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June 22, 2015


I chose this picture for several reasons:

1) Children and joy go hand in hand. 
They enjoy the simple things in life and laugh, giggle and have fun!

2) They enjoy life to the fullest and are not worried if they have a little 'dirt' on them! 

3) They take time to relax....even if it seems like there isn't time :)


JOY....a short little word with so much purpose! A word, that if practiced in everyday living, can change your attitude about everything!

It's so much more than just being happy. Happy is that good feeling when my circumstances are going according to my liking. But joy? Joy is deeper, more real and more fulfilling.

I have learned a lot about joy over the years. I think my joy learning journey really started about when we had our 1st child, Josh. If you have ever had a baby you know that having a new baby is such an exciting time of life, but with it comes challenges that have never been faced. Sleepless nights, juggling time to get the simplest of tasks done, the responsibility of a little human being and so many other new things! And through it all I realized that my circumstances were not always going the way I wanted. And instead of being upset and discouraged when this happened, I learned I needed to choose joy.

Now choose joy. Easy right??? Well maybe not! In fact in the circumstances where I have to choose joy, it not usually easy at all. It's just plain hard! And usually goes against how my flesh wants to react.

And since then I have been learning about this tiny little word with so much power. It's not something that is learned overnight, and I don't think it's something that once learned just comes automatically. It's a daily choice, and hourly choice, a minute by minute choice.

I have days where I am victorious and my day is filled with joy. And then I have days where I go to bed and realize that when faced with the choice, I chose things other than joy....discouragement, discontentment, bad attitude are sometimes the things that steal my joy.

So what have I learned on my journey? Like I already said, joy is a choice. I have never met anyone who is naturally a joyful person all the time. I have met joyful people, but I know that they still have to choose joy. Every day I have many, many, MANY opportunities to choose joy. As a mom of lots of kiddos my day begins and ends with giving all day long. Giving my time, my energy, my love, my guidance, my prayers, my encouragement, my grace, my.....all day long. And through these times, if I don't have joy, I really become quite miserable. Because without joy, I would not naturally function in a manner that would be pleasing to the Lord. Instead I quickly become selfish, lazy, angry, proud and discouraged.

So how do you choose joy? Let me give you some examples that have happened in my life.

It was a Sunday morning (can you say chaotic?) and I had few extra things to do that I really should have done the night before. Funny thing is that as I sat there Saturday night, not wanting to get up, I convinced myself that I would have lots of time in the morning to complete these tasks. And so I left them undone. I got up in the morning in plenty of time to get accomplished all I needed to before we left for church. I HAD THIS!!!! And all was going well...it was just the normal Sunday morning chaos. And then I heard these words, "Mom there is water all over the floor in the back part of the basement." WATER, ON THE FLOOD, ON SUNDAY MORNING!!!! And so going downstairs I came to the realization that not only was this water....but it was coming from the sewer that had backed up!!!! Let's just say that from that moment my Sunday morning got even more chaotic, panicky actually!!! We have a lot of things stored in the basement where the water was. Clothes, freezers, boots, shoes, sports stuff, books.....and more! Well at this point there was nothing to do but clean up!!!! So everyone got to work and within a short time we had basically cleaned up what needed to be and left the sanitizing until we got home.

Now I'm not sure how I actually did in the area of joy while all this was going on. I know that my words were not all joyful, but I was able to find good things in the situation. Like I was actually amazed at how many things were in waterproof containers and off the floor just enough not to get wet! I haven't consciously thought of doing this since this has never happened to us. So I chose joy in thanking God that it only a few things that got soaked, rather than most things! Joy.  When Mark went out to check what was going on with the sewer he came in with the news that it was working again. So there was some sort of glitch that caused the pump to fail, and then it started up again. I call it grace! And I gave thanks to God for it. Sunday morning we have showers....therefore we use LOTS of water. Had it kept not working, we would have had to deal with way more water on the floor...thank you God....joy. After everything was under control I continued to get ready for church and even though my hair wasn't perfect and I just threw on what clothes I first found, and I gobbled down my breakfast....we made it to church....and only a couple of minutes late!!!! And we enjoyed fellowship with our church family! JOY!

But then there are days that I don't choose joy. They happen more often then I care to admit. It's the days that I let life's circumstances get me down. When I look at life in a negative light rather than look at the blessings I enjoy moment by moment. Our pastor often says on Sunday morning, "You woke up this morning and took a breath, that's a reason to praise God! JOY! It's not looking at things according to what we don't have, but instead choosing to look at what we do have!

A couple months ago when I was in the hospital being induced with our son Michael, I was kind of frustrated with the way things were going. I was praying so hard that I would go into labor naturally and not have to have all the medical intervention, but God had other plans. And as I walked the halls trying to get things "going" I walked past people who were struggling with their health. And I chose that moment, instead of feeding on my own disappointments, I would pray for the people who were actually struggling for their life, or people who didn't know if their loved ones would make it until tomorrow. Yes, things weren't turning out the way I wanted them to, but I had to trust in the bigger plan and the One Who holds my future in his hands. And in that moment I chose joy. And it was amazing how quickly my attitude changed from "woe is me" to "I am so blessed!!!"

So every day I wake up and determine that I will live this day with joy in my heart. Not a fake happiness, but a true, deep, lasting joy. A joy that no matter what my circumstances I will look at the blessings that are all around me. They are everywhere, I just have to open my eyes....and chose JOY!

May the God of hope 
fill you with all joy and peace 
as you trust in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope 
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13