Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Choosing JOY in the flood…literally.

"I chose joy. I choose joy. I choose joy."

These are the words running through my head as I'm standing in my rain boots watching my dear, sweet neighbor tromping through our pitch-black yard trying to find the cut-off for our water in the freezing cold. You see, the rain boots were necessary because at some point in today's warm-up, a pipe burst in our utility room behind the water heater and water was shooting out about 5 feet from the wall. It's then shooting into the garage because I had opened the door, of course, when I arrived home from a 12-hour day to find water pouring from beneath said door and streaming down our driveway. Before the opening of said door, it had been damned up behind said door…slowly leaking under the wall into our laundry room. 

"JOY. I CHOOSE JOY"( Now they are audible words coming out of my mouth and I'm wondering in my neighbor thinks I've lost it, but they are my mantra.)

Oh, and let me mention here that Jeff is currently out of town (thus my sweet neighbor tromping through our yard) and has been since Sunday morning. So, it's been four days of (wo)manning my jobs, his job and taking care of the boys. #exhausted

"I CHOOSE JOY, dadgummit !"

To add to the context of my already stellar frame of mind, upon arriving to church tonight I am greeted with the news that the youngest of my strong-willed boys has had an "episode" with one of our amazing children's ministry volunteers. He decided a seat belt was not necessary today…despite FOUR YEARS of wearing one every time he was in a car. #youretryingmypatienceboy

"I CHOOSE JOY!!" (as I drag him to the bathroom to "discuss" this situation). 

I've heard it said that when you pray for patience, God sends circumstances to test your patience. Now, I don't know if that's biblical or not, but just in case - I quit praying that prayer about the time Riley turned 2. 

As I sit here rehashing the events of the night over Double Stuffed Oreos and a Dr. Pepper (#comfortfood), I'm trying to figure out if this principal could also apply to my prayer for JOY. Maybe God just wants to see if I'm serious about this thing in 2014 or if I'm like all those folks cramming into the gym right now because they've resolved to lose weight this year…

Of course, I've also been reading Job in my daily quiet time for several days. I'd like to believe that I've found favor with God and that He and Satan are dueling it out over me. Like Job, He's given Satan permission to test me and try me… Ok, that's unlikely, but a girl can dream.


After turning this no-water-don't-flush-the-toilet ending to our day into a "camping adventure" - complete with teaching the boys how to bath and brush their teeth with bottled water - we finally made it to bedtime. Eli chose to read from his picture Bible tonight and you'll never believe the first words of tonight's story -- 

"And after the flood…"

First words out of Eli's mouth?

"Mama! Just like in the garage!" 

Yes, baby. Just like in the garage…and laundry room…and mudroom. 

I CHOOSE JOY. I choose joy in this terrible messy moment. I choose joy because I have sweet neighbors willing to brave the freezing cold to help me stop the flood. I choose joy in having praying friends who lifted prayers and offered beds and showers and homes to us. I choose joy because I'm typing this in the comfort of a warm home tonight (albeit without water) and my boys think this "adventure" was fun. 


Amen and Amen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Choosing JOY in 2014

For the last few years, I've selected a word for the year - a word that will be the focus of my spiritual life and (hopefully) allow God to reveal something new to me in that area of my life. Last year, my word was FAITH. Oh, how God tested and proved Himself faithful in the craziness of 2013! 

This year my word is JOY.

A few weeks ago, Jeff preached in our pastor's absence and although I'm privy to his amazing wisdom and biblical knowledge everyday, there's something about hearing him preach it from the pulpit that makes his words resonate a little more. His sermon was on JOY…and it really got to me. Am I truly joyful when things aren't going my way? Do I try to find my JOY in things, people, accomplishments or other things? (Don't answer those questions, Jeff!)

The thing that resonated with me most from his sermon was this:

 JOY is a CHOICE while happiness is based on our circumstances. 

When we have JOY, it comes from The Lord…not the acquisition of the latest gadget or a pretty new dress or great pair of shoes or finding the perfect shade of lipstick or even because my kids are (miracle of all miracles!) getting along and being agreeable. We must choose JOY daily, hourly and sometimes, in every minute of the day to feel peace and contentment in our lives. Even in the difficult, the miry muck and not-so-fun parts of life - JOY is a choice to trust a God that ALWAYS wants to give me His best…NOT what I think is best, but what He knows is best. 

For 2014, I will focus on choosing JOY in all circumstances…
  • I will choose JOY in my MARRIAGE. My marriage is not perfect, but it's based on a commitment to one another and built on the ideal of service…serving through the various ministries we are blessed to be called to be a part of and serving each other daily. So, despite the dirty dishes in my sink (daily!) and his tendency to procrastinate (about everything!), I am grateful for a Godly husband who loves me and our boys more than anything. I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will choose JOY in my CHILDREN. My boys are amazingly sweet (most of the time!) but they are very active. Because we are juggling so many other things, I often lose my temper and have unrealistic expectations for their behavior. They are kids; they are not perfect…and neither am I. I will remember how quickly time is passing and stop to play with them more often. I will color more pages in their coloring books and snuggle at bedtime longer. I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will choose JOY in my JOBS. I am blessed to have not one - but three jobs that I love! While balancing the responsibilities for three careers gets hectic, I am grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love…and even get paid a little for it. And am even more grateful that all three jobs give me the opportunity to daily pour into the lives of others - to share what Christ is doing in my life and the hope that comes from a relationship with Him. I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will choose JOY in my SERVICE. Confession: I am a people pleaser and saying "No." is (very!) difficult for me. I will not overextend myself and allow the chaos that quickly becomes our family life to "steal my joy." I will borrow the words from Lysa TerKeurst in 2014: "Thank you for asking me. My heart says yes, yes yes, but the reality of my limited time leads me to say no." I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will chose JOY in my FRIENDSHIPS. I am blessed to have many wonderful friends…some that go back to elementary school days and some that God has brought into my life in the last few months. Again, thank you, Lysa TerKeurst, for the great reminder in a recent devotional - "Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance." I will focus on being the kind of friend who gives real love - with no expectations or stipulations. I CHOOSE JOY.
  •  I will choose JOY in my Savior. All too often, I find myself questioning things that are happening around me. "Why did so-and-so do/say did? Why did that happen to him/her - he/she is such a good person? What did I do to deserve this?" But Scripture is clear…
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joyFor you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has the chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
James 1: 2-4 (NLT, emphasis mine)

So, bring it 2014. I'm ready. I'll be clothing myself in His Word daily (also a 2014 "resolution") and joyfully facing everything you bring my way. Be it good or bad or somewhere in between - my heart will continually sing the praises of the ever-lasting love and unimaginable faithfulness of a loving Father.

"I will be filled with Joy because of you. 
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High."
Psalm 9:2

Do you have a word for 2014? Would love to hear what YOUR focus will be in the new year!