Originally published November 4, 2014

Choose Joy

I enjoy routine, organization, and if you came for a visit, you would see sticky notes and lists in several rooms of my home. I had my life planned out at age    18 – graduate college, move back to my hometown, start teaching, get my graduate degree, become a principal, and maybe if I found the right guy, start a family in my thirties.

At age 20, that right guy showed up in my life!!

A few years later, I was married and soon after found myself sending my husband off, alone, to his first duty station because it was not in my plans to move (remember, I was going to have a teaching career). This was the start of my joyless journey. I struggled, missing my husband and knowing down inside I was not being fully obedient to God. A few months later, I quit my job, packed my apartment, moved. Headed for an Army base in Georgia, I ended up hundreds of miles away from family and the town in which I spent a majority of my life. My plans were a jumbled mess, but they couldn’t be any more interrupted, right? Wrong.

We soon found out that a PCS, deployment, and baby were expected! I struggled with being thankful and having true joy in my life. I was happy that I was going to be a mom, but I let the feelings of no control and chaotic circumstances overwhelm me instead of trusting the Lord’s plan. This struggle went on for several years, robbing my husband, children, myself and my home of joy. When things do not go the way I plan (or how the Army plans for that matter…we know how often that happens), I occasionally let the interrupted plans and my circumstances control my joy.

Over the past ten years, I have crossed paths with amazing women at each duty station, women that love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, and minds. These women show me that you can be thankful regardless of circumstances or how many items are checked off a list, teaching me to dig deep and stand on God’s Word. Choosing joy and truly letting their light shine. These Women do not have perfect lives, but they have lives that display joy.

Let me tell you, friends, it is freeing when you dig your roots in God instead of circumstances. Our plans and circumstances are not always going to be what we want, but how awesome is it to know that the same God that created the Heavens and Earth has unfailing love for us and plans that are far greater than we could ever imagine?

The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem and all the skilled workers were forced to Babylon. They were to live in Babylonia for 70 years before they were promised to return back home. I cannot even imagine having to wait 70 years! I am in a waiting season at this time and it is hard! However, my heart smiles just thinking about the promise that God listens to my prayers when I call out to Him, and how liberating to think He has great plans in store for my family. The good news is you can cling to these promises as well. God’s plans for us are for a future and hope, so even when we cannot see His big plan, we can trust it is for the good.

So, let’s do it!

  1. Pray, knowing God is listening.
  2. Take our eyes off our circumstances. (those interrupted plans and ourselves)
  3. Praise God for who He is and thank Him for the work He is doing in our lives.
  4. Choose to live a joy-filled journey (even while folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher), and
  5. Be thankful for what you GET TO DO because God has specifically CHOSEN YOU for those plans.

Living JOY-Lisa