Choosing Joy Always

Choosing Joy Always

Find His Hand and Let Him Guide You Through The Darkness.
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Someone recently gave me a wonderful piece of advice. It's something so simple in language, but so difficult to actual pursue. They told me to 'Choose Joy.' To see the bright side of things. To not dwell on that which we cannot change, but rather, to find the joy that penetrates our lives each and everyday.

But, this is so very difficult. So often I find myself dwelling on the negatives; the things I cannot change and the difficulties I never saw coming. I get lost in my pessimistic tendencies and I can't seem to find the joy that is found in the world that surrounds me. The joy is present, but I don't seem to want to accept it. I don't know how to change my perspective or tendencies quite yet, but I do know this. When we surrender our thoughts to Christ. When we lay it all before Him. Even our doubts, struggles and uncertainty, He takes it all. He takes our anxiety and turns it into optimism, he takes our doubts and gives us faith without doubt, and he takes our tears and turns them into joy.

So, although I may struggle to find Joy, I can stand confident because of this, my Savior is constantly working on my heart out of the purest joy. He will constantly place people, situations and adventures in my life that bring Joy. And it's with confidence in Christ that I can say, 'today I will choose joy.' I will see His hand in my life and joyfully pursue Him forever more.

Today I step out and choose the Joy that has been right in front of me for so very long.

Cover Image Credit: Stocksnap

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When God Says, “Not Right Now.”

“God give me faith to wait and not manipulate. To trust You fully, no matter how my circumstances may appear." — Lynn Cowell

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One of the most frustrating yet beautiful things is when God tells us “no" or “not right now."

At the time, you may have agony or desperation for this one thing to work out in your life, but it slips away from you. You may ask God why. Why does He want you to be unhappy? Why does He want to take away your dreams?

At the time, you cannot see how much God truly is working in your life, but He is. In my life, every time that I was disappointed that a plan or dream didn't work out, I was devastated. I didn't want to be in a position where I was challenged and tested. I wanted all the blessings to flow and to fulfill what I thought was my plan in life. But that's exactly what it was: my plan.

I did not see at the time that that is not what God intended for me and that He actually had far greater plans than I did for myself. He needed to mold me into who I am supposed to be today. Along the way I have met the most amazing people that have had a huge impact on my life, have gone through the most amazing experiences with God, and I wouldn't trade going through all the trials because it has truly made me into the woman I am today.

“What God does in us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for." – John Ortberg

God is continually, endlessly, working in our lives.

We may not see it, but He is. We may blame God for all the things that are going wrong in our lives, but we never see that in the end, we were supposed to go through the low valleys to get to the high, amazing, and beautiful mountains in our lives.

I truly believe that it's when you're at the bottom of the darkest pit in your life that you can actually see the light of God shining brightly upon you. During these times, pray to Him to lead you to understanding that this is all a part of His plan for you.

It hurts God to see that His child is suffering, but in order to carve out just the person that you are supposed to be, you must go through challenges. Where you are today is no accident. God is using the challenge you are in to shape you and prepare you for the place He wants you tomorrow. When it comes to God's plan, timing is absolutely everything.

Looking back on all the events that I had to endure before getting to where I am now, I know that I had to go through the trials in order to be just who I am today, which is happier than I have ever been because I know God and His plan for me. Waiting is the most difficult job of hope, but you must remain faithful and know that God is guiding you.

“When I wait, you strengthen my heart." Psalm 27:14

When you are waiting for God's righteous plan, don't lose faith in His goodness. He only wants the best for you, and in the end, you will look back and see just how much He truly was working in your life. Be patient and the blessings will flow.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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The Heartbeat Of Your Morning Routine Should Be To Seek God

Stop making your morning routine all about you!

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There is something very calming and relaxing about waking up early, starting your day as everyone else is asleep.

This past week, I've been waking up every weekday at around 6 a.m. (for some, that's not early, but for the rest of us who are actually OK with having an inkling of humility, 6 a.m. is pretty early). Let me tell ya something:

Waking up early has been changing my life.

Here's my typical, morning routine: Wake up at 6 a.m., get to the gym by 6:30, work out, get back to the house and in the shower by 7:45, breakfast until 8:30, keep a last thirty minutes or so to get dressed, check emails, go over my daily schedule.

Then comes the fork in the road. My earliest day, I have meetings at 10 a.m. or work shifts at 10:30. If my day begins early, I bolt out the door. If my day begins later, I may relax for a bit before leaving. But that's not the ultimate "fork in the road," aka the choice I make each morning that truly solidifies my routine.

The ultimate heartbeat of my morning routine is spending time alone, praying to God and reading/reflecting on Scripture.

For me, this component serves to be the most crucial of all the elements that go into my morning routine, and I think it should be just as crucial for you, too!

First of all, most of these other elements can really be pushed around throughout the day. Working out in the morning feels good, but I can just as much go to the gym the night before. Same with taking a shower (I never understood people who take showers in the morning instead of at night. Like what are you doing? You get dirty during the day. Clean ya dang body after a long day, not right when you get up. Good grief. Then again, I have turned into a morning shower person, but I chalk that up to my fallen, sin nature).

Breakfast? You can make and have that on the go. Why are you wasting your time cooking a gourmet meal every morning? You ain't that special. You don't deserve that, cut it out.

Plan your day in the morning? Maybe go searching for a little thing called forethought and organize that, you know, the day before! I can't imagine planning my day the day of. Sure, I review it, but ain't no way I'm going to bed tonight being all like "Eh, let's see what happens tomorrow, can't imagine it'll be anything I need to prepare for in advance!"

All of these things stack up as making a productive morning for sure, but there is a reason why prayer and reading Scripture matter the most to me when going through my daily routine.

When we spend time alone with God, there are no expectations. I'm not doing it for societal pressure. I'm not doing it so others can see my being holy (I'm doing it alone, after all). Every other aspect of my morning routine is produced from these expectations, these pressures.

Now, none of these pressures are evil in and of themselves. Exercise, hygiene, nutrition, preparation: these are all good, but they are not God. They all shape us, but they do not save us.

It is from hearing God's voice each day and reading about Him, I am reminded why any of this matters. I am reminded that this life I have is not my own, that I can't just have my selfish morning routine just for my own sake. This spiritual heartbeat of my morning reminds me that everything I am doing in the morning is preparing me to serve and love others better: I'm in good shape to be at the ready, I have appropriate hygiene to be welcoming to others, I am well fed so as not be hangry or driven by emotion, and I have reviewed my day, full of appointments and meetings to encourage and serve others.

There is a story in one of the biographical accounts of Jesus. He "[leaves] the house and [goes] off to a solitary place, where He [prays]" (Mark 1:35, NIV). Once His followers find Him, Jesus responds by immediately leading them where God has told Him to go: to the nearby villages, to preach of God's Love and call to follow Him.

Ultimately, if meeting with God was the heartbeat of Jesus' day, the single component that mattered the most in guiding Him in using His time and helping Him pursue God, it should be the exact same way for you and me. For us to assume otherwise is simply a sign of God not truly being God to us, just as another "good" we stack into our day.

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