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