Monday, September 24, 2012

Thankful for HIS Song

“This is my story…this is my song…praising my Savior all the day long…”

How do you praise “all the day long?” At fifteen years old I thought I knew exactly how. I had been singing in church since I was eleven and my love for God and music filled me with a love that continued to grow. I knew God called me to serve Him and I was ready, so I surrendered my life to His service in the area of Music Ministry. I was on my mountaintop and so sure of my future! After all, music was my gift from God; and when I sang, I believed the words of the songs so deeply that I took ownership and they came from the depths of my soul. The music stirred the hearts of those who heard me, so I knew God was using me and would continue to use my life in a most profound way. My small country church offered me a music scholarship to East Texas Baptist College. It was then that my parents told my Pastor and Music Minister, “mind your own business,” and informed them that I “would only leave home on the arm of a husband.” There was no explanation to me for their action and I did not understand their apparent lack of reasoning. I faced devastation beyond belief. My world cratered, so I did marry within a few months in order to leave home.

Have you ever heard someone say, “If it was truly God’s calling, wouldn’t you be doing it at all cost?” Those words haunted me for years because I knew I was called by God to serve Him…but I had chosen the time and place it should have come to pass. I began riding a merry-go-round through life, attempting to fill the tremendous void of my disappointment. I could not find peace or reasoning in all that had transpired. I simply could not accept that God’s ways were not my ways if I wanted so desperately to serve Him. Why wasn’t the plan coming together? I dwelled on my disappointment so much so that I began quenching the Spirit of God. As the merry-go-round of life began to turn faster, I let the world enter in and disturb any resemblance of the Holy Spirit’s direction. I later faced many trials and strayed even more from God’s path. I was unable to ever be at peace in God’s presence. At one point in time, I could not even begin to sing a simple congregational hymn without sobbing uncontrollably. In my mind, I could not believe God could ever use me again. When I viewed my life thus far, I could not believe this was me. My guilt and shame consumed me and my problems seemed insurmountable. Satan had me right where he wanted me.

Forty years later, after brokenness and much heartache, I managed to jump off the merry-go-round of hurt and disappointment, and the world halted when I fell down before my Father. Yes, forty years after I had surrendered my life to special service, I laid face down at my Savior’s feet and sobbed in total anguish and repentance as I was facing yet another crumbling marriage. I found myself fervently praying and seeking God’s face and asking Him what He wanted of me at this late date…yes, after disappointing Him so much for not forsaking my parents and following Him when I was fifteen as well as the multitude of other mistakes. It struck me then, such a similarity…just like the Israelites…I, too, had been “roaming aimlessly for forty years!” I was so still and so alone and at the end of myself…I was so tired of searching for answers and that is when I cried out for God to just have His way at long last.

That is when I heard “His Song” in its entirety…for Him and all about Him. It was never “my singing” or “my life” or about me or my neat little plan wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow. It was about drawing to Christ Jesus daily and reflecting Him through “His Song,” written in blood by Him with lyrics from His Word! He began to show me how He had taught me “His Song” throughout my life…in everything that had happened to me, in all the mistakes, rubble and wrong choices. He had taught me about Himself in all my trials throughout the years. He showed me that I had placed such small expectations on what He intended to use me for. Oh yes, of course, I could sing when I was fifteen…and yes, from the depths of my heart…but the difference is that now I know and understand my Savior’s heart, “His Song.” He taught me so much about Himself, in the ways He helped me, forgave me, loved me and carried me through the many storms in my life. He taught me His grace and mercy. He taught me forgiveness...and finally, it was long past time to have clear understanding of how I had let Satan have control through my guilt. It was time to graduate from knowledge in Christ to wisdom and begin by forgiving myself.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." ~Psalms 40:1-3 (NIV)

Today I don’t merely sing of my Savior. My life reflects Him in bold meekness and I worship Him continuously as I sing “His song.” I know and understand my Savior’s heart and the hurt He endured and I know how He has eased my pain and erased guilt and condemnation. I know His sorrow and loss. I know His devastation and brokenness. I know ridicule and judgmental attitudes. I know abuse. I know pain. I know stigma. But I also know commitment, patience, longsuffering, self-control and I know compassion and unconditional love. I know healing and peace that passes all my understanding. And at long last, I know and understand my role as His servant. All along, my Father has been teaching me His calling for me…to know His heart and to share it with others...yes, to grow in Him and live in His likeness and sing “His song.” He gave me so much more of Himself than I could ever have understood merely singing another’s lyrics. Yes, He gave me the knowledge of His heart as He taught me, both in His Word and through the Holy Spirit. He gave me a lifetime to grow in Him, to learn and live His lyrics. He gave me His eyes to see others without judging, His ears to hear them and understand their cry beneath their uttered words, His mouth to praise Him all the day long and share “His Song,” a song that tells of His healing power, His great love and forgiveness…His genuine mercy and awesome saving grace.

Thank You, my Lord and Savior, for Your song which is embedded in me forevermore so that I might put my hand to the plow and continue to press on and grow in Your reflection. I thank You for the knowledge turned to wisdom of what it truly means to be called to serve You and to “praise You all the day long,” Father. Amen.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” ~Luke 9:62 (NIV)

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. ~1 John 1:6-7 (NIV)

I challenge each of you to put your hand to the plow, to look forward and not back, to learn the lyrics of His song and “praise your Savior all the day long.” We are all called to walk in the Light and serve our most high God...each and every day…all day. Our personal testimony and our surrender to His service should be more than something we recollect and speak of remembering past experiences. We are to live out each moment of our lives as a living testimony of Christ’s likeness, dwelling in His presence and having constant fellowship and oneness with God.

“This is my story…this is my song…praising my Savior all the day long…”

Captured in His reflection,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hurt and Happiness

Happy anniversary to my Mom and Dad who are both in Heaven now. After 9-11, I remember my Mom saying that she could never celebrate her anniversary again. I just thought, “how sad.” I knew her words were a result of deep hurt but we all hurt. Our entire nation was hurting. In light of 9-11, I will continue to pray for healing in the families of lost loved ones on that tragic day but I will not dwell in the sadness of the event. Do you believe God intends for us to dwell in sadness and not grow as a result of our experiences? Of course, He does not. There are lessons to be learned in life and there is growth as a result of every experience in our path.

Father, I ask that You bless and keep those who are hurting today. May You heal them as only You can do. May You bring them through their storm and into a clearer tomorrow. May You direct their eyes and thoughts to Jesus and the cross. Amen.

One of my former churches, First Baptist Church of Brazoria, Texas, celebrated their 75th Anniversary last month. I am sure there were so many memories to reflect upon. I know, because it was my church family at one time and it was also one of the many places God has used me. Shortly after I became a member on October 23, 1983, I got to meet some very sweet souls who were extraordinary to know. They were all smiles, out-going and loving and they all had one thing in common, they were mentally-challenged individuals. First I noticed J. Ray and Sandra attending and then Vickie and sometimes Mikel and Charles. I remember asking someone where they attended Sunday School. I was told that they did not go most of the time and when they did, they went to various classes; but sometimes they were simply sat down to busy themselves. The explanation I got was that they required one-on-one attention in the classroom to prevent disruption of the lesson. My heart was stirred. I knew that God had placed a burden on my heart and that He had also prepared me with a compelling awareness and an extra dose of patience where these were concerned, as well as a passion and love beyond measure. I also realized He was laying the vision before me for a Special Ed Sunday School class.

Why me? I know and understand now that our Father allows us to experience certain things in our lives because He is preparing us for His Kingdom work...yes, so we may minister to others in similar situations on His behalf…so that we are knowledgeable in His concerns…so that we may see others through His eyes and share His never-ending capacity to forgive and love them…so we are ready to serve.

"God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." ~II Corinthians 1:4

How did He prepare me? Prior to attending FBC Brazoria, my two sons, Nash and Neal, were raised alongside a best friend’s children, Hunter and Tasha, at La Belle Baptist Church. My friend, Pam, and I were expecting within eight months of each other…her first and my second child. When Pam gave birth to her son, Hunter, he was born with Down syndrome. I had shared all the joys and expectations throughout pregnancy with my dear friend and now I shared her first reactions of such extreme hurt and devastation. I witnessed her fight against depression and her agonizing questions to God. My friend was later told by her doctor that she would never be able to have what the world deems a "normal" child, so she and her husband also added a precious daughter, Tasha, a beautiful young girl who was adopted. These two children were like my own and I shared many of the trials my best friend encountered. I also shared, firsthand, in the outpouring of God's richest blessings on my friend…just in the gift of knowing and loving her dear children.

I never suspected at the time, that God was using my experiences with Pam’s initial pain and then her extreme joy, to grow me for His work. Yes, through the complexities of hurt and happiness, my Father was preparing me for a task later in life. In God’s own time, He placed me at such a place and showed me where He wanted me to serve Him…at FBC Brazoria. I approached the parents or closest family members first, where possible, and explained the vision of a Special Ed Sunday School class which God had laid on my heart. Sandra was so excited to attend her own class but one of the mothers, Janie, was hesitant and protective of her son, J. Ray, just as I had I invited her to accompany her son to the class until she felt comfortable leaving him. Once Janie felt comfortable, I then asked if she would like to be my helper...then my substitute. That was the beginning of a very close and meaningful relationship between Janie and me. Our class grew into a much larger class through the years. When I left FBC Brazoria, Janie became the teacher and was right where God had prepared her to be. I was merely a stepping stone in God’s pathway for Janie…just as Pam and Hunter were stepping stones for me and many others whose lives they have touched. I am so thankful and humbly honored to have served our Most High God in the capacity of Special Ed Sunday School Teacher.

J. Ray is a fine, healthy young man in Heaven now and his precious mom, Janie, still teaches the Special Ed Sunday School Class at FBC Brazoria. Pam, Janie and many others have been so richly blessed by God…to be chosen to love and care for a special-needs child. God simply allowed me to share their blessings. Thank You for the blessings, Father! And thank you, Hunter, for being the first to teach me God’s compassion. Now I simply stay in touch with Pam and Janie, but we will always share a very precious bond as close friends and dear sisters in Christ. We will also share a home in Heaven, where one day we will see J. Ray again, smiling his big smile and running into the arms of his sweet mom while telling her how much he loves her! Praise God! What a glorious day that will be! And Hunter…well he turned 37 yesterday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUNTER!!! Knowing and loving you…my cup runneth over!!!

We do not have to know and understand ahead of time what God’s plan is, we just need to walk closely with Him daily, through the hurt and happiness, while having a willing and responsive heart. Through it all, simply keep our eyes and focus on Him and He will prepare us and show us His way in due time.

Captured in His reflection,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Because of Jesus, I Am More

As most of you know, I love to sing and I truly worship deeply through music. Well, when music speaks to me, I follow God’s leading and I write. Such is the case here.

While attending a Women of Faith conference in 2007, I will never forget the multitude of hands that went up all over the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, when the question was asked, “How many here have been abused during their lifetime?” I was overwhelmed in tears to actually visualize the answer to a nine-year-old girl’s question so many years ago. “I feel so confused…so dirty…so ashamed…so alone…I am different…there’s nobody else like me…I don’t feel loved…why did this have to happen…am I the only one this has ever happened to?” Through my eyes at nine years old, I could never have conceived such a view as I saw in 2007. There are not enough adjectives to describe the shame and guilt which accompanies sexual abuse. There are not enough words to explain how a girl of eleven years, accepting Christ as her personal Savior, could be so wrought with pain and repentance due to all those adjectives. The desperation in wanting cleanliness and the determination in forgetting…there are no words except, “Because of Jesus, I am more.”

Just last month, I encountered the same emotional experience as I did in 2007. I was called to jury duty and asked very in-depth questions concerning sexual child-abuse. I live in a small town and hundreds of people were called as possible jurors. As my questioning became more and more thorough, I faced answering explicit questions very truthfully. Since the crime of my childhood was hushed by my parents and not reported to authorities and I never received any counseling, I had never encountered nor answered such thought-provoking questions. Here I was, again, seeing a room full of hands going up along with mine as the questions pierced our very souls. When there are no words, sometimes I just cry. It brings to mind so many hurting individuals. I think of all the young girls victimized by sex trafficking and I cry.

Just for a moment, he tried…but no, Satan did not steal my joy…He can’t. Jesus is my JOY and “Because of Jesus, I am more.”

So, I continue to draw closer to my Lord, to live out the complexities of my life with God as my Center. He is the ONLY WAY I know how. I will remain focused on Him while forgiving and loving in the same way He has forgiven and loved me…for He is the clear definition of unconditional love.

And above all else, I will continue to pray…

Dear Lord, You are my Maker and You, alone, know the depths of my heart. I love You and I praise You for the lessons You have taught me. You knew what experiences I would encounter throughout my life and You have used the trials to grow me and make me a stronger servant. You have instilled in me an endless sense of compassion and caring…Your compassion and Your caring…for others and sometimes I cry for those who are so confused, hurting and groping for answers…but because of You, I know I am more and they can be also. Father, the lessons You have taught me through the many trials I failed, seem now to be my very lifeline to others who are struggling to find Your way. Please continue to walk with me and guide me each step of Your way. And Father, for those who are involved or who have been involved in abuse, please may they see Your eternal escape route. May they realize there will never be peace or joy until they come to know they can only be more through You. Father, may they find You through me and others who listen intently and follow You. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” II Corinthians 1:4

Captured in His reflection,

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Hope You Dance

As I was growing up and school dances became the norm for something to do, I began begging two weeks in advance so I might possibly get a “yes, you may go” from my parents. All my friends simply took “going to a dance” for granted, but I had to beg. More often than not, the answer I received was a firm “no.” Needless to say, I never had a father-daughter dance with my dad and that has made me sad on occasion. One such occasion was when I viewed the scenes in the movie, CORAGEOUS, where first the daddy said “no” to his little girl’s invitation to dance and she proceeded to dance alone with empty arms. Later he pretended to dance with her…with empty arms around the memory of his daughter.

Our church has annual talent shows and this year was no exception. Yesterday, as I enjoyed all the talent, “Minnie Pearl” caught my eye more than once. Little Ms. Leona Wimberly, who was recently widowed, sings, smiles and enjoys her life in Christ! I knew for a fact that she had just returned from numerous funerals out of town, yet she was smiling and enjoying herself immensely…as she always does. I love the way she chooses Joy over sadness in her life. How? Her eyes are fixed on Jesus for her guidance in life and He is her eternal Joy. When she sat down two seats away from me, we exchanged pats on the knee and I told her I loved her hat! {{wink}} She beamed and said “thank you!” When an instrumental group began to play an old gospel hymn, she let it be known by those around her that she wanted to dance. After a while she asked me to dance, I jokingly said, “Will you be the boy or the girl?” She didn’t hesitate to say, “The boy,” fully knowing that would make it easier for me to be her partner and respond to her request. Then the music ended. I thought to myself, should the same occasion arise, I will choose to dance with Ms. Leona. We sat there enjoying the talent show as more music and laughter followed. Then it happened. The same group as before began to play the closing gospel song. We were all seated and Ms. Leona stood up with her arms extended and began to dance in place. We exchanged glances and she smiled that invitation to me, again. I stood up, took her hand and escorted her to a large area where we began to dance. Still smiling as we danced, she said, “uh-oh everyone is looking and that fellow doesn’t like this!” I leaned over and whispered to her, “It’s ok…there will be glorious dancing in heaven!”

May I share with you...

~Author unknown

"When I meditated on the word GUIDANCE, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word GUIDANCE.

When I saw "G," I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i." "God, "u" and "i" dance. God, you, and I dance. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings and mercies be upon you on this day and every day. May you abide in God as God abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life. This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached. If God has done anything for you in your life, please share this message with someone else, for prayer is one of the best gifts we can receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards; so let's continue to pray for one another.


Captured in His reflection,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Choosing JOY

Yesterday, we began our January Bible Study with Bob Allison from International Center for Biblical Counseling of Texas. His message was so explicit and thought provoking. The topic was “SOUL-BONDS” and he talked about “Breaking Negative Spiritual and Emotional Bonds of the Heart and Soul.” Wow! Heavy stuff! This is a topic so many people are plagued by yet remain in a query as to how to deal with. Loved it! I could think of so many people who would benefit from the information we received…pretty much everyone I’ve ever come in contact with during my life. After all, who is immune to sin? To no surprise, the topic touched the hearts and minds of every person present.

It is not often we get the basic how-to guide, step-by-step instructions or self-application process handed to us…for mending our heart and soul…you know, the simplified version of the one buried in scripture. Short of seeking a good Christian counselor, usually the only way to approach this process is to delve into a life-application study Bible, pray, read, study, pray some more and work through it with God’s help and His healing.

I have done the latter and have conquered forgiveness. First and foremost, I have repented and I know I have been forgiven for my sins. Secondly, I have forgiven others who have sinned against me. Thirdly, I have dealt with guilt and have forgiven myself. Forgetting, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. Forgetting may come after a time and the scars may heal and fade, yet they are forever present. We know God has the ability to turn our ashes to beauty. In other words, if we let Him have complete control in our life, He will turn our scars of brokenness into His lessons which provide strides of remarkable strength as we comfort others in the same way He has comforted us. This He has taught me. This I have learned. This I know to be true.

So how do you begin to forget? You must practice choosing JOY. I choose JOY as a result of making a conscious and constant effort to walk and live in the Spirit. By that I mean I continuously remind myself that my body is the temple of God and His Spirit resides within me. He provides continuous guidance and intervention in my life…giving me clarity and insight into the ways and truths of my Father. You could say I am captured in His reflection…for I am…forevermore.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” ~ I Cor 3:16 NKJV

The Holy Spirit guards, guides, instructs and encourages me to walk in Christ’s likeness and to seek the absolute and extreme ways of my Father. I long to know Him better so I continually pray and delve into His Word. I choose praise and worship music on my radio. I listen to Christian speakers and read books written by Christian authors. I make only selective choices watching television and my viewing is minimal. This keeps my mind and my focus stayed on God, my Father; Christ Jesus, my Savior; and the Holy Spirit residing within. JOY is mine, dear friends! Yes, He is my JOY…my fullness and my eternal peace. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. He loves me unconditionally. He answers my prayers. He walks with me and talks with me, teaching me along the way. He sent His only Son to die in my place so that I may have eternal life. He knows every hair on my head and every tear I have cried and everything about me...and He still loves me and cares for me so deeply. Am I immune to Satan hurling his darts? No! Does this mean when I am blind-sided by Satan that I no longer regress? Yes! In this life, I have been laughed at, ridiculed, chastised and been written off for being “too Holy.” Does that bother me? No, it no longer bothers me in the least. The more Godly traits that are instilled in me, the more my Father expects of me and the more extreme I probably seem to many in this world. I am human. I am not flawless. As I have said before, there have been and will be seasons of sadness. There will be failures (lessons), but I am not to dwell there. God has no purpose for me in that. In the same sense, the same JOY that I now reside in is also yours for the asking and He has no purpose in your dwelling in your those places of sin’s bondage. Satan will use every tactic possible to hold you there and attempt to steal your JOY but if you clothe yourself in righteousness, put on the armor of God, practice thinking on things pure and holy, abide in Christ Jesus by calling on the Holy Spirit throughout your day, JOY will triumph in your life as well! I can only imagine how it will be in Heaven where JOY is no longer a choice after our lessons, but instead it is a constant way of life. Practice kingdom living now by choosing JOY!

Captured in His reflection,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Treasure EVERY bite out of life! No matter the size, treasure it! Whether a bite or a byte, treasure it! Remember that “time waits for no one” and “happiness is a journey, not a destination.” Sometimes this is hard to consciously remember in our fast-paced world of megabytes and gigabytes but if you practice small “prayerbytes,” engaging our Father and turning your disappointments, frowns, aggravations and frustrations into hope, smiles, chuckles and happiness, you will cross major milestones toward good health, well being, peace and joy. Then go a little farther and also turn your idle moments or wasted time into “prayerbytes!” While waiting on your computer, on your phone, on an elevator, in line, on a doctor or in traffic…no matter where the wait, turn those otherwise wasted moments or voids in your life, into “prayerbytes.” Get into the habit of walking and talking with God at every given opportunity. Before you know it, the more time you seek Him, the more you will find Him. The more time you find Him, the more you will want Him. The more time you want Him, the more you will need Him! The more time you need Him, the more you will love Him. The more time you love Him, the more you will seek Him…and the cycle repeats…the cycle of a Christ-filled life…a full life…one with no voids.

Remember “The Dash” by Linda Ellis? The poem emphasizes that life is what happens between the beginning and the end. It is everything, including what we deem insignificant. The poem speaks volumes and no truer words have ever been written. I caught myself dwelling on this yesterday while talking and sharing some tears with my best friend from high school. I am in the bad habit of unconsciously saying..."when the house is finished I want to do this, or let's do thus and such.” Last week, after my aunt’s funeral, I said to many of my relatives, “When the house is finished, I want to have a family reunion!” Yesterday, while talking with my dear friend regarding one of our high school classmates who just passed away, I caught myself saying, “We need to get together when the house is finished…I want to have a slumber party!”

Whether we say good-bye to a family member or a friend, there is not only a void, there is a reminder that one day we will face the end of our own earthly journey as well. This shouldn’t jolt our “I’m fine and everything is ok” status, but it does. Why? We stare time in the face and take a long look at our own life which is full of voids. Perhaps we’ve wasted valuable time. During loss we are suffering a measurement of pain and sorrow, but amidst that there is a subdued urgency to reunite with those we have not seen or talked with in a long time. Yes, there is an immediate overwhelming sense of urgency to gather together those we care most about. Why? It is because we want to hurriedly fill in the voids in our life. Yes, we must fill our wasted time with moments to remember and cherish...moments we will not regret losing. We want to stop taking life for granted and fill in every precious moment we have left with those we care about.

Wow, how much more does our Father want us to fill our moments with Him? While God deserves our very best and not the crumbs from our life, He often receives our leftovers. Sometimes He is not given the smallest bite out of life; however, you can change that and begin today. If you are out of practice, you can begin with small bites of time…yes, with “prayerbytes.” Before long, He is not simply residing within while waiting for you; He is living through your very existence, within the very breath you take, thoughts you think, sights you see, words you speak and He is guiding your hands and your every step. Once you’re in step with God, The Father, your step gets lighter and your joy is eternal. Then, God becomes the significant part of your “dash.” Like those who mean the most to you, He won’t have to wait for a void in your life in order to reunite with you.

Thank you, Father, for reminding me that time is a precious gift. Thank you for steering my being to prayer and the growing desire within me of Your presence. Thank you for reminding me that each day You give me, I am to fill my life with meaningful moments…moments with You and those You place in my path. Please help me to live a full and complete life within Your will, Father, and to live out and exemplify Your eternal JOY in every step we take together! Amen.

Captured in His reflection,

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Joy Comes In The Morning"

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
~Psalm 30:4-5

A life of eternal joy trumps a season of sadness, every time!
After attending a funeral yesterday, of my dear aunt, I was temporarily saddened when a notice popped up in my inbox this morning, “Rita Martin turns 86 on Januray 13.” The message took me by surprise and it took another minute for me to smile again, realizing she is no longer aging and is residing in eternal joy.

While roses are beautiful, their thorns will periodically prick us and draw blood. I praise You, Father, thanking You immensely for the roses…while I am ever grateful for the thorns.

“Experiencing” hurt and “facing” hurt are both personally painful, yet “facing” hurt can be much more agonizing.

“Experiencing” hurt causes personal, physical or emotional pain, followed by healing, sometimes a scar and possibly memories which cause us to “face” or unlock the hurt at our discretion. There are so many hurts and areas of sadness which surface as a result of death, divorce, addiction, abuse, lies, cheating, molestation, rape, bigotry, theft, gossip, etc. The list of causes is long, indeed.

“Facing” hurt means looking directly into the pain, delving in it, as well as the underlying cause and long-term effect. It means studying the tributaries of the pain and digging way beneath the surface hurt in order to analyze its origin...all the while placing ourself in the individual shoes of those concerned as well as questioning all the possible repercussions in the future.

I speak from personal experience when I say that facing hurts is not easy, especially those which we may have inflicted upon others. True enough, we are all inherently sinful and have all fallen short; however, many times these Biblical facts do not weigh heavily enough in our heart and mind to compensate for Satan’s thorns or skillful ways to use guilt against us. Satan has a way of blindsiding us even after we have asked for forgiveness and have been forgiven. Just when we think we are ok, back on track and standing boldly for Christ, a thorn pricks us! Out of the blue, here comes a remark or something you read concerning an aspect of the hurt…and wow, it can take the wind right out of our sails. You regress and face the hurt once again. Satan would love to keep us there where he attempts to infiltrate our stance and cause us uncertainty and doubt. His playing field is built on insecurity and he would love nothing more than to keep us subdued. How do we handle it?

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." -Psalm 55:22

How does it end? When does this “Joy” that “comes in the morning” totally and permanently replace yesterday’s sadness? Well, it only happens when we let it. How do we “let” it? The ONLY way to replace sadness with joy is to CHOOSE JOY! Merely saying, “I choose joy” will not cause permanent JOY. We must truly put joy into practice and focus on living out our joy in Christ Jesus. The first thing we must do is focus more on Christ than we do ourselves. We must replace our sadness with His joy. The only reason to regress and think on the lesson God has taught you during your time of pain and sadness is when you utilize it for His good in helping others or drawing others to Him.

“Hold on, my child, JOY comes in the morning!”

Has Jesus not endured all possible facets of the hurts we face? Has He not chosen the right path and pointed us in the right direction? Has He not forgiven our sin and saved us from ourselves? Did He not die so that we might have eternal life with Him? Does not the JOY in Him and everlasting life surpass all momentary earthly circumstances of sadness or hurt in which Satan often tampers? Are we not more than conquerors? Do we believe what we say we believe? Then, by all means, let’s live it…boldly and corageously!

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

Father, God, I love You and I praise You with all that is within me. I thank You for Jesus and what He means to me. I thank You, Father, for Your omnipotent power to work all things together for my good. I pray for everyone within a season of sadness, that we may always look toward you for guidance, and hope in our tomorrows. May we choose JOY in Christ and boldly align our lives with Him on a regular basis. May we consistently walk courageously with You while wearing Your armor which You have provided for us. Father, God…thank You for Your many roses, for the thorns and especially for the eternal JOY You provide when those thorns prick us. Father, we not only choose JOY today, we proclaim it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Captured in His reflection,