Throwback Thursdays – The Joy

Throwback Thursdays – The Joy


I’ve blogged several times over the years about JOY. What it is, how it’s action and choice and not emotion, how it compares to happiness. In some ways, this post from six years ago started it all, so I thought we’d do a revisit. =)
Last week the small Bible study group I belong to began a study focused around James. I’ve always loved this little book of the Bible, so I was pretty happy to learn that’s what we would be studying. My hubby’s leading us this time, and I know he has always loved James too. We had a great discussion centering around this:
“”Consider it Joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
I memorized this verse as a teenager. I’ve known it for years. I think about it fairly often. But I’d never examined it like we did on Friday. Consider it comes from a verb that carries a lot of weight. It doesn’t just mean “name it.” It doesn’t just mean “say it is, whether you think it or not.” It means to dwell on it, to journey through it, to arrive at it, to bring it to Joy. It’s a process, one that involves our minds.
Another key word there is when. Not if. When we fall into trials. We’re going to, that’s not a question. In this world, trouble and sorrow find us no matter whether we’re wicked or righteous. (On a side note, I’ve also been reading the book of Job, and the commentators have been stressing how Job’s assertion that a good man could suffer like he is flew in the face of the Wisdom doctrine of the day.)
Which led to another good point in our discussion, when one of our friends related how someone had just that day asked, basically, “But why? Why do bad things happen to good people?”
It’s an age-old question. Such an age-old question that I’d pretty much stopped considering it and figured everyone else in the world had too, LOL. But obviously it still bothers people. It was pretty silly of me to think otherwise. Because yes, we always ask why. We always ask what we did to deserve a bad turn. We always get angry when someone we love is hurt or dies, or when we do everything right and still seem to be punished. When we lose our jobs. When we suffer injury or illness. When, when, when…
But something hit me while we were talking about that. Not a new thought, I’m sure, but a striking one.
How are we defined, if not by how we react to those trials? What makes us who we are if not whether we stand or fail in the face of adversity?
It isn’t about bad things happening to good people. Bad things happen to everyone. It’s how we respond to them that makes us good or bad.
(“Good” and “Bad” probably aren’t the right words there, actually…)
See, life isn’t about being happy. That’s part of it, and obviously a part we love. But Joy is something more. Joy isn’t about circumstances. If it was, then how could James have possibly told us to consider trouble and trials a Joy? It would be insensible.
But Joy is that something-deeper we can arrive it. It’s that knowing that, even when we don’t feel it, God is good. That even when we’re in the valley, the mountain top is waiting. That even through the pain, there’s Someone holding us and loving us.
Joy is finding the beauty in the clouds of the approaching storm (inspired by that photo above I took at the beach last summer). Joy is knowing that when something is yanked out from under you, it’s because God has a different plan. Joy is in the journey of trusting Him, that long road where you learn so much. Joy is in looking back and realizing that if that terrible thing hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t be who you are today.
Joy is in trusting that day will come even when you’re still in the terrible thing.
Joy isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be. But the things worth fighting for are just that–worth fighting for. We need to fight for our Joy. We need to stop focusing on the things this instant-gratification world tells us will make us happy and start focusing on what will make us better. On what will make us stronger. On what will make us raise our hands and praise Him through the storm.
You know that phrase we sing to that hand-clapping, upbeat melody? We bring the sacrifice of praise…
It’s a sacrifice. That means it’s hard. It’s rough. It’s supposed to hurt. That’s what praise is. Praise is giving Him that shout when we don’t feel it. When we can’t understand it. When the questions are bigger than the answers.

Praise is considering the Joy. Considering it–that trial, that trouble–a Joy.
Nope, it’s not easy. But that’s what makes it beautiful.
Throwback Thursday – Writing and Passion

Throwback Thursday – Writing and Passion



Original post published 4/30/2015

Passion: though its current definition involves “any strong feeling,” it has its roots in pain. Passion comes straight from the Latin passio, which means, quite simply, “suffering.”

So our English idea of being passionate about something…it means not just something we feel strongly about, but something we’re willing to suffer for.
Susan Meissner pointed this out in a great class at ACFW one year, along with the question of “Are we really willing to suffer for our writing? Are we passionate about it?” And went on to say that for many writers, herself included, the answer was no. She was willing to work really hard at it, but it was a career. She loved it, but it didn’t deserve the word passion.
Another writer, very well respected and often ground-breaking, just said something similar. That when it came down to it, there’s not much she’d give up for writing. 
It made me realize anew that I’m not in that camp. Susan Meissner began that aforementioned class by breaking down writers into 3 groups–those who write as a hobby, those who write as a job, and those who write as a ministry. She was speaking to the middle group.
I belong to the ministry group. Neither is right or wrong, they’re just different. But I’ve recently heard a lot of voices talking very wisely and thoroughly about the Career group, and I wanted to take some time to examine the Ministry aspect.
I have said many times that I write for the same reason that I breathe: because I must. I have written before about “Being a Writer and Zombies” LOL and how even if the world as I knew it was obliterated and I was on the run for years at a time, I would write (albeit just in my head, telling stories around the campfire). If writing fiction became illegal, I would write. It isn’t a choice to me, it isn’t a job, it isn’t something I do–it’s who I am. It’s how I process. It’s how I think.
More, it’s how I fulfill the Great Commission.
I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at a MOPS group two weeks ago, which is something I’ve done before and always love. I’m about the same age as most of the women there, my kids are just recently out of that “pre-schoolers” age, and I can relate to them on a lot of different levels. I love talking to them about juggling their home life with other passions, which is what I was talking about this time too, and about my publishing story.
Afterward, one of the ladies said something to me that I’ve heard before, LOL. “It’s so fun hearing you talk about this–you’re so passionate about it!” (When I’m speaking to older crowds, that often gets paired with “It’s so adorable how excited you are!”)
But that’s me. I get excited about writing, about books, about the stories I get to tell. I get excited about how God has worked in my life to bring me to this point, and the ways He has used my books in the lives of His children. I get excited about what’s to come.
And yes–I’m willing to suffer for it. Because the written word is my mission field. Telling stories is how I spread the Gospel and share God’s truths. Yes, I had to learn the career side–how to follow the rules of writing, how to appeal to readers and editors, how to get my books out into those readers’ hands (otherwise it’s not much of a mission field!), and I work hard at it. But if that were taken away from me, if I could no longer get books out there, I’d still write stories–and I’d still get them to as many people as I could.

There are so many reasons to write. So many ways to treat it. So many things it can be even to someone like me who considers it a ministry, a calling. Yes, I want it to entertain. Yes, I want to write the best I possibly can. Yes, I want to keep learning how to make my books successful. No, I certainly don’t want my stories to ever come across as an agenda.

But that’s the beauty, to me. If I pursue this thing I’m called to wholeheartedly, I know that God will give me those truths to write into my stories. I know I’ll continue to understand God’s love better and better by exploring relationships and family through writing. I know my stories will get better and better as stories, and that the better they get, the more they’ll be able to fulfill their purpose on a spiritual level too.
For those of us whose writing is a ministry, the question of “Why do we do it?” always comes back to “Because that’s how we serve Him.” And because that’s my reason, it makes me view things like low sales and setbacks in a whole different light. Obviously, I want my books to be successful–as in, reach lots of people–but more, I want them to be used by Him. Ideally, the two will go hand in hand. But if not, if my sales are awful but I’m still getting notes from people telling me how my books opened their eyes or touched their hearts or made them redefine their faith…well then, I’m doing my job.
It’s not always easy. It doesn’t always seem worthwhile. It certainly isn’t always logical. It can’t always be quantified. But that’s true of most ministries, isn’t it? We serve, we give, we fight for the right to do so. We falter, we weep, we wonder if it will ever make a difference. Then we get up again and keep serving. Because it’s part of who we are.
It’s a little odd that writing is something you can do for so many different reasons–after all, not many people choose “missionary” as a career simply because they think they have a way with people and words and it seems like a good career choice. That’s one that most people will do only as a calling, a ministry. But writing can be a talent, a gift much like good math skills or engineering acumen. It can be a job that goes hand-in-hand with ministry. It can be so many different things.
But if you’re pursuing it, it’s a good idea to identify why you are. What it means to you. What you’re willing to give up for it, and what you’re not. For many fabulous writers, they’re not willing to give up much to pursue writing. For others, there’s not much they won’t give up to pursue writing. How awesome that God can use us all. =)

Throwback Thursday – When We’re Pressed

Throwback Thursday – When We’re Pressed

I have dedicated this week to an At-Home Writing Retreat…Since I couldn’t attend my IN PERSON writing retreat with my dear friend Stephanie Morrill this year. Therefore, I am pulling a “Thoughtful” post from the archives today. I hope you are all staying sane during this strange season we find ourselves in. I’ve revisited this one before. But it definitely feels relevant today. 

Life is hard. So often we feel pressure. People are pushing us. Prodding us. Poking us. Sometimes, when circumstances are weighing heavy, we get that tight feeling in our chest, right? Or in our stomach. Stress. Overwhelm.
We get tired.
We get frustrated.
We react.
But how do we react? Or the better question, how should we?
In his sermon last weekend, my dad used this analogy, and it really struck me. Take an orange and squeeze it, press it–what do you get? Orange juice. Not apple juice. Not grape juice.
Take a sponge and squeeze it, and what do you get? Whatever liquid it has soaked up.
Take a plant and press it, and what comes out? The oils or fluids from inside the plant.
Now, take a piece of rotten fruit and squeeze it, and what comes out? Rot. Decay. Stench.
Getting the picture? When pressed, what comes out of a thing? What’s inside it.
So let’s take that back to us. What comes out of us when we’re pressed? (Yes, the comedian in me said, “Blood and gross-squishy-red-stuff.” [Bonus points if you get the Phineas and Ferb reference.] But let’s be serious, LOL.)
What comes out is what’s within. So if we’re frustrated, that frustration comes out. If we’re unhappy, we spew unhappiness. If we’re bitter, that bile is just going to come oozing out of our mouths. But is that all that’s inside us, even when we’re not at our best?
When we’re people of faith, there is always Something else inside us. Someone else. The Holy Spirit lives here. He’s inside me. Jesus is inside me. So with them, what else is inside me?
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness.
When we’re pressed, squeezed, put under pressure, when we’re poked, prodded, and pushed, that is what should come pouring out of us–that should be what’s within us.
Humbling, isn’t it? When you’re feeling the pressure of life, are you greeting it with love? With Joy? Do we greet evil with goodness? Prodding with patience? Are we, when we’re at our lowest, when we’re been squeezed so much by life that the pain is palpable, shining with faithfulness?
If we’re not, then that says something about what’s inside us–and about what isn’t. We can’t pour out what we don’t have; we can’t have good fruit inside us yet spill out rot and decay. If that’s what’s coming out, it’s because that’s what’s within.
And if that’s what’s within, then we need to do some serious work on ourselves. We need to turn those rotten spots over to God and let Him prune them away. We need to plead with Him to fill us with the good stuff inside.
And He will.
Until our cup runs over with His light. It’ll spill right out of us . . . and right into the world. And then, when we’re pressed, people will see Him.
I can’t think of a more beautiful way to show people who Jesus really is.
Throwback Thursday – Gifts

Throwback Thursday – Gifts

I’m happy to say that this year (as opposed to most years), I’m nearly done my Christmas shopping already. I have a few things yet to pick up, but all the tricky ones are handled. I’m feeling on top of things there. Mostly. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And as I talk with my kiddos about the real meaning of Christmas and all that fun stuff, I can’t help but think about the gifts I’m most grateful for.
I totally neglected to post on Thanksgiving (though I’d meant to, LOL), so I figured I’d take a few minutes now, halfway between the holidays, to give thanks for those gifts that make my life worth living.
Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash

Sometimes it just hits me anew how blessed I’ve been in my family life. God put me in a loving, amazing family growing up. One that protected without being overbearing. One that nurtured without stifling. One that provided fun as well as life-lessons to remember. My parents taught me to love God and follow Jesus, to chase after my dreams, and to always be myself. They somehow raised me to be secure in exactly who I was, so long as I was following the path the Lord wanted me on. I am so, so grateful for my family.

Then I happened to meet the man of my dreams at a very young age. Oh, that caused some nay-saying back then, to be sure. In this day and age, it just isn’t expected that you meet your soul mate at 15 and get married at 18 (by choice, not by shotgun, LOL). But David and I knew what we wanted and needed, and I don’t regret a moment of the last eleven and a half years of marriage. I am so, so blessed to have a husband who not only loves me but understands me. Who supports my every dream and encourages my every goal. No matter what comes and goes in this life, I know he’ll be beside me every moment he can be. And I am so grateful for that rare and precious gift.
And then the children God has given me! Goodness, I know most parents think the exact same thing, but these little people are just amazing. Sure, I get frustrated with them. But when I take a step back and really look at who they are, I can’t believe the sweet hearts they have, the Joy, the delight. They really are the lights in our lives, and I’m so, so proud of them. And grateful for every hug and cuddle, for every grin and giggle.
Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash

Then I look back over the years I’ve traveled to get to where I am, over the tears and letdowns in an attempt to build a career, and then at the place I’ve ended up. Not that I’m now a best-selling, raving success or anything, but I’m here. Where I’ve always wanted to be. I’m working with an editor who believes in me, with a house that believes in me, on projects that excite us all. I’m working as an editor with amazing authors whose stories leave me breathless. And I’m finally “supporting my habit,” as I call it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have so much. So much to be grateful for, so many gifts that I’ve received, gifts that I never would have put on my list for Santa, but which far surpass that bike I had to have or the doll that was utterly necessary at age 7.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that new Dyson vacuum cleaner that just arrived yesterday, and all the other gifts my family blesses me with each year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But at the end of the day, when the new pots are in the cabinet and the new shirt is stained and worn, I can settle on my couch with the man I love and think, “Wow, Lord. You’ve given me love. You’ve given me family. You’ve given me my dreams. Please show me what I can give back to You to show You that Your love is what I prize above all.”
Throwback Thursday…The Spirit

Throwback Thursday…The Spirit



I’m writing a book right now that’s way more spiritually charged, spiritually involved than I imagined it would be. There are a lot of beyond-your-vision battles raging, and that means a lot of Roseanna praying before writing–I so don’t want to get this stuff wrong!
And then this weekend, we had the honor of hosting visitors (a couple and a good friend of theirs) from Ohio who offered to do a faith-building and healing service at our church. These people . . . they are so genuine. So humble. They just want to teach what they’ve learned and be the instruments of the Lord. And boy, did I need a good dose of the Spirit.
Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

Ever since a revival swept through our town two years ago, I’ve been keenly aware of how different I am when in touch with the Spirit versus when I let life get in the way. And lately . . . life has been seriously in the way. Which made me not really enjoy the details of my life. My kids were getting on my nerves, I was constantly exhausted, and I couldn’t seem to find the quiet time I needed with God. So I went to this service knowing exactly what I needed from it.

After a while my wonderful hubby took the kids down to the nursery, which let me really listen, really feel. The teaching time ended, and the prayer began. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. Should I just charge to the front and say, “Pray with me please so I can get the kids home to bed?” No, they asked for someone with a specific issue . . . so I just closed my eyes, prayed, privately and determined to soak up the Spirit–not too hard, since he was saturating the room. And, I’ll admit it, thought, “Well, Lord, you might just have to send one of them back to me if this isn’t enough.”
Then the husband of the couple came over to me. He’d walked by several times, but this time he crouched down and asked, “Can I pray with you? I’m sensing you’re not here for healing but that you have something you need prayer for.”

!!!! I nodded as tears surged (I’m not a cry-er, FYI) and asked if he would pray for rejuvenation. That’s all I said–rejuvenation. But you could see the light go on inside him. He took my hands and prayed for rejuvenation, for rest, for exactly what I needed. And told me I needed to take the time to pray for that every morning, and pray every night for my rest to be sufficient.

Um, yes, teacher.
Seriously, ever since then . . . there’s a calm inside where irritation had been. There’s Joy again. And I am so, so grateful that the Spirit always knows exactly what we need and meets us there. There have been times over the years when he swept over me in my dreams and I wake up like this. This time, he came while his servants were here and used them to bless me.
Now I’m praying that my words (mostly thinking of those spiritually-charged chapters I’m writing) can somehow be used to bless others. There is so much to all this stuff, so much I can never quite get a hold on.
How awesome to know I don’t have to get a hold of it all–I just have to hold his hand. He’ll show me how to handle the rest.
Don’t miss out on my upcoming Tea Parties! Click the image for more details.
   
Throwback Thursday…Potatoes

Throwback Thursday…Potatoes


I want to be like a potato. Aside from the fact that they don’t have hourglass figures, that is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But every time I reach for one in dinner prep, it hits me anew.
I want to be able to sprout no matter where I am. No matter how unsuitable the “where” is to sprouting. That right there would be enough. If we could put out roots like a potato, then just think how secure we’d be in our lives, wherever we are. Whatever we’re doing.
The Little Potato Peeler
by Albert Anker, 1886
I want to be long-lasting. No week-away expiration date. I want to be able to still go strong after weeks and months left sitting. Because sometimes there are periods of inaction in life. Of rest. If I were as long-lasting as a potato, those wouldn’t bother me a bit.
I want to be hearty. I want my work to stick to your bones, yes. But more, I want to know that I’m made of sterner stuff than fluff and nonsense. That I’ve got some starch to me. Maybe that gets potatoes a bad rap in this age of dieting, and maybe it gets people bad raps too sometimes. But that’s the stuff that energy is made of.
I want to be a chameleon, handy for any number of oh-so-different goals. Is there anything you can’t do with a potato? Slice them, fry them, boil them, bake them, mash them, make them a base for a soup…for a candy…for a bread. If I could just be half so useful in half so many ways…
I want to be full of good things. Starch aside, potatoes have nothing but goodness. Anything bad has to be put into them. Lord, make me so pure!
I want to be a staple. Cultures rise and fall around potatoes. I don’t profess that kind of hubris, LOL, but I want to be the kind of wife my husband builds his life around. The kind of mom that provides a life of stability and love for my kiddos. The kind of friend that can be depended on for anything. The kind of writer, the kind of editor, the kind of mentor that people come back to over and over.
I want to be a potato. Not that kind that sits on a couch and does nothing, but the kind that can do it all. The kind that’s just fine with waiting and doing nothing when it’s called for. The kind that can then be picked up and put to any number of uses. 
Lord, make me a potato. Sometimes I’m not so sure I have what it takes to be one of those lumpy brown legumes. But I pray I do. Help me to live up to their example. Help me to be a potato too.