I was upstairs brushing my teeth when I heard it. My husband was still downstairs, and as he left the den he said~
”Alexa, turn off the lights please.”
He said “please” to Alexa. 😂
In case you aren’t aware, (according to Google) Alexa is a ‘virtual assistant technology smart speaker.’
My rough and tough husband said please to a little, non human speaker.
(I love him so much 🥰)
I started laughing so hard that I had to sit down. I wasn’t sure he even realized he said it, so I didn’t bring it up. The next night as we were both heading upstairs, he again asked Alexa to turn off the lights. I stopped and looked at him~
and I knew he knew.
He was trying to hide the smirk on his face. He innocently asked “what??” Trying not to laugh I responded
“you forgot to say please.”
And we both burst out laughing.
The whole Alexa incident got me thinking about our lives and all the technology and answers that are right at our fingertips. You can Google anything nowadays and get an answer in minutes. As long as it is plugged in, I can ask Alexa a question and get an immediate response.
Somehow this need for immediate results has crept over into our
We want answers from God right NOW.
Technology has wonderful benefits, but when it comes to the way we think and perceive life, it can have its downfalls. The news is constantly bombarding us with the horror this world throws at us~ all within minutes of when it happened. We fear. We self diagnose. We binge watch. We covet. We buy more. We fear more. We get depressed. We worry.
Mental health has spiraled downward.
And then we end up questioning God’s love for us.
My daughter and I were having this conversation a few weeks back. She made the comment that she didn’t think God ever intended for us to have this much information at our fingertips 24/7.
I remember responding that ‘back in the day, all a woman had to think about was taking care of her family and Jesus.
Eyes and heart always on the Lord, because nothing else was around to take His place’.
It’s time for us to get back to loving God. A tender, fervent, personal love. Get back to digging deep into His word. Get back to seeking Him with our whole heart. Get back to giving our families to Jesus and raising them to love Him with their everything. Get back to talking to Him continually. Asking Him for the answers. Trusting Him for the outcomes. Being still in His presence and having faith in His unbelievable love for us. A love that is ALWAYS for us and NEVER against us. A love that can’t be measured or bought. A love freely given because of His Son.
(John 15:10, Romans 8:31-39, Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:18)
We are too wrapped up in today. (Revelation 2:4) ‘Loving God with our everything’ has become a passing Christian phrase with no real meaning. And because our love has waned, our laughter has been lost. We often treat God like He’s Alexa, and quite often we don’t even say please. We have forgotten that the joy of the Lord is our strength and in His presence is fullness of joy. (Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 16:11)
Today I want to encourage you to take a sabbatical from technology. From our phones and laptops and kindles. From the 24 hour news. From binge watching. From Amazon and Google. From Alexa.
This summer focus on being still in His presence and growing in our love for our Savior. When we are plugged into His power, He will give us all the answers we need. We will find rest in His presence, comfort and peace.
And our laughter will return.
When I think about that night my husband spoke to Alexa, I smile when I recall his words but I laugh when I remember the laughter we shared together. When I look back on my life I don’t want to remember all the bad. I want to remember my soul being filled with laughter. My greatest happiness being loved by my Savior. A life completely filled up with the joy of the Lord. (1 Peter 1:8)
Long summer days await us my friend.
Feed your soul. Fill those days with the love of God and with laughter.
(Psalm 16:8-9, 11, 89:15-17, 94:19, 126:2-3, Romans 5:5, 8:38-39, Ephesians 3:16-19, Philippians 4:4, )
Have you ever had one of those weeks or months or maybe even years? Whether it’s small stuff that continually goes wrong in a 24 hour time frame, or horrific stuff that leaves a cloud of despair hanging heavily over your head~the circumstances suck all the joy and laughter from your life. It’s times like this that you begin to feel utterly alone, and sometimes even a little afraid that you won’t ever laugh again.
My daughter in law sent me a snap chat the other week with the title of this post. We laughed, but there was a certain heaviness to it. And that’s what prompted my topic for my ladies banquet, as well as this post~
Live, Love, Laugh, Leave Me Alone. Learning To Surrender Control to God and Truly Enjoy Life.
After much prayer, I decided to share it with you all. My heart is burdened to help you laugh again. My heart is burdened for you to know the lasting happiness that produces that laughter, genuine laughter~ you know…the kind that makes you cry or pee your pants a little. 😉 Good old fashioned joy.
I’m going to break this series down into five topics:
Live For today
Let Things Go
Learn to Trust in God’s Power
Love God and Allow Him to Love You
This week we will focus on LIVE (For Today) and in the weeks to come I hope to share 4 more areas that will help you to laugh again.
LIVE FOR TODAY
This isn’t something we usually hear. Normally we are told to live with eternity in mind, and we definitely should, but God also tells us to find joy in the day to day and not to fret about, or fear our future.
Quite often, we have no control over our futures. We might think we do, but every moment of every day is an uncertainty. There are no guarantees. Every thought we have, every action or reaction we choose, every breath we breathe, every moment spent with God and with loved ones could be our last. We could have the perfect plan for our lives, but when we try to control every aspect of that plan and cling to it tightly in our fists, any time something goes wrong~ our joy and laughter will slowly be sucked from our souls. But, when we surrender each day to God and give Him control of our days, we know that whatever happens tomorrow or the next day or even the next year, is for our good~no matter how hard the circumstances might be.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34
“Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.” Psalm 96:2
It really seems too simple, especially if life kicks you when you’re down. The little things that get to us in a 24 hour time frame can easily be given over to the Lord, and we can lay in bed at night with the full assurance that tomorrow is another day. The times it is most difficult is when the hard hits. The diagnosis, the failed marriage, the job loss, the wayward child, the death.
Those are the times we want to scream at the world~ “LEAVE ME ALONE!”Those are the times that joy and laughter seem impossible.
My sweet friend, with Jesus, nothing is impossible.
“With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27
“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37
(It’s pretty clear God wanted us to get this point)
When you have fallen to the ground with no fight left in you, He is laying right there on the ground next to you, holding your hand. He is whispering to your soul that He will pick you up when you are ready. He doesn’t rush you. He simply wraps you in His comfort. Joy will come again in the morning, even if He has to lay with you there all night long. He will never leave you. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
“For the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee….He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee…” Deuteronomy 31:6,8
“The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.: Isaiah 41:13
“…Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Rejoice means to feel joy or great delight. It also means to give joy to.
Here are some ways to feel joy and delight in today:
Find something to be thankful for~ every single day.
Give God glory and praise~ every single day.
Uplift someone else~ every single day.
Don’t just seek joy for yourself,
look for ways to give joy to others~
every single day.
Look for joy in the little things.
Laugh with God. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with loved ones.
View every day as if it could be your last.
Focus on Jesus. When you feel your heart drifting search for Him.
Pursue God. He is there next to you in every beautiful thought and happy feeling you have ever had.
Think on things that bring you laughter, and then laugh again.
Remember that your joy gives your great God the greatest glory.
Find joy in today with eternity in mind. Every day is a gift, a new opportunity to find happiness and laughter. Fully surrender your days to God and ask Him to help you to focus on today, leaving your tomorrows with Him. No matter what those tomorrows hold, this life is not the end. Jesus is waiting for us with open arms. He gave His life to give us new life. A life filled with joy because of Him. The true joy that brings genuine laughter~
the kind that makes you cry or pee your pants a little. 😉
Good old fashioned joy.
I realized some things about myself this week.
I go through seasons where I tend to be too self centered. I tend to feel sorry for myself. I tend to make excuses. I have a worship/me complex that I call being a “people pleaser”. The reality is that I just want everyone to like me. I over analyze and under appreciate.
And I take an awful lot for granted.
Too often in these seasons I wallow in “me”.
When I take my eyes off of Jesus, even for a split second, Satan creeps into this overactive mind of mine and convinces me of a thousand and one things I should be bitter, or angry, or sad about.
This week, despite Satan’s efforts to thwart my joy, God’s faithfulness and love outshined any attempt Satan could have at disarming me.
God continually showed me how much He loves me and how much I have to be thankful for.
Over, and over, and over.
I got to spend the week with my family. My husband, children, their spouses and my grandchildren. All in the same house. We got to come to our favorite little island in the Carolinas. The same place we’ve been coming for 37 years. It never gets old and we cherish every single memory it holds. The time spent with extended family is icing on the cake.
I got to sit with my husband and children our last evening together and talk about our Savior’s goodness. I got to pray with them all, as we shared our hearts together. And I felt His presence. We cried and we laughed and all I could think was “Thank you Jesus”.
God showed me that He doesn’t bless me because I do good things. This week was evidence of that. I was momentarily wallowing in self pity before we ever left for vacation. He doesn’t bless me because I check off all the “good Christian” boxes, ie church attendance, bible reading and prayer.
He does it out of sheer love and that in itself brings me to my knees, because I know I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve any of it.
This week He gifted me with beautiful, selfless friends. He gifted me with inconsequential items I’ve been wishing for for my home. He gave me happy days playing on the beach with those I love most. He gave me precious uninterrupted time with my family. He gave me multiple hugs and kisses from grandchildren. He gave me a fresh perspective and memories I will cherish forever.
So today, my only desire is to glorify Him and say thank you.
A thousand times thank you.
If you find yourself in a place you don’t long to be, if your heart is sad and you can’t seem to get past Satan’s attempts to thwart you, fix your eyes on Jesus.
Fix your eyes on Jesus~
and say thank you.
Thank you Jesus.
I could hear their little feet tiptoeing down the stairs. They were trying to be quiet, but the old stairs could not lie. Each step made their presence known. I looked over at the clock in the darkness~4:30am. Hadn’t I just gone to sleep a few hours before?
(New rule this year, they will not be allowed out of bed until at least 6am.)
I rolled over and nudged my husband. “The kids are awake”. He let out a quiet groan, but didn’t move. I slipped out of bed and went to the stairway door. It was still shut, at least that rule stayed in tact. I opened it slightly and saw 4 little faces. Excitement was written all over them. “It’s 4:30 in the morning!” I whispered. They giggled and squealed~
”But mom! It’s Christmas!!!”
That’s all it took. Yes, I gave in. That old saying~”I’m only a morning person on Christmas” is 100% me, and their excitement was contagious.
Nothing compares to Christmas morning. When you are a child, it’s the most wonderful day of the year. For a whole month life becomes magical. Christmas countdown calendars are made. Letters are written, cards are signed, cookies are baked, presents are wrapped, music is blaring, lights are twinkling, snow is wished for and excitement abounds. Smiles and dreams lay on pillows at night, and every new day is more exciting than the last.
Oh to be a child again at Christmas.
Oh to be a child again for the entire month of December.
We forget. We grow up. We have responsibilities, and the list of things that brought so much magic and joy to December when we were younger are now on a long checklist of things to do that cause us stress. We have shut the door on December excitement and groaned in the darkness of “to-do’s”.
Yes, we have forgotten that we are still children.
There is so much hope in the wonder of a child. No matter your age, there is still wonder to behold and there is still magic and joy in that beholding.
Because we are GOD’S CHILD.
That in itself should be so exciting to us. This is the month we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This is the month we celebrate the gift God has given us of eternal life in Heaven one day with Him, all because of His gift. The gift of His Son who would take on every sin~ past, present and future~ and die on the cross to take that sin away. If we have received that gift with humble penitence, our lives should be different. Excitement and joy should permeate every day and December should be the most wonderful time of the year.
Don’t lose that excitement as you head into December. Determine in your heart to find the joy of a child in the “to-do’s” and the wonder in each thing December brings.
Instead of dreading the calendar and how quickly each day passes, ask God for the childlike wonder and thankfulness for the gift of salvation that became yours. Experience the happiness in baking and wrapping and Christmas music and yes, even snow. Each thing that makes December so special to a child can be a reminder of all God has done for us~
Blessing us with the delicious ingredients that go into those Christmas cookies, reminding us of the gift of His Son as we wrap each gift we will give this year, gazing at the soft, twinkling lights and remembering the star that shone over a manger so long ago, looking out over a winter wonderland and thanking God that He has washed our sinful hearts and proclaimed them white as snow. Go to sleep each night with smiles and dreams upon your pillow. Dreams of a different December because of a different heart attitude.
The heart of a child. God’s child.
Be a little Christmas crazy. Be contagious in your excitement over the most wonderful time of the year, and when others look at you like you are a Christmas lunatic, smile and respond~
Because that truly says it all.
Through the years I have heard many sermons on *John 16:21 and I have to be honest, each time I’ve heard one I felt a little shame. Am I the only mom who remembers?
I get the joy part, no problem~
but forgetting the pain in childbirth??
I don’t know what mother that is, but it’s definitely not me.
That woman must be a superhero.
I can remember every detail.
When both of my daughters went into labor,
I may or may not have experienced sympathy pains!
(I’m joking 🤔Haha)
I can remember when we arrived at the hospital, ready for our first born to be delivered. Mike and I could hear a woman screaming in the room next to us. It literally sounded like she was being murdered, I kid you not. I’m sure my eyes looked like saucers when I glanced over at my husband. 😳 No one warned me about pain that horrifying.
I don’t think that woman ever forgot HER pain,
I don’t care HOW cute her child was.
The more I contemplated that age old saying, the more I realized the truth of it. I might remember my labor pain like it was yesterday, but today~that pain doesn’t define me and I am not stuck there. Sure it hurt like nobody’s business (especially having my first two with no medication at all), but it wasn’t horrifying, murderous pain. It lasted for a moment in time and today I see all the beautiful joy wrapped around it, just like Jesus talks about.
And that’s the key. It’s the key to so many situations in our life. We just have to put that key into the lock and turn it, opening the door to God’s unlimited, joy filled promises and inviting them into our hearts, souls and minds.
The key is joy.
Retraining our brains to find the joy in every situation. If we could do that, I think our lives would be drastically different.
Instead we have turned ourselves into a bunch of Negative Nancy’s, victims and martyrs in our own minds. Sadly, the next generation isn’t going to be any better.
Every bad scenario is the end of the world, and we make sure everyone knows about it.
Too often we turn petty little complaints into prayer requests, seeking the pity of others instead of looking to Jesus for everything and finding His joy through everything.
This is not the life God intended us to live. God intended us to live a life of joy, shining so that others could see His glory. Shining so that others want that joy that lives inside of us.
Again, that woman wasn’t me. When I was younger and the “hard” hit, I was always the victim. Poor Charisse. Look how busy she is, look how hard her life is, look at all she’s going through. From years of fighting a disease I didn’t know I had, having Epstein Barr and mono 5 times, dealing with allergy ridden babies, sleepless nights, many moves, heartbreaking deaths, sick children, hospital stays and cancer scares. I have always made myself the victim. I still get drawn into that mentality and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I truly looked for joy in my “bad” situations. If I had, it would’ve changed my life. My husband would have had a different wife and my children could’ve seen a different mama. They would have had a completely different perspective on life.
Yet, God is faithful. He is merciful. Every day is a new start. He doesn’t hold my old victim mentality against me and despite me, His glory has shown through my children a thousand times over.
Today, I want to encourage you to find the joy. Look for joy in every single thing. If you truly look, with your heart open to all of God’s promises, promises that will never fail, you will find it.
I’m not trying to say that life isn’t hard. The death of a loved one is excruciating. Cancer scares are hard, continual sickness is overwhelming. Pain and sorrow can truly break us. Sometimes they are harder than we ever imagined. Days where we don’t think we can make it through. When you don’t have the answers, when your heart begs to know why, these are the days you beg God for a glimpse of that joy. These are the days you beg God for His peace and comfort. These are the days you hold onto that truth that Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith, you are not. These are the days you look ahead and in His strength know that you will conquer.
You will overcome because~
HE WILL NOT FAIL.
Maybe today life for you is good. You’re smiling and things couldn’t be better. I encourage you to start small~
If you stub your toe (ie-if I hadn’t stubbed my toe, I would’ve tripped on that rug and broken my ankle 🤷🏼♀️)~look for the joy. If you’re stuck in traffic (ie- this is the alone time I was begging God for, after complaining about not having enough time with Him)~look for the joy.
Look and you will find it. If you retrain your brain to look for the joy in the little things, soon you will see that even on your worst day~you will find it.
Because Jesus is that joy and when you’re holding on to Him, His joy floods your heart and soul with comfort and peace.
Finding joy in the bad does not come easy for me. Sometimes I want to park there and just feel sorry for myself, but all the times I thought it was the end of the world proved otherwise. None of them were as bad as I had allowed my mind to think in the moment. The older I get, the more I realize this and the more I want to encourage others in this area, especially young women and moms just starting out. That phrase- “this too shall pass” can certainly be irritating when you’re in the thick of it, but it really is truth. Horrifying labor pains and all.
Sorrow might be there for a while, but joy always comes, it’s just waiting for you to invite it in.
* “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” John 16:21
I blame my children.
I don’t ever recall having bladder issues pre-kids. It all went downhill after my first child was born. My bladder seemed to have shrunk to the size of a pea.
During my third and fourth pregnancies, my husband happened to be working as the Assistant Pastor to a very close friend. His wife and I became great buddies. Laughter continually permeated that friendship and ironically, we always seemed to be pregnant together. We knew where every public restroom was within a 100 mile radius.
On one particular instance, we were on our way home from a fun shopping excursion and both of us had to use the bathroom. At the time I did not know I was pregnant, but she knew that she was. We were only a few miles from home so we decided to wait. Why did we wait?????
Seconds later we were in a minor car accident. She ended up on a stretcher with a neck brace, all because she told the police officer she was pregnant. The EMT’s were called and she was strapped down. I got to ride along in the ambulance. Even though she told them how desperately she needed to go to the bathroom, they would not let her get up. The minute she was on a bed in the emergency room, I told her how much I loved her and with a smirk abandoned her and ran down the hall to find the nearest restroom.
I could hear her calling after me~
“this IS NOT fair!!!”...
I almost peed my pants laughing.
Now we can both laugh at that story, even more so knowing that I found out a few days later I was also pregnant.
I should’ve been on a stretcher next to her.
So, what is my application in all of this?
When I first started typing these words,
I honestly did not know.
Here are some things I do know~
Every single second of our life has God’s hand all over it. He knows exactly what’s going to happen as you take your next breath. He knows what’s going to happen tonight, tomorrow, next month and next year. He even knows what’s going to happen 28 years from now (the age of my fourth child who had a part in all of this) He has a reason for everything.
He even has a reason for you reading this right now.
It seems like this past year the entire world has become so serious and focused on all the bad, that I’m afraid we’ve carried that over into our personal lives as well. We get so busy with our schedules and agendas and life in general that when interruptions come that we aren’t expecting, we get irritated and even angry.
Smiles and laughter have become the exception instead of the rule.
This is what a pandemic and politics have done to us. A dark cloud looms over us continually.
That’s not what God ever intended our lives to look like.
He intended our lives to be filled with joy and laughter and abundant life.
So, why am I telling you my story?
It was a huge inconvenience for both of us pregnant women. We did not want to be stuck in a hospital all afternoon. We did not want to be in literal pain because we had to go to the bathroom SO BAD. But, I can look back at that moment in time and smile. I can even laugh. And 28 years later I can listen to my daughter’s complain about the over abundance of my use of public restrooms,
(when the reality of the situation is that it’s their fault to begin with) and inwardly chuckle.
Their day is coming.
I am not trying to downplay the circumstances of this last year, but circumstances should not control us.
His joy should. His peace should.
His sovereignty should.
Satan comes to steal and destroy.
God came to give us abundant life.
So, maybe I do know the lesson in this story.
The lesson is, there is no lesson.
It’s a small, insignificant story in my life that makes me smile. A story that I wanted to share so that you could smile along with me, and maybe even laugh.
If you find yourself getting angry or sad over the suffocating circumstances of this present world, all you need do is look back and remember all the good. All the laughter. All the joy. Remember all the funny stories God has blessed your life with.
We don’t need to know why everything happens. Perhaps certain things happen solely for God’s pleasure. Maybe God knew that as I prayed this morning I needed a smile, so He brought that random memory to my mind and I laughed out loud. That laughter in the remembering. And maybe the only reason He made sure we didn’t use the bathroom before getting into that vehicle 28 years ago was to make YOU smile TODAY, to bring laughter into YOUR life.
Because that’s what kind of God He is.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
Ephesians 1:3, 5
“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
“Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.
Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.”
Job 8:19, 21
I could hear them talking about their babies.
“I can’t wait until this child can feed herself. Sometimes it seems like my entire day consists of holding her and feeding her!”...
“I can’t wait until this one is potty trained. Two kids in diapers is too much. It feels like it’s never ending.”...
I can’t wait until mine can crawl, or better yet walk! I wish she was more self sufficient so I could actually get some things done.”...
I looked over at my own children, now adults and remembered days like this.
Days I wished I could spring ahead.
But I also remembered~
I can’t wait until this child can feed herself...
I wish she would let me cuddle with her like
she did when she was a baby.
I can’t wait until he’s potty trained...
Look at him in the bathroom now,
getting ready for his date.
How can this be possible?
I can’t wait for her to crawl and walk and be more self sufficient...
Mom, I’m going out with my friends.
I’m leaving for college.
I’m moving out.
I’m getting married...
It isn’t never ending.
There comes a day when it all ends.
A day when you wish you could go back and hold them again.
A day when you have all the time in the world to get things done.
Suddenly their childhood is over as quickly as it arrived. Everything is new and different.
Empty arms. Empty bathrooms.
Sometimes lonely~like a long, cold winter.
But then everything changes.
Winter turns into Spring.
Old thoughts become transformed.
They turn into~
I can’t wait until this child can feed herself...
Mom I made you and dad dinner.
I’ll bring some over.
I can’t wait until he’s potty trained...
Son, can you train me to use all this
technology and help me create a blog?
I can’t wait for her to crawl and walk and become more self sufficient...
She’s such an amazing mother.
And she’s such an amazing daughter.
She tells me how much she loves me
and how thankful she is for the way
we raised her.
And she tells me that she now
realizes all the sacrifices and all the love
that went into everything her
dad and I did for her growing up.
Her sufficiency turns into gratitude.
Winter has turned into Spring again.
And just like leaves fall away from their home in the cold months of winter,
each of my children left the home my husband and I built for them.
But then there is a rebirth of all the beauty your heart and home once held, and what I once thought would be sadness has blossomed into joy again.
I once read this quote~
‘The earth laughs in flowers.’
That made me smile, despite looking outside at the dark and muddy barrenness winter holds over her.
Because I know what’s coming.
Don’t hold onto the long, dark winter months. Look for the incredible new blooms.
Look for the rebirth of every single thing you sacrificed, everything you taught them and all the love and prayers you poured into them.
Look for Spring,
it is only just ahead and
it’s incredibly beautiful.
When was the last time you laughed?
I mean really, truly laughed, holding nothing back. Laughed until you cried and your sides hurt and you couldn’t breathe?
Do you remember the freedom in that? Feeling like just for a moment all the cares of the world were pushed aside and you were free to let go and experience unfiltered joy? (Luke 6:21, Psalm 126:2)
If you cannot recall a time like this, perhaps you are living inside circumstances of sorrow, whatever that sorrow might be.
Maybe you didn’t even realize you were residing there, until you thought about how long it had been since you laughed in such a way. Maybe you’re sitting in circumstances of your own choosing or maybe you have no control over the sorrow that has enveloped your life. Whatever the case, I don’t want you to be stuck there and more importantly, God doesn’t want you stuck there. A life of being stuck in sorrow is not His plan for you.
I’ve looked back at articles I’ve written and realized that I can be a bit emotional at times. When God moves my heart so tremendously, it stirs a deep passion within me to want to share that with others.
Phrases I often use are:
God loves you so much.
God is always with you.
God will help you through anything.
Allow Him to hold you.
Cry out to Him.
All of these things are true, but might leave the reader feeling lost and questioning~
And so today, we’re going to start with the first 3 points on our journey through circumstances to joy. I’m going to show you some things that God has used in my own life to pull me out of my sorrow and help me see hope in the joy before me.
1. If you read my Ebook you know that my first point is always the same. The difference in how this point is applied often depends on the circumstances we are in. Whatever the circumstances are, this will always be the most important thing you can do. Ask God for help. (Matthew 11:28-30, Galatians 5:22a) I will never stop asking, even when I know deep in my heart that there are things I need to change. When I know that I should be implementing the steps in this article on a daily basis, but I don’t. When I am too emotionally and physically exhausted to push through and do those things, I continually just talk to God all day long. Even on those days that I fool myself into thinking joy will never come again, so “what’s the point?”~there is one thing I know to be true no matter what~ He will never leave me. He won’t abandon me. He will pull me through this. The Holy Spirit will minister to my heart and comfort me, even when life feels hopeless and joy feels far. God is always trying to help us but too often our circumstances tune Him out. Never stop asking God to help you, even if you feel like He is silent. He is helping you without you even realizing it. (John 14:16,18, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 26:3&4
2. Realize that when you ask for help, the circumstances that follow are God’s way of helping you~you just need to open your eyes to see it. You know what usually makes me happy? Predictable, mundane, day in, day out schedules. Being in control. Knowing that each day holds its tasks and at the end of that day Mike and I will relax on the couch. Maybe we will talk or watch a few of our favorite shows. We will laugh, we’ll go to bed, I will feel fulfilled with what I accomplished that day. I’m that kind of person. I’m a schedule and list maker. I thrive on routine. I’m a control freak. If my house isn’t cleaned up and straightened at night with everything in its place, I can’t relax. I feel uneasy and unhappy. This need to be in control is just as bad as looking at material things for happiness. I’m looking at “the control I think I have over situations” to make me happy and last March when life went out of control and spiraled downwards month after month into continual heartbreak, I lost all control and my happiness along with it. I yearn for predictable and mundane. It’s how I’m wired. The past 3 weeks have been anything but. My dad passed away unexpectedly in October. Working on packing up his things has only been part of the “crazy busy” my life has been. Long days have gone into long evenings right into early mornings and the crazy busy beginning all over again. I found myself thinking I just want a normal day at home. I want to do some laundry, bake some cookies, clean my house, sit in front of my cozy fire drinking coffee or just watch TV! But as I complained about that busyness and thought about my prayer for help, the Holy Spirit showed me that because I have been so busy I haven’t had time to just sit and think. Usually “the sitting and thinking” leads to “the missing and crying”. As my head hit the pillow each night I realized I was so exhausted that I fell asleep quickly, as opposed to laying in the dark crying. And I knew it was God. God was helping me. It might not have been a way I would’ve chosen, it certainly wasn’t an easy way, but it was God’s way and it worked. He knows my crazy, emotional, over thinker brain far better than I do. (Psalm 139:2) Jesus is continually going to God on our behalf and I now wonder how many times through the years I missed the answers to the prayers I had prayed, just because they weren’t the solution I was looking for. (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25)
3. Stop listening to yourself (John 15:11) If God in all His wisdom did not intervene and answer my cries for help, I would be overthinking everything. My emotions are continually telling my brain that things will never change. Because I’m such an emotional person, I too often let my emotions dictate my life. I think all women~ whether they want to admit it or not~ are emotional. Our lovely hormones play a big part in that. When my emotions begin to dictate what my life story is, I start to believe it. I don’t like to admit this, but quite often since my dad died I have been scared. Not scared as in fearful, but scared as in “this unshakeable heaviness and lonely feeling.” Scared as in “this dark cloud of sadness will never go away. I will never see joy again.” The beginning of each day seems to be promising as I open God’s words to me and pray, but as the day slowly creeps by and thoughts bombard my mind, as my emotions kick me over and over again~ I feel as if God is very far away. That scares me. These are the times that we must realize our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9, Psalms 94:19), Even if we are struggling to believe it, we must go back to point number 1 and talk it out with God. Stop listening to ourselves and listen to what God is speaking over us. (Philippians 3:3) His words are truth, our emotions are not. He isn’t far away. He isn’t there only in the times we set aside to kneel and pray. He is our constant companion. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. A comforter and peace maker. He is the ONLY One who understands with 100% clarity and compassion what our heart is going through. (Psalms 139:1-18, Philippians 2:5, 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7, Proverbs 16:3, Luke 2:10, John 15:11)
You can’t simply “choose joy” without God. You can’t wake up and just decide “Starting today, I’m going to be happy” without God. Our strength is not enough. It will never be enough. It doesn’t matter what kind of a personality you have, Satan knows your weakness and he will find a way to steal that joy. Only Jesus is the strength of our joy. Pray about these first few points this week. Ask God to open your heart and your eyes and show you what you’ve been missing. (Nehemiah 8:10)
I am so confident in the strength and power of God’s truths and the joy they speak over our circumstances, that I am adding a second post today. Scripture that you can print out and continually read throughout your day to comfort and encourage your heart.
You can have freedom from sorrow. You can laugh again~deep, heartfelt, freeing laughter from the depths of your soul. Laughter that comes from unfiltered joy. Laughter that only comes from God and the joy that only Jesus gives. Make that your goal this week. JOY.
How can I get my joy back?
If I was asked this question a year ago, I would have been very confident in how I responded.
Today I don’t know.
I guess that isn’t 100% true, sometimes I just “feel” like I don’t know. My emotions feel like a jumble of “I don’t knows”.
Even though there are a lot of good answers on how to find joy, I can tell you this, not all circumstances merit that cliche answer many people like to throw out there.
ie~ “choose joy”.
It isn’t always that simple. The “fake it till you make it” mentality doesn’t work when it comes to joy. Sure we can change our attitudes and mindset to reflect happiness, but in some circumstances the darkness is still buried deep inside, no matter our good intentions .
The good news is, there is Someone Who will always be our answer. THE answer to every heartbreaking circumstance this world throws at you.
Jesus~ first and foremost.
Actually, only Jesus.
He’s the answer.
God obviously knew that our human hearts would still struggle. He knows our frame. (Psalms 103:13-14) He is our strength through every circumstance. We’re the ones who forget. So he gave us His word. The Bible. And in it we find a wealth of wisdom on how to find joy.
The hard part is applying that wisdom to our everyday lives.
How do you find joy when you’ve lost more loved ones in the last year than ever before? How do you find joy after coming home from a heart wrenching funeral of the dearest friend, only to find your precious daddy gone without warning the very next day? How do you smile when your heart hurts terribly for friends and loved ones going through their own heart wrenching moments? Sickness, job loss, accidents, affairs, abusive relationships, death. When sleep won’t come because you can’t stop hurting for them? Or for yourself? When you feel like joy and Jesus are very far away?
And in the unexpected moments when you do catch yourself smiling and feel a little spark of that joy, you immediately feel guilt along with it.
Our little church has been bombarded with heartache lately. Truly tough stuff. It’s knocked the air out of our lungs as my husband and I try to minister.
Last week I woke up feeling like this heavy cloud was hanging over my life. Our lives. I just wanted everything to stop. I wanted to sit in front of my cozy fire, oblivious to my circumstances and forget everything. I wanted to smile again. I wanted to go back to when things were predictable and happy.
When I woke up feeling that way, I could almost picture that black cloud hovering above me and all I could utter was~
“God please help me.”
And He did.
God immediately reminded me of the story in the Old Testament about the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. (You can read about it here~Exodus 13:21-22, 40:34-38, Numbers 9:15-23, Psalms78:14)
If you’re not familiar, God led them with a cloud by day.
The moment God brought that picture into my head felt like freedom.
God was in that cloud.
It was His reminder to me that He is always with me, even in the dark clouds hanging over my life. He is in control and despite feeling hopeless, He is in that cloud protecting and guiding me.
Not only did God lead and protect them with a cloud by day, He also gave them a pillar of fire by night. Just as I longed for my predictable life and the comfort of sitting next to my cozy fire, I saw that pillar of fire that God provided as comfort too. (John 14:8)
If you continue digging deeper into God’s words you will find that the pillar of cloud and fire were continually leading and when they stopped, the people were to stop and set up God’s tabernacle. That tabernacle was God’s gracious presence. A place to reside for a time. A home. A dwelling place.
God showed me that He is always leading. Sometimes my moments might feel cozy, warm and comfortable and other times I might feel like a dark cloud is parked over every facet of my existence. That’s when God wants me to stop. Stop wandering on my own and just be home with Him in His beautiful presence, beside the still waters (Psalms 23) and among the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) . He tells me I can stay as long as I need because He will never leave. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) He is my dwelling place no matter what circumstances look like all around me. (Psalms 46:1-2, 91:1-9)
Despite that phenomenal story of God’s leading in the Old Testament, His children still complained. They were still afraid. They wanted to go back to their predictable lives back in Egypt, even though they were slaves in that predictable existence. They missed all the beauty that was ahead for them. All that God had prepared for them.
I don’t want to miss the beauty God has ahead for me. I don’t want to just exist and be a slave to my circumstances. I don’t want you to miss God’s beauty either. That dark cloud that you might feel is constantly looming overhead, that cloud is guiding you.
Whatever your cloud might be, God is in it.
In the next few weeks I would like to take you on a journey with me. The journey to find joy again. I want to help you to see that God is in that cloud. I want to show you specific ways God has shown me how to find joy again, despite the deeply sorrowful circumstances we might be in.
I want to share with you my Savior’s solutions.
He is there. Don’t let go of that hope.
Joy will come again.
My heart is glad. My whole being rejoices. My flesh rests in hope.
(Psalm 16:7-11, 30:5, 34:17-19, Isaiah 41:10)
In that moment, I saw God.
Not an angry God. Not a disappointed God.
A forgiving God. A loving God.
A God full of joy.
Let me take you there...
My grandson’s big blue eyes held a lot of fear for such a little guy.
He was confessing to his parents.
He was asking for forgiveness.
You see, moments before in Sunday school I had taught a lesson on that very subject. Forgiveness.
His little 5 year old mind couldn’t seem to grasp the concept, so I made up a story to illustrate. A fictional story about him, a little boy who broke something of his moms without her knowing. The little boy hid what he broke, but later that night as he lay in bed his heart seemed to hurt.
He knew he had to tell her what he had done.
He needed to confess.
So he went to her bedroom and explained everything. With tears he told her he was sorry and asked her to please not be mad for what he had done.
He asked for forgiveness.
As I told that fictional story his eyes seemed to increase in size with every detail,
and then I found out why.
He told me his own story.
We both decided it was something he needed to confess to his parents.
So here we were, in the front pew after church. With his sweet little lisp he spoke-
“Last summer, I climbed up on top of the shelves in the garage and reached for some of your pottery and one piece fell and broke... so I buried it in the dirt behind the garage. I’m sorry”.
There was no hesitation in his parent’s reaction. They could see his repentance. He was their child. They smiled (and almost laughed) they pulled him close and hugged him and told him he was forgiven.
And with childlike faith, it was over.
He smiled and ran to play.
In that moment I saw forgiveness. I saw freedom and release. I saw unconditional love. Little Gabe did not carry that weight with him. He let it go and with unabashed joy he laughed and played
as if it never happened,
and in amazement I watched it all unfold.
This 55 year old grandma was reminded again of the love my Father has for me.
This was God. Our Father.
How often do we feel the weight of guilt for the things we have done? How often do we worry that God is angry with us? We might try to hide our sin, or we might recognize it, repent and ask for forgiveness, but deep down we struggle with believing that our past truly can be forgiven. We might view God as an angry God who expects perfection and if we don’t measure up, punishment will ensue.
But this is not God at all.
Our God is the God of that little child.
You are that child.
He is our God full of mercy, grace and love. Our “It is finished” Father.
Our God who wants us to have faith as a little child. To leave it all with Him and to experience the freedom, joy and peace of repentance and forgiveness.
At times I think we make it too hard. We’re human and we tend to look at God as if He were human too. He holds no grudges as we do. Whether it’s broken pottery or a broken past, with absolutely no hesitation He pulls us close and hugs us. He tells us~
“It is finished my child~
All has already been forgiven”.
With the beauty this knowledge holds, how can we not be filled with unadulterated, pure joy in that freedom?
Our Father is smiling down at us~
let us run and play again.
No thought of the past. No fear of the future.
As little children.
Children full of faith in the love and forgiveness of our heavenly Father.
I John 1:7, 9
II Corinthians 5:21
I stumbled downstairs last Sunday and with sleepy eyes poured myself a cup of coffee. At the moment, I definitely did not feel excitement. I was tired and wouldn’t have minded crawling right back into bed. And then it hit me. Today was my anniversary, and immediately I thought about Charisse 35 years ago on this day. The barely 20 year old who couldn’t sleep. The young girl who couldn’t wait for this day and the beginning of a life full of beautiful. The thankfulness her heart felt toward God for blessing her with everything this day held.
Yet here I was, 35 years later muttering about how tired I was. Wishing for bed instead of worship.
Many things went wrong on the day of our wedding. A huge snow storm hit that day. The limo my parents ordered to drive us to the wedding never showed up. My father in law’s cummerbund got misplaced, so at the last minute my fiancé drove in the storm to the tuxedo shop to get another. He then got hit by a car due to slippery roads. My grandparents were late due to the storm and almost didn’t make it. The snow worsened by the minute and we weren’t sure anyone would show up. None of this swayed my joy. None of this made me want to go back to bed so I didn’t have to think about all the “bad”.
All I could focus on was him, Because I loved him.
As I remembered that day, it gripped my heart. It’s the season of Christmas and yet, so many of us are focusing on the bad. The countless number of times I have heard or read that “2020 is the worst year in history” has been staggering. I can’t help but think about God and the murmuring He hears coming from those of us who are supposedly His children. Praise has not been on our lips, including my own. Thankfulness has not filled our hearts, but instead continual complaining about all we are subject to.
There is no joy.
There will always be something to complain about. We live in a sin cursed world where the wrong seems to outweigh the right. We can complain about our government or injustice or this pandemic and the rules we are asked to abide by. We can complain about not seeing family members or the fear of catching this sickness. But I would like to remind you that the good can outweigh the bad, we just haven’t been looking for it. We have been focusing on the bad so much that we have lost sight of all the incredibly good things God has blessed us with.
Lives filled with beautiful.
I would like to challenge you today to focus on Him. I have found in my own life that when I take my focus off of Him and place it on myself, I find all kinds of things to complain about. But, when I shift my focus to Him I find countless reasons to be thankful. That’s when joy floods my heart and soul.
Think back to a special day in your own life. A day that you remember that feeling of pure joy and the reasons you felt that joy. That’s a beginning. That’s the first step in telling God thank you. If we could just decide in our hearts that we are going to choose thankfulness and praise over complaining, our lives will be transformed.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the bad. I’m sick of social media and the news and the constant “bad” that is bombarding us. I want to focus on the good. All that is good in our life is only because of God.
I want to focus on Him.
I know there are hard days. I’m not always the picture of happiness and joy. Sweet friends have gone home to heaven this year. My precious dad went home to heaven. Covid has hit our little town. Family won’t be with us to celebrate this year. Our children’s Christmas program has been canceled. Just yesterday I broke down while shopping. The memory of Christmas shopping with my dad just last year hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to hide out in the underwear section until the tears subsided. We all have bad days, but later my husband reminded me of what a precious memory that was to have. Christmas shopping with dad.
Our wedding day ended up being my fairy tale. All my dreams came true. Over 500 people came out in that storm to celebrate our union. Happiness and joy filled the church that day. A day I will never forget. Don’t ever forget when Christ filled your heart. A heart that once was dark, now filled with His light and love, joy and happiness. What if we all chose to celebrate Christ’s birth differently than the rest of the world, despite the storms we have all been facing?
Find the good. Find the thankful. Find the gladness and joy. Find the beautiful. It’s right there where you are, you’ve just been missing it. This Christmas, focus on Him.
And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:”
Psalms 105:1-5, 43 KJV
Psalms 78:22, 32, 37-39, 42, 53 KJV
The other day my husband handed me a piece of mail that contained coupons.
Apparently he had not looked at them. The computers now keep track of previous sales and give you coupons for the specific things you have purchased in the past. I think this is great. I’ve been very careful to keep us on a healthy diet, so coupons are always good. I opened them up and funny thing~
there were coupons for organic orange juice, fresh fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef....
I looked up at him with a smirk.
“I don’t remember buying Pringle’s or peanut M&M’s” I said. He tried his hardest to keep a straight face but we both burst out laughing.
No way out of this one.
He thought he hid the evidence but he’d been caught.
Tomorrow we will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. That’s pretty baffling to me when I think about it. When I was little, I vividly remember my mom complaining about turning 35 because she thought it was so old.
I don’t know why that stuck with me,
but here I am.
Married that long.
To the same man. Haha
The man that can literally drive me insane. He can make me cry and scream and mutter things a pastor’s wife shouldn’t say under her breath.
But I adore him.
He’s my rock. He loves me no matter what. He makes me laugh when my heart slides down into dark places. He pulls me back out and shows me how to smile again. I love him with my everything and I’d do anything for that man, despite the Pringles and peanut M&M’s. 😉
Mike and I do not have a perfect marriage. We argue and fight and say things we shouldn’t say. Anger, bitterness and grudges have visited us. We’ve gone through some hard things. We definitely aren’t the epitome of the perfect couple, but in my eyes, everything about our marriage is beautiful.
When I think about how much I love him, I don’t think it could be possible for my heart to be any more full.
.....I know I’ve said this before, but it’s
just so phenomenal to me~
When I think about that kind of love, I can’t help but think of the overwhelming love God has for me, despite me.
There’s no hiding the evidence of my sins from God. He knows my every thought and deed. Can you grasp that? Our perfect, sinless God knows our EVERY thought and deed. Every single one. And yet, He loves us. He doesn’t hold it against us. He forgives us and has mercy and grace.
Just like Mike and I are celebrating our love on our anniversary tomorrow, in a few weeks we will be celebrating that amazing love God has for us. Christmas. The day He sent His Son to a little town called Bethlehem to be born for the sins of the whole world. The sins He took upon himself when He died on the cross.
Marriage isn’t always easy. There have been times I have not wanted to forgive. Times I was hurt and felt justified in holding onto the anger my heart felt. I’m sure Mike has felt the same way about me at times too. But when you love someone more than you love yourself, when you offer mercy and grace and put their needs above your own, it’s a beautiful thing.
Thank God He always forgives. Thank God that because of the blood His Son shed on the cross and the gift of salvation He offers, we are justified in His sight. Just as if we never sinned. In God’s eyes everything about us is perfect. And that’s a beautiful thing.
His love is the love that will make you laugh. That will pull you out of the dark places. That will give you joy. His love is the love that will never be angry or hold a grudge. His love is the love that knows about the Pringles and M&M’s of our lives, the things no one else knows, and yet loves us still. His love is perfect and beautiful and I adore Him.
As I celebrate with the love of my life tomorrow, that’s the beautiful I want our story to portray. That’s the beautiful I want you to behold and celebrate this Christmas. God’s perfect, beautiful love.
A love that causes me to adore Him,
but even more unfathomable is the knowledge that God adores me.
He adores me!!
He adores me with His everything,
And that’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing.
I made my daughter a pot of chili the other day. It’s one of her favorites. She sent me a text later that read~” this chili tastes like heaven in my mouth”. 😂😂
I needed that laugh.
It got me thinking~
What does heaven on earth mean to you?
To some it might mean the comfort of a hot bowl of soup or a slice of deliciousness drenched in chocolate. To some it might mean cuddling with your spouse on date night. To some it might mean having your entire family home for the holidays. And to some it might mean freedom from crippling depression or anxiety, no more worry over pandemics or politics.
But what does heaven on earth look like to Jesus?
It doesn’t look like my yesterday’s have looked this month. Grief has left an emptiness but it has also left empathy. Thousands of women are wishing and praying for a glimpse of heaven on earth as the holidays approach.
This week as I read the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:9-10 “thy will be done~ on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN” they had a different meaning to me. Heaven seems so much closer to me as every year passes,
but Jesus doesn’t want heaven to only be something that we look forward to ‘someday’. He wants us to live and experience heaven on earth today.
So I asked Him how.
Through the darkness of grief, how do I live heaven on earth?
He opened my heart to hundreds of possibilities and this post was the very first way. Sharing the immense beauty of heaven with others who are going through depression and sadness or stress and anxiety. I needed to get myself up, dust myself off and realize that my grief is not unique.
I needed to focus on others.
I needed to focus on Jesus.
Simple acts of serving and loving are a huge way of living heaven on earth. Two words that perfectly describe Jesus. He was constantly serving during His ministry here on earth and then with a sinless, pure, unconditional love~
He died in the cross for all humanity and it’s only because of Him that heaven is possible. Philippians 2
In order to experience heaven on earth we must realize our great need for God’s presence, provision, love, redemption, grace, peace and mercy.
Heaven is Jesus. Plain and simple.
Every one of us needs Him.
When I fixed my thoughts on all these things, the beautiful light of heaven and God’s glory broke through my dark and empty heart and through the praise and thankfulness of worship I truly felt heaven on earth.
And that made me want to share that joy and happiness with all of you. Everywhere we go we have the opportunity to share a piece of ourselves. We can choose to share sadness or grumpiness and allow it to rub off on everyone we come in contact with or we can choose to switch our focus to Jesus and share the crazy joy and happiness that He gives. Do we even realize the power our attitudes hold? Can you imagine if we all chose to share the good? To share the light of Jesus and His joy as the holidays approach?
That’s heaven on earth guys.
Love, joy, serving, sharing.
We are His body. Let’s make sure heaven is shining from the inside out bringing glorious light to all the darkness so many are going through today.
If you are feeling the weight of that darkness, let me introduce you to Jesus. Let me help you experience heaven on earth. Reach out to me today and allow me to share from God’s word what that means.
And if you already know Jesus, worship Him right now in this moment. Thank and praise Him. Share His beauty and joy. Feel heaven wash over you today.
Let’s carry it with us wherever we go and through everything we do because joy is the serious business of heaven,
the joy that only Jesus can bring.
“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”CS Lewis.
Last week I shared with you something that really, truly changed my life. Reading through the Bible in 60 days. Yep. The WHOLE bible in only 60 days.
Click here to read that post~
And here is the link to the plan I followed~
I'm reading the @YouVersion plan 'Power Read The Bible In 60 Days With Jeff Anderson'. Check it out here:
I highly recommend it for everyone!
One thing that stood out to me was how often I read the words~
glorify, praise and thanksgiving.
This was something I knew I had read before, but after reading large amounts of scripture every day~ it really stuck with me. It was a continual theme.
I was reading it over and over and over.
And my heart was convicted.
This was something I wasn’t doing enough of. I did plenty of asking but I wasn’t glorifying, praising and thanking God enough. I had made the majority of my prayer life all about petitions instead of taking the time to fall on my knees in thankfulness.
So today I want to share something else that truly changed my life.
Instead of petitioning God, I simply sat and thanked Him.
I was amazed at the many things that came to mind. I probably could’ve sat all day praising and thanking Him~
and it changed me.
After thanking Him over and over for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon me, my heart knew without a shadow of a doubt that He would take care of my usual requests and burdens.
My heart was joyful. It was light. It was free from stress and anxiety. It was free from burdens. I knew He was in complete control and I could let go.
I could simply say thank you with a peace that passed all understanding.
And so, I want to give you some tips that helped me on my new journey of thankfulness and release.
⁃ Find a quiet place that is free from distractions. A place for just you and Jesus. (For me this is my bedroom)
⁃ The first thing I always do is ask the Holy Spirit for help. I ask the Holy Spirit to speak deeply to my soul. To clear my heart and mind of distractions and help me to focus only on Jesus.
⁃ Next, I talk to Jesus as if He is sitting right next to me, because He is! The Bible tells me He will never leave me and I truly believe He is with me every moment of every day.
⁃ I then start thanking God. At first it was hard because I immediately wanted to petition Him on behalf of loved ones, friends and circumstances. So, I continued to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. Even if you find yourself distracted or disconnected, don’t stop. Keep thanking Him.
⁃ I started with things that were right in the room with me, things that we so easily take for granted. My bed, clothing, a closet for those clothes, a warm comforter etc. then my home and all that He provides for me inside that home. By focusing on what’s right in front of you, God will open your eyes to a world of thankfulness.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that as I looked outside. The sunshine, the blue skies and cotton candy clouds. The birds singing. The rooftop of our precious church.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that to my wonderful hometown. My neighbors, our farms and beaches, rivers and lake.
⁃ I then thanked God for my sweet family. My husband, children and grandchildren. My dad and brothers. My in-laws and cousins. My aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
⁃ Make this a habit you practice at least once a week.
⁃ The more I thanked God, the deeper my soul felt that thankfulness. I found myself weeping as I thanked Him for each thing, but especially for His Son dying for me on the cross. For giving me the gift of eternal life at such a cost. For loving me despite myself.
Some of you might not know where to start when it comes to prayer and others might feel like this is too simple. These are just a few of the tips that helped me. I hope you get the idea. Something completely different might work better for you.
You might be reading this and thinking that it’s easy for me to be thankful because of how many blessings I have, but you find yourself in a dark, lonely place filled with heartache.
Can I tell you my friend that even there you can find the light. You can find your way out of the dark if you give Jesus your hand.
Take it one step at a time.
Thank Him for being there with you. In your quiet place. Just you and Jesus. You are not alone. Thank Him for dying for you. Thank Him that no matter how dark things seem right now, His gift of salvation has given you light and peace for all eternity.
If His redeeming love and forgiveness is something you have never experienced, I urge you to reach out to me. I would love to share the gospel with you. I would love for you to know my Jesus and the thankfulness my heart feels.
There is no doubt that as you go about your day, loved ones and friends, burdens or circumstances will come to the forefront of your heart. Choose to remain thankful each time. Thank God for the burdens He places upon your heart, for the circumstances He placed you in, for that person He gave you to love. Thank Him all day long as you go about each task.
The more you say thank you, the more thankful you become.
Guys, I promise it will change your life!
EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE
2 minute read
When my husband’s sister passed away in 2003, all our lives were torn apart.
She left behind 6 children. Her youngest only 6 days old.
I saw how it affected my husband and my children. I saw how it affected her husband, her children, her parents and siblings, her church family.
I saw how it affected me.
I decided my life would be different. I would give of myself more. I would invest in other’s lives. I would spend more quality time with my children instead of stressing over a clean house, schedules and “to do’s”. I would love on my husband more fiercely, forgive more readily. I wouldn’t get irritated and argue with him over stupid things. I would be selfless and put his needs before my own.
Because I did not know how much time I had left with the ones I loved, and I wanted it to be precious.
Yes everything changed....
for a while.
Slowly, as the years went by and life became more normal again~
I forgot those decisions.
And every once in a while my heart would be pricked, because I wasn’t following through.
I always blew it off.
Surely God understood how busy I was~
I had schedules to keep.
I had a house to keep clean.
I had too much on my plate to help that person.
I had every right to get irritated with my husband.
But deep down, I knew that wasn’t true. We make the time for the ones we love. We forgive, we give of ourselves, we love selflessly. Deep down, I knew~
I just loved myself more.
As we sit in our houses and reflect on this time~As we think about our lives and what will change~As we pray desperately for the safety of our loved ones~As we give God our moments~As we search His promises for peace~As we watch the news and cry and pray~As we realize how very precious our families truly are~As our eyes are opened to what is most important in our lives.
Let’s not ever forget.
One year from now. Two years from now. If and when our lives become our normal again.
We cannot ever forget.
We will make new choices. We will determine to put God first. To spend time with Him. To make the time for our children despite our list of “to-do’s” and love on our spouses more fiercely. We will determine to forgive more readily. We will not allow busyness to take over our family time. We will give of ourselves to others.
Until we don’t.
Until the years go by and we slowly forget this horrible, terrible, life changing virus that has encapsulated our entire world.
Because our lives will be our normal again.
But for some, their lives will forever be changed because this virus took someone that was precious to them.
Mark this day and the next and the next. Write notes in your bible to remember. Take pictures. Cut out newspaper articles. Create memories.
And pray for the future God has for us. Pray that we don’t ever forget. And one day, let us look back on our memories and notes and pictures. Let us relive it and be reminded how good God is to us. How much He has blessed us with.
Then hug on your babies a little tighter. Kiss on your spouse a little longer. Give of yourself to your neighbors a little more and give God every part of every day.
Because we don’t know how much time we have left. Maybe this virus has made us all more aware and because of that,
we can be thankful, because of that~
Everything will change.
STEP THROUGH THAT DOOR
I want to linger here a little longer.
Perhaps it’s because I realize
each year seems to pass more quickly than the last.
Time is fleeting.
I want to linger in the Christmas magic.
I don’t want it to be over already.
I want to linger in the childlike wonder of my grandchildren. I want to linger in the sounds of their tiny little voices as they tell me all about their moments and their days. I want to linger as they hand me Christmas pictures they drew. I want to linger in their snuggles, before they are too old to want to snuggle anymore.
Just like I wanted to linger when my own children were that age.
Yes, I want to linger, but I know I can’t.
Where did the year go?
No, I don’t want 2019 to end.
But I hold out my hand, I ask God to take it and I step through the door of 2020.
This is Gods plan.
Not to look back.
Not to hold on to the past, but to look forward to the future.
As hard as it was at times to watch my children grow up and out of the childlike wonder Christmas held for them, I look at them now, and the glow of Christmas still lights up their eyes. The smile on their faces on Christmas morning still takes me back and the pride I have for the adults they’ve become still brings tears.
And I can see it. I can see all of the same things in my grand babies eyes~
and it’s magical.
I can see a future wrapped up in Jesus. And that brings tears.
They were being naughty the other day.
I was trying to get them to calm down and behave, so I turned on a Christmas movie.
It didn’t have the desired effect I was hoping for.
Naughtiness still ensued.
Jumping on the couch. Doing somersaults on the floor. Asking a thousand times how many more days until they could open their presents.
So I asked the one who was misbehaving most~“Clara, are you paying attention to the movie?”
She looked at me and nodded, so I asked~“Then what’s the best way to spread Christmas cheer?”
(If you’ve seen the movie you know the answer- ‘singing loud for all to hear’.)
Suddenly the room got very quiet. The other grandchildren were sure she would get it wrong.
In the softest, sweetest voice she answered~
And she meant it.
No questions. No hesitating.
It’s a future of moments like this that I can’t wait to unwrap.
It’s hard to let go of the past. It’s hard to see our babies become adults. But the sweetness the years bring when those years are wrapped up in Jesus is a future that’s filled with hope and love. Joy and excitement. Peace. Philippians 4:7
Yes I will step through the door of 2020 and spread that Christmas cheer. I may want to linger still, but I will look ahead to a future wrapped up in the excitement and joy that only Jesus can bring.
Clara got it so right.
The door of new beginnings.
The door of possibilities.
The door of joy and peace.
The door that only Jesus can open.
Look ahead. Take His hand and step through that door with me.
Happy New Year dear friends!
PRESENTS, PLANS, PARTIES & SWEET PEACE
We live for tomorrow’s while missing today’s, especially at Christmas.
Without realizing it, our lives are consumed with tomorrow’s~
What’s next on our Christmas calendars and to do lists.
And all the while we are missing the moments and minutes of right now. Soaking up Gods presence right this second. Glorifying Him in the now.
Loving the Christmas chaos of flour and sugar and chocolate chips all over the kitchen, wrapping paper and boxes all over our living rooms, cards that still need to be addressed all over our tables, party invitations and orders that need to be finalized on our computers and shopping lists.
And we miss Jesus.
Instead of living as if today were our last, we live for tomorrow and we stress and we worry and we fret and we lose all the joy of what this crazy season truly means.
I recently reposted an article I wrote last year about living today as if it were our last, and my own words convicted me once again.
I don’t do this.
I’m constantly thinking ahead of what I need to get done and instead of enjoying it, I stress over it and the joy is completely drained out of moments that should be magical.
I rush around trying to accomplish so much and in the process~I miss so much.
I miss my grandchildren playing Elf on the Shelf with each other, I miss snuggles with them as they watch Christmas movies. I miss messes made with them baking cookies because I’m in too big a hurry and just want to do it myself. I miss the awe and wonder of their precious faces as they look at my Christmas tree and manger.
I miss moments right in front of me because I’m continually looking at tomorrow.
But what if I don’t have a tomorrow? What did I do today that my precious grandchildren will remember?
Will they remember grandma was stressed and in a hurry and overwhelmed and impatient? Will they remember how beautifully I celebrated Christ’s birth with them every day in December or only a December that made grandma frazzled?
We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, tonight could be your last night here on earth. What will your own children, your grandchildren, your spouses and coworkers remember about you on this day?
Don’t miss the magical moments that are wrapped up in Jesus.
Maybe we all need to refocus and truly treat each other, each day and each moment as if it were our last. I think if we did, we would find that sweet peace and joy that only Jesus brings.
The true joy of Christmas.
A HUG AND A BOWL OF CHICKEN SOUP
3 minute read
I was watching The Brady Bunch.
Not the new HGTV series, but the 1969 originals on Hulu.
I was sick and in bed and I was binge watching The Brady Bunch.
It felt good.
One week turned into three. This never ending cough threw me for a loop and in an odd way, I found comfort in that old show. I watched it when I was little. It was the only time my parents allowed us to stay up past our bedtime.
It reminded me of home and of mom and of being taken care of.
I think I was yearning for that comfort because mom is no longer with me.
And because I was feeling sorry for myself.
Slowly I found myself allowing little things to bother me. Things people said, even my own family members, left me feeling hurt or angry. Little pieces of bitterness, sadness and jealousy crept in. I started having self doubts about my role as a pastor’s wife and mother~
and even this blog.
So I began to turn to something seemingly innocent for comfort. The Brady Bunch. I know it’s ridiculous, (you guys probably think I’m nuts haha) but I reasoned that God understood how sick I was and He was ok with me not picking up my bible or talking to Him.
But that’s where I was wrong.
God wasn’t waiting to punish me for not talking to Him, watching too much TV or not reading His words.
I was punishing myself.
I was missing out on the incredible comfort, joy and peace that only He can give.
I miss my mom so much,
sometimes even more when I’m sick~
and while I was feeling sorry for myself, I failed to realize He is the God of ALL comfort. II Corinthians 1:3,4
If I had just talked to Him, He would have whispered to my heart that everything was going to be ok.
That He would take care of me. I Peter 5:7
My heart attitude would have been different toward words that were spoken because His words would have been hidden in my heart. Psalm 119:11
Compared to today’s television The Brady Bunch had some great traditional/family oriented episodes ( I still love it 🤦🏼♀️) but~
anything we go to for comfort besides our heavenly Daddy will always come up short.
The more we reach for it, the deeper our hearts and minds will stray from the truth of God’s words and it won’t take long for our thoughts to be messed up big time.
Satan knows how to dig in and completely change your thoughts, patterns, activities and mindset. He knows how to use seemingly innocent activities to make us stray. One day turns into two then three and soon a month has passed.
And all the while we fail to realize we are listening to him and allowing him to drown out every good and perfect word our Savior longs for us to hear. James 1:17
We are punishing ourselves, all the while being deceived into thinking this is what will make us happy and bring us peace and comfort.
What are you turning to for comfort today? When you are down and just want someone to hold you and make you feel better? When you want a hug and a bowl of chicken soup? When you want someone to tell you it’s going to be okay?
We go to so many things for comfort~ social media, TV, food, relationships~
But somehow, nothing changes.
That “complete” comfort is missing.
When I finally heard God whisper to my heart, when I finally turned off the TV and I opened His words, when I finally broke down and told Him all the ways I was hurting~
it was like getting a hug.
Everything changed. Everything.
Don’t miss out on the very best by settling for good.
Good will always come up short because~
“good” is not God.
ALL GONE, JUST LIKE THE TURKEY ON A CHRISTMAS STORY.
Christmas came and went.
So much happy preparation for one day,
and just like that~
Maybe for you it was the best Christmas ever, or maybe it wasn’t everything you had hoped for, and sadness lingers.
Can I ask you to search your heart?
What gift did you give?
Not to those who sat around your tree, but to the One whose birthday we celebrate?
I will never forget the Christmas all my children woke up with the flu.
For months I had been preparing for this day. My whole family would be visiting. My mom always hosted, but this year it would be my first time having everyone on Christmas Day~
and it would be the best Christmas ever.
After being up till 2am (like every other parent on Christmas Eve), I fell into bed ~while visions of sugarplums danced in my head~ I was SO excited for the kids to wake up on Christmas morning and open their gifts. Instead, a few short hours later we woke up to crying and fevers and throwing up.
One after another.
All four kids.
Over and over and over.
And I cried.
This was my day.
THE day I looked forward to all year.
Why would God do this? He knew how much I loved Christmas. All the cooking and baking, decorating and shopping, wrapping and work, all the sleep deprivation and expectations of joy.
Just like the turkey on “A Christmas Story”.
What about me?
I was like a child in that moment.
Illusions that it was my birthday and not the Savior of all mankind’s.
Pouting over the gifts of expectations I would not receive.
Complaining that it wasn’t fair.
But what did I give Jesus that day?
I asked for a lot.
Maybe not audibly, but inwardly. A lot.
But I gave Him very little.
There have been many Christmases since that time where similar situations have happened.
I wish I could have a do over.
Not to prevent the awful circumstances of the day, but instead to change the way I viewed those circumstances. To give of myself to my Savior whose birthday I was supposedly celebrating.
I read a quote today that said~
“The celebrations were never meant to satisfy. The Savior does.”
I made it all about me when the day should have been all about Him, despite the circumstances.
Despite the circumstances, He came from immaculate glory to a sin cursed world. The Savior, whose hands formed the universe, were now tiny hands, tightly formed around his mother’s finger.
Tiny glory, lying in a manger of hay.
Born into the worst circumstances you could imagine.
Christmas is over. Another year is gone.
But today is a new day.
We owe everything to Him,
yet we ask everything of Him.
A new year beckons us.
A whole year before next year’s birthday celebration.
A whole year to give every single day.
Our life is a start. The best start.
Our love. Our praise. Our thankfulness.
Belated birthday wishes are always a blessing. It’s never too late.
Sing Happy Birthday in your heart today. The heart that Jesus gave everything for. ❤️
Some people (aka me) are Christmas lunatics. Some people are Christmas Scrooge’s and others are somewhere in between.
So last January, being the lunatic I am, I decided that “Christmas” would be my word for the new year and promised to post something once a month that reminded us of the beautiful spirit of the season.
It started out great. Everyone had the cozy Christmas feelings still lingering, but somewhere around April I realized that my post reach was pretty low. People didn’t want to read about a holiday that reminded them of cold and snow anymore. They were done and wanted to focus on warmth and sunshine and summer.
And then, just like that, summer ended and the whole world decided it was time for Christmas again. Forget about the other holidays in between. Stores everywhere have their trees and decorations up and Hallmark has their playlist posted.
Once again our minds start thinking ahead to the most wonderful time of year, and the excitement builds.
Perhaps it’s because we want something beautiful to look for when the world grows dreary. When the trees become barren and the beautiful colors fade.
Christmas holds that enchantment for us.
And maybe deep inside, our human hearts are continually looking for the next thing that will make us happy.
Always looking ahead of today.
That vacation coming up. That long weekend. The warmer weather or sparkling snow. Birthdays or holidays or even retirement.
But what if we stopped looking ahead?
What if we just looked at today?
What if we were able to open a Christmas gift every single day?
Or give one? Psalm 118:24
Here’s the awesome thing.
If we will just open our eyes. If we will just stop focusing on the bad and open God’s gifts of ALL that is good, and my friend~ SO MUCH is good~we would realize that every day can be Christmas. Matthew 7:11.
In turn, we can give some of that beautiful gift to others. A smile. An encouraging word. Your prayers. A hug. Love. John 15:12,17, John 13:34, Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:4, Colossians 1:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Christmas is a blend of giving and loving. It’s happiness. It’s coziness. It’s forgiveness. It’s reconciliation. There’s a song in everyone’s heart and a smile on everyone’s lips. Even old Scrooge.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s God. It’s all God. All of those things are God. It’s because of Him alone that we can have that joy unspeakable. 1 Peter 1:8
He is the ultimate gift. II Corinthians 9:15. Romans 5:16, Ephesians 2:8, 4:7, Romans 6:23
One we can be thankful for every single day.
One we can share with the whole world. John 3:16,17
As you go to sleep tonight, pretend for a moment that tomorrow is Christmas. Remember the excitement you had when you were a child. Allow that child like wonder to wash over you as you look forward to the beautiful gifts God has for you to open. Look for them in every tiny moment. Every day.
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere.
Let the enchantment of Christmas encompass your life, and share that gift with others.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I’ve always been a Christmas fanatic. My parents made Christmas completely magical for us as kids. I could not wait for the big Sears or JCPenny catalog to come in the mail. My brothers and I would pour over that book every spare second we had until it’s pages were worn and crinkled and it’s cover was missing. I would make my wish list, writing and rewriting like it was a novel going to the publisher. And then I would anticipate Christmas morning and dream of the toys placed playfully under the tree. Apparently the excitement was contagious, my parents seemed to catch it every year as well. Knowing smiles on their faces, Christmas records playing and Christmas cookies baking. What I thought was exciting when I was a child did not compare to the excitement I had after having children. Christmas giving took on a whole new meaning and I finally understood the smiles my parents had. It was because of the love that filled their hearts for their children. It was because they were able to give us things we asked for and even though they received nothing in return, it meant everything to them to see us so happy on Christmas morning. There is nothing that compares to that feeling~ being able to give to your children. My outlook changed. I wasn’t that child dreaming of all I would get. It wasn’t all about me anymore and my heart realized with great thankfulness how special my parents made Christmas for me when I was a child.
Sometimes we can be like children when it comes to our Heavenly Father. Our prayer lives consist of continually asking for things....”Please help me with this, please help me with that” or “please answer my prayers”. We don’t ever take the time to just thank Him for all He has given us, it’s all about what we can get. We pour over His word only because we are looking for something to make us feel better, to make our lives easier and not out of love for Him. And God our Father blesses our unthankful hearts over and over again. He continually receives nothing in return yet expects nothing in return. Because He loves us so very much. Because He wants us to be happy. Perhaps this year as we look ahead to Christmas, a lesson can be learned in our childish hearts. To stop and thank Him regularly for His continued goodness on our lives. To love Him so much that we want to give Him our everything in return. To have a countenance that’s contagious this Christmas, a knowing smile due to a thankful heart. And then a desire to give to others, as He has given to us.
I Chronicles 16:34 Proverbs 15:13a
The doctor came in and immediately I could feel the coldness he brought along with him. My daughter sat in the chair, anxious and excited to finally receive the help she had needed for so long. Minutes into the visit, we both realized she wouldn't be getting any help. She couldn't even get the words she wanted to express out of her mouth. He continually cut her off and by the end of the visit, had her in tears. Can I just say~ I wasn't feeling very lovable at that moment. I seriously wanted to stand up and slap him and then hug my daughter and walk out. I have been very spoiled since living in Huron County when it comes to those in the medical field. They have all been amazing and this was actually a first for me. It can be so easy to sit and write a little devotional on how we should love others despite the way they treat us, you know~ turn the other cheek and all that~ but when we are actually put in a real life situation, it isn't so easy after all. It's not easy, but it is possible. Especially with Christ in our hearts. I can remember so many specific instances that area doctors and nurses gave me such a sense of comfort as I awaited scary procedures, just by the way they treated me. One instance was one I have written about before. The hospital stay where I wasn't allowed to wear makeup. One of the nurses attending me had gone to high school with my two oldest daughters. I couldn't believe time had gone by so quickly and she was now a nurse. I was anxious about seeing anyone I knew in my condition (aka no makeup 😂) but more importantly, I was apprehensive over my upcoming surgery. This sweet friend made me feel like I was receiving a warm, continual hug every time she entered my hospital room. It is a feeling I will never forget and one I will forever be grateful for. Yes, people may treat us horribly. They might treat our loved ones horribly, but the way we react and the way we treat them will remain with them forever. I read a quote this week that said- "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" Let's pray that those who tend to make others feel unloved will find us making them feel greatly loved with the unconditional love that only Christ Himself can give. Always be grateful to those who have that special way of making you feel like you are receiving a warm hug just from being in their presence. It is something that is too often taken for granted. I personally want to say~Thank You 💗💗
I was a baby when I got married. Barely 20. I had four kids by the time I was 28 and often found myself overwhelmed at the responsibilities. My husband worked away from home all week and returned on the weekend to all the endless needs of a growing church. I can remember one Saturday specifically. All of my kids were sick and I was exhausted. I couldn't wait for Mike to come home for lunch, just so I could shower. Michael's fever had been high that morning and as I came out of the kitchen, I noticed him laying in the hallway. I bent to check his fever but he was unresponsive. I cried out to him, but there was nothing. Mike tried as well, then quickly scooped him up and rushed him to the hospital. I stayed behind with my girls, crying and praying. There were no cell phones to keep me updated. There was only horrifying silence and waiting. My precious little son. How quickly our lives can change. The things we take for granted. The things we might occasionally complain about should be the very things that should be most precious to us. Our husband's, our children, our homes with the endless chores, our friends, our country. My son's birthday is coming up this week. He will be 26. God allowed me to have him a little longer than I might have thought that day. He had a febrile seizure and lost his hearing in one ear. When I was able to hold his tiny little body again in that hospital room, I did not think of how overwhelmed I was or how I needed a shower or "me time", I only thought of my sweet boy and thanked God. Take a moment to think today that every single thing we have is a gift from God. Don't take one thing for granted, but thank Him daily for all He has given you. As hard as it might seem, when our circumstances seem overwhelming and we wonder when things will get better, think on this my friend~ Things will get better when we choose to seek out the good and we become THANKFUL.
There are days that waking up on the wrong side of the bed is an understatement. I stumble into the bathroom in the morning, step on the scale and "oh great, I gained 3 lbs overnight" then I put on my glasses and look in the mirror and... "I'm 50, wear bifocals, have wrinkles AND have a huge zit on my chin. How is this fair?? HOW???????" 😩😩😩😩 I honestly don't know what gets into me, but everyone and everything gets on my last nerve. And what do I do to stop it? Oh, I immediately pray and get things right with the Lord. NOT. It's like there's this hormonal monster inside me that takes complete control and all rational and spiritual thinking goes out the door~ except I don't really have a whole lot of hormones left due to a partial hysterectomy. 😂😂That little tiny bit I do have? It's small but deadly and it wallows in it and even enjoys it. Why do we get this way ladies? We let our emotions or our hormones control us and we turn into the wicked witch of the month and think it's ok, but it's not. We expect people to put up with our awfulness and even justify it. By the end of the day, after taking it out on my innocent husband who looks at me like I've lost my mind and wonders what in the world he did this time, I usually feel better. Unfortunately, that little monster left a path of destruction (and ate all the chocolate on the way there). Times like this I know God is nudging me all day. I can feel it in my heart, so I dig in deeper instead of changing my ways. I feel sorry for myself. I think about how absolutely wonderful I am and so unappreciated and pretty soon I believe the lies that I can't help it and I'm right and everyone else is wrong. But the nudging continues. And I realize deep down that I'm not filled with the fruits of God's Spirit~love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. I'm filled with Charisse. Oh ladies, aren't you so thankful for our wonderful Savior and His forgiveness, grace and mercy? Because, boy do I need forgiveness on those days. I also need forgiveness from everyone that came across my path that day. Make sure to apologize ladies. Don't justify your behavior. Remember, there isn't any behavior that's acceptable if it isn't Christ like. He was beaten beyond recognition. He was mocked. He was crucified, and yet He forgave. I'm not saying it's easy. It's not. It's almost crazy to think about the fact that I can feel like my walk with Christ is so close one day then wake up the next and flush it all down the toilet. So, I ask forgiveness, I pick up my chocolate wrappers and I consciously make an effort to remember~"let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Tomorrow is a new day. Thank God.
Lately I have been praying and asking God for joy. Pretty much every time I do, I feel a bit of shame that this old flesh can lose it so quickly. In light of the fact that other ladies are going through horrific circumstances and heartache, shame on me for not having joy. Shame on me for allowing the petty little things of life steal my joy. There are weeks and sometimes months that are so full of running and activities and late nights and early mornings and crying grand babies that all the little things can become overwhelming. I remember reading once about people who get depressed at Christmas due to the build up and then let down because it is over so quickly. When I was younger I thought that was ridiculous. Now that I'm older it is very believable. Fall is one of my favorite times of year and Christmas my favorite holiday. I have found in the last 5 years that once September is here, I barely take a breath and it's Christmas. It seems like it was just yesterday that I snapped this picture and just like that, a year has gone by. I want to savor every single moment from September 1 till December 25 but the activities are endless and there aren't enough hours in a day and I fall in bed at 1am each night dreading the early morning and more "to-do's". I lose my joy. There are so many good devotionals on the subject. Many reminding us that Jesus is the reason for the season or give us "The Answer to Having a Stress Free Holiday". This year, through our Java Joy fellowships, God has shown me my answer. It's that little fruit of the Spirit called JOY. And that's where I mess up every year. I always try, in my own strength, to make it my fruit. I don't ask the Holy Spirit for help. I beat myself up for not being more joyful, for feeling overwhelmed and I try harder and harder but I always come up short. I can only have true joy by asking my Father for it on a daily and sometimes hourly basis if needed. And today, amidst the already crazy chaos of the fall/winter season, my Jesus is giving me joy. I am taking the time to love on my grand babies and at times just sit and stare at their precious, beautiful faces as they play and soak it all in, knowing that "to-do" list that I put down will get done, because my Father has it covered. As I write this there are just over 85,000 seconds until Christmas and I want to glorify Jesus with every single one of them and have His joy shine from me. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, whatever heartache~ the answer can be the same for you as well. Just ask Him for that joy. It's His to give and something you can't ever fully have on your own. Let's stop trying to prove to the world how strong and capable we are as women and just give it all to Jesus and let Him be the source of our strength and of our joy. Then put that calendar (that's filling up so quickly) aside and savor every moment in His beauty.