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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 New Year Souvenir List

The New Year is right around the corner and that means it’s time to reflect on 2014 and resolve to do better in 2015.  The problem is that I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions, at least not officially because I don’t like making promises I can’t keep.  The closest I got to a resolution this past year was a memory calendar where I would take time each night to reflect on the day and write memories or thoughts on my Bacon-themed calendar.  That lasted til May….  So yeah…I don’t have a winning streak at this, but there are a couple things I would like to try to do in the new year and they have some measurable goals so I thought I’d do a monthly report on the progress and maybe even show some pictures of the adventures in progress.  It probably will only last til March, but hey, if I put this up online, maybe someone will follow it enough to hold me accountable and say….what happened to April?  We’ll see…but without further adieu..

2015 New Year Souvenir list
A.)    Shop local at least once a month------  I am pretty frugal with my money and am pretty decent at talking myself out of wasteful spending.  I love, in theory, the thought of shopping locally for goods, services and food.  The hang up is that, generally speaking, most goods can be bought elsewhere cheaper and then my super frugal mind takes those same goods and totally throws them out the window because many of them, when boiled down are not even necessary, so at the end of the day, I don’t buy local and I hardly buy anything at all.  I happen to live in a sweet little New England town with a downtown I like to trod through just for kicks, so one of my plans is to visit a locally owned shop or restaurant and show some love on those who are making a name for themselves in this neck of the woods. 

B.)    Find myself in at least three different households in a month------ Since moving out on my own 10.5 months ago, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of having my own cave to come home to and hide.  That’s not to say I don’t get out, but sometimes when I should get out, I don’t, so I am hoping putting this on the list will help me stay motivated to keep reaching out…and hey….maybe someone local reading this will think, “maybe I can help Joy reach her goal by inviting her over!”  :-)  As much as I need some alone time to recharge, community is really necessary support system and I need the motivation to seek it out sometimes.

C.)    Prepare a legitimate meal at least once per week------  As mentioned before, I’ve been living on my own now for a little while now.  In that time, I have yet to perfect or even had the motivation/desire to want to serve myself well balanced meals.  I’m coming off living with amazing couples who had well balanced meals as they were serving for at least three or four to now only having to feed me.  Sometimes I default to chips and salsa for a meal, but many times I will eat something half decent like a thin steak or broiled asparagus or a crown of broccoli….just ONE of those things though.  I cook in stages because when it’s just me, there is no one to impress and no timing that I have to get right.  So I cook and eat the steak and then if I’m still hungry, I’ll broil up some asparagus and then if I’m still hungry, I’ll grab and handful of strawberries and call it a meal…..the problem is….I hardly ever make it past the steak.  One and done for me.  So my third new year souvenir is to make a meal once a week that contains at least a protein AS WELL AS a veggie of some sort. 

D.)   Take a trip to Texas------  I haven’t been back home since Thanksgiving of 2012.  I miss my family there as well as the food but Texas is far away and my breaks have been too short to justify the trip as well as the high cost of airline tickets.  So I’m not sure when in 2015, this would take place, but I’m making it public knowledge that I hope to take a trip to Texas this year.  If I haven’t set anything in stone by March, someone needs to start bothering me about it because if it doesn’t happen at least by summer, the chances of it happening at all go down significantly.

E.)    Read more------I still haven’t decided if I’d set the bar at reading at least a chapter of a book a week or reading one book per month.  Reading is another thing I love the thought of, but I haven’t made it a priority.  It’s kind of sad too, because I can’t say I don’t have time for it…I’ve got plenty of time for other mind numbing activities (soduku, sims, walking in circles).  So here’s to reading because as Dr. Seuss said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 

So these five things make up my New Year Souvenir list.  Oh yeah…you may be wondering why I called it a “New Year Souvenir” list to begin with.  Well reason one would be because it rhymes, of course.  But reason two is because a souvenir is a momento or keepsake that one obtains to remember a place, person, or milestone.  I want this list to provide a framework where memories can happen, relationships be born and grow, and personal growth take place.  Some of that growth will take place within the confines of my own apartment, some as I connect with the world around me, and some even as I travel the road to wherever God leads me.  Cheers to making each month of the new year one to remember!

Do you have any new years resolutions or memory making souvenirs to look forward to in the new year?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.  Wishing you and yours blessings in the new year! 

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn

Monday, December 22, 2014

Contemplate the Greatest Gift of All (written originally 12-22-13)

Once upon a time,
In a city far away.
A baby laid all swaddled,
The only comfort…hay.


In humblest beginnings,
The Savior came to save.
Born of a virgin, Mary,
This was God’s chosen way.


He could have dropped out of Heaven,
He could rule by gavel or sword,
But instead He came as a baby,
This infant is also our Lord.


How gracious our loving Savior,
Who took on our flesh to live. 
For my sin earns a punishment I cannot pay,
But by His blood, He can forgive.


So in this Christmas season,
With every gift you get,
Contemplate the greatest gift of all,
Jesus humble birth and sin-crushing death.


-Joy Lynn


Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


Have you receive this gift by faith and trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior?  If not, I hope you receive it today.  Merry Christmas y’all!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Remember Who is in Control

So I mentioned that I was a perfectionist in my last note and today I’ll also admit that I can tend to be a bit of a control freak.  Now we all know, there is very little in this world that we can actually control, but believe you me, I try to control as much as I possibly can.  I think through all the possibilities, try to see potential pot holes ahead, and fix problems before they blow up, because I don’t do well at dealing with life post-explosion.  Sometimes it’s the struggles and pains of my friends that have me worried.  I want to help or fix the problem but there is often absolutely nothing I can do.  I become rather rattled and start falling apart at the seams.   Can anyone else relate?

Well, my good friend King Jehoshaphat spoke into my life once again with how he dealt with terrifying news.  In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is delivered the news that many other surrounding nations have gotten together and are coming for Judah and King Jehoshaphat’s kingdom.  When he hears this, “Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:3). That’s all one sentence.  He was, indeed, afraid but His first reaction was to seek God through not only His prayers but the prayers of all the people of Judah. Step one:  In the face of fear, seek God.

Jehoshaphat goes on to pray a tremendous prayer in the midst of his people, which you can read in 2 Chron. 20: 5-12.  In it, Jehoshaphat acknowledges God’s power and control over the situation, he names specific times in history that God has delivered His people and then he expresses faith that God will again deliver His people from their enemies.  They collectively acknowledged they had no control and no chance of winning on their own but that they would keep their eyes on Him (20:12). Step two:  Remember who God is. 

When God speaks into the situation in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17, God reminds King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, that “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (20:15).  Step three: Remember, whatever we are facing, it is God who fights for us and brings His purposes to pass. 

Finally King Jehoshaphat leads his army to confront the oncoming attack and he sends the choir out first, ahead of the armed men, singing praises to God.  Step four: Praise Him for what He is about to do, even if you don’t know how He’ll see you through.

As Judah’s army approached the battle field, they found that all the opposing armies had been defeated by God as they turned the swords on each other and none were left to fight Judah. The army of Judah then collected the spoils of war and remembered to praise God continually for the victory for which only He could do.  They could take no credit for what God did but they gained many riches from it anyway. We do nothing to deserve it but He lavishes us with blessing anyway. 

Final results for following steps one through four:  2 Chronicles 20: 29-30 says “And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.  So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.”

Because King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah committed their way entirely to the Lord and let God fight the battle for them, they came out of the situation with a tremendous story to tell the nations.  The testimony they established in this chapter was clear for all to see.  The God of King Jehoshaphat was mighty, powerful and to be revered.  There is no need for us to fear with God on our side.  Even if we can’t see how it will turn out, He will make a way so we must stay near to Him and keep our eyes fixed.  The results will blow your mind and the story will clearly point to Him. 

I hope to commit these steps to memory and begin to applying them as life continues to throw its curve balls.  Instead of losing composure when bad news arrives, I want to seek God first, remembering Who He is and what He has done in the past and know that what He will do with this situation will be His best and my reaction and action concerning this news can be used as a mighty testimony for His work in my life and in the lives of others.  I've been blessed in my life to know several people who have walked through crazy storms and their lives tell the story of a God who loves, heals and restores.  All in all, I want my inability to control to be overcome with the knowledge that He is in control.  

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn


P.S.  I must admit that the original idea for this post came from Lysa Ter Keurst who is the author of “Unglued”.  She used 2nd Chronicles to come up with a battle plan for facing the fear of the unknown as well as battles that rage on in our lives. I did my own read of the Scripture and came up with this list personal to me but it was largely inspired by her so proper credit goes to the forerunners. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Failing ≠ Failure

My personality strongly borders perfectionism.  I am my own biggest critic and my own worst enemy.  I try my best to stay on the right path and when I skew, it is usually I that is the most unforgiving of myself.  Not only do I run high on perfectionism but I also run high on self-destructive reactions to my short comings.  When I fall, I fall hard and it can sometimes take a long time for me to shake off the depression that my failure brings.  I often fear in my failure, that I’ve completely ruined my testimony and that my whole life has been a sham.  Extreme-much, eh?  If you aren’t super close to me, perhaps you don’t know that side and that may be for your best interest but today I stumbled upon a story that really spoke to my self-defeating nature.

The story is part of the life of King Jehoshaphat, who was the king of Judah.  The Bible speaks highly of King Jehoshaphat for his commitment to the Lord and not letting other kinds of worship enter into his kingdom.  2 Chronicles 17:3-4 says that “..the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David: he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in His commandments…”  King Jehoshaphat was not only trying to honor God but he also was honored by surrounding peoples and nations because he was a well respected leader.

But even the most respectable of people make mistakes.  King Jehoshaphat ended up making an alliance with the King of Israel, the evil King Ahab (1 Kings 16:30 & 21:25).  King Ahab wanted King Jehoshaphat to join him in a conquest of Ramoth Gilead against the Arameans.  Ahab’s prophets, seeking the kings favor only, said go to war because God is with you.  Jehoshaphat wasn’t buying it, so Micaiah, a follower of God was called to inquire of God’s will.  Micaiah warned Jehoshaphat that Ahab’s goons were lying and that Jehoshaphat should return to Judah in peace and not fight.

Long story short, Micaiah was thrown into prison by Ahab (2 Chron. 18:26) and Jehoshaphat went to war anyway.    Ahab even tried throwing Jehoshaphat under the bus in a set up to escape with his life (18:29-30), but as it would happen, Ahab was killed in battle (18: 33-34) and Jehoshaphat was delivered by God even though he was surrounded by the enemy (18:31-32). 

Jehoshaphat made it back home safely only to be confronted by Jehu who said “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you.  Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”  (2 Chronicles 19: 2-3).

This is the part of the story that blew me away.  Talk about Truth spoken in love.  Essentially, Jehu said Jehoshaphat...you really blew it on that one. Epic fail. You went against God even though He warned you, and you will indeed face consequences…no getting around that.  But Jehoshaphat...you failed this time, but that doesn't make you or your life a failure. You've done good in the past and you'll do good in the future if you seek to be obedient to Him. He's been faithful to you, so be faithful to Him.

Imagine if I took hold of that truth and the grace encapsulated in that statement and showed a bit of that to myself and to those around me.  To say, yeah, we mess up and just because we say sorry doesn’t mean the consequences will vanish but just because we fail does not make us void of use either.  My life story is more than one chapter and my failings can be used for both great growth as well as a continual reminder that I need His guidance and strength to get me through and not rely on my own.

So maybe you are like me and fail often enough to want to hide under a rock.  Take heart, God’s not done.  You are not a mistake.  Don’t let the lies win.  Good is found in you when you are found in Him.  Keep seeking, running, praying and getting back up with each fall along the way.  He’s faithful to forgive, to grow you, and to use each and every part of the fabric that makes you, you. 

Remember, you may fail but you are not a failure.
But more importantly, remember that He will never fail you.


Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Help Me, Please

Don’t get too close,
I’m not what you see,
What’s lurking inside,
Is insecurity.

I search to find love,
Joy and acceptance,
But why would you be friends,
With someone so reckless?

Why would they?
How could they?
Won’t they see?
These flaws in me…

So I wrestle with trust,
And constant testing
To see what’s real,
And check if you’ve left yet.

I don’t know why you’d stay
After all my pushing away
Why be friends with a jerk like me,
When you could otherwise be free?

I wish I knew how to stop the cycle,
Let you love me even if I’m psycho,
Not question motives and make you pass test,
But give you full trust by always assuming the best.

Lord, search me and find,
The brokenness inside of me,
Help me to know that despite the past,
I can trust in Thee.

And because I can trust You,
Help me to see,
That these friends of mine,
Are the real thing.

Help me to stop the madness and confusion,
Help me to love without restitution.
Help me to stop the banter and lies,
The lies that warp and take over my mind.


Open my eyes,
And help me to see,
That even if they did choose to leave,

I still have Your unending love and that’s free.

Joy Lynn

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Call To Silence

A Call to Silence

Silence
Time to think
Free to hear
Not to speak

Listen
Hear Me clear
You may feel alone
But I am near

Rest here
Stay awhile
Take your eyes
Off the to-do pile

Take heart
I’m not through
You feel broken
I make things new



Joy Lynn


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Broken Glasses

I woke up this morning,
Reaching out into the dark,
My wandering hand fumbles,
Finally, my fingers find there mark.

I put on my glasses and turn on the lights,
Why does the world still seem dark and not bright?
My eyes open and shut, but still all I see,
Is blurred visions of this image of me.

I shake off the confusion,
Determined to muscle through the day.
I’m consumed with my own thoughts,
Can’t seem to look away.

By noontime, I’ve had enough,
What’s with this sour mood?
Yes, life is hard but if God is good,
Why do I feel so misunderstood?

Over coffee I find an ear to hear,
I share how I want my vision to clear.
I take off my glasses and then my friend sees,
“I think the problem is with these.”

She handles my glasses, gently at first,
I brace myself, waiting to hear the worst.
“Here is the problem….. you can’t see…
Anything but yourself in mirrors like these.”

As she turns over the glasses, I see a reflection of me,
No wonder I can’t see, I’ve been deceived,
Thinking that if I watch out for my own interest,
I somehow would never be grieved.

But with all eyes on me,
I lost sight of God,
Trusting only in myself,
My confidence was flawed.

My friend broke my glasses, and handed me His Word,
“These self-centered glasses need to be nixed.
As you walk through your day,
It’s on God whom you should keep your eyes fixed.”

Here on my knees,
I find my vision restored,
In the good and in the bad,
There is peace when my eyes are on You, Lord.

Joy Lynn 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Always There

Just the other day, I had a vivid flashback to eighth grade.  I was sitting on a chair in the gym floor listening to Mr. Lott, the principal at the time speak.  I was probably one of like 50 students there, invited for an awards assembly of some sort.  As I sat there, I scanned the crowd and saw that though there was a small group of parents in attendance, my mom was sitting on the bottom bleacher.  I can’t remember what award I received that day, but I remember my proudest moment of that assembly.


I can’t remember if it was before the students received their awards or after, but Mr. Lott invited my mother to the podium and was commended by him, in front of everyone in attendance, for being one of the most dedicated supporters of her child’s education and educational programs at large.  Just that week, my mom and I had run into Mr. Lott at both the VMS choir and band concerts….and I didn’t participate in either.  I loved to go to those sort of things and I’m sure mom loved those things too, but I secretly think she also just really liked to go places with me….because I know without a doubt the reverse is the same.  So back to the memory…my proudest moment, was when my mother was being recognized for the amazing woman she was in public, by someone that had nothing to gain from his affirmation.


In short, the quality I will always always always remember about my mother was that she was there.  She was there at nearly all of my sporting events, open house, awards assemblies, concerts…you name it…if I was in it, she was at it.  But she also was a support of others and tried to make it to every event she could to show her support and care for those involved.  I don’t think there was much question of her loyalty or love to those blessed enough to call her family/friend.


So what I take away from this trip down memory lane, is that I want that legacy too.  I want my family, my friends, and my students to be able to say that I was there.  That I showed up, cheered on, and stayed around for the ride, whatever that looked like, through good and bad.  I may not be the most excitable person…may not always have the right words to say….but I was there to show I care.


She was always there…and though she’s no longer here, in my heart she’s always near.  I pray I turn out to be even a fraction of the godly woman that gave birth to me. 



Joy

Monday, October 20, 2014

Give Thanks In All (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Give thanks in all, but what does that mean?
Sit back and pretend everything is serene?
I take in the view; don’t like what I see,
Show me You’re in this, I humbly plea,
For the world has gone crazy and people are lazy,
The outlook for the future, is at best, hazy.
So show me Your glory, that You’re in on this story,
Though the devil’s at work now, he’ll soon be sorry. (Said like a Canadian to keep with the rhyme scheme)
So with hands to the plow, keep my eyes fixed now,
Though I can’t see the end to this, in surrender I bow;
Knowing that You hold tomorrow, worry's not something to borrow,
I can trust You with today, in both joy and in sorrow.
So I praise You in this storm like it’s the norm,

Because it’s through grace like rain that You transform.

Joy Lynn

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thought Jot: Discipleship

This morning, I was listening to a Ladies Retreat and the speakers stated that they believed the difference between mentorship and discipleship was one of time/season.  Mentoring could last a season or even a few seasons but discipleship was a life commitment to taking or coming under one’s wing for a lifetime.  I found that to be very interesting and I’m not sure I’d be so distinct on the verbage but it did make me think about both the mentors and the disciplers (by their definition) in my life. 


First off, I think the hardest part about this concept is I don’t think anyone can actually truly know, going into a relationship with a person, how long it will last.  Relations with people are pretty dynamic and unlike buying flowers from a store, I don’t think we can always know ahead of time which friends will be seasonal and which will be perennial (and in clarifying, seasonal friends can still be lifetime friends...just their major/consistent involvement may only last a season).  For me, I keep my close circle pretty tight (not a lot of people in there) but I’m an all-in friend once you are allowed in.  But me being all-in doesn’t mean they always choose to stay or that the friendship stays looking the same. 


So how does it all fit together?  I can make a lifelong commitment to someone and say, I want to walk you through life for life, but I very well may fail in that commitment and they very well may find a new “discipler”….and that’s ok.  I think at the end of my thoughts, I’ve come to realize, that in both my relating to those I would say have mentored and discipled me through the years as well as those that I hope I have a mentor/discipleship role in their lives, that my true lifetime commitment needs not to be to these people exclusively but to my God….. trusting that He is weaving both my story as well as theirs, and will bring me in and out of lives for a moment or a day or a year or a decade but in that, trusting He’ll use each of those moments of deep connection to deepen my/their relationship with Him and strengthen the bonds of love. 


I am thankful for the disciplers and mentors I have and have had over the years.  Thank you for consistently pointing me to God even when I am in my lowest and especially when you are in your lowest.  Thank you for stepping into these chapters of my life and seeing me through to the next one.  Thank you for your distinct piece of thread, that God in his marvelous handiwork, has used to continue on the tapestry He is creating of my life.  Thank you for what you have poured in and I pray I am equally poured out through His Spirit and work in my life.  And thank You, dear Heavenly Father, for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Discipler to whom I desire to follow each step of my life. 

In His Steps,

Joy Lynn


Saturday, October 4, 2014

lies vs. Truth

What I see in the mirror,
Is not who I want to be,
Sometimes I don’t understand,
Why anyone befriends me.
Every day is a battle,
And some days I lose,
I believe all the lies,
My heart is easy to confuse.
Because it takes in all the negativity,
And gives it weight in reality,
While pushing away positivity,
Often with fierce brutality.


But when I look at His face,
Seek to bask in His grace,
Let the walls crumble down,
And rest in His embrace…
That’s when I finally see,
That the mirror is a liar,
Need to throw it in the fryer
For Your ways are higher.
When You look me in the eye,
You don’t see my sin and cry,
But instead You see Your Son,
Whose blood has drawn me nigh.

So when I am tempted to feed,
On the self hate and lies,
Remind me that
It’s never about how hard someone tries…
I can’t be perfect,
I may not be adored,
But there is beauty in these ashes,
And a heart You seek to be restored.
For my only worth is found in You,
And by You I was designed,
So may I run to the Truth,

And may Your peace I find.

Joy Lynn

Friday, September 5, 2014

Be Still

“Be still, my child”
She whispered across the way.
“Be still, my dear,
I’m on my way.”

I held the door open,
Foot nervously tapping,
My mind is moving so fast,
And my lips constantly flapping.

In a hurried frenzy
I share the events of the day.
I speak so loud and fast,
I barely heard her say…

“Be still, my child,
Don’t be dismayed.
Be still, my dear,
For this I prayed…”

This broken road?
I don’t know where to go!
What’s that you say?
This is how I’ll grow?

Growing is for grass,
And this is my undoing!
Down on your knees all this time…
That is what you were doing?

But this wasn’t my dream,
This can’t be real,
Mom, don’t you understand
Just how I feel?

I’m lonely and broken,
The road is unforeseen,
I wanted to stay there forever,
Let nothing come in between.

But instead of me leaving you,
You had to leave me.
Because the nest wasn’t meant to be forever,
And I had to be set free.

But I still hear you in the whispers,
Helping me face the pain.
“Be still, my dear,

For nothing is in vain.”

-Joy Lynn

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Next Big Thing---I Have Arrived

In high school I was prescribed the to-do list of what was to be done in order to obtain the “ideal American dream.”  This list included graduating from high school, going to college, getting a job, getting married, having kids, raising kids, having grandkids, and retiring with a hefty security fund because you were smart in all your years to save along the way.

I had a list similar to this but my perspective changed in 2009.  I had up to this point, checked off the right steps in the right order.  I graduated near the top of my high school class, completed my Bachelors on a full scholarship, obtained my Teaching Certification in the state of Texas and had a job offer on my desk.  Yay for living out the “dream” but I wasn’t satisfied with the next prescribed steps.  That ideal American dream I referenced earlier was not what I desired anymore.  God really had a hold on my life and I could no longer just sit and go through the motions…I wanted to follow Him wherever He led me, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health. 



So I detoured….  Instead of taking a promising job, I spent a year in New Brunswick studying the Bible.  Now what?  Well, the call that God was giving me was Christian education.  I would get to keep the job I love, the ministry I adore, and not get the security that a public school system could provide.  It would be great because it would keep me trusting in God  (insert both sarcasm and truth).  I am now entering my fourth year of teaching at a growing Christian school in New England.  I get to wear many hats as I teach math, history, PE, help with team sports and advise our Student Leaders.  It’s a good time when I really take in the privilege I have.

Speaking of wearing many hats...School Spirit Days.


In all reality, I’m living my dream.  In my three years here, the one piece of the puzzle that was missing that I saw as my “next step” was getting an apartment of my own.  That piece was placed in February of this year.  I’ve lived in my apartment for over 5 months now and I love it.

But this summer I looked around…….  I have friends that are on the cusped of having their first child.  Others that are in the midst of their child raising years.  Others who are married but aren’t quite ready for kids yet, but it is a discussion of when is the time.  Others, younger still, who are dreaming of life beyond high school and college, searching for the right career. 

And then there is me.  I was recently asked where I saw myself in 5 to 10 years.  I’ve been wrestling with that thought for almost 2 months now.  Of all the things I envisioned I needed for “growing up” and “settling down”, I have them.  I have a good job and a nice apartment and neither of them seem like they will be quick to send me packing.  I HAVE ARRIVED!!!!

But that’s scary!  I’ve lived a life of so many twist and turns, so many unforeseen adventures, and now I’m just going to settle down and call this place home?  It’s funny how much my heart screams for a place to call home and then when I may have found it, it questions, “are you sure, Lord?......is this it?” 

And to be honest, I am not sure.  I think my game plan will be to give this moment everything I’ve got, holding nothing back but holding the steering wheel of my life with a loose grip still, so that if God wants to turn the corner sometime, I’m willing to go where He leads with an open heart.  This means, this school year, I pray I come back with a renewed heart for my students, for the ministry opportunities that abound and a heart of service for our God.  Give me Your heart and eyes Lord…renew my joy and strength as the school year begins.  I have some dreams of what would be cool to happen in the future but for now I’ll keep plugging away a day at a time and see what God has in store for today.

What’s next for you?

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Drama Queen

It has come to my attention that I can be a bit of a drama queen.  In my personalities arsenal is a cool, calm, and collected middle or an extreme low, “woe is me.”  There are rare extreme highs of happy hyper and little outward in-between modes.    Generally, the lows look like cool, calm and collected until a major (or minor) event occurs were I am at personal fault and suddenly life would be better without me.


Examples would be when I ordered curriculum without Adam’s permission and got called out on it which led me to almost submitting my resignation for the terrible thing I had done.  Going crazy when I accidently set a house alarm off on myself which caused the police to come and scope out the house.  Saying I quit counseling the many times I’ve failed as a summer staff (dress code, accidental “pranks”, devo-time accidents).  Just recently, I wanted to bury myself in a hole after setting a small grease fire in my kitchen.  None of these things amounted to permanent damage at all to physical structures or even to social damage with other people.  It all blew over rather quickly. 


But don’t try telling me that in the moment….even though I am so often trying to tell myself that in the moment.  It’s like hot and heavy emotions are competing with very sound logic and my emotions are winning and they are willing to make some very rash choices.  I so often try to hide from friends in this moment because it’s not pretty and I know in my head it’s not necessary, but unfortunately, I have indeed let friends in at this time….somehow they remain my friends when all is settled down (sometimes in just a few hours….sometimes days…). 


The funny part is, I don’t think I knew that was my tendency til recently when a friend called me out on it saying, “Joy, you’re so extreme.  Calm down…”  Then suddenly, I looked back and saw the dramatics….though I hope it’s not all for show.  In my heart, I HATE personally failing anyone, and when I do, I just lash out on myself and just bash and bash until I feel I have little to offer.  It’s like, I fail once and my whole career was a wreck, worthless, shambles and a lie. 


WHY IN THE WORLD DO I DO THIS????  Why is there no medium gear to my emotions?  And why am I so critical on myself that it sends me into a tizzy of potential great consequence?  But even more so, how do I stop it?  How do I gain some sense of sanity in this battle? 


I don’t have answers.  Only questions….and apologies.  I’m sorry for those who I have indeed let in to my inner circle and have been burnt by my flame outs.  I have found a root or at least a symptom of one…of a deeply rooted heart condition.  Any ideas on how to treat/cure it?  I’d appreciate anything you’ve got because I can’t just go all fire cracker on a whim…it’s not fair to those around me or close to me.  Thanks for any advice you’ve got and prayers.


Joy

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fairy Tales: I Found My Prince

I sit and wait, I wait for thee,
To sweep me off my feet and make me complete.
I guard my thoughts, I guard my heart,
I deprive temporary pleasures so I can give you my whole heart.

And in you come, sweeping me off my feet,
The moments I am not with you, I feel incomplete.
I can’t live without you, I humbly plea,
I dream of the day that your wife I would be.            

The ceremony is over, we both said “I do.”
Finally I got my wish, you’re stuck with me like glue.
We enjoy these precious moments as I rest in your arms,
As long as I am with you, life can do me no harm.

Time moves ever slowly, days turn into weeks,
I never imagined “becoming one” with you would make me feel so weak.
You know every part of me, even the secrets I long buried.
This vulnerability and transparency with one another has got us kind of wearied.

This isn’t what I pictured, the fairy tale of the heart,
I thought you’d be my everything and from me you’d never depart.
Am I asking too much from you, in being everything I need??
The hunger needs of my heart are more than you are able to feed.

Oh God, how long I’ve run from you, though You vowed to never let go.
Though I love and cherish my husband, it is You alone Who makes me whole.
You are my Source of everything, satisfaction, joy and love.
Now I can better love and appreciate my husband because it is only a picture of what I will enjoy with You in heaven above.


Obviously this is a work of fiction as I have no husband, but I do believe that the story line is very true/real.  I see so many girls, young women and even older women waiting for their “prince charming” to come and sweep them off their feet and be all they ever dreamed.  They soon realize that though it is said “two become one” in marriage, life is still incomplete.  We will never be able to find true and lasting joy, satisfaction, life and love from anything apart from Christ…..not your husband, your parents, your best friend, your mentors, your kids, your job, your money, your things…none will satisfy!  They will all fall short just as we fall short ourselves.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not against marriage, friendships or families…..I think they are a huge part of our hearts and lives…a great blessing from God, for certain.  But nothing is guaranteed to last, not material treasures, friendships nor human life itself….so we must come to God to fill our lives and make us complete.  As a good friend has asked me many times, if I lost everything in my life (my family, friends, car, etc.) would God be enough?  I need to find my contentment in Him now so if later I am blessed with a husband, I don’t put undue expectations on him but instead he can rest in knowing that God has my heart and we can both rest in that.  So instead of pursuing a fairy tale future, I will pursue contentment in Christ, and fall in love with the real Prince Charming, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn

Originally written 1-15-2012. Reposted because contentment is a struggle and if I don't remember to look to God to fill the void, I'll just be aimlessly dreaming and searching for something that can't satisfy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Never Walk Away--An original song...audio and lyrics




Click to play song (if you dare) as you scroll down through the lyrics:

This skin I’m covered in
Is such a frail reminder
As life’s waves come crashing in
I get tossed and turned aside.
But the bruises tell a story
Of a heart close to broken
Would the pain be enough for you to stay?
Or would you turn and walk away?

What if all you see in me,
Is only but the surface?
What if all I aim to be,
Is nothing but a sham?
There’s nothing left to see,
But a heart burned to ashes
Would the show be enough for you to stay?
Or would you turn and walk away?

I’ve never felt so low,
So torn apart now,
A lost sheep is me,
Where is my Shepherd?
I hear You call my name,
Rescued in my weakest,
Would Your grace be enough for You to stay?
Yes, You’ll never walk away.

Now I rest in Your arms,
Safe in my Refuge.
Joy flows through my heart,
You have made me complete,
So I yearn to know You more,
Seek Your goodness,
I pray my faith grows and never strays,
For You’ll never walk away.
No, You’ll never walk away.

Lyrics written and sung (awfully) by Joy Chambers

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Story, for God's Glory

I had the great privilege of growing up in a Christian home in the depths of deep south Texas.  Both my parents were very active in our church and I was plugged in to many of the activities going on there.  At seven, I went to a Vacation Bible School and the bible lesson was about how because of our sin, we are separated from God and can't go to heaven, but because of God's love, He sent Jesus to take the punishment of our sin because we couldn't pay it ourselves.  It was by Jesus' blood and only by His blood that we could have our sins forgiven. I can remember being convicted about the wrong I had done and being terrified of the fact that without Christ we would go to hell so in a terrified state, I talked with my aunt who was the Bible teacher that week about how to trust Christ as my Savior.


I guess I didn’t really struggle with assurance of my salvation, because I can remember the next day, I got in a fight with my next door neighbor and he threatened to go get his pocket knife and I said I wasn’t scared to die because I knew I was going to Heaven.  That being said, when he took off for his room, I took off over the fence to the safety of my own home until things cooled down some.  Don’t you worry though; me and my buddy across the fence were friends well beyond this occurrence. 


Through my elementary, middle and high school years, I would say I wore a variety of masks.  The situation I was in dictated how I was allowed to act.  At church I was the good little girl.  At home my sole goal was to make my parents proud.  At school, I wanted to be cool but not in a way that would get me in serious trouble….just cool enough to stay under most people’s radar.  I didn’t get in too much trouble publicly but God knows how much shame and sin was manifested in my life during those years.


At 16, my mom very suddenly passed away.  I was in shock but I wore the cool, calm and collected mask those days.  I tried to be strong and fight on even though inwardly, I was slipping into a death spiral.  My mother’s death left a huge void in my life and I tried many things to try to fill that hole but none were suffice.


At nearly 18 years old and in the last few months of my senior year, an opportunity was presented to me to attend a Spring Camp that my church had been doing for years.  Growing up, I knew about the camp but I was too much of a momma’s girl to go without her but now, almost 18 years old, I went.  My counselor was a 19 year old young woman from northern Maine.  She grew up with a Child Evangelism Fellowship® background and used her years of training to reach out to me even though I can imagine how closed and walled off I was at the time. 


Through the many people involved in that week of camp, God made me realize that back when I was seven, I may have received my ticket to Heaven, but I didn’t let the Holy Spirit that resided in me have any control or much impact in my own life.  All along, God was trying to fill that hole in my heart from within but I was looking elsewhere to things that can never fully satisfy.  It was then, that I’d say I made my faith my own and my real walk with Christ began.


After graduating from high school (2005), I attended a four year university in which I earned a Bachelor’s degree for Social Studies Composite and was certified to teach Social Studies in Texas (2009).  Meanwhile, during these four years, I became more active in my church and in student ministry groups on campus.  I also began working summers with CEF® of Maine in 2007. 


After college, God led me to spend a year at a Bible institute in New Brunswick, Canada.  It was in this year that God clarified the call He has on my life.  I knew I wanted to teach and I loved my year student teaching but as I reflected, the impact I was able to have on my student’s lives was very low.  Yay, they all passed their state standardized test with flying colors but what was that going to matter in 10 to 20 years?  Absolutely nothing.  They went through so much in their lives from depression to drugs to thoughts of suicide and because I was in a public/charter school setting, my hands were tied as to how much I could share.  I could pray certainly but I could not offer them true hope.  So after my year in Bible school, I was introduced to the idea of being able to teach at a private Christian school, where I could teach history but infuse it with His Story throughout the year, and pray openly, speak honestly and pour in to my students as God allowed.


It took a year of waiting and learning while God kept me in the valley to teach me, mold me, shape me and heal me of much of the past in order to prepare me to leave my home in Texas with minimal emotionally damaged strings attached.  By January of 2011, a guy I went to school with in Canada was contacting me on facebook about a Christian school he was working at in New Hampshire with his family and asked if I’d be interested in teaching there.


In a way only God could orchestrate, I moved to New Hampshire in May of 2011 where I have been wearing many academic/athletic/club hats.  I will be beginning my fourth year teaching here soon and I am looking forward to a new year.  The school has steadily grown in attendance since I arrived and God has blessed and worked in tremendous ways here.  Though to the world at large, what I do might not be called a missionary, for right now, this is my mission field and I love it.


To be honest though, I can’t give you a really clear picture of what I see for myself in 10, 5 or even next year.  I feel like life is in transition and I can’t explain all that means but I am trying to be ready to follow as He leads, wherever that may be.  What I would like to see in the time to come is that my walk and faith in Christ grows stronger, that my heart and eyes become more in tuned to His and that He continues to mold and shape my life into a vessel for His continued use. 


What’s your story?  Any questions about mine?

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy

Shout out to  Beka at Sunshine to the Square Inch as I was inspired to write this post after she shared her testimony on her blog. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

She's a Good Guy

This past week while serving at camp, a conversation topic that came up often enough was how someone would describe me.  It all started last Saturday night at dinner, when a group of us staffers were sitting at a table and one of the male staffers who I hadn’t ever really talked to said, “Joy, I know I don’t really know you but from all I’ve heard about you, I want to ask you a question to prove if my assumption about you is true.”  Well, that sounds like a set up but the question was simple….had I ever watched Monty Python, to which I had so therefore his assumption was correct in inferring that I had a sense of humor.  This dinner time conversation only got funnier as time went on but that’s another story for another day.

This whole conversation though, got me spiraled in a self absorbed mission to find out how people would describe me to another person.  It was a rather vain thing to do now that I look back at it but I don’t think I quite understood the pride behind my motives until another unforgettable conversation went down.

This time, I was standing in a field talking with a male staffers mother.  I won’t recap the whole conversation, but at one point when talking about her son she said “He’s a good guy” to which I sarcastically remarked, “You would say that.”  She then replied, “Well, if someone asked me, I’d say the same thing about you” to which I even more sarcastically remarked, “oh yeah?  I’m a good guy?” 

The whole conversation makes me smile every time I think about it but it also makes me think.  Looking back now at my many self-describing questions, I can see that I was seeking others approval, or, if you will, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

At the end of the day, I still don’t really know who I am.  If I was asked to describe myself, I’d say I’m pretty quiet and chill generally but can get really talkative, hyper and loud when I’m with the right (and generally small) crowd.  So who am I, at the heart….a quiet introvert or an extrovert in hiding?  I could give so many descriptions that would seem to summarize me but would also be highly contradictory to each other, so I guess I just need to go with the flow and let other people’s opinions of me go. 



I  need to find freedom from the bondage of being enslaved to other people’s views of me but I also need to embrace the freedom of who I am in Christ and claim His perspective of me.  Yes, I’m still broken and yes I still mess up, but in His eyes I am forgiven and set free.  By His blood, I have been redeemed, pardoned, loved, adopted, and made whole.  By His grace, I can walk through this life with the help of His Holy Spirit to live in such a way that I will have less regrets and more confidence to just be who He has created me to be.  I’m not always confident in all of who I am but hello there, this is me.


Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What About Bob?

This year at CYIA, I finally had a date for the banquet, which is basically a dress up dinner occasion just before the final service of the week.  My date’s name was Bob and before anyone gets all worked up about it, Bob was a ball of aluminum foil. 

He wasn’t always just a ball of foil though.  Last year Bob asked me to banquet but Bob was only a figment of my dear friend’s imagination.  This year, I told her that I’d only go with Bob if he came in shiny armor.  Well, Bob arrived on the scene Wednesday, as a soccer ball covered in aluminum foil with a marked on smile and official name tag.  He was really the talk of the dining hall for a while. 

But alas, that didn’t last long.  Before the heavenly feast, Bob was deflated back to just a crumbled up ball.  The ball's donor needed his soccer ball back so all I was left with was his armor.  After my date was deflated, I sat on the pavement for a long time and stared at this crumbled up shiny ball and I couldn't help but see me.



I have always wanted to be the good kid even though I knew when I could act like a bad one.  I was called teacher’s pet at school, goody two shoes at church and I did actually do my very best not to get in too much trouble at home and disappoint my parents.  I have always wanted to be the role model type…someone others can look up to.   And that said, it’s not exactly a bad thing to strive for, so don’t get me wrong.  I’m not one to try to take grace for granted (Romans 6:1).

But in order to be more of a role model, I began manufacturing works.  Now please know, there is no good in me and anything I have done right is solely by God’s power, strength, might and patience, but I really tried stealing the show.  Though good may have been produced, my motivation was sour and I was trying to do it on my own.

Rather than being a tree producing fruit because I’m rooted in the Source (John 15), I was instead attempting to hang up apple shaped ornaments on my tree screaming, “look at me!”  Like Bob, I looked shiny on the outside, but inside I was empty, full of hot air, and rather dull. 

Working with teens for a living, I wonder if this trend that has manifested in my life is something I force on them too:  that as long as you look good, say the right things, and know the right stuff, then everything is going to be ok...that you can “fake it til you make it” and all that matters is that others think highly of you.

But what if that leads to Bob’s fate…..that when it comes time for the final Banquet, all that is left is a heap of shiny works but no soul to be found?

Until next time,
In Christ,

Joy

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Joy’s Mid-Year Review

We are six months into 2014 and I always enjoy looking back….I think it’s a sweet trip down memory lane, a time to reflect on how thing have changed and a good reminder that hardly anything ever remains the same.  These last six months have been trying, but before I go pulling the “hardest time of my life” card, I need to reflect even further back and remember that I tend to suffer from short term memory, and forget all that was before and focus instead on “what good have you done for me lately?” type logic.  But for the purpose of this note, I will try to focus in solely on the last six months.

January- I was able to start off my year in Maine after spending Christmas vacation with a number of friends.  Maine really is a second home to me and I am thankful to live close enough to drive these days.  School resumed.

February- A complicated month.  I finally got keys to my very own and very first apartment which was exciting but it also meant leaving the house of a near and dear family that was walking through the journey of cancer.  She has surgery the day before I moved out.  I remember having so many vivid conversations with God questioning His timing….I finally got what I had been praying for so long but it meant leaving a family I loved at a hard time.

March- This month can almost be divided straight in half. 

The first half had many crazy busy but fun upsides.  My Student Leaders group was in charge of coordinating the Spirit Days at school and that went remarkably well.  This included a Staff/Parents vs. Student basketball game and a mess of school-wide games on Friday afternoon.  A highlight was on Friday, classes were challenged to come up with a cheer or song and the high schoolers came up with one dedicated to our school’s Director.  The students got a kick out of it but I know Adam, the director was equally blessed.

The second half started abruptly after this.  On Saturday morning, March 15, a tragic accident happened involving Adam and a tree branch occurred.  The rest of this month was spent praying for miracles and pulling together a community that had never been as united.

April-More praying and more uniting of the Christian and school community.  Towards the end of the month, Sidewalk Prophets came to town with City Harbor and About a Mile in a concert to benefit the school.   All three of the bands were aware of Adam’s accident and made mention of him personally and even did a sweet video and signed autographs for him.  God’s people brought together again.

May-A train wreck of a month with so much going on.  My last living grandparent passed away at the beginning of the month.  Mother’s Day is always a mixed bag of feeling blessed and feeling depressed.  My birthday was mixed in there but my birthday feels no longer like a big deal.  School was in wrap up and cover as much as you can mode.  Teacher and students are certainly on two different planes at this point…teachers are in a rush to cover as much as possible and push to the end….students are on a downward spiral of “are we done yet?”  Almost there…

June- School concluded with a splendid graduation ceremony celebrating our six graduate’s accomplishments.  I had some time to breathe before my last great adventure of this half year.
For the 6th time, I was able to join in on the ministry of CEF® and attend their Christian Youth in Action® training school.  This year was especially fun in the crew of old friends brought back together for these ten days.  It was fun to reconnect and serve alongside one another.  Unfortunately, while physically present there, I was blessed but very tired.  I was pretty moody, I’d say and I am sure those who were there would probably agree.  I loved being there but I was on the fringes of burn out so I am glad I was able to return home after and reflect.  As I look back on CYIA, I am actually stoked I was able to be a part of it and see all God did in those ten days in the lives of the teens, the staff, and the many people we were privileged to share with through the time be it during open air, literature distribution, or 4 Day Clubs. 

As an update, Adam is currently at a rehab hospital and making gains there, slowly but surely.  God has used this accident in such tremendous ways and I can only account on the things I have personally seen and heard…I can only imagine the greater impact that God is using this with that I don’t even know about. 

As a further side note, I started running/walking back in November after being challenged by a friend, and I have somewhat continued that journey this year, with June (over 40) being the most consistent month for sure.  But in the first six months, I have ran and/or walked over 78 miles….I realize I have friends that have ran over that in a 24 hour period, but for me, baby steps are still fun to celebrate. 

So in short-ish, those are my first six months.  It’ll be interesting to see what lies ahead in the year 2014.  What are the high/low lights of the last six months for you?

Until next time,
In Christ,

Joy