I Didn’t Want To. But I’m Glad I Did. And You Can Too.

For weeks my sister had been sharing her idea to go to a nursing home and visit the elderly there.

I had the same idea when I was her age, but now that I have my license and could actually do something like that, anxiety gripped me.

I had tentatively agreed to go this afternoon, but when she came to ask if I was ready to go, I totally froze, “Um…I don’t know…like…what will we do? I don’t know what to do.”

I sounded like a kid as I came up with all my excuses and ran back to my comfort zone. My sister didn’t push it. Instead, she walked down the street to visit with an elderly couple that my family has befriended. They weren’t home. So she came back. Still she didn’t push it.

Meanwhile, I retreated downstairs and sat on the couch, my mind running through all my excuses.

What you don’t know (and what my sister didn’t know either) is that I had just been reading The Secret Battle of Ideas about God  by Jeff Meyers (Great book, by the way!). And the chapter had been about how Jesus restores our hope even when we’re surrounded by the darkest of circumstances. This quote in particular had struck me,

We stop being fragile, said Taleb, by growing through instability, thriving through disorder, loving mistakes, and enjoying uncertainty…Resilient people spring back to their shape after distress. They don’t avoid risk; they embrace it. Resilient people push forward when they’re tempted to pull back. Jesus didn’t call his followers to avoid risk; he called them to be resilient. Among his last words before going to the cross was a prayer for his disciples: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) It’s not that resilient people live carelessly; it’s that they don’t let fear or regret bind them. ( The Secret Battle of Ideas about God  by Jeff Meyers page 178)

“How in the world am I supposed to do that?” I exclaimed into the air. Just a few minutes later is when my sister came to me. This was part of the answer to my question, but I wasn’t jumping on this simple opportunity. Instead, I was huddled on the couch not wanting to do something that I didn’t have any legitimate reasons not to do.

What’s the worse thing that could happen? I asked myself, a manager could tell us they don’t allow visitors like that, and then we’d leave. I’d probably never see that manager again. Or if I did, it would just be walking past each other at Walmart. What’s so scary about that?”

But in my mind I could envision myself standing in a bleak room with my sister, and having an anxiety attack (not that I normally have those).

But, you know what? God really is greater than our weaknesses.

As I sat on that comfy couch, I knew I had to make a decision. And even though it wasn’t the decision of a lifetime, I felt like it was something that mattered.

Today was day one. And today I was not going to let fear win.

I quickly changed into something a bit nicer than my causal sweatshirt, grabbed my purse, stomped up the steps, and told my sister, “I’ll take you, but we better leave soon before I change my mind.” I was sort of joking about the changing my mind part, but sort of not.

As we walked out the door, I told her, “I’ll be your Moses, but you’ve got to be my Aaron,” meaning that she needed to do the talking (Exodus 4:10-16).

We ended up going to an assisted living retirement home, because in my mind’s eye that was the place she had been wanting to visit. Silly me, she had actually wanted to go to the nursing home. But we both figured this place was as good as any.

Yes, I did feel nervousness as I sat and waited for the employee to talk to the nurse and see if this sort of thing was allowed. Apparently, people don’t normally visit assisted living homes without being with an organization. But in a matter of minutes we were being escorted down the hallways by a kind receptionist.

Then we were led by a gentleman to an elderly woman named Faye. Miss Faye had dementia and was convinced she was going home soon. I don’t know how many visitors she normally has, but she told us that seeing us today made today “a good day.” She is a Christian, and we got to pray with her and also read her Psalm 23.

My sister being more tenderhearted than I, ended up tearing up almost the entire time we visited with the elderly ladies. And do you know what happened?

I did the talking.

WHAT?!? If you would have told me this when I was wrestling with my insecurity huddled on the couch in my basement, I would have laughed.

Yep. I was striking up conversations, and even got to pray with another sweet soul there, who when we were going to leave asked us to pray with her again. She told us, “I didn’t have any girls. When I was pregnant with each of my children, I would pray, ‘God if it’s your will, can this be a girl?'” And then she shared how blessed she was by us coming today. Okay, so I almost teared up at that point.

When we left, the receptionist thanked us and asked us to come back often. She shared how much she’s been touched by these elderly people in just the short amount of time she’s worked there.

As we were driving home, guess who said, “What do you think about making it a habit of coming back here on Sundays?”

By this point in the story, I bet you know who.

And my sister agreed.

God didn’t force me do this today. The Holy Spirit was getting at my heart and prompting me to say yes, helping me to overcome my fear. I could have chosen to stay back, but I would have never known what I’d missed.

By the grace of God I did something that stretched me. It might not sound like something that took a lot of faith, but for each of us there are things that take us out of our comfort zone, and that can be harder than others would think.

What’s something that you’re scared to do, but you know it would be a good thing to do?

I hope this story encourages you to step out and just do it.

You never know what blessing is lying on the other side of stepping out of your comfort zone.

:Let’s do the right thing, even when it scares us.

It’s that kind of faith that moves mountains.

All for the glory of God.

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

Yahweh has been reminding me of the beauty and importance of a thankful heart.

The other day I saw this quote on Pinterest:

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

Ouch. That one got the point across to me.

And then there’s also the VeggieTales song that I’ve been singing with the little girl I babysit. And although it’s a simple song from my childhood, it holds so much timeless truth:

I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground,
For His love that’s all around,
That’s why I say thanks every day!
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart
I’m glad for what I have,
That’s an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
‘Cause He listens to my prayers,
That’s why I say thanks every day
!

~ “The Thankfulness Song” by VeggieTales

Thank you, VeggieTales. I couldn’t have said it better.

A thankful heart is a happy heart.

What are you thankful for today?

life is short

Yahweh, please help me to…

pause to catch the sunset that paints the fading sky

sing, dance, laugh a little more

think of what is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (philippians 4:8)

cherish times with family and friends

pursue the talents you have given me

look at life as an adventure, a story, a tapestry being woven by you

let go of  expectations

love you and others more
(luke 10:27)

have a thankful heart

smile at a stranger at the store

set my mind on things that are above, not on things of this earth
(colossians 3:2)

hug a little tighter

absorb the Bible, live the Bible, love the Bible

live without regret
(philippians 3:13-14)

rest on sabbath
(gensis 2:2)

listen to leaves clapping, birds singing, rain dancing on the window pane

trust in your goodness
(psalm 119:68)

live each day intentionally
(psalm 90:12)

read good books

lay down my life so i can find it
(matthew 16:25)

walk as your Son walked
(I john 2:6)

relax

look up

rejoice

pray

hope

take courage

live unafraid

for You have not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound-mind (II timothy 1:7)

Amen.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

Today is holocaust remembrance day in Israel.

The Holocaust seems so distant to my young heart as I live a comfortable life in small town America surrounded by family and much freedom, yet it was not as far back in history as it seems.

Horrific isn’t an adequate word; for the devastation of the Holocaust is one that words can’t describe. 

On this blog I love to focus on the bright and beautiful aspects of life, but it is important to remember the Holocaust. We must remember what has happened, so that we stand up not only for the Jewish people, but also for those who have no voice in our generation.

The present will one day be a history book.

Each of us has a role in this giant story of life–the story of centuries blending together, kingdoms rising and falling, cultures changing, the beauty and the broken, the hurt and the healing.

Yahweh doesn’t place us here to turn a blind eye to the suffering in this world.

He has a purpose for each of us to make His glory known–to shine His light in the darkness.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross……for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:5-8 + 13-15)

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him… (1 Corinthians 7:17a)

Let’s not be half-hearted in living out this calling.

No matter how small we may feel, He uses us to change this world. If we don’t embrace our calling, we will not only hurt ourselves, but also those around us and God Himself. For He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Let’s do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God. (Micah 6:8)

Today…

Let’s pause to remember
Let’s acknowledge what is true

For every life is precious
A gift from above
Let’s not forget
Let’s stand for honesty
For love
For freedom
For those who have no voice
For the unborn
For the slave
For the unknown and ignored
Let’s stand for hope
For justice
For grace
Let’s walk humbly
Bravely
Toward the God of our redemption
Toward the hope of tomorrow
Let’s not forget
Let’s change the future

Lessons in the Woods

I love to spend time in the small patch of woods bordering my yard. In the distance there are rolling hills and silos. Birds sing in the treetops or skip along the pine-needle-covered earth, scavenging for food. Rabbits hop past or peer at me with their big brown eyes.

The other day, as I was sitting there enjoying the fresh air and warmth of spring, I caught sight of a tiny leaf on the ground. The intricacy of it caught my attention, and as I bent down to observe it I was touched by the detail and creativity of our Creator.

Our Creator pays attention to detail. Nothing escapes His view. He cares about the little things in our lives as well. He intervenes in the details we can’t see, weaving our lives together into a tapestry of His glory and grace.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrew 4:13-16)

Will we wrestle with Yahweh, or will we allow Him to work out the details of our lives as we seek His face in prayer and action?

He sees the full picture, when we just see a glimpse.

“The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.” (Psalm 33:13-15)

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)

“He provides them with security, and they are supported; And His eyes are on their ways.  (Job 24:23)

What a privilege to be a child of God, knowing that  He is faithful down to the last detail.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?
“Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
 (Romans 11:33-36)

Stars in the Night

I love to look for the stars each night.

Sometimes the sky is glittering, and I’m awestruck by the vastness of it.

Other nights it’s blank, and I’m a little disappointed, but I know the truth. The stars will be back. In fact, they’re still there–always there–just hidden from view at the moment.

Creation glorifies its Maker, and it points us back to Him.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.(Romans 1:20)

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 33:5)

Yahweh, the maker of the stars, is always near.

Sometimes we might not see Him as clearly as we wish. We might feel like our faith is gazing at a blank black sky, longing for a glimmer of hope.

It is estimated that there are 100 billion stars in just our galaxy alone.

That’s beyond my comprehension. And yet, we read how, “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” (Psalm 147:4)

Just as Yahweh called Abram to count the stars as a promise of how many his offspring would be (Genesis 15:5), so when we look at the stars dancing in the night sky, we see a promise.

The One who made the stars, is the One who made us, knows us, and holds us together.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

He is always there.

He is faithful.

With that truth, my heart can rest each night.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

P.S. The story behind this song is beautiful as well.

Called to Be Daffodils

I stared out the window at the daffodils that have blossomed around the mailbox, and turned to my sister and remarked, “Those daffodils don’t fit in, do they?” Despite a few spots of grass beginning to turn green, the world outside still looked like winter.

That’s when I thought about what those daffodils stand for, and how they’re an example for each of us.

We can be daffodils.

We can smile at the winter cold, and stand as a symbol of hope to those who can’t feel it yet. We can be a reminder that joy is coming, and new life is blooming.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b)

We are the light of the world.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 4:14-16)

How can you be a daffodil today?

Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
‘Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found

~Britt Nicole “The Lost Get Found”

Tomorrow Isn’t Promised

So many thoughts have been running through my mind, and culminating in a headache.

Maybe the headache wasn’t related to all the pondering I’ve been doing. Maybe it was the fact that I need a hair cut and wearing my long hair up might have been giving me the headache (okay, so you probably don’t care about the details). But I do hold to the conviction that God speaks to us in our everyday lives. And He spoke to me through the headache, reminding me that I can’t figure this life out on my own.

I don’t have all the answers.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds.

In fact, tomorrow isn’t even promised. And that leads to some tough questions.

If tomorrow doesn’t come, have I lived a life worth mentioning in the light of eternity?

Have I given all I could?

Or have I held back, not feeling the urgency to live every day fully for the glory of God.

Have I desired the comfort of an easy life, more than the comfort of the God who daily carries our burdens?

Have I even thought seriously about eternity?

All these questions we can ask ourselves. Maybe we have some great answers, or maybe we have some great excuses, but what answers do our lives give to these questions?

I once heard someone say, “You might not live what you confess, but you will live what you believe.”

My life shows what I believe and Who I believe in. And it’s not always the right things. It’s not always solely focused on Him.

But the gospel assures me that redemption has called me His own. My life is no longer mine; it’s crucified with Him. His Holy Spirit will guide me. In His love He will prune me. This isn’t easy, but it’s the truth. And truth always sets people free.

What if tomorrow does come?

Will we live it any differently than today?

His mercies are new every morning.

Let’s embrace each morning as a new start, a gift from above, and an opportunity to share His love with this hurting world.

We only have one life.

Let’s live it.

Announcing “Sisters on Our Knees”

Announcing "Sisters on Our Knees"

For a few months now, my friend Peyton and I have been praying about and working on a new blog called “Sisters on Our Knees”, and I’m excited to announce that it is officially launched!

On the blog you will find:

Philippians 4:6-7

Of course, I will still be posting on Blog of Joy, but you will also find me posting on Sisters on Our Knees.

Oswald Chambers Quote

Our hope is that Sisters on Our Knees can become a joint effort of sisters in Messiah around the world. If you ever feel led to write a guest post or share a testimony of answered prayer, you can email us at:
sistersonourknees@gmail.com

Feel free to check it out and share the word: Sisters on Our Knees

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Having Childlike Faith on Election Day

Leaves

This morning the 22-month-old little girl that I babysit came running up to my doorstep as cheerful as ever. As I swept her up in my arms and greeted her, I thought about how today is election day and how amazing it must be to be a toddler without a care in the world.

As we took a walk around the neighborhood, she swung her arms with her chin held high, exclaiming about the trees and the neighborhood dogs that she saw and singing a song.

I was reminded of Yeshua’s words about having faith like a child.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Of course, as adults we have the responsibility to take action in our country, but as children of God we have to remember to trust in Him above all else.

We need childlike faith to trust that we are provided for, cherished, and protected by or heavenly Father.

I voted

Whatever the election holds, let’s not lose that childlike faith.

Let’s keep recognizing the beauty in the world, and trusting in our Father to supply all our needs.

Let’s learn from a toddler, and remember that…

“This is the day that Yahweh has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)