Wednesday’s Word: Laughter!

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“They” say laughter is good medicine. If that’s true, then being around me must good for other people’s health. Because I make people laugh. Sometimes they laugh with me—other times at me. But it’s laughter all the same.

I remember a conversation I had with one of our foster boys. He got in a fight with another boy. A careless comment ended up coming to blows. As I pulled the details out of him, I uncovered some humor he had missed. We take ourselves to seriously. I pointed out the ridiculous statement that had been made and we both had a good laugh.

On a different occasion I was the one who needed to laugh. I recognized the comedy in the moment, but wouldn’t allow myself to laugh. Instead I adopted a controlling, dominant parent. It was awful—for both my daughter and myself. Laughter would have been much better than humble pie that day.

Perhaps it’s easier for me to find humor because it’s easier for me to see good, and find joy.

I hope you’re able to uncover plenty of reasons to laugh today.

Encouraging Words: JOY!

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Today begins Encouraging Word Wednesdays. I recently threw it out on the Facebook universe to all my friends to give me an encouraging word that began with the first letter of their first name. I learned several things, the most obvious one: I have a lot of friends whose names begin with the letter J.

Today we begin with JOY!

Several years ago, I was working on a Spiritual Gifts Inventory, and I was challenged to ask others what they perceived my gifts to be. One very wise friend, shared that while it doesn’t typically appear as a traditional gift, she believed I have the gift of joy. To my surprise, others confirmed her assessment.

I found this quite humbling…and challenging.

I believe I am wired to find the positive in situations and people. Because of this I have been labeled naive and a Pollyanna. To my consistent surprise, my ability to find the best  causes frustration and consternation in many who can’t. My husband often questions why I always go “there.” I can’t not.

Lately, I’ve been looking up the meanings of words before I use them. I want to be sure I’m using them correctly. So, I looked up joy, and then I looked up rejoice. They define one another.

In the Bible Dictionary I found this: “Believers rejoice (are full of joy) because God has surrounded them with his steadfast love (see Psalm 32:10-11).”

James, quoted in the meme above, paints a beautiful and challenging picture of joy. “Count it all joy” can be better understood as the choice to accept everything that comes our way as an opportunity for growth and good. And “ALL” of it is reason for joy—to rejoice—because wherever we find ourselves we also find the steadfast, never-ending, never-failing love of God.

Find JOY today.

 

 

Buying Happiness?

I’ve always heard, “You can’t buy happiness.” But this morning I was scrolling through potential apps for my NookHD+ and I came across this:

WP happiness app And not only can I buy happiness, but I get another app free.

When I started writing this post I wanted a graphic of the old happiness quote, so I went searching. I found countless quotes suggesting you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy something (chocolate, bikes, coffee, books, or tea…and those were the family friendly options…) that’s pretty close to it. Most of them were cute and maybe a bit tongue in cheek, but this one really troubled me:

WP steal it Really?

The problem with happiness is that it is typically associated with a particular circumstance or emotional response to an experience. What God promises is something far deeper and way more lasting: joy. That’s why James could write: 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. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

We don’t need an app or a t-shirt to help us find joy. And we certainly don’t need to steal it.

As Jesus was facing his final hours, he prayed. John records it in his gospel (see John 17). In that prayer, Jesus spoke to God. But he did it so the disciples could hear. He said, 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. (John 17:13, NIV)

And what was this joy Jesus was speaking about? Knowing God. Being in relationship with God.

There is no app for that. No one or no thing can take the place of making that relationship happen for us. Just us…and God. Truth is…it’s already been bought and paid for. It’s yours and mine for the asking and the living.

WP joy

The Joy of Waiting

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy Colossians 1:11

 

Patience with joy.

Happy to wait.

Seems contradictory. Contra-indicated.

Hard.

But it is his gift…his enablement. And our choice.

 

PRAYER: God, you give us all good gifts. As we wait on you, for you, and with you, help us to consider what we have, where we are, and what will come…all things with an attitude and action of pure joy. Amen.

 

New Year Joy

Good Morning!

I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m not going to wish you a “happy” New Year. But that’s because I want so much for you.

No, I think I will wish you a Joyous! New Year.

Hair splitting? Perhaps. But I think happiness is an emotion that is determined by the situation or circumstances. While joy is an outlook or perspective that prevails despite the ups and downs of circumstances.

I am basing this line of thinking on James instruction:
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. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

Reading this, I wonder if James is referring back to Jesus’ word and giving us a better picture of what Jesus meant: 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)

And just what was Jesus’ joy? It was his absolute surrender to the will of the Father: “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8).

There is nothing easy about joy. But without it life lacks so much…and it would appear to be incomplete.

So in wishing you a joyous New Year, I am hoping you will have the ability to face the things life holds for you and see God at work and rest in the promise that you will have everything that you need.

Let there be joy!

Day Sixteen: Boredom’s Cure

(Sorry for the lapse.  Computer and then internet issues have sought to sabotage my commitment to daily writing.  Thank you for hanging in there with me.)

Being bored has never been a good thing. When I was a kid, if I told my mom I was bored, she would gladly find me something to do…and it was never pleasant. Remembering this, I did what all mothers do: I passed the same trick along to my children, foster children, and grandchildren. The mere threat of my finding something for them to do generally cured any malaise.

So what about me? How as an adult do I do battle with boredom? I began by considering the antonyms for boredom, as suggested by dictionary.com: amuse; thrill, enrapture. Hmmm. The last few days I’ve been amusing myself with my new Nook Tablet. I have enjoyed learning its intricacies and capabilities. That has been good. Thrill? Not big into thrills. I wasn’t blessed with an abundance of curiosity or daring. I’m not even sure I’ve thought of thrill in a positive light for a very long time. Lately all I can think of is saying that I’m not thrilled about something or other, usually about feeling like I have no choices. My time doesn’t seem to belong to me. I don’t have any pocket money to blow. What would I do if my time were my own? Would it be thrilling to make a few choices? To say no when everyone expects me to say yes? Hmmm.

Enraptured. Now there’s something to think about. I just dashed over to dictionary.com again to check whether I really knew what the word meant. To me it’s an all encompassing kind of word. It’s a feeling of being lost in something. It’s an experience engaging all my senses.

One of the actual definitions is: to delight beyond measure. And therein, as my mother would say, lies the rub. I’m not feeling much joy these days. I can’t tell you why or when joy took a hiatus, but I’m definitely missing it.

So I turned to the scriptures to find my cure. First stop, Psalms. Now I realized I was feeling like David in Psalm 13. He was one depressed dude. But in the end he returns to the source of his faith. Later he reminds himself in Psalm 37 not to worry about how good the other guy has it but trust in God who will give him the delight of his heart. Finally I landed in Psalm 51, where David writes: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. I had trouble finding the verse. I put in several different combinations and each one included: the joy of my salvation. Now that little difference may not jump out at you, but it spoke volumes to me.

Do you wear glasses? I do. I started wearing glasses when I was 40. I’ve always had trouble with my eyes (4 corrective eye muscle surgeries before I was 9), so I was familiar with the ocular device where the doctor asks you to consider which lens is clearer, “This one or this one? This one or this one? This one or this one?” This part of the examination seems to take forever, and some of the differences are so minute that they’re practically indistinguishable.

That’s what I started thinking about as I considered the difference between “my salvation” and “your salvation.” How much difference can one word really make? For me, in this case, a huge difference. As I reflected, I realized that I was once again at that place where I want things the way I want them. I had been relying upon my wisdom, my strength, my salvation. Interesting side note: I just spelled that slavation–as if doing it my made me a slave to my self and didn’t provide what I needed most: salvation from the only one who can truly provide it, now and forever. No wonder I had lost my joy.

I wish I could say that I have determined three steps to reach my goal of restored joy. Wouldn’t that be nice? Right now, all I can muster is a determination to seek after God and his salvation through greater dependence on the word and more time in direct communication with him in prayer. And trust me, I’ll let you know where that gets me. Shalom.