Learning to Choose Joy & Practicing Contentment As a Way of Life

“Mama, I love it when you are happy. It makes me feel like life is good and we are going to be ok.” (from an unmentioned Clarkson child.)

Lately, as I have struggled with too much—too much work, pressure from life, needs of family, deadlines, meals to make and dishes to wash and expectations from those who love me, I have probably cast a shadow on my family and been a force of negativity. But I have realized that when I struggle out loud, my children feel like they need to rescue me or take on my burdens. I am the mother, and I need to be careful not to pass on guilt, and unnecessary pressure to my family. I can choose to keep some things to myself and to learn to be content as a way of life. It is something that has been a long time coming.

Writing and speaking challenges me to grow more deeply in love with God each day. There is something about having the responsibility of telling others the true concepts of God's word and seeking to pass on a love for Him that changes me as I do so.  Many years ago, writing Dancing With My Father changed me deeply. I have changed even more in the years since I turned in the manuscript!

Learning to Move in the Direction of choosing contentment, practicing joy….(more soon)

To live fully alive, aware, sensing the presence of my gentle, loving Lord every day, in the tiny moments of my day--knowing He is here with me, He will always love me and pursue me, forgive me, help me--these realities that I am taking time to ponder are changing the very heart of me. Entering into His presence intentionally is giving me joy even in the midst of the many pressures of my life. I know so much more clearly now that all of my days have purpose in light of eternity and God's desire to bring me more and more to freedom.

I pass on just a few thoughts from my book that I pray may be of some encouragement to you, today.

"One of the greatest obstacles was my response to disappointments, frustration, and the day-to-day interruptions of life. As I evaluated these things in light of my commitment to walk in joy, I could see that, in reality, God had used many of my difficulties to create in me a deeper, more compassionate heart, I could see that the hand of God had faithfully met me at my need and somehow sustained me instead of letting me go under. I also realized that he had used these challenges to loosen my grip on the worldly, temporal things I had previously looked to for security and stability and instead compelled me to rely on him and seek eternal answers."

And then, later, I saw a Biblical story of dancing with God from a person who had learned this dance of joy in the privacy of his own life, where on one saw but God. "Here was my picture of joy: David, having faithfully waited through years of anguish, danger, and humility, never lost his true focus on his ultimate Source of joy, his God, who had been with David every day, through every circumstance.

Over 25 years of running away from Saul, losing his wife, having his children captured, attempted murder on his life, loneliness through battles from within and without. When he came to be king, his focus was still on His God and celebrating HIs presence in front of all who would follow Him as king. And with his heart focused on the Source of his joy, David could leap and dance "before the LORD with all his might" (2 Samuel 6:14). This out of heartfelt celebration.

I believe that David saw in God great freedom -- that his God created pleasure, color, beauty, food, love, sound, taste, and deep happiness. David was not tied up in knots of religion and rules, pretense and performance. Instead, he enjoyed and delighted in the God whom he knew to be his close friend and Lord. His dancing was a genuine expression of what he felt in his heart for his most beloved and intimate companion.

Where had he learned this? Out in the field, alone and free to ponder and live before God without pretense, being in nature with the stars and storms, seasons and changes. He'd been daily alone, living in the beauty of a world that displayed God's glory and handiwork. He'd spend many hours writing music about it, thinking about the Great Designer, and singing to an audience of one."

Today, as I am living in my own "field" of life, I may learn to hear the music of His voice speaking to me in my circumstances through the miracle of a child singing and giggling; the buds opening up on a tree, daffodils blooming; the heavy breath of an angel baby, fast asleep; the warmth of snuggling under the blankets on a cold, snowy spring morning with the companion of my life; the taste of hot coffee with sugar and cream—all these from His hand, a part of His art in my life, so I can see His presence and be aware of His provision.

May the field of your life bring you the joy of His presence today.