20 June, 2018

Joy is Possible

Maybe it hasn’t come through here, but on Instagram I’ve been sharing often about joy. I feel like God has been teaching me a lot about joy recently and it's seriously exciting! It’s become a theme in my life. But I’ve been using the phrases ‘joy is possible’ and ‘choose joy’ a lot, and I wanted to expand on them. How is joy is possible? What does it mean to choose joy?

Joy seems absent in our world. I realize there are sad and horrible things going on, and it is depressing. But joy is possible despite that. I see people looking down and gloomy, like life is too overwhelming, and this is what I want to say: joy is possible, even here, even now. Even ____ – whatever it is you’re going through. I’ve come to believe joy is always possible, and I want to shout it loud.

And here’s why it’s possible: true, lasting, overflowing joy comes from God. Galatians 5:22 says it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit. There isn’t a time God is out of reach; He’s not subject to the changeable things around us. God is always there, joy is part of God, and therefore joy is always possible. But we have to choose it.

God doesn’t force us into being joyful, but every day, in every situation, He gives us that choice. Even if I’m overwhelmed with assignments and things to be done, or I’m discouraged with myself or the people around me, I can still choose to look to God and be joyful. That's what I’ve been learning, and it’s so, so cool. We get that choice! We can live above our circumstances!

I remember the story of Paul and Silas, in Acts. They were thrown into the highest security part of prison for preaching the gospel. They were whipped, and they had their feet locked in stocks – it’s impossible for them to have been without pain. And yet, it says ‘Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God.’ (Acts 16:25) They chose joy despite their circumstances. 

But joy doesn’t always look like fun and thrills, or what we call happiness. Joy might not mean smiling every moment, or dancing throughout the day because life is that good. Choosing joy doesn’t exempt us from experiencing other emotions, but it does mean we have a quiet knowledge that God is, and there’s hope we can rest and rejoice in. Sometimes it feels a lot like peace, being still and knowing God.

For me, choosing joy has looked like pausing in the middle of stressful thoughts to remember I have a choice. It’s reminding myself when unfair situations come up I can be joyful anyway. It’s being tired, but thinking of things I have to be happy about. It’s reading the Word with fresh eyes – just look how awesome God is! It’s also been smiles and hugs with my sister and loud exclamations about some intricate creation or fact. Little things thrill me, and it feels so good. It’s like a mix of contentment and rest and hope, but brought alive. 

So to everyone, everyone, no matter your situation or how unattainable it sounds, this is my message: JOY IS POSSIBLE. I want you to believe it, to choose it, and to experience it, because there’s nothing like it.

13 June, 2018

Update and Tags!

Hey friends! I wanted to say hello and share a quick update, seeing as I have been sadly absent around here. Also, I got tagged by three wonderful people recently, and I decided to pick a few of their questions each to answer them. 

Who is one person you look up to?
I look up to my Grandad a lot. He’s humble, genuine, and has strong family values. One thing I’ve been thinking about, as inspired by him, is emulating the good we see in others. If you ask him where he got his sense of humour from, he will tell you a story of the time he went riding horses through the snowy mountains with his uncles, how they told yarns along the way, and he decided he wanted to develop that trait too. If you ask him where he got his family values from, a sense of closeness and warmth, genuine care and appreciation, he will tell you about the times he visited relatives when he was young, and they were close and caring and he decided he wanted that for his family too. I think having humility to learn from others, and cultivating those good characteristics is one of my Grandad’s secrets of life.

Can you introduce us to your family?
I have a younger brother, Luke, and a younger sister, Rachel (who blogs here, yay!), and we live at home with our Mum. We have different interests and personalities, and sometimes they clash, but I’m so thankful for my family and the closeness we’re able to share. 

If what you say in answer to this question was the only thing left when you died, what would you say?
I’ve always said I’d say ‘God is,’ because I feel like that sums up everything. He exists, He is whatever we need, He makes up what we’re lacking, He’s always there, He gives us strength and peace and courage and rest, and a reason to hope and keep going. He gives us purpose, He gives life purpose, and He even gives suffering purpose. God is - you can always hope - joy is possible - keep holding on.

If you had a day you could relive, what would you do with it?
I would probably spend it with family or friends if I could, and I wish I had some way I could reach out as well. If I spent the day at home, I would probably reply to emails, do some reading or writing – write letters if I had some to reply to, make nice food, spend time with God, and stay off social media or the internet altogether.

What is your biggest fault, according to you?
Right now, I consider it to be my laziness, which includes procrastination, lack of motivation, too much time online, not reaching out to people like I could, getting slack with blogging and communication, and plain can’t-be-bothered-ness. 

You find a hidden staircase in your Grandpa’s house, and when you enter, you find something amazing. What is it?
It’s a room full of books, and a few keepsakes. I picked this question, because I had a similar experience. My Grandpa took me into his bedroom (I’d seen through the doorway, but I don’t remember going in there before), and there was a bookshelf with all these old books, in great condition, with their brightly coloured cloth covers and intriguing titles. It was so cool.  

And Brooklyne at Showers of Blessings tagged me to share my favourite things, so here are three of my favourites:

Words have always been one of my favourite things – and I can say that because it encompasses so much: written words like the Bible, books, stories, poems, letters, even encouraging notes written on city walls or signs; spoken words like deep discussions, songs, podcasts and sermons, whispers with my sister, or even overheard conversations. There are also words in the heart: impressions from the Holy Spirit, thoughts that won’t go away, single words that symbolize so much more. They fascinate me in every form, and I’m sure I don’t understand the extent of their power.

Anything to do with the sky is my favourite, whether it’s the clouds, or moon, or stars, or sunset colours, or sunrise freshness, or the blue of an empty sky, or the way the sunlight comes through my window in the morning, or the sparkling rain I saw today when the sun came out while it was raining.

And, this is abstract, but hope is my favourite. I wish there was a way to give it to everyone in the world. We all need it so much.

Thanks again for the questions, Bri, LaKaysha, and Brooklyne! I’m sorry I didn’t answer all of them – they were good questions and it was hard to pick just a few!

So, life has been good lately. I don’t have any excuses for not posting here (see above entry about laziness), so I apologize for that. I’m not making any promises for the future, but I have been bursting with ideas for writing and blogging, and I have an exciting new development underway! Hopefully soon I’ll be able to share it with you all. :) In the meantime, it feels so good to write a post again and talk with you guys. I hope you’re going well – tell me, how’s life? What’s one of your favourite things? Who do you look up to?