J O Y

>> Saturday, April 27, 2019

Joy should be a nice name to have.  Right? Many people in my life have told me what a wonderful name that is.  

They just didn’t know. 

In my childhood, we had a plaque hanging on the wall that said:

            J – Jesus First
            O – Others Next
            Y – Yourself Last

Repeatedly over the months and years, my mother made the meaning of that “Y” clear.  

“You need to remember that everyone else in the world is more important than you.”  

And so, I did.  I knew I had no value.  

When I married at 17, someone gave us a gift of that same plaque to hang on the wall in our home. My worthless condition continued. 

After a divorce, I searched for meaning in my life.  One year passed … and then two.  Then came the day I saw all the words in the scripture “love your neighbor as yourself”. Was I supposed to like me?  

Another two years passed as I pondered those words.  I removed the J O Y plaque from the wall and threw it in the trash.  I posted the verse about loving me on the front of the refrigerator.  

Finally, I believed!  

Inwardly, I changed the meaning of my name.  Joy meant delight, bliss and gladness.  What a difference that made in my life.  

As I listened to last Sunday’s sermon, my mind did a double-take at the words I heard.  After rewinding, the same words were repeated. The pastor had no idea how he was messing with my mind.  

It’s taken me a few days to truly let it sink in.   

J O Y is so much more than just delight, bliss and gladness.  In his explanation of the word, the J still stands for Jesus.  The Y still stands for you.  But the O stands for zero.  

There is nothing between Jesus and me!  

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5:14 (NIV)


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How Are You?

>> Monday, April 1, 2019

It seems like an innocent, caring question.  How are you? I’m sure we’ve all asked it of someone. Yet that question does not always evoke a warm, fuzzy reaction.  

A few days ago, I was with a group of widows.  It was mentioned that one recently widowed lady had not been attending church.  The reason given by her, “I don’t want everyone asking me how I am.”  

We understood.  Another lady expressed her anger.
 
“What am I supposed to say? My husband just died.  How do you think I am?”  

It’s only been a few years for me.  I remember thinking, when asked that question, “How can I answer that?  I don’t know how I am.”  And the way I was feeling at that moment could change in an instant.  A smell, a song, a certain food could arouse an abrupt response within me.  My emotional state resembled a roller coaster.  


And so, the pat answer is “Fine.”  Big fat lie. 

All this was percolating in my thoughts when I read an article written by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO.  Her husband died in 2015 at the age of 47.  She echoed the above sentiment.  She wanted to scream, “My husband died.  How do you think I am?”  

The question can at least be modified to ask, “How are you today?”  That indicates some semblance of understanding, that each day is different. 

Some days better than others.  

This does not apply only to widows.  In any circumstance where there has been a life-changing event, the person affected doesn’t need that question.  A hug works for some.  Others just need to share about what happened.  

Some just want to hear, “It’s sure good to see you.”  

             "Be gentle with one another, sensitive." Ephesians 4:32 (MSG)


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Driving Force

>> Thursday, March 28, 2019

For several weeks I’ve been cleaning, discarding and organizing my writing/sewing room.  I’ve uncovered some reminders of wonderful memories. But I also found papers that I have no idea why I kept them.  

One discovery was an assignment I was given to ask others what they saw as my driving force.  How very interesting to read their opinions. Most of the comments created a warm fuzzy.  But a few caused me to pause and contemplate.  

Was I really like that? 

In the midst of my work, I took a break and purchased a different car.  I always name them.  Since it is a Lexus, the name Lexi was suggested.  I like that, but when I looked up the meaning I voted no.  I didn’t aspire to be a defender of men.  

As I continued the work in my room, my thoughts vacillated between pondering what my driving force is and what to name my car.  And that’s when those two very diverse concepts came together.  

I named it Hope; confident expectation of what God has promised.  


As I look back over the last four years since my husband’s death, hope in the future is what kept me moving forward.  

I discovered my driving force.  

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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Fix Your Face

>> Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A recent sermon at my church was about the aroma we emit as Christ followers.  Some people draw others to them, while some may be repulsed.  Of course, this is not an actual smell, but is indicative of our behavior, words, and attitude.  As I listened to the pastor, illustrations kept popping into my head (that happens a lot) of what he was talking about.  

Here’s one of them.  

The story is told that during Thomas Jefferson's presidency he and a group of travelers were crossing a river that had overflowed its banks. Each man crossed on horseback fighting for his life. A lone traveler watched the group traverse the treacherous river and then asked President Jefferson to take him across. The president agreed without hesitation, the man climbed on, and the two made it safely to the other side.  Somebody asked him: "Why did you select the President to ask this favor?" The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the President who had carried him safely across. "All I know," he said, "is that on some of your faces was written the answer 'No' and on some of them was the answer 'Yes.' His was a 'Yes' face."

Every time I hear this story, I wonder if others think I have a “yes” face.  

I used to work at an appliance store.  I shared an office with my boss in the back.  One day I recognized the customer’s voice.  I could hear the discussions.  She wasn’t pleasant.  And since I saw her regularly at church, I knew what her face looked like.  She always looked mad.  My boss commented on the conversation that was occurring.  I explained I knew that person because she attended my church.  He was called out to the floor to answer some questions and then returned to our office. I’ll never forget his comment.  

“If she calls herself a Christian, she should tell her face.”  

Again, I ponder what message my face is sending.  

A few years ago, one of my daughters moved to the south.  Colloquial expressions vary from region to region.  One comment she hears quite often is “fix your face”. This is usually said by a parent to a child.  Perhaps the facial expression is inappropriate.  Maybe it shows they have an attitude or a scowl.  

I have to admit; I want to say that to some people occasionally.  

Others can tell a lot about us even before we open our mouth.  If we are a Christ follower, they should get a whiff of the love and hope of Jesus emanating from our lives. 

How’s your face?

“To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.” 2 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)


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