Tag - JOY

The Fourth Day of Christmas
Look What God Has Done!
Why Are You Crying?
I’m In the Lord’s Army!!!
Joy, Mamma, Joy??

The Fourth Day of Christmas

The Gift of Joy by Kristi Nolan, a dear friend who has encountered JOY

If you asked me, Kristi, to describe 2019, JOY is not the word I would use.  Disappointment, anxiety, depression, loss – those are the words that would quickly spill from my lips.   But 2019 was full of milestones that should cause my lips to smile and my eyes to brim with watery pride:  our oldest child graduated from high school; our family took an amazing vacation; we received a special scholarship we’ve been praying about for three years for our middle child; just to name a few.   

Thankfully, the gift of God’s Word reminded me that the difficult period we have walked through was meant to produce something much different:  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…  James 1:2.    I don’t know about you, but trials don’t typically make me feel “joyful”.  God’s Word doesn’t just tell us: Have Joy in your trials.  He tells us how and why — because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…..James 1:3-4. There is purpose in our trials, and an unexpected gift: JOY. 

Jesus gave us the perfect example of this: …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.   For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand on the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2-3.

Jesus knew the cross was going to be painful, so He looked past the coming trial and saw the JOY on the other side.   

JOY isn’t just available to us on the other side of difficulties – JOY is a gift of living and walking with JesusBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23. 

In Luke 1 we see a young girl, Mary, already pledged to be married, encountering an angel who brings her what must have been confusing and frightening news.   She immediately travels to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also unexpectedly with child. When Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.   Mary’s response is what we call “Mary’s Magnificat”.  It can be found beginning in Luke 1:46:  My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…  Her spirit, like her cousin Elizabeth’s, was filled with JOY.   Mary chose to receive this most unexpected gift with joy.  

What unexpected situations have filled your year? Are you choosing JOY in this season? Are you taking time to remember the JOY of your salvation?  

If not, I pray you will spend time with Jesus and receive the gift of Joy He brought on a cold night in Bethlehem.  

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!

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!

Joy, Mamma, Joy??

With much “joy”, I welcome Amy Daniel to my brown rocking chair on the back porch at Rocky Top!

Amy is my middle daughter! Yep……..middle child says it all about this beautiful young woman!

Amy is wife to Joseph and mommy to Addy…….the most beautiful 22 month old little girl in the entire world….don’t even try and disagree with that one! When Amy is not singing, reading, swinging, or playing with Addy or washing clothes, cooking meals or helping out at Mom to Mom (a ministry for and to moms), you will find her in the N.I.C.U. at the University of Tennessee Hospital caring for some special littles!  So, my precious daughter, what is God teaching you lately???


You know those summer rain showers…the ones where it’s pouring down rain but oddly the sky is sunny. That is a perfect metaphor for my life lately. My sky is sunny…amazing husband, great family, beautiful little girl…but I feel like I’m getting drenched in a rain storm of gloom. I find myself having pity parties over little things and stuck in this gloomy mood.

Nothing huge has gone wrong in my life lately but happiness seems to elude me. Maybe you have found yourself in my shoes or maybe you have big reasons to be feeling down, either way…how do we drag ourselves out of the mud and into the Son?

Well I recently learned this important lesson from my little girl. She is 22 months old.   Her favorite song, as of late, goes like this “I’ve got joy down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. J-O-Y down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. Jesus put it there and nothing can destroy it!”

She comes up to me daily and asks “Joy, Mamma? Joy?”….. wanting me to sing this song to her.   It dawned on me during the thousandth time singing this song that I do have joy deep down in my heart…. even when my emotions are telling me otherwise. His name is Jesus!!   Proverbs 17:22 says “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

So when I am feeling stuck in the gloom of my own pity…I remember my daughters sweet voice asking me “Joy, mamma? Joy?” I will choose to answer “Yes, baby girl, I have J-O-Y down deep in my heart!”

I will choose to not dwell on circumstances or emotions and dwell on Jesus and what He has done for me. Every time I start to feel the gloom creeping in…I will choose Joy.

It’s pretty hard to stay in the muck when you meditate on His glory. So if you are stuck in the rain today…whether the sky is sunny or stormy…decide to choose Joy! For His joy…….NOTHING CAN DESTROY IT!!

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