Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Choose Joy Day 6 -- By Grace Alone

"I've been thinking lately about the distinction between pain and suffering. 

Pain is a constant part of my daily existence.  Im so accustomed to the pain now that I dont consider it suffering as much as I used to. But there are physical moments when the pain causes real suffering. The moments when it escalates and is unrelenting to the point of making me sick. I physically suffer. 

Emotionally, its called a pit of despair for a reason. A hole can be dug inside us so deep that it seems everything good has been excavated from our lives.  A pit is dug. And despair is the first visitor that wants to knock at your door.

Its in those moments when I pray for God to get me out of His way. Its those moments when I stop praying for what I want and start praying for Him to change my heart for what He wants. It requires me to trust Him completely. That doesnt change my physical pain. It doesnt change the loss. But it does change the suffering.

It allows me to not answer the door to despair and instead invite His presence into the pit. The pit that looks jagged and deep, which turns out to be a God-shaped hole in the center of our beings. A hole that is dug by circumstances and choices, and is filled with His grace.

I am in pain. He has made sure I dont have to suffer."   ~Sara Frankl

No matter what type of pain we go through...physical, emotional or spiritual, the pain we experience teaches us the value of what we have lost and sometimes what we have taken for granted. 

I remember the day Sara asked me to come be with her. That day when the realization set in that her life was coming to an end here on earth. The emotional pain was overwhelming. That pit of despair started digging it's hole. It was knocking on my door. 

God's Grace is "the power of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves".  And the fact is, we cannot do anything for ourselves.  Jesus says, "...without me you can do nothing."  ~John 15:5

It was in that moment that I needed God's grace. "By Grace Alone." Those words kept going through my head. I prayed...asking for His help. His Grace. Without His grace, I was lost. 

Graced by God's presence we learn that while we are less than perfect, who we are, by God's grace, can be enough. By God's grace, each day can be lived with hope and purpose...and with His grace, we can Choose joy.

You can learn more about Choosing Joy and God's grace in the book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Choose Joy -- Your Joy Lies in You...

As my life changed and many of the gifts and talents God originally blessed me with were taken away by this disease, the thought occurred to me that to God, in the role as Father, I must look like a spoiled brat. You know, the kind that does what they’re told but only begrudgingly… making sure He realized that, while I was fulfilling my role, I really wasn’t happy about it. I was feeling self-pity when the sun was shining and I could see people outside enjoying the warmth. I couldn't bring myself to even open the curtains. I maybe could accept never going outside or opening windows if I just didn’t have it shoved in my face everyday that it was out there. That it existed. That it was all still going on without me.  

And that’s not who I want to be. 

The same is true when faced with an undesirable situation… we can either handle what’s in front of us by huffing and puffing while we go through the motions, or we can take a deep breath and move forward in faith. Move forward with a grateful heart, because we move forward with trust. I want to accept His gifts with a grateful spirit. And while being home bound doesn’t appear to be a gift, I know I will receive gifts and blessings in my situation. I always do. 

will enjoy it… just because I can’t feel the sunshine doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it’s warmth.  ~Sara Frankl

Your success and happiness lies in you...

That statement struck me as I was thinking about how many times I want to take control of what is going to happen in my life, instead of letting go and trusting God with the future. And yet, when it comes to controlling my attitude of happiness and joy, I start to justify why I am feeling self-pity or sadness. 

My success, happiness, and joy truly is something that I control. God can't do that one for me. That choice lies within me. I and only I can control my attitude of joy and happiness. I am the only one who can choose joy and when I do, God is always there to make sure that the future I am trying to control happens just like it is meant to be.

Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts...pre-order yours today. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Choose Joy Day 4 -- Paths of Life

"I think in front of every person who is hurt, God lays out paths in front of them... roads, if you will. I don't think one is necessarily better than the other, but they are choices for us to make. In every instance, I truly believe He is putting the possibility of blessings on your path if you're willing to reach out and take them. It's not about God making sure bad stuff never happens. It's about the fact that He holds us when it does. That's what dad's do best. They don't stop you from trying new things. They don't tell you not to take any chances. They cheer you on when you choose to try. They tell you that anything is possible. And when you mess up, when you fail, when you fall... a dad picks you up, brushes you off and wipes your tears away. Then he tells you to try again." ~ Sara Frankl

Don't give up...I remember when I was going through tough times in life, I was tired and didn't think I had the energy or fight in me any longer, I would say to my dad, at what point does God want me to "turn the other cheek?" 

His answer to me...God is your father in Heaven, and I am your father here on earth. Neither one of us want you to give up your stand for what is right and just. It is HOW you take your stand that is important.  If we respond to hatred with love, if we respond in a manner that seems unnatural to others, it displays the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. 

I believe this is how I found JOY in those difficult times.  God is with us on the path of life, even when it's hard. When we choose to respond in love, we are in His presence, at His right hand, and that is where I found joy instead of hurt.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Choose Joy Day 3 -- Silver Lining

"I think our expectations of what we want life to be often overshadow the good things that are already in front of us... and that's when we miss the silver lining. "All God asks of us is to live the best life we can with what we are given."  I know I can't just apply this to my own life... I have to apply it to the people in my life as well. If I am really allowing the people around me to live the best life they can with what they are given, I can't put my own conditions on them. The more I acknowledge that silver lining, the less I notice the gold that's out of reach."  ~Sara Frankl

My mom (Sara's mom...well, mom of 6 of us), always would say that we need to have "an attitude of gratitude." That is what pops into my mind as I think about how this relates to joy. Sometimes the reason we aren't feeling joy is because the gold we wanted didn't come. Yet, if we stop and look at the silver linings that did, we will find the JOY.

In my families life, the gold would've been for dad and Sara to be here on earth with us much longer than what we were given. To have them with us to share and experience life with us today would have been ultimate gold. But that gold was not what God's plan was. So, with an attitude of gratitude, we have found many silver linings. 

We are VERY grateful for the time we did have with them.

We are grateful that we took the time to love each other well and let each other know how much they are loved.

We are grateful that God chose them for us.

We are grateful for a God who loved us so much that He gave us His son, who died on the cross, so that we, dad and Sara, can live forever!

The list goes on and on...so many silver lining blessings that bring JOY back to our lives.

So tell me, what silver linings have blessed you today?

More lessons on choosing joy can be found in the book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and purpose when life hurts.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Choose Joy Day 2 -- Joy is Prayer

A living Prayer ... It would be found in the reflection of others when they are touched by you. It would be seen in the joy that others would find contagious, in compassion that others would feel in your words and deeds. It would be found in the kind word for no reason, the intentional way of listening and the hand outstretched to give and to receive. All these things must be what a living prayer looks like to others. I want to be remembered as a living prayer."      ~Sara Frankl

When I think of Mother Teresa's quote telling us that JOY is found in prayer, strength and love...I think of how A dear sister friend of mine taught me how to pray a well known prayer, Psalm 46:10..."Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Bet still and know. Be still. Be." After I close my eyes and say this prayer, that's when I fell God give me joy, strength and love. 

It still comes down to this...It's not about me. It's about Him.

Be a living prayer to others by continuing to spread Joy, Strength and Love to others!


You can find more messages of joy in the book Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gitz: 31 Days of Choosing Joy

Gitz: 31 Days of Choosing Joy

Choose Joy Day 1 -- It's Not About Me

"How can I find within myself to Choose Joy?  I don't know how to do that without first knowing that it's not about me. It's not even about me living my life and relying on God to help me through. Because that would mean I was driving and God was giving me moral support. I am saying that my life only works if God is at the wheel, if He's reading the map and if He's making the turns."   ~ Sara Frankl

My reflection for today...

How many times do I pray for God to help me through this or help me through that...(fill in the blank)?  Maybe my own prayer life includes too much me thinking...

My new daily prayer is that He will give me an open mind, a humble heart and faithful feet to walk where He leads.

If you feel God at the wheel asking you to help spread His joy and His word, share these 31 days of joy and say a prayer for all those who will read it!

I will use a phrase from Pastor Darrin Vick ...Go out, spread the joy and raise a little heaven out there!

You can find more messages of joy, in the book Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts.