Category - joy

When the Floor Gives Way
Look What God Has Done!
The Summer of No Regrets!
Why Are You Crying?
I’m In the Lord’s Army!!!

When the Floor Gives Way

Today I welcome to the back porch of Rocky Top, Amy Daniel.  Amy is the wife of Joseph, mommy to Addy and Aubrey and works part-time as a registered nurse.   She is also my middle-child!  Most importantly, Amy is a beautiful daughter of the king.  You will love her heart for Jesus and her honesty in this blog!

It was ONE of those days!  The baby was sick.  People seemed to be coming against me from every side.  My mood reflected the circumstances of the day.

As the kids napped, I went to Jesus, praying He would revive my soul.  However, instead of allowing Him to do what I knew He would do I made other choices.

I chose to be discontent.  I chose to grumble and complain about unfair circumstances.  I chose not to listen to Him.

Nap time was over and I chose to begrudgingly resume mom duty.  I took the kids into the kitchen to feed them a snack and that’s when it happened.  The floor gave way beneath me.   Literally.  Unbeknownst to me, the tile in my kitchen had formed a giant bubble in the middle.  When I stepped on it, tile and grout flew everywhere.  No injuries were sustained.  Panic ensued as I frantically called experts to diagnose why my floor gave way.

The diagnosis was surprising.  When the tile was originally laid, no room was left for expansion.  So when humidity entered, the tile expanded and buckled in the middle.  Thankfully, it was fixed by laying down new tile and leaving room for expansion.

As I thought about the floor giving way, the Lord began to speak to me.  I had let discontentment, bitterness, and grumbling creep into my soul.  When circumstances don’t go the way I plan or seem unfair, there is a choice to be made.  I can explode with anger and throw an adult temper tantrum or I can rest in the promises of God.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  I Corinthians 3:11

When He is my foundation, the floor can literally fall out from beneath me but I will stand firm because my feet are planted in His strength and not my own.

The tile had no room to expand so it exploded.  So often in my life I leave no room for the Lord to work.  I am so busy trying to control my circumstances that I never stop to offer them to the only One who does have control.  The result is discontentment and grumbling.

II Corinthians 5:14 “The love of Christ controls us…”        Honestly, most of the time I allow external factors to control me……the kitchen floor, the broken relationship, the sick child, the unpaid bills.  When I choose to shift my focus off self and circumstances and onto the True foundation, then the love of Christ starts to pour out of me.  Joy comes then!   At that moment I realize the repairman who God brought to my home may need to experience the love of Christ.  Or maybe God allowed the floor to explode just so I could share my story with you!

Stand firm on the Foundation of Christ, allow room in your life for Him to grow you, and refuse anything but His love to control you!


Look What God Has Done!

Christmas is almost here up on Rocky Top. The kitchen is a mess:  powdered sugar everywhere, dishes in the sink, and the garbage is overflowing.  “All is Well” is playing in the background and though my life might appear to be “picture perfect” on the outside to some, my eyes well up with tears.

All is not well. Hurt, pain, tragedy surround Rocky Top as well as others in the world.

My eyes might be filled with tears but truly there is much joy in my heart. Preacher said Sunday that if we want Joy in our hearts, we must not look at circumstances, what others have said about us or have done to us, but we must look and see what God has done.  In Luke 1:47,  Mary rejoiced when she saw Elizabeth. The word “rejoice” in this passage means to shout loudly “Look what God has done.”   As an unwed, pregnant teenager in a culture where stoning was the punishment for immorality, Mary had many reasons not to be joyful.  Yet, she made the supernatural choice to choose Joy.

As shared before up here on Rocky Top, my dad was not a good man for most of his life. He had 4 wives.  Mom was his first.  We might have lived in the same city for many years, but his visits were not frequent.  Dad’s life was about dad until he met Christ.   After thirty years of many calling out his name to the Heavenly Father, Dad received Christ in February of 1995.  His life changed radically.

Christmas times after that were so much different. Dad would come visit before Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  Presents would be exchanged, meals eaten, prayers said.  He always, always left to drive home before Christmas Eve.  We would beg him to stay.  Not sure why he wouldn’t.

One Christmas day we received the following email from him.

To My Girls:

As I sat down to write, it is Christmas Eve night. I attended a candle light service and was feeling a loneliness that I never felt before.  Because I have no Christmas tree, I came back to my apartment and placed the candle in a bowl and lit the candle again.  As the light from the candle begin to glow, I knew that I was not alone.  Christ was by my side and I began to rejoice in His Love.

From the light of my small candle, I knew that God had not only given His Son to guide and love me, but also has given me a gift of very precious daughters. The gift that each of you have given me is more priceless than any material thing on this earth, and that is my grandchildren.  Each one of them holds a very special place in my heart.

You have taken the love you have in the Lord, and placed it in the hearts of your children. I know that you could not have accomplished this without the help and love from your spouses.  I feel very proud and blessed to know these fine men of yours.  For each is a very loving husband and father.

My candle is just about out. Although it will stop burning, the love I have for the Lord, you, your husbands and the grandchildren will burn forever.  I pray each day that God will guide and protect you, and that He places an Angel by the side of each grandchild to protect them.

May Christmas be alive in all our hearts each day and may the Son of God always be with you.

With All My Love, Dad

And so friends and family, Look what God has done!

Merry Christmas and may your life this season declare: Look What God Has Done!

The Summer of No Regrets!

It is summer up here on Rocky Top!  For many families that means VACATION!!!

Our family is no exception to that!  We just returned from our first extended family vacation in four years!  Between a move from the Bayou state, two grandbabies being born, a wedding, graduations, unexpected deaths, elderly parents, new jobs and just life, it has just been hard to get away.  We have gotten together several times a year up here on Rocky Top, but it is different when four separate families choose to take off work and drive and/or fly to a separate location to spend a week together.  Coordinating everyone’s schedule is almost an impossible task.

As I sat under a canopy on a beautiful white sandy beach watching my two adorable grandchildren creating sand castles, my son attempting paddle boarding, my husband casting his rod in hopes of a fish, I realized  all the work to get here was worth it.  However, it wasn’t just about having fun together as a family, there were some other lessons the Lord taught me this past week about the importance of a family vacation.

  1.  Laughter……..nothing like laughing together and sometimes even at the expense of one another to bond you together as a family.  Most nights after small children were in bed we played games.  We won’t talk about the night we played Catch Phrase and my job was to describe “Skip to My Lou”.   I jumped up from my chair to act out skipping.  Bad idea.  My knee decided not to cooperate and I almost fell on the floor.    My mind and body were in two different places.      We all laughed until we cried.           Proverbs 17:22
  2. Memories……..things happen on these trips that are forever etched in our minds and bind us together.  One night a storm was raging at 5 am.  I  looked out the window to see our rented tandem kayak floating in the ocean.  I ran up and down the hall screaming “Wake up!  Everyone go help dad rescue the kayak.”  The son and  the son-in-loves all threw on clothes and rushed out to the beach while lightening was striking the shore to rescue the kayak and whatever could be salvaged.  Of course the night before, it was “the mom” who suggested a storm was coming and it might be best to take down the canopy and move the kayak up even closer to the house.  But who is remembering???  Philippians 1:3
  3. Grace……….spending a week together with four families at various stages of life, various personalities, various strengths and weaknesses gives us all a chance to give grace to one another.  Some of us are neat freaks; some leave all their belongings everywhere; some drink coconut water; some eat one gallon of ice cream daily; some take long walks; some like to just sit and read; some are competitive and some just don’t care about winning or losing.  Many people want their vacations to just be all about themselves.  Yet, what better way to learn grace than by practicing it by accepting each other’s differences.  Taking a multi-generation vacation is  such a great way to not only build bonds but to learn how to extend grace to one another.  II Timothy 2:1
  4. Prayer.……..of course there was prayer at every meal together.  BUT this is not what I am referring to.  Toward the end of our time together, we gathered in the big family room after the children were put to bed.  John (Preacher), Dad, or Papa John as those in our family call him,  asked all of us to be prepared to share toward the end of the week the answers to the following questions:  What is your family thankful for this year?  What in the coming year will require your dependence on the Lord?  How can we as a family pray for your family?  As we shared the answers to these questions, some of us were a bit emotional (me, in particular).  Doing family this way was foreign to me growing up.  This time of family prayer was so special to me personally.    James 5:13-16
  5. Intentionality…………none of the above just happened, the week didn’t just happen, our family didn’t just happen.  It was all “intentional”!   Many years ago, an older women challenged me to live my life without regrets.  Don’t just live your life.  Live your life on purpose.  Decide what is important to you, to your family and do “it”!  Whatever “it” is,  do it!  Preacher and I decided years ago when the children were young that we might not drive fancy cars, own a fancy house, jewelry or the latest designer clothes, but we wanted to use what money we did have to build our family by taking vacations.  In the early years, it was simply driving 20+ hours to spend time with his family at the beach.  One year we had a garage sale to raise funds to go to Disney world together.  A vacation for your family might be a few days in the mountains or exploring a new city.  The point is to get away from your normal routine and spend uninterrupted time together as a family!    This trip happened by our family sitting together over a year ago talking about how we  all needed to get away to a beach house.  Dates seemed to elude us.   However, my precious daughter-in-love worked on dates until we could see a possible window.  It took persistent intentionality!   Galatians 2:20, I Timothy 6:11-12

Sitting on the back porch of Rocky Top today soaking in the sun of the summer, my prayer for your family is to live this summer INTENTIONALLY  as you laugh together, make memories together, give one another grace and pray together as a family.

May the Summer of 2016 be the Summer of NO REGRETS!




Why Are You Crying?

I stood on a beautiful white sand beach just a few days ago with tears streaming down my face. It started as a few tears welling up in my eyes but turned into an uncontrollable sob. You know the kind of cry that when you try to talk, you sound like a blubbering idiot.

No one was around. It was just me, the crashing waves against the shore, my Jesus, and my tears.

I could almost hear Him say, “Why are you crying?”

Well, Lord……….my dishwasher at home is broken, the microwave still isn’t fixed, and the air conditioner just went out.

Really?? You are standing on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and you are crying because your appliances aren’t working?

So, Donna, why are you crying? I heard Him whisper my name and my soul began to calm.

I’m overwhelmed with life, Lord. My eyes are off YOU! I thought coming to the beach, hearing the waves, smelling the salt air would somehow magically make it all better. Running to the beach doesn’t make it all better. It just makes you at the beach.

What does make it better? What will enable me to stay the course, deal with the stuff of life…….the appliances, the circumstances and people that are causing me to sob uncontrollably?

I remembered someone else who had been asked the question, Why are you crying?

Mary Magdalene stood in front of an empty tomb crying. Jesus was gone. Jesus had been her everything. He had rescued her and had given her new life. Her world was falling apart because of His death. Jesus came to her outside the empty tomb and said, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?” Mary thought the answer was to just find His dead body. Then, Jesus called her by name, “Mary”. She immediately recognized His voice when He spoke her name. She replied, “Rabboni!” It is the Aramaic word for “Teacher”. She immediately put herself under His authority and responded with “teach me, Lord”. (John 20:10-16) She didn’t respond with “fix it, Lord” or “make it all better”!

A hurting heart, an anxious spirit, uncontrollable tears, an overwhelmed life will not be fixed by a trip to the beach or to any place. It is the Person of Jesus who calms our fears, holds us when we do cry, teaches us how to handle life and is our peace and joy.

So as the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

I did choose that day to “turn my eyes upon Jesus”.  As I turned my eyes to Him and put myself under His authority, the aggravating people just didn’t seem to aggravate me as much. The appliances aren’t fixed yet, but they are just appliances. The other circumstances and people are still there but so is my JESUS and He is just so much bigger. He is my Teacher!  He will teach me how to navigate life, choose joy and be victorious.  I just have to turn to Him and choose Him and His ways.


I’m In the Lord’s Army!!!

Up on Rocky Top my grandchildren and I love to sing and act out a song. It’s the old children’s bible song “I’m in the Lord’s Army!”   When William and Addy come over and we sing, they will ask me “Nonna, let’s sing the “march song”. So we will sing at the top of our lungs while acting out all the motions of marching in the infantry, riding in the cavalry and zooming over the enemy. It is such fun but it became reality for me these last few weeks.

I left Rocky Top a few weeks ago to visit South Asia for the first time. This area of our world was new to me. It is a land where there are many, many gods. It is a land where cows, water buffalo, pigs and monkeys freely roam the streets due to their “holy” status. And yet it is a land where many children are malnourished, sick and barefoot. I was able to walk dirt roads where they had never seen a “white woman” nor had ever heard the name of Jesus. I sat and drank chai in dirt paved courtyards as laundry hung out on lines nearby and flies swarmed all around my face.

Darkness seemed to prevail everywhere around me even though the sun shone brightly in the sky.

Our leader asked if a team member would be willing to separate from the rest of the group to accompany one of the workers to some new areas. I volunteered not because I was brave but because I really wanted some special time with this worker. I wanted to encourage her. She has lived in this country for over 10 years and birthed all her children here. She is the brave one!

To be honest the experience of those two days away from the group and the night away were some of the most difficult of my life. Yet, I saw the Lord at work. I saw a woman who passionately poured herself out to a people who are living in such darkness that truly there are not words adequate enough to describe it. And yet the light of Christ is moving in this country. Men, women and children are coming to know the Light and are being trained by this worker how to share this Light among their own people.

When I returned to the group, I shared my “night time away experience” with our group. The next morning I once again had no hot water to wash my hair. My precious roommate, Joy, who truly lives up to her name, said a familiar truth that became reality for me at that moment.

Joy said, “Mrs. Donna, we are soldiers! Soldiers do not complain that they do not have hot water. Soldiers do not care about the bed they sleep in or the food they eat. They are soldiers. We are soldiers, Mrs. Donna. We are at war!”

My mind quickly went to my favorite song I sing with my grandchildren. “I’m in the Lord’s army.”

And it was no coincidence on our first night in this very dark country that we visited an orphanage and the song was sung in their language and acted out just as I do with grandkids…”I’m in the Lord’s army.”!

So I am back from that far away land, readjusting to our American luxuries of clean water, hot water in an instant, electricity 24 hours a day and fresh fruits and veggies in abundance. I sat around a table last night with eleven women who are soldiers in the Lord’s army and we all shared battle stories, war stories. They are different than the ones in Asia but nonetheless there is a battle here too.

I reminded them of the truth that children’s song is based on. “You then, my daughter, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” II Timothy 2:1-3

You do not have to visit South Asia to experience war. Our enemy’s job is to steal, kill and destroy according to John 10:10. Our job is to endure and to choose His life, His peace and His joy in the face of hardship. Whatever battle you are experiencing today, I encourage you to remember that the same power that conquered death and hell now lives inside you according to God’s word. Choose to live in that power……….You are in the Lord’s army! And as I shout at the end of that song with my grandchildren saluting to the Lord…….YES, SIR!

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