, I would have been a hysterical banshee of fury. Now, I stop, pray, and know that as long as I talk to God about it, He will work it out for my benefit. (Romans 8:28, y'all! :-D)

I am soooo not saying I don't still get angry, mad, or depressed! It just doesn't last as long, anymore. It's a total waste of life, and that honors no one.

Another example: our beagle, Bonnie Blue, turned 9 last month. We got her 2 months after we got married - our first baby. Right at her bday, we suddenly noticed she couldn't jump up on the couch or our mile-high bed anymore. I freaked: how can she already be getting "old"??? I was planning on her lasting until at least 14 - that's 5 years away; it's not time for this, yet! I felt like I was going to throw up, thinking about what it would be like for us when she goes...and then *I CHOSE TO STOP MYSELF.* I prayed, "Lord, I give this to you. You have a perfect plan for us, I know You will take her home at the perfect time for her & our family, and there's nothing I have to worry about."


Just. Like. That.

Philippians 4:6-7

[BTW - B is better! Took her to the vet, they x-rayed her spine & hips - spine is perfect (that would have been an urgent thing) and her hips show some arthritis, so they started her on a glucosomine tab we put in her food, and she's back to a jumping puppy! PRAISE! :-)]

It all boils down to one thing: either you trust God has a plan for your life or you don't.

I do believe, and I talk to Him about it often, so I can make sure I'm getting His best for me. A short time ago, I was in a place that I did not want to be. One of my proudest accomplishments is that God helped me get a better attitude and live happily there. I look back through my scrapbook pages of those times & actually smile, b/c not only did He deliver us to a better fit for our fam now, but those times there were still happy once I got over myself. It was a major growing season of life, and of course, there were parts of it where I was a bawling mess...but I didn't stop & just lay there. I pressed on toward the prize, and I plan to keep pressing: Philippians 3:12-14

I talked to my friend Jamie & my mom the other day about the fact that I refuse to let myself think about when Grandmommy may go. We've both prayed about it, and we know that God will let it be at the perfect time for her and our family. Will it be sad? Of course! Will the next holiday season be weird? Yep. But will it honor her or God to wallow in mourning? No way. There's no reason I should make today sad thinking about what it will be like for me when it happens. It just makes me lose today's joy, (like it did for a bit when I thought about the dog! :-P)

It's extra hard when you don't live right close to your loved ones, but I wasted enough time being down over that, too. I've prayed for YEARS for God to send us where He wants us to be, (esp. throughout our 5 years up north!) so I know I'm always in the right place for now. Maybe if we were elsewhere, we'd have horrible issues I can't even imagine. I don't know. It goes back to trusting that God has a plan for my life, and as long as I'm talking to Him about it, I'm good & where I'm supposed to be.

Does it suck that my dad had a massive stroke on Valentine's Day my senior year of high school? Yep. Does it suck that my mom had to put him - my vibrant DAD (not grandfather) - in a nursing home for the last 5 months of his life? You better believe it. Does it suck that he died when I was only 19, a year before JB & I got together, before I went to Germany & could share all those adventures with him, before I graduated from one of the top schools in the country, before I got married & he could walk me down the aisle, before he could meet our children, and before he could see the woman I've become? Sure, *if* I CHOOSE to let myself think of it that way.

I don't. I know he's in heaven, and I know he hasn't missed a second of my or my kids' lives. He's the only one who hasn't missed a moment! Of course I wish JB & my kids knew him, but they will one day. :-) And I trust that God's plan is perfect for me. [And my brother walking me down in the aisle in his Navy dress blues was divine. :-)]

It's OK to get upset and angry...but not to dwell there. And it's OUR CHOICE to change our mindsets to improve our own quality of life. No one else can be responsible for our happiness. No thing can, either; they will always fall short of our expectations. It's all us and our choice to keep trying to find the good over and over and over and over, until it becomes second nature and transforms our lives. It doesn't happen overnight. (It wasn't until we had lived in MI for a full year that I got over myself enough to find the joy in picking strawberries starting in JUNE instead of April, *really* appreciating those warm days, etc.) It's not a quick switch you can flip. That light will get turned off when the first irritating thing comes at you. But please keep turning it back on, and it will stay on longer & longer each time. :-)

I'm absolutely not saying I've perfectly arrived at some great plateau of enlightenment; I fall short & flip out every. single. day. But those moments don't define me, and to have my BFF say that she thinks of happiness & enjoying life when she thinks of me??? (Esp. when she's been with me through every psycho move including her own over the last 8+ years?) That makes me feel like a million bucks, and that's what makes me want to share how God has worked in me to get me here (and will carry me further.)

I love y'all! Thanks for listening to me. :-)


  1. All I can say is, Wow. I hopefully will get to this point very soon....I don't like anything stealing my joy but lately I have let a lot of things do just that.

    I am so thankful to have you in my life and maybe Gods plan was to have you here to help me see the bigger picture. Love you!!

  2. Susie! So glad you posted this!! I believe you do your Dad and Mom an honor by living and creating a full life for your family. God gave you JB, Will and Sissy as your family and you create such wonderful times!! Remember the year we decorated cookies and had the boys pop their dyed Easter eggs and Will got dye all over, maybe it was Bryce? We laughed!! It was good times!! We created that!!!! Sure would it be fabulous to have my Mom cook all holidays?? Of course--but that's not my life. My life is creating happiness for my children and husband. That's why God entrusted the care of his babies to me. I could never wallow around...no I pull out the recipes...I make the memories. Love, Jackie

  3. Susie, I noticed you quicky 'liked' my comment the other day about 'choosing' to have a good day and Juan just wrote a nice status...."MAKE" the best out of life, or it will "TAKE" the best out of you. Thanks for posting this peace because I think we all need to be reminded that the choice truly is ours to make. I know we will all have some bad days and things will go wrong in our lives but we need to look at the bigger picture and see what God has planned for us through these times. I can honestly say that I know I am a better and a stronger person for all I have been through. It took a while to realize this and a lot of love (and sometimes 'tough' love from my awesome friends and family but I made it. Let's all get happy together..........and some bacon-wrapped dates wouldn't hurt either!!! Love you and miss you!

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. You truly are an example of positivity, and making that choice over and over. I especially like how you point out that it takes work, and is a process, and not an event. Just deciding to be happy does not permanently flip the switch--we have to keep turning it back on. And you are absolutely right--there is great peace in knowing God's plan for each of us. Blessings to you :)

  5. Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment! I'm so thankful for your friendships, which also bolster my happiness! :-) I've gotten some awesome emails re: this, too, so I might even do a follow-up post. :-)

  6. Ok, I'm a little behind with the move, but all I can say is WOW! Sues, you are an inspiration to me. I've walked through the past 5 years with you long-distance, and all I can say is "God is good! and YOU are living proof that HE desires us to live in peace and joy".

    The biggest part that stood out to me was one little sentence - you had to get over yourself. I think when I fess up to reality and to the fact that I don't like adjusting to something other than my plan. When I finally remember that God sees the end result and that His perfect will is the best thing for me, I am able to get over myself, my frustrations, my losses and walk in freedom down the path He has chosen.

    I had a Sunday School teacher a couple years ago tell our class that one of the hardest lessons was that now that we were adults (newly wed class), that sometimes, when life threw us a curve ball, that all we could do was put on our big-girl pants and deal - meaning, you are an adult, now act like the adult God made you! I often think of her..

    On top of all this, I just want to remind you that God is working through you and HIS light shines in your eyes - through the joyous times and the hard. You are a testament to HIS faithfulness, and that by renewing your mind with scripture and breaking the patterns of this world, we can live a life of joy, peace, and happiness - regardless of where we we are!

    love you!

  7. Amy- YES!!! Getting over myself was absolutely my biggest, hardest obstacle. (Isn't it everyone's?) The scariest prayer I ever prayed was, "God, if Your will is not for us to move back South, please take the longing & desire out of my heart." It took FOREVER for me to actually *mean* that when I prayed it. [Super praise that it wasn't His will...but I *do* believe making me wait up there until I *could* pray it & believe it WAS His plan!] Getting over myself still sucks & I still have to do it every.single.day! :-D


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