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Q&A: How Can I Be a Happier Person?

If happiness eludes you, try practicing these six principles and watch your joy multiply...I received the following message on my “Love Your Husband” Facebook page this week:

I just came across your write up on how to ruin your marriage. I have to say that I am guilty on all counts. However I am not a happy woman and I don’t feel competent enough to be a career woman, a mother, and a wife. I would love to be a very happy person again, if and when you get this message please could you help me out with scriptures that will help me. I desperately need to be a better wife and mother. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

I wanted to respond quickly, so I searched for things I’d already written that might address this reader’s question. I’ve written one post on “Cultivating Contentment,” another on “Creating a Happy Home,” and yet another called “Don’t Let Anything Steal your Joy.”

They are all great articles that address different aspects of this topic, but when it comes to listing specific Scriptures that might help an unhappy person find her way out of the pit, I came up empty.

It’s not that such verses don’t exist — they do! It’s only that I’ve never taken time to create a list of them. Until now.

I know lots of people struggle with being happy, joyful, and content. If you are one of them, I pray these thoughts and verses will help you, as well:

  1. Happiness starts with God.
  2. I’m sure non-believers have happy moments, but I have never met anybody with a deep, abiding sense of joy who does not credit it to a strong, personal relationship with the Creator. God made us, He made our emotions, He gave us the capacity to feel happiness, and He has provided the means by which we can experience happiness, both here on earth and throughout eternity:

    • “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7, NLT)
    • “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)
    • “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.” (Psalm 35:9, NIV)
    • “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10, NLT)

  3. Happiness springs from gratitude.
  4. More often than not, unhappy people are ungrateful people, and vice versa. They focus on what they don’t have instead of being thankful for what they do have. You cannot feel truly grateful and completely miserable at the same time, so rather than enumerating your troubles, practice counting your blessings instead. Offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for each one. Buy a stack of cards and write notes of thanks to people who have helped you along the way. Say thank you in person to those who do kind things for you. Put to death any notions of entitlement and accept every new grace with unmitigated appreciation and delight.

    • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
    • “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 18-20, NIV)
    • “O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (Psalm 95:1-2, NASB)
    • “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5, NASB)

  5. Happiness sees the good.
  6. Focus on the positive. Look on the bright side. Search for the silver lining. As Martha Washington once observed, “The greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” Resolve to maintain a cheerful disposition in whatever circumstance you find yourself.

    • “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, KJV)
    • “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth).” (Ephesians 5:8-9, NASB)
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB)
    • “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NLT)

  7. Happiness says no to grudges.
  8. Nothing edges happiness out of a heart faster than bitterness. The two cannot co-exist. Whether for major offenses or minor irritations, be quick to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged you. Do not harbor grudges or give place to resentment — doing so will steal your joy.

    • “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25, NIV)
    • “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NASB)
    • “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14, NASB
    • “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NASB)

  9. Happiness serves others gladly.
  10. Deep, abiding joy does not focus on what others can do for me, but on what I can do for others. As a wife and mother, you have built-in others to think about. Ask God to help you tend to their needs with a glad and grateful heart. Recognize that relationships take work, and do it heartily, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver.

    • Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Colossians 3:23, NIV)
    • “…serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Galatians 5:13-14, NIV)
    • “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV)
    • Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” (Psalm 100:2, NASB)

  11. Happiness strives toward the goal.
  12. Keep an eternal perspective. Don’t let doubts or discouragements cloud your perception. Don’t let anything distract you from tending to the things that really matter most…

    • “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10, NASB)
    • “…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NASB)
    • Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NIV)
    • “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corintians 9:24-27, NASB)

What more happiness out of life? These are the principles you’ll need to practice to find it, along with Scriptures to back them up.

I consider myself an extremely happy person, and these are my secrets to maintaining a joyful outlook. If you can think of other ideas that might help, please share them in the comment section below.

A Prayer for the Sick

A friend of mine recently asked me to pray for her nephew, who is presently fighting a recurrence of a malignant brain cancer known as medulloblastoma.

His name is Gabe — if you’d like to send up a prayer for him, too, I know they’d be grateful — and he graduated from high school the day before this latest tumor was discovered.

I’ve been thinking about Gabe a lot lately. It makes my mother-heart hurt to even imagine what their family is going through.

Sometimes, when problems loom large, it’s hard to know where to even begin in your prayers, but in this instance, God brought the following Scriptures to mind almost immediately. These are the verses I’ve been praying over Gabe:

P is for Peace

Pray that God would calm their heart, quiet their fears, and grant them a peace that passes understanding. Ask Him to carry them through this trial and comfort them with His presence. Pray that they’d find complete rest in Him, casting their burdens at the foot of the cross and leaving them there. (Psalm 56:3, Philippians 4:7, Matthew 11:28, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Exodus 33:14, Psalm 68:19-20)

R is for Relationships

Pray that God would use this illness first and foremost to draw others unto Himself. Pray that relationships to family and friends would also be strengthened, that any past offenses would be freely forgiven, and that sincere words of love and affirmation would be spoken. (John 6:44, Exodus 20:12, 1 John 4:20, Proverbs 17:17, John 15:12, Ephesians 4:15)

A is for Assurance

Ask God to assure them of His great love and faithfulness. Pray that He would remind them that He has a purpose and a plan, that He is in control, that He can work all things together for their good and His glory, and that He is committed to continuing His work in their hearts until it is completed. (Psalm 117:2, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 103:19, Romans 8:28, Philippians 1:6)

Y is for Yielding

Pray that the afflicted would yield themselves completely to God and place their full trust in His son, Jesus Christ. Pray that the would boldly approach the throne of grace to make their requests known unto God, yet would still be able to say with all sincerity, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” (Joshua 24:23, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 10:9, Hebrews 4:16, Philippians 4:6, Luke 22:42)

E is for Endurance

Ask God to strengthen and uphold them in the days ahead. Pray for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fortitude. Pray that God would give them grace as they walk through this trial and protect them against weariness and despair. Ask Him to bear their burdens and put a song of deep and abiding joy in their heart. (Isaiah 41:10, James 1:2-3, James 4:6, Isaiah 40:31, 2 Corinthians 4:8, Psalm 55:22, Isaiah 49:13)

R is for Restored Health

Pray that the Lord would mercifully and miraculously restore the one who is sick to health. Pray that He would heal them, body and soul, and would receive all the glory for having done so. Ask Him to prolong their life, and pray that they’d live out the remainder of their days in grateful service to Him. ( James 5:15-16, Matthew 8:17, Luke 4:40, 1 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 91:15-16, 1 Samuel 12:24)

Do you have friends or family members who are struggling with poor health? Pray for them! Scripture tells us:

“…the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – James 5:15-16

To download a free printable copy of this prayer guide, click here. To view copies of our other prayer guides, follow this link.

Praying for Our Country

Pray for America: Here's a free printable prayer guide to get you started!Today is Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States by the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

Whether you celebrate such occasions by sending up the Stars and Stripes or not, I hope you will make it your practice to send up a prayer for our country — and not just on national holidays.

America needs prayer. She needs it now more than ever.

We all do.

But God has promised,

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”2 Chronicles 7:14

Won’t you join me in praying for our country?

Here’s my prayer. If you’d like to make it yours, as well, just scroll to the bottom of the post for a free printable copy of this guide:

Praying for Our Country


C is for Conviction of Sin

Pray that God would open our eyes to personal and corporate sin and would call us out of darkness into light. Ask Him not to abandon us to wrong thinking, but to forgive us and cleanse us and break the chains that bind us. Pray that He’d give us the strength and willpower to forsake, repent, and turn completely away from the sin that entangles and enslaves us. Pray that He’d enable us to live as servants of righteousness instead. (Acts 26:18, Romans 1:28, 1 Kings 8:50, Psalm 51:2, , Isaiah 58:6, Isaiah 55:7, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, Hebrews 12:1, Romans 6:18)

O is for an Outpouring of God’s Spirit

Ask God to revive our hearts and draw us unto Himself. Pray that He’d fill us with His Spirit, that we might speak the Word boldly and with such authority that others would recognize we have been with Jesus. Pray that He’d empower us to walk in His presence, according to His calling, dedicating ourselves to the good works He prepared beforehand for us to do. (Psalm 80:18,John 6:44, Acts 4:31, Titus 2:15, Acts 4:13, Psalm 140:13, 2 Timothy 1:9, Ephesians 2:10)

U is for Understanding and Wisdom

Pray that God would grant us an extra measure of wisdom, that He would fill us with knowledge and understanding and discernment. That we would see things as He sees them and would stop calling that which is good “evil” and evil “good.” Pray that we would center our minds on what is true and right and noble and pure and lovely. (James 1:5, Philippians 1:9, Psalm 119:125, 2 Kings 6:17, Isaiah 5:20, Philippians 4:8)

N is for News You can Use

Ask God to raise up an army of journalists, reporters, and newscasters who are more concerned with proclaiming truth than with pushing politically-correct propaganda or propping up ratings. Pray that He’d break our country’s addiction to celebrity gossip and sensationalized accounts of current events and that we’d instead learn to use the news, not as entertainment, but as motiviation to pray and to make a difference in our world for good. (1 Corinthians 13:6, Proverbs 22:21, Galatians 1:10, Exodus 23:1-2, Proverbs 16:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:11, Colossians 4:2-3, Matthew 25:35-36)

T is for the Truth to Prevail

Pray that truth would be spoken in love, that it would be proclaimed, not only over our newswires, but in our homes, in our churches, in our schools, and in our courtrooms, as well. Pray that parents would guide their children in the truth, that pastors and teachers would rightly handle the Word of Truth, that judges and juries would uphold the truth, that the Holy Spirit would help us discern truth from error. (Ephesians 4:15, 3 John 1:4, Deuteronomy 11:19, 2 Timothy 2:15, Zechariah 8:16, John 16:13, John 8:32)

R is for Righteous Leaders

Pray for those in authority over us, that they might fulfill the purpose for which God placed them in their current position. Pray that those elected/appointed to office would be trustworthy and God-fearing, and that they would issue decrees that are just. Ask God to grant wisdom and discernment, both to the elected and to those doing the electing. (1 Timothy 2:2, Romans 13:1, Exodus 18:21, Proverbs 8:15, Daniel 2:21, Acts 1:24)

Y is for Yourself — Where Real Change Starts

Humble yourself before God and plead for mercy. Pray that whatever work He wants to do in your country would begin in your own home, in your own heart. Ask Him to enable you to recognize and address the log in your own eye, rather than focusing your attention on the speck in your brother’s. Pray that He would deliver you from evil and help you live an exemplary life in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. (James 4:6, 2 Chronicles 34:27, Luke 6:42, Matthew 6:13, Matthew 6:6, 1 Timothy 4:2)

Praying for Your Country Prayer Guide

[Click on image to print B&W version or here for full-color version]

I know many of my readers are not from the US. I would encourage you to pray for your country and its leaders as well. Other than the clip art, this guide is not specific to America. 🙂

Never Enough Time?

"If you don't have the time to do the things that you ought to do, it means that you've tried to do something God hasn't called you to." - Jennifer Flanders

My husband and I are both list makers by nature, but we approach our lists differently.

I’m all about the details, which is why I’ve been known to start the New Year with as many as seven type-written pages of goals and resolutions.

My husband, on the other hand, tries to boil down his goals into as few words as possible. During his first year of residency, the goal was SURVIVE. Another year, his mantra was READ, WRITE, & RUN.

He informed me a few days ago that his goals for our family this year are going to be DISCIPLINE and JOY — as in, the more disciplined we are about doing what ought to be done, the more joy we’ll experience as a result.

I think he’s onto something.

Left to myself, I tend to set wildly unrealistic goals. I guess I’ve bought into the it’s-better-to-shoot-for-the-stars-and-get-off-the-ground-than-aim-for-a-lamppost-and-stay-where-you-are way of thinking.

The problem is, I sometimes let what should be secondary or tertiary goals take precedence over far more important priorities. Typically, the lesser goals are more easily quantifiable and don’t depend on anybody but myself, so I’m often tempted to work on those even when I know I should be working on something else.

This is especially true when my accomplishing something else depends on someone else who is being uncooperative or resistant or is in some other way thwarting my progress.

But that’s where the discipline and joy come in, which is why Scripture tells us:

  • “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)
  • “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

And that sums up my New Year’s resolution this year: I want to tend to the things that matter most, doing my work joyfully and whole-heartedly, and not growing weary, even if I don’t get the results I’m hoping for right away.

I still have a huge list of stuff I’d like to accomplish this year — certainly more than I could ever get done in my own strength. But God has promised to supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19), and that includes giving me the time I need to do the things that matter most to Him.

Of course, when I’m disciplined about doing the things I ought to do, I have less time for doing the things I’d like to do. That much should be obvious.

What isn’t so obvious is the fact that, when I’ve tended to first things first, I’m usually far more productive with the time that’s left over.

Like loaves and fishes, when I give each day to God, when I’m intentional about stewarding it wisely, when I faithfully do what He’s called me to do, there are enough fragments of time left over that I can make a serious dint in my dream-big list of goals, as well.

So that’s my plan for 2015. What’s yours?

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

Don’t Waste the Crust

I’ve never been one of those mothers who carefully pared the crust off the PBJ’s I served my children for lunch.

For well over 20 years now, I’ve been coaxing my kids to eat the crusts of their sandwiches using the following rationale:

  1. It’s wasteful to leave them.

    -and-

  2. That’s where most of the vitamins are.

And for well over 20 years, my children have accepted my mother-wisdom at face value and at least feigned an attempt to cooperate with this imperative.

But not too long ago, a couple of my (young adult) children decided to question the validity of this claim.

The crust is where the vitamins are? they repeated skeptically. “Seriously, Mom, that may be true of apple skins, but bread is bread. The entire loaf comes from a single batch of dough. The nutritional value is no different in the crust than it is in the middle.”

They’re smart kids. They’re also very articulate.

If you’d been sitting at our table that day, you might even have been inclined to agree with them….

But if you did, you would’ve been wrong, as they were. Fortunately, Siri was on my side for the ensuing debate.

I knew I’d read some relevant statistics on bread crust before, so I whipped out my trusty iPhone and within seconds had located this article which summarily proved my point: Cancer-fighting anti-oxidants are eight times more plentiful in the crust than in any other part of the bread.

Don't Waste the Crusts - lovinglifeathome.comSo what if bread crust is tough and chewy or hard to swallow? It’s good for you. It’s rich in dietary fiber and in nutrients that help your body grow healthy and strong.

That’s the reason I keep serving it to my children, and it’s the reason they (mostly) keep eating it.

Unfortunately, we sometimes approach life the way kids approach sandwiches. We prefer the soft and cushy parts. If we could leave those tough parts untouched on our plate — or if we could talk our Heavenly Father into trimming off anything that seems difficult to swallow — we’d do it.

I’m as guilty of this mindset as anyone. I’ve always prayed that God would teach me the lessons I need to learn in the easiest, most gentle way possible.

I’ve secretly hoped that if I stay attuned to His still small voice, God won’t have to shout through the megaphone of pain to get my attention.

"Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." - C.S. Lewis

But guess what? The tough trials, the hard challenges, the parts of life that make us lose our appetite — often those are the very things God uses to mature us, to strengthen our faith, and to nourish our relationship with Him.

And trials come no matter how intently we listen for His voice or read our Bibles or follow His promptings. We can avoid suffering unnecessarily by walking close with Him, but we can’t avoid suffering altogether.

Jesus told his followers, “In the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) — it’s not a question of if, but when, and how will we react when it comes?

Scripture tells us plainly how God expects us to respond. We are to:

  • “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

    -and-

  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Perfect. Complete. Lacking in nothing.

That’s God’s goal for us.

So next time you find yourself in a tough season of life, don’t let it go to waste. Trust that your Heavenly Father has a purpose in putting that difficulty on your plate and accept it with gratitude, knowing there are things you can get out of the hard parts of life that cannot be found in any other way.

Just dip it in the pure milk of the Word to make it easier to swallow. (1 Peter 2:2)

"Consider it joy..."

Lost & Found

Lost & Found | a touching story of a father's love... must read!It was a stupid thing to do. That much is obvious.

Normally, I would have spent recess swinging or sliding or riding on the merry-go-round. But that day, I sat alone at the edge of the playground holding my new ring, admiring the way it caused the sunlight to dance in my hand.

The ring was a birthday gift from my parents — a tiny diamond (April’s birthstone) set in the center of a small gold flower.

I was seven at the time — too young for anyone to have mistaken it for an engagement ring — but my mother still insisted I wear it on my right hand.

Only that day at recess, I wasn’t wearing it at all. I was playing with it. I was playing a game I called “Digging for Buried Treasure.”

First, I’d bury my little ring in the sand, then I’d dig, dig, dig until I found it. Then I’d bury it a little deeper, and dig a little longer until I uncovered it again.

And so the game continued: the ring was lost, then found, then lost, then found, then lost… then the bell rang.

Frantically I searched as my classmates lined up to march back inside the school building, but to no avail.

The teacher called my name, tapped her foot, pointed to her watch, jerked her thumb toward the double doors behind her.

I tried to explain why I couldn’t possibly leave. Not now. Not yet. But she insisted, and I spent the rest of the day distraught and distracted in my little school desk, staring out the window and wondering if I would ever see my beautiful ring again.

When the final bell rang that day, I ran home in tears to tell my mother what had happened.

She listened to my hysterical cries and did her best to calm and comfort me. “Just wait until your Daddy gets home,” she soothed. “He’ll know what to do.”

And he did.

With eyes full of compassion, he tenderly took my hand and led me back to the school yard.

As we walked together, he didn’t scold. He didn’t lecture. He didn’t tell me how foolish I had been or how easily I could have avoided this situation or how it would serve me right if I never got the ring back.

He didn’t grouse or grumble or complain.

Instead, he acted as if he’d been waiting all day for a chance to come home and dig in the sand with his little girl. All I sensed was love and sympathy and a stubborn determination to find what was lost.

The playground sprawled across a good two acres, much of which was covered in 4-5 inches of sand. Daddy asked me to point out the general vicinity where I’d been playing, then told me to hunt there. But instead of digging beside me, he strolled to the nearest entrance and began combing through the sand with his fingers.

Slowly, systematically, he worked his way toward me, all along the retaining wall, sifting the sand as he went.

After about twenty minutes of digging, he uncovered a cut stone, but it was too big to be mine, so he kept searching.

Another ten, twenty, thirty minutes passed. The sun was sinking low on the horizon. But Daddy kept looking. Patient. Persistent. Unperturbed.

Then, just as it was growing too dark to search any longer, the last grains of sand fell through his fingers to reveal my beloved ring!

My father had the most beautiful smile — pearly white teeth with a small gap between the top two. The light was too dim and my eyes too flooded with tears for me to see his smile that night, but I could hear it in his voice as soon as he called my name, and I knew.

He had found what was lost.

He had accomplished what he’d set out to do. And my heart was filled to bursting with gratitude for that Daddy of mine.

My father wasn’t perfect. Like all parents, he sometimes made mistakes. His patience occasionally wore thin. There were plenty of times that I got the lecture (or other appropriate discipline) I so well deserved — dished out with love, to be sure, but without such obvious compassion.

But on that balmy night of yore, he was as perfect as a Daddy can get.

I cannot tell you how often I’ve reflected on that scene from my childhood, for my father’s pivotal response affected me in many unforeseen and far-reaching ways:

  1. It affected the way I approach my problems:
  2. My father’s calculated response impressed on me how important it is to remain calm and collected, even (and especially) during times of upset and stress. My frantic and random pawing at the ground earlier in the day had been completely ineffectual. Daddy’s slow, methodical approach took time, but yielded the exact result I was hoping and praying for. Daddy showed me that cool heads prevail, a lesson I’ve carried with me into adulthood.

  3. It affected the way I parent my children:
  4. I don’t remember everything Daddy ever said to me growing up, but I remember how he made me feel: Loved. Esteemed. Cherished. And I’ve done my best to communicate those same things to my own children. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fall short. But the example my father — and my mother — set for me has made it much easier to be a good parent myself. I can model what they did with full confidence that 98% of it was right and good.

  5. It affected the way I perceive my Heavenly Father:
  6. They say that children tend to view God in the same way they view their dad. Perhaps that is true. My earthly father was wise, benevolent, and completely trustworthy, so it has never been difficult for me to trust implicitly in the wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father. My dad’s loving response to my lost ring has given me confidence to boldly approach the Throne of Grace with other burdens and requests, great and small (including another diamond I lost forty years later). And that’s a rich heritage, indeed.

It was an incredible blessing to have the father I had. I know that’s not been the case for a lot of people. Many children growing up today do not even know their father, much less enjoy such a close relationship with him. Others have had negligent or abusive dads. That grieves my heart. It makes life much more difficult for them, but it does not leave them without hope.

Having a good father may make it easier to understand and accept the goodness of God, but God is good regardless. You can choose to believe what the Bible says about God, even if it varies widely from what you’ve experienced in your home.

God loves you. He cares for you. He is patiently seeking — even now — that which is lost.

As I’m typing these words, I’m praying again, boldly making my request known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)

But this time, dear Reader, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that you will see God for the loving Father He is, and that you will bask in that love, fully assured that He is good and wise and worthy of your complete confidence and trust.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

5 Lessons I Learned by Losing a Diamond

5 Lessons I Learned when I Lost My Diamond (and where to look if you lose yours) from lovinglifeathome.comLast month, I lost the diamond out of my wedding ring — an irreplaceable family heirloom. It made me feel sick when I glanced down at my hand while dining in a local restaurant and noticed it missing, for how long, I didn’t know.

Years earlier, my husband’s grandmother had taken the diamond off her own finger as soon as Doug announced his intention to marry me. She reached over, patted me on the knee with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Then we’d better go get the ring sized.”

Nanny and Poppy drove us to Taylor Brothers that very morning, then Doug “officially” proposed on bended knee in their living room as soon as the ring came back from the jewelers.

A rare antique cut, the diamond had been in my husband’s family for over 120 years when it was given to me (and almost 150 years when I lost it two weeks ago).

As soon as I realized it was gone, I called my mother and asked her to pray that it would be found. I also posted a prayer request on Facebook, where I received an incredible amount of encouragement from friends there, many of whom had lost-diamond stories of their own to tell:

  • One of my friends lost her ring at Walmart, and some good Samaritan turned it in.
  • Another friend had found her lost diamond two years later, in the mouth of a whale in a pop-up book that was on its way to Goodwill!
  • Someone else lost a custom-cut, heart-shaped diamond IN THE OCEAN while honeymooning in the Caribbean. If that isn’t about as hopeless as it gets, I don’t know what is. Yet her husband spotted it wedged in the crevice of a rock on the beach almost two weeks later, the day before they were scheduled to fly home.

Even friends who hadn’t lost diamonds promised to pray and gave great suggestions for searching:

  • Hunt in the dark with a flashlight
  • Empty the vacuum bag
  • Check your dryer lint trap, sink bin, clothes closet
  • Thoroughly search the car
  • Make sure it’s not caught in your broom fibers

Of course, I thought of a few more places to search on my own:

  • In the bed linens (maybe it fell out in my sleep?)
  • Under couch cushions (no diamond, but I did find several pennies and ink pens)
  • In the fishbowl (I emptied out all the decorative rocks in the bottom and searched one by one)
  • In the flower beds (I’d spent a couple of hours there, trimming back ivy and azaleas the day before)
  • In the garbage disposal (It’s a cramped, slimy job, but the peace of mind was worth it)

Unfortunately, my diamond didn’t surface through any of that, but I kept praying, kept hoping, kept looking….

I also did a little therapeutic writing. I began a (not-yet-published) post about a diamond I lost forty-two years ago and the lessons I learned through the experience. (Watch for that story soon. It still makes me cry every time I tell it.) And I wondered what lessons God might be trying to teach me this time around. Here are a few I’ve identified thus far:

  1. The insufficiency of good intentions:
  2. My house has been in need of a deep cleaning for some time now. It has been on my to-do list for months, yet I lacked motivation to follow through with the job. In the past two weeks, however, I’ve cleaned out closets, organized drawers, scrubbed counters and cabinet fronts, dusted baseboards, defrosted my freezer, vacuumed under furniture, and culled through, sorted, and put away all manner of misplaced miscellany. My lost diamond provided just the boost I needed, as I’ve always considered systematic cleaning to be the fastest, most effective way to find things.

    The lesson, I think, is that we should go ahead and do the thing we know we need to do, instead of waiting until something drastic drives us to it. (James 4:17) Let’s reduce our stress levels before we have the heart attack. Let’s invest in our marriage before the divorce papers are served. Let’s get in shape before our health fails. Let’s make memories with our children before they grow up and leave home.

  3. The value of hope:
  4. My big-hearted husband was completely unfazed by the fact I had lost this priceless heirloom. Being the think-outside-the-box sort of guy he is, he took me straightaway to the jewelers, ready and willing to trade in what was left of my wedding set for something entirely new and different — and more than a little surprised that this idea was not met with more enthusiasm on my part.

    But thankfully, thankfully, the jeweler convinced him to wait. “You’re going to find it,” he assured us. “Give it a few days. I’ll bet that diamond will wink at you. When it does, you can bring it back in, and we’ll repair it for you.”

    Isn’t hope an amazing thing? It gives us peace when we’re troubled, strength when we’re weary, and courage when we’re frightened. That jeweler’s confidence, together with the testimonies of so many friends whose lost stones had been miraculously restored, served to buoy my faith that I’d eventually find mine, too. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

  5. The heart of God:
  6. The Bible tells us that Jesus “came to seek and save that which was lost.”(Luke 19:10) Only, He wasn’t searching for something as insignificant as an inanimate rock. Oh, no! He’d set his sights on eternal souls — Christ came to redeem you and me.

    That sense of urgency I felt about finding my lost diamond? The concern that it might be lost forever? The determination to stay alert to any sign of its whereabouts? How is it that I can retain such focus when it’s a shiny little stone in question, but am often oblivious to the infinitely more valuable treasures all around me? Those lost sheep Christ came to save. People are more important than things, and the way I live my life should reflect that fact.

  7. The importance of checking those prongs:
  8. This wasn’t the first time I’ve lost that diamond. It also fell out fourteen years ago while our family was on a 2500-mile road trip. That time, it was miraculously recovered a week later by one of our children — subsequently dubbed “Diamond Dave” — who spotted it under the back seat of our Suburban amid broken crayons and cracker crumbs at a pit stop in Virginia.

    The stone was originally set with four prongs (which held up remarkably well considering all the scrubbing, painting, kneading, and digging I’d done with that diamond on my hand); however, we decided to remount with six, assuming that would be sufficient to keep it safe. Obviously, it wasn’t. Had I been smart about it, I would have taken my rings back to the jeweler more routinely, so he could inspect the prongs and make sure everything was still secure.

    A similar thing sometimes happens in our spiritual walk. We get baptized in infancy or pray a prayer in childhood and mistakenly believe our future is secure because of it — regardless of how we’ve lived our lives since. We know that God saves us by grace through faith, and not because of any works done on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9), yet we are still called to bear fruit, and that fruit will only come when we are in close communion with the God who produces it. (John 15:1-8) If we are smart about it, we will check in with Him routinely, allowing Him to inspect us, prune us, and keep us secure in Christ.

  9. The power of prayer:
  10. Isn’t it amazing that through prayer, we have the privilege of conversing with the Creator of the Universe? I am so blessed to have so many friends and family members who are willing to pray with and for me, even about the little stuff. And I am so grateful to serve a God who promises that when we pray, He will hear and answer (Matthew 7:7-8). Sometimes He answers right away. Sometimes He asks us to wait. With respect to my diamond, it was enough for me to know that God knew exactly where it was (even if I didn’t), that He could keep it safe, and that He would give it back to me if doing so would be for my good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

As it turns out, between all the prayers and all the cleaning, my diamond finally did resurface. Praise the LORD! It had evidently fallen out in our bathroom where it rolled under a cabinet and into a small gap in the grout between the tile and the wall (there’s one more place to check if you ever lose yours!). I’d already swept the bathroom several times in search of the lost stone, but because our pastor’s family was coming for dinner Saturday night, I decided to lay down on my stomach to scrub those hard-to-reach tiles by hand. I still couldn’t see it, but the diamond was there all the same, safe and sound, just waiting for my fingers to dislodge it from its hiding place.

Now, isn’t that a happy ending?