Tag Archives: joy

Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

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7 Ways to Be at Peace When World News is Depressing

1 Apr

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to hear something that may be upsetting and probably too hard core for a young child.  In my area this week we have a toddler who wandered away from his home while mom napped, and he drowned in a nearby pond.  Andrea Yates is in the news regarding her request to visit church on Sundays; she’s the Houston area mom who drowned all five of her children in a bathtub about a decade ago.  And nationwide upset over the death of Trayvon Martin is alarming not only because of the needless loss of a young man’s life but in the way the shooting seems to be creating further racial divide.

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Some people are so busy today, they literally may be tempted to organize a community awareness campaign about how easy it is for children to drown, protest the weekend release of Andrea Yates, and then organize a fundraiser to provide assistance to parents of murdered children.  There are a million and one daily opportunities to be involved in the world.  So how do you keep from being overwhelmed by both the sadness and the urge to take action?  I will share my secret, but it’s actually advice that I got from the Bible.

God created you; He understands that life can literally knock your feet out from underneath you.  He instructs you and me (all of us) to:

  1. Simply take life one day at a time.  (Matthew 6:34)
  2. Keep your eyes on things above and not things below, which means to dwell on God’s Word, His promises, His instructions, His goodness, heaven, etc.  (Colossians 3:2)
  3. Get in tune with God and listen for His voice because He will tell you what your part in the world is intended to be.  And when you do what God has for you to do, you can be sure that it will be effective.  (Isaiah 30:21)
  4. Be thankful!  A genuinely thankful heart is a happy heart.  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  5. Be generous.  You can’t solve world hunger.  But you can buy canned goods for the local food pantry, donate the clothing your family doesn’t need anymore, and help a friend in need.  (Luke 6:38)
  6. Treat others the way you wish you were treated, and that alone could change the world by starting a domino effect of people being good to one another.  (Matthew 7:12)
  7. Delight yourself in God and in the other good things of life, such as family.  (Psalm 37:4)

The Christian life doesn’t mean we walk around with our heads in the clouds, but it does mean that we can dwell in the peace of God no matter what the bad news of the day is.

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), fr...

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), frontispiece to the 1880 omnibus printing of The Sunday at Home. Scanned at 800 dpi. Français : Illustration du Psaume 23 (version autorisée par le roi Jacques), en frontispice de l'édition omnibus du Sunday at home. Version numérisée à 800 dpi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday Night Romance With a Nun-Like Twist

1 Apr

Have you ever had a true love?  I think one of the best definitions of love is that when you’re with that person, you feel whole; and your insides are comfortable, like when you wear the clothes that both fit and flatter you. Being with the love of your life is unlike anything else, and it’s just the best.  Do you agree?

Well, I’ve just been spending a lovely Saturday night with the One who holds my heart in His hands.  God is a very real presence in the life of a person who seeks Him with their whole heart.  My day which started with a desperate prayer for guidance and motivation has been a joy because God gave me the grace to do what I lacked the energy or vision to do without Him.

As the day turned to night, I read some devotionals and drew even nearer to the Lord.  Meditating on the wonders of His creation always brings Him extra close.  In Streams in the Desert Book 2’s March 31 entry, Amy Carmichael’s story about a sun bird in a delicate nest surviving a monsoon fills me with awe.  This tender care with which God watches over all creatures is also extended to me and all who put their hope in Him.

Life on earth is sometimes like being in a series of treacherous storms.  And placing faith in things other than God leads only to heartache and disappointment.  But my eyes are on the Lord, and I know that no matter what storm may come, God is with me.  And simply being in His presence is just the best.

Song of Solomon 2:4-5

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem

He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with cakes of raisins,
Refresh me with apples,
For I am lovesick.

How to Be Happy When You’re Not Where You Want to Be

31 Mar

Selah, a fellow blogger, regularly posts gorgeous pictures of nature.  Today I literally wept as I looked at her images of the great outdoors.  A shot of their campground brought back a flood of delicious memories of childhood in which my daddy brought the family camping every summer at various locations across Texas.  Cousins or friends usually joined us, and the adventures were always awesome.

The desire of my heart is to live in the country and experience nature, but where has the good Lord placed me?  Directly in the heart of the fourth largest city in all of America!  This is literally the opposite of where my heart longs to be.

But don’t get the idea that this is a whining session.  I’m merely stating this fact in order to say that when we moved into our spacious new home, it was with me having decided that I would embrace city life.  I am purposely making it my own.

Before, I think I may have gone around town sort of gritting my teeth and/or holding my breath.  Now, I’ve opened my arms and heart wide to say, “This is where God has placed me, and I rejoice!”

We are members of the Houston Zoo and visit there frequently.

What a difference this decision has made.  My entire being is more relaxed, and the possibility of being an effective witness for Christ is no doubt ramped up.

My family is right here, and I’m sure that’s a great reason for God to have me in Houston.  So for now I will do what my daddy did.  I’ll bring the kids on major outdoor excursions every year, though I doubt we’ll camp the old-fashioned way (I don’t feel safe enough as a single woman in charge…armed with joy as my only weapon.)

A 2009 adventure -- a visit to Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas Hill Country.

 

Hebrews 11:8

New King James Version (NKJV)

Faithful Abraham

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Freaked Out by Favor

29 Mar

I felt a little bit like a fraud this week as I stuffed down the inclination of my flesh to have a fit followed by a pity party. But I put on Christ by choosing to submit to the Spirit, believing that I would bear the fruits of the Spirit in spite of myself. God met me more than halfway and blessed me to be a reflection of His peace at home and everywhere else I went. One result of my calm demeanor was what seems to me and my family like a downright miracle.

Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Milestone and LG GW60

Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Milestone and LG GW60 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually thought I had a visitation from heaven when a man at a certain phone store gave me a replacement of a nice smartphone that I purchased 50 days before and that was now completely inoperable. The tricky part was that I bought the phone at one of the “unofficial” outlets, and they wouldn’t do what was right (I’m sparing you all the details of what happened).

So an angel by the name of Lamont did the right thing with essentially no questions asked and gave me a brand new smartphone to replace the one I bought on Groundhog Day. I literally thought this guy would soar back into heaven when I walked out, having completed His special assignment from God.

The favor of God is always a wondrous thing, especially when it’s the last thing you expect. I think I actually failed in my faith here by being so very shocked by the blessing. God is my heavenly Daddy. He cares about every detail of my life, and even the hairs on my head are numbered. This phone miracle was, of course, the way He’d want to bless one of his own.

Why am I so suprised?

Ephesians 3:20-21

New King James Version (NKJV)

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


How I Sort of Stopped the World’s Clocks

19 Mar

Do you know about the guy in the Bible that God turned back the clock for?  (Related scriptures are below.)  It was very cool and the reality of the “missing time” has been proven by science.  Well, God did a similar trick for me today; it’s like the earth actually stood still.

Say WHAT?

I started praying for today yesterday; and I continued with prayer and meditation on the scriptures this morning.  As a result of prayer – because this is no coincidence (I’ve experienced this exact thing before) – I was more productive than I’ve been in ages:

  • Wrote 10 assignments
  • Went for a long walk
  • Spent quality time with the kids
  • Prepared for and completed a radio broadcast Bible study with the kids
  • Did a lot of work on my blogs
  • Played Word With Friends with lots of friends
  • Got a real inspiration for an invention that’s very clever (I hope it’s not like the other things I “invented” and then found out they already existed…lol)
  • Did laundry
  • Made an online friend (Hello, Bird!)
  • Worked on getting prints of Logan’s birthday party so that I can give prints to his friends (40 downloaded so far)
  • Exhibited complete patience with the kids without any edgy moments

Another factor about the day that made it all the more amazing is that I experienced excess pain – I actually cried from the pain.  What’s going on is that, besides my chronic tendonitis in both elbows, more and more finger joints are being plagued with osteoarthritis, which is quite painful.  (I’m very allergic to glucosamine, which fights the effects of this disease.)

So, yeah, it’s really as though God stopped the world’s clocks and let me accomplish a great deal on a very satisfyingly productive day.

The only thing is, I hope this clock miracle doesn’t mess up my schedule even more, what with “spring forward” still confusing my sleep schedule.  (lol)

I totally recommend praying passionately.  Just watch and see what happens.

 

2 Kings 20:8-11

New King James Version (NKJV)

And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day?”

Then Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?”

10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.”

11 So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.

 

You Can’t Tell Me This Isn’t Amazing

17 Mar

The conversation I’ve been having almost every morning for a while :

“Good morning, Lord.  Thank You for this day.  May You be glorified in the earth today.  Help me, Lord.  I need You.  Amen.”

(Didn’t listen to hear God said anything, though I would usually read at least one scripture.)

This morning represented a change.  This morning I really prayed and really listened.  And the whole day was very different.  Prayer really changes things!  I mean, I remained poised, loving, and confident throughout the day; but the change was deeper than that.  My insides had unshakeable joy and peace.

Here are the miraculous parts of the day:

  •  I took the kids to the park.  And the Good Lord knows that what I wish for Logan more than anything is some healthy play time with a man, a father figure.  And a man was there with his toddler and had this game where a nerf-like torpedo shoots up into the air, and Logan and 3 boys his age would try to catch it.  Logan played for a long time, and the man was really funny and completely non-creepy, I observed from a polite distance.
  • A person my heart needed to see a change in demonstrated tremendous change and even shared about an answer to prayer in her life today.

  • I found out that another person is going to help us pack up for our move (a person much younger, spryer than me and without osteoarthritis in her hands).  The reason this miracle can probably be counted now is because she doesn’t have a car — my daughter often gives her rides and will pick her up — and the person she’s helping is her boss (my daughter).  

My favorite miracle of grace:

            At the end of the day, I read a favorite devotional and got a huge affirmation from God.  Like a husband who hugs you and says, “You did good, honey.”  The March 16 entry from Streams in the Desert* was God’s arm around me and the words that He whispered in my heart. (*as shown below and as posted on 3/16/12 at this website:  Grace in the Morning.)

Seriously, you can’t tell me that the proof of God poured onto the earth, even in a single heart, isn’t amazing.

 

March 16

Grace in the Morning

“Come up in the morning . . . and present thyself unto me in the top of the mount” (Exod. 34:2).

The morning is the time fixed for my meeting the Lord. The very word morning is as a cluster of rich grapes. Let us crush them, and drink the sacred wine. In the morning! Then God means me to be at my best in strength and hope. I have not to climb in my weakness. In the night I have buried yesterday’s fatigue, and in the morning take a new lease of energy. Blessed is the day whose morning is sanctified! Successful is the day whose first victory was won in prayer! Holy is the day whose dawn finds thee on the top of the mount!

My Father, I am coming. Nothing on the mean plain shall keep me away from the holy heights. At Thy bidding I come, so Thou wilt meet me. Morning on the mount! It will make me strong and glad all the rest of the day so well begun.
–Joseph Parker.

***

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.
Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
The solemn hush of nature newly born;
Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.

As in the dawning o’er the waveless ocean,
The image of the morning-star doth rest,
So in this stillness, Thou beholdest only
Thine image in the waters of my breast.
When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eyes look up to Thee in prayer;
Sweet the repose, beneath Thy wings o’er shadowing,
But sweeter still to wake and find Thee there.
–Harriet Beecher Stowe

***

My mother’s habit was every day, immediately after breakfast, to withdraw for an hour to her own room, and to spend that hour in reading the Bible, in meditation and prayer. From that hour, as from a pure fountain, she drew the strength and sweetness which enabled her to fulfill all her duties, and to remain unruffled by the worries and pettinesses which are so often the trial of narrow neighborhoods. As I think of her life, and all it had to bear, I see the absolute triumph of Christian grace in the lovely ideal of a Christian lady. I never saw her temper disturbed; I never heard her speak one word of anger, of calumny, or of idle gossip; I never observed in her any sign of a single sentiment unbecoming to a soul which had drunk of the river of the water of life, and which had fed upon manna in the barren wilderness.
–Farrar

***

Give God the blossom of the day. Do not put Him off with faded leaves.