Live Loved

Words. I love them. If there’s a poster, wall hanging, bag, or plaque with a funny or inspirational quote I am holding it, reading it, and trying to talk myself out of buying it.

Walking across a bookstore, I paused when a poster caught my eye. Truthfully, it was one with that tiny, messy writing that my middle-aged eyes find difficult to read. Sigh. I’m glad I stopped, though.

Live Loved.

Live LOVED.

LIVE LOVED.

Wait. What? You know how your brain scrambles to make sense of things…I first thought it was the more familiar (to me, anyway), ‘Live. Laugh. Love.’ Live loved? Oh. Ohhhhhh.

I loved it! And hooray for me…I did not buy it! This is progress, people. But I did remember it. I’ve been rolling it around in my mind since. And today I woke up, knowing I was going to talk about it. What does it look like to ‘live loved’ I asked my barely awake self. I thought of the children I’d taught. The difference in a child well loved and one neglected, unloved, or even poorly loved is remarkable. The child’s academic achievement, growth, physical health, and relationships are all affected. Dramatically.

Human love is fragile and imperfect. But there’s a Love that never fails, that’s unconditional, that’s always there. His Love. If we walk this life living as though our Creator, our Savior, our Daddy God dearly, sacrificially, unconditionally loved us… and He does, of course.

I think living loved means:

  • Living confidently
  • Living free
  • Living healed and whole
  • Living with purpose and passion
  • Living with grace, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity

If I live loved…the implications are staggering. Everyone I come in contact with would benefit. I would, most certainly, benefit. What if His Church lived loved? Woah.

Today I wish you much joy, but I also wish you a life of living loved.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah.

-from Reckless Love

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A Thrill of Hope: Easter Blessings

I didn’t eagerly anticipate spring this year. Mom was gone and I just wanted the world to stay as I was-hunkered down, cold, quiet, numb. But spring persisted.

Fast forward a week or two. It was a gorgeous day, so I went for a walk. God is so sweet to me. I found myself rejoicing in the blue sky, green grass, and budding flowers. Joy snuck in. I felt a thrill of hope.

Time will not stand still for any of us. I’m grateful, because I would’ve chosen to remain tightly contained in my grief.

Today as I walked I was-again-reveling in the signs of renewal and rebirth all around me AND inside me. God is surely working in the midst of my grief. It hurts. I miss mom, but the intensity of it has dulled just a bit. Getting out of bed is easier. Dealing with life is easier. A thrill of hope.

I know that line is from a Christmas classic, but it stayed with me all day. I think it’s rather fitting for Easter. I know this weary soul is rejoicing.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.”

A thrill of hope...that is what I wish all of you this Easter. He is risen; He is risen, indeed.

He Is More

I am numb and completely devastated. I roar because my heart’s in turmoil. Psalm 38:8

I’ve seen and known God to be so many things in my life. Counselor, Friend, Savior, and more… I thought I knew Him. Then my mother died decades before it was time.

I was so angry with God. Like a child who has sobbed and thrown a massive tantrum I finally slumped next to Him in an exhausted heap of hurt and confusion. And there I’ve sat for weeks. And as I’ve leaned on Him in new ways He has proven Himself to be everything I need. He’s answered prayers before I thought to pray them. He is bigger than I knew. How did I forget that? He’s more. He’s so much more than I remembered or ever knew.

I wish you joy. I wish you MORE.

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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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