Thursday, May 14, 2015

Choosing Joy In A Dark World

It's been a crazy week!
A good kind of crazy, but a completely off the hook kind of crazy and my body was sounding the alarm to slow down, and re-charge.
We did that today.
We took the entire day off to rest and recuperate, and get the house back into some semblance of order. We were all exhausted when we got home last night from an afternoon and evening of running, but after a good night's rest and some time at home everyone seems to be perking up a bit.
It was really nice to wake up this morning and take things slow with a fresh, steaming cup of organic
Coffee, a bowl of Trim Healthy Mama Oatmeal Cookie Bowl, my Bible and a notebook.

I came home with a really encouraging little devotional from our Ladies Night last week, on Joy...and a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers.
Such sweet, thoughtful, blessings from the team who decorated and put together the crux of the evening. It was an amazing night full of laughter, music, games, delicious desserts, and beauty.
The theme was joy
 I have been focusing on that theme during my prayer and devotional time this week.
It's amazing how much more joy I experience when my focus isn't on me, or the stressful situations life throws at me, but rather on gratefulness for all of the beauty God has blessed me with.
It's amazing when my focus isn't on me, but rather on looking for ways to love, give to, and serve others. The energy that comes from a right focus amazes me.
I was a bit overdone last night, and struggled with extra emotions.
That happens when my physical body is depleted, but it's worth it, and it always passes after some rest.
One of the areas I have been asking God for direction in, is wisdom and ways to reduce the sticker shock on groceries, while still managing to feed our family healthy foods.
 I was walking by the dining room table this morning.
The colors in the apple bowl drew me in and the smile in my heart was evident on my face. It has been a challenge to keep enough fruit in the house to satisfy seven hungry tummies every day, and yet our fruit bowl is filled to the brim with beautiful, delicious, crisp, apples. God answers prayer and provides so beautifully! This month I calculated the savings in produce alone, and for just apples, I have saved $40.00. I've saved another $40.00 in oranges, $20.00 in lettuce, $10.00 in potatoes, $10.00 in carrots, $20.00 in tomatoes, $7.00 in house hold cleaning supplies, $30.00 in bread, and this is all because I learned about the local gleaners. For $35.00 a month, and three hours of service a month, I get to shop up to three times a week.
God's blessings amaze me. Just look at how beautiful these apples are! Our kids are thrilled to have unlimited access to the fruits they love for snacks. No more cutting up apples to share...just grab one and enjoy!
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5

Matthew 6:31-32 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


Everything except the bananas in this bowl also came from the gleaners. It never ceases to amaze me how well God provides when we seek Him for wisdom.

I love these hand prints made by five of my grandkiddos, and the saying along with them.
It goes right along with the joy study and loving others more than ourselves.

The violin I played as a child made it back into our home recently and every time I see it, the memories of playing it with my Mom make me smile. My son wants to learn to play it and it's just the right size for him. Maybe he'll get the opportunity to learn. God can provide lessons for him. I am sure of that. 

Our daughter turned sixteen last week and her Daddy bought her this beautiful orchid to plant in our yard.
I find myself smiling a lot lately. It's the little things. The loving gestures, simple little acts of service, thoughtful gifts, and the presence of family and friends that all speak blessing to me.
When I stop to notice, and take time to thank God for each little blessing as it surfaces, new joy and peace fill my soul. 
It's a choice to be thankful.
It's also a choice to ignore the many moments of beauty and the many gifts, large and small, that life is full of, and focus on the pressures, the things we think we are lacking or missing out on, and the deficiencies we see in ourselves and those in our lives.
Focusing with thanksgiving, on the simple blessings in life brings joy and peace.
Focusing on the negatives, brings frustration, anger, and depression.
It's natural to focus on the negative. I'm seeking supernatural ability to focus and thank God for the blessings and little gifts He peppers my day with.
Give thanks for waking up each morning, for the sunshine, the rain, the seasons, beautiful birds that grace the sky, green, lush, grass, majestic mountains, the laughter of children, hugs, smiles, music.
This gratitude list only skims the surface of the many ways God shows up in my life on a daily basis, with sweet little gifts. Gifts that shine light and beauty in an otherwise dark world.
God's greatest gift He has given to mankind is the Cross.
I leave you with this beautiful song by the Keith and Kristyn Getty.

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