Tag Archives: joy

“I will not die an unlived life”

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Photo credit: aguscr / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: aguscr / Foter / CC BY

A friend of mine used this quote last week and when I asked for the source, she sent me the link to this beautiful blog.  This is exactly how I feel about my life… plus I do it all with a latte in my hand and I don’t see any point in going for skim milk.

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.” —Dawna Markova

My Mother-in-law is from a generation where people lived with plastic over their furniture and lamp shades.  She never takes the plastic off of things.  She says she’s saving things, but I don’t know who she is always saving things for.  There has never been a special guest in the house who has merited the removal of the plastic from the lamp shades and table tops.  Never.  So when she dies and the house is inherited by her children, they will find all the furnishings unused and brand spanking new… from the 1980s.

I can’t live like that.  I like to put pictures of my own loved ones in my picture frames instead of keeping the picts of the department store model families that come with the frames.  We actually asked her about this once.  She jokingly told us that these people were better looking than all of us, so that’s why she never changes the picture when she buys a new frame.  Really I think she is secretly planning to return the frame to the store someday.  But I can’t live like my house is a store.  I want my life to feel “lived in”.

I try to live life by fully focusing on the beauty of the moment.  I don’t always succeed in this since I’m naturally future focused and like things well planned ahead of time.  However, this is my goal- live and love this moment.  Whether good or bad, stressful or relaxing, I reject guilt and fear which rob me of my joy and thankfulness.  I find God in the moment.  He’s in the past and future too, but I am only in this moment so I can only connect with Him right now.  This living in the moment is so hard for me sometimes, but it’s always good for me.  It’s worth doing something that is good and hard when you get the kind of joy that I find in this challenge.  I live fully in the now.  I will not die an unlived life.

Contentment swelling in my heart

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This morning I sat in my Costa Rican rocking chair on my front patio with my Bible open on my lap and a coffee cup in my hand.  I looked up into the cloudless, brilliant blue sky then down into my rainy-season green yard.  Deep contentment swelled in my heart even as a distant car alarm broke the background of Sunday morning silence.  I thanked God for all He has done for me and for giving me this life I love.  I thought of our friends here in Costa Rica.  I once again thanked God for putting them in our life and giving them a faithful love for us.  It is a rich blessing to feel God’s love shining on you through another person.

Then my eyes drifted to the rescued Ficus tree in the center of my yard.  Salvaged from an infancy of neglect, he’s looking like a healthy, happy child a growing strong in a circle of sunshine.  I am happy that such a sad little tree could be revived.  A scripture verse floated into my consciousness.  “…He is like a tree planted by streams of water…”  I know that verse by heart, Psalm 1, yet I reach for my Bible to hear what the Lord is whispering to me.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3

The Lord spoke encouragement to my heart and told me that I am like the tree planted by streams of water.  I delight myself in the Lord.  I keep my thoughts on Him day and night- casting my burdens of worry and care on His ample shoulders.  I am free to grow tall.  In the right season, I will produce fruit.  I won’t grow weary and dry.  Whatever I do, the Lord will prosper because I am rooted in Him.  I push my thirsty roots deeper into His Word, sucking up the life I find in Him.  And I exhale deep, cleansing contentment.  I am at peace in the circle of His Sonlight.

Photo credit: esther** / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: esther** / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

How to avoid being robbed- part 2

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Maybe some of you can relate to this.  When God is working on something in my life, it kind of becomes a theme with me.  (I’m waiting for the theme about quiet and stillness, but that seems incompatible with this phase of Motherhood.  Someday I’d like to be alone with my thoughts… or at least alone in the bathroom.)  For the last 7 or 8 months, God has been teaching me about Thankfulness.  I’ve been putting it into practice and noticing the changes it has made in me and my circumstances.

It all started last year sometime when I noticed a complaining and whiny tone in my voice.  I have a very low tolerance for people who complain and whine.  I can stand it for less than 5 minutes before I just have to walk away.  My excuse usually involves a pressing appointment with a dentist for a root canal, but don’t be fooled… I’m running away from the wet blanket personality.  It’s actually a form of mercy, because if I stood there listening any longer, I might slap someone in the face.  So when I heard this tone in my own voice, I was disgusted with myself.

Things lead to things and I found myself doing some Bible studies on Complaining.  That’s when I stumbled upon Thanksgiving as an antidote to feeling sorry for myself.  During the month of November, every single day I posted something on my Facebook status that I was thankful for.  It wasn’t hard to think of things, actually it was harder to narrow it down to one thing a day!  I found that the more full of Thanks I was, the less likely I was to find things to be cranky and whiny about.  By then, Thankfulness had taken on a life of its own and had become a habit.

Thankfulness breeds Joy.  That’s what I’ve discovered.  By nature, I am a Murphy’s Law- Glass Half Empty sort of person.  I call it Realistic, not Pessimistic.  So I’m still not going around like a Pollyanna always looking for sunshine in the gloom.  What has changed is my appreciation of both sunshine and gloom.  I can be Thankful for both.  I can thank God for sending both good things and hard things my way.  My Joy is unshakeable because it is no longer dependent upon my circumstances.  I can see the loving hand of God reaching out to me even in the darkness and I am thankful that He’s there.

God wants you to live a life full of Joy.  In the good times AND the bad times, you can have Joy.  Satan wants to steal your Joy, to make you feel guilty and sorry for yourself.  Nothing will kill your Joy faster than complaining.  And nothing will safeguard your Joy like Thankfulness.

If you feel like you’re being robbed of your Joy, I challenge you to be deliberate about practicing Thankfulness.  It’s an easy habit to acquire once you get started.  You’ll see results faster than you imagined.  Start a list of things to be thankful for, soon your Joy will be evident to everyone who knows you.

In addition, here’s another article called “15 Powerful things that Happy People Do Differently” Notice #12.

How to avoid being robbed- part 1

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“I feel so guilty that I’m here enjoying this beautiful day at the beach and back home, I know my family is going through a hard time.”

The student who said that during our team devotions was affirmed in his guilt by several others who nodded their heads in agreement and murmured parallel emotions.  It kind of made me mad.  Right in front of my eyes I was seeing the subtle theft joy by our Enemy.  These kids had worked for a week here in Costa Rica and there were two more weeks of ministry ahead of us.  Today was our only day at the beach to relax.  They may not have recognized their need for it, but my husband and I have been hosting teams for years and we know that not only did they need a day of rest, but we did too.  We were running on empty.  Our Enemy would like nothing better than to burn us out and to rob us of our joy.

God is the Lover of our Souls.  He fills this world with wonder and beauty for us to enjoy.  It’s a gift.  And rest is a gift too.  He calls us to come away with him to a quiet place where he will give us rest and refresh our weary souls.  Not only that, God uses the beauty of nature to draw us to him and to show us what a wonderful God he is.

We should never, ever feel guilty about enjoying nature or needing rest.

I think about God’s wooing of my soul in this way.  He is like a Lover who brings a special gift to the woman of his desires.  God made her, so he knows what she likes.  He knows what she needs.  He knows exactly what will make her happy.  Imagine that when the Lover brings the Woman the gift, she felt GUILTY about receiving it.  That was not his intention at all!  He wanted her to feel loved and to feel special and to feel cared for! 

But her Great Enemy has whispered in her ear again- just like he did in the Garden of Eden– and he has told her God doesn’t really love you, he wants you to be “suffering for Jesus.”  You have to earn good things like this and you haven’t worked hard enough to deserve this kind of joy.  You can’t fully enjoy this and still be a good Christian.  What will people back home say?

Our Enemy has a mission, he comes to Steal, Kill and Destroy us.  He hates that God loves us.  He hates that God gives us good gifts, and if he can, he’ll steal your gifts right out of your hands.  Don’t listen to his subtle lies.  Don’t let him rob you of your joy.

Tomorrow’s blog talks about how to prevent Satan from robbing you of your joy, part 2.