Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 31

At the beginning of the month, I didn't think there was any way I would be able to blog every single day in October over the same topic.  But, alas, it is the 31st of October and I did not miss a single day this month! 

Last night a close friend of mine told me that if I'm determined to do something, I'll do it.  Nobody had ever told me that straight up before.  I have to admit that it surprised me, but after thinking about it for a few minutes, I agreed with him.  I've always thought I had a hard time following through with things, but I've realized that when things really count, I see them through to the end.  Like nursing school.  I kicked and screamed my way through college, but I kept going, keeping the goal in mind.  In May, I was able to walk across that stage with a huge smile on my face, beaming with joy, knowing that I had persevered to the end.  

James 1:2-4 says: 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.

Consider it joy to face trials? Who would ever think that is a good idea?  Yet trials produce perseverance, which produces maturity and completeness.  This doesn't mean we have to smile our way through trials or be happy every second of every day.  It simply means that we should be at peace, finding joy in the midst of trials and hard times, persevering because we know that God has a plan through all of it.  Whatever you're going through right now, find joy, my friends, in the truth that you'll be stronger on the other side, and persevere.  May joy be yours today!  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 30

Only one day left in my series on joy.  I hope that my posts over the past month have helped you to think about joy in a new way, as well as reminded you to take time for the things that bring you joy.  I have saved one of my greatest joys for the end of the month because I was so excited to write about it!

I love coffee.  Of course, if you have ever seen me in the morning you already know that, since I always have a coffee cup in my hand.  I start my day with coffee (usually 2-3 cups), throw a cup in here and there during the day, and sometimes even end the day with a cup of decaf.  Some of my greatest memories during college revolve around coffee: going to coffee shops with Brooke to tackle endless nursing homework, Quik Trip coffee runs late at night when I was craving cappuccino, morning chats with close friends over steaming mugs of freshly brewed coffee, whether we were in our pajamas sitting criss-cross on the bed or venturing out to Starbucks or Jude's.  I can honestly say that I've bought a cup of coffee in every place I've visited over the past  four years of my life.  Mochas in Nairobi, brew of the day in local coffee shops all over the U.S., good old McDonald's coffee in numerous locations.

Coffee brings me joy.  I drink it no matter where I am, who I am with, or what time of day it is.  I also collect coffee mugs, which are starting to take up an enormous amount of space in my mother's kitchen.  Coffee isn't just a beverage.  It wakes me up in the early mornings at work, helps me stay awake when I'm up late, creates an excuse to meet with friends at random times, and it tastes really yummy!  As the title of my blog makes perfectly clear, it is never too late for coffee.  So, any time you want to catch up, mention the word coffee and I'll be there in a blink!  May your evening be full of joy friends.  Don't forget your coffee in the morning!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 29

Last night, I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan called "Living with Joy."  You would think that after blogging about joy for almost an entire month, I would be living a joyful life, right?  Yeah, not so much.  Pastor Chan talked about these verses from Philippians 4:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I have been familiar with these verses since I was a little girl, memorizing verse 6 and saying it over and over in times of worry.  Yet I've never really considered this entire passage as a whole.  As Pastor Chan says in his sermon, "rejoice in the Lord" is a command.  It isn't optional.  As with all other commands, a promise follows, "and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Rejoice.  Don't be anxious.  Pray with thanksgiving, believing that God is listening.  Receive peace. 

If you have the time, I strongly encourage you to watch this video.  It really encouraged my heart and I believe it will yours, as well.  Be blessed! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 28

Tonight, "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." (Romans 15:13) 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 27

In the movie Chariots of Fire, the Olympic runner Eric Liddell, when asked why he loves running so much states, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. "  This quote came to mind as I was running through the rain this morning, struggling to breathe.  

I cannot honestly say that I feel the Lord's pleasure when I am running, but I feel it when I am doing the things that He has gifted me to do.  I have also found that I find the most joy when I am operating within those gifted areas. 

I feel the Lord's pleasure when I write, for writing allows me to be myself and communicate with words that are sometimes difficult to vocalize.  

I feel the Lord's pleasure when I am rocking babies, praying over them and allowing the love of the Lord to flow through me.  

I feel His pleasure when I am at zumba, which allows me to get exercise while doing something I love.  I feel His pleasure when I'm drinking coffee, when I'm laughing, when I'm singing.  When do you most feel the Lord's pleasure?    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 26

Slowing down and finding joy in the small things today :) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days of Joys: Day 25

Joy is a positive word.  When thinking about joy, I usually think about things that make me happy, as most people probably do.  I've already talked about finding joy through surrender, which doesn't always feel positive at the time but brings joy and peace beyond words.  Today I'd like to focus on an aspect of joy that I have never before explored.

There are a few things you must understand about my personality before I go any further.  First of all, I tend to be a perfectionist.  I hate being wrong and I expect nothing less than perfection from myself in all areas of life.  Secondly, I like to be in control.  I may or may not have been called bossy more than once in my lifetime.  I also hate giving up on things that I've started, wanting to see things through to the end.  These three traits, coupled with my perpetually curious personality have often led me into extremely messy situations.  Most of them involve roller-coaster emotions, leaving me sitting in a puddle of tears, too frustrated to even fathom picking myself up and continuing on.  Any one of my close friends can attest to these frequent episodes of self-pity and condemnation.  These parts of my personality are not parts that I like to talk about because I am not proud of them.  However, lately I have been seeing my life in a different light.  

The one thing that I have done time and time again in the past couple of years is to stop thinking and simply jump blind, not knowing the end result.  Usually, the result is nothing like I'd hoped.  I used to view these situations as mistakes and failures, which I proceeded to spend weeks beating myself up about.  Lately, I've been learning to live without regret, which means that after I make a perceived mistake, I note the lesson the situation has to teach, file it away, and move on.  I am learning to enjoy taking chances, even if they turn out to be dead-ends.  I would rather try and fail than never try and live with the question, "what if?".  Making mistakes can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but if I didn't make mistakes, I wouldn't know how wonderful it feels to do something right.  Are you able to find joy through mistakes? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 24

Days of Heaven on Earth

An inspirational reading by A.B. Simpson 
It is strange that people will not get over the idea that a consecrated life is a difficult one. A simple illustration will answer this foolish impression. Suppose a streetcar operator were to say, "It is much easier to run with one wheel on the track and the other off." His line would soon be dropped by the public, who would prefer to walk. Of course, it is ever so much easier to run with both wheels on the track-and always on the track-and it is much easier to follow Christ fully than to follow Him with a half heart and halting step. Elijah was right in his pungent question, How long halt ye between two opinions? The undecided man is a halting man. The halting man is a lame man and a miserable man, but the out-and-out Christian is the admiration of men and angels and a continual joy to himself.
Say, is it all for Jesus,
As you so often sing?
Is He your Royal Master,
Is He your heart's true King?
*This devotional was taken from 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 23

"For his anger lasts only a moment,
      but his favor lasts a lifetime!
   Weeping may last through the night,
      but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 22

As most of you know, I have a special place in my heart for the continent of Africa.  Particularly the country of Kenya, since that's the only country I've been to thus far.  The first time I stepped foot in Nairobi, my heart fluttered and I knew I'd fallen in love.  Everything about the country of Kenya made my heart sing: the people, the clothing, the cities, the villages, the smells, the sounds, the milky tea, the crazy driving.  When I think back on the times I spent there two different summers, I can't help but smile.  God led me to Kenya to be a blessing, to share His Word and His love with those who have never experienced it, but I was instead blessed beyond measure.  I felt such freedom in Kenya: I could speak about the Lord uninhibited, I didn't care if my clothes matched or if my hair was dirty - and no one else did, either!  Everyone I met accepted my team and me like we were old friends and welcomed us into their hearts and homes without question.   The Christians I met there truly saw the "joy of the Lord as their strength" and were not ashamed to share that joy with others.

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 21

Friendship is a beautiful thing.  During college, God blessed me with some terrific friends whom I have grown to love more than I ever thought I would love friends!  True friendship is a joy.  I am so incredibly blessed to have friends who allow me to be myself - which usually includes being very silly!  Thank you to all of my lovely friends who fill my heart with joy every day!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of Joy: Day 20

Today, I have been contemplating the parts of my life that bring me the most joy.  The parts closest to my heart.  The next few days will be dedicated to sharing those parts of my life.  My very first blog post was about my mother and the joy that she brings.  I failed to mention my family in its entirety.

I am so blessed to have two parents who love and worship the Lord with their lives, striving to be a godly example for their four children.  Ever since I was little my dad and I have had deep conversations late into the night, which he likes to pretend to be grumpy about, but I know better. He loves it :)

From the time we were small children, growing up together in Michigan, Josiah and I have been best friends.  He's always been there to listen and offer wisdom, often causing me to feel like he should be the older one.

Nathanael is the gentle spirit of our family.  His heart is soft towards God and he is one of the most compassionate people I know.  He always makes a point to encourage me with his words and hugs, making me smile with his compliments.

Benjamin, on the other hand, is the comedian.  He and I have lots of fun times together listening to country music, making up silly stories, or creating things.  I am so blessed!  Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with such a beautiful family who brings so much joy to my heart!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011