Words

I am not sure when or how this practice started.

Choosing one, new little word for the year.

For this girl who is easily distracted and often wonders about the meaning of life, it brings a little bit of focus and meaning to the new year.

This year rather than searching for a new word, It seemed as if my word found me. As I was writing my advent series this year, the word

joy

continued to roll around in my thoughts long after I was done writing. I felt like I was not finished with joy or it was not finished with me. In any case it is a fitting word for this glass half empty girl.

So in saying farewell to the old year and welcoming the new,

I am welcoming joy…

choosing this one little word to journey beside

as I continue to look for God in the midst of each day.

Will you join me?

(with joy, or another word of your choosing)

 

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Advent – Joy

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“What happened to your joy?” – Galatians 4:15

“…now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” – John 16:22

This Christmas season as I have thought about joy; I have seen those things which give great joy and on the opposite hand those things which just as easily can take it away.

Have you ever thought about who or what it is that steals your joy…?

A harsh word

Comparison (“the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt)

Envy

Conflict

Focusing on self

Jesus warned us about one who steals. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10) He also told a story of a farmer, a seed, and the evil one who wanted to steal the seed. (Matthew 13:1-23) Jesus was speaking of stealing the message of our salvation, but the evil one is also one who steals our joy and will use whatever means he can to do it.

If we were to consider our joy as something that could be taken away or stolen, we might treat this joy differently. In the same way, we guard and protect our material possessions (we lock our houses, our cars) against thieves, we might strive harder to protect our joy, a pearl of great worth.

So how do we protect our joy?

It could be guarding our heart against things which would want to steal it away. For me during this Christmas season, it was taking a break from Instagram and the comparison Instagram was feeding in my life. For you, it might be something else. When you begin to give it some thought, you can start to pinpoint those thieves of joy circling your life.

Protecting joy might also mean adding things into our lives which create joy. This holiday season Christmas music has brought me much joy (“…the best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf) bringing a smile to my face and leading to kitchen dance parties with my girls.

Here are a few of the songs I’ve been listening to…I dare you to just try and not dance 🙂

Noel – Hillsong Young & Free

Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor

and then my favorite…

Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’ ” – Luke 1:10

Jesus, God Emmanuel  – our joy.

 

Advent – love

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

If you have ever traveled, you know how wonderful it is to be away, but even better is the feeling when coming home. It is the familiarity, the comfort, and the sense of belonging greeting you at the front door. You are home.

Some days our home is that restful place. A house my family wants to come home to after a long day at school or work. This is how I want it to feel. But more often than not, this home can instead be filled with tension, criticism, or nagging. Hardly the place of refuge I picture:)

This physical image of coming home, of belonging and rest, is a good representation of what our true home will be …eternity with God.  But as we go through our days and are faced with critique, selfishness, comparison, rejection, or other things weighing us down; home can seem like a far away place. And we find ourselves longing, longing for that place of rest, longing for home.

So if this is you today…

I pray you will find grace in the tension of waiting.

I pray you will come home to Jesus,

and to the body of people He intended to be our home.

I pray if you have already found your way home,

you would notice the ones who have not,

and you would be home for them.

For, isn’t this why Jesus came?

His love leading us home.

 

 

Advent – Peace

Last week I went on a search for peace, knowing peace would be the focus of our advent series at church this past Sunday and here on the blog this week. I also went looking, just because I was longing for a little peace in my own life.

When I started this page, I was not sure what I was going to write, because I am still learning what it means to live with peace. Yet as I dug deeper, I did start to see some little signs, these little guideposts God leaves along the way to show us just where His peace can be found.

God’s peace – born to this earth in the lowliest of places. His peace birthed through His written and living word. The peace mankind was longing for had come at last. It is no wonder the angels shouted out to the shepherds…

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14

So today I am looking for peace

and finding it

when I let go of…

stuff –

The one who received the seed among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. – Matt. 13:22

If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me, will find it…” – Matt. 16:24

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.” – 1Tim. 6:6,7

control –

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” – Psalm 20:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5,6

comparison –

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” – Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

the past –

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing…I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” – Colossians 1:20

…and grab hold of Jesus and only Him.

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” – Psalm 119:165

His written and living word – our peace!

 

Advent – Hope

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Have you ever spent time waiting for something? I do not mean packages from amazon, or a call from a friend. I mean waiting, really longing for something; waiting for the right one to come along, or waiting to be healed,  waiting to get pregnant, or waiting for a loved one to know Jesus. A waiting or longing that sits at our very core and the marrow of who we are.

Over 2000 years ago, the Israelites were waiting. They were waiting for deliverance, deliverance from oppression, from living under rulers who did not share the same beliefs they did. For 400 years they waited. And when their deliverer finally did come, some did not recognize him and some were possibly a little disappointed over what the deliverance looked like. I can imagine during those 400 years and even after there was  a little disappointment, a little hope deferred…

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

I thought of this verse recently as a friend was sharing their journey of waiting, and as I thought of my own prayers awaiting answers. What does it mean hope deferred, or to defer hope?

Defer: to put off (an action or event) to a later time, postpone. 

Looking at this verse, I see when I push hope off or stop hoping; it leaves me with a heavy heart. When I can instead hold on to hope, and choose to trust even when I do not see the outcome, this hope will eventually bear fruit.

“But blessed is the man who trusts (to be confident or sure – be bold (make to) hope (put make to trust)) in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

We like the Israelites are still waiting, waiting for answers to prayers and even more, waiting for Jesus to come again. If we can trust Him to be our  deliverer, Jesus to be our hope, He will make sure our trust and hope bears fruit in Him.

Jesus –

“All our hopes and fears are met in Him tonight…” – Peace, Peace by Sara Groves

Letting Go

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One of my favorite family movies is Finding Nemo. I love the way the dad lovingly chases after his son, and goes to the ends of the earth to find him and bring him home. There are many parts of the movie I can relate to, but one conversation in particular between Marlin and Dory has stuck with me. Lately I have been hearing these words over and over in my everyday. In this scene Marlin and Dory are stuck in the belly of a whale, and life is looking pretty miserable. Here is a short piece of their conversation…

Dory: “He says its time to let go. Everything is going to be all right.”

Marlin: “How do you know? How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?”

Dory: “I don’t.”

And those of you who have seen the movie know Dory and Marlin let go, and the whale spouts them out, and everything is okay. In fact, they end up exactly where they want to be, in Sydney.

Like Marlin, we as parents are given this little gift to take care of, and for most of our child’s life we are the ones calling the shots. For those of us moms especially, who like to have all our ducks in a row; this works out just fine…until that day when the duckling is ready to leave the pond. Or when things do not go as planned, and we do not get the happy ending Marlin and Nemo got.

This year as both my girls are in high school and the older one is in her senior year; I seem to keep banging my head up against this “letting go”. When the girls were younger, I would not have necessarily called myself controlling 😉 or felt like I was holding on too tightly. It was not until recently I began to see just how much I really do need to let go.

In wanting what is best for our children, we may try to influence their choices such as friends, where they go, what they study, etc. There is nothing wrong with this per say. It is our job as parents to influence and advise. Yet I am starting to see there has to be a point where we are listening more than talking. A place where our lives are not quite as intertwined, always suggesting this or questioning that. I am again reminded there is one who does this so much better – the Holy Spirit.

If we as parents need to trust God’s Spirit, don’t our children need to trust His leading as well? And if we are the ones always leading, how will our children learn to hear His guidance, His voice?

I am grateful this process happens slowly, in stages… first job, driver’s license, making their own decisions and choices, and eventually leaving home.

So… my challenge for myself (you can hold me accountable if you see me:) and for you today is to,

Talk less. Pray More. And Let go.

I saw God today, in letting go.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Luke 11:13

His way, not mine

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About once a year or so, I seem to journey down the same path. The “what is my purpose, and what am I doing with my life?” path. I am not sure why I never seem to find the answer, and these questions reoccur yearly. I often blame it on lack of a specific talent or calling, and sometimes I end up complaining to God, asking “Why couldn’t you have created me with a specific gift like the artist who I work for or my husband with his gift of teaching?”

Thankfully, I do not seem to be alone in my questioning. There are myriads of books and courses out there covering this exact topic, and many of them I have read. The words and thoughts at times were helpful. A thought or sentence stuck with me and I found peace and contentment for some time. Eventually though that nagging little question would make its way back into my head again.

The other week as these questions were once again swirling around in my thoughts, I read a verse in Proverbs, one I had read many times before.

“The Lord has made everything for His own purposes….” – Proverbs 16:4

His purposes vs. mine.

Maybe it is not a matter of finding my passion, narrowing it down, or even asking the question, “what is my purpose?”

God has not made me for my plans.

If I do insist on finding answers, I can instead ask the questions, “What are your purposes God, in general and for me personally?” What would you have me to today? How are your purposes for this day similar or different to mine?

These two views may not seem so different, but for me it is a shift from figuring out my life and what fulfills me to focusing on God and what is important to Him. This is where I find fulfillment, this is where I find rest.

I saw God today, in His way not mine.

What do His purposes look like for you today?