Sunday, December 12, 2010

Living in a 'Snow Globe' world

The snow.
The whirling swirling snow.
Sparkly and enchanted.
Mesmerizing to watch, yet powerful enough to cause injury or even death.
The snow.
Here it comes unexpectedly.
Destroying any plans. Leaving travelers stranded.
Wondering if God has abandoned us to freeze in this desolate mass of white…
Left to survive on our own… or die trying to find His Love in the cold-hearted drifts.
A few decide to take the risk, while many forsake the quest and claim His warmth is useless folly. Preferring to freeze in inevitable loneliness.
The hopeful ones, bundled bravely against the harsh wind, set out. Their eyes searching in watchful expectancy.
The snow. Only snow. Was there ever anything but the twisting flakes of white? As if God had shook up the whole world into a swirling snow globe of wonder for the travelers. Never being able to see what’s in front of them.
Its just a blur now… was the warmth but a dream?
Once in a while the sun drifts thru, casting a deceitful glow and causing the traveler’s hopes to crash in despair.
Perhaps they were right, and abandonment tugs at their hearts. Maybe it would be better to return. At least it would feel more ordinary than this uncertain wasteland.
A few of the faint-hearted fall, struggling for breath.
Will they die even now? Cold and alone… so afraid of this unknown place. Fear cuts their hearts.
They have failed Him.
The cry shot thru the cold and the darkness.
The weary ones gasped as a single, small child stepped forward.
His face shone with a light of hope many of them had long forgotten.
His eyes held a memory of warmth… a reason to keep going made his footsteps strong and sure.
Bending, he carefully clasped the hand of one of his comrades. Softly he placed a strong arm around him.
They continued on, a gentle warm light of hope radiating from the young one’s garments.
Then one by one the others followed.
The sronger carrying the weak…
Following the warm, hopeful light of the courageous one who risked so much to lead them to the promise that awaited them.
Still surrounded by the relentless, blinding snow, they trudge on. Keeping their eyes on the Child, with their hearts dreaming of the promised land. A land that is full of warmth and light. Where the cold, frozen wasteland is but a distant memory. Where the love of the Father reigns above all.
They are following the Child’s light… the light of the world.
They carry each other, helping each other along the rocky, icy terrain. The only other option is to give up, perish, freeze… never knowing true love and warmth.
But they never give up.
For they cling to the hope the Father sent in the form of a child leading them… they press on. Never losing hope.
Now and then the child points to the heavens, clouds parted for a moment revealing stars, bright and powerfully shooting. Sending diamonds reflecting on the snow.
Thru the beauty in the midst of their chaotic lives, they are reminded to take heart.
They plod on…
 A few still lost their step and felt the bitter cold press their hearts. But one piercing look from the loving eyes of the Child, a faithful prayer from one of the weary troops, and a steady hand to raise them up.
And still we go on and on…
A band of misfits trudging through this cold and weary snow-globe world. Searching for answers, and finding them in the life and love of the Christ child.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… our hearts beat his name as we climb mountains, endure valleys, and wander through the cold, dark, world of snow.
The world will try to manipulate us and make us fall, exhausted, in a weary heap… but we are not given a spirit of fear. So we trudge on. Refusing to give up and give in. refusing to freeze and abandon the love we’ve found in Him. Refusing to give up the life He has called us to… the loving relationship we have found in Him.
For if we abandon this calling… then what hope have we?
Even in the cold, dark nights, we can still follow His light.
For He will never abandon those who seek Him.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- Hebrews 13:5

(written December 15, 2007. Revised, December 12, 2010)
Michelle Joy

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snowflake Details

I have thought a lot about small things… small moments with Him, lately.
I need more of Him. More of His presence.
He’s beautiful… sometimes so much so that I can’t take it.
I am so small in comparison.
Small, but loved… small, but noticed by Him.
Its only cuz of Him any of us can do what we are doing these days. Living out this calling from Him. The highest, most wonderful calling… to serve Him and be in relationship with Him.
Something struck me today, during my average day at work. In the midst of Christmas shoppers/customers at my workplace, orders coming and going, rushing out on my lunch to do some errands (and get some yummy tim hortons tea J). A quiet little something hit me harder than usual. Actually quite literally hit me hard… it was, in fact, a very large snowflake.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “snowflakes aren’t large!”… yes, yes… well this one WAS! Or, for a snowflake. It was still small (like me), but on my black glove, it was huge! And so detailed. You could see the intricate delicate points. A perfect miniature replica of the kind we all made as children and hung in windows (as if there wasn’t already enough snow outside J).
This small thing hit my gloved hand and I noticed its perfect beauty at the very instant a soft voice I’ve heard so often lately spoke a few small words.
“I care about small details”.
What’s that? What did He mean?
I looked at the snowflake again. Its lacy prints melting in the warmth of my hand.
Details… if He cares about making a snowflake as detailed as that, and if its true that no two snowflakes are alike… how much more does He care about the details in my life?
How much more does He care about the little things… like how much money it takes in a month to live off of (with gas prices soaring and the economy faltering). Or how to balance life’s busyness. Or any of those little details on our lists of things to do…
Or what about dreams? Does He care about that too?
My dreams get pretty detailed… I dream big. Future stuff. The kind that might take a lifetime (and part of eternity) to accomplish.
So there I was… rushing thru my busy day. Running back to work after my errands were done… and this unusually large snowflake lands perfectly on my gloved hand.
“I care about small details. I care about YOUR details! As small and insignificant in your hand as this snowflake seems, so are you in the rest of the world. But I made you detailed. I gave you gifts. I gave you a name. I have called you my own daughter. I care about where your life is headed. And if I can care about the details of a snowflake, how much more do I care about your life, your dreams, your passions. I will never stop caring about the details.”
Give me an entire blizzard of snowflakes, if that’s the kind of stuff He’s gonna teach me today.
I won’t mind the cold Canadian winters and the snow squalls and closed roads… cuz each of those crazy snowflakes are made so intricately different. And God cares about them… and He cares about me… and He cares about your details too.
So let Him in … trust Him with the details. He can be trusted you know. He created the details in you… and He knows how to make things happen in your life. He is desperately wanting you to ask in faith for the details.
And don’t worry… He’ll take care of things. Ask in faith, and fear not. He has such plans for the future. Don’t miss out!

Luke 12:22-34
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?
“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Love your neighbor?

Cold November days…

The school semester is winding down… my life has been increasingly more and more busy with final exams, last papers, Christmas shoppers flooding my workplace, etc. etc. etc.
People are what make me slow down and listen. Thank God for the people in my life.
You’ve often heard that people are put in your life for a reason or a season. Sometimes the reasons are not always good. We are all of a fallen human nature. We all need to learn to have patience, grace, and the Love of God with eachother. Sometimes I can be a pain to live with… and sometimes you can too (not gonna lie). But we are all learning and we are all, as Christians, changing by the grace of God to be more and more like Jesus.
A dear friend and mentor of mine once said, “We are all still learning… even I am still learning to love people more.” (Irene Dooley)
So I figure, if she’s still learning… then so am I. And as far as I can tell, so are you, and him, and her, and them… all of us.
Don’t think I ever told the blogging world what I do right now. I am an intern. Crossroads Community Church is my home away from home (and I’m usually there more waking hours than at my house J). As an intern life is consistently busy serving others. Whether people deserve it or not. This year as I entered my 2nd year of the internship, I embarked on a new lesson of love.
Is it easy to love people even when it feels like the world is against you? Or when you’re exhausted past comprehension from a week of being at work everyday and church every evening? No. not easy at all.
BUT! (great word to insert here)
It is all SO worth it… cuz the most fulfilling things in life aren’t the things that come easy. It’s the things that you need to work at. The things that build character. The dreary mundane things that build determination, commitment, patience… and above all else, LOVE!
I LOVE my church.
It’s not cuz it’s always easy to get along with people or even that people like me all the time.
But we’re all still learning.
And when I’m tired and frustrated and wanna give up… God picks me up, dusts me off, wipes the tears… and if I’m smart I’ll lean on Him. Cuz while everything else in life can break down, break your heart, or break your confidence… God is unbreakable. 
Don't forget this, dear friends... God will never give up on you. So don't you give up on Him. Keep running this race... cuz the reward is greater and bigger than you can imagine. And at the end of it all... Jesus is there. At the end of your long, weary day filled with stuff that stresses you out or weighs you down... He is there to lean on and love on you. 
So lets keep going. :)
I feel I have so much more I need to write here... but I am so tired from my busy life, I really must sleep. 

‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 

Michelle Joy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shh... just stop for a moment.

It’s the little things in life. The small, mundane, everyday normal things that happen.

Try a day in the life… no. I won’t take you there. It would be much too insane. To say life is busy would be, for most, an understatement. We are all busy in our own way. Anyone can tell you that. From the student working a job 5-6 days a week plus balancing studies… to the mother of four lively children (who love extra-curricular activities), we are all run off our feet in this world that calls us deeper and deeper into a fast-paced, “need-it-now” frame of mind.
But slow down for just a moment. Take a deep breath.
Did you hear that?
Quiet as a heartbeat… but blindingly brilliant as the first rays of sunshine.
He’s begging to talk with you. Just waiting, hoping, expecting.
Will she stop for just a minute in her busy day?
Can he turn off the radio while he’s driving for just a few minutes?
He cares about the little things… how your day is going, what dreams you are chasing, even what is just really ticking you off. He wants to hear it all. 
Too often we forget that. We get so busy with our crazy schedules and our packed lives and what we should get Uncle Ralph for a Christmas present…
oops. Did I say Christmas? Now isn’t that how stress happens? Worrying about money, having enough gifts for the kids, etc. And wow, if you work in retail, now that’s just the icing on the cake.
If stress is so much a part of our lives, how can we possibly handle it all?
Can we cope with the pressures… the everyday little things that weigh us down… this life we didn’t ask for, but find ourselves smack in the middle?
There’s hope.
Take a moment. Listen closely, you’ll hear His heartbeat. He cares, more than you’ll ever know.
It’s about people… not things.
And it’s about the little everyday moments that light up an insignificant day.
Sometimes it’s as simple as praying for a friend or taking someone out for coffee.
Some days we can get so stressed out we miss things like that… we miss the moments God is trying to capture for us. But if you stop, listen, breathe for just a moment. You’ll catch it.
He’ll touch your heart. He knows how to capture a moment with you.
Will you stop for just a moment in all the chaos and all the craziness and just listen for Him?
Let me tell you a secret. He’s waiting and even anticipating the moment you do stop.
And no matter where you are, whether driving your car or even just doing housework.
If you stop for a moment, He’s there.
It’s in the small, everyday, mundane moments of life… but with Jesus there, it’s no longer mundane. But, instead, an incredible opportunity for you to know the heart of your Creator and perhaps begin to comprehend just how desperately He wants a relationship with you.
Did you see that?
That sunset is for you. He’s trying to show you, to get your attention.
Did you hear that?
He’s saying I love you… again and again.
Believe Him. And let that love change your life.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Michelle Joy

Moment from June 2010 - Baby Steps

Today I watched my nephew learning to walk… 
It started with a few toddling steps back and forth between guiding arms. He had no balance but loved when we clapped for him. Smiling faces, cheering him on… he had a good support group. 
Eventually he got independent… enough to let go of one hand. Then two… soon he could stand up on his feet – when we set him there – and walk a long ways on his own. 
I watched Mr. Independence take on this new life lesson with pride. He wasn’t perfect – are any of us? – but fell gradually less and less. 
Still not strong enough to stand back up on his own, I had to follow along while he walked and fell many times; take his little hands, set him back on his feet, and let him go again. “that’s life”, I thought. “you fall, you get back up again”…
Then I noticed something different.
Perhaps it was the affirmation we lovingly gave in the beginning… perhaps it was the knowledge that he could do something that big people do… 
Either way, I found it interesting that every time he fell, he clapped for himself. No tears or discouragement or proclamation of being “all done”… he would fall, and look up with a big grin and start clapping as if he had done the most amazing thing in the world! Then as I set him back on his feet… he’d try again with just as much confidence as before he fell. 

What if we did this? 
It’s so easy to fall… we go along in life tripping over the tiniest tuft of grass or stray shoe someone has left in our way. 
It hurts to fall. We don’t like it. But God is always there… unwaveringly following behind. Brushing off the dirt, encouraging, cheering us on… setting us back on our unsteady feet time and time again. 
What is our reaction when we fall so many times? 
Do we cry, whine… give up completely? 
Yes it hurts. Yes it is humiliating learning something that looks so simple when others do it… but we are new at this. We make mistakes. We trip and fall… but will we learn from it? 
Will we learn to fall to our knees and look up at God and clap because he is teaching us thru the tough times… smile because we know he loves us… clap for ourselves. We’re not perfect. We mess up. He still loves us. He sets us back on our feet again, brushes away the dirt, and with a hug and kiss sends us on our way… and perhaps we’ll make it a little further this time...

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”. – James 1:2-3

Michelle Joy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Darkness & Light

I’ve been pondering the difference between darkness and light.
Someone once said that darkness doesn’t exist, but – rather – is the absence of light.
I disagree.
I think it more accurate to say that darkness DOES exist. It has always existed. Exceeding the timeline of humanity. From before the moment the world was spoken into existence by a loving and just God. Before sun and sky, before laughter and tears, even before the first rosebud shared its first shy fragrance with the world. Darkness did exist.
Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” 
But the physical is one kind of darkness.
That’s not the darkness I am speaking of, for physical darkness may  just be a mere absence of light, like everyone says. You can turn on a lamp and the darkness retreats to shadows. 
I want you to think of a more terrible darkness… a spiritual darkness. One that has been shadowing your walk since your first cries as a newborn.
You’ve heard there’s an enemy?
Believe it. He hates you.
You carry something in you that bears witness to the Creator’s love.
You carry the image of God.
He’d do anything to take that away from you.
Drag you through the mud and take you farther away from Him than any human should care to exist.
BUT… (and this is a wonderful way to interrupt the scary thoughts in life)
But He knew that. He knew that there would be an enemy. He knew that by carrying His image, you would invite all darkness to fight against you. The enemy’s ultimate goal is that you never will find His light in this dark world. The Creator knows the enemy. That’s why He sent His light.
A Light of the world… who is that? You may ask.
Let me tell you. He loves you more than life itself.
He is light. And in Him is no darkness at all.
How did he exist in the dark world with no light? 
How did He escape the wrath of the dark one?
He didn’t escape… he overcame!
He went to the darkness, though he didn’t deserve such torture.
He went there for you and me.
To rescue us from being held captive to darkness!
That’s power. And that is true love.
So you don’t believe in darkness?
Well I do.
But I believe in something more powerful than darkness. A light that shines forth trhough the ages and changes lives in every century.
A light that has the power to take the wild and frightening storms of your life, and when His light and love shines into your storm… suddenly the winds calm, the light pierces the clouds, and a rainbow of promise lights up. 
He loves you more… but that’s not it. He’s always there. His power and light are like a firey sunset under dark clouds. He’ll hold you, protect you, comfort you, and sustain you.
And the promise?
Simple. He has said it for centuries… and He’s waiting for you to believe it, and trust Him again.

“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Hebrews 13:5)
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20)

Power and light is what He offers… the decision is yours. Will you trust Him and let his light set you free? Will you let Him love you and allow his power to resonate and change your life completely?
Will you overcome?
No. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say there was a reward at the end… and an eternity spent with Him in the light.
Or would you rather ignore Him and spend life in darkness?
The choice is yours.
Let Him help you overcome the darkness. One step towards eternity at a time.
And believe me... you are never alone.  
You need to see yourself in His light… and believe.

1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Michelle Joy

Welcome to a new stage of life...

Epicphany: derived from the words 'epic' and 'epiphany'. 

Epic: a narrative form of writing; a genre of poetry. 
"epic moment" meaning great, outstanding, possibly historical, life-changing. 

Epiphany: equal to a revelation. 
a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

So an 'epicphany' is a combination of these... a combination of commonplace occurences that the Holy Spirit uses to illuminate everyday life and add meaning to even the smallest details. A place where the ordinary becomes extraordinary because of the Creator's artistic love. 
Art is something I love... not merely drawing pictures. But the ability to express oneself through music, visual arts, and the written word (to name a few). 
It is a gift from God. Therefore, we cannot explain it, but we can enjoy it in all its fullness. 

So before I begin this new stage of sharing these Epicphanys I have discovered in life, I will leave you with one thought from my dear sister, Veronica who helped me discover so many things in life. :)

An Epicphany... it's like music or a "symphony" which is a combination of notes, chords, and lyrics (that which is commonplace) to create beauty and meaning. - Veronica 

Michelle Joy