Tag Archives: joy

Joy in Our Call

1 Feb

Last year, the Lord gave me the word “Humility” to transform me. My word for 2014 seems to be “Joy.” Therefore, I’ve been looking at my collection of scriptures containing this powerful word. One verse jumped off the page, filling me with wonderful memories.

“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy” Proverbs 12:20 NASB

I clearly remember driving home in the dark, tired but elated. I banged on the steering wheel and loudly announced to my empty car, “I love counseling!” So what if it was almost 10:00pm. When a couple worked at healing their marriage or a depressed client did the homework, I saw God at work. I saw the face of Jesus in the lonely and unlovable. I felt the exhilaration of doing His work, loving His people.

My own failures, sin, rejection, and loss helped me empathize with my clients. Yet I also knew that facing challenges makes us stronger. We can never really run from our problems or ourselves. I loved being able to pray with and for my clients. It thrilled me when a biblical principle or verse took hold in someone’s life, or when a client realized what we think/believe can transform actions and emotions (Romans 12:2).

God led me in this direction since my youth. I was the Dear Abby for friends as far back as seventh grade. Very few things compare with living out God’s call on your life. So why did I retire early?

I retired from counseling because I wanted a different relationship with those who needed my skills. I didn’t want the ethical boundary forbidding friendship. I wanted the freedom to take food to the sick and hug publically. I wanted to mentor young women or offer parenting advice over a cup of coffee instead of across a counseling office.

Living out God’s call on our lives doesn’t necessarily mean financial compensation for God’s gift. Sometimes we support our call through a different paid vocation. Other times, our vocation and call are the same—whether you’re an accountant, plumber, CEO, or childcare worker. When we use our God given abilities and education for Him, we are doing ministry. One thing is certain, answering God’s call, no matter how difficult, will bring joy.

Periodically, I’ll be sharing God’s lessons on joy. What brings you joy? Is joy and happiness the same thing? I hope we can encourage one another in this journey of joy. Please comment below. I’d be “overjoyed” if you would follow this blog and like us on Facebook. J

Have a joyful day.

Twilight Love

20 Jul

photoO God, you have taught me ever since I was young, and I still talk about the miracles you have done. . .Let me live to tell the people of this age what your strength has accomplished, to tell about your power to all who will come (Psalm 71:17–18b GW).

This verse reminds me of Janie. She’s radiant when she speaks of her latest miracle and what God’s power accomplished. Janie turned 75 and married Robert the next day.

Janie and Robert share a history. Robert and Darrell were university buddies, both majored in math and physics. Janie and Darrell married in 1957; Robert and Shirley married in 1958.

The foursome remained friends after college and both men became teachers. After Robert moved to Amarillo, he persuaded Darrell to do the same. When Robert left teaching, he and Shirley lived in many different places including Puerto Rico and Geneva. Darrell and Janie visited in every new location. Sadly, Shirley developed Lupus.

Though the years, the two couples continued to share special times—weddings, cookouts, camping, and more. Robert visited Darrell and Janie after Shirley’s passing in 2004 and called often. When Alzheimer’s ended Darrell’s long goodbye, Robert was a pallbearer.

Shared joy; shared grief.

Janie and Robert had very little contact until 2011 when the extended phone conversations began. During one of these frequent calls, Janie mentioned she’d never flown by herself but was going to fly to Oregon for her second great-grandson’s baptism. Robert immediately said, “I’ll escort you to Oregon.” This was characteristic of Robert who regularly helped friends and strangers alike. Surprised and grateful, Janie accepted his generous offer.

They enjoyed the time together as good friends, never running out of conversational material. Robert made himself useful as they helped prepare for a birthday party. He played with and spoiled both precious little boys. No grandfather could have been more loving and attentive or fitted into the family any better.

They returned home as good friends, but imperceptibly Janie’s feelings for Robert altered during that trip. The long conversations continued and Robert came to visit in January 2013. Three enormous obstacles marred their realization that they cared deeply for each other. Almost five hundred miles separated them. They both had homes, family, friends, and a comfortable lifestyle. Then there was the age thing.

After the phone calls began, Janie’s son told her Robert would “come knocking at her door.” Janie assured him Robert wouldn’t knock and neither would ever move. It was impossible.

However, Janie began saying, “I have a fella.”

The long calls continued. Inevitably, they discussed marriage and found limited pros and abundant cons. Robert persuaded Janie that significance mattered more than quantity; she was delighted to see it his way.

“It just occurred to me,” Janie said, “we’re planning a wedding and we’ve never had a date.” Say no more. Robert drove to Amarillo, asked for a date, and Janie accepted.

I attended Janie’s lingerie shower; a bunch of twenty–year olds couldn’t have giggled more. No bride-to-be could have been more radiant. That glow accompanied Janie down the aisle June 29, 2013 as two families became one.

Robert had the wedding band engraved, “Twilight love is a blessing.” Janie and Robert have lived to tell this generation and the next that God removes all barriers, including distance, circumstances, and age.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT).

Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees

13 Jul

IMG_1211Every year I ask the Lord for a verse. In 2012, He gave me Isaiah 55:12. “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (ESV).

The previous couple of years had been challenging to say the least, and I yearned for renewed joy and peace. I claimed Isaiah 55:12 with no idea how God would bring it to pass. He was true to His word and eventually led me into this place of joy and peace. Our vacation in the national forest of Colorado brought all this to mind, as quaking aspen and gurgling streams reminded me of God’s faithfulness.

After three years, we’re once again camped in our 5th wheel trailer. My husband is an excellent fly fisherman and I enjoy photography. We delight in watching humming birds compete for a place at the feeder. There’s time for walking, reading, poking burning logs in the fire pit, and meaningful conversation.

We drove one of the “improved roads” up from our camp. The picturesque 10,000-foot mountain surpassed our expectations of beauty and fun. I couldn’t help but think of Romans 1:20. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (NIV). How can anyone witness the grandeur and beauty of creation and not recognize the Creator?

Isaiah 61 gives those trapped in physical, emotional, and mental affliction reason to clap and sing. Jesus proclaimed Isaiah 61:1-2 spoke of Him.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He . . . found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 17–19, 21 ESV).

Isaiah 61 continues, “To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3 ESV).

Did you notice Isaiah called us trees? We are to be God’s beautiful oaks of righteousness, bringing glory to Him. Christ heals our broken hearts, sets us free, and so much more. Therefore, we join nature in singing, clapping, and proclaiming His glory.

Celebrate

21 Jun

Are you ever weary? I’m not referring to fatigue resulting from hard physical work. I speak of the weariness from working too hard, too long. It may be a job, a project, a tough relationship, or even following hard after God. Today it all caught up with me. I realized I was weary.

George looked at me. “What’s wrong?” (I can’t fool hubby.)
“I have no idea.” It took some thought as to why I felt bummed. “It may be because I can’t seem to have any fun.”
In the last couple of days, I had taken several breaks from writing. House cleaning and laundry sure didn’t help—neither did gardening, reading, or watching a recorded TV show. I tried prayer, Bible study, and counting my blessings. Nothing fixed my mood.
Then George asked, “How about dinner and a movie?”
Bingo!

I needed celebration. Everything I tried was a solitary endeavor. I needed fellowship and fun. God is all about celebration. Think of the angels proclaiming Christ’s birth or the apostle Paul reminding us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV).

God proclaimed regular times of celebration in the Old Testament. The biggest and best was the Year of Jubilee. Every 50 years God commanded the Israelites to cancel all debts, release slaves, plant no crops, and return property to the original owner. Every generation could experience new beginnings through complete trust in God’s provision.

Jesus began His public ministry proclaiming He was the fulfillment of the year of Jubilee.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19 NRSV).

George’s offer made me realize I had become captive to a deadline. I grabbed Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and read the last chapter: “The Discipline of Celebration.” It was balm to my soul. How easy it is to forget the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Lack of joy should have been a clue I wasn’t trusting God to help me meet my deadlines. My life was out of balance.

God had already provided for this evening of celebration. The place I wanted to eat “just happened” to have a Groupon—$20 worth of food for $10. Fits of laughter made a delicious meal even more delightful. We saw a good movie at the senior discount. What a blessing.

Are you weary? Perhaps you need a date with your mate, a night with the girls, or a game in the man cave. Celebrate love and friendship. Celebrate freedom in Christ. Celebrate with music, laughter, good food, and gratitude.
Just celebrate.