Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Pride, Then the Crash

Just when I thought I was doing okay in my relationship with God . . . just when I thought, “Hey, I’ll write a blog about how trustworthy God is so that I can encourage people and tell my story of victory” . . . right about the time I was feeling pretty confident in my fight against the fears that have so often plagued me . . . my proud house of cards came tumbling down, and everything I thought I had learned was put to the test.

I’ve kept it no secret that FEAR is one of my biggest struggles. After going through the traumatic experience of Eli’s early birth, I began to fear all the bad things that could happen. I also began to question the trustworthiness of God. Of course, I never consciously said, “I don’t trust you, God.” But all my fears and all my questions – well, all they spoke for themselves. It took several years for me to work through it all. But when I finally did, God even allowed me the opportunity to share my story with some other women who were very encouraged by it.

I suppose we never fully realize when we’ve gotten over-confident until something happens to test that confidence, to see if it’s still placed in the right person (God or ourselves). My test came the other night when I received a sudden, potentially serious injury in a freak accident. It seems so unreal, and I keep wondering how in the world it happened. As I was getting back into our vehicle with my kids, somehow I turned with just enough umph, and the passenger-side door was closing on me with just enough speed, that I popped my forehead on the corner of the door and busted my head. I instantly fell to the ground, and my kids immediately began to freak out. There was a lot of blood, and many tears and screams from my children. Fortunately my husband was with us, so he drove me to the ER to get checked out.

As I sat in the car on the way to the hospital, I felt so close to losing consciousness. But I knew that if I passed out, my kids would be even more scared than they already were. Plus, that’s just a scary feeling in itself – the feeling that you’re about to lose yourself into the unknown. So I was fighting that feeling with everything in me. I leaned forward as far as I could to put my head between my knees, and I began breathing in long, slow breaths. After about 5 minutes I finally felt that horrible feeling subside, just in time for me to get out of the car and visit the ER. Thankfully, in the end I was okay. The doctor said I had a slight concussion, but I didn’t need stitches. He bandaged me up and sent me home with orders to watch for signs of a worsening concussion.

Two days later, my body was no worse for the wear (although I was still in pain) . . . but my mind and heart were a different story. On the second night as I was trying to relax and go to sleep, I finally cried. I suppose I had been holding back for the kids’ sake, trying to be tough. But suddenly my mind was filled with fear and doubt. Why did God let this happen to me? Sure, it wasn’t so bad – but look how easily and suddenly an accident can happen. Our human bodies seem so fragile sometimes. What if Jeromy hadn’t been there to take care of us? What if it had happened to one of the kids? What if I had been knocked out? I must have done something wrong to deserve this. But what did I do? I guess I just deserve this for what a horrible person I am.

I sounded like a baby Christian – not a seasoned believer who’s been walking confidently with Christ for the past several years. At that moment I had been sorely tempted to fall back into my old habits of beating myself up and wallowing in self-pity. But I knew better. Even if my rantings were all true – even if God really was disciplining me – even if it had been worse – God is still God. And I can trust Him because He’s my heavenly Father, and He loves me. All that time when my confidence had been building, at some point I had shifted from being confident in God to being confident in myself. But this incident put everything back into the right perspective.

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. . . . He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. ~ Psalm 112:1, 7

You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. ~ Psalm 86:15

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Prematurity Awareness Day - Eli's Hope

Today is World Prematurity Awareness Day. Today we focus on the growing problem of premature birth. Around the world, 13 million babies are born prematurely each year. In the United States, 1 in 8 babies is born too soon. Overall, our nation scores a D on its report card, which measures preterm birth rates against the Healthy People 2010 goals. With all the medical advances in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and the like, you might think that most premature babies end up being just fine. But even babies that are born a few weeks early run the risk of having serious, lifelong medical complications. And preterm birth is the #1 cause of death for all babies in the first month of life.

At 30 weeks gestation and weighing only 3 pounds, our son Eli entered the world. He spent 5 weeks in 2 different Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Every moment was a challenge as his tiny body fought to survive. But after just a few days in the NICU, it was apparent that this little guy was a fighter. He got to go home earlier than expected, as the doctors had predicted that he'd have to stay in the hospital until his due date. But even when he went home, he spent another 5 weeks on supplemental oxygen. Six years later, Eli is a strong, healthy little boy with a ton of energy! His life is truly a miracle, which can only be attributed to a mighty and loving God putting His hand on Eli, and working through those wonderful NICU doctors and nurses.

Because of our own personal experiences, we are creating a nonprofit organization called Eli's Hope. And we are on a mission to share Christ's love with the families of NICU babies. We strive to provide hope in the midst of sorrow, and peace in the midst of chaos. The first contact we’ll have with a NICU family will be through their receipt of a gift bag that our volunteers have lovingly and prayerfully put together. We also plan to organize various interactive events for the parents at the hospital, so that we can minister to them on a more personal level. In addition, we hope to be able to provide some baby items and/or clothing to some disadvantaged families. And on occasion, if the unthinkable happens, we will have a special gift bag that is lovingly prepared to help the family cope with such a great loss.

Having a child in the NICU is never an experience that anyone is prepared for. Eli's Hope is here to help make the rough places smooth for NICU families, only by the grace of God. We appreciate your prayers as we begin the lengthy process of incorporating Eli’s Hope as a 501(c)3 organization. We hope to begin officially serving NICU families some time after the first of the year. In the meantime, we’re doing our part to raise awareness and build connections with people in our local hospitals.

To find out more about prematurity and how you can help, visit

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snapshot of a Lunch Mom

I walk into the school at 11:30 every day, hoping and praying that the kids in my lunch class are having a good day. I go to the milk room (there is no cafeteria in the school) and gather the 10 chocolate milks, 2 white milks, and 5 sack lunches that my class of 20 1st and 2nd graders needs. Then it’s off to Room 107 to relieve the teacher so that she can have a few moments of peace to enjoy her own lunch. The bell rings to signify the beginning of lunchtime, and I make my way through the crowd of children who are already lined up at the sink to wash their hands.

And so it begins…

Yay! Mrs. Guthrie! [Sometimes I get a few hugs.]
I have peanut butter in my lunch today.
Me too!
Okay boys, if you’ve washed your hands you may go to Room 103. [My room has been designated a peanut-free zone.]
Is today nacho day?
No, that’s tomorrow.
Hey Mrs. Guthrie, guess what?
Remember that jar of candy in the corner of the room and we all had to guess how much was inside? Well I won! I get to keep all 54 pieces!
That’s great, wow! Oh, I see that _____ is absent today. Is there anybody else missing? [I’m mentally subtracting from the classroom total so that I know how many heads to count when we come back in from recess.]
No, everybody else is here.
Mrs. Guthrie, my finger is bleeding!
Okay, hold on. Let me get a band-aid.
What happened to him?
Oh man, is he bleeding?
Guys, it’s just a little scratch, he’s fine. Here ya go, buddy.
Mrs. Guthrie, I can’t find my lunch. I looked and looked. I think _____ stole it.
No he didn’t. You have one of the sack lunches, just go ahead and start eating that and we’ll look for the one you brought from home.
Mrs. Guthrie, can I go to the bathroom?
Yes, please get the pass.
Can I go to the bathroom too?
No, only one boy at a time, remember?
Mrs. Guthrie, will you open this for me?
Hey Mrs. Guthrie, guess what? I got 140 pieces of candy when I went trick-or-treating last night!
_____ sit down while you’re eating.
Are we going outside for recess today?
Mrs. _____ said that if we don’t be good up in here, then we have to lose a class stamp.
Mrs. Guthrie, I don’t like anything in my lunch. Can I go to the milk room to see if they have some fruit?
I’m done already, can I clean up?
_____, I said sit down while you’re eating.
Can we bring the soccer ball outside today?
Mrs. Guthrie, _____ keeps touching my food.
I am not!
Keep you hands in your own space please.

After 20 minutes of this constant interaction, it’s time to clean up and line up to go outside for recess. If I can get them lined up, quiet for walking through the halls, and outside to play in 5 minutes, they’ll have 15 minutes to play. The school runs a tight schedule!

Outside, the boy who thought someone else stole his lunch is pouting. When a bigger kid bumps into him, he bursts into tears and comes to find me. But I spend the majority of the time outside in peace, watching the kids to make sure they’re playing safely. Then, as the bell rings to line up and go back inside…

Mrs. Guthrie, I need a puff from my inhaler – my chest hurts.
Mrs. Guthrie, _____ and _____ are jumping off the bench!
Mrs. Guthrie, I’m afraid of _____. He’s trying to get me!
Ow! Hey, don’t push!
_____, tie your shoe before we start walking. _____, turn around and pay attention so you’ll know when the line starts moving. Is everyone here now? [I start counting heads before we go back inside.]

Even just walking back inside the building can be chaotic. The 45 minutes that I’m with the kids is literally a constant barrage of tattling, hugging, arguing, eating, playing, and goofing off. By the end of it, I can tell that my body temperature has risen (and maybe my blood pressure too!).

Some days are harder than others, of course. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade this job for anything right now. God has put me in these kids’ lives for a brief moment each day to love on them, teach them, help them, and have fun with them. After a particularly difficult day, that is what I need to remember.

Perhaps we should all remember to look at our jobs (and lives) that way. God has put each of us in a precise place, around specific people, for a particular purpose. Let’s do our best to keep that perspective, and ask God to help us see everything and everyone around us through His eyes.

"As I have loved you, so must you love one another." -- John 13:34

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our Father in Heaven . . . and My Mental Videotape

This weekend our family attended a wedding. Not only did we attend, but my husband actually performed the ceremony. The couple is one that we’ve met and befriended since we moved to Chicagoland. The wedding was beautiful.

It’s been said that every wedding has that one thing that goes wrong, and then everything else falls right into place. Well, this wedding had more than one thing. (Maybe that’s good luck?) To start off with, the bridesmaid who was in charge of bringing the bride’s dress . . . FORGOT IT. So there we sat, on little white chairs in the park, watching the clouds gather for rain while we waited. Meanwhile, the bridesmaid who was in charge of the music couldn’t find her laptop. The bride’s father was lost and couldn’t find his way to the park. And as for me, I had planned to surprise the couple by videotaping the ceremony for them, but my camera was malfunctioning. I couldn’t get it to record at all. I checked and re-checked every little detail. I even prayed over it and asked God to intervene. But He remained silent.

Finally, an hour after the wedding was supposed to have started, the dress and the bride’s father had arrived. And now it was raining. Nevertheless, the ceremony began -- without music and without being videotaped (although many of the adults could be seen crouching under their umbrellas with cameras, taking pictures). When it was the bride’s turn to be escorted down the aisle, I couldn’t help myself as I began to hum the melody of “Here Comes the Bride.” Amazingly, the man behind me began to hum with me, and suddenly everyone else had joined in. It was a very cool moment.

My husband performed the ceremony without a hitch. He had everyone laughing at times, while still keeping the solemnity of the event in place. One element of the ceremony that he had suggested to the couple was to have the groom exchange father-daughter vows with the bride’s daughter. She is just 8 years old. The groom spoke first, reciting promises to love her, protect and provide for her. It was a touching notion already, but they had all of us crying by the end of it – the little girl began to cry as she heard her new father expressing his love for her and promising to be there for her. When he finished the vows, it was clear to all of us that she was in tears. There are so many hurtful things this child has already had to deal with in her few years on this earth, and she recognized immediately the significance and genuineness of her new father’s words. She really needed to hear him say those things, and she needed to believe him! As she wiped her eyes, the groom knelt down beside her, despite the soaking wet ground, and put his arms around her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned into him, letting her tears fall freely.

What a picture of how our heavenly Father loves on us when we are broken! In the words of the Bible and through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the God of the universe declares His love for us. He promises to protect us and provide for us, and to work good for us through every situation. And when we are broken by the realization of the fullness of His love and grace, He is ready to kneel down and embrace us, even if it means messing up His pants.

We are His portion and He is our prize

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way...
He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Moments of Refreshing

Sometimes the joy of the Lord eludes me. This has not always been a problem for me – only after I began to experience more of the trials and hardships of LIFE did I notice how hard it is to actually hold onto joy. The admonition in James 1:2 is my lofty goal, but it seems impossible most of the time: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

Last Saturday was one of those days when joy seemed a million miles away. We’re over halfway through the summer vacation, and the kids are starting to get bored. Bored children are dangerous children. They tend to occupy themselves with activities that are less than desirable. What starts with a lot of giggling usually ends with fighting, then tattling and whining. There are approximately 23.7 fights per day.

And then there are the demands! Just when you think you’ve gotten everyone settled and served at the dinner table and now it’s your turn to get something to eat, someone asks for an apple to be peeled (and please cut the skin off too). As your stomach rumbles with hunger, you must make a conscious decision to prepare that apple without slamming the refrigerator door shut. And you must resist the temptation to declare (with flames shooting out of your nostrils), “No! Do it yourself! It’s MY turn to eat!” Even amidst that temptation, I somehow always hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit admonishing me to be a selfless example of servanthood.

After passing that test of willpower and tongue-taming, along comes another – the house is eerily quiet when suddenly you hear the sound of water hitting the bathroom floor, and a little voice starts to call, “Moooooommmmmm!!!!!!” The toilet is overflowing, and the water is spilling out so quickly that it’s already reached the carpet in the hallway. This is the ultimate test. Do you scream out of anger, “What are you DOING?!?! I can’t believe this!”? Or do you calmly and quietly turn off the water, grab the plunger, and then spend the next 20 minutes soaking the water up with towels (WITHOUT complaining)?

Fortunately for me, that night after I had begrudgingly endured those tests, I found myself with friends at a large worship service. By then, I was completely spent. And I just knew that with my poor attitude, the Lord would have plenty to say to me. But it wasn’t the harsh scolding I was expecting. He reached right through the scriptures and spoke directly to a very specific part of my life – and He encouraged me.

Then, as we all stood to sing one last song together, I decided to close my eyes and focus on His presence. I could almost feel the Holy Spirit filling that room, like a gentle breeze. And then, in my mind’s eye, I could actually see Jesus there. Where was He, you ask? He was everywhere. I saw Him over there, sitting next to a crying woman with His arm around her, comforting her. He was over here, standing in front of an obstinate man, lovingly reaching out to offer His hand. He was there, with His own face lifted toward Heaven, singing to God at the top of His lungs. He was kneeling at the altar, petitioning the Father beside one of His redeemed. And He was there, right next to me.


God in my living
There in my breathing
God in my waking
God in my sleeping
God in my resting
There in my working
God in my thinking
God in my speaking
Be my everything

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Learning the Hard Way

As I sat in the little cafĂ© waiting to finish my job interview, I began to wonder if it was even worth staying. When I had first gotten there, the manager hadn’t been anywhere in sight and the door was locked. I had to call him to remind him that I was there for my interview. Thankfully he was in the back preparing the food for his soon-to-be-arriving customers. He had invited me in, offered me some water, and said, “I’ll be right with you.” And that was an hour ago!

He had started the interview about 30 minutes before, but we got interrupted when several customers came in. It was evident that he needed help. Besides that, he had mentioned that his mother had unexpectedly been admitted to the hospital that morning, which explained his lateness. So I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it seemed like the perfect job, with hours only during lunchtime so that I could be home in time for when the kids get out of school.

By the time it was all said and done, it took all of 3 hours to complete the interview . . . but I had the job.

I went back the next day for “training.” The manager tended to belabor certain points that were unnecessary (I already know to be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, etc.), and unfortunately neglected the points that were absolutely necessary (I don’t know how to work the cash register). I knew I was in trouble when he sent me in search of a container of bacon and it was nowhere to be found. And then, the ultimate worst thing that could have happened . . . happened. Looking back, this would have made a great sitcom episode. After I had mopped up a spill that he specifically asked me to take care of, the manager proceeded to walk a little too quickly over that wet floor. Yes, he did fall. Quite hard, in fact. It’s been a long time since I was so mortified that I literally wanted to crawl under a rock and die. But this moment definitely had me wishing I was only dreaming.

I got sent home early that day because the manager got called away to an emergency at one of his other restaurants, so I didn’t even get to learn how to close up shop. And I had the weekend to mull over every grotesque, disappointing detail of the day’s events. After much fretting and advice-seeking, I decided to give the job one more chance on Monday. That is, until the manager failed to show up. I had even gotten myself there early so that I could help him set up, and the man wasn’t even there yet when it was time to open up for customers. And of course I couldn’t get inside to prepare the food, and he hadn’t called me to let me know anything.

As I walked away from that building, I knew I’d never be going back. I soon left the manager a voice mail on his cell phone, wishing him luck in his business endeavors while explaining that this type of chaos and uncertainty was not the job for me.

Afterwards I began to ask myself, why did this happen to me? What in the world am I supposed to learn from this? I eventually came to accept that maybe the lesson in this was to listen to my gut in future . . . so that the next time I sit through a broken 3-hour interview, maybe I will figure out a little quicker that this isn’t right for me.

But today, I am realizing that maybe the lesson goes a little bit deeper. I realize now that the only reason I even tried to get that job in the first place was because I was extremely anxious about my family’s financial situation. And why was I so anxious? Perhaps I was placing too much value on financial security. Perhaps I was impatient with God and His timing. Perhaps I wasn’t believing that He would provide at all!

I can see now that I tried to take control of the situation myself, rather than letting God have control. I jumped ahead of Him and His will, frantically searching for something, anything, that would give us more financial security. Now I know that my family’s well-being depends on however God chooses to provide for us, even if we don’t have what I would call “financial security.” And now I remember that God never forgets or neglects His children. His timing is perfect. He is in control for a reason – He is God! Not me! And He will show me how to follow Him into whatever way He leads me.

So now here I am, getting ready to eat an early lunch before reporting to my new part-time job as a substitute lunch supervisor at my children’s elementary school down the street. I found out about this job through a new friend who used to do the same thing herself. I work 2 hours – 1 hour at my kids’ school, and the next hour at a school down the road. Being a substitute can be challenging, but they’ve already told me that next year I may get to be permanent with a class of my own. How perfect is that?!

God, thank You for Your provision. Thank You for growing my trust and peace, and for teaching me to be continually, expectantly watching for what You will do.

If I’m learning anything since moving to Chicago, I’m learning to wait upon the Lord.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Passions and other ramblings

I have so many things tumbling around in my brain right now . . . so please excuse my horribly random post today. But I just had to get some of this out there. I’ll appreciate any prayers, encouragement, advice, insight, etc.

Passion #1: Drama

No, not the kind of thing that is infamously associated with “drama queens.” But rather, the theatre. And music. I am not musically talented at all. In fact, I never took lessons for any type of instrument. But I absolutely love all kinds of music. I even have this strange partiality for movie soundtracks. There’s nothing like a great movie with great music. Which leads to the real root of my drama passion – my love of storytelling.

Not long after I totally committed my life to Christ in college, I got to have several experiences working with different types of drama ministries. I even got to lead a drama team at the church we were working with in Colorado before our kids were born. I can’t adequately put into words how much I loved each of these experiences. And I’m not even particularly talented in acting, writing, or any of those things. But I started noticing an interesting development . . . sometimes when I would hear a new song, I would suddenly get inspired with an idea for a story that could go along with that music.

This still happens to me today. When this happens, I’ll listen to the song over and over, while the story takes form in my mind. In the past when I was working with the drama ministries, I was able to actually take some of my ideas and make them a reality. I have written, produced, directed, acted in, and organized several small productions. But lately I’ve had new ideas that just swarm around and around in my mind with no tangible outlet. I’m not part of a drama team right now!

So I decided to start writing down my ideas. This is a slow process, since I don’t have a lot of spare time. But maybe one day I’ll find an outlet for my stories – something that is totally God-honoring, outreaching, and fulfilling. After all, Jesus was a story teller too. I just know He will show me a creative way to live this passion out.

Passion #2: NICU Ministry

After my son’s premature birth, my depression, and everything else that went along with all that, God planted a desire in my heart – to reach out to other parents going through similar circumstances (having a child in the NICU) with practical helps and genuine encouragement in the name of Christ. It was even something that Jeromy and I talked about together. It’s a shared passion for us. Although, it was just an idea at first. We didn’t even live near a hospital at the time. And what do we know about starting a non-profit ministry? So the idea got pushed to the back burner for quite some time.

But now here we are in Chicagoland, only 5 minutes away from a hospital with a large NICU, and surrounded by millions of people who don’t know Christ. Needless to say, the back burner is flaring up! I did some research online and found a similar ministry in Alabama. I have tried contacting the leader several times but haven’t been able to touch base yet. I really want to ask her some questions and get any tips, pointers, and suggestions that she may have. But whether that works out or not, I still feel like this idea is from the Lord. So if we have to forge ahead on our own, so be it!

The first things we have to do include finding out about starting a non-profit, as well as figuring out how in the world we can get a connection at the hospital so that we can actually go in there. Then of course there will have to be fundraising and volunteer recruiting. We want to begin the ministry by making small care packages for the parents with children in the NICU. Here is a link to the ministry in Alabama: We hope to do something similar.

Other Ramblings

The kids are really keeping me on my toes these days. My son has entered a new phase -- story telling . . . hmm, maybe he’s like me? One day he came home telling us that his teacher brought her dog to school. Then the next week he said she brought two dogs, a boy and a girl. Then one day the story was that the dogs had puppies, and the kids in the class got to hold them. He even told me that they took the dogs to the gym and played Frisbee with them.

So the first time he told me about a dog visiting school, I thought it was possible and didn’t really question him much. But as the story grew, I knew something wasn’t right. It didn’t take long to figure out that he was creating this elaborate tale. As parent-teacher conferences approached, I decided to confront him about it. But gently, of course.

Me: So, can I ask your teacher about these dogs?
Eli: No, don’t do that!
Me: Why not? I want to ask Ms. R. about them. They sound so neat.
Eli: Well, she doesn’t like to talk to the parents.
Me: Are you sure? She’s talked to me before, and she seems really nice.
Eli: Well actually, she does like to, but she’s not used to it.
Me: But I really want to see those dogs, they sound so cute! I think I’ll ask her about them at the conference.
Eli: No, you can’t!
Me: Eli, I need to ask you something. Are you telling me the truth, or are you telling me a story about these dogs? Are you making this up?
Eli: No! It’s not a story! Look at me, am I smiling? [He proceeds to make a very serious face to prove that he’s not lying.]
Me: Eli, I need to know if you’re telling the truth or not. If you tell me stories, how will I ever know if you’re telling the truth?
Eli: Mom, I’m not making it up!

So yesterday we had his parent-teacher conference . . . and when Jeromy said he was going to ask the teacher about the dogs, Eli said, “No, you can’t. The dogs are dead!”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

JOY !!!

I just left my daughter's room after tucking her in tonight, and she is still singing. We always let her read for a little while before we call for "lights out," and tonight was no exception. One of the books I gave my first grader this time was "The Wise and Foolish Builders" by Arch Books. And she was singing the words, not just reading them. When I went to tuck her in, she was just bursting with joy and energy (after being home sick from school all day!).

"Mom, can I just read you these two pages? They are just so awesome:

In this short story Jesus is
The solid Rock and we are His
Those who believe in Him alone
Are built upon this Cornerstone.

The storms of life? There will be some.
But on this Rock you'll overcome.
Through all the troubles that you'll face
He'll show you His amazing grace. [I just love that part, Mom. I like to sing it.]

When all the storms of life are done,
And life is gone like setting sun,
He'll take you to a splendid place
Where you will see Him face-to-face.

No floods or storms will harm you there;
No sickness, death or worried care.
You'll live forever with the Lord.
The Rock of Ages gave His word.

"I just love that so much. I don't know, it just makes me so happy. And I'm proud of myself for asking Jesus to be in my heart. And I'm so thankful that people make books like that. I don't know who wrote it, but they didn't just write it like blah. They wrote the details and explained it all. I guess they just read the story in the Bible and thought 'I'm gonna write a book about that!' And you know, that gave me an idea. At school I want to write about this kind of stuff, but I'm kinda nervous. Because you know some people believe in Him, and some people don't. But maybe if I did, maybe it would make someone else's heart just explode with happiness! It makes MY heart explode. Even my friend ________, since I know she doesn't really know about Jesus... but maybe if she read my story she would ask me questions and I could tell her. Because Jesus wants us to share about Him. I think that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna write a story about God at school. I don't know why, but I'm just so happy!"

Yes, she literally said all that and more while barely stopping to take a breath! For the last week or two I've been thinking about the concept of the joy of the Lord, and what that really looks like. Well, without a doubt, I have seen it tonight. This tiny paragraph in my blog doesn't do justice to what I witnessed flowing out of my daughter tonight, but hopefully you can at least catch a glimpse of it. And more importantly, I hope that you have this same Joy flowing within your heart, too.

I've got joy down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart
J-O-Y down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart
Jesus put it there, and nothing can destroy it
I've got joy down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart