A Present Full of JOY

How much joy do you have right now in this present moment?

I know, you are pinched for time and there are a ton of responsibilities you need to tend to.  But, I implore you, take just one minute, a deep breath, and ask yourself this question…how much joy am I experiencing right now in my present?

Take one more deep breath.

Are you full on joy in your present?  High five to you!  I praise God in celebration of all the joy He has gifted to you.

Are you disappointed by your answer?  Do you wish you had more joy in this moment?  Do you have a hope that maybe sometime in the future you will have more joy, you just are not there yet?  Does it feel like there are a list of circumstances in your way barricading joy out of your life?

Oh my dear reader, if these are the things running through your mind, you are not alone.  I have been there.  I have had those thoughts.  I have struggled with not having joy in my present.  I have been deeply disappointed with myself, condemning myself with toxic thoughts for what I did not have but thought I should.  I have longed hungrily for a future that had more joy and worked tirelessly to produce joy in my own strength.

For those lacking in joy, I wish I could throw my arms around you right now and give you a big old hug, a tight squeeze to get you all sticky with joy.

That is what I am right now, sticky with joy.  It’s like tree sap and honey and it is just plain messy.

Joy and Mess.  That is what I am right now.

What?  How could that possibly be?  Joy and mess mingled together?

Believe me, I am asking myself the same question.  You know what, I have no good answer for you.

Ten days from now my first born, Andrew, will be graduating from High School.  The day after that we are throwing a party for him.  There is a lot of stuff on my to do list.  There are a lot of things that are partially done or half way completed.  Normally that drives me nuts.  I’m not a fan of nagging unfinished tasks.

If you think I’m joking…here’s a look at one corner of my living room.

20180509_144304-1

Before you start to panic and start sending me messages offering to help me out and organize my mess, and giving of your time, talent, and treasure to make this an unforgettable event, let me just say I have JOY in the present.  It’s all good.  No need to panic.

Thank you so much for thinking of offering help and assistance.  I appreciate it so greatly!  I have no doubt the graduation ceremony and the party will be memorable.  But, it is going to have nothing to do with the food, the decorations, the beverages, or the mints.  (If anyone is really counting on mints at Andrew’s party…they will be disappointed we’re not planning on having any.)

It is the PEOPLE present who are going to make this a memorable event.  It is the relationships, the shared experiences, the unique stakeholders who have poured into my son’s life that are going to bring joy and memories to this celebration.

It Takes Less to Have More

One of the hardest things for me to do as a mom and as the point planner on these festivities is to say NO.  I honestly feel like I have been saying NO a lot.  Before you diagnose me with a severe case of stubborn pride, please hear me out.

I am not saying NO to be rude.  I am not saying NO because I think I am the world’s best event planner and I can do this myself.  I am not saying NO because I think the ideas & help I am being offered are bad.  I am not saying NO because I am the current day Ebenezer Scrooge.

I have been on Pintrest.  I have Googled graduation party ideas.  I know there are 39,786,445,392 great ideas for graduation parties.  I hear about all the amazing and incredible things that others are doing for their parties.  It’s all great.  There’s nothing bad about any of it.  I can’t tell you the number of times I thought, “Wow!  That’s awesome!”

Right now, we feel called to keep it simple, to go forward with less, and to say NO to a whole lot of things.  I don’t want people to come to this celebration to work.  I want people to come to be present and to have joy in the moments shared together.  All I want are hugs, laughter, fun, a whole lot of conversation, and for my son to see just a glimpse of what a difference his life makes in this world.

I am not doing this alone or on my own strength at all.  All four members of us in my household have been working on it.  My Parents have been incredibly helpful in so many ways.  I’ve got a host of friends and a very cool sister in law who have been helping me navigate it all.

“You will show me the path of life;
in Your presence is the fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.”
Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

In God’s presence there is a fullness of joy.

Doesn’t a fullness of joy sound absolutely delicious???!!!

How do we get this fullness of joy?

Do we accomplish a great many things?  NO!
Do we compete and win?  NO!
Do we pay a fee or buy a ticket?  NO!
Do we complete a great plan?  NO!

We enter into the presence of the Lord.  We experience who He is, we find relationship with Him, we learn, we grow, we pray, we worship, and we receive the gift of joy.  Not because of what we do or give or have, but because of the Lord does and gives and shares.

We do not have to make it to the end of our lives’ journeys to experience a fullness of joy.  We are blessed with it right now in the present, to have with us along every day of our journey.

Does that mean that every day will be a great abundance of only happy, fuzzy feelings?  Nope.  Life is just going to have some circumstances that just plain suck.  There are going to be muddy patches on the path, canyons that seem uncrossable, and walls that we can not see over.

A present full of joy comes from the presence of Jesus and from following His path in our lives.  It will be messy, but sticky with joy is a good kind of messy.  You never know when you will meet a fellow traveler who will be in need of a sticky hug that only you can give.

Live It Out

Take a few minutes to say “NO” to everything and everyone.  Give yourself a temporary pause.  Ask yourself these questions.

How am I really doing in my present place in my journey?  Do I have a fullness of joy?  Am I sputtering from an empty tank, drained from what was once there?  Do I only have an inkling of imagining of what a fullness of joy might feel like, but a desire to discover it?

Write down Psalm 16:11 somewhere that you will be able to look at often.  Put it in your phone, text it to yourself, write it on a sticky note, jot it down in your calendar, write it in marker on your mirror, whatever works for you.

“You will show me the path of life;
in Your presence is the fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.”
Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

Proclaim it.  Don’t just read it to complete a task.  Say it to take it deep into your mind and heart.  Then share this prayer with me.

Pray Through It

Beloved Lord, please help me to come into Your presence.  Lord, remind me of who You are, of what You do, of the many blessings that You give, and the generous abundance that You share with me. 

Take my cravings and yearnings for joy, using them to draw me into Your presence.  Help me not to seek an end result, but to have the strength to savor the process and to pursue the path of purpose that will bring You glory. 

Lord, I have a tendency to DO and I am connected to so many DOers.  There is a time and a purpose to DO, but it can quickly consume my mind and hands and heart, leading me away from Your right hand.  Show me how to BE more present with You so I may have the shared experiences with You that will fill my present with joy.

In the ever joyful name of Jesus, amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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