Category Archives: Joy

Choosing Joy

choosing joy

I am spending a few glorious (and warm) days at the beach visiting a dear friend. On the drive from the airport my friend told me about the island’s beach renovation project. The Corps of Engineers situated a big ship offshore a couple of miles north of us to suck sand from the ocean floor. They then push it through a pipe they progressively lay down close to the water. The Fresh sand is sifted and then deposited along the eroded shore, and then big trucks even it out. It is quite a production.

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Unfortunately the crew set up shop right in front her place 3 days before my arrival. When they moved down the beach after a couple of days, they left a big pipe stretched across the sand in front of us, and– for a while– a plastic orange fence that kept us from approaching the ocean.

I had a decision to make.

This week I will choose:

Will I focus on the rusty pipe,

or the panorama of ocean and sky?

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On the orange fence, or a shore free of beach walkers?

On an occasional beeping truck, or gull cries and crashing waves?

 choosing joy

All through our lives we make decisions.

We choose.

To enjoy life’s beauty, or to be annoyed by its problems.

To appreciate what we have, or to wish for what we don’t.

To be content, or to be restless.

 choosing joy

In our walk with God on this earth we choose

To trust, or to worry.

To be thankful, or to be dissatisfied.

To embrace joy, or to wallow in self-pity.

Thank you God, for

Your presence within and around me.

The magnificence creation before me.

The beauty of me – your ultimate design.

You – Your personality, intellect, creativity, compassion.

The incredible power you possess and restraint that you practice.

 choosing joy

Thank you God,

For renovating my heart, just like this beach – restoring fresh sand, minus the debris.

For Your incomprehensible love, vast as the sea.

Thank you, that you have made it possible for me to choose You,

For me to choose Joy.

The Lord is my Shepherd

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the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want

The Lord is my Shepherd

by Lydia Floren

This week’s blog is the first in of a series of pictoral blogs on Psalm 23. Take a moment to think about this phrase this week.  What does it mean for THE lord to be your shepherd?  What pictures or scenes make you think of the phrase “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”?  

Snap a picture, or jot a few words down, and share it with the rest of us.  It’s easy–simply post it on the Belovedlove Facebook page. (with photos, if you have time include a few words about your photo, such as why you chose it, or where you took it.)

Everyone’s eye is so different, and God speaks to each of us in special ways!  Thank you for sharing part of your world with the rest of us!

Lydia

I thank God in all my remembrance of you!

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The Secret of Surrender

10:29:15 Hugh Jackman on stageby Lydia Floren

Let me tell you a little secret about me:  I am a clandestine celebrity watcher.  Yes, I am one of those people who scan the headlines in the grocery checkout lane.  At the hairdresser, I’ll scroll through the latest People magazine.  I might even be known to [gasp] Google a star of my favorite TV show.  I make excuses for this somewhat silly voyeurism:  “I need to be aware of what is going on in Daniel’s world,” I’ll tell myself.  But truthfully, I probably know more about some stuff (the unimportant stuff) in Hollywood, than does my actor son Daniel, who actually lives there!  Besides, my “star watching” started long before Daniel chose his career path and moved to LA.

OK, now that you know my little secret, you shouldn’t be surprised that my favorite part of the Sunday paper is Parade Magazine.  Which gets me to the part that might actually interest you.

Not too long ago Parade featured an interview with actor Hugh Jackman, aka “Wolverine”, of the X-Men.

10:29:15 Jackman

In the article, Jackman unabashedly acknowledged his Christianity, and described how his faith is intertwined with his work.  Here are his words, as quoted in Parade:

“I’m a religious person.  This is going to sound weird to you.  In Chariots of Fire, the runner, Eric Liddell, says, ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’  And I feel that pleasure when I act and it’s going well, particularly onstage.  I feel what everyone’s searching for, the feeling that unites us all.  Call it ‘God’.  Before I go onstage every night, I pause and dedicate the performance to God, in the sense of  ‘Allow me to surrender’.  When you allow yourself to surrender to the story, to the character, to the night, to the audience, transcendence happens.  And when that happens, there is nothing like it on the planet.  It’s the moment people experience when they fall in love, which is equally frightening and exciting.  That’s what it feels like.”

I think God wants each of us to experience moments like Liddell’s and Jackman’s.  These moments come when we surrender ourselves to Him.  When we relinquish control and just trust Him, we become a conduit for His Holy Spirit to work through us.

God wants us to “feel His pleasure”, as we do what He made us to do.

When we do, it is as if Jesus murmurs in our ear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Master.”

How have you seen God work through you when you surrender?

p.s.  Here’s a link to the Parade article on Hugh Jackman:
http://parade.com/426939/dotsonrader/the-hugh-you-never-knew/

Consider It All Joy

9:18:15 Consider it Joyby Lydia Floren

Being a doctor, I see many advantages to being cared for by a physician who has lived a few years (well more than a few, but who’s counting ☺).  We “older” docs have personal experience with bad knees, dimming vision, pneumonia, colitis, hemorrhoids.  I know, I know. TMI.

I can’t say I like being sick, or having surgery – nothing makes one appreciate good health like infirmity.  But because I have “been there,” I can better help my patients through their difficulties.

When I live through – not just observe – an illness, I have a much better understanding of it.  For someone like me, this is particularly good news.  My “empathy” gene is not particularly dominant:  experiencing pain unmasks its expression.

Like Paul, we can “consider it all joy” when we go through hard times.  Not only will God strengthen us and guide us through it, He will use it to help someone else.

Difficulties open our hearts to compassion.

With God, no experience is wasted.

 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28 NASB

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.  James 1:2

Thou has enlarged me when I was in distress.  Psalm 4:1 KJV

“Be set free not from suffering but rather through suffering.”  -George Matheson

Savoring A Taste of Heaven. Joy Lives In Contentment.

by Lydia Floren

One Saturday last August, Andrew and I blasted ourselves out of our rut and spent the day boating on nearby Lake Wissota. It was a perfect Wisconsin summer day. The water, hemmed by lush green, shimmered in the quiet morning light. The sun was warm, not hot, and a gentle breeze was rustling the trees.

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For the first half of the day, we puttered from one end of the lake to the other. I was preoccupied. My thoughts kept drifting away from this beauty to the restlessness of “I wants.” I want to live on the water. How could we find a way to do it? Where would be the best place to live? Wonder what the property values and taxes are? Is it feasible? Wonder how much that property costs? I was distracted by what I didn’t have, instead of focusing on what I had been given:

  • A gorgeous day.
  • The company of my wonderful husband.
  • A panorama of natural beauty.

About midway through the day, I pulled out my camera and started snapping pictures. My attention was captured by lily pads and weeping willows, craggy cliffs, wild flowers, and of course the water–rippling, reflecting, shimmering, and sparkling. An awareness of my surroundings remained long after I stowed my camera. I noticed the quiet sounds of crickets buzzing and water lapping. I felt the tangled senses of sun-warmth and cool breeze. I experienced the gentle rock of the boat lulling me to sleep. I was content.

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God offers me tastes of heaven every day–and every day I choose. Do I strain to look beyond the amazing gifts in front of me? Or, do I savor the blessings I have already been given?

Joy lives in contentment.

(BTW, I didn’t photograph a single house.)

Share with us: How do you remain content? We would love to hear from you.

Recent posts: Circling Back, Sharing a Sunset, Enjoying God’s Presence.

To Be

todotobebelovedlovetitleby Lydia Floren

In my last post, I talked about TO-DO lists, and the importance of BE-ing restored every day.  That got me thinking:  What are some great things to have on a TO BE list?

TO BE:

Be Restored. (see last week’s post for more on this)

  • “He [The Lord] makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3
  • Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
  • I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled John 15:11 

Be Cherished. You are fully known and completely loved. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are: a precious creation of God’s.

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”   Jeremiah 31:3
  • You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
  •  I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Be Forgiven. There is no reason at all to keep carrying around regret and guilt and shame.  Choose to receive God’s forgiveness, and forgive yourself.

  • All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.  Isaiah 53:6
  • He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
  • Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Romans 4:7

Be Free.  Let go of worry, resentment, unforgiveness, expectations for yourself and others, old habits.

  • Now by “the Lord” is meant the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is enjoyed.  2 Cor. 3:17
  •  For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
  • Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. Luke 6:37
  • I run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

Share with us: What’s on your TO Be list?

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Related posts: To-Do, To Be, Oil of Joy, Joy = Love + Laughter, The Barnacles of Busy-ness

Oil of Joy

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by Lydia Floren

From Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman:

“There is an old story of an elderly man who always carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went. When he would go through a door that squeaked, he would squirt oil on the hinges. If he encountered a gate that was hard to open, he would oil the latch. And so he went through life, lubricating all the difficult places, making it easier for all those who came after him. People called the man eccentric, strange, and crazy, but he was steady on, often refilling his can of oil when it was nearly empty, and oiling all the difficult places he found.

“In this world, there are many lives that painfully creak and grate as they go about their daily work. Often it seems that nothing goes right with them and that they need lubricating with ‘the oil of joy’ (Psalm 45:7), gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

“Do you carry your own can of oil with you? … A pleasant word is a bright ray of sunshine on a saddened heart. Therefore give others the sunshine and tell Jesus the rest.”.

Joy

Every day we have opportunities to lighten another’s load by sharing a word of encouragement, a laugh, or a simple act of kindness.  Ask God to help you be aware of opportunities to bless someone today. Be on the lookout for ways to soothe someone’s heart with a little “oil of joy.”

Oil of Joy

 

Whether you happen to be on the giving or receiving end of such a blessing, we would love to hear from you! Please share with us!

Related Posts: Choosing Joy, Kindness Is…, The Kindness of God

The Blessings of Giving Thanks

blessings of giving thanks titleby Lydia Floren

What one habit has most transformed your life?  For me the answer would be                           the practice of thanks-giving..  Here are a few of the blessings of giving thanks that I have experienced:

Attitude. I see even a little blessing in life as a bonus, not a right, when I appreciate that my life—and everything in it—is a gift from God.

Contentment.  I am free to enjoy each day–even if things are difficult–when I give thanks that God is working all things to good.

Trust.  It is easier to trust God’s direction, especially when the future seems uncertain, as I give thanks for God’s love and goodness.

Fearless following. I can boldly follow God’s lead–the best i know it–as I give thanks for God’s commitment to safely guide me. I know that He will make any mid-course corrections if I misunderstand or just wander away for awhile.

Self-concept. I am at peace with who I am when I give thanks for my life–the unique blend of attributes that makes me “me”.   It settles me.  I have nothing to prove. I am valuable, and valued by the most amazing being in the universe, the person that made me.

Encouragement.  I am en-couraged—given courage to be myself, when I appreciate my identity and value.   And I can then en-courage others.

Hope.  I have hope to see beyond a hardship when I am giving thanks in the middle of it.  I can also more readily see benefits of those challenging situations.

Perspective.  Giving thanks for eternity reframes my perspective, and reminds me  what is really important.

Focus. Giving thanks for others takes my focus off myself.

Tolerance.  When I give thanks for the unique gifts of others, I more inclined to celebrate differences, instead of being annoyed by them.  I can appreciate that each person’s individuality makes life rich, just like one spice combined with another creates a wonderful flavor.

Freedom.  Giving thanks for Christ’s sacrifice allows me to leave the past behind, and to quit beating myself for being “imperfect.”  God completes me. In Him I am perfect.

Calling.  There is nothing like the deep soul-satisfying joy of God working through me to love another person in my own unique way.  Giving thanks to God for calling me to be loved, and then to love–Him, myself, and those I encounter–brings me joy.

Presence of God.  Giving thanks in all things brings me into the very presence of God.

The practice of giving thanks in all things has changed–and continues to change–my life.

How has giving thanks blessed you?  We’d love to hear from you!

Wind Chimes

the beauty of God moves through us

My husband Andrew is not materialistic. In fact, for special occasions it is almost impossible find him a gift that he actually wants, and would enjoy.  For Andrew, wind chimes is one of those gifts. Over the years, Andrew has collected a set of perfectly harmonized wind chimes in a range of octaves, each carefully hung with the others on our screened porch out back.

In summer, when we practically live outside, those wind chimes give us special pleasure.  Some days the chimes only ring an occasional note or two as a breeze wafts through.  On windier days they produce a progressing cacophony of sound.  First the trees will rustle as the air pushes through them; then the chimes will joyfully clang an answer, sometimes even echoing down the hill with the neighbors’ bells. The sounds ebb and flow, almost like the crashing of waves, but with clear crisp tones—bold, and then quiet. Even though there is no distinct melody or set rhythm, the wind stirs them to make beautiful music.

We are each created to chime–to resonate the reality of God’s presence and love to those around us.  When we position ourselves toward the wind, the beauty of God moves through each of us like the wind on a summer day. And as God liberates us from the shackles of our shoulds and oughts, we are free to clang away with joyful abandon, almost like a 2 year old banging on pots and pans.

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And God blends the ebb and flow of our clanging into a lovely harmony.

And then He smiles.

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Now it’s your turn:  When have you seen God moving through you or someone else to bless another person?

windchimes-lgBy Lydia Floren

 

The Barnacles of Busy-ness

sunrise_beachBusy-ness is a persistent parasite, like barnacles on a sea shell.  Busy-ness attaches itself to my life through “extra” expectations and goals and plans.  If I allow these barnacles to grow and multiply, my priorities and my calling become almost unrecognizable.  I come to believe that these embellished plans are God’s will for me, and I convince myself that no one but I can accomplish these plans–not even God.  My time is consumed by either working on these altered plans, or worrying about them.  Gone is my willingness to begin each day in God’s presence, and to seek His guidance throughout my day.  There is no time.  I must hurry.  There is much to do.

Through Psalm 23 my Patient Father, My Shepherd calls me back to reality, to the truth deep within me.  He calls me to remember, rest, reflect, restore, and refocus:

ps 23 1REMEMBER:

The Lord gives me plenty–more than enough—of everything I need to do what He calls me to do.

  • plenty of time.
  • plenty of resources.
  • plenty of His love and acceptance and grace.

He has done this before, and He will do it again. And again.

 

ps 23 2REST: Being still—resting—allows me to…

  • absorb His presence, and
  • remember His provision, power, guidance, faithfulness and love.
  • be strengthened for the day ahead.
  • step back and see the big picture, instead of being caught up in meaningless minutia.

 

ps 23 2bREFLECT: His quiet waters allow me a safe place to…

  • see my reflection,
  • face my recurring tendency to wander, and
  • re-clarify truth, and recognize what barnacle-lies might be attached to that truth.

 

ps 23 3RESTORE: He refreshes my soul with…

  • His grace.
  • His love and acceptance.
  • His affirmation of my identity, value, belonging.
  • His calling for me
    • to be loved, and
    • to love,
    • and to let go of everything else.

 

ps 23 4REFOCUS: He guides me to…

  • freedom from the barnacles of busy-ness—those expectations of myself and others that attach themselves to my life, keeping me from seeing and following God’s true plan for me.
  • increasing understanding of truth, and the exposure of lies I have long believed to be truth.
  • new ways to love Him, myself, and others who cross my path.

Every day, in hard times and good ones, when I follow the Lord my Shepherd He guides me to Joy— the hallmark of an abundant life.

Do you ever feel like you have collected barnacles of busy-ness? How has God been leading you to joy, and freeing you of the barnacles of busy-ness? We would love to hear from you!

barnacles of busy-nessBy Lydia Floren