Often times when God is leading us into unfamiliar territory we can get scared and lock our knees and want to either run or hide. It's the unknown! The uncertainty of what the future looks like! We need to see the future for crying out loud, we have the right! Well, I don't think so, friends. I wonder if He doesn't look at us and wonder how we could ever think He would leave us. Soveriegn God, leading us NOT leaving us, His children. Let's go back to Him. Come out from under the hiding and go to Him. Tell Him you trust Him and trust Him FULLY. Whatever the future looks like, the terrain, and the trials while we are traveling, we will trust Him still.
The small sign in the photo says "No Trespassing" and I can't help but ponder that in a spiritual way. I often find myself doing that these days! You too? It's fun to analyze them. Anyways, pondering the trespassing sign, wondering if God is protecting us from going past that area, even though it's so tempting for us. We want to see past that sign, touch the grass - it may be greener you know! - and we may actually think we know better than God. Oh children of God, how much we still need discipline!
He knows the path ahead and He surely knows which way He wants you to go.
Will we listen? Will we tune our ears to Him? Drowning out the voices of everyone else and just listen to Him.
Matthew 11:15 says, "He who has ears, let Him hear."
yThere was a period of time when we were getting ready to build our dream house, on our family land here in Minnesota. We thought it would be so great, designing the house, looking so far into the future that we were trying to figure in a live-in apartment for our kids on the lower level. It was going to be so great. But then all the building details came and I have often said to friends why we didn't build, "It was four "no's" to one "yes".
We would get excited and then came a frustration that left us disappointed and not able to move to the next step. Looking back I am so thankful for those steps that were blocked, for they came from the Lord. Protection! That's why we pray for wisdom and the Lord's will. He knows best.
We found ourselves cold and living in a camper trailer in the middle of October and our last "no" felt like all of our anxiety and frustrations were let go. We still didn't have a home though! So we prayed. Like PRAYING type of praying where you wait on the Lord fervently. Do you know what happened two weeks later? My realtor friend found the farmhouse we are living in today, before it even went on the market. A finished home, land to raise animals and a big enough home to host families for supper (we love to!).
Waiting is GOOD and often it tends to blow us away with how God can bless us. This story of our house and us saying "no" when we still didn't know the future is my forever story of how God provides and He knows the timing for which we need something.
It's the story I tell to friends when they are discouraged and can't find hope in their current season of life. It's my visual when I stand in my warm home with our four children and start to complain about something, I am seeing that God provided for us - abundantly. And I turn my complaints to praise.
Waiting is good for us because it teaches us perseverance. And that virtue is just way too good to pass up.
Yes, it can be painful during the wait but growth is what happens while we wait - if we don't resist it. We wait for 9 months to hold our child, we wait until we get married, we wait until we find our dream home (if it exists!) and we wait for an answer whether we should go or stay.
God is in charge of whether we stay or go. But obedience on our end is key.
How do we hear His voice over everyone else's and our own? We quiet our minds, hearts, and agenda's. Cancel everything and sit with Him and start reading your Bible.
I wonder how often I have tried to solve our issue at hand by just plowing ahead and thinking my solution (temporary, of course) will be better than waiting? Have you done this before? Maybe you are currently? I encourage you to stop, and write down what you are going through and what you are thinking. Listen to the Lord. Wait and listen. Don't rush to the next thing. He knows what you need and WHEN.
Praying for you friends,
They say Paul wrote this book of the Bible while He was prison. Isn't it interesting how someone could give us, the people of Christ, encouragement and joy during a time in his life where he wasn't "free"? I do! It gives me hope to continue to seek joy through the Lord during my walk with Him.
Ephesians 1: 4 says, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes."
Read that again, the part where it says that He loved us and chose us. YOU! ME! In verse 11 it says, "For He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan." Ever feel like where you are and where you are going is a little against what you thought it should look like? Yes, me too. But if we remind ourselves that He already CHOSE us and He will work the things you are going through to be apart of His plan, I mean, friends, why would we even waste our breath worrying?
Ephesians 1:15: "Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God's people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly."
Let's remember to pray for eachother more. Literally lifting up our friends needs to the Lord. When I am in need and my mind boggled and not thinking straight, usually my friend is able to think clearly and pray for what I am in need of. She's the voice when I am grieving and can't put words together. Go to that friend, and BE that friend. Pray for eachother!
Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."
For the next 6 weeks we are reading the book of Ephesians together, 6 chapters in 6 weeks. I love when we can support eachother in the Word and learn together! Thank you for joining me in reading, I need the accountability too.
*If you don't want to miss out on a current study or future Bible study, sign up for my newsletter and I will be sure to add you to my email list. And be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see my daily life of reading with you!
Thankful for you,
Have you ever tried to ignore grief? We think that maybe by shifting the hurts way back, we may somehow forget them, but then in a time of being overwhelmed it all comes roaring back. And everyone around you gets to see it and feel it. Ouch. We've all done it before, probably a coping mechanism of some sort that we have seen growing up. "Don't feel the pain, it'll be better." I really think it's a lie for us to believe that way and very harmful for us to act out in that way.
"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
We lost our sweet Duke, our Golden Retriever puppy recently. I've been crying for days but also realizing how good yet painful it is to mourn out loud, in front of people (who ask how we are doing). It gives us permission to grieve and cry to eachother when another person grieves out loud. It will be okay, as some people say, and I do accept that sincere saying, even if it does seem repetitive. It will be okay without Duke, but it still hurts form time to time.
Maybe you need to grieve and cry over something that has long passed - years- and you have shoved it so far down, you know that when it comes out you will erupt. I want to give you permission to do so. Take some time away if you can, go for a walk, or drive or call up your closest friend and talk with them about what you are going through. A good friend always listens are cares for us. Back and forth friendships go. We're there for eachother.
When we grieve, we heal. Something inside of us lightens and though we can still feel the depth of the pain, we are freer than we were before we bottled it all up.
What do you need to grieve today? I would love to hear your thoughts. I'll be praying for you.
"He restores my soul" Psalm 23:3
The moment when I knew I needed to place some boundaries in my life was when I felt really angry. The anger must have been there before because I recognized it and I was even more angry because I felt it again. I don't like being angry, and I'm sure you don't either. It takes over my senses, causes me to start shaking, and my mind is a jumbled mess of confusion. Find a good friend who offers you advice while sitting on her couch drinking coffee and crying. She let me know, kindly, that reading the "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud would be a good idea in that situation I was going through.
Like any good friend, she was right! I ordered that book as soon as I left her house, probably before I backed up to leave for home, I wanted that book in my hands! I wanted to feel better, I wanted to feel and think and act in a healthy matter that benefits myself and my family. I have been able to recognize certain behavior patterns with others (Now, remember, your family is in your home, your relatives are the ones you left when you got married. There is a difference!) and like a volcano erupting, that lava spread onto everyone who was near them. Have you felt that way before? Just plain covered with that lava?
Dr. Henry Cloud gives the example of a property fence line over and over in his book. Look at this image of a pretty fence out in the country and imagine yourself on this side of the fence. You notice how there is a barrier between you and the other side, the side with the trees? That barrier is your protection from unhealthy people, relationships that aren't healthy, things, really anything that you may allow to come to your side if that barrier wasn't there. Now, imagine if that fence wasn't there. Interesting how that doesn't sound too good anymore, right?
Letting people and stuff pour in whenever they want, that doesn't sound so good anymore. That's not love. Boundaries protect love. God wants us to love others and we still can love them with boundaries, friends. It's actually the healthiest way to show love. Stepping back and allowing God to work in their hearts. Not us - let's stop trying to control others.
Okay, back to the fence illustration. That fence was WORK to put up. I mean, it was you out there with all the boards and the posts and the nails and all the equipment and tools needed to make it happen. You spent days and weeks, maybe even months depending on how much fence you needed. The fence is up, and boy that was some good tedious work, now you have to maintain it. A board falls down after a storm, the post starts leaning after a certain animal rubs against it, and nails need to be re-tapped in. Maintaining your boundaries will take courage on your end. To say what is needed, time and time again, and to protect your family, even if it isn't well received.
When I mentally (and sort of physically) placed that fence up, I felt such a relief. I looked around and noticed how healthy we would become because of it. My life has been fuller and the relationships that can be labeled"difficult", I have let go (and let God).
All the really hard stuff in life shapes us into something beautiful anyways, if we let it.
Thinking about purchasing the book? I have a great offer for the months of May/June!
Included with a copy of the book, will be a lined journal. I found that journaling down my thoughts about what I read impacted how much I remembered and put into action. It also helped me process the beauty of having boundaries in my life. It will be a great tool for you to look back into when you need it.
watch my video on boundaries:
oh how Sally Clarkson has been encouraging me these days.
I remember a couple years ago, one of my good friends calling and texting me, like the nice and kind friend she was, she persisted after her calls were left unanswered. The reason I remember it so vividly was because I was going through a hard season and answering someone's phone call or even returning a text felt like a lot of work. I was, in a way, ignoring her. Not intentionally, but I just didn't know what to say, I wasn't feeling very "put together". One day she called and I answered and she asked me in her sweetest but firmest voice, "What's going on Joy?". It was in that moment that I knew I had a really good friend. Not just good, really good!
She is one of my closest friends today and I relive that moment when I want to hide or avoid reaching out to a friend during a time of need. It also makes me more aware when I have a friend acting similarly, knowing they may be walking a hard road, and they can't put words together to reach out.
Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."
Be transparent with a new or old friend, don't pretend you have it all together. Open up first and talk about the challenging things, it makes you vulnerable (that's an okay thing!) and I bet you will feel a little bit healed after talking with eachother. It's good for us to meet together, face to face. Social media friendships aren't face to face and it's not a way of connecting and deepening our relationship. We need to see their expressions, to touch their hand when they open up, to laugh together, and to share a meal.
God knows we need our fulfillment from Him, but he also encourages friendships because He created people! And he says in His word that man is not meant to be alone. Friendships are a blessing!
Who could you reach out to this week? Today? Ask them over for a cup of coffee. Even during the hustle and bustle of kids and your day, ask them. Initiate!
*Mother's Day is fast approaching! Remember, this week only, add one free PRINT into your Joy Box order!
Watch my video on friendship!
You know how a word keeps popping up all around you, and you are hearing it everywhere? That's what the word roots has been for me lately. I thought the meaning of the word was pretty interesting. Oh I love looking up the meaning of words!
"the part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibers."
If we are the plant, and the roots are part of us and our growth, what nourishment are you adding to keep healthy and strong with continual growth? Diligently, (my new fav word!) I have been reading God's word every morning before the kids wake up, and I try throughout the day when I have a spare moment, and usually before my head hits the pillow and I fall asleep in exhaustion. It's way too easy friends to say we're tired or don't have time. I know I can scroll endlessly through social media, distracting myself with words and pictures that won't matter a week from now. But I do know that God's Word in our hearts a week from now will only make our roots deeper into what matters.
It's God's Word - our ONLY life giving source! We need to be getting filled from only that source. Any other will leave us dry and crumpled and nearly dead. Start today friends. You fight for that time in His Word. You'll find yourself craving more and soon enough you won't know how you ever survived without it. It'll nourish our roots and make us grow!
*We have a beautiful Bible in Our Shop. Maybe you need a new Bible for yourself? Or your friend may need one sent to her doorstep?
here's my video on roots:
Are you in a waiting season? Maybe a house, for your body to be healed, an answer to whether you should pursue something? What if we aren't hearing an answer and we are still waiting? I wonder how many times we haven't waited and missed out on what was around the corner for us, simply because we didn't want to wait anymore. Instead we wanted to charge ahead and take control and make it happen, on our own time.
What's wrong with us getting used to waiting? It's okay for us to put into practice all the valuable lessons we try and teach our children. Patience and long suffering, gentleness, taking the time to pray over the situation you are waiting for, and last but certainly not least, let go of your control over it.
I have a good song for you to listen to. Recently this band Carrollton has become a favorite and it's because their words ring true and encourage me during the waiting.
My husband and I have been in a waiting season for a few years and as each month and year go by and all we hear and see is a "NOT YET" we are getting used to the wait. Now, I'm not saying we're perfect and patient in the wait. No, there are times we get very frustrated and we wonder if the Lord is truly listening to our desires or if He has forgotten us. I know that's not true because those are my feelings talking. I can't trust my feelings. We usually, very quickly, talk with eachother that God's timing is better than ours.
And if our loving God says no, we need to trust Him. He is protecting you and me from things we don't know of. His plan and His timing is perfect! Trust that.
Let's be good wait-er's! Let's be good examples to those around us, being content during the wait.
Whether it be family issues, business woes, friendships, the place you live, anything that lands on or near us gives us two options: accept it as a gift, as an option to grow and learn or we can decide not to accept it, closing our ears off, pushing it way down deep, and moving away from conviction.
What if during these learning moments in our life, we choose diligence and let it shape our life for the good? Diligence in reading God's Word every day, our true life shaper. Diligence in eating healthy. Diligence in taking that end of the day walk. Or diligence in a relationship.
I have this quote from Sally Clarkson on my fridge and it says, "Diligence is muscling up to bring a work to completion."
I often point at that piece of paper to my kids, reminding them that doing the dishes matter, cleaning up after yourselves matter, and even I, the mom of the house needs this stamped on my heart for every day.
Will you find diligence during the gift that causes you pain? Will we see it as a gift to grow in character or ignore it?
I challenge you to not ignore it! I'm cheering for you friends.
Do you find diligence difficult in your daily life?
[I wrote this in 2017, but I found I needed this reminder again. Maybe you do too?]
I found myself driving home the other night, counting to the years that my daughter turns the age where the molding, the training, and the long explanations may be finished for awhile. She’s only 7 years away. I’ve had eleven years with her, nursing her- my firstborn- at my breast, baking on the counter with her, and then all of a sudden time is slowing down for me because I can see that road up there. That road where she is standing there waving and telling me: “I’ll be fine mom! I’ll see you soon!”. Goodness me, I feel like I may sob in my pillow for two years.
She is the lightness in a dark world, the understanding to life’s complications, the sunshine in a smile, and the wind in her hair as she runs without a care. As she should! God made a beautiful creature when He made my sweet firstborn girl. Long, auburn hair, tall, full of tender big love, and a smile that’s as big as Texas. Where she has her eyes set on marrying a cowboy who has horses. Smart cookie.
My dream, prayer for her, is that she will run towards her life with God at her side, experiencing all the freedom He gives when you follow His will. That she knows it’s Him who designed her and it’s Him who will give her the dreams she’s dreaming.
The long days are true, the discussing, the guiding, the smiles, and the hugs after tears are a lot of work but they are necessary. Because I see the fruits of our relationship today. I see her trust when she looks at me. When she leans into me when I am offering her wisdom, my heart swells as I walk away, gifted with her love and trust. I bet that’s how God feels towards us. The gift He offers is amazing grace and a love explainable. But we need it. She needs it. And I need it.
My dear sweet daughter, you are a treasure that oozes love, and a spirit so wild that when I see you wave I will wave back enthusiastically (and cry) because I know. I know who you are and WHOSE you are.
Hello friends, I'm joy. ..
I love sharing my life with you. I enjoy being vulnerable and real because it's then that I hear, "you too?". I hope reading the words from my heart encourages you. We're in this together, friends, so grab your coffee or tea and stick around!