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Contemporary Issues

Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Issues’

The Year of Joy

Writing down old habits...

This is the Year of Joy.

No, as my shell-shocked husband asked, we are not expecting baby girl number six named Joy (and if we were, she may well be a he and his name would not be Joy). Rather, my year has a name and that name is Joy. 

This is the year of true, unshifting, soul-waking, refreshing, God-given Joy. 

Instead of focusing on resolutions, on what I am going to make of this year, I am directing my attention toward what my soul most needs, what God has offered and what I too often refuse to accept, and that, I am ashamed to admit, is Joy. 

What is Joy? 

Joy is not happiness! That truth stings the ears and is worth repeating. Joy is not the same as happiness. 

When God gifts me with Christian Joy, it does not mean I will carry with me a slapstick smile and a quick laugh. Happiness is a fleeting, temporal, situational emotion, often based on getting what I want. Joy reaches far beyond happiness. Joy flows deep. Joy is based on Him: what He wants me to have (good or bad in my eyes), on being the person He wants me to be (a servant), on doing what He wants me to do (serve), and mostly, on His salvation. Joy is based on His gifts and on Him. It has little, if anything, to do with me. 

...such as "falling down" and...

...such as "falling down" and...

So, what is Joy? 

Joy is absence. The absence of 

fear
anxiety
discontent
unnecessary stress
selfishness
bitterness
envy 

It is not the absence of trouble, sorrow, or pain. 

Joy is presence. The presence of 

trust
forgiveness
child-like faith
a servant’s heart
contentment
gratitude
love
God 

…in all things. 

...hurling them into the fireplace...

How can I speak of Joy when troubles surround us? Because Joy is not situational. 

Joy is a gift only God can give. It requires focus, not on a superhuman effort to remain cheerful in all situations, but a focus on Him, on the Big Picture, and the Big Picture is His plan for His Kingdom and His plan for my life. (Your Big Picture isn’t so much about His plan for my life as it is about His plan for your life, ‘lest you think you need to do a crash course study of me.) Notice I did not say my plan for my life in His Kindgom. It’s His plan. 

The sooner I stop pursuing happiness and start letting His Joy take root in me, the sooner Joy will sprout and grow and radiate out, an infectious condition that transforms the soul, the mind, the family, the life. 

To plant this seed I must first make room. 

...to be burned...

...to be burned...

So long fear; we have too long been bedfellows, and you have proven yourself a false friend. I spent many hours with you, and none to my benefit. Goodbye anxiety! (Reasonable caution and responsible concern, you may stay.) Unnecessary stress, you are a thing of the past, like a bad picture in a high school yearbook. Selfishness, bitterness, envy, pack your bags and get o-u-t, and take your cousin, self-pity, with you. You waste my time, and my time is too precious to be spent on you! Discontent…ah, sweet discontent, I muster my strength and tell you that you are not welcome here. My heart has something sweeter than your bitter gall to sip, so be gone! Be gone! 

I plant the seed. 

I plant the seed of gratitude for all God’s gifts–for the troubles, the pains, the disappointments, the blessings, the triumphs, the happiness. I plant the seed of trust, knowing the past is forgiven, the future is in His hands, and my life at this moment, where I am right now, is resting on and bolstered by Him. I plant the seed of child-like faith, not only for eternal life through Christ, not only for help on this earth, but faith in the knowledge that along whatever darkly wooded, ominous path He leads me, I walk hand-in-hand with my Father. I plant the seed of a servant’s heart, quietly, humbly serving in His name, however small the ripple of my labor. I plant the seed of contentment…in all things, in all places, in all circumstances, nurturing this tender, struggling sprout. I plant the seed of love–not judgement, not envy, not disdain, not impatience, but true sacrificial, time-giving, hand-holding, ear-bending, eye-meeting, heart-touching love. I dig deep, deeper, I water heavily, and I plant the seed of forgiveness, receiving His gift of permission to forget, to let go, to let the Blood do its work. 

...never to return.

...never to return.

When contentment, gratitude, forgiveness, trust and love fill the soul, there is room for nothing less worthy. 

This is my year! My Year of Joy! 

Join me. 

Thank you, Ann, for the courage to birth this Year of Joy.  May your Year of Yes be a blessing. 

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Fair-Play Economics

Everybody needs to make money. A poor American economy with a high unemployment rate necessitates a creative approach to a healthy income. In other words, you’ve gotta build a better mouse (or pig) trap to bring home the bacon. It’s time to put American ingenuity back to work, but with this caveat: do it ethically.

Here is a great example: Navis is a company specializing in small moving needs. While people are losing homes or downsizing, selling off their excess, and moving on down the road, Navis helps them move their small loads without the high minimum cost normally associated with such an endeavor. They focus on the untapped small moving needs market, providing a service that helps others save money. Kudos!

Here is a terrible example: Our previous favorite ice cream company downsized their product but did not move their price in a similar direction. They wanted consumers to feel good about the fact that their prices remained the same. I, however, felt duped. I didn’t feel good about having a smaller amount of ice cream for my children to pillage from my bowl. I would have preferred that they were honest about their state of affairs, rather than trying to make it appear as if nothing has changed. Too bad for them: they lost our business and our respect as we returned to making our own frozen delectables and occasionally buying a container of generic ice cream big enough for this mob at bulk prices.

You have to play the economic game to get by in America, but you can play it ethically. Look for a way to serve people in this tough time, and help yourself in the process.

Yes, we do sometimes write content for pay, and this is one of those times. Know, dear readers, that Notable Blogger will never knowingly compromise our integrity or Christian views. We believe in what we write, and we, too, are building a better mousetrap.

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I Pledge Allegiance

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance

As we travel through the annals of history with our children, we marvel at the redundancy evident in the pages of our world’s past. Sure there are different leaders, different countries, different battle names, but the general prevailing incidents that have resulted in the people’s loss or willing surrender of their freedoms are eerily similar. The parallels continue in our own country today.

As Americans we live in an era where the true remaining heroes of our nation’s independence are few. Americans have grown spoiled, partly due to the relatively small impact wars have had on the personal lifestyles of most of us. Too many of us have an entitlement mentality, believing it is our right to have a nice house, a nice car or three, food on the table whether we earn it or not, and the rest of the privileges that our forefathers worked hard to achieve. Many Americans, at least the most vocal set, feel that we are also entitled to freedom without sacrifice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Modest Fashion in Hindsight

While Modest Fashion Week has ended, please visit The Stay-at-Home Missionary and read about modesty, the whys and the how-tos. If you have an aversion to the term “modest dress” because you think you will be wearing flour sacks and sneakers, you will be pleased with what you read.

If you have daughters, invite them to join you, or print out the week’s messages. This is a huge issue among today’s Christians, and it is a blessing to see it addressed well!

Happy dressing!

modest fashion week

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Christian Modesty

daughtersPerhaps it is because I am attempting to raise five godly young women in an age of ungodliness. Perhaps it is because we struggle to appropriately dress our children modestly in a world of immodesty. Perhaps it is because my children see more skin in church than during the rest of the week. Whatever the reason, I have long been driven to write on the subject of modesty, or, rather the lack thereof, among Christian women (and men!).

Many have written on the subject of how Christians should dress. It has become a hot and legalistic topic. Blessed or cursed with quick guilt, I often find myself falling prey to the legalistic side of the issue, thus discounting the power Christ’s grace has over my life. At one point I began dressing according to how I felt other Christians expected me to dress, rather than how I was moved in my heart to dress out of gratefulness to God, obedience to my husband, and appreciation of the body the Creator gave me.

I am generally not long in the deadly talons of legalism before my husband frees me with the simple message of the power of grace.


He’s the source of my hope and rest,
Fount of all my relief;
Though I live with this thorn in my flesh,
He has given Grace beyond my need.

Grace beyond my need. As Christians we live under the grace of Christ. We have freedom under that grace to live out our love for Him. How do we then live? The Christian grace and love in our hearts should overflow not only into our words and actions, but also into our appearance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Organic fair-trade clothing

Worship the Creator, appreciate the creation.

Worship the Creator, appreciate the creation.

I recently read an interesting article regarding organic, fair trade clothing. Having had an interest for several years in the health benefits of living a more natural lifestyle, I have stood on the fringes of the “go-green” movement, watching in dismay as the green elite step off their private jets with their evian and tell us all to use one square of toilet paper and buy organic apples for $4 a pound. If you preach green and you live like Ed Begley,Jr. or Bill Nye the Science Guy, you have my respect. If you preach green and leave the practice of it to others…not so much.

One word: balance. Okay, two more words: common sense.

As a Christian, I do not worship the earth, as some seem inclined to do. I am aware of the Biblical prophesies regarding the earth’s future and know that we cannot “save the planet” per se, just as we cannot eliminate poverty. Nevertheless, I am equally aware that this planet is a gift from God for our use, and with that gift comes a level of responsibility. It is our duty to care for God’s creation…but not worship it, not see it as the be-all and end-all of Christian existence. Praise the Creator, appreciate the creation. Read the rest of this entry »

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