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Monday, November 19, 2012

How to know joy…


                         In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJ21)

A very smart friend of a friend recently published an essay called "Grateful, even for the crap." 
(Yes.)  I found it fascinating because I absolutely related to her perspective. Among other things she writes,
When we’re experiencing what’s wrong, it gives us a better context for gratitude.  The crap helps us get in touch with what’s really important.
There are days when there's only one set of footprints.
But because I know they aren’t mine, I keep going.
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She goes on to issue a call to action, a challenge for Thanksgiving (which I'll share…) including to be grateful for life as it is…Reading her essay, I'd realized she speaks my language. I do not seek out trials. I don't enjoy struggle. I do understand, however, that sunshine is sweeter after rain. That precious is the child for which you prayed and never thought God would grant you, even when they are most trying. That losing someone you love can help you recognize the rich role they played in your life all while you were busily living and not noticing. Sometimes struggle, sometimes suffering, sometimes the crap helps us know joy.


I love my rose-colored glasses. I am thankful to have finally seized upon Paul's meaning in James 1:2 when he writes, "count it all joy…" Here is the root of it for me, there is always a blessing.  More than that, when I cannot see the rainbow, my faith reminds me that the blessing is still there, even if it seems beyond my capacity to see. Sometimes that blessing is just across the horizon. Take 6 performs one of my favorite songs, actually one of my fight songs (do you have a fight song? Your fight song is the soundtrack you play in your head to keep it together, to keep moving forward. More about that tomorrow…) Anyway, there are actually days when I cannot find my rose-colored glasses. Days when even I am weary, discouraged, days when my happy pitcher is empty so there's nothing to pour…On those days, I sing to myself,
Over the hill is home, just down the road is shelter
When you don't feel like trying, keep climbing
Because over the hill is home 


There are days when there's only one set of footprints. But because I know they aren’t mine, I keep going. The secret? The single set of footprints has never been mine. I didn't buy my rose-colored glasses. They were purchased with my salvation long before I was born. I thank God that He opened my eyes and opened my heart to remind me that I'm not in control. I thank God that He opened my eyes and opened my heart to remind me that sometimes struggle, sometimes suffering, sometimes the crap helps us know joy. I thank God that He opened my eyes and opened my heart to remind me that over the hill is home.

So, I will face struggle. I will endure suffering. I will wade through crap. However, I will remember the following, courtesy of a very smart friend of a very smart friend…

Here’s a challenge this Thanksgiving season:
1.        Be grateful for what’s wrong too.
2.       Grateful for the failures.
3.       Grateful for the tender or hurting spots.
4.      Grateful for the gray hairs, stretch marks, wrinkles.
5.       Grateful for the conflicts that clarify your priorities.
6.      Grateful for the turbulence that brings you together.
7.       Grateful for the detours that lead you to greater satisfaction.
8.      Take more of life in.  Not the way we want it to be.  Grateful for life as it is.

Grateful for life as it is. A life blessed by God who loves me enough to accept my surrender. God who is with me as I endure rain, who is there as I dance through it, anticipating both the sunshine and the rainbow. God who gives me many gifts, among which is how to know joy.

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