That time joy grabbed hold of my life and wouldn’t let go

 

joy

I got off the phone on a Sunday afternoon, my heart knotted with questions, jaw gripping for any kind of answer.  She’d listened to me spill over the edges of 60 minutes, maybe longer, like so many times before.  Her name wasn’t Joy but it does mean Pearl, Precious, Gem of the Sea and if you knew how many times she’d listened to me process, translation:  talk and talk and talk and talk until I know what I think, you’d understand just how priceless she is to me.

This time she said something new though.  You’re trying to figure this out Marcy and you need to let it go.

I diverted my attention from the meaning behind her words, felt my feet press to the floor bracing myself against the flash of what it might require of me.  She was right.

The problem was I didn’t know where to start, how to release my grip and  let the blood flow into my fingertips again.

Have you ever prayed about something for so long that you’ve run out of words or find there’s nothing more to say?

God says he already knows our hearts but he also wants us to ask and keep on asking.  I think he means both of those things (which is why we need to quit interpreting him so much instead of choosing to believe the  bible is more And than it is Or but that’s a completely different post).  There comes a time in every challenge, when you have to loosen your grasp, open your hands completely, and lay that unfinished business down, throw it, if you have to, straight at God.  From there, you believe that he will be all Bob Gregory from channel 13, here with an important weather advisory if there’s something you need to know, but until then, you carry on with regular life and stop trying to work it all out in your head.

It was the week before Christmas and  I  was  holding tighter than a heart should to some things I’d run out of ways  to fix. The expectation of a beautiful holiday couldn’t do a thing to lighten my load no matter how I’d tried to will it, I was miserable.  The heaviness of what I could not control was like a chunk of coal wrapped in layers of tattered paper sitting on my heart and it was beginning to be unbearable.

After finishing my last client of the season, the wrestling I’d been doing in my mind for weeks, turned into an all-out brawl.  I swept the hair, soaked the bottles and headed to the mailbox.   Walking the twenty or so steps,  and overwhelmed with the thought this weight crushing my hope for a glory-filled Christmas, as I began to open the mailbox, I knew I had a choice to make.    Hold tightly to my misery while I demanded God answer me one way or another, or truly, once and for all, lay down every expectation, every possible scenario.  Like Red quoting Andy  in Shawshank Redemption,  ‘get busy living’, or get busy dyin’, because that’s just how much this bloodshed was controlling may life.  I won’t ever forget the gravity in that moment and the way I felt powerless to do what I knew I must.

What happened next is proof to me that when we find ourselves unable to do that thing we need to do  and we’re out of emotional, physical, even spiritual resources, if we trust our Creator with the details of our lives (in the listening way, not the talking way) he will cause a chain of events set into motion months earlier  to come together in one desperate moment  we’re not sure we can survive, and change the volatile trajectory of a soul.

A couple of years ago, I swallowed the Coconut Oil and now have beautiful little bottles with aromatic liquid  delivered once a month.    In theory, I remember to change my order every month so I get the essential oils I actually need, but similar to my library motto a few years ago No More Fines in 2009,  the real-life story is not-so-much.

In the fall, I began working with an incredible woman who helps other women give structure to their business and pursue dreams that won’t be hushed.

Standing at my mailbox on the 20th of December, in no way is it an overstatement to say that my life changed in a series of moments I couldn’t have imagined or planned, let alone orchestrated.

Along with your garden variety bills and a stack of sale flyers were two packages with my name on them.  I didn’t know what they were and I hadn’t remembered ordering them.

I ripped open the first package to the cheerful branding of my new coach.  Want to know he name?  Natalie Joy.

Her company name?  Defining Your Joy.

Natalie had sent me a planning calendar for the year to help keep me on track and while she’d previously sent several little packages with encouraging messages and treats, I wasn’t expecting a thing from her that day and was happy for mail that didn’t ask me for money.

I’d processed often through the fall with two friends and  knew I needed to stop holding tightly to some long-dead dreams.   I didn’t expect though that the result would come in the form of a choice.  When I opened the second package, I suddenly knew, in the way that you effortlessly know how to breathe, not only that I had a choice to make, but also the name of my choice.

The previous month, I’d ordered some oils for my mom.    As I started to open my Young Living package,  I realized I’d forgotten to change my order.  I had no recollection of what oils I’d ordered the month before.  Massive amounts of white-hot shame that I’d forgotten another deadline.

When I opened the box, pulled out the protective cylinder, and shook the bottle into my hand, when I saw the gorgeous pink labeling in the same hue as the pink on the calendar I’d already opened, and when I turned over the oil and read the name, the last bit of emotion attached to the heaviness I’d been carrying for as long as I could remember streamed right out of my eyes.

The name of the oil was Joy.

For months, I’d been faced with decisions about my attitude and my  atmosphere amid circumstances unlikely to change, and for months I couldn’t cross over making the decision to let go of deeply held bitterness and resentment, resulting in control and anger.  But right there in my mailbox, God delivered some Christmas Joy in a way so unexpected, so personal, so beautiful, there was nothing left for me but to grab hold of it and believe.

I just about danced back into my home that afternoon as I felt the darkest blanket of hopelessness lift off my soul.  Due to the Reese cups sitting on my hips, it was quite impossible, but I’m telling you I felt 10 pounds lighter. My world began to twinkle like the 900 lights on my tree.  I played music and danced with my children and anticipated the entire holiday  known and unknown, with a powerful sense of God’s presence.  I’d felt the same thing many times before, I think the difference I felt then, and I still feel today, is that it had taken up permanent residence within me.  There will circumstances for the rest of my life, that require me to choose a response of Joy.  But on that day,  Joy chose me in the most absolutely forever sort of way.

I’ve walked away from the computer countless times trying to capture words to tell you what kind of magical and supernatural celebration started to take place in my soul that afternoon. I wish I would have walked straight inside, sat down and written right then about the radical absence of anxiety and anger that had plagued me for years.  But I didn’t, and life marches on to the drumbeat we execute and sometimes to the rhythm determined by someone else.

The truth is that since that day, I’ve had legions of opportunities to pick up that same anger and anxiety I threw off at my mailbox, and resume living  life according to an old script. When circumstances have  dictated feelings of hopelessness and deep disappointment, I’ve had to make a choice.  Not a choice to gut it out, not the same sort of wrestling I’d been doing for years but a choice to simply remember.  To take myself back to the side of the road where the most  sacred peace washed over me in a forever sort of way.  Because while there have been beautiful moments with my family, and the most lovely Christmas I can remember, there have also been  bolts of lightening  that lit up my world in  abrupt and frightening ways, but let me tell you what I believe.

I believe that when we choose to look our Creator in the eye, dare to wrestle with the flesh he formed around us, and learn to know ourselves as we learn to know him, it’s then, that radical and abiding peace  will cover our lives and begin to make us invisible to the enemy of our souls.

I believe then, that Joy chooses us.

 

When I realized the amount of Joy, both my friends and the state of being, that have been closing in on me for years, I knew that I had to share this story.  I’d love to chat with you in the comments.  Is there anything you want to talk about?  Stories you’d like to share about a time when Joy chose you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to know if you’re cursing yourself

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and walked away a completely different person?

Yesterday, a friend and I shared some salty tears via Verizon.  One of us needed it pretty badly.  One of us needed to be reminded of her purpose.  One of us got clotheslined this week (again) and one of us can’t ever seem to  remember that silence is her Kryptonite.

That would be me.

Kathleen and I have spent years learning how to use fewer words to communicate more.  Our babies were babies when we began talking regularly.  She’s  always lived an hour away, so the amount of time we’ve spent face to face over the last 15 years  has consisted mostly of drive-bys to trade maternity clothes and all sizes of jerseys, jackets, and cleats. She went back to work several years ago and I’ve expanded my studio hours so between businesses and running our children to all manner of child-like activities, our talks are fewer and further between.

I won’t lie, its not my favorite. I can be an umbilical cord sort of friend though so it’s good for me to learn to say truer things with fewer words. These days when we talk, every word carries weight and yesterday we covered big successes (she’s in line for a promotion very soon and I’m so proud of her), some sad situations, and then we prayed.  Honestly, I wanted her to pray and I planned to follow with a  faint “what she said” and call it church.  Something deep within me though, the shadow of hope that sits in my gut maybe, began pushing upward.  It took work and belief and real vulnerability to sit with my friend in complete brokenness before God and offer the sacrifice of my smothered, breathy words.

Powerful shifts in the atmosphere happen when we pray with friends who share our theology of the Holy Spirit.  Let me say that again.

Powerful shifts in the atmosphere happen when we pray with friends who share our theology of the Holy Spirit

So, when the words made it to my mouth in halted, whispered phrases, it wasn’t long before I could think clearly again.  Within a few minutes, while reminding God who he is and what he does, I started to remember who I am and who he created me to be.

One of the reasons I love Kath is because she reminds me who I am by linking arms with me instead of pointing fingers or pulling on my hands.   Though she’s wired to be an encourager she doesn’t shirk away from pain.

Sometimes, I believe pit-of-hell lies that undermine my calling and I don’t even realize it’s happening.  In these moments, I sell short belief in my Destiny and therefore, my belief in God. She lives out of her own Destiny though and when I simply cannot take one more step or say one more word, she knows how to lean into my pain in a way that propels me forward. It’s as if we’re standing back to back while she gently throws the weight of her belief against  my paralytic self.  She’s wired with the ability to move people forward while their feet are planted in intricately, etched concrete.  

No thank you, I’m not going any further, I’ve reached the end of the road and shall stay here.  Just throw me a high pile blanket, some markers to color the concrete and I’ll be fine.  No worries, I’ll bathe in my tears, I’ve heard saltwater is good for the skin.  

When the amens had been said, I had already begun to feel peaceful rush that follows invisible spiritual work.  The Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting, but something in the way this  trust-walk works must begin with me and my big mouth.  When I chose to speak life instead of curses, when I chose to believe with my mouth true things about the God and Father of my soul, magic began to happen.

I felt better.

I saw clearer.

The world was lighter.

And I began to remember,  I was made for this life I’m living.   Purpose is discovered as a result  of acting as if the bible is true.   Whether we feel our purpose, see our purpose, or can define our purpose right away, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that when we believe what God says in the bible.  What matters is that we speak it with our mouth.  Because when our lives don’t go the way we thought they would, speaking truth with our mouths restores goodness and purpose and hope.  And magic happens, soul renewal right here in The Land of the Living.  

One of the places I find most joy is connecting with other women, listening for ragged edges of brokenness they’re encountering  and then feeling the brush with God that comes when we share our hardest stories.  That might sound like some kind of twisted way to find joy, but if you’ve experienced it,  you’re nodding your head right now because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Sharing with other people means opening my mouth and speaking, so when Kathleen Voxed me this short sentence just a few minutes after we got off the phone, words that had been lodged in my chest for days, began to break free.

if-satan-can-keep-you-silent

If Satan can keep you silent, he’s winning.

I’m motivated by winning.  It’s just true.  Sometimes it can be destructive to my relationships but when it comes to throwing down with evil?  I’m all over it!!  These words instantly became my battle cry as the holy spirit blew through my soul and filled up my lungs.  Bring it baby, mama got things to say today and she gonna use you to do it.  

The story isn’t quite over and someday I’ll tell you what happened a few hours later.  But even though I don’t know exactly what’s next  in my pursuit to use my gifts, you can bet  in a couple of weeks, the same struggle with silence will resurface.  When it happens I will remind God of who he is, and be reminded of who I am and you may here me shout from over here on Carmelita Blvd.

 

Lord, I will give thanks to you with all my heart.
I will tell about all the wonderful things you have done.                                                 

                                                                           Psalm 9:1

 

If you haven’t met my friend Kathleen, would you pop on over to her place and say hello?  You can also find her over here on the FB.  Believe me, you want to know this one!  She’s a wealth of information about all things oily and has been on a Young Living journey for much more than a decade.  I’m not gonna lie, I used to think she was sniffing too much of the stuff.  But then, life and kids and injuries and an insurance crisis and THEN she gave me an oil, White Angelica, to help with my mood.  As  I began to use it religiously, a sort of  Land of the Living self-care began to intersect with spiritual mercies that are new every single morning I have a long way to go on my wellness journey, but I can say without one hesitation that using oils regularly is helping to repair broken places in my soul, rewire my thinking and provide my family with alternative health treatments.

I’m shamelessly trying to help Kathleen with her promotion today.  She has until midnight to meet her goal. Here are a couple of links if you’d like to check them out.

Link to order a starter kit. ***the best of oily introductions

Link to tell you all about White Angelica.  If you have questions, comment below and I’ll try to answer them.

Link to learn more about how essential oils work.

Now Just a couple of more fun things.  If you’re interested in learning more about discovering your God-Given Destiny.  Check out Dave Rod from Grace Church 146th in  the video here.  Or here.  Or here.