Sunday, May 24, 2009

Addicted to Laughter - from the journey of tears...

I share this story because I am frequently confronted with people desparately in need of joy. I am often asked why I am so happy. What most people don't know is that my current state is the result of a journey through tears.

Hardly a day goes by when someone does not make a comment about my laugh. I can't help it! I laugh hard and I laugh loud. I once had a co-worker who worked in a different room away from mine. He would tell me that he could hear me when I laughed and that it would make him laugh even though he couldn't see me. He just couldn't help it. He would start to laugh as well. He didn't have to know what I was laughing about. He would just start laughing.

Where I currently work, there is a girl down the hall who recently told me something similar. I love spreading this gift! I guess it's better to have an infectious laugh than to be infectious! LOL Sorry. I even make myself laugh!

I know it annoys some people but, oh well. Get over it! Sound harsh? Maybe, but I can remember a time not so long ago, when I was so low for so long that all I could do each morning was look up and cry out to God for strength enough just to make it through that day. What joy I had was hidden beneath layers of deep saddness brought on by circumstances out of my control.

After almost two years of living in that miserable state, something in me began to surface - a memory. It was a memory of a girl who used to laugh, and I began to want to do so again.

So I started asking the Lord to restore my joy. I knew I hadn't lost it. It was still there somewhere. I just needed to rediscover it.

That wasn't all I did. I knew if I was going to get out of my dour disposition, I also needed to surround myself with the things that brought me joy. Luckily, I am friends with some of the funniest people on the planet. I made it a priority to connect with them regularly which helped to bring back the funny in me. I purposefully began to watch funnier TV shows and more of the type of programs that I truly enjoyed. I also chose to watch less dramas and movies which only exaserbated my mood at the time.

Before long, I was laughing again. This may sound trite to you but to those around me at the time, it was a relief to see me smile.

I can remember the day I knew I would be okay. A co-worker I had very little contact with came up to me and said, "I am so glad to see you smile again." Funny thing was, I didn't even realize I had been smiling! It just happened. In fact, I was still in the place of wondering when the fog of misery would lift. Until that moment, I did not see that it was already beginning to clear.

People ask me all the time why I am so happy. Others who know me well, probably wonder how I could be? My life is not one anyone would chose, but it's mine.

In spite of whatever circumstances I may endure, I have a deep abiding joy that comes from within. I may not be rich or have all the things that others think signify success, but I have what matters most - the joy of the Lord which gives me strength, even when I may think I have none left.

Oh, and by the way. I just recently had a get-together at my home with some of those funny people I mentioned earlier. I was sore the next morning from laughing so hard! It's now a regular gathering we all calendar because no one wants to miss out on a good laugh.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

While It's Still Called Today

I like to take the road less traveled - literally! I love lonely roads where few cars tend to travel. Earlier this week I was driving home from a friend's house pretty late at night.

I have a regular route I take home from this particular part of town. Even during peak hours, it's fairly light as far as traffic goes. I like roads like this because I tend to think best when I'm driving. I don't know why that is but as you can imagine, it helps greatly if there are no other vehicles around while I'm not concentrating on the road!

As I was driving home that night, I began to think about leap year. Trust me. The thoughts I think just come to me. I don't get in the car and say to myself, "Okay. Think about leap year." That would be crazy!

Specifically, I started to remember a devotional I shared last leap year at the job I had at that time. That morning as I realized the significance of the day, it occurred to me that leap day is kind of a freebie. It's an extra day we get every four years. How was I going to spend it?

It's really a question we should be asking ourselves everyday. "What am I going to do with this gift called today?

So now I ask you. If you were given one extra day not scheduled on your calendar, what would you do with it? Would you go back and redo something you did wrong the day before? Would you tackle that project you've put off for way too long? Would you mend a fence between you and a friend that has gone untouched for longer than it should? Perhaps you would finally make that phone call you've been saying you would.

I can go on and on with the questions but you know what your list of somedays and eventuallys consist of but the point I was trying to make to those ladies was this. Everyday is a gift. Those people that make us cringe, those things we keep putting off, those issues we refuse to deal with all deserve a second chance TODAY. What are those things for you?

Can I ask you something else? Why not today?

"You've got to live every moment as though it was your last
Before the thief of always steals tomorrow from your past.
Before the chance to know His love has somehow passed you by
Let you heart reach out, right here, right now, before tomorrow passes by."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Walking Through It

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. I must multi-task in my sleep, because even though I rested long enough, I was mentally exhausted before I ever left the house!

I experienced some disappointments this weekend that left me feeling somewhat less than cheerful. On top of all that, I have so many friends and family who are suffering in their bodies and also their finances. Some have been without work for months with no real prospects, yet there is a family to feed. Others are dealing with relationships that have all but fallen apart. Even my own dad faces a surgery tomorrow that I am not at all convinced will save his leg from amputation. I guess it's safe to say that with all that on my mind, I woke up feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Earlier in the week, I was sharing with a friend about how she could regain a joyful spirit. She'd expressed a concern over her own lack of joy and how she could get it back. I knew all too well what that was like and shared with her my own journey of reclaiming my lost joy after a far too long absence.

It's funny. Amidst the whirlwind of all these trials and heartache I found myself wondering this weekend, "What kind of a fraud are you? How can you counsel anyone about rediscovering their joy when you can't even muster some up when you need it?" (It is safe to say that I am more than just a little hard on myself, but that's for another blog.) As if I didn't have enough problems staring me in the face already, this one would not be easily overlooked.

Today I started contemplating my own words I had spoken to my friend earlier in the week. I began to listen to some my advice I had given her and began doing those things that typically bring me joy. Hmmmmm... Not much concentration needed in those tasks. So my mind was still a whirl.

Then as I sat down to my computer, I clicked onto my home page. One of the gadgets I have on it is Bible Verse of The Day, sponsored by I highly encourage you to add it to your own apps. if you can. I believe I literally did a double take as read through the verse - one I'm sure I've read dozens of times.

Romans 12:12
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

As I meditated on that verse what caught my eye was obviously the joyful part. But did you see what it said to be joyful in? Hope. It did not say to be joyful in affliction but patient, or to be joyful in prayer but faithful. Sure, you can go through trials and also be joyful in those things but that is not the command of this scripture. Joy is not something you are all the time but something you have deep inside that remains even when your feelings and emotions may dictate otherwise.

It is okay for me to not always be joyful especially when things are going wrong, way wrong. However, my joy should be in the hope that I serve a God who knows the outcome of this situation, who hears my cries and has promised to never leave nor forsake me. That's where the joy lies! Even now while jotting down these thoughts, I can feel hope stirring within me. Hope for dear friends and family whom I know have so little left. Hope that is empowering me to remain faithful in prayer and patient in my afflictions.

Suddenly, I don't feel so overwhelmed anymore. Just compelled to pray.

Father, there are people reading this who understand exactly what I'm talking about. They have issues so huge that they are dealing with that no one else could clearly understand. They are walking through pain they never knew existed, no matter how insignificant it my seem to others. I ask you to begin stirring up faith within their hearts to believe that you are a bigger God than the overwhelming shadow of their circumstances. Cause hope to take root as they begin to see that they are not alone and most certainly not forgotten, by the One who holds them tightly in His loving arms. Help us to remain joyful in hope, for indeed the joy of the Lord is our strength. I pray that we would be patient in our afflictions for Christ, himself was afflicted for us. Above all Father, cause us to remain faithful in prayer. For we know that the prayers of a righteous man avails much!

All this we ask in whom our only hope lies - none but Jesus