Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Month: May 2013

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Since Joel’s home going I’ve been doing my best to survive from one event to the next: from Joel’s Memorial Service to Christmas to New Years.. then Judi’s Birthday which I didn’t handle very well.  It snuck up on me.  It had always been extra joyful because for the next several months after Judi’s birthday Judi and Joel were “only a year a part in age..” and suddenly, I had to deal with the idea that that joy was lost.. and just a few days after, the one month anniversary of not having Joel with us.  At times I was shaken with separation anxiety.   Every day was.. still is.. an exercise of not seeing Joel as dead but alive and well in heaven.  If I hadn’t had the assurance of heaven…

In the second and third month, selling Joel’s car, closing his bank account etc., all the chiropractor stuff started, Josh’s birthday… then Spring Break, Passover/Easter and Mike’s birthday all rolled into one.. then it was time to prepare for Joel’s birthday and our trip to Texas.  Just listing the highlights is stressful.  Thank you, Jesus, for walking with me through the fire.

After getting through Joel’s birthday/family reunion trip and Mother’s day (also all rolled into one), I finally had some space just to be and discovered that it is also extremely difficult.  More of the shock is wearing off and I am feeling more of the pain of losing Joel.  As I shared in my last post, finding where to turn my sad thoughts was hard work.

Looking in from the outside must be puzzling.. “Five months have gone by.  Shouldn’t you be better by now?”

Balloons for Joel’s 21 Birthday

The shock of losing Joel had protected me from feeling all the terrible things that have been happening around me like I normally do.  The horror of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary the day after Joel’s memorial service.. I couldn’t even process it.  A suicide in a near by school, the Boston bombing and the West Texas Fertilizer explosion.. I was numb…

The tornado this past week in Oklahoma was the first thing I felt.  I want to say like I used to feel.. but I am not sure if I feel the sorrow the same or different now.  Then this past Friday night, when I heard that one of Joel and Judi’s friends from church, Cole, died in a motorcycle accident I just wept.  He was just a few months older than Joel.  The emotions are so overwhelming.  I didn’t know how to pray beyond “God, help, please, help..”  Then yesterday morning I heard that there were deaths in the floods in San Antonio.  I feel surrounded by death.

My prayers have been weak.. despairing.. “God, help, please, help.. it’s bad.. so many are suffering.. all around the earth.. wars.. famine.  God, and I know it’s only the beginning.  God, please, help.. come to our rescue.. send revival.. send Jesus to take us home.  Help, God, help.”  I keep remembering that He isn’t slow to keep his promise to return and that He longs for all to be saved from 2 Peter chapter 3.  I long for their salvation, too … and feel selfish and unhappy with myself when all I want is for my suffering to end.

I’ve felt so lost, so alone this week.. not knowing how to deal with all the pain I am now feeling that the shock is wearing away. It felt like my only two choices were to live in despair with hardly a word beyond “help” to pray or buck-up and be hardhearted.  Seriously, that’s the making of an atheist.. most are brokenhearted people who feel deserted by God.. and can’t believe in a God who would allow all this suffering.

I knew that those couldn’t be the only two choices.. that both those choices were wrong.. that there had to be another choice.  I am so broken that it was hard to see past my brokenness.  Even though I knew better, I couldn’t see what the better was.  Open my eyes, Jesus.  To keep moving, I had to keep reminding myself that life wasn’t about living for myself but for God and for others.

Then a friend called, and did something I couldn’t do for myself, she loved me where I was; she listened and said that if “help” was all I could pray then that was exactly the right thing to pray.. the thing that needed to be prayed.  Her words were worth more than gold to me.  They set me free to hear the voice of Holy Spirit the next morning remind me to “Rejoice in hope” from Romans 12:12

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Hope was the third choice.. the choice I knew there had to be.

The three phrases were exactly what I needed: to rejoice in hope.. to hope.. to keep finding joy in Jesus over and over again while going though suffering..  to be patient in affliction.. patient.. resting.. trusting in God’s work.. and to be faithful to keep praying even when all I can pray is “help.”  I texted a thank you and my revelation to my friend and she responded, “Yes, my friend you are right! Thank you for reminding me that our God is a God of hope and grace and He gives us His strength. I will choose hope too! Love you!”

I think I will be reading Romans chapter 12 all this week.  Don’t miss it.

Verses 9-16 from the NIV
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Please,  pray for me as I continue to learn and relearn through this suffering and pray for my family as they have to live with me.. and work through their own grief and losses.  🙂

Love,

Jenny

Thankful for Joy

I woke up this morning remembered that Joel was gone.

Holy Spirit graciously keeps reminding me gone means pushed ahead in the race.. happy in Heaven.. he is well.. I can smile and be joyful about where and how he is.

Not that I wouldn’t much rather have him here and want to get up and look in on him and make sure he got home safe from closing at Donatos (Joel, I still have to look up how to spell it.  Sorry.) or go greet him and ask him how things are going, hug him, kiss him… wish him a good morning.

I have to remember that he is gone every morning.  It’s not a nice thing to wake up to.  Most days I don’t know what to think.. how to feel.. what to do after remembering.  Be sad is the obvious choice.

I’ve been trying for days to choose to be thankful.. to find things to be thankful for.  Then yesterday, I tried to count it all as lost and seek to know Christ.  It’s been hard work… trying.. striving.. but I haven’t known what else to do.  I’ve felt lost and alone.. praying for grace and anointing.. for Jesus to pour in His anointing oil and bind up my broken heart.

This morning was different.  After I remembered that Joel was gone and what gone meant, there was a new grace.  The joy in knowing that all was well with Joel in Heaven flowed over into a choice that was available to me to make.  Joy was a choice and I had the grace to choose it and maybe Holy Spirit even gave me a little push in joy’s direction.

It wasn’t like the past couple of weeks where it was an exercise of my mind to find some other choice than being sad.. searching for things to be thankful for.. searching for some way to draw near to Jesus.. searching for the right choice.. for the right thing to do.

It was just there.. joy.. I could chose it if I wanted.  Thank you, Lord, for grace for today.

It’s not that I haven’t had any joy since Joel’s pushed ahead.. and it’s not that I am not still sad, or that I am over missing him.  It’s just that joy has been made available to me in the midst of it.. and I am thankful for it… for the rest in it today.

Love,

Jenny

Where do I run to?

3/23/08   Favorite picture of Joel and I.

Living in different states from my family has motivated me to take family photos, scrapbook and eventually led to starting this blog for my sisters and Mom in December 2007.The very first time we moved out-of-state was to Thailand.  Josh was 8 months old.. we didn’t have e-mail, blogs, cell phones or even a computer; by the time we got a letter the news was at least 3 weeks old. Long distance calls were a rare treat.

Pictures, Facebook, blogs.. etc. are such a blessing. Each helps take away some of the sting of living apart.

Favorite picture of all four.  September 30, 2007

I shared one of my poems in my very first blog post. I looked back through my poems today and found an older one that I hadn’t posted before. I wrote it on April 19, 2006.


Where do I run to?
Where do I run to?
Where do I hide?
Where do I go
When all that I am is tried?

I run to my, Father,
Creator of all things.
There I dwell safely
Under the shadow of His wings.

By my God I can run on a troop.
I can jump over a wall.
In His strength
I can do it all.

Alone I am weak,
Afraid I will fall.
But He will never leave me
Abandoned in the call.

His sweet Spirit
Trains my hands for war.
A war of compassion that
Leaves me hungry for more;

More of His presence,
More of His love,
More of His promise
Come down from above.

I will rest secure
In the work He has done.
It’s by the power of His Spirit
That the battle is won.

 

I am still running into Jesus’ arms for strength and respite; praying daily for more of His grace and anointing; for wisdom in how to walk until the battle is over and I run one last time into His everlasting arms.

Happy Mothers Day!

Love,

Jenny

 

It is Good to Wait Quietly

Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is a David vs Goliath story where a weak, poor, indebted Mexican army of 4,500 men defeated Napoleon’s mighty, invasive French army of 8,000?

I’ve recently watched a relationship between two friends go downhill because one friend loaned money to another and the one who borrowed shows no interest in repaying his debt.

Watching this relationship has shown a new light on what I went through when I was praying for or “holding out” for healing from my recent experience with breast cancer.. and surgeons.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I realize now, that over time the idea of healing as a “promise”.. a promise not yet fulfilled for me.. caused a rift in what is normally a joyful,  free, and naturally flowing relationship between the Lord and I.

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Praying, “standing” on the “promises” in the Word, and believing for healing led to putting myself in a place were my attitude was that of a lender toward God as the borrower; acting as though God owed me the healing He’d promised.

Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I continually find myself “doing” when God wants me to “rest” and let Him do the doing.  I’ve learned to be leery of striving in the things I need to get done.. but in this case I found myself striving in believing.. in my faith.  I believed I was “doing” what I was supposed to do by praying, confessing and believing.. when I should have been resting in His work.

Matthew 11:28  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

I am continually relieved when I remember that my job is to rest, to trust, to worship; His is to do or not do as He sees fit.

Lamentations 3:26 It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Healing from breast cancer, healing from losing Joel.. is His job.. mine is to rest, to trust to lay it all down at His feet and know that He loves me and will do what is best for me and my loved ones in His perfect timing.

John 6:29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

The Joy Set Before Us

A few pictures from 2012

Joel and Judi playing hands and foot with their cousins, Karen and Kyle.


My attempt to capture a sweet picture of Joel and Zoe’ sleeping together.  Zoe woke up the moment I opened the door and spoiled my photo.  Catching her on film not in a blur is a challenge.  The look on Joel’s face shows that he also caught on to what I was trying to do.

Josh and Joel enjoying a little friendly competition. Love this picture.

When they weren’t working, sleeping or at school.. Josh and Joel were studying, hiking, playing guitar together or just hanging out.

Joel often helped Josh with his math homework.. Math isn’t Josh’s favorite subject.. Joel loved the challenge and was so proud that he was able to help his big brother.

This is my last photo of the three boys..  Joel was working on an English paper, Josh had just returned home from class and had something to tell Joel, James had just returned from work and had something new on his computer to show off.I love the scene.. the camaraderie between my boys.. I love that they all three chose to stay home while going to college and grow into adults together. Living, learning, playing and growing together created in them a wonderful bond.

I had a sad thought today, Joel’s birthday… I can no longer tell James or Josh to go ask “one of your brothers.” They only have one brother to go ask now.

Joel so lived and embodied this verse.. we miss him living it before us:

Philippians 2:2-4 Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
My happy thought: I had a beautiful revelation last night.. while meditating on Jesus’ description of our Heavenly Father:
 Luke 15:20 So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.

Just a few words into the verse.. I was overwhelmed with a vision of Abba Daddy’s face..FULL of LOVE, ANTICIPATION and EAGERNESS.. the look on His face when He welcomed Joel home.

I was overcome with tears of joy.

He looks forward to His return for us and our homecoming with the same GREAT eagerness. He LONGS for us.. to embrace and kiss us… to overwhelm us with His great love.

It was that for that joy that He laid aside all of Heaven, made Himself nothing, became a servant for us and submitted Himself to endure the terrible the death on the cross. (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 2:6-8)

We love you, Jesus!

THANK YOU!!!

Come, quickly!

His,

Jenny

 

Seeing Jesus through Joel’s Eyes

One of the best things I ever asked my kids to do was to pick one verse from our daily Bible devotions, copy it, then illustrate it. It takes a lot of thought (right and left brain) to accomplish. I highly recommend you try it yourself and see what Holy Spirit might teach you.

Since today is Joel’s 21st birthday, and I always knew he had a pastoral anointing. I am going to let him preach today through some of the verses he meditated on and illustrated.

A few from the Old Testament:

 

We spent a long time on the Tabernacle.
See the scribbles in the cloud?  They are Joel’s way of illustrating God’s power.
We’d been to visit a few caves.  Have you ever been in a cave with the light out?
Now that is dark… but even there God is with us.
  Like the way he used candy and ice cream as temptation.. the easy road.
Our hearts are happier with Jesus on the harder road.

A verse we memorized for Thanksgiving.
Doesn’t he have nice handwriting?

New Testament Readings:

Joel’s pushing a chair up to reach the vine.
His love and power is everywhere.
Joel is wiping my tears away.
  God’s face was a mystery to
Joel when he drew this one, but not now.

Revelations 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me.”

vs. 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

 God in the face of Jesus.. I love that He’s sopping wet.. makes Him so human.
I think the cricket was for the locus that John ate.  🙂
Have you been guilty of trying to live on bread alone???
It’s better to go 40 days without and live on the WORD of GOD.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus knows you?
You can learn so much by  illustrating your Bible readings.
Jesus’ anointing is powerful!
This one speaks volumes.
Jesus, stay with us and give us your living water.
Amen!
Let’s follow the Holy One.
Slip away and pray..
Jesus rewards those who won’t be discouraged by the crowds.
He’s a friend to sinners.. even tax collectors.
The old just can’t compare.. Law vs. Spirit.
Jesus will rescue you any day of the week.. “bah.”
No words.

.. Tears of joy.. because I know our beloved, Joel,
is so blessed to live continually in His presence..
making his home in God’s big, big house..
having the best birthday yet.

Love,

Jenny

© 2018 Finding Joy in Him

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑