Protect The Joy

protect the joy

I read the phrase ‘Protect the Joy’ somewhere on the internet in the month of December, early on before the enormity of the holiday descended on me. I will still in the planning stages, the list making ritual, pre-overwhelmed. I knew the weight of the season was going to fall on me. It always has.

Holidays. Expectations. Needs, hopes, desires. Holidays are a sump pump of emotions for me. It pulls things out of my heart and throws them at my feet in Ah, Ha like fashion. I can soldier through a year like a beast but get me to end of it and once the sump pump switch is thrown, my heart can fill me with silent yet deadly battles. I feel all the feels of everything.

Expectations- people depend on me for what feels like any and everything. Do I need to breathe for you as well, I want to ask.

Needs- I feel the need to produce a whole year worth of unmet acts of love,services and gifts into a two to three day opening. I am delusional.

Hopes- I am a hope filled person. Failure is not an option. Every thing and every cookie will be beautiful, taste the best ever in the history of the world, be the most memorable holiday, make me the most popular and the winner. I think I have only one moment and everything is banked on this one movie making Rockwell season. Real housewives of West Virginia audition.

Desires- My heart is bigger than my wallet and wisdom will not let me ruin a whole year for one day, although I am tempted beyond belief. I’ve found too much value in things and prejudge others that they have too. So guilt and shame speak in loud voices to me. Of all the times I am not a terrible listener it should be now. Alas.

I’ve done the hard work of training to ‘Be in the Moment’. I’ve conquered that movement and that conference. I am in the moment. I’ve learned the value of fleeting days. I’ve watched so many of them I know what they are. I can now be fully in the moments and know the gift of this blip on my eternal time line. Age may have blessed me with wisdom, but it has not touched my dilemma of perspective.

Doing, serving, being, holding, having, knowing, looking, taking, seeking, stopping, starting, giving….I am an action person. I can and will do all of these things. Easy peasy.

But how many times have I done them without joy? How many holidays did I ‘verb’ my way through without the joy infused in the moment?

Too many, I am afraid.

When I read the phrase ‘Protect the Joy’, it was like a key unlocked this portable cage I’ve dwelt in. Present in every room, every activity and moment- but not really and truly free in the moment.

Protect the Joy. 

I had nothing to lose if I tried this new verb. Everything to gain. Immediately, I felt energetic, as if there were a remnant of joy- tinders of previous flames that burned like rocket fuel, hot and fast- were being breathed on.

It was there. Joy. And I began to protect it. Gently at first. Fiercely at the last.

Everything I did, each act of service, every gift given, all my obligations, were filtered through questions about my little, beautiful small flame of joy.

At what point did the meal I was going to serve move from easy and simple to hard and burdensome? Protect the Joy. 

Where was the line crossed between a simple expression and token of love (not wallet) and having my identity wrapped up in a package? Protect the Joy.

I was now aware, so very aware, of tick marks on the moments- like on a face clock, aware of subtle changes where Joy would lesson and something sinister and monstrous would begin to creep into the moment.

Robbing me. Stealing from me. Bankrupting Me.

Protect the Joy.

If I was a person who mixed metaphors I would suggest it was like I was being circled by cobras, lulling me and circling me in a twisted reverse of nature, lunging at me to poison me and steal my baby Joy. I attacked them, chopping their heads off before they poisoned me or my moments.

I kept protecting my Joy. Every day. And my joy grew. I could feel it grow. And if I was a metaphor mixer I’d say it was like a child growing beneath my heart, giving to me, recycling my blood into life.

The eleven day stretch of working, company, family gatherings, hosting, shopping, cooking, baking, loving, talking, hugging, …….you know. You know- these moments where I was present in mind and heart, were infused and coated with joy. It became my exoskeleton.

The snakes called overwhelmed, martyr, under appreciated, in debt, cynical & critical, tired and exhausted lay at my feet.

Conquered and ruled over.

I protected the joy. 

Like it was a gift from God. Like it was precious. Like it was vital. 

Here I am on my 12th day of Christmas- having learned the most valuable lesson of my year:

Protect the Joy. 

And the Joy will magnify the moments. The joy will disqualify the thieves of the moments, barring them, locking them up into the cage from where I was freed.

Joy was the key to the perspective of the moments.

This will be my phrase this coming year- Protect the Joy. I will hold joy in my hand like it is sacred. Because it is. I see that now.

So maybe you’ve felt the same way as me, to some degree or other sometime this year. Maybe you’ve mastered ‘being in the moment’ but there’s not joy in those moments. Let’s together hold the joy we do have in our hands like its sacred and as if it is terribly important to our year. Tenderly like it is a gift from God. And let’s protect it and encourage others to as well.

I’m ready for obligations, guilt and shame to not call any shots this year. If it’s from a can or a freezer bag, if I don’t dress up, if it’s the best I can do without crossing the line  into bondage for me- I am going to protect the joy.

Because serving, loving, creating, making and baking, hugging, talking, living- done with joy is the mark I want on this new year.

#Protectthejoy

Join me?

(thank you to the unknown person who wrote the phrase that made a holiday worshipful for me. God knows who you are and I thank Him for your gift to me of words and encouragement.)

David: Reluctant Wilderness Warrior

Wilderness David cover

David enters his wilderness alone. Hagar had a child with her. Moses got himself a family while there. But David will be all alone.

But while David is highly qualified to do God’s work, he has not yet identified with the people he will rule and serve. His time in the wilderness is filled with purpose, as always it is. He will identify with the outcasts, the ones driven away. And they will follow him and make his throne secure.

There is so much to learn from David and his time in the wilderness. I hope the Hagar and Moses studies blessed you. Here is the final one in the series. As always, I fight the urge to say everything in the lesson here. There is no sense in saying it twice. Download for free and if you missed the other lessons, read them first.

Thank you for spending time in the wilderness with me. It’s been a blessing to know I am never alone.

David: Reluctant Wilderness Warrior ( Download FREE Bible lesson) Lesson 3

Moses: Long Time Wilderness Dweller (Free) Lesson 2

Hagar: Two Time Wilderness Traveler (Free) Lesson 1

The Circle the Wagons Game

dark 1

The last time Josh Duggar’s sins were exposed, those who had been molested, raped, abused, beaten, shushed and shamed spoke out. We stepped out of the silence that is safety and as a collective group we tried to tell you.

We spoke from experience, from what we know to be true. We knew without a doubt that the dark sins and predator nature of Joshua Duggar was not forgiven, the bondage was not broken, and it was not in the past ‘covered under the blood’. We knew.

And we knew that by Joshua Duggars own words. We knew by the way the sin was handled. And we were not believed. We were shamed once again and sent away, with the subtle inferrence that the Kingdom of God and its success lays on our shoulders and our closed mouths. Exasperated we left the conversation. Frustrated we held each others hands and hearts and sought to comfort each other, deeply wounded- not by the wolf, but by the religious world. Once again. It was the ones holding the Bibles that were thumping us with it.

Not the world. Not the unbelievers. For some reason, THEY could clearly see the evil, the darkness and the supreme hypocrisy. But the religious could not. And they circled the wagons, not around the victims and the wounded, but around the the ones who hid and covered multiple and serial child molestations. As if it was simply a matter of a bad decision.

I thought, I really, really thought this would be an enlightening moment for the churched when his sin was once again exposed. I saw many seem to come to an understanding that maybe, yes perhaps it was handled wrong and not bringing this dark evil to Light might have been a mistake. And then I watched that slip away. Once again, I heard the wagons start to roll and I knew. I knew who would be circled and protected.

The Duggars. I’ve read over and over again the suggestion that we stop talking about it, that shame is being brought to the cause of Christ, that Christianity is being harmed by our public connecting of child molestation and adultery and our strong presence at the table of discussion.

I’m telling you, this time we aren’t going away. And we won’t be hushed. And we  refuse to accept the burden of the whole success of Christianity riding on our shoulders and our closed mouths. Because this wasn’t Christianity. Nothing about Joshua Duggar was Christianity. He didn’t represent it. He didn’t live it. He didn’t believe it.

Our passion may not be understood and maybe we do look fierce and scary in our approach. So I will explain our drive.

We know this monster. The monster wore the mask of Christianity, the face of a pastor, a father, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a deacon, song leaders, youth pastors. They were in church. They read the Bible. They told us about Jesus. We loved them. And they abused us. And they did not repent. They silenced us and they did so with Bible manipulations and our love for God and the Kingdom of God. It is a tactic and a technique well honed by fundamentalists.

The Kingdom of God was never in harms way and under threat of falling by exposing predators in the church. Quite the opposite. But I’m tired of speaking these things to the religious so I turn my voice and my heart to those outside the circle.

And I will live like Zipporah, the wife of Moses. Her husband did not keep the covenant with God and the Lord was coming to kill him or the child. She takes a stone and performs a quick and dangerous circumcision on her son. She throws the bloody foreskin at her husband’s feet and tell him he is both dangerous and wrong. She saves his life. She saves the baby’s life. This woman perceived the danger to her home, to her loved ones. She deals with the most personal parts of the body of her children, she literally throws the blame at the correct person’s feet. She is not quiet about it. She is not kind about it. She saves those she loves. And she gets her hands bloody doing it. (Exodus 4)

Where are the women like this? In my anger I want to say they aren’t found in the church anymore, but I know that is not true. We are here. But we’re not going to be afraid anymore. Because there are still little girls, little friends, little boys who need protecting from those who have been made to feel safe inside the church. And if we have to make a loud and bloody presence to protect, then that is what we will have to do. But I am disturbed it is the religious forcing us to do so.

We already know now where our children and grandchildren will be safe. How painful it was to discover it was not in our own friend’s homes. And now we know what churches.

We know what repentance looks like, acts like and behaves like. The Independent Fundamental Baptist religion of the Duggars- Josh AND his parents is corrupt and the television show and likability factor was what was used by Satan to advance his work. Not our loud proclamations against it.

The advancement for the Kingdom of God never rested on a television family. It is ridiculous to think so. And the only reasons I can think one would not make a bold and loud stand against the nature of the religion of the Duggar family is naivety of how this particular evil works or because they know someone who is a predator and has not brought it to the Light in repentance. Can you please tell me why else would there be silence or defense?

 

 

 

 

Moses: Long Time Wilderness Dweller

I cannot help but feel strong admiration for Moses. There are layers to him that I haven’t investigated yet but I did study his time in the wilderness and what drove him there.

He saw something that broke his heart and he acted on it. All his zeal and passion, just ready to be the deliverer of his people. FAIL. He was awakened to the needs of people all around him, but he was not qualified yet to do anything about it.

Moses had some things he needed to learn while in his self imposed exile in the wilderness. He had to have his savior complex burned out of him, along with his love for Egypt. He had to learn that God will not share His glory with another, no matter how beautiful their intentions.

Lately, I’m walking in the footsteps of Moses. I’m questioning how qualified I am to do anything for God. I’m painfully aware just how small I am and I am asking once again, “Who am I?” Just like Moses asked, I’m asking myself the very question and waiting to hear from God. And I’m just going to stay here in this wilderness until I hear from Him.

Oh, how Moses’ heart must have hurt. All his kindred suffering and him tending stupid sheep. For 40 mundane years. But he is not qualified until God says, “Go.”

I need to know about this God on the backside of a mountain, the One who would hide Himself in a wee, little burning bush then wait to see if I will be curious enough to stop and pay attention to it. Only then will He speak to me.

I’ve seen the bondage of the people, and it is not enough to qualify me to deliver them. I know this now.

Come away with me to the wilderness, friend. There are two questions we are asking and the only place we can get the answers are over there, on the other side of the mountain.

Wilderness MOSES Bible Study (PART TWO- free to download)

David- The Reluctant Wilderness Warrior (next week)

Hagar: Two Time Wilderness Traveler (PART ONE- free to download)

 

Hagar: Two Time Wilderness Traveler

Wilderness Hagar Cover

Hagar. There has always been something haunting about this woman to me. She’s overlooked because we don’t really like to dwell on the hard stories that don’t give us romantic endings and deliverance’s like we think they should be.

I’ve always like her because I saw her as a loving mother put into a very hard place because of someone else’s bad decisions. I liked her but after spending many weeks in the early morning studying her I now love her. Nothing about her life was ‘fair’. Nothing was easy. And God didn’t deliver her from this life of hard things.

No, no deliverance for Hagar. But I will tell you what He did do for her. He gave her freedom in this wilderness that she didn’t have in the tents of Abraham. And her son ruled in this wilderness in domination.

They ruled the place that should have destroyed them.

Hagar: I know her well and I think we’ve walked many of the same paths in the same wilderness.

I’ve written a small series of devotions on three people who spent time in the wilderness:

Hagar- Two Time Wilderness Traveler (free to download)

Moses- The Long Time Wilderness Dweller

David- The Reluctant Wilderness Warrior

Next week I will add Moses. Please feel free to download,  Pin, share with anyone who you feel it would be a blessing. All the blessings of this woman that God gave me in the wee morning hours this summer are meant to be shared.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t say everything I’ve already written in the study. But it’s so hard!

Be blessed, dear one. I’ll walk with you in this hard place and will remind you that freedom can be found here.