"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: joy (page 1 of 2)

covid-19 journal: spring snow

I grieve the losses small business in my town are taking

The life altering changes college students are facing

The doctors and nurses and grocery workers and the sacrifices they are daily making

Yet

When the spring snow comes

And 2 boys make plans, calculating their school assignments and class requirements.  Fill me in on the way the timing will work, the supplies they need, the adjustment to meals they’d prefer (we want to work till dark, then we’ll come in and eat dinner, we’ll start first thing in the morning and work on school at noon)

And they go out and build an igloo in this perfectly packable 8” of snow?

Oh the joy!

Had we been operating according to our regularly scheduled programming, today would have looked more like a conversation in the car wondering if the snow will still be there when the school day ended.

In Colorado, it hits like a train wreck, but clears away much faster.

but we have been forced home, paving the way for today’s igloo building by 2 brothers soon to be leaving the nest.  All the words about all the plans, the engineering decisions, the explanations; “wow zeke that’s brilliant!”, instead of mere imaginations of what could be if the sun could hide some of her strength, are actual reality!

And I wonder

After this is all over

Will we all return to the way things were?  Will we have learned and grown more balanced?  Will we value relationships over productivity?  Will we understand the lifelong benefits of bonding experiences? Will we be open to them when they come, willing to flex and disappoint the powers that be for what really matters in the right now? 

These are the questions I ask myself. I lean towards duty bound, loyalty, integrity and strong work ethic.  These things are valuable-essentials.  Yesterday morning was a duty morning of boys shoveling when they’d rather be warm and still in bed.  It’s not an abandoning of that I’m questioning.  It’s walking in the nuanced balance of the Holy Spirit who gives strength for the drudgery hard work, and courage for the invited play. 

This virus has stretched us all, but when the rubber band snaps back, will we take on our former form, or will our shape have changed from the stretching? 

will I remember this day, and have the courage to cancel school myself and allow these boys to stay home and play?  The consequences would be steep-for one at the community college and the other well into his high school NHS career. 

Would a teacher at the high school have freedom to take the students outside and have a lesson in igloo building because the materials have fallen at his door and won’t last till tomorrow? Would that courageous decision bear more impact than anything he does all year?  Would those students remember that day and the lessons they learned for the rest of their lives? 

Could that be the new normal we aspire to?  A new flexibility. Permission to be human?  Valuing the immense learning, bonding, health in perceived play? 

It’s hard to say, and is yet another thing out of my control. 

But what is in my control is today-to observe, to receive the joy in what has been given to us in the midst of the hard. to write it all down. 

A spring snow in the time of corona

chasing joy | write 31 days

night beach

Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  -Jesus

reading of a joy that could not be taken intrigued me.  i wondered, is He talking about heaven, or will seeing Him alive again give these guys this un-take-able joy?  will no one be able to take it from them even while left living out their days here on earth?

darkmoon

a few days later i got my answer…

They called the apostles in and had them flogged.  Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

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what kind of joy is it that a flogging can not remove it?  that they could feel the terror and excruciating pain and yet rejoice all at the same time?  because i don’t believe it is an either/or situation here.  i think it is something completely other.  the light shines in the darkness, the darkness cannot not overcome it, yet, it still remains in contrast to it.  Jesus says there is a joy that cannot be taken-no matter how dark things get.  this is something i want.  it is something i’ve been seeking to understand and take hold of ever since i sat there in awe at these verses coupled together in just such a way.  if it’s a joy that cannot be taken, then it’s source must be different than the things that are bringing me joy today.  these things that could be gone tomorrow.  i know the Sunday School answer is that its source is Jesus.  but what does this mean, how does this change my afternoon?

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i named this blog; chasing joy.  naming a blog is a hard thing to do, for how does one capture the main theme of their writing?  i didn’t know, but i had perceived a theme permeating my everyday.  a chasing after a joy that neither the wonderful and amazing nor the dry and weary and dark things could smother.  that fullness of joy found in the very Presence of the One who’s Life is the Light of men.

so i named the blog and i started writing. but i never really connected the dots between the one and the other.  October welcomes in the 31 days writing challenge, which is such a hard and meaningful exercise for me.  the point is to focus in and go deeper into one topic. this year i’ll be diving deeper into this mysterious Joy i’ve been chasing after, the joy my Captain has been guiding my path towards all along.  to see all the posts in the series, click here:

 chasingjoy5

and here are other 31 days series i’ve done in the past:

31praytag provision5b

 heavens
(Wonder)


to draw further in:  John 1:1-14; John 16-17; Acts 5:17-41

overshadowed

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while driving, i glance over and the perspective i see of those massive white peaks above massive blue ones is stunning.  it is such a contrast as i can almost see the entire bustling city at its base.

they stand there-so strong, so constant, so unmovable, so still.  i know that if i were to turn the car towards them and drive closer closer in, i’d lose that picture and see the hustle and bustle happening in their midst too, but here-this view- and they are saying something else.

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arrows fly at lightning speed, aimed straight at those sore and weak spots of my heart.  they fly from words without, but mostly from words within. they beckon me back into the courtroom before the prosecutor who always comes to steal and kill and destroy.  the attack is always strategic, wolves tearing at flesh striving to snatch joy away. always striving to snatch joy away.  and they come in all sorts of clothing.

mountain3

those massive peaks remind me of what is true.   like the city nestled at the base of those Rocky Mountains, i am small, resting in the Shadow of a Mighty Warrior.  He stands behind me and the wolves scatter.

“But was you not afraid, good sir, when you see him come with his club?”
“It is my duty,” said he, “to distrust mine own ability, that I may have reliance on him that is stronger than all”.”
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress    

this Stronger One has adjourned the court-the verdict is in.  why do i persist in returning?  my identity has been determined by the only One who knows everything, the One who calls me beloved even tho He knows everything.  He is majestic, He is massive, He is formidable, He is mighty, and He is kind.  The Lord Almighty is His name.


 mountain4

 in my moments of clarity and hope, i entertain longings, desires, dreams;  i look at my laundry/everything/dumping room and form a picture in my head and the steps to take to get it there.  i look at my front yard full of hundreds of years of neglect and the weeds that love to grow and i imagine a new picture and all the ways to get there.  i imagine the hospitality that i will offer and the enjoyment we will all share with the new space i will create.  i look at my 40 year old figure and see the form of my days and how exercise fits just right-right there. i can visualize the enjoyment and joy of all 5 of us getting our heart rates up and the energy and whole body health that will come as a result….. just to name a few.

hope deferred makes the heart sick.

but then i get a call and bring 3 extra little boys home and it’s everything i can do to come up with enough dinner for all of us and a bit extra to send home with them to their sick mom.

but then i’m rinsing out a throw-up bowl one more time and making honey toast for another one who can now keep food down.  i’m washing sheets and learning how to sanitize silverware and cups with no dishwasher.

a couple of days to recover, the desires and hopes flood in only to be hit with another round of illness or something else.  and the only thing constant is my need for strength from the only One who can give it.

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just three days ago i began to formulate a plan of execution for that laundry room.  today as i’m walking though to bring medicine to another sick one it stands there mockingly.  i let myself sob at all the ways it’s a representative of even deeper things, crying out to the One who delights to show Mercy to me.  and together we go to all of the places of deferred hopes.  i breath deep and remember that even if my children flunk out of school, even if we are not able to get well, even if i never tackle that laundry room, even if my husband’s travel schedule never ends, even if on this green earth all the people who want answers to our questions will never get them and will go on assuming how if we only did this or this we could be happy and healthy and wise.  even if, even if, even if….those mountains crumble and fall into the heart of the sea…

sky3

…our standing, my standing, before the King of Kings will not be shaken loose.  His delight in me will not be effected by failing grades or messy spaces, or sick bodies, or cancelled responsibilities.

i think back on those mountains,  i can’t see them from where i stand, but i know they are still there.  and i think of how sure and strong and steadfast my Mighty God is, how He is present in all His grandeur and glory, overshadowing the ins and outs of what feels like a crazy life.  deep within i am filled with joy and awe at the constancy of my Everlasting Father.

i will rejoice in the LORD,
i will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights.

 


 

 

to draw further in:  chapter 4 of Pilgrim’s Progress; The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller, Romans 8, Psalm 46, Habakkuk 3

 

 

 

Restoring Wonder | Far As the Curse is Found

christmaslights

oh the curse. my eyes have seen it.  my prayers have felt it.  my hope for change has been dashed in so many ways by it.  and i’m tempted to think that Christmas has lost any Hope of Joy because of death or divorce or addictions or etc., etc., etc…

but then on an ordinary day driving an ordinary road He shows me the roots of my cynicism and the Wonder of Who. He. Is.
yet again.

and so, i find myself standing next to that old Grinch…..

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!    

christmaspurpleball

….what if death and illness and loss and divorce and curse….can’t trump that Babe’s coming?  can’t trump the joy of that Babe’s coming?  No! it can’t! in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us;

He is enduringly strong.
He is entirely sincere.
He is eternally steadfast.
He is immortally gracious.
He’s imperially powerful.
He’s impartially merciful.
He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe.

He is God’s Son.
He is the sinner’s Savior.
He is the captive’s Ransom.
He is the Breath of Life.
He is the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of Himself.

He is august* and He is unique.
He is unparalleled and He is unprecedented.
He is undisputed and He is undefiled.
He is unsurpassed and He is unshakable.

He is the loftiest idea in philosophy.
He is the highest personality in psychology.
He is the supreme subject in literature.
He is the unavoidable problem in higher criticism.
He is the fundamental doctrine of theology.
He is the Cornerstone, the Capstone, and the stumbling Stone of all religion.
He is the miracle of the ages.

Dr. Samuel M. Lockeridge
*august-as an adjective it means; inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic:

i am becoming convinced that what Paul said is true.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, divorce or illness, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

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Christ came!  He came just the same!


to draw further in: Isaiah chapters 9, 40, 44, 61; with Luke 2 and Romans 8

 

Restoring Wonder | Deep calls to Deep

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it’s friday.

these hard weeks have taken their toll.  still i trudge along carrying the discouragement just below the surface.  an hour spent with a handful of 4th graders and long division leaves me in tears i fight to hold in. but when their teacher asks how it went out they all come.  oof.  embarrassing.  i knew i was a bit fragile, and i’ve no problem with the tears-just a problem with the current context of their appearing.

sigh.

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i pick up my lone 6th grader who has stayed after school.  we talk well in the car he and i and he shares all the ways he’s been having that sick dread feeling in his stomach and all the strategies he’s used to cope.  i want to just listen, he is an amazing strategiz-er. my heart just hurts at him dealing with it all by himself.  we talk deep and pull in to a parking lot. It was only 5 minutes ago that I’d been instructed to drive here to meet up with grandma and my other two.  mid conversation he interjects; “can i go play at the park?” so that’s that and out he hops, bounding over to the playground my eyes had failed to see tho we’ve been here countless times.  i watch him-there is a spring in his step-the day is far behind him, the park is up ahead.  for a moment i sit in the car thinking deep thoughts, but then that Wonder of a Counselor whispers; “join him”

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i hop out and walk over and take him all in.  wonder fills my heart at this child who hasn’t let the struggle of the day rob him of the joy of monkeybars and climbing up the outside of the slide.  i marvel at the last-minute and unplanned steps that brought us here-to this very place at this very moment in time.  the park and parking lot is abandoned and quiet.  the sun is beginning to set.  and if for only 5 minutes we are both free and free to drink deep of the joy.

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we swing side by side to see who goes higher.  he almost turns completely upside down; “you should try it mom, it feels really good”

we jump off-he lands farther.

when our time is up, deep has called to deep, deep joy has called to deep discouragement, and we are refreshed.

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really, this is how it seems to go for me.  discouragement piles on, and i can’t climb out of it on my own.   But God….oh that glorious ‘But God’, He leaves me in Wonder at the ways He lifts me out-even though all the things remain-He restores Wonder in my heart and it makes such a difference.

i’m tempted to pray that when the children are all grown and i’ve no more 11 year olds to invite me to the swings on a hard day, i’ll have the wisdom to go there anyway.  do you see what i do there? i try to discover the recipe and take control, removing the very Wonder of a God who Knows Everything.  my prayer shifts and instead i ask that i would keep my eyes open and have the wisdom to see.

O my God, my life is cast down upon me [and I find the burden more than I can bear]; therefore will I [earnestly] remember You from the land of the Jordan [River] and the [summits of Mount] Hermon, from the little mountain Mizar.

[Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me.

Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

psalm 42:6-8 amp

 

 

An Unexpected Journey-looking back

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i take the time to ponder my surprising response to those who deemed my choices foolish.  and i realize the gift the broken car and sick child and sick me gave.  all of that shifted my perspective very quickly to the reality that i have no control over anything.  and the natural stress and fatigue that they brought with them shifted my energy. no longer did i have energy to spend self-editing, self-doubting, self-focusing.

i marvel at the One who takes the bad and creates something good from it.  satan’s plans are thwarted.  God is still glorified, light shines in dark places, and i become more free.  and i have nothing to do with any of it.  all there is to do is soak in the Wonder.

there is so much joy in freedom.

there is so much freedom in understanding who i am and Whose i am and Who He Is.

mimi colorado 5

looking back i see the beautiful work of a Father, moving this daughter into the world and creating Art with the way:

i keep talking even tho my words aren’t being understood
i keep deciding even tho i don’t have all the information
i reject analysis of my time with the car and with family. i let Him fight for me and once strengthened i join the fight for hope. i rest in the truth that Christ is in me-and He will come out. it is the hope of glory. it is glory’s only hope.

i take the risk and go on the hike. i speak honestly my frustration about being left behind without food and water, but don’t condemn. i listen to the journey my husband and son took with interest and share in their joy.

i pay attention to the fact that the words don’t stick. i marvel at the way fatigue and stress and sickness remove my ability to absorb another’s opinions. i recognize that not only is joy worth the fight, but avoidance of pain is not worth the absence of joy.

once we return from all the travels, i breathe deep the days of sleeping in and stop apologizing to the people in my imagination about the laundry not started and the groceries yet to get.

i accept the new definitions (travel mercies; regretless days).  i move forward looking at the last two weeks as defining moments in becoming more fully at rest with who i am and Whose i am.

i show up here and write it all down

“Perhaps the most beautiful work you can do today is to begin to accept your creative inheritance from God and learn to become yourself in the presence of others, moving into the world as the person you fully are no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what’s gone wrong.”

-The Art of Your Work by Emily P. Freeman

 

it is for freedom
that Christ as set us free.

Stand firm, then,
and do not let yourselves be burdened again
by a yoke of slavery.

galatians 5:1

An Unexpected Journey-prologue

“Perhaps the most beautiful work you can do today is to begin to accept your creative inheritance from God and learn to become yourself in the presence of others, moving into the world as the person you fully are no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what’s gone wrong.”

-The Art of Your Work by Emily P. Freeman

 

i didn’t intend to take a blogging break this summer.  and i didn’t see the light posts and potholes along the path of moving into the world in this way that Emily describes.  but light posts and potholes they were, and as i found myself unexpectedly spending a week without internet or phone but with my laptop and time, i began to see it.  i began to see the unexpected journey i was being taken on and the threads of freedom that would weave themselves into that ‘beautiful work of accepting my creative inheritance and learning to become myself in the presence of others.’

 IMG_3387path at Harney PeakIMG_3425

and so at hand is the challenging task of putting it all into words that make sense for a reader who is not me, written by a writer who is me.   i’ll be back here with those words on Monday, August 4th.   till then, may the journey you find yourself on be full of unexpected joys along the way.

 

grieving and chasing joy

Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender.”

-from the song Dawn to Dusk by All Sons & Daughters

i’ve been chasing after joy

for  a very long time

and one thing i’ve come to understand

is that real, hard, authentic grieving

is how those rough places become smooth

along joy’s path.

grieving
   is on the pathway
        to joy

but rather than take my small words for it.  

grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee

and maybe a tissue or two

and spend some time with Jason Gray and Wally

it may just be what you need.

if you are grieving.

but if you are not, and someone you love is?  than these 30 minutes with Jason and Wally will enlighten you so that you can love them well.

stick it out till the end-the song is deeper and beautiful sung in it’s context.

Jason Gray extended interview

(i’m done waiting for this space to be ready.  i’ve decided to just begin over here anyway.  even though i think the look is a bit off and i haven’t yet learned things like how to insert a video, so you’ll have to use the link to click over to youtube.  thank you for grace.)

asking

Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

a knock on my window.

and i rise

from my place before the alter.
      where i sat.
          preaching the gospel to myself.

i open the door

and fix two cups of tea. 
         knowing without asking
to make hers green and mine black.

and we sit

next to each other

the immoral and moral.
      the one who has striven to be lord and master of her life by breaking all the rules.
            the one who has striven to be lord and master of her life by keeping them.

and is it true?

both the same in their need for a Savior?

both the same in their value to Him?
really?  is it?

both with a chasm that we must see.

a chasm that we cannot cross

that keeps us altogether separate,
without God and without  hope
 in this land we traverse.

And both of our hands
Are equally skilled
At doing evil
Equally skilled
At bribing the judges
Equally skilled
At perverting justice
Both of our hands
Both of our hands      -jon foreman

but God

But God has provided

and we must see
       we must see the provision

              for the joy to come in and take up residence in these hearts traversing this land.

God’s love which satisfied His own justice.

And both of His hands
Are equally skilled
At ruining evil
Equally skilled
At judging the judges
Equally skilled
At administering justice

Both of His hands
Both of His hands

Are equally skilled
At showing mercy

Equally skilled
At loving the loveless

Equally skilled
At administering justice

Both of His hands
Both of His hands    -jon foreman

and so

this is why i keep asking.

because we both need….. we all need

desperately need his skilled hands

to give us the very thing this day requires

Spirit of wisdom to know Him better
eyes of our hearts enlightened to know the hope and riches of inheritance and power for us who believe.
richness of His mercy that gives life
power to grasp the vastness of His love
strength in Him and His might to take our stand against the devil?s schemes.

help in the struggle.

help in the struggle.
     and hope…..
          and joy in spite of the struggle.

and both of His hands are equally skilled.
at providing the solution
and showing us mercy
and loving us well
and restoring
oh the skill of His hands to restore.

 

to draw further in ephesians-all 6 chapters

grasping

wonderstruck without words
         at who You are
look up,  You beckon
        look up at the vastness
              and remember the sky
                     and the way it reminds you of the vastness
of My love for you.
a knowing….that surpasses knowledge. 
(what does that even mean??) 

And i pray that you, being rooted and established

in love,

may have power…. to grasp

how wide and long and high and deep is

the love of Christ

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge

that you may be filled to the measure of all

the fullness of God.

Now,

to Him who is able

to do immeasurably more

than all we ask or imagine,

according to His power that is at work within us,

to Him

be glory for ever and ever!

Amen.  ephesians 3:17-21

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