Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Choose Joy


 I was listening to a podcast this week while walking, taking a break from audio books. I must encourage you to listen to anything Sally Clarkson writes or records. She comes from a Christian perspective, and particularly ministers to women of every age. Her voice of wisdom is like water for thirsty ground.

 

One of the topics recently was living with joy. I was captivated by her words of encouragement and truth. How do we choose joy when life has dealt us one blow after another? How do we rise to the level of trust in our God when the worst has happened?

 

Not a single one of us has escaped tragedy of some sort. You’re either coming out of a trial, entering a trial, or are firmly established in a trial. Personal relationships are usually found at the center of our deepest woes, but also financial worries, cultural and political wars, and health issues. The great equalizer of the human condition is that none of us are spared trouble. So how do we respond as believers in a faithful God?

 

If you’ve lived long enough, you can testify to the fact that nothing stays the same. As I reflect on my 60+ years, I know that life has balance and rhythm. The very thing that tore me apart twenty years ago is insignificant today, and yet it shaped me into the person I am now. Does that mean I chose joy every time? No, it does not. It’s taken a lifetime to recognize the beauty of choosing joy when my world is falling apart.

 

We all have ongoing pain from a multitude of sources. How we respond makes an impact on our total person, but it also has an affect on those around us. 

 

There are cliché sayings, some even evoke eye-rolls, but when you truly grasp the meaning behind the familiar words, nuggets of truth emerge.

 

“God won’t give us anything we can’t handle.”

There are many things I can’t handle, but because I am never alone, His Spirit lives within me, I can truly say there’s nothing I can’t handle. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, but it means I can choose to trust the One who walks with me, guiding me in the path I should go. Choosing joy allows me to move forward in trust.

 

“When the cares of my heart are many,

your consolations cheer my soul.”

Psalm 94:19 ESV

 

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

This one is actually true, and you know what I’m talking about. There’s something miraculous about surviving a trial that had the power to take you out. Choosing joy in this situation looks a lot like praising Him in the storm.

 

“You are a hiding place for me;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

Psalm 32:7 ESV

 

 

 

“There’s beauty in the broken.” 

This one I know deep in my heart. Unless we are broken, we cannot help someone else. Have you ever thought God allowed your difficult situation so you could offer joy, compassion, and understanding to another person? If we don’t show the world how to relate to people in kindness and love, how can we expect them to follow the God we love? When we respond with apathy, selfishness, and pride, we lose the voice we have in a world filled with hatred.

 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the

Power of Christ may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

 

 

My challenge to us all is to choose how you will respond to any given situation, before it happens. Our emotions have the ability to send us down a painful path when we react before thinking. Choose to be grateful for the little things when the big things threaten to tear you apart. Choose to forgive, even when you’ve been wronged, and the other person withholds forgiveness. Choose to love the unlovable. Period. Choose to allow the other person to cut in front of you in traffic. (I need to work on this one.) Choose to allow nature to minister to your brokenness. A walk in your neighborhood, a beautiful garden, or a woodsy path may be just the thing to help you shake off moodiness, or despair. Find the thing that brings you joy and make it a regular activity. Our creator gave us a multitude of beauty to surround ourselves with. It probably won’t solve our problems overnight, but choosing joy gives us the frame of mind to live with a grateful heart.

 

 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Going through many trials, I learned to trust the Word of God. It literally saved my life, and gave me joy. That, my friends, is something I’ll never tire of speaking about.  

 

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Power of Words

 I have a secret to tell you­–I am a hoarder of words. Words are my love language, the icing on the cake, and the pot at the end of the rainbow. Words bring me comfort when I’m sad, joy when I’m bored or lonely, and encouragement when life is hard. 

 

Five years ago, we sold our house of nearly twenty years, and downsized to a farmhouse in the country. Due to lack of space, as well as time to pore through boxes, I stored all the memorabilia from the last thirty-five years in a storage building at my husband’s office. The time of reckoning arrived and all the containers found their way to our garage.

 

One by one I sifted through boxes of cards, letters, invitations, announcements, and other keepsakes. If you sent us a graduation announcement, wedding invitation, or thank you note in the last thirty years, it was there. If you gave me a birthday card or get well card, they were there. If you sent a note saying you were praying for me, it was there. 

 

I spent time walking down memory lane revisiting old and dear friendships through the written word. Friends that I haven’t thought of in years were brought to mind, treasured stories of my past rekindled. Many times my eyes misted when remembering those who have since passed into eternity. Those correspondences are even more precious than when they first arrived by hand or mail. I was reminded of God’s goodness to me and my family over and over.

 

The written word is a powerful thing, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Without the written word, history is only as close as the memory of fragile and forgetful humans. We’d have no way of knowing the origin of man, previous civilizations, or the statistics of our favorite sports heroes. Obviously, there are many other things we’d have no clue about without the written account of their happening.

 

Back to my boxes…my husband says I live in the past. I disagree. I spent hours and hours sorting through evidence of a life engaged with people. We all know that life can be hard and discouraging at times. Sometimes we only remember the things that happen within a short time, and if we’re not careful, one bad thing has the power to overshadow ten good things. Rereading cards and letters brought perspective, and reminded me of how much I’m loved. Those words still have the power they held when originally sent. And in a world where bad news, angry words, and untruths bombard our minds and heart, the gentle and loving words of family and friends also has the power to heal and encourage.

 

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,

sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 16:24 ESV

 

Write that note in your own handwriting, send a card when you hear of someone suffering pain or loss, and let your words become part of his or her history.    

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Dear Mom


 Dear Mom,

 

It’s been a long time since we breathed the same air; too many years, yet the life you lived continues to provide me with sustenance. Thank you for giving me life, and teaching me how to live.

 

Thank you for exemplifying joy in all things, and for the gift of appreciating the simple things.

 

Thank you for teaching me the importance of family, and how to extend unconditional love that reaches the wayward soul.

 

Thank you for showing me who Jesus was to you, and for living a faith-filled life in front of me.

 

Thank you for protecting me from harsh realities, allowing time for me to process truth.

 

Thank you for teaching me how to love. Because I lost you when I was so young, I have an overwhelming desire to be present for my family. No sacrifice is too great, no mountain too high, no valley too low. My greatest treasures are not things, but the ones God gave me. 

 

Thank you for teaching me how to die. Your courage and determination are still alive in my memories. Philippians 4:13, your favorite Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” gave you courage to die, knowing Who was waiting on the other side of the veil. 

 

Thank you for being my mom, fifteen short years on earth, forever in eternity. 


You were a gift to our family; God’s choice for me. You are missed especially on Mother’s Day and Christmas, but also in the everyday moments of life. Memories of you are treasured in the depths of my heart.



Friday, January 21, 2022

My Word for 2022

Here we are flying toward the end of January already and I haven’t shared this post. In less than three weeks I’ve had eye surgery, a new grandson born, and my husband and I are both getting over Covid. Welcome to 2022. It’s all good though, just a little delayed in celebrating Levi’s birth in person. And if there’s ever a good time for my word, I’d say it’s now. 

In years past I’ve chosen a word for the year; a word to motivate, encourage, and teach me something needed or desired. As the new year has made its way into the world, and I’ve had time to ponder after the busyness of the holidays, the word “prayer” has appeared over and over. It doesn’t take rocket science to know this is my word. I could choose this word every year and never go wrong. 

Prayer is one of those topics we shy away from. How to pray, when to pray, are we doing it right, do our prayers really get heard by the Almighty? The call to pray is clear and scattered throughout the Bible. So why don’t we pray, or why do we make it so hard?

 

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I don’t think so. I consider myself a person who prays, a prayer warrior, most of the time. However, I often feel inadequate. Am I missing something big, do I remember to pray for all the requests I agree to pray about? 

 

I want to deepen my prayer life in 2022. I want to be more consistent in sharing with God before I share with my family or friends. I want to learn to hear His still, small voice in the chaos of life, as well as in the planned, quiet moments of the early morning hours when it’s just me and the God who loves me best. I want to discern His voice above all others. And prayer is the avenue for that growth.

 

I look forward to this year of prayer and all the ways I hope to grow in the next 344 days. I’ll keep you posted. 


Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

Monday, January 3, 2022

2022, We're Ready For You

 Here we are, 2022; and there you are, waiting for us with your blank pages: A new year to love and serve those in our sphere of influence, a new year to dream and create, a new year to grow into the people God intended us to be.

I get excited for a new year. Maybe I’m nerdy, but I love cracking open a new planner, making lists, and beginning fresh again. We all need a reset sometimes, so why not on January 1st?

 

There are plenty of words out there about reflecting on the past year—what worked, and what didn’t, how to simplify, how to organize, how to be more productive, or how to best use our time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about asking the personal questions of myself. I want to make the most of every day. 

 

There’s something poignant about the passing of time, the realization that it doesn’t stand still, and the days are fleeting. Now that I have grandchildren, I feel this even more keenly. I want to be here for them, experience their growing up years, and pour all my love into them.

 

This passage in a book I’m reading titled The Women of the Bible Speak, expresses how I feel about my purpose and the reason I set particular goals:

 

“We sometimes think the size of our audience is in direct proportion to the impact we can have, but Mary (Jesus’ mother) didn’t run to the town square. She started within her own family circle, and that’s often our most important congregation, the people we love, those closest to us, because they get an up-close look at our faith and how we choose to live it in the most practical ways.”

My greatest blessings of 2021

 

Some version of these words has been uttered millions of times, and yet, their importance isn’t diminished. Some people have grand visions of affecting the masses, grasping fame and fortune, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you’re someone like me, who has the desire to live simply, love deeply, and serve your people, then do it. Own your calling and live it out with grace and joy. 

 

It’s taken me a lifetime to recognize the beauty of serving a small circle of people. My time is just as important as the next person’s, and I value planning in such a way that I can do “all the things,” and do them well. So yes, I will reflect on the past year, make lists of what I’d like to accomplish this year, and focus on the best way to get there. I’ll dream big of writing more, spending more time with friends and family, and hopefully, traveling more.

 

So 2022, I’m excited about all the possibilities and opportunities you will bring. Give me grace, Lord, to adjust to the happenings of the year as they unfold. Help me share from the bounty of life that I’ve survived and flourished in, though it hasn’t been easy. Give me a heart of love for all those that cross my path, especially my circle of family, and may you be glorified in all of it.



Baby Levi coming January 2022!





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