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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 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 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

Time to think
Free to hear
Not to speak

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