Have you ever come across those people who are smack in the middle of a messy part of life but haven’t lost their sincere from-the-heart smile? In fact, their smile may be a bit whiter and brighter. The predicament may be health issues, finances, a straying child, a job that is now disappointing…I’ve encountered these people and they amaze me. At one point, I was one of them. Literally, people nicknamed me Joyful Julie. It was legit. I was living and breathing joy, not happiness, not peace, but joy the ability to find pleasure, contentment and reason to celebrate the small stuff.
Peacequlity began during one of the most tangled times in my life. Life was a quill. Every which way I leaned, the world pricked and stung and for years no part of my life was untouched. But there was a God sized override that was phenomenal: Joy.
Economically the world economy had just shattered and an overall palpable darkness was everywhere.
Financially we were strapped. I have never felt more helpless because it didn’t make sense for me to work after the expense of paying for childcare.
Geographically we relocated two states away and lived with my parents while we built a business. Add the stress of building a business with your spouse!
Emotionally we were threadbare. The stress a new baby and toddler with the above took its toll on our marriage. Like the economy, it’s still a slow recovery.
Physically I was sick. It seemed I was always going to an appointment or test resulting in surgery to remove a mass.
Life was scary, no terrifying and stressful. Giving a black and white face to these instances is arduous, it feels like yesterday. But during all this, I learned the most valuable lesson of life: Peace and joy are abundant and accessible during the best and worst of times.
Spiritually God coddled me. The Psalms about God being near the brokenhearted; the promises of peace and deep joy came to life. A full circle of joy surrounded my heart, like a layer of protection.
Don’t mistake this for contrived happiness or fake laughs. Don’t think for a moment that this joy left me free of fear, anxiety or a constant desire to attempt to control things, because it didn’t. I battled those demons as I realize I always will.
But this joy was everywhere because my Savior is everywhere. Going through medical testing is always an experience, but I watched God open doors, clear schedules for appointments and give obvious insight and wisdom to physicians.
When we should have declared bankruptcy, I watched our depleted bank account sustain us. Month after month I watched God provide exactly what we needed to be financially faithful. It was my personal five loaves and two fish miracle.
When miracles small and large surround me, I find it impossible to not celebrate, to not smile, to not be in awe of my Creator’s immense love and care of me. And the more I look, the more I find, like when you buy a new car and afterwards notice them everywhere.
But I got snuffed out. Can you believe it? Yes, you just read my sincere words and yet, it’s just as easy to not look, to find ourselves too busy to say “amen” or too distracted to notice. And that’s where I’ve landed. I feel like a lottery winner who blew through the winnings and is now in debt; like the person that lost the extra pounds only to put them back on.
Beautifully, wonderfully, God is patient, loving and kind. His character always lures me back and I want to share this ride with you.
During the rest of this year, come, join us in reigniting and cultivating joy! Wednesdays are officially dedicated to discovering, embracing and clinging to the full joy God has for everyone. I’m wildly excited to have the voices of real life friends, blogging friends, writing friends and my incredible Redbud sisters joining me as special guest writers. The line-up is better than the first sip of your morning cup of coffee and I’m indebted for their help in reigniting and cultivating true joy.
Together, let’s find the treasures large and small that God has for you and me. Comment on peacequility’s facebook page anytime and tweet #joy360 all the time!