Showing posts with label joy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label joy. Show all posts

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Don't Let Him Steal Your Joy

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I experienced joy in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Have you ever experienced something or attended a gathering where you tasted a hint of heaven? That’s what I experienced at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I spent a week at the Ridgecrest Conference Center immersed in fellowship, worship, and education. More than knowledge, wisdom swirled in those mountains. Every day we spent two sessions listening to encouraging and hope-filled messages from the keynote speakers. We were led in worship by a young couple who blessed us with their love of Jesus. We attended classes led by amazing authors and folks in the publishing industry, and I met fellow writers who, like me, needed encouragement to stay obedient to the call to write.

The experience as a whole filled me with hope and anticipation, but I knew when I went home to my family (who I longed to see) and every day life, I’d need to ease back into life. I say this because I know the Devil and his wily ways. He can’t wait to suck the joy out of me, but Kia Stephens, the final keynote speaker, reminded me to guard my heart from the one who wants to inflict doubt.

God told Samuel He looks at the heart, and Proverbs reminds me to guard my heart because everything flows from it.

One way to keep my heart safe from attack is to praise God, lift my face to Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with peace.

When the devil attacks—fight backlift your voice and sing. It doesn’t matter if it’s off key or not, just praise the Father and ask Him to fill your heart with His hope and peace.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Tucked Under the Leaves

Psalm 59:16-17

But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

Our neighbor knocked on the door the other evening. He stopped by to share the news we had a nest of baby bunnies in my flower bed. Since we both have dogs, he wanted us to be aware, so Rosie wouldn’t bother it.

Tim and I took a peek and saw the little babies nestled inside under a tumble of gray fur and grass. The next morning, we went to check on them, and one of them hopped out. Of course I squealed like a child filled with joy. The little guy was adorable and big enough to take on the wild world of nature.

I’m not sure why the momma chose to place her babies in my flower bed, tucked under the yarrow leaves, but I’m glad she did. Maybe the soft leaves gave her a feeling of security. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful we got to witness the beauty of the baby bunny and the joy of new life.

As a momma myself, I wanted to tuck my babies into a secure place and protect them from the world. Yet, I knew instead I needed to trust the One who shelters me. As the kids grew up and discovered themselves and secured a relationship with God, I prayed as I sent them into the world that God would protect and shield them. Now, our grandchildren have or are leaving the nest, and I pray over them daily.

God is the refuge in this crazy life.

Seek Him as your shelter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

I'm Glad I Paid Attention

Toadshade trillium sprinkle the forest floor. 
It's more common in Ohio's woods and visible in the spring. 
On our hikes we'd seen several of them. 
One day I read a post about the trillium flexipes and it's presense in Ohio parks, 
but I'd never seen one, until this week.

Tim and I walked along the trail, 
and as usual I was on the lookout for new spring plants.
If I hadn't been paying attention, I would have missed this beauty. 
A foot from the gravel path, in the grass, the trillium flexipes nodded at me. 

What a pleasant surprise. 

When I pay attention, God often surprises me with joy. 

Trillium flexipes


Toadshade Trillium


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dilly's Garden

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.

Grandchildren remind me of flowers. Over time, they bloom and grow into themselves. We are blessed to have wonderful grandchildren who respect us and help us. I don’t take that for granted. We give credit to their parents who have raised them to love God and love people.

A few months ago, I mentioned I would need help in my little flower garden. I like to play in the dirt, but I can’t do what I used to. My granddaughter Dylan volunteered. April zipped in after the flurry of March, and I stopped in Lowe’s for some garden soil. Of course, I got distracted by the colorful perennials and purchased a pink and a purple columbine and a pretty pincushion flower.

I sent Dylan a text that Sunday and she came on Monday. This young lady knelt in the dirt, planted flowers, dug out others, moved a few, sprinkled seeds and smiled. When she stood, she was covered in dirt and mulch and she looked lovely, because she wore humbleness and helpfulness in all its glory.

Dylan graduates high school this year, and I know she’ll bloom into whoever God intends her to be. She already has a great start, a wonderful work ethic, and kindness for others.

I’m calling this section of my flower bed, Dilly’s garden, and I’ll be blessed each time I admire my granddaughter’s work.

If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or any children you love in your life, show them how to love others without wanting something in return. Teach them to help others by helping them. Show kindness and kindness will blossom and show appreciation.

We all have someone in our lives to nurture. The best way is to share the love of Jesus.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

A Joyful Soul

Song of Solomon 12: 11-12

See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.

Bright yellow flowers bob their heads among the purple petals.

As much as I love winter, I adore the first blooms of spring. In southern Ohio, the daffodils are popping. Have you noticed seasons have their own array of color? Right now we’re seeing a lot of yellow and purple. Forsythia bushes are waving branches of golden blossoms and vinca vines are displaying their periwinkle buds. Soon, the tulips will open and add reds and pinks to the display.

All of these flowers fill my soul with joy. Their beauty gives me hope. After the cold, dark season of winter, God graces us with a rainbow of color and days filled with sunshine.

Have you experienced a dark season? They come and go, don’t they? When I’ve traveled through a dark tunnel in life, hope shined at the end of the darkness, because I didn’t journey alone. Jesus walks with me step-by-step. As a believer in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I’m in their company every day, no matter the circumstance. The Holy Spirit dwells in my soul and guides me on the dark days and the bright days. He’s the reason I never walk alone. We don’t talk much about the Spirit, which is a shame.

God created me to have a physical body and a spiritual soul. I’m so thankful for both. Although my body is wearing out with time, the Spirit brings wisdom to my soul. Jesus’ love and grace pour into me and fill me with peace.

As spring arrives and fills the days with beauty, reflect on the hope, peace, and joy of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.

God bless you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Crocus's Song

Yesterday, the warmth of spring knocked on our door.
This morning, I discovered these beautiful crocuses blooming.

They push through the cold ground, while still winter
and sing the song of spring.

Have you discovered any signs of spring?


 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Christmas Shift

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I can’t help but turn to one of my favorite verses as I consider the new year.

Christmas didn’t turn out as I had hoped this year. Illness caused a shift in plans. Yet, we still spent time with family, as we could, and worshipped the Savior we celebrate.

I was reminded one more time, that I’m not in control. I can plan and prepare, but life sometimes takes all the lists and calendars and throws them into a blender. I don’t recognize what pours out, but I understand regardless plans work out and timing isn’t mine.

One thing I want to take from the Christmas shift is to always consider God in my plans. He knows what’s best for me and my family. You see even though I didn’t get to have things my way, I was still blessed beyond what I deserve.

As I move toward the shiny new year of 2024, I cling to Romans 15:13. I trust in God for the hope, joy, and peace He promises. I believe in Jesus, who loves me and saved me, and I cling to the Holy Spirit and His power.

I pray as you look to the new year, you’ll seek Jesus and the hope we have in him.

Blessings for 2024.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Hark-Do You Hear Them?

Luke 2:10-14
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

You gotta love Linus!

I don’t think I’ve missed watching A Charlie Brown Christmas since the show debuted in 1965. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate Linus and his blanket. If you watch closely, when he recites the story of Jesus’ birth, he drops his security blanket. He knows his true security has come as a babe in the manger. Yes, the characters are cartoons, but the story is real. Charlie Brown represents all of us who are searching for the truth, and Linus presents it to him in the most beautiful way.

As Linus tells, the angels addressed the shepherds with good news of great joy. Years ago, a hymn called Hark How All the Welkin Rings by Charles Wesley evolved over time into Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Welkin means heavens or skies. He shared the beautiful idea of the angels, who rejoiced. Wesley’s hymn changed, but the story of Jesus’ birth remains the same. The angel approached shepherds, a lowly lot by society’s standards, and shared the good news of Jesus. That act shows me Jesus came for every one of us so we can have a relationship with His Father, God.

A few years ago, I realized I’d clung to this hymn because Linus and all his pals sang it at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It has stayed at the top of my favorites list for years.

As you contemplate Christmas and the love of Jesus, I hope you sing with joy.


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Great Books to Read With Your Kids this Christmas

I had the privilege of listening to my daughter read 
How the Grinch Stole Christmas to her first grade class. 
I call it a privilege because, for one, she's my daughter, but besides that 
she uses all the voices of the characters. It's truly a joy. 
I read this story to my kids when they were young and 
to hear one of them read it aloud is magical.

The Grinch's story is one of change. 
He's a mean one, as they say. 
The Whos from Whoville are filled with joy, to the point 
they continue to celebrate Christmas even without 
any presents, decorations or food. 
Their unselfish joy changes the Grinch's heart.

Isn't Christmas more than gifts, feasts, and decor? 
Of course it is. 
It's joy in the depths of the heart. Rejoicing that King Jesus was born. 

If you want your children to appreciate the simple 
yet powerful theme of joy, read the Grinch and 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 
The Best Christmas Pageant is 
a heartwarming chapter book you'll laugh out loud over.





 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Everyday Joy

When I get out of my car to go in the house, 
these beautiful zinnias greet me.
They happen to be my favorite color--
which brings me joy!

Do you have something you see everyday that brings you joy?

Shout for joy to God, all the earth! -Psalm 66:1


 

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Nonfiction Book Review: A Small Cup of Light by Ben Palpant

What it's about:
The book that J.I. Packer called, "Haunting, deeply pondered, and beautifully written," is changing lives. A Small Cup of Light is the story of an unexpected encounter with God in the desert of despair. Several years ago, Ben Palpant 
suffered a sudden and massive health collapse that crippled many of his faculties nearly overnight. That experience prompted him to ask the hard questions, like, "What shall we do when confronted with the ache of our suffering in the presence of a living God?" Palpant's story is proof that a relationship with God can be more intimate not in spite of suffering, but because of suffering. A Small Cup of Light is a bold invitation to face God in the darkness. It is a rousing call to the human spirit, offering hope to the hopeless and a song to the suffering.

My Thoughts:
I seldom read and review nonfiction. Not because I don't like it, but because most of what I read is research for writing. Author, Ben Palpant attended the Goodlit Writer's retreat with me and twelve other writers, where he shared beautiful fiction prose. I knew he had published before in the realm of nonfiction, so I thought I'd see what he had written when I got home. I'm so glad I did. A Small Cup of Light is the heart-wrenching and yet, joy filled story of a time in his life when he faced a difficult and scary health crisis. Ben takes that hard time and opens up about how God met him there after he learned to listen. This isn't a sugar-coated story of recovery. This is the honest story of a man who came face-to-face with crisis and found along with the anger, disappointment, and frustration, a joy that could only come from glorifying God. Ben's book will lift the weary and weighted and offer hope to all of us. His melodic writing comforts, along with the many references to scripture and wisdom from other writers which he quotes. He says, "The very hope of the Gospel rests directly upon our ability to imagine a world in which suffering serves as the soil from which resurrection springs." I highly recommend A Small Cup of Light. I purchased a copy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Shout for Joy!

When I'm in the country, I'm reminded of the beauty God has blessed us with.
I can almost hear the fields and trees praising God.

If these amazing creations can bring glory to God, surely I can too.

Shout for joy to the Lord!


 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Dance With God

Genesis 1:3-5
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Glory filled the sky.

The best thing I can say about my week at Goodlit Writers Retreat isGod blessed me with a gift. An unexpectedI can't believe I'm here gift. Surrounded by other people who strive to write for God, I witnessed the beauty of minds and hearts opening up and pouring out. Folks from all over the country met in the quintessential small town of Stanford, Kentucky, to better understand the purpose of God's calling to write.

The different backgrounds and experiences meshed together to form a group who, like me, wanted to obey and follow the journey God is leading us on.

On Tuesday evening, Angela and Jess, hosts for the week, invited us to their beautiful farm. For me, a country girl at heart, the trip filled me with joy. After a delicious Kentucky dinner, Jess drove the tractor and pulled us on a wagon (with upholstered seats) to the top of a grass-covered hill and we watched the sunset. As the light and coming darkness played together, the pinks and pale blues turned to glorious red and deep navy. Just before night fell, the sky reminded me how when people come together to create or work, or live as a family, God can bring harmony to the dance.

In whatever I do, I pray God joins me as I pursue my dreams. He's the one who placed them on my heart and poured the talent and skills into me. Angela owns a beautiful soap store in town, Kentucky Soaps and Such. When we toured the production area, this quote was painted on the wall. "Lord, let our workspace, whatever that looks like, be our worship place." When we bring the work we do before the Lord and ask Him to partner with us, we couple with Him and bring Him glory.

Watch a sunset and let the beauty fill you with joy and a desire to dance with God.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Joy in Creation

Psalm 65:8
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
   where morning dawns, where evening fades,
   you call forth songs of joy.

My zinnias are blooming.

This time of year, as I'm driving through the country toward my hometown to visit family, I roll past fields of soybeans and signs with sweet corn for sale. Abundant gardens filled with tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers catch my eye, and one home offers pick your own flowers. The cosmos and zinnias dance in the breeze, inviting people to stop by and cut a bouquet.

My daughter, Maggie, and her husband, Michael, grew a lovely garden this year. From their abundance, she gave us green beans and zucchini, and I can't wait to see her blue pumpkins. As I sat in my chair and snapped the beans, I considered how amazing it is that God gave us so many incredible plants. He offers a variety for us to eat and a multitude to enjoy.

The zinnias I planted from seed have sprouted and bloomed. Their rainbow of color welcomes people to our door and brings joy to my day.

I am in awe of all God created. From the tiny pea to the giant redwood, the woods to the rainforest, the ocean to the mountains, everything He made He gave us to explore, discover, use, and enjoy. God also gave us responsibility to take care of the earth and the natural resources He provided. As I soak in the beauty, I long for us to appreciate and care for the environment we live in.

The whole earth is filled with wonder and I rejoice in God, the Creator of everything. Even as I love all the plants and animals, I adore and worship the One who made them, and I'm thankful for the bounty of summer and the beauty of the season.

Thank God for His gift of creation and rejoice in Him.

 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Shout Joy!

The zinnias I planted this year have bloomed with a rainbow of colors.
Every time I wander outside to look at them my heart is filled with joy.
Yes it's a little thing, these flowers, but the joy is deep
because it's rooted in God.

No matter the day or circumstance, 
my heart leaps with joy when I think of my Savior, Jesus.


 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Grow Through It

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Every flower must grow through dirt. 

I've grown zinnias everywhere we've lived. The tall green stems topped with an array of color danced in my flowerbeds all summeruntil we moved to the condo. The little plot where the lavender and black-eyed Susans thrive isn't good for zinnias. I'd given up trying to grow them from seed until a new spot opened on the other side of the porch. The HOA had removed a pine tree and left a gaping hole in the landscape. When the neighbor gave me several packets of flower seeds, I stirred the dirt, laid down some potting soil, and sprinkled the seeds with the hope of growth.

In about a week, little seedlings pushed through the dirt. Those tiny green sprouts brought me joy. Not all the seeds made an appearance, but the ones who did will show the colors of summer. I'm eager to see how they grow and bloom.

Like the seedlings, sometimes we have to push through the dirt to grow. The soil may represent a difficult time in our lives when our hearts are tested by sorrow, despair, or uncertainty. Or maybe we're in the wrong soil, like the zinnias. The dirt in the little flowerbed didn't allow for growth, but the other side had the nourishment the plants needed.

Maybe we're in the wrong place because we aren't listening to God. What if I've allowed myself to stop listening to the Holy Spirit, which means I've cut off my life's supply of grace and hope?

Regardless of where I am in life, I will continue to grow through as I go through. Whether I'm pushing through the soil or finding myself in the wrong spot, I need to seek Jesus and listen to the Spirit of God so my faith will produce perseverance and perseverance will bring me to maturity.

Have you planted your heart in God's soil?

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

His Joy is Strength

My joy overflowed to have all three of my daughters 
with me on Mother's Day weekend.
We made art, we laughed, we talked, we ate, and we loved.

Even when my days are not so glorious and full of family and fun, I choose joy. 
Different from happiness, joy is Jesus in my heart, 
comforting me and reminding me that in Him everything will be okay. 

This day is holy to our Lord. 
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10b


 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Coming June 1

I've been writing devotions for years, and I'm happy to let you know my nature devotional will be published June 1, 2023.
If you love being outside enjoying nature, I believe this devotional is for you.



 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Easter May Be Over But...

 Choosing to follow Jesus fills my heart with hope.
I'm one of those people who has a hard time watching the news.
The sadness pierces my soul with grief.
But the hope I have in Jesus fills my heart with joy.

One day, I will meet Jesus and be reunited with loved ones 
who have gone to heaven.
No sorrow, no tears, no negativity. Only joy!
We'll rejoice with the angels and revel in the light of God.



Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Rev. 5:13

Saturday, February 11, 2023

This Old House

Proverbs 24:3-4

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

I’ve lived in 14 different homes in my lifetime.

When I was young, my parents sometimes took us for a Sunday drive to look at houses. We rolled along rural roads and through small towns. From that experience, I learned to appreciate the architecture of older homes. Some with fancy ginger breading and others with simple porches attracted my attention. To this day, I enjoy seeing some of the interesting houses in our travels.

Of the 14 different houses I’ve lived in, some of my favorites were the old farmhouses. They have so much character. I loved imagining what stories they could tell. From the farm wife toting in eggs from the chicken coop to the child sitting on her dad’s lap at the end of the day. Life was breathed into the home. Love, laughter, dinner around the kitchen table, cousins piling in, and the dog laying by the hearth. My mind weaves a tale of joy. However, I also know some houses heard the rough voices of arguing and anger. They felt the trembling of fear and sorrow. Those homes break my heart.

I also see the houses, who abandoned over time, have the life sucked out of them. They look tired, run-down, weary, and sad. I wonder at the stories they could tell.

As I compare a house or home to life lived, I see the same thing. Many people are filled with joy, peace, and love. While others may be angry or fearful or live a weary, sad life.

I could have been any of those three. We all could, but when I accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow and love Him, my life found the joy, love, and peace I longed for. Even in times of sadness and difficulty, Jesus’ love carries me. I no longer live as a slave to fear, anger, sadness, and sorrow. Instead, Jesus poured His love and grace into me and loves me more than I could imagine.

I want my home to be a place of love and peace, reflected in Jesus, just as I want my life to shine for the Lord.

Does your home reflect Jesus’ love? Does your life?