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because this is TRUE :-) AMEN!! this just might be my new theme song, although i never really had one before…ha!

Water You turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like you
None like You

Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There is no one like You
None like You

Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer
Awesome in power
Our God, Our God

and if our God is for us
then who could ever stop us
and if our God is with us
then what could stand against

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John 15 1-11 (NASB)

1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

 5I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

 6“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

 9Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

 11These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Choosing JOY this Monday because God’s Word is alive and TRUE. I sense the Lord pressing in me to simply abide in Him; to cease striving; to cease what I think is right in His eyes and to just BE. To just be in His presence, in His will; to remain in Him. There are so many things I can get caught up in―my service, the amount of time I spend studying my Bible, wondering if I’m grasping what God wants me to grasp, striving to hear from Him. And those things aren’t bad per say. But for now, for this very day, for this very week, I sense Him saying, just abide in me. Ask nothing, seek nothing. Just abide in Me, the One who created you, the One who loves you beyond reason, the One who will see My glory in you because I created you for that.

Finding JOY and receiving JOY today because His Word is alive and TRUE and He LOVES ME :-)

today i choose JOY because at the end of the week i’m going to be with my girls that i’ve been friends with since elementary school. erin (second from right) is getting married and we all are standing in her wedding. the photo below was taken at laura’s bridal shower two years ago. no matter the distance, we seem to stick together. we have to try to set-up phone dates to keep in touch, and when we’re traveling near each other we’re quick to make sure we see one another, even if it’s just a 24 hour business trip. i love these ladies. and i know the Lord has kept us all in touch over these years for a purpose.

can’t wait to see them! love you girls :-)

choosing JOY for another evening of convicting beth moore Bible study. breaking free. amen. too late to write more tonight, but wanted to be sure to post.

 the clouds finally broke. thank you for the sun Lord!

(from my drive into work today)

I have become the sporadic inconsistent blogger I preach against on the job… uh-oh! All that aside, this is my choosing JOY Monday post. Today I choose joy because of what I’m learning in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study that I’m doing with my very good friend Cicely (before she leaves to be a missionary in Guatemala-ha!).

As a child of God, I can count on these five benefits:

1. to know God and believe Him

2. to glorify God

3. to find satisfaction in God

4. to experience God’s peace

5. to enjoy God’s presence

I am so grateful to be called His daughter.

i don’t have much time to blog this morning… seems to be the story of my life when it comes to this blog these days :-( but, i had to post a little something for choosing JOY monday.

today i choose JOY because when we seek God, He answers and sometimes He repeats Himself so we don’t forget what He’s told us before. in august 2007 the Lord spoke to me loud and clear through the verse:

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)

well, this morning i came before Him in my quiet time and asked Him to speak to me. i’m facing some major decisions right now and i want nothing less than the Lord’s will in all areas. and wouldn’t you know, i have felt aimless in my walk through the Word these days yet in God’s providence i picked up my one year Bible and the old testament reading was judges 6:1-40. gideon has got to be one of my most favorite characters in the Bible and i think it’s because i can relate to Him. remember my post a few weeks ago when i quoted one of the bloggers i follow:

“I want to be faithful like David, but I’m a sign-seeking Gideon. I want signs for signs. What I really need is faith. More faith.”

i get it Lord. i will fight for what you have promised and i will not forget :-)

choosing JOY on this monday because the Creator of the universe, the Alpha and the Omega speaks. and speaks to me.

Wow, I’m actually following through with this post today. Must say, I’m kinda proud of myself. It has been quite a busy few weeks and it hasn’t stopped, but I find it therapeutic to blog. I choose joy today because of this:

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I’m studying James as my final assignment for this Spring semester and this verse is perfect for where I find myself. According to one of the commentaries I’m reading, “The Hebrew word behind the Greek word ‘trials’ is nasah, which means to prove the quality or worth of someone or something through adversity.”

adversity. faith. perseverance. mature. complete. that’s my desire.

yep, this week was sooo crazy i forgot to post about choosing JOY on monday, so i’m choosing JOY on friday this week :-)

frankly, i’m trusting the Lord wanted it this way as today is good friday and it makes sense to me that on good friday, as a follower of jesus, i would choose JOY.

i’ve heard this many times before, but feel it’s most appropriate to quote today:

“you cannot have a resurrection until you have a death. there is no empty tomb unless there is first a figure on a cross.”

thank you God for the ultimate sacrifice you paid on this day 2,000 years ago that we might have life everlasting.

i still can’t get my head and heart totally around the fact that the perfect God of all the universe would send His Son for me. but none-the-less, i am eternally grateful. i choose JOY today because my Savior died for me on this day.

from flickr.com

It’s the first Choosing JOY Monday :-) I wanted this to be some kind of really profound post, but I think that was more self-serving than God-glorifying. So, today I choose JOY on Monday because my God is HUGE and FAITHFUL.

My world is being flipped upside down in many areas right now and this past weekend I was a bit of an emotional train wreck. But when I stepped back and took a better look at the past few days, I saw God—actually, I HEARD Him.

From my girlfriends preaching at me re: condemnation vs. conviction (you will not win father of lies!);

to my quiet times with Him this weekend (I’m convinced He sent the snowfall on the first day of Spring so I would spend time with Him and not go for a run);

to the sermon from yesterday’s service about a Choosing Faith;

to the Believing God When Victory Demands Your All sermon by Beth Moore;

to the friends praying over me;

to my steadfast boyfriend not caving in to his sometimes hysterical girlfriend (the girlfriend who refers to herself in the third person, she might be crazy!);

 HE is EVERYWHERE. And THAT is why I choose JOY.

Beth Moore brought up how sometimes we feel like “really God, do we need to tackle all this now? All at once? Couldn’t we just do one at a time?” His response: “I just thought we’d kill them all with one stone!”

I choose JOY because He is faithful, He is in control, He is sovereign, and He will never leave me.

Two scriptures that really encouraged me this weekend and will hopefully encourage anyone who reads this:

John 15:7-8

7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

1 Corinthians 1:25

25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

On the final day of choosing joy I choose it because I finished a book! Yes, I know it may seem like a silly reason to find joy but I can’t help it. I have this horrible habit of starting and not finishing books. I have MANY books with sad little folded pages sitting around my desk, on my night stand, even on my book shelf just waiting to be opened again and finished. I’m trying to convince myself not to buy another book before I finish them all but I’m pretty sure that is just flat out unrealistic.

So, I finished Love Beyond Reason by John Ortberg while I was away on vacation. I definitely recommend it as it’s a pretty easy read, humorous and hard-hitting all at once. I really appreciated his candid writing and fearless nature of calling us readers out. I’m not a book critic so I’m not going to offer up much more, but it’s a good read. It has given me quite a bit to reflect on.

I’ve decided to end the formal choosing joy series but it made such a profound impact on my life that I’m going to implement it as a weekly thing now. Every Friday, scratch that, it’s fairly easy to choose joy on Fridays. Let’s say Monday. More often than not it’s hard to choose joy on Mondays. So moving forward every Monday on the blog will be choosing joy Monday. Sweet! This will be fun :-)

I was on Facebook this morning and saw that a friend was visiting Colorado Springs and got to hit-up the Garden of the Gods. If you’ve never been there you need to go, it’s beautiful. Check it out:

Photo courtesy of peterwoz

I clicked through this friend’s page and stumbled on a blog and the bloggers profile picture was of a beautiful mountain scene in Colorado. I never tire of pictures like this. I could look at mountain scenes over and over again. My number one choice for a vacation is anywhere there are mountains. To say my heart longs for them is pretty much an understatement. And living in the flatlands of the Midwest doesn’t help this heart…

I’ve asked the Lord in prayers every once in awhile, sometimes randomly out loud if I know no one is in ear shot, and often in my thoughts like now as I type this—will I ever have the privilege of living in the mountains? Could You possibly have a ministry for me to serve in in such a setting?

I wonder, is it the mountains I crave or the adventure that I associate with them? Either way I love them and see God in His majesty in them every time I see them. Perhaps if I lived in the mountains I’d get used to seeing Him, but somehow I just don’t think that’s possible. His majesty is just too intense. Whether covered in snow, or full of foliage, to me they are one of the most incredible things God created. And I have a peace when I am there, in His presence in His creation with His majestic nature gently yet loudly whispering from these incredible masses of land.

Today I choose joy because I know He’ll do something with this mountainous desire, either quench it and refocus me or grow it and lead me there one day. Either way, I choose joy because He created them and I get to enjoy them, even if only through pictures.

my photo :-) whislter, BC

Psalm 36:5-7

5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.

6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

I’ve been wrestling with something lately, that I genuinely didn’t think I would wrestle with much. Of course I was wrong, shocking every time, yet I’m wrong often, go figure! Anyway, enjoying this beautiful vacation with my family I’m wrestling with being comfortable. And I say wrestling because I don’t ever want to be comfortable with comfortable. I want to always see a season, a place, a vacation, a moment in time where things seem “easy” as a blessing. I don’t want comfortable to ever squash my need for my Savior.

Comfort in this life doesn’t mean comfort in eternity. And I’d rather find myself “comfortable” in eternity than missing the boat this side of heaven and landing very far from “comfortable.” I’m not questioning my salvation by any means, but is my comfort worth more than being used by God for His purposes on this earth? Is my comfort worth more than His purposes for someone else and I to cross paths resulting in a discussion that could save a life? I don’t think so, and I don’t want to ever be in a place where I do think so. Lord, help me to never choose comfort over You.

I read this in Love Beyond Reason by John Ortberg today:

For the miracle of God’s love for ragged people is that in a whole universe that obeyed His will, in a cosmos of beauty and order, His concern should extend to one crooked little planet in one insignificant corner of one small galaxy in the whole of His work. It would be easier for him just to erase it. One rebel planet seems too small to be worth his time to run after, seems like a trivial pursuit.

The miracle of god’s love is that He should become a human being and work as a carpenter and grow hungry and tired and weak and should teach even cry for you and me. For in the end, the story of God’s love for this world is the story of a pursuit that is trivial no longer. Not after God became man. Not after the cross.

Today I choose joy for that reason.

pretty sure my nephew has learned what it means to vacation at a young age :-)

maybe someone makes these things for adults?

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been diving into Beth Moore’s Believing God study for the past few weeks. I did it two years ago and it changed my faith. I had completely forgot about parts of this study, specifically the section I’m in right now—seeing that God has been there all along, even when I wasn’t walking with Him. And I know, well I knew before, but today it was confirmed again that the Lord really wanted me to be in this study at this present time.

While doing my quiet time this morning the Lord reminded me of something so profound in my life. Beth wrote, “God has been there all along—even before we acknowledged Him as Savior.” And it was when I read those words that I was reminded of the fact that before I truly recognized Jesus as my Savior, He moved me to Chicago. He put this unquenchable desire to move to the windy city in this heart, such an insane desire that I packed up my four door sedan at the time and drove across the country for a three month internship with no certainty what would happen after that. I had no idea He brought me to a city I barely knew to find Him.

Today I choose joy because even when I didn’t acknowledge Him, even when I chose things that grieved His heart for me, He still had His tender hand on my heart and brought me to Him. It was in Chicago I found my faith, my Savior, my Lord. It was in Chicago He showed me that church can be a fellowship of broken people that love on one another, support one another and desire the best for one another. It was in Chicago where He showed me that He is my Father, Husband, Provider, my all-in-all.

this is where i was blessed to meet with my God today.

Acts 17:26-27 – From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

today I’m choosing joy because of God’s unmerited blessing that has allowed me to spend a week in beautiful mexico. today my niece wore the bathing suit I bought her at christmas :-) so stinkin’ cute!

the view from the living room.

the cutest baby girl in the world wearing a very fashionable bathing suit!

psalm 118:24 – This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

i’m blown away by modern technology these days. i’m on a plane right now as i type this! that is INCREDIBLE. i was trying to think of what to choose joy over today. since i’m on a plane you may have assumed i’m going somewhere, and for that i’m totally full of joy, but i don’t really have to choose joy in that case, ha! in a few short hours i’ll see most (missing one sister-SAD) of my family and we’ll enjoy a week of warm sun together. who knows, maybe the trip will grace the blog in some way shape or form :-)

it’s incredible to me though, despite the excitement and blessing of getting to leave the wind chill inflicted city i call home to spend a week in warmth with some of the most special people on this earth, i needed to choose joy and not fear this morning. the enemy just loves to steal our joy and try to rob us of the blessings God provides. but i was bound and determined not to let him win. so today i chose joy and i chose prayer.

i didn’t have a lot of time this morning to spend with the Lord as i thought i had prepared well yesterday for this morning but needless to say when i got up i realized there was still a bit of a laundry list of stuff to do before i walked out the door. but i did make time to pray and then even asked my prayer warrior roommate to pray for me. she has been such a blessing in my life for many, many reasons but one is definitely her gift of prayer.

she reminded me of something we learned together when we did beth moore’s study esther, we can live in a chiastic structure… meaning God can bring us to the “same” place but it can look very different. and only He can do that. she reminded me that even though fears may plague me at times when a situation looks familiar to the old dark past, it is God who can bring us back to those places and now it is a new and bright future. (ps. this is not about my family being an old dark past, just to be clear)

so today i choose joy because God makes al things beautiful in His time (ecclesiastes 3:11) and sometimes He shows us that by bringing us back to places, situations, people, etc. that once seemed dark and sad to show us how bright and full of joy it is now.

proverbs 23:18 – there is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Today I choose joy because of perspective and the fact that I got to share it my colleagues at work today during our devotions. Here’s a snipit, well it’s kind of a lot, of what I shared :-)

If you have your Bible, let’s turn to Joshua 2. We might remember, Joshua has sent two spies to check out the landscape ahead of them, in particular Jericho so they could take their promised land. 

They have come into Jericho and the king has found out. Rahab, the prostitute is hiding them and has just lied to the king’s officials about hiding the men and this is where we start in verse 8. 

8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”

 14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”

I  want to take a look at the courage of Rahab. If we put ourselves in her place we need to imagine this massive city that is in terrible fear of this army of Israelites. They’ve heard what they’ve done in the past and how their God has delivered them. If Rahab was fixed on her circumstances, on what she could see in front of her, I wonder if she would have been so bold. Technically these men could have taken her out, she put her life on the line simply by bringing them into her home. She was sandwiched between death if you will, she could get caught by her king’s officials, and she’s technically the enemy of these spies as well.

But she saw beyond the physical presence of the Israelites and believed they served a mighty God. She even had the nerve to believe she could be spared from His wrath. I think that’s pretty incredible. Again, these spies could have killed her.

She made a decision that day to change the trajectory of an entire generation by stepping out in faith because of a God she feared but did not know.

Turn to Joshua 6:22-25

22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

 24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the LORD’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

Now turn to Matthew 1:5-6

5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
         Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
         Obed the father of Jesse,
       6and Jesse the father of King David.

Holy cow!! She made one decision to believe in the power of a God she didn’t even know, could not see and had only HEARD of His miracles―she didn’t even witness the miracles!

Because of this, Rahab was brought into the lineage of God’s chosen people, married one of them and raised Boaz, the kinsman redeemer. I think it’s probably safe to say that when Rahab made the decision to hide the Israelite spies and lie to the king’s officials, risk her neck to save her family, she wasn’t thinking she’d end up marrying into the chosen family let alone have children. And I’m sure she had no idea she’d be in the line of the Messiah, heck she probably didn’t even know there was a coming Savior. But that’s the story God had for her. She may or may not have realized she was fighting for a generation, but the fact of the matter is that she was.

This is incredible to me! And this is what the Lord has been reminding me of. No matter what I see in front of me, I am fighting for the next generation. It’s not about me in the sense of what I see in front of me. His word is true when it says:

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

We may never know this side of heaven how God has used us in His mighty plan, but we can be confident that He is!

today I have a super simple but wonderful post. I’m choosing joy because I have the privilege of hanging out with two very dear friends tonight, one of which is from out of town. there is something so sweet and precious when you find friends you can be yourself with but who won’t let you stay that way, if you know what i mean ;-)

proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

colleen and heather, beautiful, godly women that i get to call my friends! (i wonder if they’ll care that i posted their pics… hmm… i think they both look gorgeous in these photos so i hope they don’t mind!)

wow! i can’t believe it has been a week of doing this already. i really had to ask myself about a day or two into this “challenge” that i brought upon myself if i was doing this for the right reasons. am i posting about choosing joy to find another tangible something to get me out of a funk instead of relying on my Jesus? am i doing this more for me than to bring glory to my God? am i more concerned about my happiness than a genuine life of faith?

in the past few days of doing this i’ve come to a solid answer to these questions: perhaps yes to all of the above, but i undoubtedly God’s gonna win out! so yeah, i may have started this thing with those thoughts in the back of my mind, but i’m seeing as i progress day by day, Jesus is winning and God’s getting all the glory.

you see, I don’t believe in the whole “mind over matter” concept. there are people i know who will swear by that mantra, and for periods of time it works for them (and me too) but for the most part, i think it’s kinda silly. that might sound harsh, but in all honesty, we’re human. we’re weak. we all fall short, and fall short pretty regularly if we’re honest with ourselves. but with the Lord, we can do all things and it is Christ that strengthens us. when i rely on my own ability to bear the storms of life, to bear the mundane tasks of everyday life, to defeat unhealthy emotions and thoughts well, quite frankly i can sustain myself for a few days if i’m lucky, but it won’t last. when my eyes are fixed on my Savior and i trust in who i know He is, no matter the circumstances, i’m firmly planted and i’m not going to move. that’s not to say i still need to choose this, to choose to see God and it’s not say emotions, thoughts, etc. don’t get in the way sometimes, but fixing my eyes on Him means even when they get intense, He is where my strength comes from.

choosing joy is part of the process of choosing Jesus. it’s part of trusting in Him who works all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. it’s knowing Him, His sovereignty, His peace, His rest, His perfect permissive will, His love, His fierce jealousy for His children… choosing joy, even if the motives in the beginning may have been off, is choosing to trust in my God and His perfect plan for my life because that’s just it, He is perfect and therefore everything He does is perfect, even His permissive will. and to state it in even simpler terms, if i know i’m going to spend eternity in the presence of my King with NO hurt, deceit, lies, shortcomings, disease, attitude problems, etc. that should be enough to say I CHOOSE JOY :-)

Psalm 143:5 – Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

today i choose joy because i want to. for no other reason than, choosing joy is the best option i have today. it’s the best option every day. despite feelings (or maybe those are hormones, let’s be real here) that may shout to the contrary, i have no reason but to choose joy.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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