So full.

Full of love. Full of peace. Full of thanksgiving.

Full of joy.

I don’t know where to begin. I started this blog 2 months ago as a way to stay focused on joy. Life’s troubles or mundane-ness can so easily bring me down. And like I said in this post from early February, in the days/weeks that bring the most trials, I need to work all the harder at thinking about the joyful moments and thanking God for them, because HE is the giver of all good things. Although I don’t write every day, I have daily spent time focusing on the joy that day brought. My outlook has changed. I am finding myself feeling more and more grateful. I have found myself spending more time each day – throughout the day – thanking God. Talking to Him. Praising Him. Slowing down to remain in His presence, because “In your presence there is fullness of joy…” from Psalm 16:11

And then I went to our church’s women’s retreat this weekend. I don’t even know what to say, except UH-MAZ-ING. Incredible from start to finish. I am so grateful to call this church my home and these people my family. And the topic? Joy. The focus verse? Psalm 16:11 “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

I couldn’t possibly sum up the wonderful things the speaker (our church’s very own Sandy C.) shared. But I can say this… God had a big message, and Sandy shared it perfectly. Interwoven within all of the sessions were so many thoughts that were right in line with what God has been working on in my heart. Confirmation. Ok, God. I’m listening. I hear you loud and clear!

Some points that stood out:

– God gives us these gifts because He LOVES us. In all my joy-focusing, I kinda missed that part. I know all good and perfect gifts are from Him. I have already been working on thanking Him for them. And I know God loves me. But I failed to tie the two together. Weird, maybe. But just the same… these gifts of joy – from God, the Creator of the universe – are because HE loves ME. What an amazing and humbling thought.

– I need to look for the joy in the hard. Because joy isn’t about the circumstance, it is about the love and presence of God. I have looked for the joy in the bad, but not in the same way. In my bad days/weeks, I’ve looked for the good moments and tried to focus on those rather than on the bad moments. But I need to look for the joy within the hard. Sandy shared some great examples that I can relate to – both being moms of two kids around the same ages… When a child is tantruming and I am at the end of my rope – and then she throws something at me, thank you God, for this reminder of the grace you show me each time I throw tantrums about my situation. (I am now working on finding joy in some of my toughest moments. Where is the joy in the moment when I’m aching for my two baby girls? The promise of Heaven? Maybe. But the ache is so deep. And Heaven can feel so far off. And they were twins. Someday I will blog about it. Maybe.)

There were other things. Lots of other moments, thoughts, people, that I loved this weekend. I left feeling full.

And then I went to church this morning. Palm Sunday. The sermon: Unveiling the Crucified King. I have heard lots of sermons about Jesus being crucified. L-O-T-S. It’s not that they get old, just that they are usually very similar. Always heart-wrenching and humbling just the same. But I’ve never heard one quite like this. I don’t know what to say, except, if you want to have a (new) glimpse into what Jesus was thinking about on the cross, you should have a listen. (That link will get you to the entire list of podcasts from this amazing sermon series. Listen to them all if you’d like. You won’t be disappointed.) Again, what a blessing to be a part of this church. I am so grateful.

So that’s it. My situation hasn’t changed, but my outlook has – yet again. And I’m now full.

Full of love. Full of peace. Full of thanksgiving.

Full of joy. Eucharisteo.

Wordless Wednesday – Not MY words anyway. Just my heart.

I Will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take

Things I wanted to show you

Sing sweet lullabies

Wipe your teary eyes

Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave, but I’m not

Truth is I’m barely hanging on

But there’s a greater story

Written long before me

Because He loves you like this

I will carry you

While your heart beats here

Long beyond the empty cradle

Through the coming years

I will carry you

All my life

And I will praise the ONE who’s chosen me

To carry you

Such a short time

Such a long road

All this madness, but I know

That the silence

Has brought me to HIS voice

And He says,

“I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning

Walked her through the parted sea

Angel lullabies

No more teary eyes

Who could love her like this?

I will carry you

While your heart beats here

Long beyond the empty cradle

Through the coming years

I will carry you

All your life

And I will praise the ONE who’s chosen me

To carry you.”