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Let there be Joy!

I have been concentrating on the word “joy” lately. I’m trying to teach my children to find joy in the little things, the difficult things, and the not-so-nice things. It is a hard habit to learn, but I am convinced it will pay off. My husband once told me that if I wasn’t content right now, I never would be. He was right. We must learn to carpe diem, “seize the day,” or better yet, find joy in the moment. Life is full of disappointments. If we don’t learn to look for joy, it probably won’t find us by accident.

Christmas is a very difficult time of year. There are family gatherings that inevitably end in hurt feelings due to thoughtless comments and idle words that seem to cut to our very soul. There is talk of babies and children everywhere. We sit in church and pictures of a baby Jesus are flashed on the screen and hung on the walls. Yes, we understand the meaning of Christmas, but the “baby thing” just seems to scream at us above everything else.

Mary truly had a perfect pregnancy. She had assurance that no matter what, this baby was going to be born – safe and healthy. What a gift! If there is one thing that I have learned from having lost four children, it is that no pregnancy is a guarantee. It doesn’t matter what you do or how hard you try, you have very little control over the end result. Mary didn’t have to worry about that at all. Baby Jesus was a sure thing.

Mary just had a “few” other issues to worry about, such as everyone thinking that she had been unfaithful to Joseph (which was punishable by death), the fact that she would have to ride about 80 miles on the back of a donkey at nine months pregnant (which would take about a week), having to deliver her baby alone in a cattle barn (do you remember how physically awful the days following a birth can be?), and having to flee to a foreign country with a young toddler because the King himself wanted her child dead!(Could you imagine having to be responsible to protect the Son of God?)

Mary had the very thing that I would have loved to have – just once – a guaranteed pregnancy, and yet, I’m not sure that Mary had a whole lot to find joy in. However, she did! Even in the midst of uncomfortable and chaotic circumstances, she still found a way to have joy. How?

Before Jesus birth:

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. Luke 1:46-55

 

…and after Jesus birth:

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I think that if we took a moment to think about it, we would be able to find that joy, even in the worst of circumstances. Scripture tells us that one of the natural results of being a child of God is joy.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5:22-23a

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11

Also, look at Who is responsible to provide the joy. We just need to ask!

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. Ecclesiastes 2:26a

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:7-11

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Acts 2:28

So, I’m not sure where you are at right now. Maybe life just isn’t working out the way that you think that it should. Maybe you are having trouble finding joy in your current circumstances. Let me challenge you to begin to ask God to restore joy to your soul, and keep asking until you see the joy of the Lord return to your life. It’s simple. You just have to do it. Don’t let the devil steal this gift that God has promised to you. God desires you to live victoriously! Now, go and do the next right thing!

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6912-31-15

 

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What is love?

World’s love

• Conditional – convenient love
• Focuses on feelings and emotions
• Asks, “What can I get out of this?” “How will this make me happy?”
• Asks, “Am I better off because of this relationship?”
• If needs and wants aren’t met, QUIT and look for someone “better”
• Searches for the “right” person
• Service = slavery – doesn’t want the relationship to cost anything
• Looks for the failures in the other person and dwells on that
• Has expectations that cannot be met by any human
• Repeats shortcomings and gossips about them to others
• Never considers your own flaws, and always points a finger – lacks grace
• The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side of the fence
• Expects the relationship to be 50/50. If the other person doesn’t give, you don’t either

God’s love

• Unconditional – sacrificial love
• Focuses on the truth – chooses to love
• Asks, “What can I do for this person?” “How can I make them happy?”
• Asks, “Is the other person better off because I am in their life?”
• If needs and wants aren’t met, PRAY and work through it – no matter what
• Waits for God to bring the “right” person
• Service = joy and contentment – realizes that a good relationship is worth everything
• Looks for the good in the other person and dwells on that
• Keeps expectations reasonable, remembering only God can fulfill all things and be all things
• Covers flaws and presents the other person in a positive light to others
• Is willing to give grace, because you are a sinner too
• You realize that the water bill is higher on the other side of the fence
• Puts 100% into the relationship, no matter what the other person gives

1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp52p02-13-14

Future Grace

Well, Thanksgiving was yesterday. It just so happens that I am feeling thankful. Actually, my heart has been very full of gratitude lately. I am the proud mother of seven children – four in heaven and three earth-side. I couldn’t be more thrilled with what God has blessed me with.

However, lately, I have seen and heard many moms complaining about their kids. Facebook is full of people who are discontent with the family they have been given. As a woman who has been asked to “return” several of my children, my feathers get a bit ruffled at these comments. I’ve noticed that this is a frequent aggravation for many of the ladies involved in PJM as well.

“I’m pregnant again?!? Ugh! I so didn’t want another kid right now!”

“I just wish this baby would stop keeping me up all night with his/her kicking. It’s so uncomfortable!”

“Yuck, stretch marks and varicose veins. This pregnancy thing stinks!”

“I’m so tired of being pregnant!”

“Why does this kid insist on whining ALL THE TIME?”

“When do I get a break?”

Most of us have seen these comments, either in black and white or by reading between the lines. Our first instinct is to scream and maybe cry. It seems so wrong that someone like that can have tons of kids so easily, and someone like us has to work so hard with little or nothing to show for it. What we wouldn’t give for a night of no sleep, due to a bouncing abdomen or even days of a sweet baby’s cry. These people should be taught a lesson in gratefulness for the amazing blessings they have been given!

Yup, this was me.

Let me share some truths that have changed my perspective, and maybe they will help you walk a short way in someone else’s shoes.

Due to my health issues, we waited seven years for our first child. I wanted a baby so bad! I begged God every night. At that time, facebook wasn’t around, so I was content to get angry at the mean moms in the grocery store. You know the ones. They scream at their sweet, big-eyed, curly haired children, swearing and belittling. How dare they? I would never do that! Children are a blessing! I would appreciate mine. I would only give hugs and kisses and snuggle with them all the time. I could never raise my voice at them.

My pregnancy with my first son was a joy. I had no major issues and everything went perfectly. He was born healthy and full of life. I had exactly what I had wanted for seven years. Now I could be the perfect mom to the perfect child. Ha! I had post-partum depression for nine months. I wanted to drop my newborn into his crib and never see him again. He never slept, and he wanted my constant attention. I cried and cried and cried some more. I blamed my husband for my anger and nearly lost my marriage. It was hell. So much for pointing a finger at the lady in the store.

After I finally got the depression treated, had some long discussions with God, and got back some normalcy, we started trying for another child. We lost two babies, right in a row. Really? Why was this so hard? Again my perspective bounced back. I blamed all of my past attitudes on the post-partum depression and again began judging my fellow mommies for their lack of 100% adoration of their little ones. I even lost friendships due to my quick evaluation of other women’s motives. I couldn’t believe that a mom would allow her boys to act like animals, or that she would throw up her hands in surrender and walk away from them.

I was blessed, two and a half years after my first son, with my first rainbow baby – another boy. I knew that nothing could be as bad as my first son who never slept. I was ready to be the perfect mother this time! However, failure this time was spelled c-o-l-i-c. Again, I was ready to wish it all away. It didn’t seem to matter how long I had waited for this perfect family. As my sons grew, they became animals – crazy animals. It was amazing. No matter how much I corrected and disciplined, I couldn’t stop them from being kids and I definitely couldn’t stop them from being boys. Guess what? I even wanted an occasional break from them! I also found my hands going up in the air more than once. Needless to say, I had to do some serious apologizing. This mom thing was really tough!

After my second son outgrew his colic, we began trying again. We lost two more babies, right in a row. Didn’t God know how much I wanted another child? Finally, number seven brought us our little girl.  However, this time, I had learned something. I wasn’t going to repeat my past failures. Instead of expecting myself to be perfect, I decided to give myself some grace. I decided to give my kids grace. Most of all, I decided to give others grace.

Because of my past struggles to have children, I may have a bit more patience, understanding, or long-suffering towards my children at times than your average mom, and I may not view every infraction as worthy of my anger and disapproval. I may hug them more. I may cherish the special moments with a bit more wisdom. What others may see as an inconvenience or a hassle, I may view it as adventure. I may even be just a bit more teary-eyed, as I see the handprints on the window getting larger and larger, knowing that one day, they will disappear completely. It will also break my heart every single time to see a mother screaming at her fear-stricken toddler, or hearing of parents abusing their kids. My experience has definitely changed my perspective. That is for sure.

However, In terms of difficulty, it really didn’t matter how long I had waited, how hard I had tried, or how many heartbreaks I had experienced on this road to find my family. Being a mom is really hard. My loss does not make everything that I face as a parent a total breeze. It doesn’t change the fact that my back is suffering, because my daughter likes to be held in a carrier on my chest, every single time she eats – and she wants to be moving the whole time. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m exhausted, because my first-born son still doesn’t sleep well and still demands constant attention. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m frustrated, because two years old isn’t my favorite age. It doesn’t change the fact that I get embarrassed and feel like a terrible mom, when my boys fight and scream through the grocery store. It doesn’t change the fact that I have bad days, I get mad at my kids, and I even yell at them more than I care to admit. It doesn’t change the fact that I have been that mean mom that other women glare at. I have had to apologize and beg for my children’s forgiveness more than once.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have children, don’t feel guilty for having a hard day or for failing at being a perfect mom. It’s so easy to justify guilt, when we wanted a child for so very long and think we should be nothing but happy and grateful every single moment, no matter what. You know, like especially when that elderly woman makes a beeline for your shopping cart, just to tell you how “you must savor every single moment, because they grow up so fast,” and at the same time, your one child is dumping macaroni noodles down the aisle and another is sampling the chocolate syrup. Hmmmm, not exactly a great moment to savor, I don’t care how much you appreciate your children.

If you don’t have children yet, I’m just asking that you give other moms some grace, and that you give yourself some future grace. You might just regret the standard that you are setting for yourself.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp47p11-29-13

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