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How to Find Joy in the Empty This Year

December 15, 2016

 

They say my nest is empty.

I never truly understood what it meant until now. It slipped in quietly while I wasn’t looking and it magnifies at Christmastime. There’s something about children in the house that adds a special dose of delight and wonder (and craziness) to the season like nothing else can. Decorating the tree, hot chocolate, Christmas movies, and staying a step ahead of snoopy present hunters are just a few of the joys. You may have noticed, I didn’t mention baking cookies. There’s a reason and you can read about it here.

Now my nest is quiet, not always but most always. I enjoy the quiet moments, yet still miss the silly loudness and sticky peanut butter hand-prints smeared on the glass.

I reach for fleeting memories just beyond my grasp. My heart yearns for those crack-of-dawn Christmas mornings when little hands shake me awake in anticipation (and silly me wants to sleep-in a bit longer). I make them wait as I go out first to “put the coffee on” and light up the tree. I pop cinnamon rolls in the oven as the wrapping paper flies. Christmas lists materialize in the middle of the living room and I watch their faces light-up brighter than the star on the tree.

And then there was that time I accidentally doubled the measure of salt in the breakfast casserole. Ever do that?

But no matter the current status of this mama bird’s nest, I will choose joy and I will choose to be glad. For although life brings seasons and cycles and changes, life brings new and wonderful and fresh.

My nest is what I choose to make it. It’s a nest filled with love. A safe place.

And why not choose the full rather than the empty?

My children and grandchildren visit the nest and although they may only stay for a time, I am overcome with love and the realization that my nest is not empty after all. It is continually refilling as the years go by. I’m sure hubby agrees.

There is fullness of joy when I see the man and woman our son and daughter have grown to be.

I am fulfilled to overflowing as loving arms of grandchildren wrap around me like a warm blanket, and I smile as they sweetly kiss my cheek.

This is part of the path of life. And God will not allow us to journey it alone. No matter what, He is there.

So young moms, enjoy every moment and know this: sleeping-in on Christmas morning is overrated, even if you just went to bed an hour before. Careful not to blink because all that talk about time going by quickly? It’s not a cliche. Savor every moment.

And empty nest moms, hang on to your memories, but don’t miss the new ones waiting to be made.

This is not the end of the story because the old story is not gone, it stretches and grows and becomes something truly wonderful.

My nest is where abundance flows with the fullness of peace, love, and hope. My nest is where the Holy Spirit dwells and Jesus is Lord.

No matter our journey or whether we have young children, grown children, or no children at all, when we invite the presence of the Lord into our nest called home, we will find fullness of joy always. That’s a promise.

But maybe it’s not your nest that feels empty, maybe it’s you. Friend, this promise and truth applies to the deepest parts of our soul. The key is His presence. Invite God in and therein lies the fullness of joy.

Sometimes God allows the empty so we have room for more of Him.

Our nests are not empty, our nests are blessed.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Merry Christmas friend, and may your heart be glad…

Rejoicing in the reason for the season,

Doris

 

 

 

Confessions of a Faker-Baker

March 24, 2016

I’m a faker-baker.

You too?

I buy cake mixes in colorful packages, add oil, eggs, and poof, oven-ready batter.

Cookies? Same thing. I’m usually buying what the dough-boy is selling.

I used to feel inadequate for my lack of skills in the from-scratch department. It felt like a cheater, like that woman in the commercial dousing herself in flour, as if. Oh the guilt of depriving my family of the infamous Proverbs 31 woman. I’m sure she baked from scratch.

Truth is, I don’t love baking, I don’t even like it. Is it okay to say that out loud? Aren’t women supposed to bake scrumptious delights?

Maybe you have mad baking skills but you struggle in other areas, like parenting, gardening, balancing work and home, putting together an outfit minus the sweats…

Before we pull a muscle reaching for that bar we’ve raised too high (way too high) let’s remember, we are more than adequate in Christ. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness. I’m not sure if that refers to baking or gardening, but no matter what, His grace is sufficient.

Aren’t we glad our worth isn’t measured by crafts, skills, or whether we’re first or last in the parent-pick-up line?

It’s okay if we bake cakes from colorful boxes. Do what brings joy.

Finding joy in everyday moments opens our eyes to God’s amazing gifts.

We don’t need to pretend we’re someone we are not. Let’s just be us. Let’s use the true gifts we’ve been given. A less-stressed us will bless our family and friends.

Speaking of friends, how about those friends who seem to have it all-together? We know comparison is the thief of joy, so instead of comparing ourselves to others let’s do this:

Let’s compare our old self to our new self. Let’s be thankful in how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown. For me, it may not show in my baking skills but rather in what I’ve learned.

Baking the easy way doesn’t make me less of a woman and my family still loves what comes out of my oven.

I have gifts, you have gifts. Praise God they are not all the same. How boring would that be?

God is faithful, we’re a work-in-progress, and I’m so glad growth isn’t measured in sugar cookies.

How about you? Have you struggled with feeling less-than too?

Sister, when we start feeling those feelings rise up, let’s shut off the oven and let them fall flat.

I’m peeling off the label I plastered across on my own forehead. I’m not a faker-baker.

I’m a God’s girl who doesn’t love baking and that’s okay.

What label will you peel off today?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

                                                                                                                                                     2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Medicine and a Visit with Mary

September 6, 2015

In need of healing today?

A merry heart does good like medicine. God’s natural goodness for healing up those hurts and making life sweeter.

The second part of the verse says a broken spirit dries the bones. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking dried up bones aren’t in God’s plans for us.

So laugh.

Laugh at yourself, laugh through tears, just plain laugh. It truly does have medicinal benefits, so let the joy bubble up.

And we don’t have to be physicians to disperse this medication, so share a laugh with a friend.

Just another blessing from our Great Physician, who brings healing to broken spirits, and joy for the journey.

Speaking of healing and joy for the journey…

Join me right here on Walking Deeper tomorrow, as I interview author Mary DeMuth.

As a child, Mary experienced sexual abuse and abandonment, but her whole life changed when she met Jesus.

She’ll share answers regarding abuse, her books, and what it means to live a life uncaged.

Here is a quote from her testimony:

“I was powerless, despised, counted as nothing and unimportant. But God saw differently. He rescued me. He knew that scared little girl would someday grow up and tell her story of redemption.”

You can read her testimony in its entirety here.

See you tomorrow, as we give Mary a warm Walking Deeper welcome!

When It’s Hard to Find Joy

May 3, 2015

Ever lost something just walking from one room to the next?

Glasses, keys, phone.

Frustrating isn’t it?

I know the feeling. We are not losing our minds, we’re crowding them-with obligations and agendas fighting for brain gigs.

Then there’s joy.

Unlike keys, we can’t hang joy on a hook by the front door.

As believers, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. Joy is in us.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Fact.

Yet, when things get tough, we’re just not feelin’ it. Facts derail on their way from head to heart.

And we sure can be hard on ourselves for it, can’t we?

When what we know and what we feel don’t jive?

It doesn’t mean we don’t believe.

So what do we do with that?

Time to pack our measure of faith and go on a journey.

Because fullness of joy requires active participation; finding it, choosing it, and making a joyful noise.

So why does joy seem to elude us when we need it most?

Here’s the truth about joy. It’s supernatural; supernaturally deposited in us by God. It cannot be measured by heartbeats or brainwaves, or feelings. It may seem life’s hardships succeed in snuffing it out, but the flame still burns. Brightly.

We are speaking of a fruit of the Spirit. It’s not happiness, it’s joy. They are not interchangeable.

You can be happy or unhappy, but there’s no such thing as unjoyful. It’s not a word, I checked.  So there can be joy, even when our feelings dictate otherwise.

We know those tough days well, don’t we? Intermittent or strung together, each one fragile like glass.

But God brings beauty from ashes, a yoke that is easy, and tells us fear not.

And on those days when it’s hard to pray, God hears the cry of our hearts.

On those days when we can’t string words together, we can read His word out loud. Use His words, pray His word.

Start with Psalm 91.

Who hears when we speak the word audibly? God, the enemy, and us. Affirmation, confirmation, and communication with the Most High God. It never comes back void, even through all of our voids.

Sometimes we’ve got to force our spiritual eyes open. Joy is worth fighting for, and evidently we can use it to fight back.

Check this out:

When Margaret Feinberg learned she had cancer, she knew she would need great strength to overcome it. She believed the weapon she selected for the battle would change everything. And she decided that weapon would be joy.

“Joy Is More Than Whimsy.
It’s the Weapon You Can Use to Fight Life’s Greatest Battles.” ~ Margaret Feinberg,  Fight Back With Joy

If you’d like to read more about Margaret, and how she is fighting back with joy, here’s the Amazon link to her book:

“Fight Back With Joy”  Good stuff.

http://www.amazon.com/Fight-Back-Joy-Celebrate-Greatest/dp/1617950890/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430576673&sr=8-1&keywords=fight+back+with+joy

I’m not receiving any incentive to promote it. Her story inspires, and she is more than her cancer diagnosis. She’s a new creation in Christ. She’s a popular author, speaker, but most importantly, a Jesus following joyful child of God.

When face-deep in the trenches,

Don’t give up. The Lord fights for you.

Even when it’s hard to breathe. Our earth-planted feet have purpose.

In the worst of it, lift your right hand because He holds it.

And what about that worst of it?

God works it together for our good. All things. All of it. Trust Him.

Even when we don’t feel it, or we feel too much,

or we feel nothing at all.

So we trust God always, on the good days and hard days;

Because our feelings don’t measure truth, and our feelings can’t measure joy. click to tweet

All this fighting back can zap our human strength. The joy of the Lord is our supernatural strength.

And He wants our joy to be full. Through Love.

Don’t be afraid of the dark; He’s there in our darkest, and He is our Light.

If this has encouraged you, please share it.

Share what has helped you reclaim joy in your life.

Love In Christ, and May Your Joy Be Full,

Doris

Do you know Jesus?

He knows you personally, and wants you to know Him.

Hop on over to the Meet Jesus tab and learn more about how you can have supernatural joy in your life.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. www.biblegateway.com

Peace Beyond a Biscuit

October 24, 2014

What thoughts deluge your mind in the quiet of night and stillness of morning?

For years, my daily routine brought stress and anxiety. I’d stay up late, hoping exhaustion would override the to-do, didn’t-do, should’ve done lists waiting to flood my thoughts as my head hit the pillow.

Upon waking, another rush. It wasn’t necessarily unpleasant occurrences or circumstances, just everyday challenges of a working wife and mom, with bills and responsibilities too numerous to count.

You know that silly Jimmy Dean sausage commercial with the guy dressed as the sun? The familiar tune plays (dum, dadum, dadumdum) as he scolds listless planets for skipping a good breakfast. The planets eat a sausage biscuit, and suddenly revival takes place; a rotation dance ensues around the sun, and all is as it should be.

I thought, gee, I wish that was my job; rise in the morning, bring warmth and light, feed ’em all sausage and life is good.Baby thinking

Of course, although quite yummy, we know sausage biscuits won’t rid us of pesky, troublesome, and at times overwhelming thoughts.

It seems every negative and glass-half-empty circumstance in our life hits us hardest in the quiet of night, and the first light of morning.

These critical times of day and night can be gravely effected by these thoughts. When they come at night, sleep is robbed. When they come in the morning, joy of the day is robbed.

Would we allow someone to rob our home by intentionally leaving the door unlocked?

Too often, we allow the enemy of our soul free-reign of our thoughts. He can read our thoughts, but he doesn’t have to since we practically tell him. We leave the door unlocked, or worse yet, wide-open and vulnerable to his cunning attacks upon our mind.

As difficult as it is to ward off thoughts of troublesome circumstances in our lives, we can choose to replace them with blessing-thoughts. Surrendering our concerns and circumstances to God frees us from the impossible task of trying to fix everything we were never meant to fix in the first place.

This takes practice and discipline, but most of all, it takes a God-focused life. It takes God.

Before bed, when those thoughts come to rob our much-needed sleep, remember what is true. Remember what is lovely. Remember what is just and good. When we wake, we remember them again.                        woman thinking dorisswift

Pray with the power He has given us in the Name of Jesus.

Allow worship songs to wash over thoughts, meditating on words of truth.

Recite favorite verses that renew our minds and remind us of who God is; that He is faithful; that He is good; that He has plans for us; that He knows our name and sees us, always.

Name every blessing, every good thing by name. Seen and unseen. What is good in your life? Resist the lie there is no good, and even if you can only think of one good thing, think of one good thing.

I once asked a group of women what threatened to steal their joy. One woman wrote “LIFE” all in caps. That spoke volumes.

When LIFE threatens to steal our joy and zap our strength, we must seek the Giver of LIFE whose joy is our strength.

Here are a few encouraging verses to write on your heart:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.   Romans 12:2

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.    Isaiah 26:3

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.  Proverbs 3:24

…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? … Matthew 6:25-27

Breathe deeper. Love deeper. Seek deeper. Walk deeper.

A sausage biscuit can’t solve our problems, and the sun can’t fix our failures; but I know a Son who can. His warmth and light brings hope and life. Jesus.

What scriptures have you found particularly comforting in this season of your life? What has the Holy Spirit revealed to you through His words today?

Blessings and Peace In Him,

Doris

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.