Caught up in Contagious Joy

I began a new book this week that, given the first chapter, I know is going to be phenomenal. Just a quick post to share a brilliant quote from it.

Exuberance – The Passion for Life
by Kay Redfield Jamison

“We have given sorrow many words, but a passion for life few.

Yet it is the infectious energies of exuberance that proclaim and disperse much of what is marvelous in life. Exuberance carries us places we would not otherwise go — across the savannah, to the moon, into imagination — and if we ourselves are not so exuberant we will, caught up in the contagious joy of those who are, be inclined collectively to go yonder. By its pleasures, exuberance lures us from our common places and quieter moods; and — after the victory, the harvest, the discovery of a new idea or an unfamiliar place — it gives ascendant reason to venture forth all over again. Delight is its own reward, adventure its own pleasure.”

Doesn’t that set fire to your soul and send a shiver of anticipation down your spine? This is what I want out of life. What I strive for. To bring exuberance and passion to the everyday mundane moments of life. Go out and have a day filled with irrepressible exuberance!

Devotional – A Godly Cheerleader!

A lone person clicked on this devotional from March today — and it prompted me to go back and re-read it. Just what I needed. How nice of God to allow me to remind myself of what He showed me 9 months ago. I was having a down day today…after following my own advice at the end of this devotional, I feel much better. Thanks God.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Sometimes, my kids do things so adorable, it’s hard not to shout from the mountaintops that my children are the absolute best. I take great joy in pretty much every accomplishment. Each milestone, big or small, is met with exuberant praise and excitement. They never cease to please me and make me proud. How incredible to think that the mighty God of all creation is rejoicing over me in the same way. Continue reading

Devotional – Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Note that it doesn’t say “Rejoice when you are happy, pray when you need something, give thanks for the good in your life.”. But somehow, that’s how we all live. We think joy is an emotion, a feeling that comes when we get what we want. Prayers come much quicker when there’s something in it for us and our thankful heart turns cold when we think God isn’t being fair. Continue reading

Devotional – Parfum de God

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

This passage holds new meaning for me as I read it today. A few months ago, I heard a sermon that gave me new insight into what this verse is really talking about, with the back story of what a triumphal procession looked like when these verses were written.

See, every person Paul wrote this letter to would have seen processions by Roman soldiers as they came back from war. These processions were cause for great celebration in the streets, the priests would walk, carrying burning incense that would fill the streets with heavy perfume. There would be flower petals thrown on the triumphant soldiers as they passed displaying the spoils of war. As the chariots and sandaled feet crushed the petals, they would add to the pungent aroma in the air. The smell would overwhelm everyone in the area, it would have been familiar, pleasing and instantly recognizable for the joyous occasion it heralded. Continue reading

Devotional – The Pinky Toe

1 Corinthians 12:20-22 & 26 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Two weeks ago, I injured my pinky toe. Badly. I was thrown from a mechanical bull and very gracefully landed wrong on my foot, smashing my baby toe against some concrete. Yeah, I know – I live an amazingly exciting life to have an injury like that. Not as great as this story from Seinfeld (a classic), but pretty good for me. Sorry, you’ll have to click on play and then on to youtube, cause the embeding is disabled for this clip.

Anyway, my foot was horrifically bruised for about a week, too swollen to put into any kind of shoe for 5 solid days and has been causing me pain with every step for almost two weeks now. Actually, it was getting better, un-swollen, almost all the bruising gone when I kicked it hard against the corner of my parents couch leg a couple of days ago. Today it’s pretty much just as bad as the day after the bull incident.

It’s really amazing to me how God can use even a mechanical bull to demonstrate His point to me. Are you ready for the connection?

As I was limping around today, I remembered a passage about the body suffering if any part of it suffers. I couldn’t remember where it was located, but thankfully, I live in the era of Bible Gateway and it only took me a few seconds to find it. Bam. 1 Corinthians 12. The whole chapter is amazing and perfect for the a relationship situation I’m currently struggling with.  Apparently I don’t listen properly to God because He always seems to need to use an object lesson to drive home the point to me. I guess I’m just thick-headed. Really Lord, next time can you find a different avenue to ingrain your idea into me? There’s got to be an easier way than to pick on my poor little toe.

So here goes my epiphany. My whole body is suffering because of a one-and-a-half inch piece of skin, bone and muscle. My baby toe seems totally unnecessary most of the time. I’m sure I could stand, walk, run etc without it. And yet, the pain radiating from that little nub is causing me to walk differently, which is making my knees and hips kind of ache. I tried running on it the one day it started to feel better and woke up the next morning in spasms of muscular soreness because my stride was all messed up from favoring that toe for three miles. Pretty much the smallest, least important part of my body is causing the rest of it to suffer.

It’s the same with relationships. Especially family. Super especially the family of Christ. We’re all a part of the same body. This chapter in Corinthians could not make that any plainer. We need all the parts to make it work, this chapter says there should be no division in this body of believers, that we all should show care and concern for each other. If the pinkie toe in my relationships with others is bruised – it’s going to affect more than just the toe next to it. It’s going to impact the foot, the ankle, leg, hip, back etc. There is no part of my body that has been spared the discomfort caused by my silly little toe. Likewise, to believe our relationships are some kind of vacuum, that they are individualistic and don’t impact others just makes no rational sense. Nor is that what God’s word says.

The other thing I found fascinating when reading this passage is that chapter 12 is the lead-in to the famous 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. You know, the one about love that gets quoted at weddings every single day. Reading both chapters together made me realize something. I wouldn’t look at my hand and say, “I love you so much, but I really wish you were an eye in the back of my head. You would be so much cooler then.” Before I can get to the business of love in chapter 13, I need to realize the perfection and beauty in each member of the body. How can I love others if I’m wishing they were all mouths like me? What good would it do if every part of your body was an ear? If I’m not accepted for the part of the body that I fill, the whole body suffers. If we spend our time as Christians picking apart the foot for not being an elbow, we’ll be hard pressed to get anywhere. Get it? Cause the elbow is hard…and feet take you places? Yeah, ok. I’m not funny.

For the next few days, or until my pinkie toe stops being painful and swollen, I’m going to remember this lesson with every step I take. When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer with it. The relationship of mine that is wounded is bleeding that pain over lots of other relationships as well. The ramifications of my toe are far-reaching. Even after the toe is better, I’ll probably still be dealing with whatever I’ve done to my hips by walking wonkey for two weeks. So, unless I focus on the multiple effects of a single relationship, none of the other members of the body will be able to rejoice with me at the healing. Because they’ll all still be suffering.

God, help me to see the unique way my relationships fit together to form one body in you. Be with me as I struggle to right any wrongs I’ve committed that have led to my relational broken toe. Bolster my conviction to rely on your word as my backbone, rather than rationalizing my own hurt feelings. Amen.