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Year of Joy

Posts Tagged ‘Year of Joy’

In the Master’s Hand

Clay in the Master's HandSeven years ago I sat in the surgery ward of the county hospital with a three-month-old baby in my arms. This week an older child lay in the bed beside me. The feeling doesn’t change.

When the nurse takes your child away, the child you have borne, nursed, tended, and loved, there is an emptiness and you turn to the only place worth turning.

God.

When the doctor tells you that all is indeed not right, that your fears were not the imaginings of a hypochondriac mother, but in fact correct, there is an emptiness, and you turn to the only place worth turning.

God.

When you turn to God, the perspective changes.  What is pain becomes joy. What is loss becomes opportunity. What is lifeless clay, dead wood, or hard stone becomes beauty with purpose.

Wood in the Master's HandI see now that the child I was gently trying to shape with education, family time, Bible readings, and chats, is in the only place worth being, in the hands of the Master. My careful designing, delicate sanding, gentle rubbing are all acts of a mother without the Master’s vision. A wimp. A dreamer. A woman afraid.

The Master takes the clay and breaks it down and builds it back up until the day it is ready for His delicate design.

The Master takes the wood and hews large chunks, chiseling away the dead wood until it is ready for fine sanding.

The Master takes the stone and attacks it with a vengeance, bringing forth form from stubborn stone, until it is ready to be polished by the rubbing of the Master’s hand.

Stone in the Master's HandSuch transformation hurts.

Such transformation can only succeed in His hands, in the hands of the Master.

The Master knows when to force and when to touch gently, when to chisel and when to sand, when to cut and when to rub smooth.

As a mother, I let my children fall, so that they may pull themselves up and walk. I let my children fail so they may learn the hard work of success. I let my children know disappointment so they may enter life with realistic empathy, not an entitlement mentality bred by misguided parenting.

As the Master, God does the same. He lets us fall. He cuts and hews. He polishes and adorns.

Making us what He wants us to be.

Making us His.

Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand,
so are ye in mine hand.
~Jeremiah 18:6

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Enough of Not Enough

There is a little voice inside of me that has been a nagging beast to live with, a real fun-sponge, sucking all the joy out of life. It’s the “not-enough” voice.


You’re not good enough.

You’re not smart enough.

You’re not pretty enough.

Your children are not trained well enough.

Your house is not clean enough.

You’re not loving enough.

Your homeschool is not productive enough.

Your writing is not earning enough.

Your habits are not consistent enough.

Your character is not solid enough.

Your cooking is not healthy enough. (And have you even tasted it?)

Your little light is not bright enough.

You’re not friendly enough.

You’re not improving fast enough.

You’re not gentle enough.

You’re not strong enough.

You’re not perfect enough.

Perhaps. Perhaps. In fact, all of these not-enoughs are painfully true at one time or another. But to you, my little voice, I say this.

Christ died for me. He loves me . . . enough.

Not the Hallmark kind of love, which isn’t enough, but the “you can’t imagine the hell I’d go through for you” kind of love. The love that takes all my not-enoughs and sends them on a long walk off a short pier.

I will continue to struggle on in this life, making mistakes, falling short, taking too many do-overs, disappointing myself, disappointing those I love most, disappointing people I don’t even know but who are just looking for someone to get down on, never attaining close to “enough” in anything.

I will never be enough. Period. But He is.

If He forgives my not-enoughs, maybe, just maybe I can too.

So, little voice, little buddy, little pal, little scourge of my existence, you can just take your self-deprecating self-centered not-enoughs and shove ‘em back down your throat, and, while you’re at it, you can take that long walk off that short pier, ’cause I’m listening to another Voice now.

My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.

~2 Corinthians 12:9

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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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