bigger than happiness.

Boat sinking  

Happiness is a lie.

And if you live chasing untrue, you spend your days batting at the wind, pulling for an idea that can’t deliver what you think you need.

Happiness will leave you longing for more in its coming and going.

Life unfolds messily mostly without us knowing quite how things will end up.  At best, we can work hard to create the life we think we want.  My schedule fills and my life tightens in my reaching for better, for more, but more often, I find myself worse off the harder I work for what I think I need - in the restless pursuit of happy moments.

You would think the more happy I gather together, the more satisfied and settled of a life I’d lead.  But still, I’m empty in the in-between and hungry.

This manic going after of life is tiresome and besetting.  In this way, happiness is an absolute lie.

If life is measured in how much happy moments we have together, our family is failing and we are taking on water faster than we can bucket it out.  We live in stiff, isolating  moments between laughter and lighter times when we’re all smiling and having a good time.  When we do fall into happiness together, it’s euphoric and addicting, but it cuts when it’s done and we fall out of it disjointed again.

Happiness is a drug we’re all jonesing for.

But there is a better way.


For me, joy is the result of love decided, rooted and held to in the swell of good and bad.  It is remembrance that life is not about us, but about something so much better and bigger than ourselves, our dreams and desires and our expectations.  Joy undoes happiness as ultimate authority on how our life measures up.  Joy lifts us in the low and enlightens us all the more in the highs.  It is no secret passage or mediative state to reach when you’ve learned to manage and re-architect disappointment with hold-your-breath positivity.  No, joy is an acceptance that all of life is good and waiting to be lived.  Joy is Heaven’s call now flooding through happiness to penetrate our feeble hearts and remind us that all shall be well, both now and in the life to come.


lent, going more than giving.

stars in the sky IN THE ABSENCE OF ME, I meet You more.  Small diminished pockets of my heart hold the glory of eternity in my forfeit – my giving, my dying and disappearing – when the heaps of spoil pulled close around my heart burn away in the heat of Your unturned love.  We meet on hallowed ground You’ve equaled, not of my giving or sacrifice trite and incomplete.  Even beyond a scandalous love, You bid me come to peace that I could never discover on my own.

Lent is just this – giving in response to God’s ultimate compassion.  This season delivers an invitation to all who might come and die within their hearts to all things crowding thought and affections, all owned things honoring and satisfying only the heart.  In simple words, lent is removing important stuff from our heart so that God’s love has more room to grow deep within us.

So it’s subtraction, but also addition.

What will you give up is but a whisper in comparison to, What will you add?

It is imperative to us both as parents that we teach our daughters the importance of why we do the things we do, not merely do these things because we do these things.  Celebrate traditions laced in meaning and those celebrations give way to life development.  Our daughters ask why and we tell them.  This does two things:  it informs our children about the meaning of what we do and it ensures that we know why it is we do what we do.  Just as stories are lifeless until you read them with meaning having immersed yourself into the emotion of the words, not only the form of them, routine behavior is also meaningless until we subscribe to its meaning and embrace it in heart.

A question constantly asked within my heart is, ‘how can I show my children the way?’  The answer that echoes in return is profound – ‘go the way.’




little giving king.

skull crownTo give is to loosen your heart from itself enough to love unmistakably. Forever a war will wage within my chest.  A native land will always be at stake.  Advances will be made and little won battles will convince me that peace is near and the war won, but I will learn that then, too, I must loosen my grip on my own heart and selfish desire.  The war is no less than my heart able to love freely in response to Christ's love allowed to vanquish all selfishly rooted motive smeared ugly by sin and mired in desire.

You see, to give from a place of charity in my heart as a means of merely being charitable and nice is a short-sighted advance in the war of my heart.  The problem is in my every attempt to be good, in every good try to really care for those close to me.  Sooner or later, most often sooner, my grip around my heart will tighten, my love will flatten, my words grow coarser and I will set alone as king of nothing really, just my little demanding heart. If the victory over our selfish hearts lies in love, then we must be givers rather than takers.  Give more than you demand receipt and you will love expertly - but, the caveat to be crossed is giving and loving without measure.  And that can only happen in our hearts, in our families, marriages and varying relationships, when our hearts have been pierced with a Love forever.  In Christ alone do our hearts both die and live, rightfully find end and beautifully are resurrected.

When I became a father, love swelled uncontrollably within the walls of my heart, pushing the limits of possession and responsibility. I felt for someone I didn't yet know but named. Yet quickly, I discovered how selfish my heart truly was.  My schedule was often disrupted for these beautiful little lives that were just so needy and dependent.  For the first time, I felt the regression of love in my selfish frustration as a parent.  And again, I see selfishness in my choosing to limit love in marriage.  It sounds awful, but it's honest.  I married an amazing woman just a handful of months ago, and again, I'm realizing just how selfish I can be.  There's the ebb and flow I alone allow, the back and forth of giving and taking in the form of love and selfishness.  I am one of five in our family and I fight when they want losing a bit more control of how and when life happens. I. Me. I demand for my way, justifying rudeness and trouncing too hard through beautifully blooming love. All in the quest of satisfying me.

Love is patient, love is kind . . . love is Christ.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

In life as we move in and out of conversations brushing shoulders with others regular to our day and in the intimate circle of family and marriage, the act of giving is holy, set apart from the speed of battling with our hearts, our hands clinching for self-satisfaction.  Let us quiet our efforts, gain victory through Christ and only then, love well.


seek thou joy.

“Go forth, my heart, and seek thou joy.”Paul Gerhardt

Joy is found by those who search and see.

Shuffling in a life less than, marred by mistakes, taken by circumstance, wilted in days echoing hollowly.  It is easy for feet to falter and each day constrict to the size of a moment.  There, stuck and wandering, life memorialized.  Some stay in that spot for years wondering how life seemingly went so wrong.  And some never take another single step forward, only steps circling, while observing others they know and don’t move with the appearance of effortless grace.

Not only are steps still, but the heart is captive to the moment, too.  Joy alludes. Life free from pain, agony, tragedy and all that gives cause for worry and fear waves in the heat of day as a mirage in the drier times of life experienced by all. all, that is no overshoot.  Everyone goes through tough times that try our resolve and dry our souls a bit squeezing out most reason for joy.

Life doesn’t wait for anyone.  It isn’t concerned with fairness, doesn’t respect where you’ve been or who you are.  Life unfolds as it will into each day.  We must decide how we will live it.

Much of relearning life for me has involved opening to joy again.  Not mere pockets of happiness oscillating in changing days and temperature, but happiness lasting and independent: joy.

In days darkened by tragedy and grief extending into the unseeable future, happiness filled my life in predictable reprieve.  A good conversation, an entertaining movie, immersing myself in hobbies and activity, et cetera, all gave way of escape and lightened life.  My eyes lifted out of the drudgery of life as it existed then and looked for a time when all would be lighter and happy lasting.  Joy continually escaped me.  The feeling just wouldn’t stick.

Happiness is a fleeting drug lifting for a moment vanishing the next without trace.

What we miss as hands frantically reach for happiness running is everything now.  And that’s really all there is, now.  Because happiness doesn’t last, we chase hard in pursuit and rush through now to the next lighter moment.  Happiness delivered a smile, but never penetrated my to heart causing an engulfing, sad detachment and confusion between my heart and my head.

Joy sets a course aright, fills in cavernous cracks and strengthens bending knees.  No matter the day or the straining conditions, joy gives life to a weaning heart.

I found joy scattered along the broken path in the easiest places positioned in plain view everywhere I was not looking.  Happiness busied me in its coming and going and blurred my sight.  My eyes always looking to spy the next opportunity for happiness while missing joy all around.

Joy exists much closer than you often think.

In a sunrise.  A smile defiantly worn on my daughters’ faces in grieving times.  A call from a friend.  Laughter.  Health.  Home.  Making dinner again as a family.  Stories and hugs at bedtime.  Weary but honest smiles early in the morning marking another day lived together.

And the list grew larger in endless mundane, but infinitely saving detail.

Thankfulness led me to joy.  And there’s an abundance of joy to be had right there in our lives despite the height or weight of circumstance.  As I slow to assess all of life actual existing immediately around me, I have much to be forever thankful for.

The secret to joy lies nestled in the day-to-day of life.  We miss its simplicity in our hurried attempt at happy.  I began to make lists and jot down.  The idea for thankfulness lists came from a book I read entitled, “One Thousand Gifts,” by Ann Voskamp.  Cataloging all reasons to be thankful gave endless cause for joy.  I go back to my lists in thinning moments and difficult days and no matter the conditions, joy rises.

And so for me, releasing my heart to seek after not mere happiness, but joy again, has been in allowing my heart to attach to everything I have reason to give thanks for.

Now I see with much more definition and clarity all that matters and all that I want for us.  My heart has honest room for newness.  I don’t feel as though I’m reaching and grasping for happiness any longer.  Joy simply and fully expanded my heart narrowed in grief preparing it for what’s new.

That is joy on top of joy.  Joy exponential.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17, ESV

affectionately known as mumzi.

:: by Marguerite Delcambre

We all grow in the soil of family cultivated and nurtured around us.  In that soil we stretch out, push into the dirt and feel life all around.  There are rocks and weeds and roots that we must move around, grow through and deal heavily with.  Regardless, it is in that soil that we flourish or flounder.  As a parent, it is my duty to nurture the soil my kids are growing in and keep it healthy.

In planning for this series of guest posts, I felt it would be lacking without one.  I would like to give you the slightest glimpse into the heart of my mother.  She is a woman who with an unassuming, quiet strength has made a way for me.  Constantly tending to the soil of our hearts in ways lasting, my sister and I grew healthy despite rocks and thinning soil drying in sun.  Death of a child, her firstborn, when I was only five.  Marriage suddenly no more after years of happy and whole.  Her faith strained undoubtedly, but in that straining, grew unmistakably deep loosening soil richer.

And as the soil in my life thinned, she arrived.  I will forever owe a debt to her that she will never accept for pausing her life to see that ours resumed.  Quietly cultivating soil.

I asked her to simply write a letter addressed to my daughters speaking into their future words that would carry.  I also asked my grandmother to write letters to my girls.  Maw maw Lucy is well into her nineties and she like my mom is still tending to the soil.  I am who I am largely due to these two remarkable ladies, my mom and my grandmother.[gallery link="file" columns="5"]


Dear Elizabeth, Emily and Chloe,

I love you all so much, and I want God's very best for you.  You've already felt more pain in your short lives than most girls your age, but I see you as winners.  I love the young girls you're becoming.  I know you are who you are because you have had such a strong foundation laid by your daddy and mommy.

I have been praying for you from the time I heard the good news that you would be born.  I prayed that you would be safe, beautiful, smart, talented.  I'll always pray for you.  My prayer now is that you will follow Jesus all the days of your lives.  Then you will make wise choices. Choose to be honest in everything you do.  You'll make mistakes, but admit those mistakes and choose not to make the same mistake again.  You'll  feel so good about yourself and others will respect us.

Choose to love your sisters, watch out for each other, help each other.  When you think of Mommy and it hurts and makes you lonely, sad, or even angry, remember that your sisters feel that way too sometimes.  Be kind and loving to each other.  Friends will come and go but sisters will always be sisters.  Choose your friends wisely.  Having a few friends who believe in the same things you believe is better than having lots of friends who are untrustworthy friends, who may try to get you to do the wrong thing.

Choose carefully who to date...  My prayer is that your future mate will love Jesus first, then you, that he will be the leader and provider in your home, that he will honor and respect you.  First get to know the young man you fall in love with by dating him, become engaged, marry... Then have a home together and have babies.  That's God's plan for you that order. Choose wisely.  You may hear lots of people say "its ok, everyone's doing it."  That's a lie.  There are some who choose being different from the crowd because the crowd may be doing the wrong thing.  Listen to that still small voice in your heart who wants to lead you the right way.

Remember that I'll always love you.  I hope that no matter what you face in life, you will always know that I am here for you.

Love you forever, Mumzi



Thanks for reading this week.  And a lasting thank you to the amazing women who were my guests: Rachel McGowan (@_rachchristine) ||  Meshali Mitchell (@meshali) || Felicity White (@felicitywhite)