Joy Comes With The Morning

This is Day 23 of 31 in my Write 31 Days series: 31 Stories of God’s Grace. I also am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Joy.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning!” –Psalm 30:5

This has become a  favorite verse in my life. It really began to appear in my life after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. My friend Renee, her husband Ben and Ben’s cousin Jon were in Haiti when the earthquake struck. I was in Gettysburg PA as a small group leader for the Diaconal Ministry formation event. Eventually we received the news of Ben’s death. My small group was to lead  worship that night we found out Ben had lost his life in the earthquake. As people entered into worship, we had Ben’s version of  Psalm 30 playing through the loudspeakers.

Ever since this song has become one of my favorites. It also is such a beautiful joy filled promise! Even in our darkest times, God finds a way to eventually show us light; to show us God’s grace at all times and in all places. God’s grace shines the light even in the most gut wrenching places. We just can’t always see it or find it.

Our lives are full of brokenness, sadness, celebrations, and joy. It is during those times when it feels like it is going to be night forever when God especially offers God’s grace. God knows when the morning and that joy will return.

For me, the joy has come in seeing my mom live a joy- filled faith-filled life. The joy has come in seeing a new relationship form where it once was broken. That joy has come in seeing friends finally get pregnant again after trying for so very long. I have seen that joy come in God’s grace being offered again and again and again!

If you are feeling like it is a long dark dank night, please know and trust in the promises of Psalm 30. That night soon will come to a close and you will be awakened to God’s grace as the sun begins to rise and a beautiful sunrise is spread out for your eyes to see.

“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning!”–Psalm 30:5

Mourning into Dancing–Ben Larson

Everything I Ever Learned…….

The other day I was brainstorming ideas for my #write31days series and the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum popped into my head.

Today my post is about Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned from my Momma.” I have learned that when you are kind to others; they will be kind to you. I have learned that when you are willing to give the shirt off your back and help out someone, they will return the favor when you are in need. 
I have learned what it means to share “unspeakable joy” with the world. I have learned that sometimes its ok to indulge in chocolate or soap operas or whatever to take your mind off the troubles of  the day for a moment. I have learned that its ok to take a nap when your body is tired. 
I have learned what it means to believe that you are a beloved child of God; called and claimed by God. I have learned what it means to be nurtured in faith and pass on faith and values. I have learned to say sorry and really mean it. I have learned what it means to have someone proud of me for my accomplishments; graduating high school, attending and graduating from seminary, my first job, etc.
I have learned to work hard. I have learned to remember specials day; Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc. I have learned to pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of all God’s people. I have learned to share and educate about our journey with mental illness. I have learned what it means to be loved by God in the midst of our brokenness. 
I have ultimately learned what it means to love and be loved!! 

Unspeakable Joy

Christian artist Chris Tomlin does a version of “Joy to the World” that is awesome. In the song, he talks about “unspeakable joy.” I love his description of joy that he uses. My mom definitely exudes “unspeakable joy.” For me, “unspeakable joy” is seeing the look on someones face, their body language, etc without uttering a single word about how joyful or happy they are. (I hope that makes sense!)

My birthday was exactly one month ago today. Mom called me on Monday because the little community bus was coming to the closest big town which I live in on Tuesday. Mom wanted to come to Minot and celebrate my birthday with me. She tried all day to get a hold of the bus driver but she was not having any luck because it was Labor Day. She called me at about 5 pm and was like I dont think it is going to work out. I could tell in her voice that she was disappointed. But then a couple of hours later, she called and said they called me back. I can come. So I met her at Walmart. Then we went to Paradisos and celebrated my birthday. It was such a great day…unspeakable joy for Mom.

Last spring, my friend CT and I went to Mom’s town where we meet with other youth/home and family colleagues once a month. It was a windy day and we had left early. As we pulled into town, CT asked if I wanted to stop in and see my Mom. I told her we didnt have to. But CT said, “I know we don’t have, but I want to meet your Mom.” So we did just that. I led the way into the assisted living/nursing home that Mom lives at.  Once through the doors, I turned to the left and led CT to Mom’s room. Mom’s face lit up the moment we walked through the door. Mom grabbed me and embraced me in a big hug. Then she turned to my friend and embraced her too. CT and I talk about what it was like for her to see the look on Mom’s face that day. CT says that she saw “joy…pure joy” that day! Again…….unspeakable joy for Mom.

One of my favorite memories from this summer was my sister and I getting to spend a day at the ND State Fair with Mom. There was a little bit of miscommunication and it took a little bit of time before we caught up…but we did. Mom used a wheelchair that day because it was so much walking. My sister and I took turns pushing the wheelchair. We watched racing pigs, ate too much fair food, and had lots of laughs. My fave memory from that day is when we decided to have a caricature done of the three of us. The guy was so good with Mom and us. The caricature is now hanging in Mom’s room at the nursing home. Again….”unspeakable joy!”

These are just a few snippets of the “unspeakable joy” Mom has shown me in my life. I know that she isn’t always feeling like this because I have seen her at her lowest lows. But I love that she is so joyful over the simple things in life. I hope and pray that we all can be more joyful over the simple things in life…and not take our blessings for granted.

And just for a little fun, here is a link to a video of Chris Tomlin’s “Joy to the World” (Oh and excuse me for posting a Christmas video in October!)

Joy Comes With The Morning

(I am linking up at (In)Couragers today.

As a little girl, I loved watching Little House on the Prairie. Maybe it is because I am a girl who grew up on the prairies of North Dakota. I have always loved watching it. And I still love watching their reruns. (If you haven’t read Allison Arnigram’s book Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. You must read it. I was rolling on the floor laughing. Allison played Nellie Oleson on the Little House series…but I digress). This afternoon as I was enjoying my day off, I came across the Hallmark channel as it was playing episodes of Little House. One of the episodes I watched was the one where Mary finds out she is blind, goes off to a blind school, and meets Adam. At the end of the episode, she is standing in the church during worship reading Psalm 15 from her Braille book. As her fingers danced across the braille book, I couldn’t help but think about life and how God is with us in the midst of our struggles.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

My life has had its own struggles as well. My mom had a nervous breakdown after my little sister was born. I was only three years old. It has always been a difficult journey. I don’t remember a time when my mom didn’t end up in the hospital at least once a year. When I was a sophomore in high school, our parents divorced. The illness was too much. My senior year in college my mom ended up in the ICU which aged her a lot. She has been living in a nursing home ever since. The place Mom has lived at for about the last ten years has been an incredible blessing in our lives. My sister and I became legal guardians while I attended seminary. And as I look back on this journey, with all of its ups and downs, I simply know that

The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Looking back over my own 35 years of life, I can see all of my ups and downs. I went to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp knowing that it was the worst interview in my life ( I spent the whole time looking at the floor not the interviewer), yet they took a chance on me. That next summer, I remember them telling me that they didn’t think I would make it, but they would take me as long as I would make it and now they couldn’t get rid of me. After camp I felt the call to attend seminary and it was not an easy journey. I struggled throughout that journey, but it also has made me into the woman of faith that I am today. After seminary, I waited a year before I received my first call. And after that first call, I was blessed to be called by a community of faith where I grew into the woman leader that I am today. And when I felt the Holy Spirit moving in my life to a new call, it was so very difficult to leave that place, yet I felt God leading me to this new adventure. It was a time that was filled with deep reflection and prayer. And those are just some of the stories of my ups and downs. As I look back, I completely and fully remember that

“The joy of the Lord is my strength”

Yep, that’s right when I struggle because God hasn’t brought Mr. Right into my life I cling to the fact that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I continually yearn to start a family, I am reminded again and again that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  When friends have failed at having more children, I have clung to the fact that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I hear those words, that a friend or family member is sick or divorcing or moving, my heart aches, yet I still cling to those dear words “the joy of the Lord is my strength!”

The Lord is my strength because I have been blessed by amazing communities and friendships that continually remind me of that fact. Without my seminary community and friends, I would have given up a long time ago. Without my camp friends, I wouldn’t have first shared my family’s story of mental illness. Camp was the first place I openly shared my family’s journey with mental illness. And they wouldn’t pray for me when they know we were struggling. Without my Diaconal brothers and sisters, I wouldn’t have picked up my own basin and towel to wash the feet of all God’s people. Without each of my friends, I don’t know where I would be! They remind me of God’s love each and every day! And without YOU, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I wouldn’t know God’s love, grace, and mercy because you remind that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

And knowing that “the joy of the Lord is my strength,” I know that God is always with me; with us. I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses; Psalm 30 (specifically verse 5)  “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Some Disjointed Thoughts

I love fall! I love watching the seasons change but it also means life at church gets busy. Everything starts back up. Now don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the church so full of life after so many members have taken a summer haitus! I truly love working in the church. However there are so many challenges that go with it too! Just the reality of serving in the church!

Antsy…that’s how I have been feeling lately. I don’t know if it’s the Holy Spirit flittering and fluttering around…doing her thing or what but thats just how Im feeling! I’m not sure what that means so asking for patience and peace!

Hope and Joy! I just got back from my synod’s fall rostered leaders retreat. The speaker today had us share stories of joy and hope. We talked about happiness and joy! Are they the same or different?!?! It created some fruitful conversation.

So this is a disjointed post but thats how I feel most days…going from one thing to the next! Hope you all are doing well my friends!

Joy Not Fear (Or The Head and the Heart Part 3)

Oh how easily fear sneaks in! It’s an emotion that we all struggle with. The other day I was working on my newsletter article where I wrote about joy not fear. I talked about how fear comes into each of our lives. Ever since writing that article, I’ve been thinking about fear. As many of you know from some previous posts, I yearn SOOOOO DEEEPLY to be a mom, to have a husband, etc. I wonder what God is calling me to do and be! Am I suppose to adopt and start my family on my own? Am I suppose to wait; wait for the day that God will bring Mr. Right into my life? So many questions….but not so many answers! 😛 I have been praying about this every day since I began having this conversation in my head. I am definetely not at peace and know that I will be when God shows me the answer to my prayer. However fear plays in to because I wonder how my family etc will feel if God is calling me to this adventure and this calling. For now, I am clinging to the joy I see when friends get married, friends start having families, etc! Joy not fear………..

My good friend Bryant introduced me to a new Christian artist Jason Gray. His words speak so deeply to him. The song “Remind Me Who I Am” is something that I am clinging to. Who am I? Who has God called me to be? Who am I in this world? WHO AM I? Again trying to cling to the joy of who I am rather than to the fear of clinging to Who I am not!