My Name is Joy

I recently took a silly quiz on Facebook, you know the ones I’m talking about:

-What’s your superhero name?

-What’s your emotional IQ?

Yeah, you know the ones…

Well, I can’t remember what female celebrity I was trying to figure out I was most like, but one of the questions on the quiz made me pause. I even clicked my answer, moved to the next and couldn’t get it out of my mind. You see, when I take quiz’s like that, I try not to “help” predict my answer. I try to go with my initial gut reaction. (i.e. If you could choose between skydiving over the ocean and ziplining through the forest which would you prefer?) I would just immediately click the one that jumped at me first. So, back to “the answer”. The question that I haven’t been able to shake for about a week now was, “If you could have  more of anything in your life, what would it be?” They had about 4 choices: Joy, Harmony, Peace, and Love. Immediately, all I was feeling was JOY. “Joy? Why Joy?” I asked myself. “I’m really happy with my life.” I began to second guess. Without pause, I heard the Lord say, “Happiness and Joy are two different things. They go together as part of a whole, but they are two different things…”

Here I am a week later and what do I have to say today? Well, I’ve not been able to stop mulling over this one truth: Happiness and Joy are two different things. It’s like a seed was planted that day and a week later, I’m realizing how much I have mistaken being happy for having true Joy. Unspeakable Joy! The kind of Joy that becomes part of your identity, just like your name. So what is Joy? Merriam-Webster defines it as “A source or cause for great happiness; a source or cause of delight”. To me what was a little sad, however, was that it was mixed in with things like this : ” the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” First lesson this taught me? You won’t find what true Joy is in Merriam-Websters dictionary.

I began to see that the world has a glimpse of what Joy means. But unfortunately, the world hasn’t fully come to understand true Joy. Hence, definition number two that followed. Well, what does my Heavenly Father have to say about Joy?

We see in Galations 5:22 that the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. We also see in Nehemiah 8:10, “The JOY of the Lord is our strength.” Ok, I began to ask myself, “Why strength?” Why isn’t it ,”The Joy of the Lord is our peace?” Or, “The Joy of the Lord is our Love?”  Because, here is the journey He is taking me on:

Every good and perfect gift comes from him. He doesn’t just HAVE every good and perfect gift, He IS every good and perfect gift. It is His identity and when I stepped into his eternal family and asked him to live inside me….HA there it is! Joy isn’t just happiness but it is the root from which happiness leaves sprout. Joy is part of who I am so much, that even in moments throughout my life where there will be sadness, will be anger, will be struggle, that I have a knowing deep down that happiness still follows me. Where my heart and spirit are always pointed toward what is good. Joy isn’t just happiness. It’s happiness that stays and abides in me. It’s a pattern of living, not a moment I have.

What can Joy do for you?

Well let’s see what true, abiding, deep-seeded Joy does:

-It keeps you from being easily offended.

It’s hard to offend someone who lives from a place of Joy. Why? Because it’s their strength. They let negativity, resentment, and insults roll of them. They could care less. Half of the time I don’t even think they notice insults. Their Joy is so much a part of them that it would take a whole lot more than a negative arrow to strike them down. Let’s be honest, if anyone is affected, it’s the person shooting the arrows. Why? Because Joy is so contagious, for one. It gets on them and pierces them stronger than any arrows flying at them. And because of that, there’s a place where the person spewing negativity is projecting it because deep down, they want to feel the way you feel. They want to know how you can go through the every day and the moments that suck, and still find a reason to sing. Unfortunately, a lot of times, their first choice isn’t to band together with you. It’s pushing against you because of jealousy, fear, resentment, and just plain not understanding. The only thing they understand in that moment is that it hits a nerve. I will be the first to admit that there was a time in my life where super happy and joyful people annoyed the crap out of me. I would find myself cringing everytime someone flashed that chipper grin or someone I never saw have a bad day give or take 20% of the time. Seriously? They are delusional, I would think to myself. And while yes, there are people who hind behind a fake sense of happiness because they are afraid to open up and be real, I am not talking about those people. I am talking about the people who ARE realistic about moments in their life that bring pain, bring anger, bring sadness, aren’t afraid to show it, handle it, make steps to deal with, but that ALWAYS contain JOY! They know, deep down, that sorrow may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning! It’s a pattern of living that strengthens and keeps you ready, willing, and able to deal with whatever comes your way.

-It produces so much fruit

When I looked at the choices–joy, harmony, peace, love–I thought to myself, if I lived from a place of Joy, than harmony, peace, and love has no choice BUT to follow. I can be content in whatever comes (peace), I am able to see myself and others the way God sees them no matter how they act (love), and in turn, I am able to find something good in every situation (harmony).

I can say that today, I am on a journey. From the minute I clicked that one silly quiz, a seed was planted and a tree is beginning to grow for maybe the first time in my life. I find myself more optimistic about things than I ever did, in spite of things around me that AREN’T changing. No longer will I just have “moments” of happiness, but I will have Joy. Unspeakable Joy. A Joy that I can access anytime through the Father because He is inside me! A Joy that will never run dry but will water the dry places in my life, even when I can’t feel or see it. a Joy that is just as much a part of me as my own name!

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart TO STAY!”

 

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~Abundant Life~

I really didn’t think I’d get to write another blog before our little man came, but I’m so happy that I do. I am 38 weeks pregnant this week and nearing the corner very quickly to a whole new chapter of life. Because of this reality, I find myself in a constant state of…well, many things and many emotions.  As it is, I am an internal processor and my self-talk is huge. While it can be my biggest enemy at times, it can also be one of my greatest strengths. It also causes me to constantly be reflecting, reminiscing, and even thinking of what lies ahead.

These past 9+ months have been the best months of not only my life, but of my marriage. I’ve never laughed more, loved more, or felt more true joy, or true intimacy with God, my husband, and others than I have in this season. On the same hand, there were times where that true joy and life felt like it was being ripped from me with all the forces hell could muster; times when I felt bloody and bruised from the battle of fighting for what I knew was mine–sometimes over and over and over all day long until I was exhausted from the fight and felt like I had none left in me. But that’s just the thing, true God-given life is mine. It was and still is my promise. I fought, and will always fight for that. It didn’t and won’t win over me. The times in life you feel the biggest breakthrough’s are also times when the the level at which you’re attacked and feel like it’s being snatched right out from under you are right about equal. But defeat is not even an option when you know you are an overcomer. As hard as that is to see in the heat of the battle, that is the truth. “And you will KNOW the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” I had to finally see that key word, KNOW. In the hardest of times, you will have to turn off your mind and especially your emotions. It doesn’t say I will FEEL the truth, because honestly, there were days I felt the complete opposite from what I knew, and days I felt nothing. You’re feelings can be so strong and they are great aids, but they can warp our vision/thinking and should not be our ultimate barometer of truth. I spent many months having to learn and re-learn this, and I still find myself having to shift my thinking back at times.

My mother-in-law told me at the beginning of my pregnancy that pregnancy is never just about growing a child. God is always after more and doing more. She told me to ask him what His word was over this pregnancy and what it held/meant. As soon as I asked Him, “What was your word over this pregnancy for my life?”, He immediately says back to me, “Well, what did it hold or mean to you?” (He never gives it up that easily, at least to me. He likes to get me to think a little-go figure!) Immediately, I found myself saying: “ABUNDANT LIFE!” And immediately I was hearing John 10:10 in my head, “”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” There are many scriptures that portray the season I’ve been in for 9 months, and many scriptures that God gave me for every situation that arose, but this, this was it. This was the key word that summed up everything from the hard/bad parts to all the good/breakthrough parts. I went through portions of time where I felt stolen from and utterly destroyed and defeated. But through all of that, God was showing me that I not only had (in my possesion) life, but deserved life! I was allowed to be happy. That there wasn’t something wrong with me feeling true Joy and living life to it’s fullest! That every time something tried, and will always “try”, to steal joy from you, you KNOW the Truth, and that is that He gives LIFE and to abundance. If you are feeling the opposite–it’s not Him.

I saw this word in every area of my pregnancy, marriage, and overall day to day. In my marriage, I’ve never had so much fun with Kalen than during this time. We have laughed more than I ever thought possible and were always having the grandest of times, whether it be at home in our comfy clothes cooking dinner joking around, sitting up late in bed just talking and goofing off, to being out going on dates or running errands. We experienced a richness to our marriage and friendship that I know is key to everything the future holds for us and our family.

This word translates in to exactly how we know our baby boy will be.  We have known from the beginning that he will be so fun-loving and full of joy all the time. That he will impart that to everyone he comes in contact with. And when God gave us his name, it confirmed it.  As many of you know, we decided to keep the name under wraps until we debut this sweet little bundle to our families and the rest of the world. Well, God continues to seal this truth of abundant life even more by words we’ve received from people who have no clue what his name is but every time they speak over our baby, it’s all proof that he carries abundant life as well. In the pregnancy itself, I’ve experienced true abundance. From overall health (mom and baby), to not having even one negative to say about it. It’s been perfect in every way, and (for the sake of being “punny”–but true) I’m abundantly grateful and have no words to tell him how truly thankful I am for the wonderment and miracle of it all.

In my relationship with God, I’ve experienced deeper, richer, and a more profuse intimacy with Him than I’ve ever known. It has been an amazing experience to see what He has done in this life-giving season of my life. I love that we can ask Him to show us these things, and He does. That for every area of our life, He always has a plan. He may have numerous things He is getting at. Numerous areas He’s wanting to target to bring healing or restoration or a deeper knowledge of His goodness and a deeper knowledge of who we are in Him. But overall, He always has one goal: to know us deeper, to have us know Him deeper, and to experience love that never runs out. Love that grows forever. Love that deepens with time and relationship.

New chapters are always a little hard for me. I’m sure they are for just about all of us. As much as they are exciting and wonderful, there is always a little element of “bitter-sweet”  that comes with a change and there is always be an adjustment. I am so so ready to see my sweet son, but I will also miss being pregnant so much. However, I am so much more ready to see him and I can’t wait!

Today, one of my bitter-sweet moments is knowing that even though Kalen and I would not trade ANYTHING to be parents, there is an element for me that knows it is the ending of JUST “Kalen and Cait” . We will always be “Kalen and Cait”, but from here on out, we will always be “Mom and Dad”, too.  We will never not have children. Again, I’ve never been more excited about this fact, don’t get me wrong. But, I’m being transparent here. There is a real part of me that is going to miss that, “just the two of us…” factor. The thing I cling on to in these moments is knowing that with every change is the Grace to handle it, and if there was ever someone I wanted to change with or start a new chapter with, it’s my husband. I have loved watching the “Abundant Life” that God has brought the “Kalen and Cait” aspect of our life so far, and cannot wait to see how much more abundance comes from what is about to grow out of that.

I am turning the page into more of our story. I love it so far, but I don’t ever want to stop a book half way through…

If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I’m currently living out the next few chapters and figuring out how to write them all.

As soon as I can, I will be posting my birth story.

Live today friends. Let yourself live abundantly. You deserve it and you can have it!