Celebrate Joy (a prayer)


Thank You, Father for the gift of this day. 

Slow down mindfully no matter what the schedule holds.

Outside may be a fury of deadlines, errands, and appointments,

breaking up squabbles made by little hands and voices –

but the inside knowing that life is short, not an emergency.


The hurry up, keep up pace in our fast streaming culture is not something my soul can or should keep in step with.

You, Lord, are to be celebrated in joy not just at Christmas or Easter but everyday.

Each day is a gift because You are the present.

All of the other small, but beautiful things coming from Your Hand are only stocking stuffers.

You are the Best Gift under the tree, on the Tree. I will celebrate You on this ordinary Monday with the joy and wonder of Christmas Day.

vision of joy


The two blind men wanted their sight, Bartimaeus and an unnamed man. Don’t we all want to see? Need to? In blindness we run after gods made out of stone, not even thinking about the God Man who became flesh like us. Jesus restored their sight that day. He gave them the gift of human sight, but more importantly, faith sight. It isn’t until Jesus touches our eyes that we are healed too. Our soul eyes need to be opened before we realize the need for a Savior.

“I once was blind, but now I see” as the old hymn goes. Even with the gift of sight I sometimes decide to take off those glasses. Because at least for now while I reside on earth in my flesh, my glasses serve as a tool for better vision. I think those should be included in the spiritual armor of God. I need reminding to keep them on so I don’t wander off blindly, hands outstretched, searching, grasping air. Because when I remember to put my glasses on and gaze into the Word of God, I see with intention. I go joy hunting and His Word gives me breath and life. I learn. I learn over and over again to follow Him through the valley and peaks of life.

We follow Jesus until our dying breath living out His will, in His strength. And after death we still live in His presence forever and ever- Joy made flesh and sight and solid. What a sweet healing for our eyes, for our souls. What restoration. How vital to really, clearly see in 20/20 spiritual vision, crystal clear in heaven.


These two men knew the power of Christ. Not only that, they understood His divine identity before they could even see. God was working on their spiritual eyes before He healed the physical. Because eyes to see the mystery of Christ is more critical than the ability to see anything this world has to offer. They followed Him with joy after Jesus healed them because they knew. The blind men had faith in His uncontainable power, His compassion for those without sight to see Saving Grace.


To see God fully is what I long for, I want to see His face by settling into the joy of the Lord. The Spirit acts as the eyes of my heart. Tear down the walls I put up and give me grace to see in spiritual technicolor. That is the true reality, the one in which I cannot yet grasp vividly.

What I live in now is smoke and mirrors, which will soon burn away and shrivel up. It isn’t really real. I can touch it, see, taste, hear, and smell the good gifts but something greater, more real than where I am now, awaits.

Thank You El Roi for the glimpses of the far better and not yet. Thank You for loving us so fully and completely.

Thank You, Father that You are “the God who sees”. We desire to be seen, noticed, cared for, understood. You tell us to “cast all our cares on You” – help me to see as You see things, with holy eyes.

If I learn to see the everyday graces, to trust You in everything, I just might find myself surprised by joy. Looking for grace upon grace today.


Grace upon grace,


Go Deeper: Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43

The Overflow of Joy


What is the joy you long for? Do you recognize it when it’s staring you in the face? A recent sermon helped me to see that we all have our brokenness. That is really the only thing we have to offer God. He takes it, gently picking up the pieces cradling our very hearts close to His. Some of the pieces we smashed, other pieces were destroyed by another or many.

You ever pay attention to the verses in Scripture that list our deadness and hopelessness, and then the words come, like a rushing waterfall quenching our dry, parched souls – “BUT GOD”! It’s there in black and white, the turning point in the whole redemption Story. He has not left us to ourselves. The Lord really does save the day and He really does ride in on a great white horse fighting for His Beloved, the Church, you. I know this because as I read the pages in Ephesians the words leap out, asking me to take notice of the treasure of joy right in front of me.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved –“ (2:4-5 ESV)

The sermon I heard acknowledged that every person has hurts, struggles, or sicknesses to battle. Sometimes in the fog it is hard to see anything else especially in the thick of it. And then words of hope ring out: “But God…” The pastor who spoke that day told us of our need for Him. He presented Christ as desirable and lovely. He pulled back the curtain and helped me see King Jesus in all His Glory, Beauty, and Majesty.


You see, for the believer there is always hope no matter how dark the night of the soul gets. From our living hope springs an unexplainable joy – sometimes quiet you barely know its there. If you sit still long enough you’ll hear the whisper of Him who knit you together in your mother’s womb, “I love you. I have loved you with an everlasting love. You are my joy. Trust me and let Me be your Joy.

Deep joy is steady. Its believing when believing doesn’t make sense. When you keep the faith others take notice and that joy you’ve been wondering about? Surrender. Wait. Rest. Things of this importance take a lifetime to cultivate and recognize. And when you finally see your own joy come to life again, give thanks. Keep seeking Christ the King. Before you know it, that wellspring of joy will bubble right over and splash the feet of everyone around you.

Grace upon grace,


Personal prayer

Beloved. Is that what You call me?

I’m known as one who is loved by the

Great God of heaven and earth, Who orchestrates

the cosmos, setting the stars in their proper place,

causing the rise and set of the sun,

and yet You have placed Your salvation,

Your deep affection on me?

I am overwhelmed. Help my

disbelief. Let me see it as true.

Help my heart accept this ocean

of love that tempts to consume

my soul as I long for it to.

I need You. I need Jesus my

Savior. Engulf me in the tide of

Your grace. Let my deep-seated joy

overflow because You are the

fountain from which it comes.




what children’s songs can teach us about joy


Let me first apologize for the overuse of children’s songs as references on this little blog. I tend to listen to or sing a lot of little people tunes right now because that’s our jam and the season of life I’m in. A lot of these songs I teach Jesse are the ones I was taught growing up in church. They may be simple songs, but a lot of them are more profound than I first realized. Oh, and they are short so my brain can retain and retrieve as needed (bonus).

‘Trust and Obey’ is one I like because of the sing song rhyming melody. It goes: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey” (emphasis mine). I’m learning through songs like this that trust and obedience to the Lord are essential for sustainable joy. Do I really trust Him the way I say I do? Oh to have the faith of a child. My son just assumes I’ll take care of him (which I will) because he trusts me. He doesn’t ever worry or wring his hands or live in fear – he simply trusts.

Is it really that easy? I think grown-ups have a few hurdles to overcome because if you have lived in this world long enough you’ve been burned once or twice, experiencing disappointment and sadness. We become jaded because the world is not as it should be. Sinful people living in a world with sinful people sometimes results in distrust and heartache. But our God is not flawed like we are.

He is perfect in every way: reliable, faithful, all wise, loving and true. He calls me to love and obey Him. So why are these the things Jesus places importance on? His own words found in the Book of John are, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV).

            Christ commands us to love and obey Him because Jesus is the very best for us. It is to glorify Himself and for our own good. So when you and I live our lives learning to trust God, walking in obedience with our every day we start to see God at work in His faithfulness. Love begins to bloom and stretch out. Obedience develops into a pattern and we see that when we follow what is right and good our joy is solid.

When I go back to Scripture I re-learn what alone satisfies my soul. It is nothing this world has to offer. So when Jesse recognizes the ‘Trust and Obey’ song that comes on in the car I’ll keep singing it for him. Control creates stress, which kills joy. Simple trust and obedience in Jesus is the heart message I want him to capture. It’s what this grown-up needs too.

Prayer to trust and obey :

I am loved immeasurably by Christ my Lord.

Help me to cleave to, trust in, rely on and have faith in You Mighty King!

If my deepest joy comes from a deep trust of You then fix my eyes on You alone in the good and bad.

I will keep my hands open, palms up in continual trust of my Savior because I love You.



Grace upon grace,


The Joy Word


Jesse has this Veggie Tales book about having a thankful heart. It even has a song to go along with it (yes, a song). A few months ago all he wanted to do was press that song button on the book over and over and over. He would ask for the “happy” book, signing “happy” and point to the bookshelf. As much as I dislike the squeaky, cartoon voices in the song, I can’t help but pay close attention to the words: “Because a thankful heart is a happy heart. I’m glad for what I have that’s an easy way to start…”. The Lord knows I need this reminder just as much as Jesse, probably more. In fact I’m sure of it. It dawned on me after hearing the “Happy” song for many, many nights in a row that this is where joy is born. Gratitude for our daily blessings creates a joyful space in our spirit. This joy expands the more we fix our eyes on His gifts to us.

Joy. It’s uncovered through the art of gratitude.


God has prepared us for this. We were made for joy with Him forevermore. We can start practicing to live in joy today. Maybe it’s hard for you also. I’m preaching to myself just as much as I want this for you too. This is about finding joy in the ordinary, everyday mundane and recovering lost beauty and a worshipful heart.

Gifts that you wouldn’t necessarily think as gifts can be. For me, Jesse’s disabilities are a kind of gift. He still carries a sense of wonder over the ordinary, because his learning of the outside world is just now emerging. I get to see the world through him with fresh eyes. His infectious laughter gets Jason and me every time. We just look at each other and grin thankful we get to be Jesse’s parents. The obstacles of not yet having more children have also been a gift of leaning close to the Lord, trusting Him even when I don’t understand.

Our sense of beauty, innocence and joy was stolen in the Garden of Eden from the very first sin. We need to remember what it looks like and claim His goodness again. I don’t want to live the one life I have with cynicism and joylessness. That is a wasted life.

If “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV) then we need to know what that means. While you scour the food crusted pots at the sink, while you dig in the dirt planting the tulip bulb to blossom come spring, while you rock your little one to sleep quietly humming a lullaby- joy is there. It’s in the cracks of life, springing up from the ground. It is not a naïve “Pollyanna” attitude, although that term (and movie) does get a bad wrap. It’s a knowing. It is recognizing the source of Life, the Giver of the gifts. Understanding how much we are loved immeasurably through the Greatest Sacrifice in the history of mankind? Let your Joy start there.

Grace upon grace,


the thief of joy

139015530   A couple of years ago I signed up for a casual one-time painting class where I was going to have a masterpiece by the time it was over. That was the sales pitch anyway. Three hours later, as other women snapped pictures of themselves with their artwork, giddy and content from unleashing their inner Van Gogh, I thought mine looked more like an abstract Picasso picture. Clearly a three-year-old year could have painted mine. I just didn’t like how it turned out. The hilarious part was I kept attending these painting classes over and over again determined to find my creative side. I can only compare it to hitting one’s head against a brick wall, expecting a different result other than getting a huge goose egg and a deficit in my bank account.

This is supposed to be relaxing, I thought. Instead my perfectionist side starts to emerge and I get tense. I partly blame being left-handed. Every time I tried to paint my hand would drag through the fresh strokes leaving smudges, with a side of frustration. My downfall came when I looked at the other paintings during the class. Some women totally ignored the instructor’s elementary-style teaching and free handed the entire thing. They would finish way ahead of the class and their painting was something for others to “ooh” and “ahh” at. I was dumbfounded.

After six or seven attempts I finally resigned, accepting the fact that I am not very artistic. I could have probably enjoyed the painting classes regardless of my skill level. The problem arose when I began comparing my artwork to someone else’s. I got in my head and put added pressure on myself because my piece was not as pretty as hers. Looking back I see how ridiculous this was. I robbed myself of a lot of fun, if only I had kept my eyes on my own paper and chilled out.

Comparison is a dangerous game. Sometimes I do it almost automatically because in my flesh there is a desire to be superior, better than, and important. If I am not guarding my mind and hiding myself in Christ, then I forget my identity in Him. I cannot be at rest or secure in who I am, a daughter of the King, when I secretly compete. Comparing myself to another only leads to envy and discontentment. A stubborn, bitter root will start to grow if not quickly uprooted. I begin to believe I have nothing to offer because someone else does it better than me. The truth is that my value is not determined by another, or even by my own standards. Jesus demonstrated my worth when He died on the cross in my place.

It is easy to get caught up in using the measuring stick against one another. He is a better Christian than me; She is more successful because she has a career outside the home; I am a better mom because I stay at home. The list can go on and on and around in circles. What essentially happens is that we step on others going up the ladder as we to try to make ourselves little gods. We start setting value on others as more or less than us, instead of seeing each other as the work of our Creator.

But when I celebrate the gifts and abilities God gave me, I am turning my heart to worship Him, practicing a grateful heart with joy. Weeding out the haves and have not’s in my life also allows me to better connect with others if I am not comparing ourselves. There is room to breathe in accepting and praising God for not only the specifics in how He fashioned me, but in how He knitted others together as well. How boring would it be if all of our paintings looked EXACTLY the same? If we all had the same gifts we could not serve one another and function like the body of Christ either.

The work of your hands or contribution in society does not judge your worth because if you are in Christ, your identity in Jesus Christ is already enough. We can bravely just be who He created us to be and live and serve with purpose. Christian, when you feel that temptation to validate yourself to another, trust that you are enough to the Lord because He is enough in you.

Grace upon grace,


Where Joy and Sorrow meet

508476453When we watch world events play out right before us on our iPhones, computer screens, televisions, and newspapers (do people still read those?), it is easy to get discouraged when the news is so negative and heartbreaking. In a lot of ways, our world seems much smaller due to accessible technology that we receive every bit of information from the macro to the micro. History shows us that since Adam and Eve, humanity is full of sin, sorrow, and wickedness. It is just that in the last 20 years we are able to get a magnified view with the World Wide Web becoming commonplace. The last few months especially have come in great big tidal waves as sin is celebrated, encouraged, and even fought for.

Sadly we have seen a transgender man on the world’s stage wrestle with his identity, insecure of who he is, because he doesn’t know.

Marriages have been ripped apart and families broken over secret sins of adultery exposing their shame.

Babies unwanted by their mothers are dismantled and circulated for commerce. The big news is that now we can no longer turn a blind eye protesting, “we did not know”. It is a huge turning point in abortion because the undercover videos have forced all of us to look at our own conscience and decide where we stand. By the way, passivity is also an active choice. Inaction is action.

The breaking point for me came when I accidentally ran across the picture of the little boy washed up on the shore in Turkey. Jason told me about it first. I didn’t want to see it. I knew what my reaction would be- complete sobbing. There is so much sorrow in our world that I’m finding myself fighting for joy.

How do we as Christians maintain the deep-seated, quiet joy that is found only in Christ when all around us is grief? How do joy and sorrow mingle together? I am finding it hard to go about my life full of abundance and freedom, when across the ocean Syrians are fleeing their homeland. They are running for their lives, afraid, literally dying to find safety.

As I wrestle with this, here is the thing I keep coming back to- it is all about who or what I put my trust in. I’m not going to lie, seeing the picture of Aylan, the lifeless Syrian toddler shook me to the core. That could have been my son. He could have been your child.

I have to hold on to the truth of who God is. I have to remind myself that He is Good and He is Sovereign. This is where my faith lies. It has to. Finding our joy in the midst of such pain and injustice means believing in the Almighty’s attributes and promises. We can be comforted knowing this is not the end. Heaven awaits those who have placed their faith in Jesus.

“The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him’ They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted” (Isaiah 62:11-12 NIV; italics mine). “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning […] You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:5; 11-12 NIV). The promises of God are refreshing like a cool cup of water. His Words wash over me and restore the joy I couldn’t find.

Even when politicians act like arrogant little children and a woman is persecuted for her Christian beliefs in Kentucky, we know Who holds the future. Just as the seasons are constant and the days are reliable so are the promises of God. His promises are true- lovely and pure. “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10 NIV).

So where do joy and sorrow meet? The two intertwine at the foot of the cross, in the nail scars on Jesus’ hands and feet. Our Savior endured the greatest evil of all for our sake. Sin has already been paid for, death is conquered and we eagerly look forward to the Great Day at the Wedding Feast with our beautiful, magnificent Bridegroom. I promise, it will all take our breath away when we behold such a sight. But mostly, seeing Jesus face to face will leave us in awe and praise. We will shed the burdens that weigh us down and be lifted up into His light. While our eyes take in what happens around us, our hearts are fixed on Jesus who lives within us, heaven above us. Wait for that Glorious Meeting.

Grace upon grace,


Go Deeper: Psalm 30; Isaiah 61-66; Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 12:1-2