Joy

James 1.2

I love those moments when a scripture I’ve read a hundred times comes alive. It’s like a beautiful unveiling of something God wants to reveal to you.

I’ve read the book of James more times than I can remember. This time, however, right out of the gate I found myself staring at the phrase, “count it all joy.”

What did that even mean? There I was, in the midst of a daunting trial that I had no control over and I needed to count it as joy?!

I knew the end game. James tells us choosing joy would produce steadfastness. But what did that even mean?

The New Living Translation says to “consider it an opportunity for joy,” so that my “endurance has a chance to grow.” (Stop and think about those words for a second).

Everything I thought I understood about that verse went to another level of understanding.

We endure in trials because we change our view of the trial from some scary mountain that we would surely die (or at the very least be seriously injured), into a mountain that we could climb and shout for joy at the top.

I wanted that joy. I wanted to seize the opportunity. I wanted to give my faith a chance to grow. I wanted to make that choice.

It’s all about perspective. Every trial we face, we have a choice. We can choose to grow and allow ourselves the opportunity to experience joy. Or we choose to let the trial overtake us and defeat out joy.

The choice from the outside seems obvious. Of course we choose joy. However, in the midst of the trial, at the base of that dark, scary mountain it’s not so easy. It’s a fight.

But the joy that comes in the morning is so worth the fight! Stay strong and take that opportunity and grow. Count it ALL joy!

Rest

I have four littles under four. That is a recipe for crazy, I know.
At the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I yearn for silence. I don’t want to be touched. I have no more words.
I am in the midst of a season that demands so much of me; physically, spiritually, and emotionally. So it’s understandable I find myself run down and out of energy, having nothing left to give anyone.
It was only a few months ago I felt that utter exhaustion washing over me, holding me down. It was a fog I couldn’t seem to shake, despite my attempts to refuel my mind and soul. I spent time with the Lord everyday, but seemed I couldn’t rest enough to fill that energy deficit.
Rest. Slow down. Focus. Recharge.
Soon enough I found myself in a place where all I could do was rest; all I could do was be still and turn to the Lord. Time stood still and the only thing I knew to do was turn to Jesus.
Despite the unknowns and uncertainty I felt a peace and a recharging of my soul I had never experienced before.
I reached a point when the only way to keep going was to stop.
The demands of my life seemed overwhelming, but God was there and in Him I had all the strength and energy I needed.
Sometimes life’s circumstances force us to slow down and refocus on what is really important. Seasons will ebb and flow, some will demand more of me than others. But through it all, my crazy circus in tow, I find rest in Jesus.
I find rest when I surrender the façade of control I think I have, and focus on the One who truly is in control.
Psalm 62.5

God is Faithful

Pastor Mike Ayers

Our lives are full of unknowns; we are not guaranteed tomorrow. But God is faithful!
My world is so different now. The past month has been one of the toughest months I’ve ever gone through. But it has also been the most spiritually fulfilling and encouraging months I’ve ever gone through.
I believe without a doubt that God has prepared me for such a time as this. I have experienced first hand the truth of how much God prepares us for any season we will face. I would not have remained above the water this past month if I had not spent years diligently and intentionally spending time with the Lord.
Through this season I am learning so much more about who I am and who God has called me to be. I am learning more about the importance of prayer and quieting ourselves before the Lord. I am learning lessons God has slowly been showing me and through this season the words of the Lord came alive in my soul.
God chose me to be Abigail’s mommy and He has been preparing and pruning me to be the mommy she needs. God is faithful; I have no doubt.
Where is God requiring faithfulness from you? God asked me to keep walking one step at a time, all the while reminding me 
He was there to walk through the fire with me. God is faithful.

Hope Continually

In the middle of busy, crazy, stressful seasons it’s so easy to become distracted as the feeling of hopelessness rises within.

Just when we feel like we may be getting our feet underneath us it seems we get hit again, then again, and again.

But all is not lost. All is not hopeless. When things are not going the way you’d hope they would go, it’s important to stay mentally aware.

We are in a fight. But just because it’s a war zone does not mean there is not beautiful blessings all around us. And we are not alone.

Psalm 7114

I chose to hope; God is constantly showing me the family I have all around me. There are so many people around me who bless me, probably more than they know.
 They are the reminder of the hope that I have and the reminder to keep fighting for that hope. To fight the good fight.
In every season we go through, we have a choice to make. Will we choose to hope? Will we choose to hope, despite all the odds that may seem to be stacked against us?

My world turned upside down

Two weeks ago my world turned upside down…  
We had been home with our newborn daughter two days when she stopped eating well and started breathing really hard. After a couple of phone calls to the doctor on call, we headed to the emergency room. 

That’s when it went from 0 to 60…

At first, we didn’t know what the cause was. We soon learned it was her heart. As the night progressed every update seemed to be worse and worse. Our sweet little baby had a broken heart. 

And it was really bad. Her body was shutting down. Her kidneys, intestines, and liver were in shock. 

Five days later she went to the operating room to have her tiny little heart operated on. It was a complicated surgery. The magnitude of how bad her heart was hit us when the surgeon met us after the surgery and the first words he said to us was, “she had a really sick heart.” 

All I could do in that moment was thank God we were here. Thank God we were in Texas so close to an amazing hospital. Thank God my parents were out here to help with the kiddos. Thank God for this surgeon who was skilled enough to operate on a heart the size of a strawberry. 

As I sit here now, staring at my precious baby, nine days post surgery, it’s amazing to see how well she is doing. We are in a much better place than we were just a little over a week ago. 

These past two weeks have been so difficult AND so beautiful. 

My mama’s heart hurts because my hugs and kisses can’t make her better. My heart hurts because I have three other kiddos at home who miss me. My heart hurts because I don’t understand why this happened. My heart hurts because I feel helpless. 

But I have seen so much of God’s hand throughout this whole situation. God protected my baby and is still protecting her. 

Because of my sweet baby so many people came together to pray in unity over her healing. So many have rallied beside us and we have seen how much family we truly have. 

I understand so deeply the peace that God gives. I have a deeper understanding of God being close to the broken-hearted. 

During these past two weeks there has been an overwhelming peace washing over me. I have no doubt that God perfectly knit this little baby together. He has BIG plans for her.

I feel as though I am wrapped in a big, warm hug, shielding me from the arrows of the enemy. I know my refuge and strength is in the Lord. He is guarding my heart and mind and holding me together. 

I didn’t choose this, I didn’t want this. 

But I choose joy. I choose to rejoice in all my circumstances. I choose hope. I choose to believe that God has big plans for my sweet baby. I choose to believe God will use this for good.