Joy

He Walks Before

Happy New Year, everyone!

There has been a plethora of 2016 recap posts and 2017 resolutions posts in the blogging world this past week, it’s come to be expected at this time of year.

2016 was an interesting year.

The year began with the losses dear family members, my paternal grandmother and our sweet Nellie in January. The New Year was a ending of sorts on a chapter of my life in which the Lord rescued me, guided me, and restored me. In the time between December 2013 to January 2016, the Lord called six of my family members home to Him. He called me to step out and make a way for myself in the church and led me to a new church home. He tested my faith through the students in my classroom, through the disease that my dad carries in his body, and through calling two of my closest relatives – my maternal grandmother and my Aunt Shelia – home to Him just 39 hours apart from each other.

Though this season came to a close in January 2016, I spent the remainder of the year wrestling in many ways with my next steps. My life had been changed, that much I knew. As I stood in the midst of a world that was falling apart around me, I knew I had experienced the amazing and unbelievable peace that could only come from the presence of Christ Jesus. The barriers that I had around my heart had come tumbling down and I was finally able to feel Him more fully and more profoundly than ever before in my life. I knew how to worship Him and sing His praises in that season because I had just seen firsthand what leaning into Him could look and feel like in the midst of turmoil. But once the dust had settled? Where I did I go from there?…

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Looking for Clarity

I don’t know that I really know how to write for this blog anymore.

I thought that I did for the better part of the past year, but here I find myself again. Consistently struggling to find the words to write for this space so that it doesn’t just become another idle corner of the internet.

When I initially entered the “blogging world”, I wrote about my favorite books, movies, and TV shows and I learned what I know about social media and writing on the internet from contributing and running fansites. But as time went on, I came to see that I wasn’t necessarily being sustained or fulfilled by doing all of that. I created this particular blog as an “escape” from the pop culture world and thought I’d just keep it as an online journal of sorts. But my posts were few and far between and I came close to deleting the site on many occasions. Later in 2014, when God really began to change my heart and my life, I realized that this outlet could be a good outlet for my walk with Christ and for sharing the things that God brings into my life and used to teach me.

My life at that time was going through some major changes. From late 2013 to January 2016, it felt as though my life was experiencing earthquake after earthquake. Each family member that we lost shook things up, crumbling away the misguided and detrimental parts of my life so that God could refine and reshape what was left standing. Each wave of grief was like an aftershock, molding things even further….

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I Love You, a Bushel and a Peck

It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since everything changed. In some ways, it feels like yesterday and in others it seems as if it were a lifetime ago. From December 2013 to January 2016, I lost six of my close family members but it’s these losses, these two in September 2015, that grabbed a hold of me and crumbled every wall and every barrier that I hadn’t even realized I had built. One year ago, not long after this post will go live, I stood at the foot of my grandmother’s hospital bed as she left this world for God’s kingdom. Less than 48 hours later, I stood outside of her house at 1:45 in the morning as her youngest daughter, my Aunt Shelia, joined her.

Grandma & a Baby Ashley

My grandmother was one of the strongest women that I know and to know my grandmother was to be loved by her. She raised her ten children to be the best aunts and uncles (and mom) I could ever wish for, something she did primarily on her own. Though her first taste of work was growing up on a tobacco farm, she worked as a waitress, a cook, a hairdresser, and a third-shift textile worker to help support them before eventually settling into her role with an organization that provided residential services to adults in the community with intellectual disabilities. She loved on her clients just as she loved on her own family, something that I hope I carry on in my own current role as a teacher to children with special needs. And although she had 15 grandchildren, she had a unique way of making each of us feel special when we were with her.

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Joyful in All Times // Joy in the Mess Series {Guest Post}

Joy in the Mess

Life is almost always a mess. Even if it’s a more positive one, a mess usually needs to be dealt with. I often do not deal with messes well: they can usually signal a change and I really do not like change. A mess can mean uncertainty and interruption and I really do not like when life is uncertain and interrupted.

For a long time, I have lived quite snuggly in my own comfort zone. I had told many people I would never move away from our small (ish) coastal town. I was happy and comfortable in my predictable, uneventful, certain life.

But, it appears God has had other plans. This year has become the year my life gets a messy upheaval. Trusting God really was opening a door for me, I made the decision that would take me away from my comfort zone, provide enough uncertainties to set off panic attacks, and say good-bye to a predictable routine. I had decided to commit to travel overseas for 6 months. The idea is exciting. But the process is messy. For myself, a melancholy, joy is not a natural reaction for me especially in messes.

Two months ago my house was a complete and utter mess. I watched on as box after box was filled up and taped shut. Each box was weighed and carefully manoeuvred over to the lounge room corner where our DVD shelves once sat. Nothing was normal about our house anymore, and nothing was normal about our lives.

Except mess….

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Miranda’s Story // Joy in the Mess {Guest Post}

Joy in the Mess

Today I am excited to share Miranda’s story with you all as part of the Joy in the Mess Guest Post series!

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When the unexpected happens, how do you react? Do you throw an adult version of a temper tantrum, which can include all sorts of reactions?

I know my share of pain. I have a husband in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, who left behind our two young kids. My kids have been taken away from me, I got them back. I have body issues since I have been overweight for most of my adult life. I have been through a lot of pain in my life.

I have recently been told that I act like I am mad at the world. Ouch, as much as it pains me to say, it is true. Have I lost my joy? I firmly believe that God has a purpose for this trial and that He is going to get us through,  but one some days it is hard to find joy when your heart is breaking constantly for my kids who are growing up without their father. He also was the primary caregiver of the family while I stayed at home with the kids, so we have depend on our families to take care of us.

I have to remember that my strength comes from the Lord and that He is going to take care of us. I need to remember to take time each morning and give Him thanks for all of my blessings.

Without giving thanks to the Lord, how can we truly be thankful. Just being here to read this post is reason enough to be thankful. I once heard that a way to be thankful is to write out your blessings on a page and read over them each morning as a prayer to start you day. What a beautiful way to start your day!!

We must always be in constant praise of the Lord for all that He has done for us. If you can’t find a reason to be thankful for, start looking small. For me although I don’t have a house to call my own (we live with my parents), I am so thankful that my kids and I have bed to sleep on each night. We have food everyday and don’t go hungry. We have our health. We have people to help and support us daily.

If we are not in constant praise, our lives will start to get stale and our faith will become stagnant. This is what I believe I have let happen in my faith over the past couple of weeks. Just because I am upset over my circumstances, doesn’t mean I did to be mad. I need to find joy in the little things and always be in constant praise of the Lord.

 

image1About Miranda:

I am a Christian wife, mother living in Texas going through a difficult time in life. My goal is to help others going through trials and helping them overcome it and realize that the Lord is in complete control. You can connect with her on her blog at http://www.mirandamiller.net

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