3 little known ways to amp up your joy

Cruising into week three of Joy30,  and one truth about joy stands out: some days you just have to choose it. As in, “This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24).

I’m not advocating that we fake happy feelings, but I’m learning that God’s perfect joy, the fullness of joy that always exists in His presence, is a gift He makes available to His people if we choose to unwrap it. So how do we connect with this gift, especially when circumstances are anything but joyful? Here are three ways that have helped me. Read More

when you face tough truth, let joy make you strong

“You need to put your armor on. You’re going out there spiritually naked.”  

Ouch. Spiritually naked? Me?

I had just confided to a ministry veteran that I was battling terrible doubts and anxiety every time I shared my writing online. Tottering out there on my “social media platform,” I had perpetual stage fright magnified by about 1000.

She listened with compassion, but then she gave me something I needed more than her kind hugs and reassurance that things would get easier over time. She started digging into my spiritual life (a.k.a. getting in my business) until she hit a place where I needed to hear truth:

I’d been letting Satan feed me a bunch of lies about God’s ability to protect and empower me to do what He’s called me to do.  Read More

let joy find you

I remember the first time Caroline ate blueberry pancakes. Sitting in a high chair at the grandparents, she grabbed fistfuls and shoveled them in. With gusto. Then, she caught me watching (camera in hand) and broke into full-on squeals of delight in the midst of a purply mess.

Joy snuck up on us, turning breakfast time into party time.

I’ve been looking for more of those joyful moments lately. In fact, I’ve put myself on a Joy30, spending the 30 days of April asking God to show me what it means to be

filled with joy,

strengthened by joy,

completed in joy,

led by joy, and

clothed with joy.

But what I’ve discovered this first week of Joy30 is that we have to open ourselves up to being found by joy, to allow it to sneak up in a surprise attack.  Read More

reading roundup: 4 books you’ll love to read and share

Looking for something new to read or recommend to your book-loving friends? There’s always a stack at my bedside or downloaded to my Kindle, so beginning with this first Reading Roundup, I’ll periodically share what’s impacting me. Here are four books to kick us off.  Read More

everybody stresses out. here’s why I say bring it on.

Does your “To Do” list look anything like mine? Sandwiched between get groceries and take kids to practice is one little word that’s got me stress-eating mint chocolate chip ice cream and avoiding my desk at all costs:

Taxes.

I even use a CPA now so it’s not as if I have to go it alone. But every year, the process makes my heart rate go up, my throat tighten, and my mind play the “what if” game. You know that game, right?

What if I can’t find all the forms?

What if we owe a bunch?

What if I omit something, and we get audited?

What if the IRS shows up and drags me from my house kicking and screaming?

OK, I know that last one probably won’t happen, but late at night, I can escalate to Code Red Threat Level 10 anxiety thinking like the champion worrier that I am. You think I’m kidding, but I had to google “What happens if I make a mistake on my taxes?” to make me feel better since evidently, in my mind, tax man=bogey man. Read More

healing prayer when past pain roars back to life

Ever have an emotional hurt from the past explode to the surface at a weird time? Take the infamous “Tamale Incident” at our house. One night as I transferred tamales from bubbling steamer pot to platter, my kitchen tongs betrayed me. Corn wrappers began unraveling and the tongs started slicing through the super-heated corn meal rather than lifting the tamales to safety.

My husband asked if I needed help. I said “No,” and was reaching for a big spatula to remedy the situation. However, within about 6.2 seconds of my reply, he stepped between me and the stove, removed the tongs from my hand like an FBI agent disarming a suspect, and took over the whole shebang.

Hell hath no fury like a woman de-tonged. Read More

love that covers in a world that’s showing its backside

I have GOT to get some new jeans. As I was throwing mine in the wash, I realized all but one pair are sagging in the knees or worse, coming apart at the seams in some highly critical regions.

We are not talking a level of trendy distressing here. We are talking potential wardrobe malfunction in the back-pocket area if I’m not careful.

Reminds me of the time my husband started to stand up in church, caught his pocket on a snag on the pew arm, and ripped open a sizable hole. We had to scurry out with me holding a bulletin over his backside. We’ve been anti-wooden-pew ever since.

Since I’m on the topic of clothes – and how to avoid clothing fails – I wanted to give you a quick devotional on the must-have garment for our spiritual wardrobe:

 And over all these virtue put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)

I needed to hear that. I’ve been wrestling with how to engage people around me with compassion but also truthfulness in a climate that stirs up the worst kind of bickering, grandstanding, and frankly, backside-showing that I’ve ever seen.

There is not a bulletin big enough to cover some of that. Read More