Three Key Questions About Finding True Happiness in 2018.
My life never ceases to surprise me! How did an ordinary Southern California housewife and grandmother find herself traveling the world for the past 17 years? And beyond that, why should a Chinese speaking newspaper in Malaysia care what my thoughts are about life or the true meaning of happiness?
But when you say "Yes, Lord", surprising things happen and I was asked by The China Press, a newspaper that interviewed me over a year ago when I was in Kuala Lumpur for World Vision, to add my thoughts to an article they were doing about finding happiness in 2018. I did quite a bit of personal soul-searching as I went through the questions and I thought the answers God gave me might be an encouragement.
I encourage others to consider these 3 questions and answer them from your own heart and experience. I would love for you to share your thoughts as well.
1. How would you define happiness? Many people think that happiness is a feeling that comes when life is good But, in my opinion, happiness is a “choice”. If we depend on others to make us happy, we will often be disappointed. Instead, I choose to find my happiness in the love of my Heavenly Father and the warmth and support of my family. When those two things are in the right order, I am happy.
2. How do you find true happiness in life? By helping someone else find their happiness. This may sound like a cliché, but the truth is that when I focus on my own needs and feelings, my world becomes very small and happiness can be hard to find. But when I focus on the needs of others…whether they are family, friends or someone in need whom I may never meet…and I do something to lift them up, happiness has a way of finding me.
3. What’s your greatest happiness in your work? One of my dearest memories is when I visited a family in a village in Ethiopia. World Vision had given the family a loan to start their tailoring business and four of the children were in school and flourishing because of sponsorship. When the mother saw me, she jumped up and gave me a big hug. She was crying and kept repeating a word over and over. The World Vision staff said, “She is calling you ‘sister’ because she knows that your father started World Vision. She wants you to know that she was also sponsored and that you are like her family. It is her greatest joy to meet you!”.
My greatest happiness is when I meet people like her.
4.Could you please share your Happy New Year Wishes 2018 with China Press’s readers? My New Year’s wish and prayer for 2018 is that our hurting world will find the inner peace and hope that only God can bring and that we will find our happiness by lifting up our brothers and sisters in their time of need. ... See MoreSee Less
Another wonderful Christmas is in the picture album!
Bob and I hosted Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day festivities with our family. Only Michelle, Adam and Emmet were missing. They were in San Francisco celebrating their first official Arkin Christmas. We look forward to seeing them at New Years.
We did something fun this year. I am addicted to the cooking and baking shows on TV and I thought it would be fun to have a cooking decorating contest this year. So my granddaughter Addy and I baked a bunch of sugar cookies on December 23. Then I made up several bowls-full of colored icing. Everyone got into the fun. My son-in-law, Vinnie, took a candy cane shaped cookie and a snowman and created a "golfing snowman" in honor of my husband, who loves golf. My older granddaughter, Lexi, made a gangster snowman, and I made a "Santa" snowman. There were lots of colorful trees and stars and candy canes. But Vinnie's girlfriend, Karlee, took the grand prize with her beautiful Christmas tree. (Bob was the impartial cookie judge.)
It was a lot of fun and I think we will make it a Dunker tradition.
We hope that your Christmas was equally joyful and blessed! ... See MoreSee Less
I came across this Dunker family Christmas card from 1982 and I thought it would be fun to share. Our younger daughter, Stacey, was three and Michelle was five. We were living in Thousand Oaks, California, and Bob was working for KBRT radio station.
It is fun to note that Stacey is wearing a dress my mother had made for me one Christmas when I was her age. Michelle wore it and then Stacey. I saved it in hopes that my granddaughters would wear it, but the black velvet began to tear and the under-dress turned "crispy".
I pray that you will make happy memories with those you love this Christmas and that the love and peace of the Christ child will fill your hearts and grace the coming year!
I spoke at Arcadia Community Church yesterday at a Christmas luncheon for "senior" ladies. I grew up in Arcadia and the woman who invited me was one of my mother's dearest friends, Joyce Stuthers. The Stuthers family were very dear to us. Joyce's son, John, is a brilliant musician and composer, and when he was only fifteen, I asked him to play the piano for me when I first stepped out in a singing ministry in the early 1970's. My singing career didn't go far, but young John grew up to compose a musical based on the book, 'Pilgrim's Progress" that almost made it to Broadway! He now pastors at a church in Sierra Madre, not far from where we grew up.
When I walked into the recreational meeting hall where the luncheon was held, I was was hit with a wave of nostalgia. While I did not attend the church during my high school years, I did sing there...in that very room...with the Chanteurs from Arcadia High. And my mother and younger sister, Robin, were very involved in the years after I left home. Robin has a lovely voice and also sang with different musical groups at the church. She was cast in John's first original musical, "Antsylvania" and it had been performed in that very room. Amazingly it was my daughter, Michelle, who came to the luncheon, who remembered being there for Robin's play when she was a little girl. She even began singing the show's theme song!
So you can imagine how emotional it was to stand in that very place to speak after nearly 40 years! I came prepared to give my special World Vision Christmas message for women, "A Very Mary Christmas", which focuses on stories of ordinary women whom God has chosen to do extraordinary things. Among them, the Virgin Mary, my own mother, Lorraine, women I have met during my travels overseas and my own testimony.
But as I looked out at the beautifully etched faces of women who have endured the "battle" for many years...the oldest being 100 years old!...the Lord changed the message. These mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers did not have to be persuaded to get engaged. They had lived through more battles than I could imagine. And the very fact that they were now sitting in that room proved that they were still looking for God to use them. So my message changed to one of encouragement to not grow weary in well doing and choose to STAY in the battle.
As we get older, it is easy to let our aging bodies dictate how much time and energy we are willing to give to the work of the Kingdom. We begin to move to the sidelines...or sometimes feel pushed...to make way for the younger generations. In many ways this "changing of the guard" is natural and healthy and needed. But what I am discovering as the years go by is that our usefulness to God never reaches its expiration date. Even death is simply a reassignment to our eternal work station.
At 67, I make a conscious decision every single day not to hang up my laptop and passport for a more relaxed way of life. But what if Abraham or Moses or Joshua had felt that way? They would have missed the "best" part of their life's story! Everything they had endured and suffered before had been training for a specific time and assignment. What if they had "retired" at 70?
When I first came to WV, I was definitely close to the top of the age scale as a fifty-one year old grandmother. But there were many other staff who were my age or older. But over the past few years many of the older ones have retired and others have moved on to other assignments. Now I look around and see very few people of my generation still active in the ministry. Thank goodness for Rich Stearns, who is only one TINY year younger than me!!! (Who's counting?
So as I looked out at that room-full of wonderfully seasoned warriors in that room yesterday, I felt God say, "Tell them I am not done with them. Tell them that they have experienced My faithfulness and power and grace in ways that only they can share and that their children and grandchildren will never understand how truly powerful I am if they don't tell them! Sound the trumpet... calling them to "active duty", so they will know in their hearts that no matter where they are financially or health-wise or how battle-weary they may feel, they need to stay in the battle for the hearts and minds of those who are following in their footsteps.
And remind them that prayer is Heaven's currency. Their bank accounts are full. Spend it well! ... See MoreSee Less
My grandson, Vinnie, took this picture a few days ago at the beach. His little sister, Addison, was standing the water's edge watching the sun go down. He was snapping photos when she raised her arms and he captured this incredible image.
When I saw it, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs, "I Can Only Imagine". Here is what the second verse says:
"I can only imagine when that day comes When I find myself standing in the Son I can only imagine when all I would do is forever Forever worship You I can only imagine I can only imagine
Surrounded by You glory What will my heart feel Will I dance for you Jesus Or in awe of You be still Will I stand in your presence Or to my knees will I fall Will I sing hallelujah Will I be able to speak at all I can only imagine I can only imagine"