Tag Archive | joy

a new year. another year.

A new year. Fresh start. New beginning. Clean slate. Hope. Optimistic. Plans.

For others- another year. Rocky start. Same old same old. Cluttered slate. Hopeless. Pessimistic. No plan.

Where do you fit?

Why do you fit there?

The cheery words of “Happy New Year” carries with it a misnomer for many, but really, for all of us.

When things are going great or as planned, we are happy.

When things are going wrong and unplanned, we are not.

Because we have emotions, we kind of blame God when we’re not happy.  Even though we know life is full of ups and downs, good and bad, we still expect God to come through for us and not let things make us too unhappy.

I mean, isn’t that part of “God loves you” and “has a wonderful plan for your life”?

When a building or bridge is constructed it has to be built on bedrock. We understand what will happen if the time is not taken to dig deep or the building will not be strong and sustain the elements.

When we are busy building our lives, there will be times to dig deep in order to stay strong and sustain the elements of unpredictability.

The bedrock of both happiness and unhappiness is this: joy.

 Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

I could research joy and relay everyone else’s experiences and opinions, but instead, I will give you my first hand experience of joy.

Joy is knowing God. Not knowing about him. Even Satan knows about God.

I know God in a way that connects with me. He knows how we tick and precisely how he needs to connect with us because we are all unique. When he does that, you find yourself loving God for doing this in such a caring, personal way.

We know God just like we know anyone in our lives – by spending time with them.

I’ve learned a lot about God through the Bible, but mostly, through the world around me.

Do we ever get tired of looking up into the deep, night sky, wrapping the earth in comfort at the end of a busy day? Stars so far away we can’t grasp the distance but when one “shoots” across the sky with a trail of glitter we make a wish.

Whether it’s giant snowflakes falling in a slow-motion hush, a caterpillar enclosing itself in a jeweled home – forming brightly patterned wings in secret, or how flowers seem to smile and make us smile back, the earth weaves a story of beauty and ugliness, good and evil.

Joy is part of the beauty. It is light and buoyant. It pushes back the heavy darkness and reveals enough light to show there is a way through pain. We push it away at times but it still rests lightly near us, waiting for our invitation.

Joy is a steady light. Not too bright. Not too dim. Not too hot. Not too cold.

Happiness is bright and then it dims.

Happiness is hot and then leaves us cold.

Happiness plays with our emotions if we don’t have joy holding it up.

Joy accepts. Not necessarily without questions or happy feelings, but safely moored during a storm, safe inside, with steady, peaceful, contentment.

No matter what, let this be a “Joyful New Year”!

bridge

Photo by Gunn Shots (Mark Gunn) on Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

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limping along.

We all know what it’s like to have a bad day.

But how about a bad month? Or months? Or year?

There are difficult times in life I like to call seasons. Because just like seasons, they go on for awhile. The good part is a new season is always coming, and with it, hope for brighter days.

And eventually, everyone gets brighter days.

I’ve been feeling like I’m limping along for awhile now with many situations beyond my control.

How we feel (emotions) are real. But they are unpredictable, not always accurate, and can consume us if we don’t have something to anchor ourselves to. Beyond the days of heavy, dark clouds, the sun is shining. What you are feeling is real, just like the clouds are real. But you don’t always see beyond them.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know my anchor is God and the Bible.

Now before you start getting riled up with the oh-so-common opposition you feel welling up inside, let me ask you this: what anchors you? What keeps you from being overwhelmed? You are turning to something in order to cope. What is it?

Even though I am limping, I am steady.

I cry, I am angry, I am discouraged, I am weary.

But just like the small, unseen pilot light that keeps the pot on your stove constant without burning or boiling over, just like the steady glow of the lighthouse guiding ships to safety, God provides us with something to steady us through difficulty and even tragedy.

It’s called grace.

And God says grace helps in time of need.

And God says it is sufficient no matter what we’re facing.

It’s called peace.

And God says it’s not the kind of peace the world gives.

And God says it protects your heart and mind.

And it’s called joy.

And God says this joy is our strength.

And God says when we believe we will have joy.

I didn’t get here overnight. No one does. It has been a series of situations leaving me floundering in a sea of doubt, discouragement, and despair. I navigated through life not turning to other things, but believing and trusting God meant what he said. Through it, I became stronger and stronger.

God has “hard wired” us to depend on him. The fact anyone would resist is proof enough. We are pretty independent and God does not want us to be independent from him. He wants to help us and he outlines the way he will help us – if we want it.

I’m not saying if you haven’t developed a lifetime of building your life the way I did that you can’t do it now. He tells us he hears and answers … anyone at anytime.

So, great news! You can start your “lifetime” today.

Am I happy? Not really. I’ve had better days of happiness.

But I have discovered the real deal is when so much is wrong, you feel the grace, peace, and joy only God can give.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

All the more reason to know it’s from God.

reach-for-the-heights_l

 

 

sadness.

Have you seen the latest movie? Inside Outside?

Sadness keeps “messing up” and this frustrates Joy to no end.

Soon, Joy realizes she has not allowed the main character, Riley, to feel Sadness.

Sometimes, I think we (or we are expected to) avoid sadness and go right to being positive and optimistic. At first, it’s kind of a survival mechanism that keeps us from drowning in our grief. But then the dust settles and we have to face the sadness and allow it a place in our life.

When you work through the sadness, joy will follow.

Don’t live in sadness, but don’t avoid it either.

Photo credit: Wendy Longo photography / Foter / CC BY-ND

joy.

Joy is when there is nothing to be happy about.

There is only one place joy comes from. It’s the same place love comes from.

God.

Both are not fleeting feelings. They are anchored hard and fast and true in the bedrock of faith.

Joy keeps you going in the right direction, even when you want to run the other way.

When you find yourself smiling during sorrow and hadn’t planned on it, that’s  joy.

When out of nowhere, you find yourself  hopeful for the future, that’s joy.

candle

Joy is the small, steady flame that burns in our hearts. Pain, sorrow, suffering, loss, and heartache, threaten its power. Sometimes, its light is shadowed by situations and circumstances.

But joy is an eternal flame that can never go out.

Will you find it?

~~~

Photo credit: jasonstaten / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

today’s quote.

But you, why do you turn back to such pain?

Why don’t you climb that hill that brings delight,

The origin and cause of every joy?

-Dante’s Inferno

climb

~~~

Photo credit: emurray / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

sacrifice.

Sacrifice is when we care about others over ourselves.

It may be giving our time, money, or possessions. It’s almost always doing the opposite of what we might choose to do with those things.

It costs us something because it draws from a depth of caring that is very close to our heart. We feel the withdrawal from our soul and it can be painful. Yet, it turns out to be a joy to know our sacrifice made a difference for someone.

Even if they don’t know about it.

What if the recipient of your sacrifice isn’t grateful for their circumstances changing because of you? That is part of your sacrifice.

It hurts when you know what you’ve given and it is not appreciated. And sometimes, it’s even thrown back in your face.

sacrifice

If you’ve wondered about Christianity, that’s really what it’s all about. Jesus gave his heart to the world. He sacrificed himself and endured the cross because of the joy that awaited him.

When you sacrifice it is noticed by God. Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on the joy that comes from sacrifice.

~~~

Photo credit: aussiegall / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

thankful.

I was thinking about the time during my formative years when I didn’t have a good foundation.  Many times I felt like a lost soul.

But I did have structure.

We know a building is only as good as its foundation. But there’s something to be said for a tent.

The tent is a structure that can provide protection. The structure I did have in my life was to be accepted for what it was and to be thankful.

tent

Whether your house is a mansion or modest farm house, the results are the same. You have a place to go.  There is food, water, and heat.

Humans are more resilient than we think. We can really make it on very little. We have expectations that aren’t necessary for survival. I know what you’re thinking. Who wants to merely survive?

If you can make life better, do it!  But if you can’t, accept it and find the good in it.

Everyone’s life is different for many reasons. Some things you have control over. Some things you do not.

Being thankful for what you do have will give you joy. Joy is being content with what you have. It is not dependent upon circumstances. It’s a constant, steady glow that doesn’t burn too hot or too cold.  Joy gives you the proper outlook on life. It opens your heart to seeing life at all angles.

It would be later in life when I would have a good foundation. But I am thankful for the structure I had which gave me something to be thankful for.

A 3 course meal or bread and water….both satisfy hunger and thirst.

~~~

Photo Credit: Kristofer Williams / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND