peace

Brain Tumors & Joy - "When Joy Gets In The Way"

I kept thinking to myself, "She must be faking it? I mean come on, you can't have an inoperable brain tumor and be so full of life and joy!"

My mother-in-law has stopped me in my tracks on several occasions and in this season, it's her contagious joy and peace that she lives enveloped in that often has me scratching my head in wonder. At first I thought it was avoidance, but now I see that it's a life connected to LOVE. I've asked her to write about it as a guest here on my blog. I hope it encourages you in this holiday season as we all look to 2017 and the year is to come. 

"When Joy Gets In The Way" By Jenny Andrew

The word joy is mentioned 815 times in the NIV version of the Bible. Just this fact alone makes the word significant
I was born Jennifer Joy. "Joy" was my last name or "surname" as we say in Australia where I grew up. It WAS my name, and although I was often teased as a little girl for the full label of "Jennifer Joy" or "Jenny Joy" as I was most often known, I wasn't aware of the potential significance of my name until recently. I began to see that my name was no accidental choice, that it was given to me for a purpose. Of course, when God is part of a decision, the potential of that decision is loaded with purpose. 

You see, I have recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

It has been described as being "like an octopus wrapped around the left side of my brain". This should, in most circumstances, instill fear and sadness in me. However my overwhelming emotions, and those of my husband, have been peace and joy. Occasional the blanket of peace is ruffled, but most of the time I feel covered and enveloped by peace. As well as the peace we are covered in, my "platform" for all I do now, especially in my fight for complete healing, is to choose "joy" as my weapon of choice before I chose to do anything or react in any way. It has become, not merely my name, but the banner over my life.
Joy may seem like an unlikely weapon. When we think of weapons, we generally think of aggression, fighting or inflicting injury. But as a Christian, I can assure you that JOY is all of these and more. Firstly, Satan hates joy. When he sees we are living in joy, he flees as he knows where joy comes from - God. When he sees me living in peace it reminds him that he has already lost the battle and we belong to Jesus! Secondly dealing with a challenge is so much simpler when my heart is in a good place and I'm looking at the best rather than the worst.  Although this season has brought its challenges, and will undoubtedly bring more, the joy and the peace continue. Recently I was speaking about my journey through this illness to a group at our Church and what I was learning along the way. I had my "notes" and my "plan" but it became increasingly clear as I continued, that I was to talk about living in JOY and using it as a weapon. This was not something I had planned to talk about at length - but JOY got in the way! 
We are surrounded every day by what the world sees- wherever we live, with worst case scenarios, doom and gloom, and negativity. There's a lot to be said for living in reality and it's important that we do so and don't bury our heads in the sand, but let's bring some light to the darkness by using joy, hope and peace to every situation. 

So there you have it. She LIVES this stuff. I heard someone say last week, "If the joy of the Lord is your strength, don't let Satan steal your strength." Well, Jenny is walking in that strength in spite of her circumstance and diagnosis and I'm still over here scratching my head at times while learning so much along the way. 

When something get's in our way, usually it has a negative connotation, especially when it's associated with fear, doubt or obstacles. When joy keeps inturpting you, invite the inturrption rather than pushing it away. Let joy get in the way.

My prayer for you in this season of your life, no matter the reality, darkness, pain or loss that you face is that JOY will keep getting in the way.

P.S. On top of her contagious JOY, my mother-in-law has been writing beautiful music in this season. It's perfect for your meditations or quiet times and is straight from heaven. Download it here!

http://www.jennyandrewmusic.com/ or look up Jenny Andrew Tranquil Worship and Tranquil Worship Two on iTunes! 

 

 

Give Yourself a Time Out

I had an explosive moment with my kids. I wish I could say it was the first time but that would be a lie. I adore my kids; it’s just that sometimes they’re like the flock of seagulls on Finding Nemo saying “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” and I’m Dory being pulled apart on the docks in the Marina. This particular episode of being pecked at caused me to shake with anger and walk away from the situation so that I wouldn’t unleash my wrath. I asked the kids to give me 5 minutes to be alone with Jesus and they obliged.

I needed a time out.

As I lay there on my bed shaking, hand on my heart, eyes closed with tears spilling down onto my quilt, I said out lout to myself, “What’s going on? What am I feeling?”. Sobs welled up and began to pour out of the deep sadness I felt coming from my heart. I began to say out loud, “I’m sad. I’m sad. I so so sad Father…” As I said those simple words over and over again, giving room, breadth and understanding to my deep emotions, I was able to pinpoint where the surface emotion of anger was coming from. Immediately, peace began to flood my being. I allowed the Father to scoop me up into His arms and hold me in my sadness. He didn’t tell me to stop feeling that way, He didn’t curse me for being angry with my children, He just loved me where I was, and His love was healing.  

Just 5 minutes later (yes, only 5 minutes), I walked out of my room and gathered my kids around me. We sat on the floor together and I apologized for allowing the sadness in my heart to come out as anger towards them. I explained that sometimes Mommy’s heart is sad or hurt and anger or frustration can come out as I try to protect my heart instead of letting the Healer help me. I explained that it’s not theirs to carry, but sometimes mommy needs 5 minutes so that Jesus can come, be with me and heal my heart. I asked for forgiveness and each of them in their different ways gave love and forgiveness. Finley had tears in her eyes and couldn’t stop hugging me saying she forgave me. Zeke was gently stroking my arm and smiling with his beautiful gift of mercy. Jesse asked “Who did this to you?” because his justice heart wanted to go and take care of business. Of course I didn’t tell him, but smiled at his zeal and passion. Then Sammy gave me his stuffed animal and told me, “You were angry… Daddy is really nice” and we all lost it belly laughing. All was well and I brought them onto the healing journey, which was in turn healing for them.

I use this as an illustration to say, at any moment of the day, in any season you can step away for a moment, give yourself a “time out” and connect to the Fathers heart.  Maybe your sitting at your cubicle and your co-workers think you’re deep into a project, but really your taking a moment to connect with God while staring at your computer screen. Maybe your baby won’t stop screaming and you feel like punching a wall. Check on that beautiful baby, make sure they’re alright, and then give yourself a few minutes with headphones on and worship on to connect with Jesus. Let the Fathers love into your anger, frustration, failure, rage, sadness... Let peace flow like a river and then go scoop up that baby and give them the love you’ve just received.  

In a recent coaching session with good friend and revelatory bomb dropper, Lucas Gifford (married to the amazing Christa Black-Gifford) who’s mission is to see others lead a heart-based life, I realized that the source of some of my unhealed pain and even physical sickness was the result of unreleased and consequently compounded emotions. I was born a deep feeler, but for years rejected a huge part of my identity and believed the lie that “feelings lie, so don’t trust your feelings.” If that’s true, then God made a mistake when he made you and I because God feels deeply and we are made in His image. Our feelings are indicators that tell us something about our heart and they are extremely important in our journey of healing. If we don’t give ourselves space to feel or give understanding to our emotions and pain, then we will shove them down, put them in a box causing them to compound while protecting that box of pain with our weapon of choice. We’ll then begin to operate in things like un-forgiveness, fear, anger, shame, control, and rejection, which are indicators that the heart is in need of attention and ultimately healing.

In the place of intentional connection, we receive healing, love and truth. Lies are abolished in the arms of the Father. The secret place of freedom, breakthrough and revelation is in connection to the Father’s heart, and His intentions for you are pure and only good. 

Go and give yourself a time out.