Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Joy comes in the morning

Joy. This word. So powerful. It has been on my heart these past few days. For a few reasons.

This time of the year when leaves begin to fall and the air becomes cool, I find myself just...joyful.

And, a few situations/stories that have inspired the word joy these past few days. It has somewhat consumed my thoughts. When that happens, I know what needs to happen.  I need to let it out. I don't know who reads it, but its therapeutic in so many ways. It always comes out a bit chaotic and a bit all over the place, but it has to come out.

Story #1. A girl I love but not very close to posted a status on Facebook. It pretty much stated how miserable she was and how she was fighting to hide it. 
She needs joy...

Story #2: My husband has had major back problems for about a year now.  Appointments, Chiropractors, epidurals, injections, ER visits, pain pills, out of work, back to work, surgery, physical therapy,  back to work, car accident, out of work...then watching God put his hand over our family.
I still have joy...

Story #3: Watching Cheyanne grasp that "everything works out."
Joy comes in the morning.

Story #4: Brodie told me why he wakes up happy every morning today.
PURE joy...

I can remember as a teenager: broken, lost and full of sin. God sent me to Monterey Park Church of God. I was saved, set free, and changed forever. The pastor, Eddie Tomberlin, was unlike any other Pastor I had ever known. He was full of life and faith and taught me about a God who loved me and surrounded me with grace. I can remember him praying prayers of faith, love, goodness, mercy, favor...over my life. One prayer has stuck with me to this to this day more than any of them and that is "to let the joy of the Lord be my strength." I learned about speaking life and I learned that through Christ is where I find my joy. Pure joy. Not a temporary happiness. But a deep deep joy that floods my soul.  

Joy can be simple for me. I find it in worldly things like:
Going to the movies
Sitting on the beach 
Getting lost in a good book
A surprise Kate Spade sale
Old Navy
Chick Fil A Diet Lemonade
An unexpected Amazon box with my name on it because my husband thought I would like it
Currently: This Is Us.

Or even deeper things like:
Smelling a certain detergent and thinking about my Grandma 
Childhood Memories
All of my children cuddled in my bed
Seeing a picture and remembering exactly how I felt in the moment
Celebrating people I love

Even Deeper:
The way my husband loves me and the way I love him.
Watching him work hard to allow me to be a stay at home mom
My children. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy.
Brodie's love of God
Paisley's spirit
River's Sweetness
Cheyanne's heart
The way Phillip loves/father our children
Hugging my children until they let go
Dancing with Pay when she grabs my hand
Sitting in a room with all of my brothers and sisters
The security of a loving mother who is always there
 A sister who knows me better than I do
Brothers who pray
A father who doesn't give up
A sister in law as loyal as they come
A mother in law who serves like no other and teaches me so many things
A Pa who cries when his Grandkids enter the room
A nephew who is perfect
Mandy. My friend who is there in every season no matter what.
Friends who have become my family
My Uncle Tobby
My aunt Nancy and her girls
Family in general
I could go on and on.

But even deeper: 
my Savior, my King who is Alive and is coming back for me....and You.
Jesus Christ who lives in my heart. 
Yahweh. Lord.
Watching & feeling his presence enter a room
Serving Him

He speaks to me.
I can feel him.
He's forgiving always
He is merciful
He answers prayers
He is my strength

What joy it is to have a promised eternity.

Let the joy of the Lord be your strength.

Story 1: I related to this status on Facebook and it brought me back to a time in my own life.  The Lord has blessed me. But my life is not perfect. A few years back, I lost my cousin Kim. She was my best friend. My person. Someone I talked to everyday. I felt lost without her. In the same year our business failed and it was a living nightmare. I wanted to hide under a rock and not show my face. We went through a season where we lost everything we owned. We basically lost everything but each other and our faith. I look back now and know that God had his hand on me because in the same year, he gave me Brodie. My joy. My gift. My motivator. My promise. I found joy in the hard time. I set my mind on Him and I fought with prayer and belief that it would end. He also gave me the gift of a faithful, strong husband. Phillip would know just what to say to affirm me. He knew when I just need a silent hug.   My point of being so transparent about my life is to tell you that the Lord is good. He's good in the bad and he's good in the good. He is our hope. Find your joy. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Set your eyes on the end goal and press toward it. Pray. Pray. Pray. Wake up praying and go to bed praying. Find a song or a quote or a scripture-memorize it and quote it when you feel sad, mad or hopeless.  A song that I grew to love and sang over and over each day was "You never let go of me." Brodie even knew it. 

And I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

Fave scripture: 

 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 
 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4

Story 2: Pain. Physical pain. Its exhausting. It causes mental pain as well.  Watching my husband suffer has been painful for me in so many ways. Watching him mourn his ability to run and play with the kids or pick them up was a stab in my heart. My once strong husband was weak. This is where my faith has been tested the most. Through this season I told Phillip that I had lost my faith. Yet, joy still found a way to fill my heart. I had hope. I wanted to prove myself wrong. I prayed even when I felt like I couldn't believe. And God is healing my husband. It hasn't been in my timing but his timing is perfect. It really is. Watching him run and play with our kids has a whole new meaning. Joy. I would love to pray for you if you are suffering in pain. I watched it almost knock down one of the strongest men I know and I know the affect of it. I promise I will stand in the gap for you.
My song through this season has been "For a Moment." 

And I know, it's only for a moment
And everything is working for your glory
But I need, your perfect love to hold me
Safe within your promise

Til the storm has passed

Story #3: My Cheyanne. Her life. Its been filled with so much grief at such a young age. It has also been filled with a whole lot of joy.  I do my absolute best with her. She is close as it comes to being one of my own.  She's had to go through many obstacles at a young age so its led us to many girl talks and encouragement. This past year was probably her roughest ones yet. I could see her losing confidence in herself. Phillip and I made it our priority to do what we could to get her out of this "slump." Prayers were answered and everything worked out the way we hoped/planned. I know thats vague but its her story to tell. All in all her Heavenly Father has been everything she needs in her life.The other day we were sitting at a drive thru and we were talking about how the impossible seemed to work out just the way she wanted. I looked at her said "Everything always works out, right?" She looked at me with the biggest smile and said "It really does."  Joy.  
If you have an obstacle in your life, remember that the bible says that everything is working out for the good of those who love him. It doesn't necessarily say for what we think is good. God has our backs. He's behind the scenes working it out. Have faith in that. Have JOY in that. That kind of faith. That kind of joy is unwavering. 

Story #4. This is my favorite. Joy for me is joy in the ones I love. 

Especially my children.

The best advice I received when I was pregnant was of course from my mom. She said 

"Ashley, your children will sense your emotions. If you are uptight, they will be. If you are sad, they will be. If you are calm, they will be."

Remember this. 

It has proven itself true over and over. 

The joy that I carry carries on to the ones around me.

For example: 

If Brodie is rushed, its over. He likes to have plenty of time.

I noticed that if I wake up late and rush him for school, his day starts off rough.

I've learned through this to find joy in my route.

I make sure I'm up in the morning to give Brodie plenty of time to get ready.

I wake him up by rubbing his back and talking to him. I've learned that taking the time to make sure he isnt rushed is how to create a joyful morning. I start by telling him a story. It can be anything really. At the beginning, he is still laying on his stomach with his eyes closed.  Through the middle, I can see his eyes start to open and by the end he is fully awake engaged in the story. Like this morning I told him about how his elf would be coming back soon. Nothing major just something to talk about it to motivate him to wake up. Then I give him a big hug and get him up. Then its routine-
My favorite part of our routine is right before he leaves.
I'll say "What does mama always tell you?"
He says
"Always be Kind. Always do the right thing. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and love."

And then I grab his hands aand we close our eyes and I pray over him every. single. morning. 

I thank God for him, I ask God to be with him and to protect him. 

Today, he kissed me goodbye. When he did he said "thank you for being my mama. You make me happy."


When he leaves, I make a cup of coffee. I sit in quiet and read my bible and devotional. I feel the presence of God surround me and it starts my day.

I can tell a huge difference in my day when I don't take the time to pray. My mood is easily changed. 

I know I've said a lot here. I always do. 

Belive me, I'm nowhere near perfect. I fail daily. The other day I told my mom that somedays I feel like I've got it all together and others I feel like everything is shattering around me. But I know what's most important and that is to teach my kids to remain faithful. To let the joy of the Lord be their strength. Through it all....I still have joy.

I want to encourage you to allow God to enter your heart and be your joy. Find joy in Him. Find joy in your life. No matter your circumstances, you have a promise for an eternal life. There is so much hope in Jesus Christ. 

I'd love to pray for you. 
send me a message. 




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