First off, let me say that I could really use a scribe to follow me all over and write down my thoughts. I have about a zillion things to say on this blog, but just haven't taken the time to do it.
I cannot even express to you the goodness that God has shown me this past year. Can't even begin to share it. Our transition to Oregon---not just the move, but the surrender and the willingness----has shown me just how very much my Lord loves me. It defies logical sense and any practical notion within the human brain, but just know that if the Lord wants you to do something----you have NO IDEA what you are missing by not doing it. The Lord knows all, and He blesses not like a laser beam, but more like a shotgun blast, with bits of blessings all over your life. He has blessed us with a house of our own, our children with good friends, our church family with love, our marriage with a deep closeness we haven't experienced in a while, and just mountains and mountains and mountains of blessing that I could take the next day to write about. The joy is pouring out of my heart and over my lower eyelids as I type, and I am so very humbled and so, SO grateful that God cares enough about a little stay at home mom on the Oregon coast to show me so much love, grace, and mercy that I KNOW I don't deserve.
I was explaining to my kids the other day the difference between joy and happiness. I told them that happiness is circumstantial----like going to Chuck E Cheese, or the movies, or a glass of crisp, cold Diet Coke. (Yes. I really did say that to them. It's not like they don't see the satisfied smile on my lips as I crack open a cold can of chemical, caffeinated carbonation. I may have shame in my game, but I will 'fess up to the game. I can only handle so many self-improvement projects at a time.)
Oh, but joy-----joy is lasting, deep, bursting forth like a fountain in the soul! I told them that the disciples who followed Jesus probably didn't have a whole lot of "happy". Think about it----you are following Jesus for what, three years? If they had families, they likely didn't see them much. They were learning, making mistakes, being followed themselves by crowds of people who were needy, destitute, gravely (and oftentimes, contagiously) ill, and suffering. Jesus had no where to lay his head at night, and I am assuming that was much the same for the disciples. They watched him die, boldly proclaimed the gospel after He resurrected, endured tremendous persecution, and died martyrs' deaths.
WHY would anyone do that? How could you do it?
Because you had joy.
Happiness is comfort. It is comfort; newness; excitement. It is a new relationship, a new pair of shoes, a new destination, a new job. And because that new is only new for so long, happiness is fleeting.
We are a nation of people starving for joy, and attempting to fill it with "happiness".
Happiness is self-serving. Joy comes in surrender to God. Joy is a gift from God, and unlike happiness, it never grows dim. It only grows stronger, and stronger, and stronger. And it never, ever, EVER grows old.
It is so powerful, this joy from God, that men and women throughout history have exchanged their comfort, their desires, their impulses, their will, and for some their very own lives, and while the flesh may have come up empty-----
The soul is soaring on swelling clouds of joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Every single day, I make decisions to choose happiness over joy. Because very rarely does one get both.
That's sort of like eating a McDouble when you have access to filet mignon.
We fatigue on this journey with the Lord because we are filling our joy tank with happiness. We weren't created to run on happiness. We were created to crave, desire, and sustain with joy. Joy is present in all circumstances. It was present with Stephen as the stones broke his bones. It was present with Paul and Silas as they sang praises to God in bonds. It is the evidence to a lost and dying and suffering world that there is a true HOPE found in Jesus---not in the idea of Jesus, or what someone thinks about Jesus, or what some pastor or religious person has said Jesus is----but really found in. JESUS. That God cares for them, loves them, and is waiting ready to save to the uttermost.
Jesus said, "He who finds his life shall lose it. He who loses his life for my sake will find it."
Isaiah said, "
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the
Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."
Oh God, that we would not settle for cheap imitations of your wonderful grace. Help us to run to you like our own little children do----with honest hearts and open minds, and show us what we need to do to find joy in surrendering our lifestyles to You.
You are all loved with an everlasting love from above, and also by me----
p.s. I started to write about my daughter. You see, she and my husband's birthdays are both today. I cannot believe that God has given me such a beautiful, sweet, loving, spunky, intuitive, resilient child. He uses her to bless me and to teach me that it is OK to be girly. He knows I need that, and she helps me with it tremendously. She loves her mama and wants to be just like her, and that scares me to death. Pray for me, that I will be the soft, sweet, meek, loving, strong person that I want her to be. She is already better than me, and that is exactly what I pray for.
p.s.s. Thank you Lord, for a wonderful year with my husband. Thank you for each and every year we have together. Thank you for using him to help me, to shape me into who You want me to be. Thank you for making him have great hair.