Having True Joy in Your Life

Kamala Harris advocated this week for the legalization of marijuana, saying “It gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.” I agree that most people have a need for more true joy in their lives. However, lasting joy does not come from the use of chemical substances. Ms. Harris is calling for people to temporarily ‘feel better’ by using marijuana and other substances to masks their problems.

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Dictionary.com defines joy as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” I have never smoked marijuana or consumed alcohol, yet I experience true joy in my life every day. I experience joy as I am enveloped in the love of my family, enjoy the fellowship of friends, bless others through ministry and giving, and contribute to society by working diligently at my job. More importantly, I experience true joy from the assurance that God has forgiven my sins and I am his child. These are things that are exceptionally good and satisfying.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that joy comes from abiding in Him. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15: 10- 12.

There are many Scriptures in the Bible that speak about joy. These are just a few of them:

  1. Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
  2. Psalm 21:1 “The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
  3. Psalm 32: 10 -11, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:26, “For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight.”
  5. Romans 15:15, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

If you are searching for true joy in your life, I encourage you to seek it from God. God is our only source for forgiveness and salvation. We need to have fellowship with God in order to experience true joy in our lives. Don’t fall into the trap of using substances as a substitute for having real joy in your life.

You Would Not Have Been Born


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“You would not have been born.” I remember clearly the conversation in which my mother uttered those words to me. I was 7 years old, and Mom had just shared with my sisters and I that she had miscarried her second child. Sharon, the oldest of child of the family, was only a few months old when the miscarriage took place. This child would have been born when Sharon was less than 1 year old. I was born approximately one year after this child’s due date.

I was not bothered in the least by my mother’s statement. In fact, I replied with absolute certainty, “Yes, I would. I would have been born to another family.” Mom tried to explain to me that life doesn’t work that way, but I was adamant. The fact that I had been born was proof enough for me that I was supposed to be born. It still is, in fact.

I thought about this conversation recently after watching the movie, ‘About Time’. The movie revolves around a family in which the men can go back in time and relive parts of their lives. At one point, the main character travels back a few years to try to change the outcome of an event and returns to his present life to find that his young daughter Posy has not been born, and he has a son instead. He realizes that his time travel somehow changed the dynamics of his child’s conception resulting in a different child. Fortunately, he is able to undo is time travel mistake and regain Posy.

The movie reminded me that every conception results in a unique child. If conception takes place in a different month, a different child is created–at least in terms of the physical DNA. If the miscarried child had been born, it certainly had the potential to impact the timing of the conception of the next child, namely me, and the 7 children who were born after me.

I am neither a theologian nor a geneticist, so I cannot say with any certainty how I would have been conceived and born if my parents’ second-conceived child have lived. I do, however, have complete confidence that my birth was part of God’s plan. The psalmist David wrote, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

The rest of the Psalm reminds us that God know us intimately. He knows our thoughts and He knows where we are. There is no where that we can go to hide from God. He is always with us, walking with us and guiding us no matter where the path takes us. And He has known us since before we were formed. I have absolute assurance that my birth, and your birth, were part of God’s perfect plan.

My mother miscarried another baby 25 years or so after her first miscarriage.  She was just as bereaved to have lost her 11th child, as she was to lose her 2nd child.  She always carried those children in her heart, despite never getting the opportunity to meet them.  She realized that all life is precious and that children are gifts from God.  Psalm 127:3 tells us, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

An Open Letter to Target: Regarding your New Restroom Policy

This is a well-written blog in protest of Target’s policy to allow men in ladies’ restrooms and women in men’s restroom. We need to protect our children’s innocence and privacy.

Mary From Martha

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a woman. I am a frequent shopper in your stores. I am first and foremost a mother. Your recent change in policy of who you allow to use each restroom concerns me. You stated in your blog post, “We believe that everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination and treated equally.” and “…you’ll always be accepted, respected, and welcomed at Target.” As a business owner, I do understand your right to make a stance as a company. As a parent, I will never understand why you would trade the safety of our women and children for the sake of not hurting  feelings.

I realize that everyone needs to feel accepted, loved, and wanted. I know the struggles of a person struggling to find their identity. I also know that as of September 2012, a Gallup poll showed that approximately 3.4% of Americans identify as

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When God Sends Hardships Our Way

Hardships are a fact of life that we prefer to avoid.  We ask God to send blessings our way and to keep hardships far from us.  When hardships do come, we tend to blame them on the devil.  But, have you ever stopped to think the God might have sent hardship your way?

This reality hit home recently as I read Genesis 15.  This is the chapter where God promises Abram that He will make him a great nation and that His descendants will be as numerous as the stars.  Yet, in the same breath, God tells Abram that the his children will be enslaved in Egypt.

“Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.'”  Genesis 15:5

“Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them for four hundred years.  And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”  Genesis 15:13, 14

“But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:16

Stop and think about this for a minute.  Is that the kind of promise you want for your unborn children:  They will be enslaved for 400 years.  I might have been tempted to tell God that I was just fine without children.  But, Abraham didn’t.  He believed God would supply him with many descendants and that God would bless them through the hardships that would come their way.

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In Exodus, we see this promise fulfilled.  When God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand His people be set free, Pharaoh made life harder for the Israelites.  As Pharaoh continued to ignore Moses’ warnings, God encouraged Moses that He was in control and that these things were happening so that “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 7:5)

Later Moses tells Pharaoh that the plagues are being sent so “that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.” (Exodus 8:10).  In Exodus 10:1- 2, God encourages Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”

Through the hardships of enslavement that the Israelites endured, God showed His mighty power and instilled in them that He is the Lord God almighty.  The Israelites grew to be a mighty nation and left Egypt with great wealth. When they left Egypt, there was no doubt in the minds of the Egyptians that the God of Israel is the one true God.

God allowed the hardship of slavery to come to the Israelites to bring glory to Himself and to spread His fame throughout the world.  God’s fame was still being talked about forty years later when the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land and spies were sent out Jericho. Rahab told the spies, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt….And as soon as we heard these things our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”  (Joshua 2: 10, 11)

As God has revealed to me that He uses hardships for His glory and His purposes, I have become more willing to pray that God bring into my life whatever circumstances will glorify Him and draw my unsaved loved ones to Him.

A Cat Pinata for a Special Birthday

Cat piñata for our grandson's birthday
Cat piñata for our grandson’s birthday

My two year-old grandson is crazy about cats, or Meows as he calls them. So when I decided to make him a piñata for his birthday, it seemed natural to make a cat piñata. My husband Steve and our four year-old grandson Daniel got in on the fun. Steve and I made piñatas for our children when they were young, but it has been many years since our last one.

I used two balloons to form the head and body, and paper mached them using a mixture of flour and water. Daniel painted it orange, as his brother’s favorite stuffed animal is an orange tabby. I used batting to make a patch of white on the cat’s chest and face. Steve made the feet, eyes, and ears from construction paper, and I finished it with a fancy tail.

Daniel was very proud of the finished product.
Daniel was very proud of the finished product.

Daniel was quite proud of our efforts and dubbed it ‘cat yata.’ Joshua was thrilled. I am not sure that he will be quite so thrilled tomorrow when it is put into action at his birthday party.  What a delight it was to work together as a family on a creative project.  Our granddaughter is already wondering what kind of piñata grandma and papa are going to make her for her birthday in December.  I am certain that we will need Daniel’s help to make a very special piñata for his cousin.

Where He Leads Me

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One of my favorite songs is the hauntingly beautiful Where He Leads Me, by Twila Paris.  The song speaks about discerning God’s still, quiet voice among all the noise of the world and following our Great Shepherd wherever He leads us.  

Lyrics to Where He Leads Me

by Twila Paris

There's a great, broad road, through the meadow,
And many travel there,
But I have a gentle Shepherd,
I would follow anywhere,
Up a narrow path, Through the mountains,
To the valley far below,
To be ever in His presence,
Where He leads me I will go.


And there are many wondrous voices,
Day and night they fill the air,
But there is one so small and quiet,
I would know it anywhere,
In the city or in the wilderness,
There's a ringing crystal clear,
And to be ever close beside Him,
When He calls me I will hear.
Where He leads me, I will follow,
When He calls me I will hear.

There is a great, broad road to nowhere,
And so many travel there,
But I have a gentle Shepherd,
I would follow anywhere,
Though the journey take me far away,
From the place I call my home,
To be ever in His presence,
Where He leads me I will go.

 

Jesus told his disciples, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  (John 10:27).  Daily I pray that I will hear the Shepherd’s voice leading and guiding me along the path He has laid out for me.  Where He leads me is where I want to go and where I will go.  He will not lead me astray, and His plans for me are wonderful. 

The Great Shepherd has a wonderful plan for you, too.  If you are feeling lost, turn to Him and let Him take control of your life.  If you are confused by all the voices of the world trying to lead you astray, take time each morning to spend time reading God’s word and praying so that you will be able to discern His voice from others.

 

You can listen to “Where He Leads Me” on YouTube at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjV2Fc15oQ0