Joy Dare

I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, and I am so inspired by her story and her journey to thankfulness and joy. Her words and images bless me every time and sit down with them. She started this journey when someone challenged her to start a gratitude list. She now keeps a numbered list in her gratitude journal where she lists every gift, blessing and grace she sees in her world. As she counts, she thanks Him and He pours out His joy on her. She finds His gifts in some of the simplest everyday things and encourages others to look for them too. You can find her sharing His grace in quiet peaceful words and images on her blog, A Holy Experience. She recently wrote, “If we aren’t thankful to God for now–why would we be joyful for more?” 

“…When your heart’s grateful to God at the start of the day, you can trust God in the hurtful of the day.”

Ann has what she has called a Joy Dare. She dares her readers to find His joy, dares them to start their own journey toward thankfulness with their own numbered lists of His gifts poured out for them. Three gifts a day will add up to 1000 gifts in a year.

Let’s join her in thanking Him for the gifts He has given us in each and every moment. Let’s be intentional with our gratitude to God and intentional about choosing His joy.

Sisters in Him… Love you all,

Dianna :)

#1 Flying red frisbee with one boy and 2 dogs racing after it

#2 Muddy water shining like diamonds in the sun

#3 Mud spotted page to remind me of this moment

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Dare To Be Thankful :)

 

“Giving thanks awakens me to God giving Himself, the naked, unashamed passion, God giving Himself to me–for me–a surrender of love.” Ann Voskamp in “One Thousand Gifts”

 

I know some of you ladies are runners, even marathon runners. I admire all you awesome runners. I want to be real with you so here is me being real… there is not an ounce of running blood in me. That’s right. I’m a walker. My face hits the ground less often when I walk. Notice I said less often. My feet still get tangled up walking, but less often is a good thing. :)

Walking started out as a sort of therapy. I found myself in a very angry place in life. So angry I just couldn’t sleep at night. In a desperate effort to avoid tearing into everyone around me and to avoid becoming a permanently bitter and cold person, I started hitting the road every time I felt angry or even just a little agitated. I decided to walk my anger out. I would walk and walk and walk until I felt a calm quiet inside of me. Then… I would turn around and head back home. You need to know, while I was walking, I was also talking to God. Heading away from home I ranted and raved all that anger in me. I poured it out to God; burning, furious tears and all. I usually knew it was time to head home when those rants had turned to smiles and giggles. I know all my neighbors along that road have to think I am crazy! I would go by their houses just balling and yelling, waving my hands around and shaking my fists in the air. Then… I would walk back by… laughing hysterically all by myself.

My anger has long since washed away, but I am still walking that road. Funny thing is without my anger to distract me, I really feel the hot sun beating down. It is not a very shady road and the sun is brutal. You can see the heat rising up in waves from the pavement. Then, after all that scorching sun, comes this wonderful bend in the road where the trees on both sides lean in toward each other, and there is shade. Oh sweet beautiful shade. When you step into it, that coolness just washes over you. It feels as if the temperature drops 10 degrees. As I walk through this wonderful oasis, I am refreshed and revived. This sweet little place along that hot road feels like heaven to me. It shelters me. I soak in the comfort it brings. I smile in that shade from the inside out. And then… I step back out into the sun, and I keep going past that comfortable cool place into the heat. From the very beginning of my walk, I look forward to that wonderful shady place full of everything I need to keep moving forward.

This shady spot has brought so many smiles to me over the years. In those angry days of turmoil, I usually raged right through it on my way, not even stopping to notice the comfort it offered. I was way too BLINDED by my anger to see the beauty there, but on the way back home… I was different. On the way back home, after the anger had washed away, this shady spot brought me to my knees, just shaking with tears of joy and gratitude. How could I enjoy something so simple at a time like this? The anger in me came from my world falling apart around me, but there I was smiling and laughing. My world wasn’t suddenly whole again. It was still as torn up as ever. But I knew God was making ME whole again. Even though my world might completely crumble to pieces and stay broken forever, in that moment I KNEW… I would not. That brokenness was not my forever home! I knew, when I stepped into that glorious little shady spot and FELT the beauty there, God was ALREADY healing my brokenness. The cold, bitter anger I was so desperately trying to walk away from would NOT defeat me. In the middle of NOTHING RIGHT, I could still feel His comfort in that shade. I might be drowning in the nasty ugliness of this world,  but there I stood, SEEING His divine beauty all around me. God CONTINUALLY, day after day, washed away my blindness to His surrender of love for me.

That shady spot… it makes me giggle with joyful gratitude.

Biblegirls…I miss those Thankful Thursdays we used to share. I miss sharing that time together with all of you…that time of intentionally looking for God in our days.

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I hesitate or pull back from lists of how beautiful and wonderful everything is. At first glance, they seem so fluffy and empty. I mean after all, get real. This world is ugly. Truth is… I pull back because I get cynical and the ugliest thing of all is my blindness to Him giving Himself to me… giving Himself for me… my blindness to His surrender of love.  When we used to list our Thankfuls on Thankful Thursday, finding those bits of His grace in my world fed me and kept my eyes where they needed to be…on Him and His grace for me, but the enemy started whispering to me about how goofy I must sound to be all joyful over a shady spot in the road when life was tearing at me… and the enemy mocked me…how can a little patch of shade make this life okay?

God gives us beautiful moments that make us smile and bring us peace and comfort when there seems to be none in sight. He gives us Himself in those moments. Seeing Him in those moments strengthens us. It keeps us going and reminds us He has already conquered death for us and poured Himself out for us. Finding Him in ALL our moments makes us remember we are loved. We remember… HE loves us with an everlasting love. The enemy would have us believe that stopping to smile and thank Him for those moments is for the fluffy romantic types with their heads in the clouds–as if noticing His love for us is a ridiculous and silly thing. The enemy had me believing this… so I stopped. I stopped Thankful Thursdays. I even stopped listing Thakfuls in my head for a while. I stopped looking for Him and His outpouring of love for me, but He didn’t stop.

I recently came across some of those Thankful lists and as silly or “PollyAnna” or even fake as they may have seemed at the time…they STILL, to this day, fill me FULL of HIS JOY! The enemy may mock me, but reading back over those beautiful moments fills me with gratitude all over again. They make me want to dance with joy right in the middle of my mess. They let me see God giving Himself to me in my broken moments. They strengthen me with HIS amazing strength. They reassure me that, even in the worst of times, His grace IS sufficient. They whisper those wonderfully reassuring words that are the Rock beneath my feet…You are HIS and HE is yours. HE has you. PERIOD. No ifs, ands, or buts. HE… HAS… YOU! 

He fills every moment.

I want to be intentional about stopping and thanking Him. I am not talking about putting on a fake mask that just pretends everything is rosy and ignores the mess around us. I’m talking about learning to see past the muck of our lives to see Him right there in it all. I’m talking about acknowledging that even in the middle of the mess, God STILL blesses us, He STILL carries us, and He’s STILL making us whole. I’m talking about thanking Him for being bigger than any of the grumbles or struggles that threaten us. He still has grace for us…arm loads of undeserved, unearned gifts.

Let’s be real with each other. Let’s be real about our pain, But let’s find His JOY there too.  And let’s share that joy with each other.

Sisters in Him.

Dianna :)

 

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The Lines Have Fallen For Me In Pleasant Places

As a child, it was fun to imagine where we would go and all the adventures we would have along the way. We could go as far as our imagination would carry us. There seemed to be no boundaries or limits.

A few of us Biblegirls have been working our way through Beth Moore’s study called ”The Inheritance“. We are discovering the beautiful inheritance each of us has in Christ. Beth has painted for us an image of the “field” that we have been assigned by God, and the boundary lines that have fallen around these fields in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).

I haven’t stopped thinking about this field and those lines in pleasant places. I see lines and fields everywhere I look now. Although my lines have not all fallen in the places I dreamed of as a child, His plan for me is better than any dream I could imagine for myself. These lines have taught me to trust Him for the pleasant places.

He has our lines.

He assigns the fields.

And these fields He has blessed us with are not empty. We share them with other people.

…Other people assigned to our field.

…Other people with fields that overlap ours.

He put us together in the same place and same time for a reason. In Exodus 17, Joshua is fighting against Amalek and as long as Moses holds up his arms, they win; but when he lets down his arms, Amalek prevails. So what happens when his arms get tired?  God has two men planted at his side close enough to catch his arms when they start to sink. Can you imagine the three of them standing together on that hill overlooking this battle? Moses was responsible for holding up the staff, but God planted support under his arms.

When I picture my field, I see those people firmly planted around me by God. They help hold me up. They encourage me with His word. They remind me of His love. When I am weak, they continually lift me to Him. They show up in His timing with support from Him. They are there beside me with their overlapping fields. They lift me up.

{I’ve been laughing that all the fields I see seem to be filled with cows. Ya’ll are prettier than cows! And smell better too. :)}

Do you recognize those encouragers in your field lifting you up to Him? They are there even when we think we are all alone. He planted support there for you too.

What about the rest of the people who share this field with us? We see them every day, but don’t know them. There is a distance. Has He planted us here to be His support for them? He can bridge that distance. We can be their encourager too.

Do they hear us thank God for the grace that brought us to this beautiful inheritance? Or do our complaints over those boundaries make them deaf to anything else we may say?

Do we take time to lift them up to Him when we see them struggling or do we rush by with eyes on our own pleasure? Or consumed with our own struggles?

What do we do with this field we’ve been assigned?

Do we hang out at the border gazing into the field beside us longing to have what we haven’t been given?

 Or are we planting our fields? Sowing seeds of His love. Lifting those around us up to Him.

You plant the seeds and He will bring about the harvest.

Dianna :)

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised…

1 Chronicles 16:23-25

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.”

As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Psalm 16

 

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Dripping With Him

Have you ever stood next to a soaking wet dog dripping with mud and water? Chances are that dog joyously shared all that drippiness with you!

We have a pond in our front yard and two dogs who share it with us. One of those dogs has lots of long fluffy hair to soak up all that water and mud. She loves to jump in the water, get soaking wet and run to shake off all over us. She does this over and over with pure joy just bouncing all around until we are completely drenched . It is as if her only care in that moment is to get us covered in whatever she is covered in. The funny thing is, no matter how far away we stand from her and no matter how hard we try escape when we see her coming, some of what she’s flinging always lands on us!

Everywhere you look throughout the Bible you find overflow and abundance from God. We see God providing abundance in the middle of famines. He is abundant in lovingkindness. His people remember His abundant goodness and His abundant redemption. He blesses abundantly. His compassion is abundant. In John, Jesus said that He came so we can have LIFE and have it abundantly. He speaks of His fullness through which we have all received grace upon grace. He speaks of His joy being in us so that our joy may be made full 2 Corinthians 1:5 says “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” We find Paul filled with comfort and overflowing with joy in all his afflictions in 2 Corinthians 7:4 . 2 Corinthians 8:2 describes people who have been severely tested with suffering, yet they overflow with joy and give generously in spite of their extreme poverty. Colossians 2:7 describes people being built up in Him, grounded in their faith and overflowing with gratitude.  1 Timothy 1:14 tells of the abundant grace of God, and the abundant faith and love we can find in Christ. And my favorite, Ephesians 3:20, describes how God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think!”

Life doesn’t always look or smell pretty. Sometimes it just stinks. I’ve been there….surrounded by stink. I cling to Him in those times. I look forward with hope. I KNOW He WILL bring me through to the other side without even the smell of it on me! (Dan 3:27)

This abundance of Lovingkindness and Goodness…

This overflow of Him and His Comfort, of His Redemption and Forgiveness….

The outpouring of His Spirit filling me in a way that only He can….

Overflowing with His Joy,

His Peace, His Patience, His Gentleness, His Faithfulness….

Soaked with Thankfulness…

Covered with His Blessings I could never earn or deserve…

His Amazing Love…

That is what He lets me drip with even in the worst of times. My eyes overflow at the thought of it..

Can you imagine it? Dripping with Him. His love scattering around you when you shake! I can see Him now shining in the sun all around you.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.  This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” (Galatians 5:19-23 The Message)

Dianna :)

 

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He Made YOU to be YOU

Have you ever stood beside someone you wish you could be? If only we could slip into their shoes and magically hide all our flaws with their wonderfully delightful qualities.

I spent quite a bit of time with my younger sister this Easter weekend. I loved getting to spend time with her and all of my family! But…Monday morning I found myself in a funk. All I could think about were all the wonderful qualities she has that I don’t have. Can you say JEALOUS? I wanted to wear her shoes and throw mine out along with everything else about me! I am constantly reminding my son, “Be content with what you have and don’t complain about what you don’t have.” Yet, there I was whining to God, “Why in the world did You make me so…ME?”

Have you ever been there? I go there too often, but I thank God regularly that He doesn’t leave me there! He helps me to remember that He made me just like I am for a reason! He doesn’t make mistakes. When He knit you and me in our mother’s womb (Psalms 139) and put us in our shoes, He knew what He was doing. He has plans for you and me in this world (Jeremiah 29:11), and He’s not going to stop until He has perfected the good works that He started in us. (Philippians 1:6)

Funny how remembering God chose me, made me, and has plans for me right here in these broken down shoes of mine brings me rushing back to that wonderful place of contentment and peace. Suddeny, I find joy in being me.

The thing is those good works He started in us only fit in our own personal shoes. If I try to wear someone else’s shoes, I miss out on all that wonderful goodness He created for the girl in MY shoes. These shoes that seemed so ugly before are suddenly beautiful and exactly what they are meant to be.

So…when we find ourselves standing next to someone who in our eyes is exactly what we wish we were, we need to remember in His eyes we are ALREADY exactly what He made us to be in the unique place He’s planted each of us! He’s perfecting YOU right there in your beautifully worn shoes! He has plans for you! You just wait and see…

Dianna :)

 

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