Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fighting for Joy

There's a sign in my office that reads, "Find Joy in Every Journey." It is one of those signs that finds a place in your home or office and in your head. It follows me around everywhere. It is usually an encouraging and uplifting thought that carries me through the day. A subtle reminder that joy is not dependent on the circumstances of my everyday. Yesterday was not one of those days.

When the phrase popped into my head on my drive home yesterday, I was annoyed. The best response I could muster was to shake my head and roll my eyes. I tried to dismiss it, but the idea kept resurfacing in my head. I could not shake it.

What does it really mean to "find joy in every journey"? I know I should, but most of the time I find it almost impossible.

I find myself reading the Psalms almost daily and I see that they were able to do it. Chapter after chapter offers a prayer that begins in difficulty but almost always ends in praise. I read the words, but they don't take up residence in my heart. I read that "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing" (Psalm 34:10), but I doubt it. How do I move from knowing it in my head to experiencing it in my heart and life?

As I wrestled with this idea of "joy" yesterday, a new thought crossed my mind. What if joy is not so much something we "find," but something for which we must "fight"? Joy is not missing when life seems difficult, we just have to fight for it during those times. I think that is what Nehemiah meant when he said, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Things will inevitably get difficult and joy will be hard to see, but fight for it! It is within you...and it gives you strength no matter your circumstances.

To fight for joy is to rehearse what we see in the Word over and over again. What we see is that God has a history of helping his people. The psalmist knew it. James knew it when he told us to "consider it pure joy" when we encounter difficulty (1:2). And we know it, too...we just have to "fight" for it like they did.

The sign in my office should read "Fight for Joy in Every Journey". Even thought it doesn't, I think I leave it hanging in my office. It will serve as a subtle reminder to me to fight for joy in my life, always rehearsing in my head God's history of helping his people.. And that is a cause for joy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

God Likes Us

June 12, 2006

"God likes us and wants to be near to us, so he became one of us and lived among us and eventually will return so we can all live together." - Dennis Kinlaw

I ran across this in my devotional recently and thought I'd share it. It is a beautiful and shocking idea...that God likes us. Do we believe it?

Something Inspiring

I ran across another fantastic quote in my reading this past weekend. It comes from Frederick Buechner, a remarkable preacher and writer. Enjoy. Reflect. Share. :)

"We search for a good self to be and for good work to do. We search to become human in a world that tempts us always to be less than human or looks to us to be more. We search to love and be loved. And in a world where it is often hard to believe much of anything, we search to believe in something holy and beautiful and life transcending that will give meaning and purpose to the lives we live." – Buechner

Breathless Expectation

May 1, 2006
I am a woman of words. I love old quotes and prayers. I collect them. I have found this running collection of quotes to be both inspiring and encouraging. It is a practice I sort of stumbled onto and one I'd recommend to anyone. Its difficult to give into despair when you have a thousand quotes tucked away in a book and/or your memory that inspire and uplift.

My phrase-of-the-day comes from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. A number of quotes from this timeless devotional replay in my head almost daily. This one promises to be no different.

Breathless expectation.

The quote was passed along to me by a friend who knows well my bent for worrying. Chambers speaks of gracious uncertainty and the idea that certainty of God means uncertainty in life. Gracious uncertainty that gives way to breathless expectation.

I want to live now in the gracious uncertainty and breathless expectation of abandon to God and His plans for my life. I long to live in the joyful uncertainty and expectancy that knows and trusts that God will take care of me. May it be so...

Infinite Faithfulness

April 12, 2006

I ran across this thought just the other day and am passing it along to you all...

"Live in what must be. Do not live in your human imagination of what is possible. Live in the Word - in the love and infinite faithfulness of the Lord Jesus. The faith that always thanks Him - not for experiences, but for the promises on which it can rely." - Andrew Murray

This just jumped out at me..."live in what must be." And what is that but the love of the Father, poured out to us in the body and blood of His Son? This is a timely word in light of what is days away...Easter. I love the idea of the "infinite faithfulness" of our Savior. What a beautifully worded truth from a Saint long gone (Murray)!

May you experience the reality of his deep love and unending faithfulness this Easter and throughout the year ahead. May your heart overflow with gratitude as you reflect on His faithfulness in your own life...

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, for He who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

Falling Down

April 5, 2006

so, i fall down a lot. those that know (and love!) me well are wondering why i feel the need to say that. it is common knowledge. i am a clutz. my friend rob says that i fight a losing battle with gravity daily. mean...but true.

my most recent spill happened this past weekend in LA. here i am in the trendy-city and i cannot even walk a straight line. as i fell forward, my friend craig just laughed at me. i do not blame him...it was probably quite hilarious to watch. and i am sure that someone famous like matthew mcconaughay was lurking in the shadows laughing at me. in an effort to make me feel better, my friend says that i probably blend right in with the countless drunk people walking the streets. again...mean, but true.

as if this isn't enough...he continues. he tells me he thinks the reason i fall down so much is because i have a freakishly long second toe i tell him that this is a sign of "dominance" and "wisdom." he thinks this is a load of crap. i am inclined to agree.

i share this little story to let you know that i continue to fight that losing battle with gravity and to give you a cheap laugh. i also share this because this particular fall and my friend's reaction to my spill got me thinking about the ridiculous platitudes we share with each other. like the idea that a long second toe is a sign of wisdom. so what? some guy who has nothing better to do but study feet decides this? it is probably not true.

what is true is that i do fall down a lot, i have strange feet (that are also a size an a half different from each other...), i am quirky, and i am sometimes difficult. these are all things that my friend knows about me...and he loves me anyway.

i did not intend to wax poetic or anything...i just wanted to share another funny julie-story about falling. alas, though, this is another one of my quirks. i am a cheeseball. i say all of this to say thanks to you people who call me friend and put up with me.

that is all...


I ran across the most incredible quote today...

"The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man." - Dostoyevsky

Something to think about...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Entering the Dance

I love dancing. I am absolutely horrible at it, but I love it. I really love to watch it when it is done well. I am a fan of that show "So You Think You can Dance?" and I don't even like Reality TV. Dancing just inspires me. Something in me comes alive when I watch really good dancing. I think somehow it is because these dancers are...free. Whatever the form, they are free. The best dancers aren't just dancing, they are expressing something deep within through creative movement. I am captivated by their movements and what is being said without words.

I chose to call my blog "Learning to Dance" because I see dancing as a metaphor for my life. Those that know me will not be surprised to learn that the inspiration for this title came from a quote I acquired. The quote appeared on a card some friends of mine gave me.

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware: joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." - Henry Miller

This quote conjures for me images of someone dancing (in the rain, perhaps!) and genuinely enjoying life...the ups, downs, and day-to-day of it all. This is who I want to be. Someone who lives and dances through life. This blog is just reflections on that. Enjoy...and enter the dance!