JoyMy whole life has been a quest for joy. Perhaps yours has been as well? The thing is, when I accepted Christ, He gave me that joy right then, as a gift. Not realizing that at the time, I buried it beneath many disappointments and fears. Now God is helping me uncover this joy as I understand my identity in Him. 

I had many misconceptions about joy, even as a new Christian. Could it even exist in a world SO full of disappointment, I wondered?

Does Joy mean no trouble? Obviously not. Just look at Jesus’ life and all Christians after.

Does Joy mean always feeling good and loved? No, feelings can accompany and encourage joy but they are very fickle.

Does Joy come from being treated well by others? That helps, but no, joy is internal. It has to do with our relationship with Christ. It is amazing to learn contentment and how to be hopeful in our relationships. But, it is how I am treated by God that is so important!

Does it mean everything I do goes well? No, apparently my hopes and dreams don’t always line up with God’s hopes and dreams. Joy doesn’t come from guaranteed success or immediately answered prayers. Again, they may contribute to it, or make joy seem more accessible.

Joy comes from the God that adores me, loves me first and most. He’s my Lord. He is so good and He’s my constant companion. That means I can live joyfully despite it all.

It’s another example of the seemingly backward dynamics of the Kingdom of God. I don’t have joy because of my circumstances. I have joy because of my identity.  When my identity rests in Christ as it should, I will know joy. In Christ, I am a loved, accepted, forgiven daughter of God. I am a saint! (Yes, that can be difficult to say, can’t it!) Joy will be present even in sorrow and suffering. It will be my new reality!


No Thanks, I’m Full

Ephesians 1:23 … The fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

How nice to walk through this life full. When all the usual remedies of the world are offered, to say, “no thanks, I’m full”. Entertainment, food and drink, endless hobbies, whatever… No thanks, I’m full.

I love that. Without Christ’s fullness, we are all so desperate. We are the cursed pirates in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie that cannot quench their thirst. Nothing satisfies. And nothing does in this life – that’s the truth we all have to face – whether it’s as a kid or as an elderly person on our deathbed.

We were meant for more! That more is Christ. We were made for another reality, and that reality is heaven. We were meant for different rules, and those rules are those of the kingdom of God. I cannot be happy on this earth without Christ and there’s a reason why. One that makes total sense.

I’ve always felt I don’t quite fit in to this world and I’m glad it’s not just me. None of us were made for this world as it is. The difference is Christ! He’s the missing piece that allows us to have peace and rest in a world of brokenness and strife. More accurately, we each are a crucial piece belonging in His puzzle. How wonderful to finally be where we belong.


DejectedLadyAlone… that used to be the worst word ever to me, what I feared most. Alone, I had no identity. I was empty, nonexistent. Alone meant no one cared and my worth seeped out until I was nothing.

But not anymore.

There really is no such thing as alone. God is always with me, with you, desiring relationship with us. If anything, we should be feeling claustrophobic because God is a constant companion that never lets us be! Even when I want him to leave, he doesn’t. He loves me too much and the same is true of you!

Perhaps you have a hard time believing this. I know most of my life, I did. I can’t I feel his presence, I would lament. Why do I feel so alone? Why is he allowing me to be in these less than ideal, or perhaps just plain horrible circumstances? If He loved me… If He loved me…

There is no if.

Got absolutely does love you!

What space there is between you and God was put there by you, my friend. You’ve been hoping to protect yourself perhaps, or hide, or maybe prove you need no one. But the layers and layers you insulate yourself with are only hurting you, not helping you.

Stop fighting God. Stop pushing him away, and invite him in.

Admit you need him. Your life is not what you hoped and you’re only making more of a mess of it as you attempt to “fix” it. You aren’t even able to remove all that crazy insulation you’ve wrapped yourself in!

But don’t despair. God’s got you, my friend. Just ask for help. Stop trying to change things yourself, because God knows you better than you know yourself. He’s not a bully – he isn’t going to force you to love him! I can tell you though, it’s him you want. You may only sense the smallest bit of truth in that statement, but that’s all it takes to call on him.

You’ve never been alone either! God made you. He loves you more than you can even imagine possible. Invite him into your aloneness and find as I have, that life may become no more “easy”, but shared with the lover of your soul, it becomes a joy.


Do Not Try to Bend the Spoon….That’s Impossible

Whose Reality Is It Anyway?

1acd337d76dc41774d9311840597b152The greatest reality is God’s reality. God’s reality includes all I see and know but it also includes infinitely more. God’s reality incorporates millions and billions of other people. It includes a spiritual realm that I cannot see, that operates with power I can’t even begin to really understand. It includes complex plans that take all the sin and evil that should not be here and works it into God’s plan for good. God’s reality includes

all of the impossible,

all of the nevers and

all of the if onlys…

because nothing is impossible with God.

I find a lot of comfort in these thoughts because the realities of my life, all my senses demand is true, is just not enough for me. The limits of this life, the horrid circumstances we witness and must be a part of as well,  I refuse to believe this is all life is about. Cruelty and hatred, the double-edged sword of evil…none of these is supposed to be here, not in this world and not in my heart. Where I was meant to be and where I will one day be has already begun to be revealed here on this broken, crumbling earth.

Restoration of blackened hearts, flowers growing up out of ash, evil plans that will not succeed….that’s the reality of God. Why would we listen to the taunting of the enemy that things are a lost cause, that it would be easier to just give up?

There is a mighty army alongside me, alongside you. Do you see it?

My circumstances can be great or horrible but they do not define me! It’s God who gives me my identity and stands with me in all this life dishes out. The same is true for you. It doesn’t matter to me how weak and pathetic I and my brothers and sisters in Christ may appear, we are mighty soldiers in the army of God and that’s what we must act like.

Should I be downcast that I live in a broken world with evidence of the enemy’s work all around me? Jesus was crucified and those three days before he rose again had to be terrible for all who loved and followed him. But that was not the end of the story.

Jesus rose again.

God shows up.

God wins.

The real and unspeakable glory all believers will know in heaven, as we are with God forever, face to face, is what we need encourage ourselves with right now, today. We have a possible 100 years here on this earth, much less for many of us, but as endless and difficult as our lives seem some days, we will know it is actually quite short compared to eternity, millions and millions of years without end in the joyful presence of God.

I have never liked sad endings to stories and today I get why… the true story, God’s story, – the real one – has a wonderful ending. Right now it doesn’t seem that way as we live in a horribly broken and evil world. But this world had a beautiful beginning and we are given the ability to choose a wonderful end with the salvation God freely offers us.

Eternity with God, things as they should’ve been all along…that’s what I live for and that’s the reality that gives me hope and peace and joy despite what each day brings in a difficult life. If you’re living day-to-day with anything but God’s reality, stop trying to make sense of the world with your human eyes and and find out the truth that can only be seen through the eyes of God!

God loves you so much that He sent his only son to die for you and me so that we can have real hope and joy and peace.

Only in the amazing reality of our almighty God does anything in this life make sense.



Joshua 3 – I love this account of how the priests had to step into the Jordan River at flood stage to see it miraculously be parted.

God asks us to obey despite how impossible things appear. Right then, when His name is on the line and we are 100% committed regardless of how foolish we seem, then and there He works in miraculous ways. He stops the river at flood stage. He parts the sea. He grabs our attention in a burning bush that isn’t consumed. When all seems lost and hopeless, and our back up plans have all failed, we see God work. His actions reaffirm He is the I Am, the God of the impossible.

Romans 4:17b says He is “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

How true! I’m reminded of that every day as I consider who I was and who I now am as a follower of Christ. God calls me daughter, child of God, righteous, accepted, even holy. These are all things that should not be because we all were children of wrath. Sin made me an enemy of God. But God made a way by sending Jesus to die for our sin and then be resurrected in victory. He continues to make a way where there seems to be no way.

It makes no human sense so don’t even try to figure God out with your own human capacities. It takes the Holy Spirit to give us the faith and courage to know God’s ways. It’s scary and pushes us past our human limits. In that place, God gets the glory as He fills in the gaps as only He can.

Cast your net on the other side of the boat though you fished all night and caught nothing. Step into the flooded river or the sea with thousands of people following you to what appears to be certain death. Pour your last small flask of oil into endless containers though it seems ridiculous. Walk on the water toward Jesus.

It truly takes all of our faith to obey but God meets us there in the impossible. What is God calling you and I to do today? Perhaps He’s been calling you to something for many years and it’s time to just say yes? We may be asked to risk our comfort, our reputation, the respect we’ve earned from our safe and practical decisions. One thing that’s certain is that God will show up and we won’t regret it! How? Most likely in a way we could not guess. When? Not sure. Where? Good question. But why…why we know- that God may be glorified.


The God of Truth

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. I John 1:5b

N1703P13006CThere is much about God we cannot fully understand. He is holy, set apart, our Creator. Even spending eternity with Him, we will always have more to learn about Him.

Yet much of His truth could be no more simple, like loving God means obeying Him. I John 5:3 says:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

And loving God means putting Him and His plans first. Exodus 20:3 says:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Who couldn’t explain these concepts easily using a parent/child relationship as an example? Still, these very truths can be a lifelong struggle to really believe and then to follow.

Sin has so tainted our hearts so that the very God that made us and loves us most could not seem more foreign. I think of Peeta in the Hunger Games. He was captured by the enemy and brainwashed into believing his friends and cause were actually evil. When Peeta returns to his fellow rebels, he seethes with hatred toward them. He must be restrained to not injure himself and others in his anger. Even after much time, he realizes that he can’t trust his own “memories” and insights and needs help discerning what is true or false.

Isn’t that how we act like toward God, our Creator? How we fight Him! We are so sure He can’t be trusted, He’s withholding the best from us. We are the ones confused! We have been fed lies since birth and believe them so easily because of this sin nature we all inherit. We can see the effects of our sin nature even in babies and toddlers!

So what do we do? We go to God’s Word and we learn what is true. We find what seems foreign, or unbelievable, or too good to be true… and we soak ourselves in it until we can believe it. We help those around us remember what’s true and accept the correction we often need ourselves.

God works miracles in these hearts of ours. Nothing is hopeless or impossible with Him. He takes the dead soil of our sinful hearts, radiated and sick, and replaces it with healthy soil. His Word adds nutrients and His Spirit water until one day we see a small sprout appear. With time He fashions a beautiful garden that brings us and those around us great joy. And our enemy can’t touch it…I love that part. He sure does try to intimidate us with his acid rain and nearby nuclear explosions! God always protects what He grows. Every flower, every tree testifies to the eternal hope we have in Him.

So we choose day to day to believe the One that loves us most, that heals our wounds and turns the impossible into daily realities. We remind ourselves of truth over and over until it becomes permanent in our minds. We sit at the feet of Jesus as often as we can and we listen and soak in His love for us. We believe what God says and look for the amazing ways He works to bring life and hope and healing. We say, “Yes, Lord” and obey Him. And in that place of complete submission and obedience and trust, we find everlasting joy.


But Mom, You Can’t Even HEAR Me!

Nightmares of a Young Musician

N0483660Musicians aren’t always the best at appreciating the whole picture. I remember as a kid learning to play the flute, how disappointed I was when I heard recordings of our early concerts. Why, I could barely even HEAR the flutes most of the time!! This wasn’t right! I had worked so hard on my part, and in my head the ever important flutes were always featured. The rest of the band existed to accompany us! This must be pretty typical because I’ve heard many kids (….and adults!) say similar things.

As important as it is for musicians to be skilled at playing their instruments, the truth is it’s the whole song the director is perfecting. The Christian life is no different. We hopefully love our times of solos and features but maturity is wanting the whole song to sound as the composer intended. That includes long rests and sometimes hidden harmonies or complete “tacets” (having no part at all for a song or section).

How boring music would be if everyone constantly played. How our ears would crave simplicity and new textures. I have always appreciated the unique sounds composers come up with blending different instruments. Perhaps a French horn and a flute, or maybe a clarinet and an oboe play together. At times I can’t even figure out how a certain sound was created because it’s so unique! It’s no different with the way God orchestrates our lives, sometimes having us play loudly, other times having us accompany with soft whole notes.

And if we refuse to do what the composer asks? The song doesn’t sound as beautiful as it may have. It’s not only those that refuse to practice that cause trouble. Sometimes the best musicians insist on playing too loudly, believing that will be impressive or cover up what they notice isn’t sounding good. How heartbreaking yet necessary it is to hear a judge say ,”Someone is sticking out or overplaying. You must BLEND.”

So we watch our director and trust the end result will be amazing, regardless of how much or little we are featured.

Humility is just as important as skill for musicians…and all people really! Life isn’t just about me – it’s about

all of creation bringing glory to God.

What I can do, though, is practice. Practice, practice, practice and be ready for whatever music God chooses to play today.