Invited to the Party

Simply laughing, letting yourself in to the present moment, like you opened the door to the party that is happening all around you.  To lay down the weights you have been carrying, and let your shoulders drop in comfort and relaxation, feels strange but sweet.

Joy sparks joy, producing a lightness, both in level of gravity and brightness.  The bright light causing the darkness to scatter away like critters in a dark room.  

Joy gives way to breath and clarity and deep belief and faith.

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I write a lot of about struggles and hard things, perhaps because I am trying to find the words that accurately describe where I spend a lot of my head space.  However, in this year of seeking out the abundance of God, I want to also name the places of joy in my life. Seeking to laugh and step into a space of gladness.  To experience the fullness of joy that God promises in his presence.

I wrestle to stay in the glad things, to remain there.  Maybe I feel some happiness at the surface but it feels fleeting.  Maybe I see it as superficial and irrelevant when there are bigger things happening.  However, finding what brings you joy, finding ways that God delights YOUR heart is so essential.  

It is a part of discovering who God made you to be, just as much as figuring out your talents and your calling.  It is just as important as digging into your past and present memories or struggles.

Joy in the Lord, is about experiencing all of who God is….God is full of gladness.  

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You can see that in how Jesus loved children, how he enjoyed the company of many different kinds of people.  He hung out with twelve dudes, they had have cracked a joke or two, right? All over the Psalms it talks about gladness.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. – Psalm 16-9

What does it look like when your whole being rejoices? Think about David dancing or celebrating.  David sang and wrote poems, not just when things were hard but he was glad in the Lord. Think about the celebrating that Elizabeth did when she figured out she was expecting after years of barrenness in Matthew. 

I used to think having joy was all about having everything go super great, that life was just as you expected, and every day was perfect. It was about being happy and content. But if that is all that having joy is, then I miss out on the deep joy of seeing the good in a day that is really crappy.

I miss out on the deep laughter that can come after a dark day.  I would miss out on the joy of smiling with tears in your eyes after praying with a friend.  I would miss out on community surrounding you when life isn’t at all what you expected.

By expecting life’s joy to be a certain way, you miss out on the unexpected.  God showing up in ways you didn’t know that you needed.

That is often how God shows up, in the unexpected and unasked for ways.  We didn’t even know that we needed to ask for that friend or extra $5 in our pocket.  We didn’t ask for that affirmation at work or that encouraging conversation at the grocery store.  We didn’t know that we needed to slow down and having a sick toddler actually provided that.

These days, for me that looks like running into a friend in a coffee shop. It means a sweet text from a dear friend, or even extra space to be with God on a Friday night.  Or spending my weekday evening giggling with middle school girls.  And even though life doesn’t look at all what I expected, God shows up to bring me into his joy.

I just have to choose to see it.  I have to slow down and name it. I have look behind the curtain of “this isn’t what I wanted” and step into the joy party.  

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Being in the joy, changes me.  It changes my heart reflexes. I am quicker to see it.  Maybe it’s like any other muscle that needs to get stronger, maybe I need to do more reps like I do with my core and hamstrings.  

So friends, where is it that you can see the joy in your life today?

I hope that you take a moment and counting the joys, the places of gladness, how often you smile.  And let it change bring brightness and lightness to your heart. 

Picture Credits:

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

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To those that live in the tension…

 Yesterday, my best friend had a baby. Just in time for Mother’s Day.

6 years ago we were getting ready for her wedding.  We were concerned about decorations, dresses and small details. 

Now she is concerned with diapers and lactation and nurseries.

I know she will be an amazing mother.  She is one of the most loving and caring individuals that I know.  She has loved me even when I am a jerk and not a very good friend.  She is patient and kind hearted. 

This new little girl will not be lacking in any love.  Or pretty much anything, she is so blessed and she doesn’t even know it.

It is surreal.

Perhaps because I can’t even fathom what my life would look like with baby. 
Perhaps because I feel like I can barely take care of myself. 
Or perhaps I don’t feel like I have a lot of love to give out.

Last night, it hit me….hard.  My best friend has begun a new chapter of life.

I am so happy for her.  I am so happy to be the adopted aunt, to baby sit, to deliver meals and help out. 

I get all emotional when I think about it, I can’t believe that my friends are grown up enough to have babies and start families. Sometimes it just feels like we are playing at this adult thing, but moments like these really push reality to the front.

However, I am preaching the truth at myself, that no matter a mother or not, that is not where my hope or my best friend’s hope lies.  God gave that little girl to my friend, not so that she could worship her, but to raise her for his glory.  God gives me things to do for his glory.  Right now it may not be a baby or a family or marriage, right now it is some pretty hard things. 

We will both be doing the same, faithfully complete the calling which God has given us.

To be honest, this was not where I thought I would land when I started writing this post. But I know there are a lot of people that maybe struggle with the chapter they are one, and I am one of them. 

However, I write this because I need to read it.  

Even in those extremely happy moments, we can feel that sadness, we feel the tension of joy and grief.  I have seen it in so many of my friends, I see it in my own soul. 

I am still figuring out how to live in this tension, but I know that I am not left alone in this.  God has not left me alone, he is there in the tension with me.  Having already fought and won, guiding me through the mess and the chaos.

And in that I must rest and continue to rest….every day

What is the tension that you live in? What do say to those that are in a tension you used to be in?

Committment

You can probably tell from the lack of blogging, my year has been a busy one.  (To say the least!)

From writing new curriculum, to traveling to Australia, to venturing into unknown relationship territory, and finally being a student as well as having students, I have had quite a year.  I love that summer allows me a time of reflection and rest.  God usually uses this time to do great things in my life!

And so…every year on June 12th, I will always celebrate something significant. (Every year I have something more to celebrate! This year it was a half marathon and surviving one year of Grad school!)

Three years ago today, I met someone who asked me a question.

She asked me: “On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you?”

At the time this question related to weight loss and was skeptical that it was at all possible to change my life or body in anyway.

That first time I said, “A 6 maybe.” Like I said, I was skeptical.  By the end of that first summer, I was definitely at a 9-10.

Now, I ask myself that same question…….but about other things, healthy lifestyle, friendship, community, my job, grad school, and even Jesus.   I might talk like being committed and am passionately animated. However, a lot of the time there is a huge gap between what I say and how I live. 

This year has been one of ups and downs, things throwing me off, things and people distracting me from my commitment.

But that is life…. isn’t it?

There are a lot of things, people, activities, events that will attempt to throw you off course. I am sure a famous person somewhere said that it isn’t how the lack of adversity in life that shows you are successful, but what you do when you encounter it.

I say that in the face of adversity, you are only as successful as you are committed.  So I am asking myself this question…..”On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you? How badly do you want this, desire it, and are willing to work for it?”

I can’t say I have completely answered this question for every area I listed, but this is a starting point for reflection.

How about you?  What are the areas that you need to start asking yourself these questions?  On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you?