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Seeking Sonshine

"Not all who wander are lost" – J.R.R. Tolkien

Month

October 2015

Pondering Perspective

I was in a hurry to get inside Walmart during one of my errand task force runs, and I had my four year old daughter with me. She was not really in a hurry and despite my suggestions to hustle, she pranced in the sunlight and suddenly stopped. “Mommy, look at those birds! Aren’t they just beautiful?” 

Now. 

I had been standing, waiting on her to get out of the car and walk up to the front. While this was happening, a few nasty crows caught my eye. I cringed and almost opened my mama mouth to instruct her to stay back… Then my daughter says that. I looked back at those crows and if I tilted my head just right, they were kind of beautiful in the sun. (Call me crazy) 

I felt in that really odd moment like God was showing me that His perspective can make something that I have viewed in a negative light for years change in an instant. All it takes is someone looking for the beauty in this life to notice it. We have all heard that you will usually find what you are looking for. But do we really know it? Do we fully comprehend that we can change our eternal destiny just by changing the way we think? It’s powerful, the mind. It controls us, directs us, and guides us. But we decide where.

  
We fix our eyes on Jesus. What does that mean? Hebrews 12:2. I like The Message’s interpretation because it breaks it down in a practical way. 

Hebrews 12:2-3The Message (MSG)

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

12 1-3 “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! That is an incredible picture!! Jesus left us countless stories and wisdom, but He also allowed us to have the Holy Spirit to be our Counselor. Another way to view this is the big, red, easy button. Going up, not down. 😇

Perspective changes can make us shift toward spiritual maturity or immaturity, based on what we have programmed our minds and hearts to believe. If we have studied God’s promises for our lives, then we will naturally become more joyful in our outlook because we know God is still on the throne, and He is for us. 

#donteatcrow 😄😇❤️

An excellent list right here for improving your perspective is here: http://www.nancykaygrace.com/7-verses-to-improve-perspective/)

Another list that is very helpful to scroll down and meditate on is here: http://www.openbible.info/topics/positive_thinking

  

Article Credits:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+12%3A2&version=MSG

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAUQjB1qFQoTCIa88OfM5sgCFVcqiAodqTwEHA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftnvalleytalks.hoop.la%2Ftopic%2Fteenagers-lets-discuss-religion%3Freply%3D292618760899848602&psig=AFQjCNFmDcCczH70H0cpGqvWfGRvYE7RUA&ust=1446170934291626&rct=j

Desperate Disappointment

That is how I would describe my beautiful, vivacious four year old when I don’t agree with doing something her way. Most of the time this means not buying her the toy she needed. Most days, I am half amused, partially annoyed/worried that she is too spoiled, and part of me is in awe of her innocent disappointment. To be truthful, it pulls at my mama heartstrings and breaks them a little to see her be disappointed. Guilt likes to crowd in because I am the one who is causing it at that particular moment, but isn’t that our job? To teach our children how to be an adult that is an asset to society? But what does that look like and what definition of asset is relevant here? And how do we teach our children this without them hating us? I’d like to explore the wonders of parenting for a few posts, if you don’t mind. Mostly because that is where I find myself right now, but also because I think that I could use some mentoring and pass it on at the same time. 

You seasoned moms know exactly the right amount of just enough disappointment to let our kids experience at our hands and when to give in. That is the image in my head, anyway. And you all wear red checkered aprons and have perfect pie crusts. Just FYI. 😄😇❤️

There is something about disappointment that has an instant light switch to your tear ducts and the heat level in your cheeks. Man, it is out of control! I thought it was something that I would outgrow, but apparently, it isn’t. There is just something very unique to disappointment that makes this mama have to excuse herself in front of her kids because I need to get a handle on the old emotions before they steam off in front of two very watching eyes. I would love to say that I am always a perfect role model but that is just a lie. I would also love to say that I always strive to be more like a seasoned mom role model. But if the truth were told, my apron is maybe light pink and my pie crusts are hit or miss…. 

…Especially on the days I don’t refresh and renew my mind with who God made me to be. He put you and me in each of our families because we were hand picked to be mamas and dads and grandparents or great grandparents or friends or mentors to the specific children and people placed in our lives. Don’t forget Jeremiah 29:11!!!

  

These plans include these people. But they won’t forever, so we have to make the most of the time God has given us or at least get our heart in a place where that is its desire. We will make mistakes with our time and fail because we are human. One of the coolest things about God is that He has heart x-Ray vision. He knows what our true motivations are, even if we don’t. If our hearts are tender toward God and we are still seeking him in the best way our limited brains can imagine, you just made God’s day. Remember when your child made you something, whether it was a painting or brought you a flower or something they were proud to give you? Was it a masterpiece you were headed to the Museum of Art to display? Maybe not unless your kid is a prodigy… (Which is also very cool!!) I don’t remember what it was my kids gave me, but I do remember their faces when they shared it with me. It melted my heart that they thought of me. So, I can imagine that since God loves us more than we can even fathom, this has to be a similar emotional reaction of some sort. 

You know disappointment and what it feels like to you and how you react personally. You may have just come through one, been awhile, or living it everyday at the moment. Wherever you are, God is listening and He didn’t ignore you, He knows your heart is breaking, and He loves you so very much. He is the epitome of a seasoned parent. He can see the entire patchwork of our puzzled life while we are still trying to figure out how to fit this jagged piece somewhere. He knows that there are more experiences that you are going to have to go through before this piece will fit. Think of a puzzle. The 5,000 piece ones!!!

“So then, what does God promise when we are disappointed?
Lack No Good Thing
One promise that’s helped me over the years is Psalm 34:10, “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” This promise is for those who seek the Lord — those who are saved by faith in Christ and are seeking to know God.

And God promises that those who seek him will lack no good thing. Which means, if something is good, God will give it to you.”

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/gods-promise-for-the-disappointed

The above referenced article is a great resource for me, personally. I tend to like things with steps so I can see progress or digress. We are all somewhere in this process. We either have been going, are going, or will be going through some sort of crisis or disappointment in the future. I heard Joel Osteen describe crisis in Japanese one time on his radio show. 

危=”danger” y 機=”opportunity”.

Danger for me is territory that is unknown. I really struggle with that because it is terrifying to me. However, I am in the process of learning that God can bring opportunity in that danger which never would have happened if we hadn’t been shoved in it in the first place. And let’s be honest. Who says, oh, I would LOVE to be laid off and not be able to find another job in my industry! That sounds fun! Or, wow, that unexpected medical report is just what I wanted! How about, oh good, an old debt that I totally forgot about is coming due or I love being overwhelmed in debt I have no idea how I am going to pay off. 

Breathe. This is why you have a Savior. He will rescue you. He can see the picture on the puzzle box. He knows how to fit our lives together. Each disappointment is a jagged piece that aligns perfectly when it is put together with another piece that may be a joyous memory or a sorrowful one. He smooths it over with His hand just like He does our hearts if we let Him. 

  

And now for True Mama Confessions. I would love to say that my four year old is the only one in our house that doesn’t deal with disappointment or crushing news like that. She gets it from somewhere, a/k/a me. The mom. The one who is supposed to show this tiny human the correct way to behave. Yea, I have failed at that and it was pretty humiliating. But my children have shown me the most amazing amounts of grace, forgiveness and acceptance that I have ever seen. It was humbling and freeing all at the same time. I apologized and they accepted. They were modeling something to me without even realizing it. Maybe God can use us even if we don’t overthink it and analyze it to death. What?! 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

Article Credits:

Crisis, danger, opportunity

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/jesus/images/7173669/title/savior-photo

Would You Have Stopped?

  
I am a huge Oklahoma State fan, and these tragedies this weekend at the Homecoming parade weigh heavy on my mind and heart. It is impossible to make sense of what has happened, but it has made me hug my family tighter and appreciate my time more. This morning, I had the opportunity to hear from a talented and anointed pastor at the church I grew up in. He spoke about loving God and others today, and mentioned the story of The Good Samaritan. I love this story. I have always loved this story. Before you think I am morbid, I will explain! It gave me hope. And I think that is what we all needed to hear today was hope. That not all humanity is lost. That someone will stop and help us. Maybe not everyone. But someone.

I loved this story because I always imagined myself as someone who would definitely have stopped and been the Samaritan. No way was I that snooty old priest flannel character on the board when I learned this story. (Remember Bible story flannel boards?? Kids today will never know…) But then, if I really checked myself completely…would I have? 

Would I have stopped if I was late to something?

Would I have stopped if it was inconvenient for me?

Would I have stopped if it meant it would cost me something? 

Would I have stopped if it meant I had to make a future commitment to something?

Because that is what the Good Samaritan did. He didn’t just stop. He dressed the victim’s wounds; he took him on his own donkey; and he placed him in an inn and made an agreement to come back and pay for the man’s room. That is more than stopping. That is loving somebody like we are called to do. 

I had to deal with the harsh reality that I wasn’t doing so well in dealing with anything or anyone that seemed to bump into my happy. And there was no way I was going to think about anybody else when all I was focused on was how this world and its inhabitants were affecting me. Serious reality check. And now that I am cured from this ridiculous mindset, I am raising a 4 year old clone of myself who believes it more than I ever did, and is also unfortunately stubborn like her mama. Prayers encouraged and appreciated.

The truth is, nothing can break us of ourselves except our Jesus. He already won the Victory. It is ours to claim. And if that does not stir up hope inside of you, then read that again. 😄

We are called to love others. Above and beyond what is considered the minimum standard of care. Lifting people up in prayer and reaching out to help is a great way to start.

As Oklahomans, we are specialists in that department. We know how to stop and give of ourselves and our time and our resources. We stand by each other and hold each other up. #oklahomafamily

  
Photo Credits: http://m.eonline.com/news/709903/tragedy-in-stillwater-oklahoma-state-fellow-teams-pay-tribute-to-3-killed-during-homecoming-parade

Sadness…Before and After

  Sadness is hard for me, personally. I have written four posts and deleted them.  It has taken me days to figure this out and prayers for what God wants me to say about this. Sometimes, it feels like He takes awhile. Or that our request got lost. Or that He must have forgotten about us and how we were really wanting a certain outcome and/or answer. We hear people that tell us to “wait for God’s timing,” but I always wondered what that meant. Was it just a placeholder? A way to describe why seemingly nothing had happened to further the cause along in this realm? One of these questions that haunted me for years was Why? Why him, Lord? He was an amazing person and so young? Lord, we love him and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I had never known sadness, really known sadness, until someone I loved dearly was gone too soon at the age of 23. It was agony and I wasn’t even his parents. Now that I am a parent, my stomach and heart turn with horror when something unthinkable happens and lives are lost. It is a perspective changer and your life becomes divided into chapters. Before and after.

Before the accident you couldn’t prevent. After she left with your kids. Before the miscarriage. After the foreclosure you couldn’t stop. After the abortion he made you have.  After you indulged in the addiction. Again. So many things can cause us sadness. Regret is one of her best friends. She is often accompanied by Fear, Distress, Anguish, and Heartache. Sometimes, there is no getting around it, anymore. Despair visits, and we open the door.

I spent too long being angry. I didn’t want to be sad because I hated being sad. I associated sadness with weak and self pity parties (which I am REALLY good at throwing!). I didn’t know much about grief or cycles and I didn’t want to. I was not much fun to be around and I believed every one of Satan’s lies he threw my way. But God was there. I didn’t think He was. I was sure He wasn’t. But then, I slowly began to realize something. We are made in His image. He knows grief like I never will because not only did His Son die, He sent Him with that very purpose. So, imagine Him being born, and how joyous that occasion is! Now think about it knowing the countdown you started has begun. First steps. Steps to Calvary. First words. Last words. And think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. What a roller coaster her life must have been! Yet, she responded quickly, “Yes, Lord.” She only knew the plan to bring Him into the world. How many times did He escape death? And she had to watch these people crucify her son. 

Before.

There is another side to sadness, too. A side that gives you the ability to connect with people and give them comfort. If you choose to connect with God and lean on Him because He knows every emotion we feel, you will come out different. You respect life and people and memories differently. You hold people closer and make sure you tell them you love them more frequently. You discover depth of character that God is developing in and through you. You never, ever forget the people who are gone. But you realize, the world keeps evolving and changing around you. But it looks different. Sometimes you can make the deepest relationships because of the worst times you have known. Because it refined your soul. We are clay, remember? If nothing (good or bad) happens to clay, it is a lump of potential. We are masterpieces and they take time. Fire. A Master Potter with a plan. The after. 

  
Oh, and back to Mary. Remember her after? She got to see her Son again, just like He said. She got to experience God’s plan for her life because she said yes to the pain of rejection an unwed pregnant mother would bear. She said yes to raising our Savior!!! Can you say no pressure… She knew that her God was bigger than the pain. And He can be our God, too. Same God. Pretty cool, Sadness, pretty cool. 

  
  

Photo Credit:

http://sharkie19.deviantart.com/art/Joy-and-Sadness-535652144

Disgust. The Judger.

  
My husband has opened my world up in terms of television viewing. I would have been stuck in 90’s Sitcomville and cheesy Rom-Coms or Chris Evans’ filmography forever if not for his objections, er…suggestions. ❤️ We began watching a now cancelled  “Lie To Me” series starring Tim Roth, currently airing on Netflix. Roth stars as an eccentric, brilliant man who practically invented and perfected his form of the science of micro expressions and nonverbal communication. It is fascinating, yet very rough at times to watch. (Not for everyone) The Lightman Group is a team of specialists who consult with multiple organizations and agencies to find the truth in a case by reviewing the people involved and interacting with them. Disgust is an interesting micro expression to see. 

Disgust is one of the basic emotions of Robert Plutchik’s theory of emotions and has been studied extensively by Paul Rozin. It invokes a characteristic facial expression, one of Paul Ekman’s six universal facial expressions of emotion. Unlike the emotions of fear, anger, and sadness, disgust is associated with a decrease in heart rate.

Rozin P, Haidt J, & McCauley C.R. (2000) Disgust In M. Lewis & J.M. Haviland-Jones (Eds) Handbook of Emotions, 2nd Edition (pp637- 653). New York: Guilford Press

My personal opinion that I strictly use for my own reactions, is that when Disgust comes to visit; the jury and judge tend to come with her. 

See, in order for something to be disgusting to me, it would had to have passed through my morality filter, humor filter, acceptable standards filter, and made it through (So many jokes about these filters…) I will have had my own judgment on something that is nothing more than a culmination of my past and personal experiences and my personal bias due to any number of things because I am a woman. 😄 Truth. Or so I believe…

  
 “Girl, please.”

My daughter is great at letting me know if something disgusts her, while as her mother I have to be nice about it. 😄 But she exhibits the very face that we ourselves project on to other people who do not share our personal religious views, sexual preferences, political party or that color of dress she is wearing!!!!

You get the idea. We as a society have become warring over the idea of tolerance, in my opinion. Who is tolerant and who isn’t. Who is judging others and who has no right to do the same. Who thinks they are better than others because of their beliefs. Wait, Disgust also brings her along her snotty sister, Self-Righteousness. She is related to another older emotion, Anger, so you have to see how crowded your perceptions can get with all these people, errrr, emotions, influencing your decision. Because they ALL like to talk, don’t they?!

How about reducing all the noise to a reasonable roar up there? Jesus made it simple. Love others as He has loved us. Notice that it isn’t “Love others as you have loved the specific members of your family that are worthy of your love,” or “Love others only if they agree with your choices and views because they are clearly correct.” No, it’s “Love others as He has loved us.” The One who sent His Son to die for us before we were ever born. Hmmmm. That sounds pretty impossible to me. For good reason.

We have to lean on God to change our hearts toward Him first. Then, ask Him to help me and you love others. All of the time. To listen and not judge. To observe and show empathy. To relate and not criticize. To try. God is love. Probably not a better place to start to learn how to love than with Someone who is love.  Because everybody out there is fighting a battle, just like you. Let’s be kind because we are hard enough on ourselves. ❤️ (Which is a whole other topic for another day, right?)

Photo Credits:

https://sabeerhassan.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/aww-yuck-the-science-of-disgust/

http://alonsocantu.deviantart.com/art/Inside-Out-Disgust-2nd-Wallpaper-542093788

Get Fear Outta Here!

  
Fear. No wonder it is a stronghold. (What is a stronghold? http://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-strongholds.html Think of all the things that are wrapped up in fear:

Failure:  When you are paralyzed to try something new or different from the start, and you are terrified you may not have what it takes to finish strong. So you never try, and this leads to regret. (If unchecked) 

Rejection:  When you are too afraid of coming face to face with the fact that not everyone is nice, nor will they like you. So, you never reach out and dissolve under another layer of loneliness and despair.

The Unknown:  When you just cannot function without knowing the end result or have an idea of what the future will hold. So, you miss out on opportunity after opportunity because you cannot take the leap of faith required.

Evil:  When you are blinded to the truth because you have believed the lies of the enemy and haven’t dealt with it in the way you are meant to, through Jesus. So, you fumble in the darkness and try to get out without a light source to guide you. And it was there all along.

I chose these particular fears because they are my kryptonite (My superhero loving husband is rubbing off on me, yikes!) I dealt with them for years, and also the other lovely emotions I described because I lived them on a regular basis. And they wore me out. 

Until the day I saw them go after my young daughter.  Something about a mama’s heart makes you really brave. Or feel really brave. I have imagined (not proudly) my plans of attack should anyone dare to come near me or my little ones with danger intent in their minds. It is a Diary of a Mad Black Woman (I am referencing the Tyler Perry movie!) moment. So I do not recommend chancing Mama Hulk over here. (Did it again)

So one day, I got enraged and decided to put that righteous anger where it belonged. Straight from where it came from. I prayed and cast out everything imaginable in Jesus’ name and read Bible verses like they were a script in an Armageddon play. Because, friends, they are. In an arena outside of the physical domain, our real enemies await, unmasked and ready to destroy our lives. And there is something that rises up inside me with determination when it comes to someone attacking my kids without them being able to defend themselves yet. And that is my job.

Jesus will always be Jesus. But He will only be your Jesus when you step out of the boat and walk toward Him. -Angie Smith in What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms

Friend, I encourage you to take back your life, place your fears on the altar and the Cross, and live your life in freedom! Jesus won the battle, you just have to claim the Victory! Start right now with turning on K-Love or Air One or any kind of praise music you can and worship. That will get you started because our enemy cannot stand praising God. So that is your first step! Open your Bible or YouVersion and get a plan on how to pray through this time in your life, whatever it may be. (I google Bible verses on breaking free or fear or anger or joy! Nice list to choose from!)

I also asked the Lord to show me what I needed to work on to be free from fear and learn how to trust and have my own faith to tend to. He did. And He will for you, too.

 

*Resources I used and were extremely helpful were the following, and I make $0.00 off anything I recommend. I just share because it spoke to me and triggered my heart to change. 

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0805464298/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1445193376&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=angie+smith&dpPl=1&dpID=51EPEojzKeL&ref=plSrch

I use Amazon Smile and donate purchases to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, but there are so many charities and missions that you can support just by using Amazon Smile. Same inventory as the regular Amazon, just donates percentages to a charity you choose, if I am correct.

http://www.wherepeacefulwaters.com/prayers/to_break_the_spirit_of_fear.htm
Powerful prayer to break the spirit of fear in your life through Jesus’ name.

http://ubdavid.org/advanced/advanced.html
I started here and just did lesson after lesson, re-training my heart with Truth. Sometimes, you just need to have faith like a child and it is in a simple form that is easy to digest with little to no training before.  

Take Off Your Mask of Anger

Anger.  We all experience it.  We aren’t supposed to sin, but it’s so easy to do when we are nursing whatever grudge we have embraced along the way. Someone let you down by not showing up when you needed them. Things are disastrous and you feel like you are rolling down a hill and picking up every offense along the way.  Where is God when you got the diagnosis?  Why did you have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? You get the idea. So what do we do about it?  In an ideal world, we could all communicate effectively and no one would get offended.  So who is wrong?  The offender or the offended?  Maybe both.

We put on different masks and they can look very tempting at times.  The mask of bitterness invites us to rehash situations where we were treated unfairly.  This mask is greenish black and can include some ornate details from its sister mask, Envy.  We longingly look at other people and their successes, and we wonder what they have that we don’t, or what they did to deserve it while you are still struggling.  There is a mask called Resentment and this mask resembles the deep reds of Hatred and Revenge.  It is our nature to want to make things right or defend ourselves no matter what the cost.  I know these masks well because I have worn all of them.  And I’m tired of wearing them because they are choking my soul of joy and contentment.  It’s time for a bonfire.

We all know God wants us to love our enemies and treat them with kindness.  He also doesn’t want us to sin or want revenge.  But God, don’t you care that this injustice is happening?? Are you serious? How am I supposed to do that?  Pray.  Pray quickly.  When you feel that urge to revisit the land of self-pity and betrayal, pray.  Just a simple quick, help me, I don’t want to go here.  My flesh does and it is weak.  Is it easy? NO!!! Do I do this?  Not often enough!! I will roll around with the best of them in the pit of despair but it never gets me anywhere, and I end up feeling more lonely and discouraged. So I am venting and hoping that I am not the only one out there that sometimes takes this wide and broad path.

Joyce Meyer’s site has the best instructions I have seen that explains how to deal with anger in a Biblical manner that is pleasing to God; and that is what I am going to link because it is what I am trying to follow myself.  Maybe this will reach someone today that has a temper like I do.  There’s hope.  We don’t have to handle it the same way forever.  We have the power to choose and a Counselor that has experienced anger Himself.

http://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=dealing_with_anger_gods_way

I also highly recommend the book Bait of Satan by John Bevere. It opened my eyes to how many offenses I was storing up in my heart, and it was a lot more than my head thought I was.  Check out this awesome collection of verses and soul searching questionnaire to examine your own heart.

http://www.mbmission.org/files/The_Bait_of_Satan.pdf

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not referencing people or products over the Bible.  My purpose here is to help you with free resources that you may not have come across on your own that could help shed some perspective on something you have been living with for a long time. They helped me and I hope you enjoy them as well.  Here’s to looking at Anger in the face and taking off your masks instead of reaching for one to put on that hides your beautiful face.

Joy – Three Letters, Infinite Meaning

I recently watched the movie “Inside Out” with my young daughter, and she loves the character, Joy.  I do, too, and it’s one of the main things that I am seeking on a day to day basis.  We all know that we find what we are looking for, but how do you find joy when you are the LAST thing from joyful?  We all know the answers we have heard to this question.

“It’s a mindset.”

“You find what you are looking for.”

“Choose joy.”

These are all true and wonderful, don’t get me wrong.  But when you have a three year old throwing a temper tantrum that rivals Veruca Salt in Walmart and you’ve been laid off earlier that week, and difficult people want to make life more…well…difficult; I am not #WonderWomanJoySeeker in that moment. On a more serious note, when someone you love is fighting to keep their life from a disease that seems certain to claim it; when you’ve had a miscarriage and all you wanted was to have a baby; when the love of your life tells you that he or she is seeing someone else and your relationship with them is terminated; it’s hard to find the joy in the situation when you are still finding your way as a Christian.  Mentors are awesome, books are wonderful, the Bible is best. I will be totally transparent on this blog and say that there are a lot of things that I know in my head.  It’s just making my heart KNOW them.

What is the definition of Joy, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary?

Full Definition of JOY

a :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :  delight

b :  the expression or exhibition of such emotion :  gaiety 

2:  a state of happiness or felicity :  bliss
3:  a source or cause of delight
What is the Bible’s definition of joy?  We know that joy is a fruit of the spirit.  “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” – Neh. 8:10.  Rick Warren’s definition from his extensive studying of the Bible is this:
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
This is not easy to do. But when you can, man, it is worth it.  When you’re disappointed, hurt, or angry because your expectations (whether real or imposed) were not met, it is hard to look past the pain to see how this could benefit someone else.  You know what?  THAT’S OKAY.  Feel it.  Even when you don’t want to.  Even when it sucks.  I’m sorry, I know there are those who don’t like that word, but sometimes there is no other way to describe the load you are bearing at the moment. It’s heavy.  And while you and I may know to cast it on Jesus, how do you actually do that without taking it back and worrying about it or lamenting over it some more?  I don’t know.  But that is why this blog is here.  It’s to document a faith journey and hopefully someday, it will help someone else who’s struggling like I am. There’s joy in the struggle.  There is.  We have to press in and by that I do not mean a Christian cliche.  I mean get quiet, make time and let God have it if you need to.  Trust me, He can handle it.  He became human and He empathizes with us.  I like The Message’s interpretation of Hebrews 4:15.  <<By the way, I do NOT have these memorized like I should. I am googling different translations because it helps me study God’s Word. I want to memorize them by studying them and learning them in my heart.>>

Hebrews 4:15-16The Message (MSG)

The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain

14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

So.

Here’s to joy, whatever it is to you.  I hope and pray that God shows all of us what joy means to Him and what it should mean to us.  We are in this journey together.  Here’s to the three letter word that is freedom thanks to a sacrifice we may never fully understand. 🙂

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