Joys.

January 10, 2014

Just a few memories from the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 I want to tuck away here:

5. We missed our flight on Christmas and spent 5 hours at the airport.  Ian was a meltdown mess by the time we arrived in SoCal, but those 5 hours were somewhat of a welcome respite in the midst of the holiday hustle.  But.  We’re driving from now on.

4. Ian’s first Christmas, and he blossomed over the holidays.  He really thrived under all the love and play with family.  Even at 7.5 months, he knows when he’s being loved.  He would break into a smile just at the sight of his grandparents or uncles.  He even started to charm.  He crinkles his eyes in a syrupy, smiley way and blinks at you.  Oh my.  God help us when he discovers girls.  And.  He started crawling today.  He and Bambi suddenly have a lot in common.

3. My father-in-law made me cry.  In a good way.  He and my mother-in-law went to morning prayer the last day we were in SoCal, and on their way home, they bought Jack in the Box for us for breakfast.  Ian was taking his morning nap, and JE and I were munching on some kind of waffles sausage breakfast sandwich.  (This has nothing to do with the point of the story, haha, but that salty-sweet flavor is so seared onto this memory.)  My father-in-law asked if we wanted to hear a story their pastor shared that morning, and he began to tell us about a poor man who lived in China.  This man only had a horse, and one day the horse ran away.  All the neighbors said, “Poor man.  His only possession is gone.”  But the man was unruffled and said, “No, this could turn out to be good.”  Some time later, his horse returned with a mare.  The neighbors couldn’t believe it.  “You’re a prophet!  This is wonderful and turned out just as you said!”  But the man was unruffled and said, “Well, it’s possible this could turn out to be not such a good thing.”  And some time later, his son was maimed while riding the horse.  The neighbors said, “He was right.  What a tragedy.”  But the man was unruffled and said, “No, this could turn to be good.”  One day, China went to war and called all her sons to the battlefield.  But since this man’s son was maimed, he couldn’t go.  All the neighbors’ sons died, but his was spared.  And you can imagine the neighbors’ reaction.  My father-in-law went on to say that this man wasn’t a Christian, but his pastor spoke of this: taking both trial and blessing from God’s hand as they come, trusting Him and not hanging our hopes on the ebb and flow of circumstance.  He explained everything in Korean, but I got the gist of it.  At this point, I tried really hard to hold it in.  I looked to JE, knowing what was coming, and the dam broke.  Not that I was unfamiliar with this kind of encouragement … but at the end of a very up and down holiday season, it was what I needed to hear.  And all the pent up pain and disappointment gushed out.  In a good way.

2. JE’s kind sense of humor.  Sometimes when I take things too seriously or am worked up or angry or frustrated, he just looks at me … and laughs.  Not in a mean way but in a way that conveys love and pity — and perspective.  It makes me laugh at how illogical and ridiculous I’m being.  This happened a number of times over the holidays.  More than I can count.  The man is a gift.  He never gives me what I deserve. ♥

1. One of my “little” cousins wrote me a letter.  She now knows and loves Jesus.  Answered prayer.  Nothing else matters, does it?  My heart is fulllll.  Brimming over.  Acts 20:24.  Nothing else matters.

Holiday winds don’t automatically bring cheer.  In fact, sometimes they just aggravate the rheumatic spots in our lives — old aches, heartbreaks, disappointments, sorrow.  Sometimes I admit I’m more prone to upset or melancholy as the holidays draw near.  The brightness of the holidays illuminates all that is wrong or missing instead of revealing what is right and whole.  And the more I try to pretend I have no pain and that my life or loved ones aren’t sorely broken in parts, the more painful and broken they all feel.  I look to what I think Wholeness should look like.  I look to what I think Joy ought to look like.  And I look in all the wrong places and faces.  Because anywhere and anyone except Christ is the wrong Where and Who.  Let me — let us — remember that tomorrow, Thanksgiving, and as Christmas draws near.  Because we need Him every day — on holidays no less.  And He is near —

On holidays no less.

Laughter.

August 1, 2013

Ian’s happiest and chattiest place is the changing table, and before his bedtime just now, he was all coos and smiles as usual.  While chatting up a storm with me, a coo and a smile (the kind where his whole body squirms with glee) met together and erupted into a laugh.  As I was looking at him wondering if he actually made that sound, he looked at me and did it again!

My heart never melted so fast.  And I never so much wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.

So grateful for our baby … and for the God of all joy who created laughter and little boys.

 

From the radio yesterday.

October 1, 2010

Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.

(Mary Beth Chapman, Choosing to See)

Joy.

April 20, 2009

“Joy is a sweet attitude in response to God’s sovereignty. Joy says, I’m going to let my disposition be rooted in truth that’s in heaven and in the word of God, not necessarily in what’s happening around me.  Joy is not always a feeling.  Sometimes, joy is a confidence.  Sometimes, joy is a persuasion.
(Rick Holland)

Joy remembers who God is.  Joy remembers that He is sovereign over nature, over circumstances in our lives, over the duration of circumstances in our lives, and even over the king’s heart.  And joy is the cheerful submission to His sovereignty.  Joy is the sweetness of spirit that bows before His sometimes heavy hand.

Joy remembers that God’s Word stands (and sustains) even when everything else may fall and be destroyed.

And though it is heartfelt, joy is not merely an emotion.  An emotion can be a response, but a response does not always have to be an emotion.  Joy isn’t limited to the bounds of feeling.  Joy is not elusive; it is kept by truth.

Joy is the belief and deep-seated conviction that God is sovereign, that God is good, and that God is Abba.  Joy is confidence in Him, being persuaded that He is able and willing and delighting to do what He promised.  Joy is the confident response to the character of God.

He’s good to give us Himself as the anchor to our joy — immutable, eternal, holy.

Letitia means joy.

October 6, 2008

My friend Erin sent me this picture a couple days ago:

I saw this while walking around in downtown Philly a while ago and thought of you (for obvious reasons…)

I wonder if the neighborhood people pronounce it Le-tee-sha Street or Le-tish-a Street …

About a year ago, I was talking with a friend in the car, and we talked about how our parents gave us “challenging” names — challenging in terms of what our names call us to be.  Mine, joy.  Hers, grace.  In a world like ours, with hearts like ours, joy? grace?

How easy it would have been to live up to my name if it was something like Slow-to-Change, Absent-minded, Self-absorbed … (not that I wish they named me those things!)

But no, joy was what they chose.  In spite of anything and everything, joy.

A couple of nights ago, when I was feeling anything but joyful, I read Philippians again.  God gave reminders about joy through Paul, who was imprisoned for his faith but rejoicing and exhorting the Philippians to rejoice, too.

How was Paul able to genuinely, continually rejoice?  Why did he rejoice?

Because he counted “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [his] Lord” (3:8).

Because he clung not to “a righteousness of [his] own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (3:9).

Because he set his heart to do one thing … “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:13-14).

Because his hope was secure, knowing “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (3:20).

Because he knew that “the Lord is at hand” (4:5).

Because he had “learned in whatever situation [he is] to be content … in any and every circumstance,” not by his own strength or determination but “through Him who strengthens …” (4:11-13).

I want to rejoice like that.  I want to know more deeply the God in whose hands there are pleasures forevermore.  And in rejoicing in Him in any and every circumstance, I want to bring glory and honor to the name of my God … not because I’m strong (because I’m not), but because He strengthens me.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”
(Philippians 4:4)

“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
(Psalm 16: 5-6-11)

Cheerful for His glory.

November 4, 2007

Two of my cousins & I dressed up for my church’s “Fall Festival” this past week. I was exhausted afterward, but it was well worth it. They had so much fun.

One kid at church asked if I was Larry the Cucumber ;]

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Leslie & Alisa still come over every weekend. They still challenge me.

They don’t just listen to my words; they listen to the tone of my voice. They don’t just watch my actions; they watch how, & with what attitude, I do them.

They particularly notice whether I’m cheerful or not. Leslie, especially, will ask, “How come you’re cheerful even when ____?” or “How come you’re losing your cheerfulness?” (She’s asked both of these questions in the past two weeks.)

One of my most consistent prayer requests this past year has been for genuine cheerfulness, no matter what my circumstances are – that sweet, joyful disposition that is the fruit of walking by His Spirit. Though I’ve certainly seen more of joy’s opposite, He’s faithful to continually sanctify . . . & provide unexpected accountability through my cousins.

When we’re cheerful, it brings Him glory. In this dark world, cheerfulness (true joy) shines. After all, who can claim to have lasting, undiminishing joy no matter what the circumstance except those who know, love, & walk with Him?

So, away with grumbling, complaining, pessimism, bitterness, discontent, & gloom.
Let’s be cheerful from the heart . . . for His glory.