JOY?

Joy

Ever had one of those days?  Or maybe one of those weeks?  Maybe even months?

You know what I am talking about.

You get an A on your first paper.

Your parents surprise you by giving you money toward tuition.

You get asked to go to the Christmas Banquet by that guy you’ve had your eye on.

Life just seems to be full!  Full. Of. JOY!!!

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Have you ever had one of these days?  Or weeks?  Or months?

You know what I am talking about.

Your books didn’t come in in time for your first paper.

Your student loan didn’t go through.

Your grandparent died.

Your parents are separating.

Your best friend isn’t talking to you.

You can’t even remember when the last time was you felt joy.

I’ve had one of these months.

When I read the email Kaitlyn sent me asking me if I would speak about joy- I laughed at God.

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Did he not see that right now I have little cause for joy?  What a joke!  My husband is off work with a complication from a dog bite, I am doing my job at SBC as well as his in the afternoons and some evenings, PLUS driving our kids to youth, wrestling and other extra circular things. I lead a discipleship group and still doing laundry, dishes, and groceries and making meals.

I don’t feel joy- I. Feel.  TIRED!

And then, before I could respond to her email, she comes into my office and asks if I got her email.  “Yes, yes I did.”  I told her.  “BUT if you are looking for someone to share about the joy in their life then I am not the one to do it right now.”

That morning I had already had a major cry over how overwhelmed I was with life.

“If you are looking for someone who is trying to FIND joy then maybe I could share at Chapel.”  Is what I said.

I even told her that I feel joy is a choice.  I said it with conviction and then thought “I don’t know if I really even believe that right now.”

So I took the challenge.  Maybe it wasn’t a joke; maybe God wants me to really be looking for the joy in the hardships.

Wouldn’t you know, suddenly the word JOY began popping up in my life everywhere.

I bought a bunch of books at MCC for a craft.  The box they packed it in?  Was from JOY detergent.

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As I put the Christmas decorations up at my house I realize that I have a lot of things with JOY on them. Wreaths, ornaments, books.  It seemed to be everywhere.

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And then a post from Ann Voskamp came across my Facebook.  “Joy is always possible because there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.”

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Shoot.  There it was.  Joy is a choice to be thankful.  I guess I really should start looking around for things to be thankful for.  Start looking for the beauty around me, give thanks, and find joy.  I can do this!

Just give me a glimpse-Lord- I prayed.

I drove my daughter to an emergency Orthodontist appointment in Winnipeg and thought, “Ugh, another thing I have to add in my already busy schedule.” I was stewing about it all the way there.  My daughter and I drove in silence.  As I slowed down at the construction zone on the highway I glanced out of my window.  There in the ditch was a beautiful Red Fox.

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Just sauntering along the highway.   “Wow,” I thought, “That is beautiful!”  And then I remembered that I was looking for beauty and thanks and joy.  Answered prayer?  Maybe.

The next day my daughter and I were in the car again.  This time driving our dogs to Ile Des Chenes for grooming appointments.  As we slowed down to let an ambulance pass us we noticed 8 bald eagles in the grove of trees along the highway!

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Wow!  Beautiful!  Answered prayer?  Maybe.

But this is not how I expected to find joy this weekend.  I thought maybe someone would offer to make us supper, or clean my house, or my kids would have an amazing attitude.  THAT is where I was looking for joy.  Instead God decided to show me the beauty in nature and remind me of the verses from when I was a kid.

Verses like:  Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Okay, so I am starting to get it.  As overwhelmed as I am.  He will look after me.

What about the fox?  Matthew 8:20  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Joy IS one of the advent themes and I was starting to get it now! He came.  He came here for me.  He came not to make a home on earth but to make a way for me to have an eternal home in heaven.

I honestly don’t think that Mary was struck with joy when the angel Gabriel announced she would be carrying the Messiah.  Fear?  Yes.  Confusion? Yes.   But Joy?  I don’t know.

And when they had to travel to Bethlehem?  Fear?  Yes.  Confusion? Yes.   But Joy?  At nine months pregnant I didn’t want to go anywhere much less on the back of a donkey!

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And when he was finally here, the labour was over and she held him in her arms and realized that God would look after them as He had been all along?  Fear?  YES!  Confusion?  YES!  Joy?  YES!

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Did she always feel joy after He finally arrived?  I doubt it.

What about when He hung on the cross for the sins of all mankind?

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Joy was hard.

Joy was a choice.

Joy was being thankful for what He was doing for her and for you and for me.

And that is the challenge.

To look for joy.  To really look for it.  To look for it in places we don’t expect to find it.  To look with our expectations put to the side.

The world was waiting for a King to redeem them.  They weren’t looking for a baby in a manger.  And yet, that baby brought joy to the world in a totally unexpected way.

This weekend, when I finally put my expectations of what joy should look like aside and looked for all the things He had done for me and all that He promises to do for me….I felt joy.

And wouldn’t you know it?  The things I expected to find joy in from happened too!  An invite for supper,an unexpected thoughtful gift dropped off at my door,

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kids with great attitudes, a neighbor snow blowing my driveway.   All joy.

He gave His life so that I could have joy.  Joy in this fallen world.  Joy in my hardships.  Joy each and every day.

My job is to be thankful in all things because when we choose to be thankful, we choose to find joy.

Joy will not be complete in this world.  We will have glimpses of it.  But until we are forever in the presence of the Lord, who gave up everything for us to have eternal joy, we will only taste it.

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Tour my house this Christmas

Welcome to my home!

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I made this quaint scene from items I found at the local thrift store.

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My living room tree has over 200 glass angels on it.  I love how it sparkles.

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We moved in spring so this is the first year that I have a formal dining room.  We have hosted many people already (over 200) and we are looking forward to hosting many more.

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The window is my new place to display cards and pictures. I love that they are not cluttering my fridge.

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This is the library.  Each year we give the kids an ornament that represents the past year.  This tree has all those ornaments and all the ornaments they have made over the years.   We buy an ornament on every trip we take as well.  Each year the kids love to reminisce as they put the ornaments on the tree.

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This ornament is my son’s for this year.  He started wrestling.

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This ornament was what we brought our daughter back from Europe.

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And this ornament is an ornament my Oma brought back from Alaska.  She died 2 years ago and it is very special.

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I made our advent calendar from these mittens.  Each mitten has a piece of the Playmobil nativity scene.  By the 25th the scene is complete.

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Our stockings are made from a quilt that my grandma made for me when I was a little girl.  It has long worn out as a blanket but the patchwork got a new life as stockings.

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When we were in Europe we saw these beautiful Schibbogens.  We fell in love with the handcrafted beauty and simplicity of them and bought one.  Now we can remember that great trip each Christmas.

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I created this little vignette on the deck off the library.

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The kitchen is one of the hardest places to decorate.  I am very happy with how it turned out.

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This is my cookie cutter tree in the kitchen.

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 I made these snowflakes from a garland that I cut into smaller sections.  I spray painted some twigs and place them on the greens to make them pop.

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I starched doilies to make snowflakes for the window by the table.

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The table in the Kitchen is decorated more whimsical.  I like the snowman dinner settings. So adorable.

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I made this JOY sign for my window this year.  I love how it looks at night.

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I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Book purse craft

For the third year in a row my daughter and I went to the mother/daughter camp at the beautiful Red Rock Bible Camp.  I also taught the craft for the third year in a row.  This year I did a tutorial of the craft and it worked out great!  If you are looking for a fun craft that is very forgiving (you don’t need to have perfectly cut lines) and have about an hour to do it, try this craft for something different.

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15

15 years ago we were so young.  Remember when we took this picture?Image

We walked down the street from your parents and had it taken.

We got married shortly after.

15 years ago today.

 

 

We have made a lot of memories in 15 years.

Remember our honeymoon to Nova Scotia?  The reversing river, The Rocking Horse Inn, the schooner that we broke our camera on.  Having only $20 when we came back?

 

Remember how you started your job as a youth pastor the month before we got married?  Remember all the summers at camp?  Remember how now we take our kids to camp as you are guest speaking?  Remember all the Dr. Suess books you’ve read to teenagers?

 

Remember our first house and how badly it needed fixing?  Remember all the work you did, how the basement flooded a LOT?  How you almost died in the basement while painting?  How God protected us?  How a dumpy old place became a home?

 

Remember how when our children were born you held them close with tears in your eyes?  Remember how becoming a dad was an easy fit like becoming a husband had been?

 

Remember all the evenings we would go and feed the fish at the pit and quickly fish before bed?

 

Remember the sleepovers you would have in their rooms when I went to work?

 

Remember all the times we took them out of school to go to the Mint, or Toad Hall Toys, or for a surprise weekend?  Remember how many times you have done that for me?  When we were first married you surprised me with an overnight   trip complete with McCain’s cake.  Remember all the times we would run up town for cake?  When our girl was a baby you surprised me and made arrangements for her to be away for the night and we went for one night to Winnipeg.  Remember how you remembered to pack everything except to leave her carseat with the sitter?  Remember the time we were supposed to take the kids camping for May long and the forecast was rainy and we went to a hotel for night and had a great time playing games and swimming?  Remember after my grandma died you made arrangements with my boss and surprised us all by giving us an hour to pack for a weekend away and how we forgot to bring PJ’s?  Remember when we spent the week just seeing what Winnipeg had to offer?  We went to the Children’s museum, glow in the dark mini golf, the Manitoba Museum?  We’ve taken the kids to the Aviation museum, Upper Fort Garry, The Forks, many trips to Sub-Zero, the Corn Maze, Mulvey Market, the Fossil Museum,Red River Ex, lots of camping with cliff jumping and boat jumping and fishing and tubing and watching movies in the camper on the laptop in the rain and many other places I just can’t think of right now.  Remember when you were going up north for a job and we took the kids out of school and went with?  Remember how we come with you when you work on Saturday and drive with you?  And watch movies?

 

Remember when you and I were going on an evening boat ride and the motor died and ‘we’ paddled for a long time before someone towed us in and how we wondered by no one came looking for us?

Remember how many Saturday’s you have made blueberry pancakes or fresh cinnamon buns for me (just last weekend you made cinnamon buns at 5 in the morning again!)?  Remember when we were first married and you made me a special supper for me when you had to work?  Remember when you made that heart shaped cake with cherries and pudding and icing and all that yummy stuff?   Remember when I couldn’t decide which of your desserts I wanted for my birthday so you made all three of my favorite cheese cakes from scratch?   Remember when you brought me that raisin tart from MJ’s to work?  So yummy!  Remember how you hide chocolates in my stuff around Valentine’s every year?  Remember how you surprised me with a new dishwasher that actually gets stuck on food clean?  Remember how you installed it before I came home?   Remember when you surprised me with a new mixer and I had to try it out immediately?  Remember when you blew me out of the water with a new phone?  And Camera?  At the same time!  Remember that time you came home from the States with so. much. candy?  We thought we had died and gone to heaven!  Remember that time you made me lemon cupcakes late in the evening, just because?  Remember how you had a family meeting with the kids and had a bath ready with all my favorite things when my grandma died?  Remember how you bring me breakfast in bed and flowers and teach our boy about it?  Remember all the mornings we go for breakfast?  And the day we went to Thistle Lane on a weekday for lunch?

 

 

 

Remember when you bought me a swing for our Anniversary and then we had to build a deck?  Remember how that deck resulted in us building a table?  And how that table cut our boys toes off?  And how we learned about God?  And how I enjoy sitting in that swing almost everyday?

 

Remember how you got that free, old hot tub and I thought it was crazy?  And how we now sit in it almost everyday?  I am glad you didn’t listen to me:)

 

Remember when you brought  Penny home?  How you told me in the morning there was a poodle for sale and next thing I knew you texted me this picture and I knew you were bringing her home.  Some days I wish you had listened to me:)

 

Remember how we made a trip of a lifetime this spring to Europe?  How great it was?  How nice it was to be together, alone, again?

 

I remember that you are my best friend.  You are constantly wooing me.  That you love me no matter what time I get up in the morning, how much I weigh, or if I cook good food or not.  You are forgiving and kind, and a man of integrity.  I will gladly spend another 15 years with you.  I hope to make as many more memories in that time!  I love you Trevor!

 

 

The Wedding Dress By Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Dress By Rachel Hauck

Book Description

“Four brides. One dress.

A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift—and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress—or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte purchases a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new, shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed”?

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the beauty of finding true love.”

The title and the description on the back of the book caught my attention. I really enjoyed this book a lot. I enjoyed the hunt for the history of the dress and the connections that were made because of the search for truth.  It gave me hope that life will turn out good for those who seek the truth.  It was entertaining, romantic and a little bit magical.  My favourite type of ‘easy on the brain’ read.

Redemption and trust would be the two words I would use to describe the theme of the book.

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