I first met this sweet lady as a client 8 years ago. I had a photography business and they wanted some family pictures taken. I’m so thankful that she turned into more than just a “client”. I’ve watched this lady through those years remain faithful. I’ve watched as her 6 month old baby had to have surgery on his skull. I’ve watched her give up everything and follow her husband to the mission field. I’ve watched God work in BIG ways in the ministry they have there. And through it all, I’ve watched her faith in God remain strong. This family has been such a blessing to me and I’ve been privileged to continue taking their pictures through various life changes and stages. But it is even more of a privilege to be their friend. Thank you for all the laughs, for your prayers for ME, and for being willing to go wherever the Lord tells you. I’m so grateful that you allowed me to share your story here.
(Melissa blogs here about her son’s journey here: https://juddybuddysjourney.blogspot.com/)
When Mrs. Faith asked me to write a post on her blog, I was very honored to do so! I am not a writer by any means, and I struggled to find the right thought! But, with the Lord’s help, I want to share something that I pray will be a blessing and help to you!
We have heard it said that happiness is based on our “happenings”, but Joy is independent of our circumstances. Anyone can be happy when they get a new job, get a raise at work, go on a family vacation, buy a new car, etc. But it is only the Lord that can give us true joy in the harder times. When we get fired from our job, when we don’t have money to pay our bills, when our kids are sick, when our “happenings” aren’t ideal….THAT is when the joy of the Lord comes in! When you watch Christian families endure trial after trial, when you see them suffer incredible loss or heartache….but yet they can still praise the Lord, knowing His ways are higher than ours….THAT is the Joy that can only come from the Lord!
So, if we as Christians have this JOY available to us…through the Lord…why do we become so down and out? Why do we have a hard time dealing with the trials ahead of us? Why do we get bitter or angry or disappointed when storms come to our life? Why are there times that we just can’t find that “happiness” or joy we need?
Well….sometimes we just have to CHOOSE Joy.
As I was thinking back over the past few years of my life, over the hard times, over the good times…..I began to think about those times I just had to choose Joy. Times that I didn’t just wake up with a smile on my face. I woke up to trouble, I woke up to pain, I woke up to fear. These are the times that I had a choice, and you have a choice. We can choose to continue in our emotions of fear, anxiety, and disappointment; or we can choose Joy. It’s up to us.
Many of you, that know our family, have seen us walk through an amazing journey the last few years. So you may be thinking, I’m sure she really had to choose Joy a lot. I’m sure she had to CHOOSE Joy when she stepped away from her dream career, everything she had worked for since she was a kid. But, not really. The Lord just gave Joy when he replaced a career with a family. Okay…well I’m sure she had to CHOOSE Joy when the Lord called their family to the mission field, asked them to sell their dream house, and live out of their van and prophets chambers for the next two years. Or when her family went from a two income household (with 1 child), to a zero income household (with 2 children, quickly becoming 4 children with the birth of our twins!!). But honestly, nope. I didn’t have to choose Joy during those times. The Lord just provided. This was actually a very joyful time in our lives! Everything was so exciting! Okay okay okay, you say…..I know when you had to CHOOSE joy Melissa. It was when your twins were born, and one was diagnosed with a skull abnormality that would require a complete reconstruction of his skull. Nope again. The Lord provided. Then was it when you got on a plane, moved to another country, and left your parents and friends and other family members behind? Once again, Nope. Don’t get me wrong, all of these situations came with their struggles….lots of them. I had lots of different emotions during these times…..but I cannot explain it, the Lord just gave such sweet peace and Joy to our hearts! So you may be asking yourself, if you had joy during all those times, why are you writing about CHOOSING joy? Well, because my time for choice came after all those things.
Here we are, literally living our dream. We are in the country the Lord called us to, serving Him, trying to teach the Guatemalan people, I get to be a stay at home mom, I get to homeschool, I get to be a wife and a mom to 4 amazing kiddos, I’m doing everything I have ever dreamed of. So, where is the Joy? Why did I feel myself slipping farther and farther away from Joy? I don’t have an answer to the why, but after quite a few months the Lord has shown me the solution.
There are super hard times that come, there are semi hard times that come, and then there are just normal everyday times that come. But at some point we have probably all felt ourselves slipping farther and farther away from Joy. Things begin to get darker, our outlook becomes more gloomy, our attitude takes a turn for the worse, and we even shut people out of our life. But it’s in these times I’ve realized we have to CHOOSE JOY! Yes, it’s a decision. When we got saved the Lord gave us so much, and one of those things was Joy. However, we have to make a conscious decision during these difficult times, to utilize that Joy everyday. Remember we already said, Joy is something we can have in spite of our surroundings and circumstances. The Bible says in John 15:11- These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
He gave us His Joy and He wants it to not only remain in us (choose to embrace it everyday), but He wants our Joy to be FULL!!! A few definitions I found for the word full include words such as: saturated, not partial, strong, entire, ample, and abundant!! He doesn’t desire for us to just live with a little joy, He wants our life to be saturated in joy….joy that is entire, ample, strong, and abundant!!!
Of course none of us wake up just beaming with Joy everyday. We would be kidding ourselves to think this! Knowing what the day may hold, knowing the things in front of us, knowing there will also be uncertainties in our days, we must wake up each morning and PURPOSE in our heart to CHOOSE Joy each day! We aren’t choosing happiness…that’s based on what happens during the day, (if the kids behave, if we get a decent dinner on the table, etc) we are choosing to meditate on God’s word, be in a spirit of prayer and thankfulness, and constantly have on our minds on where we were, what our destination WAS…and what it is now! THAT is Joy, that will make a difference during our hard times. Psalm 16:11 says …..in thy presence is fulness of joy; at the right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
That unlocks the secret! We have to choose to stay in His presence! Whether you are going through what looks like a major trial or simply just find your everyday responsibilities stealing your joy….choose to stay in His presence! And when we choose to take one day, one hour, one minute at a time, choosing to stay in HIS presence …..we then are choosing JOY! Joy that the world and everything it throws at you, cannot take away!
Melissa and her husband Josh have been married for 6 years and have 4 children (Madelyn-5, Marlee-3, Jackson and Judson-1.5). Melissa graduated with her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy; however the Lord had other plans, and called her family to the mission field of Guatemala! Their family’s desire is to see the Guatemalan people come to know the Lord and become witnesses to their own people.