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Entries in Hard Circumstances (2)

Saturday
Sep212019

Choosing Joy in the Midst of Chaos

Julie Watson is an amazing woman. She has faced situations that could rob her of joy and peace, things that could have led to her defeat. But she is an overcomer, and in this Attitudes UPGRADE, she shares how she has found joy—and we can too.

“Decisions, decisions. Choosing joy in the midst of life’s messiness is quite the feat," Julie says, "but oh, so worth it!"

I (Dawn) have watched Julie cope with huge changes in her and her husband's life over the past few years. I can testify that she has found God faithful, and in the midst of the messiness of life, she has found God's unlimited joy.

Julie continues . . .

Ah, summer. If you’re a mom, you’ve likely just finished it. If you’re anything like me, you planned to have a great summer filled with fun activities: places to go, things to try, people to visit, etc.

And, if you’re still like me, you probably jumped for joy (to some degree) when it was over!

My HOPE is always to have the best summer, but my REALITY typically falls quite short.

I don’t know about you, but one can only take so much arguing, teasing, fighting, not listening and disobedience.

  • Behaviors get stretched to new limits when the TV and tablets are turned off because someone (or two) is grounded, and it’s too hot to go outside to play.
  • Boredom reaches new heights when Legos and Matchbox cars are the primary imagination booster to combat such yawn-inducing, brain-frying monotony.

In these instances, children often create their own “fun” which loosely translates into CHAOS for mom! And, not just any chaos, but the kind that horror stories are made of, such as: burning ants with a magnifying glass outside becomes a small brushfire (fictitious example), or a sister’s toothbrush is used as a toilet brush in a fit of assumptions, rage and revenge (a factual example from my summer).

This summer I did things differently.

Since the kids would be attending a new school, I had three whole months to work with them on the high expectations this new school has for its students.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we worked on math (the subject everyone is scared of at my house).

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I put their imaginations to work and had them write their very own books!

Since all three of my kids LOVE to read, I thought it was time to make them the authors of their own imagination destinations. Funny enough, they really loved that idea and dove right in!

But, oh my goodness, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays just about sent me over the edge.

The frustration and tears shed are almost too hard to relive… and I’m talking about MINE!

Trying to find even moments of joy became increasingly difficult.

The longer the summer dragged on, the harder it became. I had done some wonderful studies on joy in the past, and am still in the midst of one now. So, why was I struggling so much with finding joy in this summer chaos?

Joy is a choice, plain and simple. It’s not something given, bought, earned or found.

1. We have to RECOGNIZE who the author of joy is.

That’s Jesus. By taking our place on the cross and forgiving us our horrible sins we don’t deserve forgiveness for, He created an institution of joy within our own hearts when we accept Him.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

(Also see Isaiah 61:10 and John 16:24.)

2. We have to CHOOSE to be thankful for everything He has done for us.

Being grateful for our abundant blessings is the fastest way to create joy in the midst of chaos.

Even being thankful for the chaos teaches us how to cling to our Lord and Savior during the most trying of times!

“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).

(Also see Habakkuk 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23; and 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18.)

3. We have to SHARE it and spread that joy with those who need it.

In my estimation, that’s pretty much everyone!

Joy spreads like wildfire when you act in love and compassion toward another.

If we could share God’s love with others and act towards them with that same love, the world would change, one person at a time.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

 (Also see Proverbs 15:23 and Romans 15:32.)

In my case, I needed to choose to be thankful for these three little lives He had placed in our home and hearts after 17 long years of waiting.

He allowed us to become parents to some pretty amazing kids who were grateful to find a home with loving parents willing to help them with their schoolwork.

But, why had I forgotten to be thankful for them this summer? 

Because I had focused too much on the temporary frustrations and didn’t choose to be grateful for my lifelong blessings!

Are you struggling with choosing joy in the midst of chaos? Is there something you’re forgetting to be grateful for that will increase your joy meter? Reach out to a sister-in-Christ to pray with you and make a better choice for yourself today.

Joy is right there for the choosing and sharing!

Julie Watson worked in women’s and children’s ministries for 10 years as a Development and Executive Director before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. In 2016, God created a beautiful forever family when she and her husband, Shawn, were able to legally adopt the children. Julie now helps others find hope and freedom from emotional eating & unhealthy habits as a C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Thursday
Feb152018

Strength for a Mama's Heart

Fighting pneumonia, Wendy Hamilton still wrote this UPLIFT post. She is leaning hard on God's strength, and she wants us to do the same.

"'Strength.' This word has been on echo for weeks," Wendy says. "As the holidays blurred and company came and went, 'Strength' was the word God whispered."

I (Dawn) know what Wendy means. Sometimes, weary and frazzled, strength drains from my lives. It's a good thing I know the source for new strength. As does Wendy. Though nothing may change outwardly, operating in God's strength makes our burdens seem lighter.

Wendy continues . . .

As a new school year began and our kids entered the last semester before high school, switched schools for a more personalized and creative approach to schooling or returned to college many states away, God spoke: “Strength”.

As illness seemed to invade every corner of our world affecting every friend and their families and all members of our family, God promised, “I am your Strength.”

Through those difficult times, God breathed the word “Strength” over my mama’s heart.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him (Psalm 28:7).

As projects went awry and I struggled to be me in my everyday life, God reminded me of who He is, who I am and what I am created to do as His beloved daughter.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).

When life doesn’t always look, feel or seem to be going in a positive way, it’s easy to believe the lies of the enemy that God has forgotten about us, doesn’t hear us or really has nothing good for us.

I know among myself and my friends I saw the weariness creep in. Our struggle was real.

It is easy in those moments to focus on the “My flesh and my heart may fail” feelings and never counter those thoughts with the greater truth that “God is the strength of our heart” and He is all that we need all the time, every time, no matter what.

Think for a moment about what is not going as planned in your life.

Where are you going through difficulty or a situation you would rather avoid or never experience at all?

1. Write out what is going on your world that weighs heavy on your heart.

2. Write beside each item, "God, you are my strength and you are all I need.”

The sum of God’s strength far outweighs all difficulties in our everyday lives.

Strength is who God is. HE IS our strength and HE IS our shield. He helps us.

Because of who He is, we can trust in Him. Our mama’s hearts can leap for joy even in the most difficult of days—days filled with anything from toddler tantrums to adolescent antics to those tight, soul-trying moments where we may believe that we don’t have all that we need.

We can praise God for the songs He gives us, especially for the songs that reveal His strength for us.
[One example is below *]

Where is God telling you that He is your strength?

Wendy Hamilton is the co-gounder of Inspired Life Ministries, a creative arts freedom ministry. She teaches writing to moms and teen girls through Inspired Moms and Inspired Teens.  She is a songwriter/writer for Valley Creek Church and serves with her husband, Mike, and their kids in a variety of ministry areas across multiple campuses within her church family. Her devotional for moms, 30 Verses to Heal a Mama’s Heart, is available on Amazon.com, Amazon Europe and other online and offline bookstores and retailers. You can find out more at 30Verses.com. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

* An encouraging song to listen to today, "Everlasting God (Strength Will Rise)" by Chris Tomlin.