Choosing Joy

Choosing Joy

January 15, 2016

Selecting a word or theme for the year – that’s never been my thing. In the past I haven’t felt the urge or conviction to be tied to any one thing for 365 days.

Until now. Like a 2×4 over the head, I felt compelled to focus on one big idea as 2016 rolled around. And not just on any word or concept, it was clear that JOY was needed in my heart and mind.

2015 proved a difficult time for my family, and while I’d love to say that choosing joy means that this coming year is going to be all roses and smooth sailing, with happiness just shooting out of every area of my life, that’s not what joy is about. In fact, joy has nothing to do with what’s going on around me.

In my friend Elisa Morgan’s book Naked Fruit, she writes, “joy is something deep that celebrates God’s character despite the circumstances.” She goes on, “joy is the ability to hold up because we know we are being held up … a confidence in God no matter what happens.”

Joy relies on a God bigger than my circumstances.

And while I’d love to have a year of ease and happiness (boy, would I), that’s not what I am focusing on while I pursue joy.

In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah tells the people to stop grieving, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” While the Lord understands our grief and this passage should not be taken to mean never grieve (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). This is a great reminder that our grief should not keep us from the joy that comes from Christ and in that joy we find strength to face any circumstance.

Joy is an assurance in the Lord that sustains us through whatever life brings.

In other words, we are called to have joy in any circumstance and it’s through that joy that comes only from the Lord that we’ll find the strength to face the challenge.

Joy hasn’t been my natural response lately but in 2016 I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing to focus on the God of this universe who holds me close through the journey. Won’t you join me?

Do you choose a word or theme to focus each year on? If so, what are you focusing on in 2016?


Daring to Trust God in the Midst of Heartache

January 7, 2016

“If I just knew the end result, then I could trust, God.” I would pray in a whisper. And then laugh disparagingly at myself. Knowing requires little trust. Trust and faith happen in the face of uncertainty.

For 15 months my husband and I had tried for another baby. At first we assumed it would happen quickly. Even with our losses, we had never had any issues getting pregnant. Staying pregnant had always been the problem.

Now, it seemed, this would be hard too.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


Choosing to be brave in a scary world

December 6, 2015

“Careful, be careful,” I hear her tell her imaginary friend through the bedroom door. And I wince. Those words are exactly the opposite of the brave spirit I want to instill in her.

Before Reagan was born I determined I wanted to raise her to be brave and adventurous with a curiosity to see and learn without fear. I wanted to give her the opportunity to try things, to succeed and to fail. And within reason, the space to get hurt. Rather than telling her to be careful I would be more descriptive in helping her learn to be wise and observant to what’s around her, or so I planned. Now I find myself telling her to be careful regularly – when she jumps off the ottoman or carries her stool in to the kitchen. “Be careful, Reagan,” as she scales her changing table.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.



November 23, 2015

Friendships in my 20s were easy. We were mostly single and, although money may have been tight, we had the time and creativity to turn the most mundane activity into a party (like grocery shopping at 11pm!). It didn’t hurt that I lived with a plethora of awesome girls during those years. I always had a buddy at home to blab to about boys and work, or to get fashion and style advice from.

Fast forward a decade, and life looks a little different. For starters, my housemate still hasn’t mastered the fine art of answering, “Does this make me look fat?” Poor guy.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


Recount the Good

November 14, 2015

I thought I could get a few minutes. We’d played out in the snow for nearly an hour and watched her favorite cartoons. Surely, she could play quietly for a half hour while I blogged. That’s when I noticed her using my glass of iced tea as her cowgirl-rubber-ducky’s swimming pool. Ahhhhh kids!

As I poured myself another glass of tea and snagged a piece of dark chocolate from the kitchen cupboard (because clearly I deserve it, right!?!), I began to recount the blessings of motherhood.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


Say What?

November 9, 2015

“I haven’t seen your order. I just got back from lunch,” the receptionist told me shortly without looking up from her desk yesterday.

While I waited she looked through the files on her computer then picked up the phone to call upstairs. I waited a few more minutes.

“A nurse has to place the order, so you’ll need to wait,” she told me not unkindly but also without much regard.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


Trusting God in the Waiting Room

November 2, 2015

You know the scene: the uncomfortable chairs, room full of strangers, a squirmy toddler or two, waiting.

Waiting for your name to be called, for things to get started. Maybe it’s just an annual exam or the exciting first ultrasound of your pregnancy, maybe it’s a worrisome mole or a follow-up with a potentially life-altering diagnosis, or maybe it’s an emergency. You’ve probably experienced more than one of these scenarios in your lifetime. I know I have.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


That Time I Was a People Pleaser

October 26, 2015

As a single 20-something, I loved being aunt “Rayree.” I relished every moment with family and especially times with my first nephew and niece, showering them with love and affection, and going out of my way to be present during holidays and special occasions. I don’t mean to brag, but I was a rockin’ aunt.

Then I met my husband and had a baby, and began my transformation to less-rockin’-aunt.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


On Magical Fairies, Kitty Cats and Alligators

October 20, 2015

For the last two years I have singularly chosen what my precious babe would be for Halloween: a ladybug and a little chicken respectively.

The costumes were purchased weeks in advance. Who am I kidding? I bought her first Halloween costume the December before while I was still pregnant (I got a good deal!).

Fast forward to this year. Reagan is two and starting to have her own opinions, so in late September I began asking her just what she might like to be for Halloween. We scoured an entire rack of 2T costumes at a consignment sale.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


When Church is the Answer

October 10, 2015

I walked into the new-to-me church feeling a little hesitant. It’s not that I have an issue with church per say, but it’s always a little uncomfortable walking into one where you don’t know anyone (yet).

But this church had something very special going for it. Something that had me falling madly in love with it before even stepping a foot inside the door. You’ll understand why soon.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.