Learning How to Choose Joy.

IMG_0088a "The joy-filled life is not found by diminishing my God-given responsibilities as a woman, wife, and mother, nor can I find joy merely by refusing to face the hard realities of life in a fallen world. There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept ~ the tension between ideals and realities. True joy is found by living somewhere between the ideal life and daily realities. That is where Jesus meets me, where His Holy Spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy. To celebrate life is simply a choice." -Seasons of a Mother's Heart

When my adult children come back home to visit me, the excitement and anticipation ignites me to tidy the house, set out lovely flowers, light candles, and leave them chocolates and goodies, prepare their favorite meals. I do this so that they can feel welcome, experience my love for them, and feel the peace and joy that comes with home. However, can you imagine how I would feel if I went to all of that effort to make things beautiful and love them extravagantly, only to watch them walk in, sit on their phones and computers all day, have bad attitudes, and tell me that they're just "too busy" or "too stressed" to enjoy it? How must our loving God feel when we don't choose to celebrate this life He has given us to subdue?God is available, prepares for us each day, wants to shower us with His love, grace, compassion, wisdom, but often we are too busy or self-centered to notice Him and to "be" with Him.

Often times, our own expectations of how we thought life would be, get in the way of us being able to grab onto the joy and abundant life that God has for each of us. Finding peace and joy does not mean giving up on our ideals, but in seeking the balance, the ebb and flow, that is life. Joy won't always feel as second nature as taking a breath, but with every breath, how can you choose joy? It is a conscious, daily effort that can transform your life if you allow it to. Joy is a choice to see Him in the midst of daily moments, to call upon His spirit's presence and strength at each turn, each curve in the road. Joy comes from being assured we are not alone in the dark places and that He is light and will shine His light in each place.

Take a moment today to have a quiet time and bible study, reading over these verses and meditating on them, as well as the questions below.

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." -Proverbs 17:22

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." -Romans 15:13

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." -James 1:2

Ask yourself: -Is there a high expectation for a situation or relationship in your life that has been robbing you of joy? How can you better find the tension between the ideals and realities of that circumstance? -How can you allow the Holy Spirit to enter into the imperfect circumstances of your life, allowing you to find supernatural joy? -In what ways can you find gratitude, seek beauty, and find joy in the celebration of life today?