Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: December 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

God's Blessings Often Surpass Our Dreams

Five years ago, I began praying fervantly for my future husband. As I prayed, I wrote down two lists of character traits and qualities that I wanted in a husband. On one list, I wrote my "must have" list; these were the things that were non-negotiable for me. If a man didn't meet this list, I wouldn't even consider a first date. The second list was my "added bonus" list. These were things that weren't deal breakers, but were my way of saying, "God, if you really wanted to bless me I'd love..." 

You need to know that my lists were very specific. For example, on my added bonus list, I asked God for a man that had a seminary degree and that could play guitar and sing. (Sorry, but I'm not going to give you the whole list here). I prayed for five years for this man, and I am so superdog excited to share with you that God has answered my prayer. On December 21 (the day the world was "supposed" to end) the love of my life asked me to be his wife. Wouldn't you know it, but both my lists describe Jeff to a T. God not only answered my prayers, but he lavished me with so much more when he brought Jeff into my life.

We haven't set a date yet, and we are still praying through the logistics and I ask you to pray with us. My heart overflows with joy -- God not only turned my tears to joy, but to joy unspeakable!


Thursday, December 20, 2012


As children, we would count the number of days till Christmas. It couldn't come quick enough. I can remember rushing to bed on Christmas Eve so that Santa could come. On Christmas morning, my brother and I would wake up super early to see what gifts Santa had left. My parents would often tell us to go back to bed because it was too early. "Wait," they would say.

I didn't like waiting then, and I don't like it now. So often when we pray, God answers us with "Wait." I've been thinking about this recently and wondered why this is so. Scripture tells us that we have not because we ask not. I don't know about you, but there are times when I've been asking and the answer is either "No" or "Wait."

As a mother, I talk to lots of moms about the difficulties of raising a middle schooler. One of the most common frustrations these mom face is dealing with the attitude that their once sweet child has now developed. There are times when our children ask us for things and our answer is "No" or "Wait" simply due to their attitude. Could the same be true of us?

My grandmother always told me, "God not only knows where you are going, but he also knows how to get you there." Sometimes it takes time for God to build in us the character to handle our wants. If we truly trust him, we know that his timing is perfect.

The Israelites waited 400 years after the prophet Isaiah spoke, before the promised Messiah came into the world. Why? I wonder if it had something to do with their attitude; their incessant grumbling and complaining. Now I don't know about you, but I want to learn my lesson quick -- I don't want to wait forever for answered prayers. The important thing is that we stay close to Christ, and that we learn to trust him, even when we don't understand.

"For I know the plans I have for you..." Jeremiah assures us. God's plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. We find peace in knowing that his plans our for our good and for his glory. So, if you are in a time of waiting and it seems like God isn't listening, take heart. He hears you and he will answer in his perfect timing.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Peace in Times of Turmoil

Our hearts were all shattered last week as we heard of the horrifying tragedy in Connecticut. I've put off writing about it for days, because what can you possibly say after something so heinous? My heart hurts for the families of the victims as well as for the family of the perpetrator. What incredible pain they must feel knowing that someone they loved could commit such an unspeakable atrocity!
Life can be tough. No. That's an extreme understatement. Life can be downright gutwrenching at times. What's a person to do? 
Without the bitter times, there can be no sweet. Without darkness, we won't recognize the light. When life hurts, we have a choice to make. We can let it rob us of all hope and joy or we can seek meaning in life. I recently heard an interview with a victim from the Virginia Tech shooting. Even though she suffered multiple gun shot wounds, she lives today with a passion like never before. She said that she's learned not to take anything or anyone for granted.
I mailed off my Christmas cards a couple of weeks ago, and was surprised when one was returned to me with the word "Deceased" written across the address. Life is short. We have to learn to live in the good and in the bad.
 Larry Crabb, said, “Living well in suffering trumps living happily without suffering”  Larry Crabb, Christian Counseling Today Vol19 No 2. I don't know about you, but I want to live well -- in all circumstances.  We may not be relieved from suffering, but we can walk through these times with integrity.
So, join me in prayer that God will bring peace and healing to all those affected by the shooting in Connecticut. I also pray that each of you will experience the peace that surpasses understanding this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Does Your Heart Smell?

Several months ago I told you about Polkala, our pet turtle. Well, Pokey continues to be a demanding little booger. Just last week, I emptied everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) out of his aquarium and gave it a thorough scrub down. I changed the filter, gave him clean water -- the works, and do you know how he repaid this generosity?

Well, it hit me the moment I opened the front door. Agh!! The stench! How could something so small make such a big mess (and a stinky one at that) in just a week's time?

While I was looking at Pokey, stewing that I have to clean his aquarium once again, the Lord convicted my heart. Is this what God sees when he looks into my life after just a few days without confession? Surely not confessing "respectable sins" such as unforgiveness, pride, gluttony, and envy wouldn't cause my heart to reek with such a foul odor.

Just as Pokey seems content to live in his smelly habitat, I too, can become content to live in the pollution caused by sin in my own life.

If I want my life to share the fragrant aroma of Christ, I must continually confess my sins to the Lord and ask Him to purify me. So, as I fumigate Pokey's aquarium, I'll take time to do a heart check of my own, asking God to show me the murk and mire in my own life so that I can walk in the purity of Christ.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Out of Darkness

"I don't know how you could write that. It must have caused you tremendous pain." These words have been repeated to me time and again by people who have read Tears to Joy. My response? "Writing forced me to go to the dark places I didn't want to go to and in the process I found healing."

One thing I've learned in the past few years is that true healing comes when we bring our pain into the light. This is why the verse "By his light I walked through darkness," (Job 29:3) is on my homepage. In order to heal, we must be willing to speak the unspeakable. We have to be willing to quit burying and trying to forget the people or circumstances that caused our pain. Healing comes through remembering.

The people of Rwanda know this well. Each year they take time to remember the horrific genocide that left millions dead. They don't do this because they relish the pain; they do this because it brings healing.

If you have pain festering within you, threatening to erupt, share with someone you trust. You may need a counselor to help you walk through the pain; remember, facing the pain brings healing. Ignoring your pain only leads to denial that can hurt your current relationships and can rob you of the joy God wants to give you.

This Christmas, give yourself a gift. Take the next step toward healing.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Here we come a carolin'

"Hark the Herald, Angels Sing..." In high school, my friends and I would gather each year to celebrate Christmas. Before our annual Christmas progressive dinner and party, we'd go caroling. These Christmas memories are some of my favorites. There's nothing quite like watching the surprise on a person's face when they open the door to be greeted by a group of teenage girls dressed in holiday fashions holding candles singing songs that glorify our God and King.

Many of the songs we sing for fun, actually are seeped with meaning. For example, did you know that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was written to help Catholic children remember the basic truths of hte Christian faith. The True Love represents God and the gifts he offers to believers. Each of the twelve gifts holds symbolic meaning:

Partridge in a pear tree - Jesus

Two turtledoves - Old and New Testaments

Three french hens - faith, hope, and love

Four calling birds - four gospels

Five golden rings - first five books of Old Testament

Six geese a laying - Six days of creation

Seven swans a swimming - seven sacraments

Eight maids a milking - eight beatitudes

Nine drummers drumming - fruits of spirit

Ten ladies dancing - Ten Commandments

Eleven pipers piping - eleven apostles who remained faithful after the betrayal of Judas

Twelve lords a leaping - twelve basic beliefs of Catholic Church outlined in Apostles Creed

As you sing your favorite carols this year, take time to remember the real reason we sing -- to celebrate a risen King!!!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Legalization of Marijuana

I know many of you will disagree with me on this post, yet I feel as if write I must. I was appalled tonight when I heard on the news about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. So many of the people who seek counseling do so because of addictions. You can't tell me that the legalization of tobacco and alcohol sales caused a decrease in usage -- the opposite is true. Pornography is taunted by culture as harmless, yet thousands are trapped by its addictive qualities.  Legalizing the sale of marijuana will increase its recreational usage, thus leading to more problems.

One of the reasons the states decided to legalize it is due to the increase in tax revenues. Are you kidding me? If we charge tax, then it somehow becomes morally acceptable?

I know that many argue for the medicinal uses of marijuana, but the hype I've heard in the media is about selling it in "Starbuck-like stores." Is such packaging and advertising catering to those who need medical help or is it appealing to a younger generation by being cool and chic?

The state laws stand in direct contradiction to the federal laws regarding the sale of marijuana. What does this mean for its implementation? I'm not sure but for now, lots of entrepreneurs are gearing up to get on the bandwagon to sale the goods.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Memories

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year. It's a time for love, a time for cheer (Ok, I won't sing). Seriously, for me, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ with family. As a little girl, my favorite part of Christmas was looking at all the lights. Every Christmas Eve, we would all pile into my grandmother's car and drive around for hours looking at the lights on homes in the community. Afterwards, we'd go back to my grandparent's house and exchange gifts.

Even though I was eager to see what gifts awaited me, I never wanted to rush looking at the lights. I marveled at all the sights. My papa would always tease me and say things like, "Let's hurry up and get back before that ole' mean sissy (my aunt) steals all the gifts," or "We already had Christmas this year." I always knew he was teasing, but I never tired of the constant banter. My papa is no longer with us but I am reminded of him each year when I see Christmas lights.

Have you ever wondered why we put out lights at Christmas?  During the 17th century, Christians in Germany placed a burning candle in the window of their home that would be visible from outside as a way of showing other Christians that theirs was a Christian home. This tradition spread throughout Europe and the candles were later glued onto Christmas trees. After Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, electric lights became all the rage.

I wonder how many of us think of the Light of the World as we look at all the Christmas lights this year. What are we, Christians, doing today to share the Light with the world?

The picture above is from my cousin's home. When I see these lights, I am filled with a thankful heart -- thankful for my Lord and Savior and thankful for my family. This Christmas, spread some Christmas cheer, but even more, spread the hope offered by the Light of the World.