How Great Our Joy

We often think of joy in terms of wild exhilaration or shouting from the rooftops. But joy can also be a quiet peace that settles in the bottom of our soul and wraps a scarf of contentment around us.

For me this year Joy has been on the quieter side. Maybe it’s been that way for you too.

Grief sometimes leaves us feeling drained and weary; if we are not careful we crowd out the joy.

When we find ourselves in that situation we need to take time to sit in the stillness and allow joy to quietly well up in our soul.

I found myself Home alone the other evening relaxing in the big chair with a cozy blanket and I realized that underneath everything that I was going through the joy was there. I acknowledged it and I accepted the peace that it brought.

As I go through this season of Advent that can sometimes seem hectic I want to be able to pause for those moments of quiet joy and allow them to sustain me.

The source of our Joy, of course, is Jesus and his gift of salvation that began in the manger.

I pray that you find comfort in the joy of Advent. One way to do that is to make a Joy list. I’m sharing some of my list below. Maybe you would like to share yours in the comments.

1. Birth of my savior.

2. Friends and family.

3. Christmas lights.

4. Beautiful music.

5. Being still before God.

Maybe you’re finding it hard to see the joy this year. If that is the case then may I suggest that every day you look around you and find one thing no matter how small that can bring you Joy. Start a list and see how many things you can add between now and Christmas Day.

I wish you all the joys of the season and peace in your heart.

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

 

 

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We Hold On To Joy

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When last we spoke, well when last I wrote and you read which is still a conversation between friends, I shared with you that I wanted to do a recap post of the 31 Days of Grief Journey.  I wanted to share what I had gleaned.  I had planned to do that sooner than now but last week proved to be a week of needing extra rest. I’ve learned, due to the MCTD, to hold on loosely to plans and go with the flow.  I think, too, that I needed some extra time to let the writing settle before revisiting.

So, earlier I sat down and read through the series to see what stood out to me.  To discover what wisdom there might be that I could take away. To see what helped me and how can I summarize that for all of us as a take away to remember; knowing of course, that the journey is not over and there are more stores, memories, and lessons in the process. And of course, the ever-present grief will ebb and flow. Below is a list of 12 truths that I received from this journey.

  • Writing through my grief was designed by God; It was a calling he put on my heart (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
  • Grief is a process and it can’t be rushed. There will be times it will crush your heart (Psalm 31:18).
  • Even when we feel betrayed by God, he loves us and understands our hurt. He will make all things right in his time (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • We can never truly lose our loved ones, they will always live in our hearts.  Remembering is necessary.  Our memories of good times with our loved ones is a source of comfort (Philippians 1:3).
  • Having a community of friends and family for support in our grief is important (Proverbs 27:9).
  • In the midst of our grief life does go on.  We can still find joy and laughter.  We can find peace in ordinary days (Psalm 23:1).
  • The floodgates will open sooner or later. Our tears are sacred and Jesus cares about them; they are collected in his bottle (Psalm 56:8).
  • Reading Scripture can be a source of strength. Remembering his promises can sustain us (Isaiah 40:31).
  • He will be our comfort (Isaiah 63:13, Matthew 5:4).
  • If we sit in the stillness we will feel his peace (Philippians 4:7).
  • we have to live in the reality of heaven’s sweetness in order to truly be at peace in this life (Hebrews 13:14, Psalm 30:11-12).
  • Christ is our only hope (John 3:16).

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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Joy resides deep in our soul.  Grief is not the absence of joy, but the realization that even when we grieve we hold on to joy.  Joy is not crushed by our grief but rather sustains us in our grief.

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me.  I hope it has touched your heart and brought you encouragement.  If you have not read the series you can click here to be taken to the table of contents page.  Once there, clicking on each title will take you to that day’s post. I will continue to share updates on the grief journey and share stories about my Mom from time to time as well as sharing other writings.  I hope you come back. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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Linking up with Emily for What we Learned.  Click over to read what others’ have learned.

Preparing To Make Him Room

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How do you prepare for Advent?  We find it so easy to prepare for the events and gatherings of Christmas but do we prepare to receive the Christ Child? We dig out the decorations, shop for gifts, line up the holiday recipes and make endless lists, so as not to leave anything undone.

It is not wrong to make any of those preparations; in fact, doing some of those familiar traditions can be calming and a way to corral our scattered thoughts if we use them to our advantage.  Why not start with the beginning of Christmas – the waiting, watching, preparing and the anticipation of praise.  Let the significance of the Holy birth sink deep into the center of our being.   Allow the scripture to wash over our soul and the familiar Christmas hymns restore our balance.  Bask in the joy of the season with a heart full of promise in the one to come.

If we approach Christmas with a prepared heart, everything takes its rightful place and priority.  While putting the lights on the tree, we can remember that He is our light.  When we wrap gifts, we can glory in the ultimate gift of Jesus and pray for those who haven’t yet received Him.  When we welcome friends and family around our table, we can remember his table and how the bread is his body broken for us, and the wine is his blood spilled on our behalf.

If you haven’t taken the time to prepare him room this Christmas why not do so now.  Pause in the middle of all the hustle and bustle to make room for the Christ Child.  Let him enter into his rightful place around your Christmas tree and table.  Read through the Christmas story (Luke 2) savoring each detail and imagine that you are a first-hand witness as the events unfold.  Wait expectantly with Mary as she carries the baby, Watch carefully with the Shepherds as they journey by the light of the star to kneel before him, prepare your heart like Simeon as he hoped in the promise that he would live to see the Messiah.  Let your heart prepare him room This Christmas.

 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:8-11

Preparing in grace,

Teresa

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Today’s post is 3rd in an Advent series, one for each week of Advent.  Wait, Watch, Prepare and Praise. For all four weeks in the series you can click on each title:

Waiting On Pure Delight (week 1)

Watching For God With Us (Week 2)

Preparing To Make Him Room (week 3, this weeks)

 Praising his coming. (week 4)

 

The Lord Is

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.      Psalm 18:2

The Lord just is.  I need him to be. He is my source of joy.  In all things.

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He travels with me down unknown paths.  He restores.  He is the joy bringer. He just is.

Trusting in Grace,

Teresa

Joy In My Fathers World

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Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.  Psalm 96: 11-12

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This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

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This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

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This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forgetThat though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

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This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.I ope’ my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

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We recently had the privilege of driving around the back roads of Southern Virginia with a dear friend we met in Florida years ago.  She is originally from Virginia and we spent a few days in her neck of the woods.  She took us around the surrounding area, down lanes and across creeks and up wooded roads.  We saw barns, cattle, fence posts, cemeteries, abandoned houses and mountains rising majestically in the near distance.  It was a gloriously clear, blue sky day.  We stopped for lots of pictures.

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I shared a few pictures with you earlier in the week, but wanted to share some more.  In thinking of the beauty captured in the photos, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs based on words written by Maltbie Davenport BabcockThis Is My Father’s World . You can go here to listen to a video production of this song by Fountainview Academy in British Columbia, Canada. 100_4358 100_4361It is so easy to become focused on the negative and all the ills of this world, but truly, this is our Father’s world and beauty abounds if we just open our eyes.  He has promised to be faithful to us even to the end of the age.  Instead of focusing on the evil and all that is wrong in the world, I want to focus on God and how he makes all things right in his time.  I want to see the good, the beautiful.  I want to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”  (Romans 12:12)100_4405As Christians, I believe we have to accept that there is evil, we have to abhor it and shun it.  We need to pray for good to win. We don’t need to live in denial, but, we don’t need to wallow in the gutter of despair as if we have lost all hope either. We need to see with eyes that see Jesus,  hearts that love others, arms that reach out to help, feet that walk alongside.  We must delight in the beauty in our Father’s world.100_4428 100_4432“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”  That gives me great comfort and hope. Let us open our eyes and see.100_4427.2 100_4370

Seeing in grace,

Teresa

Joy!

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Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7

Yesterday I was holding on to hope and trying my best to be joyful about my colonoscopy.  I determined to practice thanksgiving with every drop of that gutter swill I had to drink.

I was doing my best to put it all in God’s hands and trust that all would be well.  So, I chose to trust in the face of my fear.  Praying about it, clinging to a scripture and writing about it helped.  It enabled me to focus on the big picture instead of worrying about a minor glitch in the road.

If you have ever had any kind of invasive procedure, then I’m sure you well know, that a certain amount of anxiety goes with.  I’m learning that it is not always about getting rid of the anxiety, but harnessing it and allowing God to be in control.  Even if you want to freak out and run the other way choosing to let God handle the situation builds your faith in him.  And, he is faithful.

I’m happy to report that I managed to drink all the nastiness in that jug (minus a few drops here and there).  I managed to keep my spirits up by practicing thanksgiving for the little things such as the pink ladies blooming in my yard, or how wonderful White grape juice tastes.  I reminded myself with every drop that I could do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

I’m further happy to report with joy that even though they found a polyp, it was non-cancerous.  It is being biopsied to find out exactly what kind of polyp it is as that will determine if I go back in three years, or five. Apparently, some polyps are pre-cancerous and some are not.  Not, would get me five years, so that is my hope.

Even with that looming large in five (or three), I still am joyful because basically I received a clean bill of health and the meds didn’t seem to make me goofy and I know that God was with me.  After some initial nervousness and high blood pressure I calmed down and all was well.

Further, it was with great joy that I came home and ate my food with gladness, and drank my wine (ginger ale) with a joyful heart.  Thankful that God found favor with me and answered my prayers.  He is always faithful.

He is always faithful in good times and bad.  Even if my outcome today had been different, I would still rejoice in the goodness of a loving God.  He is always working on our behalf in all situations and if we ask he enables us to find joy in all things.

How are you finding joy today?  Whether it be choosing joy in the midst of a trial, or finding joy in such an everyday occurrence as a cheeseburger and ginger ale just know that the giver of our joy is always with us and he will always lead us right.

I would be remiss if I did not thank all of you that were faithful to pray for me. That too is part of our joy.  Praying for and encouraging one another.  God Bless!

Joy in grace,

Teresa

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The pictures included with today’s post and yesterday’s were taken in Virginia back in June when we took a little trip.  Such beautiful countryside where we were.  I have more pictures I’ll try to post soon.  My favorite way to travel is on the back roads looking for bits of beauty. Isn’t Mrs. Cow lovely, with her babe?

Joy?

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   –Romans 12:12

This was one of the verses included in my devotions this morning.  I had to chuckle a little as I read that verse, in light of what I’ll be going through this afternoon.

In a little while I’ll be sipping a lovely “cocktail” in preparation for a routine procedure in the morning.  I have not looked forward to this at all.  I remember well the nastiness of the drink and how I couldn’t finish it the last time.  I also don’t like it when I’m not in control of a situation, so these things usually make me more nervous and fearful than your average person.

So, I’ve done a lot of praying for peace and protection and for good results.  The normal types of prayers.  I also have prayed in hopes that somehow the taste could be blocked.  Seriously.  Not to gross you out, but I almost gag at the memory of five years ago when I last drank from this gutter drink.

I sat with my mother for a while last evening and while we sat quietly in her living-room I spent some time in prayer and was reminded of God’s faithfulness to bring us peace and I knew he’d be with me through this ordeal. And he will.

You can imagine my chuckle this morning when I read that verse in light of my prayers and upcoming procedure.  So, I am doing my best to be joyful in the hope that I won’t taste or even have to drink all of it.  I am trying really hard to be patient with my current ‘affliction” (I think that word is very appropriate for the insult of having to drink the dreaded concoction) and I think faithful in prayer applies here as I’ve done my share of asking for strength to get through this.

I know this verse is to remind us of our hope of heaven and that our suffering or afflictions are nothing in light of that hope.  I also realize that what I will be experiencing this afternoon and tomorrow morning is nothing in light of Christ’s suffering, or even the suffering of one who is facing life threatening illness. I don’t take these things lightly.  But reading this verse this morning, reminded me that Jesus loves us and he cares about us.  He understands our fears and he will be with us in all things, even the minor things that can make us apprehensive.  He also sends us the right scripture at the right time to drive home the point.

Whatever you are facing today I hope that you take hope, practice patience and pray faithfully.

Hoping in Grace,

Teresa