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!”

 

Advertisements

Lost in Black & White

There is a quote that says, “No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.”

This I find to be so true! Me and my husband love to read. One of our new found favorite “mini” dates is getting in the car after work and heading to the library. It’s like an exciting adventure to see what we can come away with. No lie, I feel quite intimidated when I go with him though. He’s is a machine in a library. He meets me all in a time span of about ten minutes with at least three large books, and then proceeds to show me about five more that he already has on his mental “what to read next” list. Oh, and don’t let me forget he’s already on the library website requesting new reads to come in from other libraries through this system called the “inter-library loan”. On top of that, he is the most diverse reader I’ve ever met. He is a history major so he’s always got some kind of historical novel in there, but then he will have a scientific fantasy novel and then a book about Abraham Lincoln being a vampire or something like that. I believe that is why he is so smart, he never puts boundaries on himself when he reads. Do you see what I mean? Intimidating… This is a guy who reads a 350 page book in a day–not kidding. Meanwhile, he says, “What did you find?” I timidly hold up the latest little Nicholas Sparks novel I haven’t read yet (yeah just one), and you bet your sweet speed-reading hiney I will probably take the full three week time limit to read it. Hey , it’s just the way we are, but all our reading differences aside, we share the same love of reading and it’s become one of our favorite things to go do together.

I say I only read one book at a time, and normally I do, but pregnancy changes a lot of things. It wasn’t until I started compiling my list to share with you that I realized I’m literally reading all of these right now. Uh oh folks, she’s getting cool!

I’m going to share my latest reads from spiritual reading to even pregnancy reading and give you a little review on what I think. If you’re looking for your next “good read”, I hope to inspire you. And for all the soon-to-be mommies out there, we go into like crazy new mom mode trying to read up on everything before little one gets here, so hopefully you find some inspiration as well.

Enjoy your day friends!

First book on our list:

Photo Sep 04, 10 23 45 AM

This book will blow your mind! So often we look at books that talk about forgiveness and walk the other way because we’ve heard all the religious spiritual ritual before. I’m here to tell you that this book gets to the heart where forgiveness can freely flow, and THAT’S the truth of forgiveness. Learning to free our own hearts from the ice prison we’ve locked it in is just the first step. This is a magnificent read! Go pick it up.

Next:

Photo Sep 03, 8 32 04 AM

Blessing Your Spirit by Arthur Burke is such an amazing book. They are daily Spirit blessing you read over your spirit to bring it to life. If you’ve never done spirit blessings, let me tell you that they are amazing. We have the authority to call our spirit to attention and speak life into it. Every day has a new area to bless your spirit in, and I love the depth at which he calls our spirits forth. You will feel the daily difference. It’s amazing!

And next:

Photo Sep 03, 12 45 24 PM

The Healing Codes is for any of you who believe like I do–God and science aren’t separate. God created all things and said they were good. He is in science and every health related issue is related across the board to every other issue in our life. This book shows that truly every little ailment all the way to cancer has a root source to stress and stress alone. Not the surface level stress we experience on a daily basis, but because of surface level stress or trauma, or emotional pain left unresolved sends our nervous system shutting down and before you know it–too much pressure on any one area untreated for too long is bound to break. He tells about how, on a plane home from a medical seminar, he was crying out to God for a way to heal his wife from severe bi-polar depression for the majority of their marriage. Nothing worked, medicine, nothing. God encountered him, gave him a scientific download. He got home and used the healing codes on her and she hasn’t taken another prescription drug since. His co-author, ailed with a a fatal disease–healed because of the healing codes. Some people don’t believe the way I do, and that’s okay. But, I believe that God and science are one in the same. If he created my entire being and its functions, and he created ALL things–that’s what the Word says–then when I chose to follow Jesus, I didn’t just choose to believe a little of Him. I believe in all and all of Him! I’ve said this before, but Christians get so weird about meditation and things that other cultures are tapping into. They put a demonic label on it and never choose to look at the fact that, while these cultures are using these things to worship other gods or make them their gods and (we don’t believe that stuff), that God created all things. But we’ve put limits on it and these cultures haven’t. They are brave enough to reach out into the earth that OUR God created and embrace all of it. I’m amazed and saddened at what we have shut ourselves down to that is our territory in the first place. Satan has no original thought. He can only take what God created FIRST and counterfeit it. When I go to yoga, for instance, and see parts of the Healing Codes being applied and knowing the yogis/Hindus have been doing this for centuries, I’m truly saddened by the number of Christian people who refuse to believe that our God did this first and that, had we just taken what’s rightfully ours in the kingdom, could have been experiencing all of this before now. Well, I believe it. You may not, and that’s your prerogative, but if you believe this way and love health, fitness, and Jesus as much as I do–read this book. I’m not finished with it yet, but everything I’ve read is SO good!

download

I just finished this Nicholas Sparks book. Huge fan–I know so girly–WHATEVER! Have to say, it wasn’t my favorite of all his books so far, but one can hardly complain because even though it wasn’t in my “top”, it’s still so good. He’s just that great!

Photo Sep 04, 10 23 34 AM

And currently haven’t even finished the first chapter of this yet, but I read her book beach girls and watched the show based off that book–loved it. So, this is my current read and I’m excited to see what it’s like.

OK, that’s it for just regular reading. Now onto pregnancy reads.

First up:

We have these three gems.Photo Sep 03, 8 39 38 AM

Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize–AMAZING! Short and sweet-childbirth does not have to be pain. It talks about living in the New Covenant and not the Old. Pain in childbirth is under the curse of the Old Testament law and that when Jesus died, he restored the standard. YAY! It’s a faith building book that teaches you how to build your faith when it comes to believing for children after miscarriage onto healthy pregnancies, healthy deliveries, and healthy babies. The author was told she would never conceive and she has four beautiful children because she chose to believe the word of the Lord instead. It’s practical and realistic, but it’s also standing on God’s word and believing for your portion and inheritance that He’s given to us through the death of His son. Truly amazing book.

The little book with it is called Prayers and Promises, is from the same author and it is just that-prayers and promises. It’s scripture promises from the word of God and prayers they have in their that you read over yourself and stand on. Really awesome. I recommend it with the book.

And of course, you can’t be pregnant without having the holy grale of pregnancy books:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

This is just great and most everyone knows what this is. I will say that I take parts of this book with a grain of salt and I’ve even chosen to not even read some areas because either they are too fear based or I know they aren’t good things to fill my spirit with–meaning, as I said above, so much is under the curse and it’s not my inheritance. So, while I’m building my faith in the areas that are truth and life-giving, I’m not going to read all the “You could have this and this and ya-da ya-da ya-da…” Just as with everything–take the meat and spit out the sticks.

On Becoming Baby Wise:

Photo Sep 03, 8 31 54 AM

Haven’t started this yet, but I’ve heard overall really good things about it. Again, I’ve heard there are some sticks you have to throw out but that, for the most part, it’s a great book that covers topics on feeding philosophies, hunger and sleep cycles, and helping babies establish routines. I’m all about that. I’ve watched too many children at the age of four and six throwing fits when their parents say the word “bedtime” and that’s ridiculous in my opinion. Or still sleeping with mommy and daddy, or barging in the bedroom. Boundaries people. We all need them and children actually want them. It’s healthy to grow a self-sufficient human being. A good friend of mine did a church led version of this, and she said something that’s stuck with me from this method. It was that the parents bedroom is sacred and that while you’re children should always feel safe to come to you, they need to understand they just don’t have the right to barge in, especially if the door is closed. This is so true. Keeping healthy boundaries is an essential and beneficial part of life. While it will be a while before little one is old enough to think about barging in on mommy and daddy, discipline doesn’t happen overnight and this book is supposed to teach you how to put little things in motion at each stage that they are at while still supplying and nurturing their needs.

*If you’ve read this book, give me your feedback. I’d like to hear it. The two featured here are birth to a year I think, and then book two is 1-5 years.

Last but CERTAINLY not least:

Photo Sep 03, 8 31 29 AM

Remember the Spirit blessings book? Well, this is actually a 3 CD version called Baby Blessings. Each CD is filled with a plethora of different spirit blessings. Pop them in and he calls your baby’s spirit to attention in the womb in the name of Jesus and begins blessings over your little one that are truly outrageous! Some of the things he prays I remember thinking, “Whoa!” The revelation and the depth of each prayer are things half of us haven’t even thought of to pray. He received the download from the Father on what to pray and because of that, and just by me agreeing in the spirit, I’ve even received amazing downloads from these CD’s. That’s what’s so beautiful about it–you and your baby are one at this time, so things you receive are transferred to your baby and vice versa. It’s such an intimate and supernatural experience. HIGHLY recommend!

As for one more category of “reads”, I want to feature my online reading. Hence, I want to feature a blog. My sister’s blog actually. She’s an amazing entrepreneur, wife, homemaker, and just about anything under the sun you can think of. She’s basically awesome and I think you’ll really enjoy her blog. She’s doing a Fall Foodie Challenge right now that you should get in on. Twenty days to send her your easy and healthy Fall recipe favorites and she will feature one of them a day on her blog. At the end of 20 days, you will have printables of every recipe that was turned in. The holidays don’t have to be a waistline killer, but we are both foodies and don’t want to sacrifice taste either. We LOVE to eat! Anyway, here is the link to her blog–check it out!

http://shelbyehomemaker.wordpress.com/

And stay tuned…my next blog will be my favorite healthy Fall dessert recipe!

Beautiful Breakthrough

Time for the first blog! I’m very excited about this. It’s a little lengthy, but I’ve been contemplating what the long-awaited first blog should be, and in doing so, it only seems fitting to take you back about 6 months to a time that changed me forever. October of 2012. Setting: Destin, Florida, fall, morning.

To preface this day, something in me thought I was pregnant about a week before I left for this trip with my family (all minus my husband) and I was truly expecting it. I had had a few times where I had been late and all those times that, in the end I turned up not pregnant, I dealt with a “mad if I am, mad if I’m not” type of emotion. I wasn’t ready to start trying for a family, but I was always sad when I would start the inevitable monthly cycle. I fought with these feelings so much that played a very confusing tug o’ war with my heart. God reminded me one day in the shower (why does it always seem like the shower is the holy of holy’s sometimes?) that Kalen and I had said we would always be sensitive to the time when He said it was time to start a family. But He also reminded me that I hadn’t done that. I had made my own timeline for how long Kalen and I wanted to wait, and THEN we would ask the Lord his plan. His plan inside my plan, essentially. That’s how it works right? ha Well, needless to say, I kept ignoring those subtle and loving nudges, but they were slowly breaking the ice around some fortifications I had around my heart.

Flash back forward to a beautiful early morning in Destin. I woke early to go for a run by the beach with my sister. This was the day I was on schedule for that lovely monthly gift to arrive, but I was sure it wasn’t going to happen, remember? Well, we all know where this is going. The emotions flaring inside me were more than I could even make sense of. Anger, anger about my anger, sadness, pain, confusion on why I felt pain…and on and on it went. I remember busting opening the bedroom door and saying to my sister, “If you want to go running with me you better get up ’cause I’m leaving.” Yeah, I was a little bitchy nonetheless, but my sister and her grace knew something must be going on and she just said “Ok…be right there”. Poor thing had to catch up with me because I was out of that door like a teenager with an attitude problem. We ran in silence, thank God, and then we decided to split up for a while to go have some quiet time with the Lord on different parts of the beach. As I sat down, the craziest, most beautiful thing happened to me:

All I remember is saying through sobs and blurry eyes, “God, why do I feel this way? I can’t keep doing this!” From there, I never uttered another word for about an hour. Daddy God became so real to me in that moment then He has but one other time in my life that I can still, a year later, be right back there when I think about it. It was an experience that changed me, shaped my belief system, shifted my heart and mindset so drastically, that I can’t go back to the old me if I tried–and I don’t want to. He didn’t come to me as all glorious and powerful, booming voice God. He was so my friend in that moment like I’ve never experienced. He began to tell me how he saw my pain; pain in more areas than one and he named all of them for exactly how they were. He showed me how much I truly longed to have a baby and be a mother and that it was my passion. He began to unravel the places in me that was afraid to let go and really trust that He had the best for me. I am a planner by nature. I see way ahead and already have a strategy for how to get there and what needs to be accomplished now in order to get there effectively. He showed me that he put those qualities in me, loves those qualities. He said, “I love your plans and I’m actually going to use them, but I may not use them in the way you would or when you would sometimes. One thing is for certain, however, if you allow me to be the ultimate planner and let me change plans if necessary, you will experience those very things to all the fullness and joy your heart can stand.” I realized in that moment that I had stopped trusting and needing him. I had let a gifting become the very thing that hindered me from the one who gave it to me in the first place. I realized that I almost had too much vision. I had started to become my god for my future. There are so many details surrounding that hour on the beach and words pale in comparison to the essence of that life changing moment, but I am here to say, I didn’t leave that beach the same way I crossed onto it. So many hindrances fell off like sand from my shoulders and I was a new person. No longer the scared, “God these are my plans, how do yours work inside them?”, make my own future, kind of girl. I was now free from feeling alone. I am still a planner, an “ahead of time” person, a person who sees and makes a game plan. Only now I am able to know when to let go when I hear Him lead in a different direction and really be okay with it, knowing that I am totally taken care of and more. In my “About” page, you see at the bottom Jeremiah 29:11. That is my promise word. He wrote that on my heart that day on the beach and it continues keep me steadfast and bring me back to a place of peace when I’m unsure. It’s become a major part of who I am. That day on the beach was October 29th, 2012.

When I met back up with my sister, we shared small parts of our quiet time with each other. As we did, my sister gave me some advice that day that lined up and confirmed what God had just done to me. When I got home, I shared everything with my husband. Through prayer, we knew we weren’t supposed to actively try for a baby, but that we weren’t supposed to be so strict that it took away from our love either. We knew that whether we got pregnant that day, or 5 years from then, that we were at peace with any plan He had for us. It was about four months until March 2nd, 2013, we found out we were going to have our precious son! His official due date? October 29th, 2013. A wonderful friend and powerful woman of God told me that she just kept hearing that this baby was my going to be my “Beautiful Breakthrough”. It’s not until we received his official due date that the Lord took me back to this encounter. It’s so like him to bring things full circle. Not only did I receive a beautiful breakthrough that day on the beach, but out of what was birthed on that day will be the physical manifestation of it a full year from then. This is so close to my heart and makes me so emotional. He really is my “Beautiful Breakthough!”