Sunday, April 15, 2012

Searching For Joy

This year, our church community is celebrating the whole season of Easter. Instead of living in the joy of the resurrection for just one day, we're collectively, purposefully pursuing joy and life and laughter for 40 days (yes, I know that believers are supposed to celebrate Jesus every day, but we're all broken and life is hard, so it doesn't really happen that way).

40 days of joy. 

I absolutely love this idea. I've committed to find at least one thing per day that brings or spreads joy and post it here along with others in the Skyline community. But the thing I'm finding is that its not as easy as it sounds. It turns out that embracing joy every. single. day. is a discipline that has to be practiced with determination and perserverance.  

I don't often make a conscious decision to enjoy my life. If you asked me a week ago, I would've quickly said that my life is full of joy. But now I'm seven days into a process of identifying specific areas of joy and, to be honest, it's a daily struggle. I really have to think about it some days.

Sometimes joy is hard to find.

Most days, it eludes me. It hides away behind the muck of the daily grind and then disappears like a shadow at dusk. When circumstances are particularly difficult and my future seems fuzzy and unstable, I dig around in my heart and all I find is worry. Sometimes, my selective eyes only see the people around me who have it all together, who know what they're doing on this planet and have a steady job that pays more than enough, and all I find is envy. 

But this little exercise has been so good for my heart. I'm learning that joy has to be searched for when life seems blurry, and I may have to squint to see it. I have to dig for it in the mundane, the difficult, the gray places. When I truly search for it, I always find it, and somehow it transcends and transforms the shades of gray into the brilliant, beautiful colors of life. The life we were meant to fully experience and relish. 

Instead of waiting for joy to come to me, I have to go after it. Hunt for it. Fight for it. 

No matter what. 

Joy is what makes our lives beautiful.  

How are you finding joy?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Life Marked By Prayer

Yesterday, my middle child turned 13. I just can't even believe it. It feels like an instant ago that the doctor was yelling, "It's a nine pounder!" and handing me a brand new, squishy baby girl.

With corkscrew curls and cheeks you could squeeze and kiss for days.

And now she's a teenager. It's unfathomable how fast the time has gone.

Jacey Reid is beautiful in every way. She's gorgeous on the outside and her heart is so sweet and pure, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I'm so, so proud of her. As I've reflected on the first 13 years of Jacey's life, there is one thing that stands out to me, even more beautiful than the rest.

Her life is marked by prayer.

Before I ever got pregnant with her, I prayed that God would give me a daughter. We had already been blessed with a son and my heart longed to know the joys of having one of each, so I asked God for a girl the next time around. He said YES! And there was much rejoicing in the ultrasound room.

When they calculated my due date, they told me it was February 24th, but I knew she was due on February 8th (sometimes mommies just know these things). Plus, I am a terrible pregnant person. It's nine months of misery for me and everyone else who dares to breathe my air, so the sooner we can end the madness, the better off we all are. I (and my poor husband) prayed that she would be born on or before the 8th. She arrived at 2:09pm on the 8th.

When I was in labor, she was turned the wrong way and it was going to make the delivery long and complicated. So my friend, Kelly, put her hand on my stomach and asked God to flip that baby over. Within minutes, she was good to go.

Since she was born, I have prayed that she and her brother would have an unspeakable bond of love for each other. Most days, this is still a toss up. But yesterday, he posted this to Twitter...

"Happy Birthday to my little sister Jacey. They grow up so fast. :(" 

So, that's something, right? I'm believing God will answer this, too. It just may take a little more time. :-)

When Jacey was three, she told God she wanted a little sister. I said "Sorry, sweetie. We're not having any more babies." Her baby sister was born just before Thanksgiving the following year (I partially blame my mother's prayers for this one, too).

When Jacey was five, she began to pray that God would make a way for our family to go to Disney World. Every night for over a year, her sweet little voice would float before the throne of God, laying the desires of her heart before Him. She never gave up, never even questioned if or when He would answer, even though Ron and I knew we would never in a million years have enough money to make a trip like that. But one night, my sister and brother-in-law came over and gave us a present. SURPRISE! We're sending you to Disney World! It was so ridiculously generous and extravagant. We spent a whole week there and Jacey got to meet every princess in the land. It will forever go down in our family history as the best gift we've ever received and our favorite vacation.

A couple of years ago, the kids were finagling for a dog. They weren't getting anywhere with me and Ron because we didn't want to have one more thing to feed every day, so Jacey went over our heads and asked God to give us a Within an hour, there was a cute little yorkie on our front porch and of course, it had no collar or microchip and we couldn't find the owner (believe me, I looked) so she became our beloved Jovi. After we had her for a year, we found out she used to belong to one of our neighbors, but they wanted us to keep her. They said they had been praying about what to do with her because they didn't have enough time to spend with her and felt like it was a God thing that our family found her and loved her so much. Poor guy didn't realize that he never had a chance of keeping his dog even if he wanted to. Jacey the pray-er was on the loose!

You only have to spend a little bit of time with Jacey to know that she has a special gifting when it comes to prayer. Our friends and family know that if they really need God to move on their behalf, Jacey's their girl. She's an intercessor. She's prayed people into jobs, orphans into families, the needy into provision. The list goes on and on.

It's such an honor to parent this precious girl. I can't wait to see what crazy thing God does next in her and through her, for His glory.

"... for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14