It is Well

I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. -Psalm 6:6

My mom died. This is not a journey I wanted to take. It’s awful and messy and heartbreaking and devastating. And through it all, He sits with me. Through the worst time of my life, I feel and see Him so clearly. I feel held, cherished, protected, and so loved.

Through the storm I am held.

Daddy God assures me all is well. Mom is safe, healthy, happy. I will see her again.

It is Well” is currently on my playlist. I wish you joy in the midst of your struggle and heartache.

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A Less Toxic Life

There’s no shortage of information about the dangers of toxins. Everywhere I look I see articles on green cleaning, detoxifying, clean eating, and more. New products appear on shelves and websites daily. And I’m all about it.

Recently, I started thinking of other “toxic” things. Toxic means harmful, poisonous. And these behaviors are every bit as dangerous to me as the toxins found in food and various products.

    Unforgiveness
    Resentment
    Immorality
    Worry

I know I could list many others, but you get the idea. This year I’ve asked the Lord to prune the branches in my life that aren’t bearing fruit. I want a life free of toxic behaviors and full of God’s grace and joy.

I wish you MUCH joy today and always!

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At His Feet

My mom died. I still can’t quite believe it. Have you seen those movies where a terrible battle has taken place? In the end there is rubble…there is nothing. It’s quiet, bleak, and barren. That’s how it seemed to us. Everything changed that awful Tuesday night.

But God. Through it all, God has been with me. In fact, God’s fingerprints have been all over this journey -from my sudden decision to retire early to Mom’s illness to today. Through every confusing, painful moment, God has shown up and scattered joy in my path. One of the best things to come from this heartbreak is it knocked me from the shabby throne I’d built myself alongside His. I was knocked to the ground and found myself at His feet. And I never want to leave that Holy Place.

I marvel at His ability to shine light in dark places, to sow joy, peace, and hope, and to bring beauty out of devastation.

I wish you His Joy in your journey!

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Pockets of Joy

Pockets of Joy- I have no idea if someone used this phrase around me or if the Holy Spirit just dropped it in my soul, but it resonates with me. I started using it as we planned Mom’s funeral. For while experiencing grief like I’ve never known, I also experienced the sweetest moments of undiluted joy, a much needed respite. At every bitter turn we were met with a blessing, a kind word, a delightful surprise.

The last two months have been a blur of activity, tears, new experiences, grief, laughter, and many, many pockets of joy. As my blog (Muchjoytoyou) might suggest, I’m rather obsessed with joy.

I’ve found as I recognize, revel in, and appreciate these moments they multiply. I’m in awe of what God has done in my life since Mom passed. It’s true, you know… times like these reveal the true treasures in your life. You learn who is there for you and who to let go. You appreciate kind people so much. You stop caring about the petty things of life. You lean on Daddy God in new ways. You learn tears are beautiful.

My pockets of joy have included a very special Christmas tree, episodes of Frasier shared with my family at Christmas, a friend’s FB post, beginning a bible in a year plan, kind people on the telephone as I closed mom’s accounts, my closest friends listening to my nonsensical babbling, laughter, my husband’s hugs and many acts of service, taking a family tradition/meal to mom’s grave, a book from a stranger, sweet and funny texts, snow. And the list goes on. God has dropped joy into my life every day since mom went to be with Him.

I am firmly held in the loving embrace of my Father. It is well. It is well with my soul.

I wish you many pockets of joy in your day! Check out one of my current favorite songs for my quiet time. We played this at mom’s funeral.

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Beautifully Broken

“I’m quickly learning this is a loss like no other. I’m now part of a club I never wanted to join.” -Me, one week after my mom passed away

I feel…so many things. One thing is for certain. I feel broken.

Have you heard of Kintsugi? I hadn’t, but I’d seen images on Pinterest. It’s repairing broken pottery with gold. The beauty of the gold emphasizes the break. Emphasizes brokenness?!? The repair is visible to all and creates a slightly altered vessel. It’s different, but it’s still beautiful.

The Lord has brought it to mind again and again. I believe He-as I allow Him– will take me, a broken vessel, and lovingly, sometimes painfully do a new thing. Like the vase, I’ll be different. My scars won’t be hidden. Rather, they’ll be highlighted. The gold? Maybe it’s those thousands… no millions… of tears I’ve shed and the surrender I’ve offered. I have laid my plans, my anguish, my fear, my future, my relationships, my ideas, my notions, my resentments, my anger, my very life at His feet. I love and trust Him. I think the gold is there.

Put your broken pieces into God’s hands and watch him use them to work his wonders.” -Christine Caine

I wish us all MUCH JOY! God is good. May we all believe it, see it, and live it in this new year.

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I Have Nothing to Say

“When you have nothing to say, say nothing.” – Charles Caleb Colton 

I have missed blogging, but I’ve had nothing to say. If you know me you know that’s rare!

I’ve recently come out of an interesting drought season. Thankfully, it was fairly brief. God is so good to give me brief glimpses into things. This time I got to glimpse depression. It’s horrible. And now I can better empathize with and pray for my people who suffer with it. How does one adequately describe the nothingness? How can I paint a picture of the heaviness, the emptiness, the hopelessness? I was angry with God as it seemed my faith and beliefs were disassembled before me. I struggled with reaching out for prayer. I don’t know why.  Fortunately, a few close to me saw that something was very wrong. They prayed. And I am back to myself. 

So, how did I come out so quickly? I don’t know. But a few thoughts I have if (when!!) you go through a drought season.

  • Cry out to God. He’s still there, whether you “feel” it or not. You can tell Him anything. I promise His love can handle  you crying, pouting, and ranting.
  • Find a trusted someone to pray you through.
  • Find a scripture that gives you hope and meditate on it day and night.
  • Do something for someone else.
  • Eat right, sleep, and get some exercise.
  • Allow others to help you.
  • Search your heart…is there a sin issue?

In my case I realized (Everyone in my life knew it, but I hadn’t seen it!!) there was.  I had an idol. I still struggle with it. My idol? It’s my job. I gave my first, best, and all to it. You see, I  teach. I love it. But I’ve realized a few things in the 20+ years I’ve taught. There is always more I could do.  I’m never done (until June… and even then I’m training, reading, pinning, and worrying about my kids). It demands everything from me. It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. I’m asked to do the impossible. On the plus side, there is no greater joy than to work with precious seven and eight year olds. I fall in love with each kid and delight in sharing life with these babies.  I get a high from every aha moment and success each kid has. Sometimes I actually DO the impossible. And I know that I am making a difference.  It’s pretty heady stuff. Maybe you can see why it’s been an idol.

The Word says that idols become dangerous…snares and traps. (Psalm 106:36)

Pass! I want to live free.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying. I know I’ve been a good teacher and I want to continue to be one, but not at the expense of my true identity: Jesus Girl. I need to be a better wife, daughter, and friend as well. I’d appreciate your prayers. I’m praying for balance and better priorities these days. I’m making progress, but I backslide some. I spent most of  Saturday working.  (And y’all…I’m not alone. This is how many teachers roll.) But I know God is faithful and He will show me better ways to manage my  workload. He already is! He seems to delight in giving me amazing ideas in the shower. It’s probably the only place he has my complete, undivided attention.

So, there it is. I’m recovering from idol worship.  I’m free of the nothingness that helped me learn I had an idol. And this I know: God is good.

How about you? What are your struggles with depression, with idols, with balance?

Today, more than ever, I wish you MUCH joy! 

Ride the Wave

If you know me or read this blog frequently, you already know I like lists. I like plans. I crave control, routine, and organization. Spontaneity is a rare thing in my life and chaos and drama are unwelcome. 

Sigh.

I’m at an interesting phase in life.  Midlife. So many things are out of whack and my illusions (delusions!) of control are being shattered. And I hate it. Or rather, I did. Aging, milestone birthday approaching, menopause, work, health, emotions, relationships…when thing after thing after thing spun out of control, I finally realized God had to be in this. And I surrendered. Pretty much. Once again, my Father is challenging my Martha spirit. 

Hubby and I were talking about it and we describe this phase as our “riding the wave” phase. We love our beach trips. We adore getting in the ocean to cool off and to ride the waves. We never know if the waves will bring a gentle roll or push or a surprise dunking and crash. Turns out, life is the same. A lot of you are far better at going with the flow than I am, but I am trying. And, as usual, I’m struggling to make sense of it all through prayer, overthinking, and blogging. I have to confess that it’s exciting (and uncomfortable and scary) to let go and let the waves of life come and go without trying to control them. 

I wish you MUCH joy as you ride the waves.

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Just Be. 

It’s okay to stop doing and just be. 




I can’t seem to help it. I start every school year, every calendar year, every break (Christmas and Spring), and ever summer vacation with a to do list and a plan. It’s just how I roll. I know it’s annoying to some, but it’s bigger than me.  I. Can’t. Stop. 

This summer break feels different, though. God is definitely up to something, but I’m not going into the why today… I am simply excited about the results. This year, for the first time, my goal is simply to be. Be still. Be quiet. Be happy. Be. Just Be. 

We canceled a vacation and decided to just take each moment as it comes. This is so foreign to me. You know what? I think I like it! I’m sleeping better, laughing more, and hanging out with my favorite people. More time on the patio, more time talking to my people, more cooking, more reading, more music, more going with the flow- – this may just be my favorite break ever. So, to all of my friends who have begged me to calm down already…you were right. This is good.  Will this last? I can’t see this continuing when school starts, but I’m willing to try. 

What are your summer plans? I’d love to hear. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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Love Your Neighbor 

Our world is aching to be loved, valued, and acknowledged. Everyone is fighting a battle the rest of us don’t see. Love your neighbor. It comes down to that. Simple. Profound. 


I’m blessed by the people I see loving, caring and fighting the good fight. I’m sure you’re thinking of some of the same dear ones I am. Doctors and nurses going about their work with great love and compassion. Teachers loving their students, pouring themselves into their kiddos. Strangers letting you go first in line at the grocery store, paying it forward at the coffee shop, tipping generously. Pastors, parents, neighbors, store clerks… no one is exempt from this command to love others and no one is unable.  We’re all in this together.

I want to love and be loved. I know you wish for the same. Let’s BE love to this sad, broken world. Let’s BE the hands and feet of our Jesus.

As always, I wish you MUCH joy!

Loves and Links Are Back! 

Tomorrow marks the beginning of spring. We’re enjoying gorgeous weather and I’m making keep, donate, and can’t decide piles. I’m getting better at this. My can’t decide pile is tiny. Turns out, I know what I like (and what I don’t like).  As I take a break from the sorting and cleaning, let me share a few absolute loves. 

  • Have you heard Forever Country yet? Love, love, love! 
  • Holy cow! Have you tried these serums? I used one for tanning last summer. I know, I know.  But I did and the results were amazing! Last winter I suffered from dry, itchy skin. That was new for me. I used their anti-aging serum and the results were immediate. Honestly, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself. The only thing I don’t care for is the smell. It’s pretty stinky in my opinion, but well worth it. 
  •  This face wash is so gentle and effective …I’m in love! I have combination skin and it’s been perfect!!  I know this sounds odd, but it-the actual foam-is also incredibly soft. Try it. I know you’ll love it. 
  • This body butter is my year-round favorite when I don’t want a scent. They call it Bliss for a reason! 
  • I love little luxuries and Young Living’s Satin Face Scrub is my current favorite indulgence. It’s replaced the Bliss scrub in my shower. It has a light minty smell and leaves my skin sooooo soft! 
  • Love lip color? Hate it? Either way you’re going to love Lipsense. My teaching partner hates lipstick, but tried this stuff and became a distributor. Wow!  If you knew Krista, you’d know what a big deal this is. If you’re on Facebook search for her group, Lasting Lips by Krista, or message me for her contact information. The color lasts all day and I like that you can top with gloss or matte. And the yummy colors….
  • If I had my way I’d wear yoga pants and tee shirts all of the time. Purely by accident, I discovered an awesome tee shirt company!!! Cents of Style has the cutest tees! They fit well and hold up wash after wash. Try them out. 

If this kind of post is your cup of tea or if you are my husband frantically trying to find the perfect birthday gift, try this post, or this post, or even this post

So, what are your thoughts? Have you tried any of my favorites? Have some of your own to share? As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

Got TWITTER? Tweet with me! @julielclarke

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