I never like to come off forceful when it comes to my beliefs...i hate to make others feel uncomfortable...i like others to feel accepted when they are around me even if our points of views or beliefs are different. With that said, i ask that you would be accepting of me despite if our views don't exactly line up.
I am finding that Joy is a choice. And that joy...true and lasting joy...can only be found in Jesus. I have tried other things to fill that void where His joy and peace should be. I have tried looking within myself to muster my "own power" to bring forth lasting joy.
With trials, tragedies, diseases, hurt, pain, and stress...where do you find your joy? How can you be joyful, thankful when you face so much hardship? It's not easy, let me tell you...but it is so possible.
The past few weeks have been hard for me and my family. Things that we have gone through lately maybe very minor to what some of you maybe facing today...i am not belittling what you are going through...my heart is with you.
Ryan and i decided to participate in our church's yearly fast. Every January, people participate in a fast - to start the year off right. It's a great way to get healthy...especially coming off of the holidays. haha! To get healthy not only physically but spiritually as well. To draw closer to God. To give up something that may be taking away time with Him. Or something that may be filling a void that should be given to Him.
It's so funny how people go into fasts all happy and excited...and you should be, but i have learned over the years that when you take that big step to give up yourself to get closer to the Lord...there is ALWAYS something to make sure you won't.
I don't want to sound super spiritual, but there is an enemy of our souls who wants nothing more than to keep us from the Lord. He will use confusion, hurt, and even other people to keep you from seeing the things that God has and wants for you. It kills me when i see people i love dearly who have been hurt by other people...Christian people for that matter...and because of their somewhat stinginess in religion instead of LOVE...has resulted in those people turning completely from the Lord.
Those people...on both sides...have a choice of what to do. That is why we need to be careful, as soon as we let in bitterness and hate...that is when the enemy of our souls comes in to do his marvelously destructive work.
You ask what is the enemy of our soul? And yes, i am meaning the devil, satan. You may laugh because the picture that has been painted of him is almost like a comical cartoon character. But he is far from it. While God has a plan for us, satan also has one for us as well....to keep us from fully experiencing and knowing just how much God loves us.
While we don't need to be afraid of him, we need to be aware that satan is real and he does want to keep us from the good things that God has for us.
You may ask how do i know God, satan, and all of this is real? well..haha...there are a lot...i will try to choose some instances that have occurred in my life to show all of their true existences. Some are happy and encouraging...others are scary.
When i was little, maybe around 7. My parents sat me and my 3 brothers on their bed to tell us about the Lord. They told us about heaven, God, and angels. To me...it freaked me out! I remember i asked my mom on my way to bed, "So...we can see angels?" She said with a smile "Yes." I just gave an awkward smile then slowly went to bed. I was so scared that night to fall asleep. I thought an angel would just pop out of no where and scare me...from behind the door or under the bed...anywhere. haha. Apparently my older brother Marcus was scared too. Our 2 bedrooms were downstairs - parent's room was upstairs. It felt like miles and miles away. haha. In between mine and my brother's rooms was a bathroom that connected with our rooms. We rigged up a little scare signal. We got all of our jump ropes together - tied them together to make one long rope that reached my bed and to his bed. (it went thru the bathroom haha!) On each end we tied a bell or something that would make noise if the rope was tugged on. So if i pulled on it, the bell at his bed would ring and he would know i was scared and he would come get in bed with me...and vice versa. That all was great...except my brother was a deep sleeper. haha. I rang that thing for about 5 minutes...nothing. I was so scared to move out of bed...afraid the angels would get me. I remembered that my parents had told us that night that we did not have to be afraid...that we could pray to Jesus and he would be there. With my eyes glued shut and my covers up to my nose, i prayed. I slowly opened my eyes and right by my bed a was this huge golden outline of an angel. I wasn't scared. Next thing i knew i was asleep.
Growing up, i also saw, felt and heard things that were not so heavenly....to put it simply. I can remember them clearly. I don't want to go into great detail on those...i try to block them out. But they were real, scary, and proved that there is something out there that wants to harm us.
I was with my grandpa when he died back in 2007. He was in a coma for a few days. Me, my two gal cousins, my mom and aunt stayed by his side. We slept on the floor in his hospital room. His breathing was so violent and raspy...a few times i would take my ipod and put my headphones on his ears and let him listen to music. Did you know that he could hear the music - his breathing slowed down...more peacefully. One of his favorite songs was Judy Garland "somewhere over the rainbow." I played that one along with other worship songs. We couldn't understand why he kept hanging on...until one morning, his paster came. Before even his pastor came into the room, my Daddy Rhyne's breathing got more violent and short. As soon as the pastor came in and over to him it got worse....almost like he could see him - but he was in a coma...eyes shut. He prayed over him and my Daddy Rhyne let go. Witnessing that made me realize there is so much more than this life. This life is only the beginning. I can't wait to run into my grandpa's arms again and be able to sing "somewhere over the rainbow" with him again. After being with him and witnessing him leaving this Earth...you cannot tell me that this is it. There is something greater than death. Someone who has beaten death. Jesus.
As you already know i have 2 boys. The whole process of being pregnant and giving birth is nothing short of miraculous...heavenly. And painful. haha! I have witnessed people leaving this earth and my boys coming into this world.
My husband serves as a great reminder to me of how real God is. When i was 14, i heard God tell me that He wanted me to marry Ryan. I hardly knew Ryan at the time and he was leaving for the marines. I waited 7 years for him. Through distances, heart ache, engagements, emails, and odd occurrences...i married the man i have loved all my life. It wasn't the timing i would have chosen...it was difficult to wait and to see him love others and not me...but because of God's faithfulness...he is mine now. :) (that's a shorter version of our story - i would be happy to tell you our love story sometime...it's my favorite one to tell)
We cannot be so blind to see that there is more to life than what is visible to the eye!
Now, i am going back to the past few weeks. The past few weeks, the whole duration of the fast we were all sick - Adam and James had a throat and stomach virus and pink eye. Try giving eye drops to an 8 month old 3 times a day...not fun! haha. Then Ryan and i got sick. A broken garage door, a dead car battery, a flat tire, 3 trips to the pediatrician, skin cancer scare, a reduced pay check, and a family tragedy....we were just so ready to throw in the towel.
I was so thankful that it was not any worse...and as i read all of that stuff it seems so minor. But this stuff literally happened everyday day after day. Just when we got on our feet something else hit. I just wanted to throw up my arms and scream "what else?!" I was getting depressed. Yes lack of sleep and sickness can make your head foggy, but there was so much more to it than that.
My attitude stunk...and my boys were a pure reflection of it. haha.
Yesterday, i finally had a few minutes to myself and decided to read the Bible...i did not want to...i had put it off all week. I came across Psalm 18.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect?
33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places.
That verse is so encouraging. That after we face trouble or hard times, we will be able to stand securely. Please read all of chapter 18! The first part of the chapter talks about God coming to our rescue when He hears our cries. Just like if someone would do harm to my boys, as their parent i would do so much harm to person. That is how God is with us to our enemy. When satan tries to throw us off and hurt us, God comes in and rescues us. Not only that, He gives us strength to fight against our enemy ourselves. There is so much power in Jesus' name and in God's word. Just think, It was with God's word the earth and everything else came into existence.
Through God's grace, He gives us joy. And through that joy we find strength. Strength to face financial troubles. Strength to face sickness and disease. Strength to face family tragedies. You have a daily choice of how you are going to view the things that come into your life. Trouble, hardship, stress, and pain are always going to come. Always. Like i said before, the devil is not hesitant to throw us off. Choose to have joy even among the hard times. Find humor through the struggle. Choose to learn something from tragedies. I have learned so much from all of the struggles we have faced lately. Choose to allow the hard times the devil throws at you to make you stronger. You can defeat and battle the devil just by having a right attitude.
I am able to find joy even though my circumstances have not changed. I am learning to laugh when things don't go the way i planned.
My prayer for you is that you are able to realize and know that there is an enemy who wants to keep you from seeing the truth. And most of all, to know there is a God who loves you so much! And know that His love is so real and so much stronger than death. His love for you is so much stronger and bigger than the struggles, pain, and hurt that come your way. And....it is lasting!!!!
I want you so badly to grasp this....not so i can prove you wrong or for me to feel good about myself. Just so you can have victory over this hard life. And most of all, i want to see you in heaven alongside with my grandpa and millions of others.
Thank you so much for reading..