October 21, 2013

Count it all JOY

so I didn't post in September because it was honestly a very hard month for me and I don't ever want to relive it-thankfully I don't have to!  I knew going into september that starting to work 5 days a week again after staying home for the past 5 years was going to be an adjustment, and transition is not my strong suite....I think I hear Michael shouting, Amen!  My husband deserves lots of shout outs for being amazing this month, we've put our house on the market this past month and He's the listing agent, He has done lots of dishes, loads of laundry, dusted and shown our house a handful of times, nursed me back to health, encouraged me, and prayed for me during some tough days.  During the month I was reflecting on our daughter's name....Marlee JOY.  These are both names of beautiful women in our families, but Joy is also something I think God had in store to teach me when we set out on this journey, and I had no clue as to the double meaning in her name!  This adoption process has been a journey to Joy...and we're not there yet folks!  From what we can gather it's going to be a long wait still, so I've got a lot more time to get better at this!  It's uncanny how many times this summer I heard sermons on Joy, read scriptures about the command to rejoice, and prayed for joy.  It's a time in the adoption waiting and just in my life in general that is trying.  Planting a church is tough.  wading through old and new relationships is tough.  trusting God to provide is tough at times too.  I know this lesson to 'count it ALL joy" is not just related to our adoption, but God is trying to teach me it in many areas lately and I've journaled a few of my thoughts I wanted to share.

An obvious lesson to learn from this season in my life (a season I now like to entitle, 'waiting and working' ha!) is patience and trust in the Lord.  The not as obvious lesson is trying to lean into gratitude to uncover real JOY.  I started by reading '1000 gifts' by Ann Voscamp and I really understood the correlation she pointed out between gratitude and joy.  Joy is not circumstantial.  Joy is deeper than circumstances; it's a choice.  I've also found that circumstances can knock the joy right out of us for a time, and WAITING can drain the joy out too.  I read an article on the gospel coalition blog awhile back entitled, "5 signs waiting has weakened your faith" by Paul Tripp and I've certainly found that I have all 5 signs and waiting has weakened me!  He says that if you've given way to 1. doubt 2. anger 3. discouragement 4. envy and 5. inactivity then you aren't exercising your faith muscles.  Instead, I should grow in my faith by seeing the waiting as pointing me to God, making me note my need for dependence on Him, and pointing me to God's goodness.  God is ultimate wisdom and all sufficient love!  I need to exercise good spiritual habits to put my mind and heart in the right place-gratitude...that will lead me to joy.  In a sermon I heard this summer, a pastor suggested that when I don't have a lot of joy in my life I should do a two part check.  1. step back to see the big picture.  I can count my blessings here and fix my eyes on Jesus-my hope that doesn't disappoint.  2.  Ask myself how much time I'm spending with Jesus?  You can only trust as much as you love.  Intimacy takes time.  There's a reason for everything; sometimes I know that reason, and sometimes I don't.  I have to choose to believe and be grateful.  I heard this Beth Moore quote that says, "If you pray for God to remove this cup from you and He doesn't, that cup must be essential to your mission on earth."  Joy is also a command that the scriptures give us WHILE we're suffering.  I was reading in Philippians 1:29-30 that we get to suffer for Christ-it's a right and priveledge we have as His disciples! 

SO, "Consider it all Joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have it's perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

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