Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thoughts about Joy

We are in a community group at our church. We meet every Sunday evening with a group of 5 couples and 3 single moms, for dinner and to discuss what we're learning in church, and how we are applying it to our lives. This group of people has become like family to us, and I really look forward to Sunday nights. Our time together on Sunday was fantastic. All of the kids were at a different house with two babysitters, which provided peace for the adults. When I say all the kids, I mean ALL the kids: three 7-year-olds, two 5-year--olds, one 4-year-old, five 3-year-olds, two 2-year-olds, and two babies. Yikes!

Anyhoo, right now our pastor is doing a series on joy. He is teaching out of Philippians, and it has been really good. We discussed joy on Sunday night, specifically joy in the midst of trying circumstances. Every person in our group has gone through at least on major tragedy. Experiences include losing a child to drowning, 2 years of unemployment, divorce due to the spouse committing a major crime and landing in prison, the sudden loss of a young healthy husband, death of parents, a middle-aged mother with Alzheimer's, multiple miscarriages, etc. Some of these circumstances are still fresh and raw. The conversation turned from joy in circumstances, to the character of God. Joy and happieness are not the same thing. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can have joy, even in the midst of pain, because we know God never changes, and God's promises always hold true. So even when I am unhappy...or miserable, the joy of the Lord that comes from knowing Him will uphold me. God is who He says He is.

We all shed a lot of tears on Sunday night, and it was good. I am so thankful for these wonderful people, with whom I can share my hurts, my doubts, my struggles, and my joys. They love me, encourage me, pray for me, and would do anything for me. I know that.

Yesterday I went to the funeral for the father of my dear friend Stephanie. I came home with a deep ache in my heart--not for her dad, but for Stephanie, her sisters, and their mother. I remember acutely the pain of losing a parent. I felt grumpy all evening. And I woke up grumpy this morning. The sky is heavy and gray, and it is cold out. So how does any of this relate to what I already wrote about? It all comes back to joy. I have a chance today to put into practice the things my group discussed on Sunday. I don't feel happy. At all. I feel as gloomy as the sky outside, especially when I start remembering that in a few months, I am moving away from my community group. Grrr! But here's what I am going to do, as agreed upon by those sweet friends on Sunday night. I am going to take my eyes off myself.

My pastor, in his message, gave us an easy acronym to help us maximize on God's joy in our lives.
J-Jesus first
O-Others next
Y-You last

I am going to put my focus on Jesus first, by spending some time with Him this morning. Then I am going to focus on Others, by going grocery shopping and getting a bucket of food to ship to Haiti (part of a project our church is doing). I will also get ingredients for the dinner I am making for a swim team teammate of Snapper's whose dad is in the hospital with a brain tumor. Then I will take another look at myself, and I imagine I'll be feeling a lot better.

There are three other sources of joy in my life: Matt, Snapper, and Pepper. I'll take a brief minute to brag on each of them.

Matt is my Mr. Wonderful. He works so hard to take care of our family. He loves me completely, and is an excellent daddy to our kiddos. In the last few weeks, he has devoted every spare moment to working on our house, getting it ready to put on the market. I am so impressed that he was able to lay tile in both the upstairs bathrooms, even though there were several very tricky cuts, and though some of the corners in the bathrooms weren't perfectly square. He also painted our shutters. (I painted the door). The work has been hard and time-consuming. But it is just about done! Matt, I love you and I'm thankful for you!

Here's the before...February 4th

And here's the after--February 28th!

Kids' bathroom floor in progress...almost done!

Our bathroom floor, with new baseboards.

Snapper is really having fun with school. Her February math test scores were very high, which delights us! She is working on multiplication now, and is picking it up very easily. She has a wonderful mind for numbers. She just completed her biggest project of 2nd grade thus far: a research assignment and presentation on a famous American. She chose Rosa Parks, because she admires Rosa's courage and willingness to stand up for what is right. She wrote a page about Rosa Parks, did a project to represent why Rosa Parks is famous, and presented her paper and project to her class. For the project, we found a photograph of Rosa Parks sitting in a bus. Snapper sketched the photo, colored Rosa with crayons, and colored the rest of the drawing with colored pencils. Then I put waxed paper over the drawing, and ironed the crayon part. That causes the crayon to melt into the paper, smoothing out the crayon marks and giving it a rich, smooth look. Snapper was thrilled with how it turned out, and she said her class loved it.
Today is book character day at school. She dressed up as Betsy, the heroine of the Betsy-Tacy series, by Maud Hart Lovelace. This series was my very favorite when I was a child, and I passed my collection on to Snapper. She looked so cute today, all dressed up in an old-fashioned dress that I loved when I was little. I braided her hair and tied red ribbons on the ends of the braids. And right now I am kicking myself for forgetting to take a picture.
Snapper is a joy.


Tara said...

Our small group started a new study on Joy last Sunday but we were out of town. Love the acronym you shared.

Your house looks great! The red/burgundy shutters just make it pop. Snapper looks so proud.

Southern Belle said...

I loved how your explained the difference between joy and happiness...so true!