UN-Happy? Part IV: The Bottom Line

 

Rubber meets the road
Rubber meets the road

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 New King James version

In conclusion to this short series on Un-Happy? I want to share with you something very dear to my heart. It has helped me throughout my life as a source of encouragement. It is a song that pretty much sums up the Christian experience IF you want it to be a happy one and not guilt ridden or stressful! Lets take a closer look at the words of a timeless hymn that has touched my soul. I pray it will do the same for you.

The words to the song were written in 1887 by John H. Sammis. He first wrote the words as a poem inspired by a testimony in which he heard these passionate words from D .L. Moody at a meeting; “I am not quite sure— but I am going to TRUST and I am going to OBEY.” Sammis sent the poem to Daniel B. Towner who wrote the music and TRUST AND OBEY became a hymn.

Read through the lyrics slowly asking the precious Holy Spirit to give you new insights through the words about your own relationship with Jesus. I have bracketed my own thoughts concerning each line to help as examples.

7857622296_54500b1752_z

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word {GET IN THE WORD}
What a glory He sheds on our way! {LOOK FOR HIS GLORY}
While we do His good will, He abides with us still, {DO HIS WORK WITH HIM}
And with all who will trust and obey.

REFRAIN: Trust and Obey , for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, {TEMPTATIONS, DISCOURAGEMENTS}
But His smile quickly drives it away: {REFOCUS ON HIM}
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, {HIS PRESENCE PROTECTS}
Can abide while we trust and obey. (refrain) {HE WILL CHASE AWAY THE NEGATIVES}

Not a bürden we bear, not a sorrow we share, {DON’T GIVE UP}
But our toil He doth richly repay; {REWARDS WILL COME}
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, {WHEN TRAGEDY HITS, HE KNOWS IT}
But is blessed if we trust and obey. (refrain) {HE’LL BRING GOOD}

But we never can prove the delights of His love {WE WON”T KNOW}
Until all on the altar we lay; {UNTIL WE PUT HIM FIRST}
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, {SUPERNATURAL WONDERS}
Are for them who will trust and obey. (refrain) {ONLY FOR US}

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, {DAILY TIME ALONE WITH HIM}
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way; {GOING ABOUT  OUR DAILY BUSINESS WITH HIM}
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; {LISTEN FOR HIS VOICE, DO WHAT HE SAYS}
Never fear, only trust and obey. {DON’T GIVE IN TO FEAR}
(final refrain)
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Live each moment hand in hand with Jesus.  He who saved you for a better life. He who spared you from eternal torment.  He who restored your relationship with your heavenly Father. Isn’t He worth your time and devotion not only as Savior but also Lord of your life???

A firm YES from the heart will set you on the path to LASTING HAPPINESS, ABUNDANT LIFE,  and forever FLURISHING!!

8306433533_07a0d29bfb_o

The choice is yours.

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

Google TRUST AND OBEY by Big Daddy Weave if you like an updated version to hear the song. There are more traditional versions that will pop up as well.  Let me know what you think.

UN-Happy Part III: Eeyore No More

See any Eeeyores around you or in the mirror?
See any Eeeyores around you or in the mirror?

 

” Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 Common English Bible

Hey, wait a minute! That sounds like an oxymoron. How can hopeless people be happy? Hopelessness creates Eeyore type thinking, acting and even living in some cases. It’s hopelessness in a Hundred Acre Wood type existence, right?

Sticking with animation and the Winnie the Pooh analogy, let’s continue. Eeyore is the fictional epitome of sad sackiness. He’s pessimistic, gloomy, depressed and dare I say, apathetic about being so. Eeyore became comfortable with his gloomy outlook. He never tried to shed his pessimistic attitude. He accepted it as “who he was” and gave himself fully to it. He became comfortable in his wallowing. He is a symbol of what it means to be hopeless.

Now of course Eeyore is only a cartoon character like the ones we looked at last time, but do you see people around you with the same gloomy cloud hovering over their lives, their words and their countenance? Willing to accept the Eeyore mentality as their only reality? They believe life is hopeless. That their life will never be anything more. They seem far from happy. And many times they have grown so comfortable in this state that they have no desire for change, even positive change.

Why did Jesus say Happy are the Hopeless in the book of Matthew?
Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount begins with the above verse.. Jesus was not using the idea of hopelessness as in an Eeyore type mindset, in fact, just the contrary.

HE was using the idea of hopelessness in terms of being aware of one’s own insufficiency to produce LASTING happiness. Not just fleeting moments of joy due to circumstances but a joy of the heart that undergirds us through sorrow, pain and days of the mundane.

6233193874_9210464a69_b

In our humanness we cannot provide this for ourselves. The sooner we learn this and act on it, the happier we will be. People who are aware of their own inability to provide for the needs of their souls are the happy ones. They are no longer under the burden of caring for their own soul but see the reality of their lack. They recognize the truth that each human being created can never be completely whole without knowing their Creator. Happy ones admit their need. Happy ones take the next steps to figure out how to fulfill their need. They are proactive.

102883454_0bb9334a5a_z

They investigate the truths in the Bible.

They acknowledge Jesus’ work on the cross to completely provide above and beyond what their souls need in this life and the next.

They invite and allow Jesus to be their full provision as Savior, Lord and Friend.

They find a place to gather with other like-minded people who love and follow Jesus. They begin to live in community for a higher purpose.

They learn to love one another and grow in faith together. Their lives change from lonely Eeyores to vibrant individuals.

This is the FLURISHING life Christ came to provide. (John 10:10b)

Jesus loves every Eeyore too much to allow them to remain an Eeyore.
Jesus loves every Eeyore too much to allow them to remain an Eeyore.

If you think you are an Eeyore accept your own insufficiency. Chase after Jesus and be an Eeyore No More! Become the vibrant individual you were created to be!

Shine on. . .
karan k

UN-Happy Part II: Be Aware

 

11826661676_8746983e5f_z

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7a New American Standard Bible

Okay, so we have the right to pursue happiness, at least here in the United States. I realize there are readers from all over the world and so far some have registered from Israel, Brazil, Brunei, Italy, and China. The type of happiness we will be investigating on FLURISH can benefit anyone anywhere anytime.

So let me ask you a few questions:
Where does your mind spend most of its energy? What issues crop up continually in your mental centrifuge? Think about it? Do you focus on work? Leisure? Goals? Family? Survival? Yourself? Politics? Finances?Possessions? God?

Are the thoughts you focus on primarily positive or negative?

To pursue happiness, we must fill our minds with positive thoughts and positive things. This will look different for each of us.
The Bible says, “. . .Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 New Living translation

What we think about shapes our attitudes, values, and actions no matter where we call home. It’s extremely important to fill our minds with good stuff if we wish to FLURISH in happiness. Here in the U.S. we are surrounded by a culture that likes to shock, scare and depress us. Not the best avenue to promote healthy psyches in any society.

Negativity has many faces and forms. Over-exposure to it will eventually bend us in its direction and subtly twist our thinking without our own awareness that any change has taken place.

For example, let’s look at something most Americans see as harmless entertainment; cartoons. Our history shows a seeming preoccupation with characters who are down on their luck, grumpy, whiney. depressed or outright self proclaimed losers.

During the second World War a character called Sad Sack came to life in issues of Yank, the Army Weekly. Sad Sack became so popular that Simon & Shuster published two hard cover collections before moving him into newspaper syndication, which lasted until 1957.

239331104_c3062be0a8_o

The forties also brought the Droopy Dog cartoon to MGM. Each decade has added some new negative personas to the mix such as;

Peanuts lead character Charlie Brown arrived in the fifties. Hardy Har Har the Hyena sidekick to Lippy the Lion appeared in the early ’60s. Schleprock from the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm show surfaced in the ’70s. Care Bear’s Grumpy Bear hit the scene in the ’80s. Squidward Tentacles from Sponge Bob, and for any rebels out there, Bill Dauterive, the clinically depressed neighbor on King of the Hill, both dominated the ’90s television in primetime. Strong Sad a major character on the hit internet series Homestar Runner launched in 2000. And now Lamington, have you seen or heard of him? He’s a sensitive Boston Terrier cartoon, the saddest puppy in the world. Lamington has been seen on greeting cards since 2015 and hopes to expand to additional media outlets. Nothing of a positive nature among these ranks.

7546938104_3d8e76ee77_z

Only unhappy people are obsessed with negative icons. Lots of unhappy people are paying good money to sport their favorite negative hero or heroine. For example, while meandering through a local gift shop I spied a sweatshirt featuring a fairly new icon which was not a cartoon.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Grumpy cat? Her real name is Tartar Sauce. She went viral as a kitten in 2012 when her owner’s brother posted a photo of her on a social news website.

As I looked around in the store I could not believe how many items bear her image. She has her own line of calendars, cards, plush toys, bean bags, socks (men’s and women’s I might add), posters, hoodies, post cards, gift bags, pillows, children’s books, stickers, stamps, guitar straps, mugs, balloons, magnets, slippers, craft sets (of a miserable sort of course), books, candies, pens, napkins, earphones, paper dolls, laptop sleeves, coasters, dinner plates, coloring books, mouse pads, bookmarks, infants clothing (let’s start’em young), playing cards, masks and the variety of T-shirts and tank tops seem infinite. Each item bearing the furry feline’s miserable mug.

Stuffed Grumpy Cat
Stuffed Grumpy Cat

These characters are fun and all of us can relate AT TIMES to being a sad sack, grumpy bear or cat, but it should not be our daily Modus Operandi. We should not celebrate it or we will become like it because we focus too much attention on something negative. Being flawed creatures it’s naturally easy for us to flow in the groove of least resistance. Easy is not always better. Happy is harder but so worth the effort.

If we’re struggling in misery may I suggest that unless we have Clinical Depression of some sort, we have a choice in the matter of being happy or unhappy? You can choose to disagree with my suggestion and remain miserable, that’s also your choice.

And if anyone is thinking I’m a Pollyanna type, think again. I’ve battled negativity, depression and anxiety throughout my life. I can tell you without a doubt it is indeed a choice and not a mandate to live unhappily ever after. I made a choice to believe there IS happiness in this life. Jesus said we can be happy. (John 10:10b) The forefathers of the United States believed happiness was attainable (see Part I). Who do you believe?

First step toward Happiness is being aware that you are not. BE AWARE of the state of your mind and heart. Accept that you have a choice.

I hope you choose to fight negativity and focus on the good stuff God has provided. Next time we’ll discuss where you go from here on your journey toward happiness.

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Un-Happy: Part I

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”  Proverbs 17:22 New Living translation

Edible joy
Edible joy

Recently on a trip to the midwest, I happened upon an UNcommon bookstore in a university town that sold UNusual things. I treasure these type of fascinating places and I will go out of my way to patronize them if possible.

I found the coolest embroidered patch of a round canary yellow icon (Baby Boomers can you guess what it is?!?). But rather than my expected Smiley face staring back at me which is what I hoped to purchase, it was a Frownie face, an UN-Happy Face. So I marched it up to the cashier and asked if there were any smiling versions of the patch.

“No, this particular artist only does the frown faces. His vibe is on the dark side. He doesn’t do happy,” the merchant answered. To which I responded.

“Because happy is harder.” The merchant looked at me quizzically as I thanked him, laid down the patch and exited the store.

Edible sadness
Edible sadness

My husband remarked afterward about the profundity of that short statement. (BECAUSE HAPPY IS HARDER) It was one of those delicious moments when I didn’t say too much or too little. I said just the right thing and then I walked out of the store. Sort of like Fanny Brice in a scene from Funny Girl where Barbra Streisand says to Omar Shariff ; “No law against waiting, people do it all the time.” If you are a movie buff, check it out.

 Train scene Funny Girl 1968
Train scene
Funny Girl 1968

As I thought more about what just happened, I realized the deep truth again myself, maybe for the millionth time. Creating anything happy or joyful must spring from a heart or life that has experienced it as truth.

How many truly happy people do you know? Look around. Our world was never a perfectly happy place but something has changed in the US of A in recent years. Something is lost. A general belief that there is no chance for happiness has replaced the expectant hope for a joyous tomorrow. Negativity is now celebrated and even trendy. UN-Happy is in. Happy is out. Have you noticed the change? The loss? This college bookstore experience was a stark reminder to me of this new accepted mindset.

Happy IS harder because you have to chase after it. Our country’s preamble to the Declaration of Independence states;

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Notice the last three words, “pursuit of Happiness”. Happiness doesn’t just happen. You can’t be lazy or apathetic about it. You can’t sit and stew in your own pain or misfortune. You have to intentionally act. You have to chase it down, catch it and never let it escape. It takes perpetual determination, or we end up as sad sacks.

8717189871_c54d3874d8_z

Our aim is to FLURISH not frown through life. How do we do this? Excellent question! One we will explore further in part II. Until then ponder your own thoughts concerning happiness.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Birthday Invitation

” Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me. . . ” Psalm 23:4a+b New King James version

Surprise!
Surprise!

Ever get an invitation for a surprise Birthday party? People love to be in on surprising someone. The thrill of seeing the person’s reaction is enough to entice people to attend a party. The anticipation of waiting for the guest of honor to arrive is exciting. But what if there is no surprise?

My sweet husband recently attempted to surprise me with a Birthday gathering. Being the planner I am, I figured things out although not quite all the details. I hope the guests are not disappointed that there will be no surprise, ’cause I’m psyched to share time with them. To celebrate with trusted friends is something I treasure.
On my actual Birthday I planned a surprise of my own. I decided to visit my mother at the exact time she gave birth to me many moons ago, 9:55 in the morning.

When I arrived, no familiar bright pink clothing greeted my eyes. Mom lay on her bed curled up in a standard hospital gown. I could see she didn’t feel well. I spoke to a nurse to find out what was wrong. Mom had caught a flu bug earlier in the week. One of the aids was kind enough to get me a mask to wear so I could visit.

 

Birthday surprise with Mom January 11, 21017
Birthday surprise with Mom
January 11, 21017

Mom perked up when I sat on the bed with her and stroked her “strubly” (Pennsylvania Dutch term for messy) hair out of her face. I could tell she had been laying in that position quite some time due to the matting of her hair. I told her I came at 9:55 am the time I was born to surprise her. But she didn’t have a clue.

I told her all the current news from the outside world of family and friends. We shared some memories from past Birthdays in my adulthood. Not much good to remember of my childhood birthdays. She seemed so glad to see me even though I wore the mask.

Just before I left our visit, Mom asked in her own cute little way,  “Did you know that you had red hair when you were born?” “No, you never told me that before, ” I answered. She smiled and said “Well, you did.” This little Birthday trivia  tickled my heart . What a special surprise.

I hugged her and left smiling.

Mom doesn’t recall a lot of details anymore due to her Dementia but I praise God for these lucid moments of sharing. I know there is coming a day when all her memories will stop. Her body may be living and breathing but her mind might struggle to even recognize my face. It’s a harsh reality but one I’ve asked Jesus many times to strengthen us to brave together. Sometimes Mom cries when she can’t remember stuff I ask her and it’s so hard to watch her struggling. But even during these moments I must realize HE is in control.

He is faithful to help with the surprises of life
He is faithful to help with the surprises of life

I am confident that as time rolls along and Birthdays come and go for both Mom and myself, Jesus will faithfully hold our hands and walk with us! Because we both invited Him to our party a long time ago.

Whatever you are walking through these days remember He is there by your side. Ask Him to help you notice and sense His presence more. He longs to be involved in all our experiences; celebrations like Birthdays and tough stuff like dementia. You don’t have to walk alone. He is awaiting your invitation. His answer will be the biggest and best surprise of your life!

5978790297_0e0cf3c6e6_b

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4a+b New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Mother of all Fears

fullsizerender-6 Let’s talk about fear.

 

How many of you out there are mothers? Bully for you! Kudos and all that stuff. You have my enduring respect for whatever it’s worth. You have done something impressive in my book.

I never had any children. I didn’t want to have children. Let me clarify.  I was beyond terrified to actually HAVE a baby. Have you ever seen photographs of an actual birth? I worked as a proofreader for medical journals at age 18.  Some kind soul decided to show me photos of what happens to certain parts of the mother’s body during delivery. It totally freaked me out to say the least. I made a personal executive decision that I would do my best  to avoid physically having a baby. Labor pain was the “mother of all fears” to me at this point in my life. God backs me up in the pain department. Read Genesis 3:16 in any version you choose. God said there would be pain and I believed Him.

I lived solo for 32 years when my best friend announced she was getting married. She like me, had never had children. The man she planned to marry had two. Are you kidding me, I thought. No way would I want to raise someone else’s child unless the said child was an orphan.  At this point in my life I needed my own limelight and remained intolerably too selfish to share my man, even with an orphan.

I told my friend I could never do what she seemed determined to attempt. A new  “mother of all fears” crept into my heart, that of a Step Mother! My Friend got married the following year and things appeared to go went well for her.

The three babies
The three babies

Ten years pass and  I met a doll  of a man.  I knew shortly after meeting him that he was marriage material. The only catch? He had an 11 year old daughter who was his shadow, a  hiding behind his back mini version of him.

Suddenly a new terror struck me. I lived as a single for 42 years how would I ever adjust to sharing my life (my home, my car, my everything) with a husband let alone a young girl who wasn’t MINE. Not to mention could I be a good mother to her or should I even try? I didn’t want to step on her biological mother’s turf. Question after question plagued my mind.

Show the Love
Daddy Daughter Love scared the Daylights out of me!

At this time, I was attending a weekly  women’s Bible study. I requested prayer every week concerning my budding relationship with Dwight (the doll). The fear concerning his daughter, Cortney swept through my soul like a hurricane. But a tiny calming voice came through the din; “Do not be afraid of Cortney.” The same words week after week. “Do not be afraid of Cortney.” I couldn’t escape it. No matter how I rationalized or justified my fears to God, the answer was the same, “Do Not Be AFRAID of Cortney.”

So when Dwight proposed, I had a major meltdown. I did not want to commit to something I felt I could not succeed at due to my insecurity issues. For crying out loud when I met Dwight I hadn’t even planned on dating yet alone get married at this point AND become a Step Mom! I remained steeped in fears and rationalizations, but  the tiny voice continued. “Do not be afraid of Cortney.”

After much prayer involving lots of crying, I took a leap of faith. I trusted the still small voice instead of my fear. We got married. The husband, the daughter and the cat moved in. We had some tough moments together. All three of us are the youngest in our families (not sure about the cat),  but the three baby humans — Dwight, Cortney and I  learned and grew up together by the grace of Almighty God. We were transformed into something more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.  We became a close knit family. We shared our hearts and souls regularly even through the teen years becoming a triangle of love and faith blessed by God. We FLURISHED!

Cortney's Bridal shower
Cortney’s Bridal shower

Being a bonus Mom ( I prefer this  term rather than Step Mom) to Cortney has been one of thee greatest delights of my life. What I feared most became one of my greatest treasures because I trusted God. I cherish my relationship with her and every moment we spend together.  It just gets better and better.

Central Market Wheat grass shots
Central Market
Wheat grass shots
First apartment
First apartment

In 2015 I had the extreme privilege to help Cortney plan her wedding to an extraordinary young man. Their life together has blossomed. Nothing is perfect but they are learning and growing together as they trust God, rather than give in to fear.  I pray they too will pass this lesson on to any children who come their way.

 

fullsizerender-5

Remember the Lord ALWAYS knows best! Trust Him not your fears. I’m eternally grateful that I did.

Shine on. . .

Unspeakable JOY
Unspeakable JOY

karan k

PS: To see video version go to Youtube:  Karan Klassen –Mother of all Fears

 

Tales from the Booth: Horn Blowers Beware

4468176403_0588ca42ee_b

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors: God is making His appeal through us.” II Corinthians 5:20a  New Living translation

As ambassadors may we be mindful to reflect our King with the glory HE deserves. Read on.

ROAD RAGE monster chasing you?
ROAD RAGE monster chasing you?

The other day I had a customer who couldn’t find her money. She was a big bosom woman and fished around in her cleavage for a wad of cash (You’d be amazed how many women still carry cash that way). It took her awhile to find a sufficient amount when just as she was about to hand it to me the car behind her began honking. Or it appeared the horn blowing emanated from the next car. There were three cars behind her so in reality it could have been any one of those three. I noticed the next car had a big sign on the side of the car saying “JESUS LOVES YOU!”

My coworker shouted across the lane “Guess Jesus is in a hurry?” I shook my head as my heart sank. I wanted the honking to be from someone else. I hoped the driver bumped the horn by mistake somehow. That has happened many times before in my long experience on the Pike, but three honks in succession is too much for even my rationalizing mind.

6704842171_f6b01185e6_z

I finished the transaction with the woman. She exhibited her disgust openly to the honker before driving off. The “JESUS LOVES YOU” car pulled up directly and the driver did not display angst, however, he did appear to be in a hurry so I aided him on his way.

Next car pulls up and I am face to face with an elderly woman. What do I have to lose, I thought to myself. I had to know the truth. So I asked, “Were you the one blowing your horn?”

Her countenance soured immediately. “No. It was that Jesus car in front of me.”

The truth lay bare and ugly as I attempted to smooth out her mood by sharing her frustration. Altho my reasons most likely were different. She pulled away and I ached inside for Jesus. His name was merely on the car but did HE do anything wrong?

The following week that same “JESUS LOVES YOU” car pulled up to my booth. We weren’t flooded with traffic that day so I took a chance.

With as much diplomacy as I had stored in my heart for just such instant occasions I asked the man driving the car;

“Do you remember if you blew the horn last week when you came down my lane?”

At first he hesitated with a seeming tinge of embarrassment, but then he said, “Yes. I was late for work.”

 

11800494926_9160641658_z

Immediately I could relate. Countless times when I was running late for work or an appointment, I recalled giving in to frustration with other drivers, and yes even speeding.

With as much diplomacy as I had within me, I told him what my coworker and the customer behind him had said after the horn blowing incident. I told him I used to have a license plate on my car that read “DON’T BE CAUGHT DEAD WITHOUT JESUS”. That plate on my car was intentional to keep myself in check because I bear the name of Christ wherever I go. It was a reminder to me to react with the mind of Christ instead of reacting on my human impulse. Sort of like the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) movement from a few years back, remember that? When rubber bracelets were just a new thing.

My battle weary plate had to be straightened out many times to fit on my bumper
My battle weary plate had to be straightened out many times to fit on my bumper

I told him I was sure he had no intention of making Jesus look bad and that it may be a blind spot for him. His reaction was priceless. In humility he thanked me for reminding him of his responsibilities as a Christian. It was such a moving experience of what passed between us as fellow believers. He accepted the gentle admonishment in a manner of meekness from a virtual stranger out of love for his Savior. I could feel the swell of family love and respect in my heart for this man immediately.

Christianity is so beautiful when we let CHRIST lead. I pray if things were reversed and I was admonished by a loving fellow believer, that my reaction would be the same as my customer in the “JESUS LOVES YOU” car!

Shine on. . .
karan k