The Source of Genuine, Indestructible Joy

My joy isn’t dead, no matter how I feel. Even though everything on my plate is seasoned with pain, Jesus lives! Though the boot-heal of oppression bears down in an attempt to grind me into dust, my hope is un-crushable. Even when my happiness shatters and all those I love move beyond my embrace, love isn’t carnal or mortal. When my body is broken, then passed around as bread and my blood becomes a drink, a sacrifice consumed but unrecognized, Jesus is my validation. He walked this path before me. He set the standard. True sacrifice isn’t made in hopes of personal reward. Though I fall and the weight of this cross I bear is too much for me to lift again to carry, God’s ultimate plan remains. When my eyes are blind with the tears of sorrow and agony causes me to no longer care, a new blast of His breath enters me and by His strength I rise to move forward. Though the sting of sin poisons everything I see and touch by the fulfillment of His Will, not mine, I will press beyond Death’s boundary and reach the ultimate prize. In Jesus I possess indestructible joy which He bought by His obedience and blazed the Way predestined for me to follow. This narrow path I must walk despising all worldly gain. I am nearer now to the finish than I was yesterday. Though in this world I endure suffering and can’t always feel my joy, when I finish this race, my agony will melt away. When my body dies to become ashes and dust, I know Death has no power over my soul. Though this present night is deepening, soon the Son will rise with healing in His wings! When morning comes, my feet will rest on the eternal shore. I will forget the effects of sin’s painful sting and cry no more. Jesus is my eternal joy.

Job 42:1-6 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Barren Cold Reckoning

I stand in the middle of a cold barren high desert.

Winds of winter howling…

Alone it seems, as I straining hear the silence exert,

Power Divine! I’m cowling…

In the Presence of this Holy sound my ideas dessert!

All dreams flee with yowling!

Whimper, return to netherworld; must die or convert!

Ultimate Truth is de-fouling…

This barren land is a cold mirror of what I am; only dirt!

In me I see the evil prowling…

Condemned if I should choose to ignore this Holy alert,

Finality! Death’s wind howling…

If I decide to remain in my barren state and reality skirt,

Defy God and rise fist growling!

Winter icy desert isolation only a taste of my future hurt,

If I deserving of Holy scowling!

Remain in a desert turned hot to burn fools who pervert,

Ignore Holy Wind’s cowling!

 

 

 

 

 

On the Day She Became an Old Woman

On the day Carol became an old woman, she shed several tears. Standing in the threshold of the last days of her life filled her with certain uncertainty. Though life is tenuous at any age, when old age comes everyone knows what comes next and there is no way to dodge death. This dreadful day came so suddenly yet also, gradually. Somehow, she didn’t think it would happen to her. Carol never could picture herself with grey hair and never accepted it. In fact she did everything in her power to remain young looking and deny the passing of time but on this day, reality couldn’t be denied. Would she live long enough for her hair to turn white or worse, fall out? Carol didn’t want to die but she didn’t want to be elderly either.

Carol gravitated toward the bed and overcome by this strange season in life, laid down and absent-mindedly, stared out the window, upward into the perfectly blue sky. It was early afternoon, she was tired and it felt good to lie down. She remembered when she never felt tired during the day and how hard she’d worked all of her life; all that was required of her to obtain this familiar, beloved place to relax and gaze at the sky, as she loved to do. Now, she had to think about letting it all go and down-sizing. Tears filled her eyes to the brim when she thought of the children and how far away they are now. She worked so hard at raising them, at doing for others, and now, that she is less capable of serving it seems she is mostly forgotten. Her life once noisy and full is now, quiet. Carol needs quiet at this age but misses companionship, camaraderie, and most of all, being needed. These days she and her husband had to focus on self-care and every day it became more time consuming. No matter the reason, a self-consumed life is a lonely life. She reminded herself to be grateful that she still had her husband and felt a bit of relief in the act of counting a blessing. Then she thought of the inevitable final good-by and the brimming tears over-flowed.

Sunshine streamed warmth through her bedroom window to relax Carol’s sore, stiff muscles and joints. She could see the very tops of the trees swaying in a gentle breeze, as she ebbed into a sorrowful sleep. Carol drifted into dreams and felt herself as she was inside, at the prime of life. It was a bright summer day in a special place. Towering mountains surrounded a valley with a lake in a green meadow. Just beyond the shore-line lay a beautiful forrest, with every kind of tree. The trees nearest the lake bore various fruits more luscious than any she’d ever seen or tasted. There was such peace in this place, a benign but powerful presence that quieted her every anxiety. Birds in free cacophony filled the air with the music of gratitude. Music so beautiful that Carol found herself also, singing. The lyrics flowed through her from the Presence and washed away every sorrow. Suddenly, she was aware of her husband standing beside her and taking her hand in his. Their eyes met in glowing smiles, they kissed, and then realized they weren’t alone. This beautiful place was filled with content, joyful people, all in the prime of life. It was evident there was no sickness here, no aging, no decay, and no death. “This is my home” was her final thought before she found herself awake.

Outside Carol’s window, the sun was fading in a peach and blue display and the tree tops were still. The atmosphere of her dream lingered in the feeling of that powerful Presence and she heard in her spirit; “Trust me Carol. You must let go of this world before you may enter this better place I allowed you to visit in your dreams. This isn’t the end but a new beginning, a revealing of eternity that is new to you now, but a reality that has always been. You belong to Me and everything you love and must let go of here, I will replace and multiply when you are finally home. Until then, continue to serve me. Reach out to others as you are able and point them to My Son. Though you must rest often now, give that time to prayer and meditation. I still have My purpose to work through you here. I won’t abandon you and I will see you safely, through every step of letting go. Then I will safely, see you home.” Carol’s tired, sad heart flooded with the surety only, a beloved child knows and an acceptance of her circumstance that comes only, by trust in the Divine. Refreshed and revitalized, her thoughts turned to Jim, and as she had done innumerable times before, she got up to cook his dinner. Grateful that Jim was still with her and required this of her but also, reassured that should he pass on before her, she would never be alone. Their best days were yet to come.

Joy in a Sonoran Rain

There is nothing more lovely than a Sonoran winter rain. Pouring silver; large drops weighted by the ice of the winter world that surrounds The Valley of the Sun. The ice that melts into rain before it hits the warm desert floor, as snow buries the surrounding mountain rim. The dry soil welcomes the steady feeding of moisture in ground cooled enough to receive it and even store it safely, deep down below the surface. The peace of acceptance fills the atmosphere, as the rain washes the resting desert clean. There is a sense of sorrow, as all that stood and appeared strong in the previous season is washed away and all debris is broken down to become one with the soil. This short, quiet space in time, labeled as winter in the Sonora, is appropriated to building the foundation of the new season to come. This water that falls from the heavens is worth more than gold and everything that lives in the green desert depends upon it for life and by the wisdom intrinsic to its design, the Sonoran Desert submits to the washing, the rearranging that comes by the sheer force of water. The normal state of drought is fully satiated as the water overflows to fill the lakes and reservoirs that will be so needed when the rainy season ends. This strange season, so uncharacteristic of the desert’s usual appearance, is necessary or the fierce heat that tests all Sonoran life in summer would be devastating. This low lying climate would be left void, without the teeming life it sustains, and become nothing but hard packed ground. No one could enjoy this wonderful Valley of the Sun if it were not for these cloudy, gray, wet days.

Mourning is a season most struggle to avoid but mourning is the time when the foundation of the future is laid. When it comes, it is best to accept it and let go of all that is being beat down and rearranged. God loves a broken, contrite heart and God’s presence is all encompassing when a tired, broken heart opens to Him. When sorrow pours from skies cloudy with gloom and thoughts of past sunny days bring a deep sense of loss in their vanishing, this is joy: no matter how chaotic or abhorrent such a season may seem, God has His fingers laced tightly around all of it and those who belong to Him. When we are weak and there is nothing to hold onto amid the rushing flood, God holds us close and is working all the pain to our future good. The surety in life is that our purpose in Him will be fulfilled. In trusting God peace is found, even in the midst of a severe storm. In acceptance of God’s Will is the power to utilize mourning, as time spent alone with God, as He satiates grief and fills our deep reservoirs with Truth. He fills all sorrowful, dry basins that will become life sustaining lakes in the future, with the joy found in Jesus. Even if our bodies are part of the refuse to be broken down and washed away, for those hidden in Christ, it is but a natural part of the overall cycle of life, which we are part of. In Christ, all endings are beginnings for life is eternal. In Jesus, a melancholy rain is lovely. A time to rest securely in God’s presence and drink in the sustenance of His Spirit and wait as the great wheel turns, assuring the continued spinning of the other smaller wheels, He encircles.

By God’s Love the Sonora remains green. By His grace, the sorrowful season passes and the desert blooms in a fantastic, colorful display of continuing life. This is the assured hope of faith.

Joyfully, I Fly Away!

Brrrr! Baby it is cold outside! The beauty of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains has a down side. How blessed this old bird is to fly south! I am trading these ice-bound mountains and bare grey branches in for the rainbow landscape with low mountains covered in green velvet found only in Arizona. I’m leaving snow and wind behind me as I head for a hideaway in the Valley of the Sun. In The Valley, I’m sure to find the warmth I need to melt my pain and the bright colors I adore to lighten my mind. Arizona is paradise for people like me who love to study how colors harmonize and collide. It is a place designed for the grey-haired set, looking for a place to celebrate the stage of life referred to as golden. It is a refuge for me and as I pack my bags, my heart sings, “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, in the midst of a dry thirsty land, and covers it there with his hand.” This old desert-dweller belongs to Jesus and my Father so faithfully, works all things to my good.

There is a time to gather and a time to let go. I’m standing at the end of my gathering time and with sorrow, I must let go of people and things important to me. Endings are a time of mourning but beginnings are a time of joy. As I prepare to leave my familiar life behind, there are tears as I gaze backward; but then, I look the other way toward my future that is beginning, as tears of sorrow evaporate in joy. Some would say that I am at the beginning of the big END-ing but I belong to Jesus and my future is eternal in Him. As I travel toward a land where the sun shines warm in winter, I contemplate the big BEGIN-ing that waits at the end of my golden years. Today, I am joyfully, leaving the cold and my pain behind, heading for the perpetually, warm green desert that blooms and offers healing time for my sadness. On a someday that may come any day, I will joyfully, fly away to that “Rock that is so much higher than I” and leave all the cold, pain, and sorrow of the world behind. In Jesus, even when I lose I win, and with everything I must let go of, He restores and multiplies.

With songs of joy in my heart, I hit the road to follow the sun to the land where the Bougainvillea always blooms and winter is only, a word. I am a vagabond, a time-traveler, a tourista’ on a perpetual holiday and the road stretches endlessly, ahead!

Sunshine on a Winter Day

I am so grateful that the sun still shines in winter.

Thankful for these warming rays brightly streaming,

Through my window, mercifully sent by my dear Father!

Warmth to comfort my body, lift my spirit; to liven my soul;

Lifting all thoughts to joy, allowing them to float on the waters,

Of sickness and sorrow; thereby abating my sadness and suffering;

Snugly wrapping me in loving security; and embrace me in His presence;

It is brutal! Outside it’s cold! A threat to my existence but here in my window

I sit, enjoying the heat of summer; kept safe from vile enemies that long to take

Me down to smother me in agony; in hopes of crushing my spirit, destroying my body!

But my soul, my enemy can’t touch, it belongs to the One who limits my enemy’s strength;

Daddy! He cherishes, protects His child; Surrounding me with bright sunshine on a winter day!

From Mourning to Joy

When loss and sorrow knock on the door, there is no denying grief or the process of mourning. However, it is natural to recoil from the pain and very human to attempt to flee. Grief is as hot and dry as June in the desert, during a long drought. The body, heart, and soul shrivel with thirst when it ravages. When the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth and lips crack due to thirst, the high country calls through remembrances of alpine relief, at an altitude high above the suffering of the dry valley below. It seems logical then to dissociate from sad reality and avoid mourning by escaping to the high country. How easy it is to lose one’s self in meadows carpeted by colorful flowers, watered by the still-melting snow. In a mountain June when summer is just beginning, it can seem as if such a heavenly paradise could last forever. The land itself provides food and water enough to sustain the fanciful runaway seeking avoidance of a painful reality…at least, for a short season. Such cooling relief is found here, high above the scorching desert, enveloped in peaceful, majestic beauty! High granite cliffs, where the precious Columbine bloom, produce a special sense of insular safety, as large dark caves promise shelter from summer mountain rains. The grim reality and sorrowful drought of the desert grow more distant with each passing day and it’s so easy to imagine forever, remaining aloof in this comforting solitude.

Summers are brief in the mountains. Days soon pass into weeks and months, as the dry heat travels upward from the desert valley, making its way to the high peaks. The flowers fade and the green grasses mature, in browns and purple hued grays. Grief and mourning won’t be denied their due process and the sorrow of loss stalks its victims. None are wily enough to successfully hide from mourning or forever escape. The void of loss must be faced or it grows to become a starving black hole that no method of coping can assuage. Its ravaging is sure to devour everything valuable, leaving only the fantasy that keeps it growing. Only, truthful reckoning can satisfy it. The reality avoided is sure to reappear. Like a sudden reflection in a mountain stream that reveals the true state of self; of someone on the run, hiding in the mountains, with tangled hair, worn out clothes, and new wrinkles around glassy, delusional eyes. Cold nights with chilly winds, late summer hail-storms, and the leaves changing color, make it clear that the dark season is coming down fast and hard. Truth is present. Mourning can’t be avoided and facing it here, on the mountain in winter would likely, prove fatal. Hungry, sleepy bears and mountain lions (the rightful residents) will soon be claiming all caves. The desert run-away could easily, end up as prey. It’s time to head back down the mountain, to the valleys and the rivers where human beings live and face the reality that can’t be denied.

Acceptance is the beginning. Grief is the accounting. Mourning brings the tears that cleans and heal. An awful truth can bring overwhelming sadness but mourning releases joy, imprisoned in sorrow. Joy even grows stronger in those who embrace divine truth and endure. The joy of Jesus is buoyancy, when grief with sorrow floods our lives and threatens with drowning pain. In Christ we can face all things, do all things, and endure all things. Through faith, we’re given courage to stand and have no need for escape to the safety of some imagined mountain top. Faith is not a dissociative state but strength to endure life in the valleys and the power to overcome.

 

Warming Joy on a Cold December Day

Ice-laden wind howls on this colorless December day;

Thickening clouds, chasing warmth and light far away;

Clouds weighted with dread; dense, dark, lifeless gray;

This old woman’s dreams drift backward to yesterday,

When winter didn’t make her old bones ache ‘till May;

Snow-storms once a welcomed challenge, time to play!

In sparkling drifts; all bare branches, an icy lace display!

Silent, long walks without a thought of this elderly day…

As winter turns contentious now; threat to keep at bay!

I maintain joy despite winter contention, I kneel to pray.

I’m trusting my God to keep me warm, this blustery day.

There’s no threat over which my God doesn’t hold sway!

Though I’m old now, in Jesus, I still dream of a future day.

Of my transformation, my glorified youth forever to stay!

More than a dream, it’s an eternal promise, it won’t fray!

Warm hope is joy for old woman on a cold December day!

 

 

 

 

 

Joy for the Lost and Lone!

Silence roars within the souls of the lost and lone!

Deafening white noise eradicates rational thought;

Obliterates imagination; Rosy ideals end in a moan!

Wealth, worldly greatness, nothing can be bought,

To satisfy the empty, stark realization of soul alone;

No solace from mankind, nothing mankind taught,

Prepares the lost soul for standing naked to atone!

In this the reckoning hour, earthy things matter not!

Realize separation from the Living God and groan!

Understand eternal loneness; with torment fraught!

In this quiet moment choose not to die in the lone!

Grasp the proffered Hand of the One you’ve fought!

Grace- Love-Life! Be ye not lost! Be no longer alone!

Still Voice whispers, “I Am here!” Bind in Faith’s knot!

Holy Spirit, enter the heart! Joy for the lost and lone!

Redeemed through Jesus, by His Holy blood bought!

Jesus won’t leave souls given Him to suffer the lone!

 

 

 

 

Joy in a Melancholy Shroud

Inflated thoughts and lost dreams; absorbed in the vacuum;

In the midnight of isolation, sanity dangles by a silken thread;

Am I upside down, or right-side up, or maybe laying side-ways?

No one cares about those dying, those living on borrowed bread;

Boxed in neglect; Dying slow, in the little bits of day’s-fading-days.

 

Melancholy tarnishes the gold; not discussed in polite company;

This common process called death; we all share in but suffer alone;

For some the thread suddenly snaps! But others may hang-on-long…

In bodies of agony and pain; With active minds; Recounting to atone;

Reliving life; Still dreaming; Still longing; Rosy remembering in a song!

 

Beating heart’s unsteady gait falters; pounds in an unfamiliar rhythm;

This rough, long ride is coming to an end! Faithful steed, take me home!

Then rest when your beat ceases and this thin thread snaps! Yes, I will fall!

Into God’s Hands that never neglect, the faith kept soul in a forgotten tome!

Everything lost to be restored seven-fold, to those who obey the Savior’s call!

 

Hope is Jesus when long-hanging by a thin thread; Joy shrouded in melancholy;

Living in thought but not in action; the mind is where dreams and memory meld;

Regret and pain constantly accuse; tormentors who by faith must be overcome!

All must die but those who die in Christ are not alone, joined by Holy Spirit weld!

Rise and live again; fully glorified! Death ends in full Life and Joy! Oh! Jesus Come!