Tag Archive: Joy

Spring Joy

close up of pink cherry blossom
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Blossoming white, deep rose, and pink trees dot the carpet of green grass and fountains as we enter our housing area. Today a pair of mating ducks crossed the street (yes, of course we stop!) while Canadian geese watched from the lawn. Seeing the beauty of Spring, along with a lot of neighbors out walking again, has been renewing and peaceful.

This afternoon I enjoyed an outdoor visit with a potential dogsitter on a patio covered with plants, potted flowers, and statuary.

Perhaps the pain in so much of the world helps remind us of our blessings. Even when we have difficulties, there is so much for which to be thankful.

A year ago our nephew left the hospital after a bout with Covid that almost took his life. KD’s doctor fasted and prayed for five days while treating KD. What an amazing gift!

I hurt my right hip a few months ago and have been walking with a cane on and off. Today Paigey and I walked about ten blocks. Don had offered to pick us up on the return trip, but we made it home without a rescue! It felt good!

Last night we dined with dear friends, then went to a worship night at our Evergreen Valley Church. The evening was meaningful and unscripted. The leaders allowed the Holy Spirit to work through music, a word from one of our pastors, and testimonies of various individuals of how God is working in their lives.

One man, who used to hold services for the homeless, is unable to attend church now because he is caring for his ill wife, his first priority.

Greg spoke about going to lead Bible studies in jail. He thought he would face threats, mocking, and fists. Instead, there were 25 men waiting to hear from him. And over the next significant period of time there were never fewer than 20 at Bible study, men whose lives are being changed because they met the One who came to set the captive free!

Joy, a teacher, felt a pull to start a Bible study for teachers last summer, after a year of online learning. At first she thought what she was feeling must be a mistake, but after two months she said “Ok God.” And that study has been so needed as the teachers have faced a difficult year coming back into the classroom. Recently Joy felt a tug to start a prayer group–and this time she determined not to wait two months. That very week two parents came in to pray with her.

Another woman shared that repeating scriptures she knows has freed her from severe panic attacks.

Our world is in turmoil. And yet, God is at work around the world. And one day our God will reign supreme, evil will be abolished, and those who trust in Christ will live forever with Him. This world is not the end. It is just a teeny moment in time, a stepping stone. An opportunity for God to develop our holiness rather than our happiness.

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

Zechariah 14:9 NIV

What a day that will be!

post by carolnl | | Closed

Anniversary and a Funeral

Have you found that joy and pain coexist in your life, that they cycle through your days, weeks, months? I was reminded of that again this week.

Last Monday I opened the front door to see a beautiful mixed bouquet of flowers and a sweet stuffed bear, along with a note from my loving husband on our eleventh anniversary.

Our marriage is a second chance at love for both of us after losing our first partners. A God thing. After being widowed awhile, I asked the Lord if He had someone else for me, to sort of “drop him into my lap.” I had no desire to be part of the dating scene after being married to a wonderful man for twenty years. Don had prayed a similar prayer.

And, at a widow and widowers’ grief recovery meeting two years after Jerry’s death, there he was…dropped into my world, as it were (and I into his). Handsome, tall, white-haired, and kind. So kind, not only to me but to both the women and the other men in the group.

Our marriage has survived the normal ups and downs, and a few extra that come with the assumptions and expectations of extended family members. We’ve experienced the delight of traveling, being in small groups together, cooking together, planning for our future, laughing at our dog, Paige’s, antics, just “being” together, and learning to know and love each other’s families. There’s been a lot of joy packed into these years.

Then yesterday I attended a zoom memorial service for Virgil, who was a teenager when I met him in the inner city of Los Angeles. He was one of the teens in our Bible clubs, teen choir, and activities. My memories of him are of a very pleasant, sweet young man.

After 38 years, I reconnected with Virgil two years ago at a World Impact women’s reunion when he came to pick up his wife, Robin. Still gracious, kind, loving his wife.

And during Virgil’s memorial service, I learned so much more about his life in those intervening years. He ministered with World Impact for twenty-seven years, then started a church. His sudden and unexpected death in late December was a shock to all of us.

I had forgotten that our staff came to know Virgil when, as a 12-year old boy, he broke into one of our staff homes. That was a turning point in his life as the men on staff took an interest in him, taught him about Jesus Christ and a new way of life. And Virgil responded with a heart that hungered to know more about his God.

So, despite tears and sorrow, his service was a celebration. A celebration of Virgil’s life, his ministry, and most of all, his love for God and his family. Friends told of his faithful follow-up by text or phone; his care for others; one said he was the first good example of a black father this younger man had seen. And I pray for comfort and healing for Virgil’s wife and children, and his loving, extended family. The lion of pain has invaded their hearts.

So, joy and sorrow, grief and gratitude, constantly in flux in our lives. I praise God for those faithful men who built into Virgil’s life, who then built into the lives of others for the glory of God.

Reminds me of Daniel, who was captive under four Babylonian kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. Because of Daniel’s “excellent spirit” during that captivity, he served each ruler faithfully, not saying what they wanted to hear, but speaking the truth as God revealed it to him. And he kept getting promoted to higher positions.

During those years he developed a habit of kneeling to pray in front of an open window that faced Jerusalem, his home. He did this faithfully three times a day.

And when he became one of the most powerful leaders in the country under Darius, others became jealous and tried to trap him. But they realized they couldn’t accuse him of anything regarding the kingdom because he was faithful in his duties and they couldn’t find fault with him (Daniel 6:4). So they said “Let’s find a complaint against him regarding his faith in God.”

They tricked the king into writing a decree that, once sealed, could not be changed or undone. The decree stated that anyone who asked any request of someone other than the king for the next 30 days would be put into the den of lions! Whew…a terrifying thought!

close up photo of lion s head
Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

But when Daniel heard the edict, he went home, knelt and prayed in front of that open window three times a day, just as he always had (Daniel 6:10). He knew his detractors would see him. He could have prayed in his bedroom, away from the window. But he trusted his God. And when King Darius, horrified, realized the trap into which he had been led, and from which he could find no escape, he said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org

That night, as Daniel walked, prayed, slept–we’re not told–the king fasted, tossed and turned all night. Early in the morning he rushed to the lions’ den, groaning in anguish. He cried, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him, and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” (Daniel 6:20-22).

The short story is that Daniel was taken out of the lions’ den and his accusers thrown in and killed.

May I, may we who trust in our God, Lord, Savior, King–stand firm as Daniel did, trusting God in our times of joy or promotion; and of sorrow and loss. Grief will come; joy will brighten some of our days. But in all, our God has promised to be with us as He was with Daniel. And whether we are liberated without a scratch, as Daniel was, or our God takes us to Himself, He is with us. Blessed be the name of our God!

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Daniel 6:4

Question: Do you know someone like Daniel? Consistent, trustworthy, faithful, walking with his or her God? I’d love to hear about that person’s impact in your life.

Thankfulness – in ALL Things!

As we sat around the Thanksgiving table, my husband Don asked that we each express thanks for one thing. In my turn, I reflected that nine years ago, Thanksgiving 2005, I was in intensive care with my very ill first husband. God had surrounded us with new friends 3000 miles from home, and some had invited another hospital patient’s wife and me to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Although hesitant to leave Jerry, I felt I needed to go as the other woman didn’t know these new friends of mine. After dinner I returned to the hospital to find my husband in crisis with a large pool of clotted blood at his side–one the nurses hadn’t yet seen. After I yelled for help, the room filled with doctors. I stayed in the room until Jerry was stabilized about 2 am, then finally went to get a few hours’ sleep before returning to the hospital later that morning.

Three days later, after a surgery to remove a difficult-to-locate aneurysm, my lovely husband passed into the arms of Jesus.

I had no idea at the time what God had in store for my future, but a few years later He brought a new love into my life. Don is an enormous blessing and gift to me–one totally unexpected.

Life is sometimes filled with pain; but we don’t know what God holds in store further down the road.

new love, new life

new love, new life

So on this Thanksgiving weekend, I praise God for the following:

1. His great, unconditional love and forgiveness.
2. His gift of Presence.
3. His promise never to leave nor forsake us–no matter what!
4. That the life beyond this one is eternal, and will far surpass the one we now know and love–full of awesome surprises, the best of which will be meeting Jesus face to face.
5. That even after loss He can bless us in unexpected ways, and joy can return.

Sarah Young says “Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me. A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems. Instead, it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations. I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present and well-proved help in trouble.” (bold = mine) JESUS CALLING, November 22, p. 341.

I have experienced His help in trouble. I have experienced His joy. And I am deeply thankful.