standing Brave, it’s what she does

Singing in the midst of life’s engulfing fires, fighting back the treacherous storms of her heart & dancing through the unforgiving pain of failing strength… there she stands. She is brave. Braver than most. Fierce as lions. It’s just what she does. Simply because that is who her Creator made her to be. A mighty warrior, a celebrated princess & a light in the darkness of fear.

Who do you know that matches this description? I have been blessed to have so many strong women in my life. Some are family, some are friends & others I have scarcely met for moments. All of them encourage & inspire me with their talent for finding their moment. That moment of grace where Father steps into your situation & just takes over your response to it. When you face that which is meant to destroy you, without giving in or falling back. The day you finally stand tall, despite the attacks & the traps of the enemy. Bravery. It’s not the absence of fear or even the presence of courage or strength. It comes from something truer, deeper. A place of forgiveness & grace. A place of knowing, of been there/done that. It comes out of surviving & choosing to thrive. This, this is the difference that sets apart the lucky ones that made it out somehow from the BRAVE ONES that chose to never give up or give in or give out.. ever again.

I’d be writing for hours if I sat her listing all the people (guys too) I know that are the picture of bravery tonight. Instead I will tell you about the three I am praying for as I go to bed. Please, if you pray to our Father in Heaven, mention these dear ones to Him. He will know them, so I will leave out their names.

  1. A dear sister who has stood BRAVE in the Valley Fire that continues to rage here in CA. Her family evacuated from the area only moments before their home was completely destroyed. They have only the clothes on their backs with them. Every “thing” they ever owned is gone… She & her husband pastor a church, which was also overcome by the flames. The cement steps & metal railing are all that remains… Yet she is working tirelessly to put aside her own needs, in order to tirelessly care for those around her who are also facing the pain of loss & starting over. So very brave. Because she has spent time with her Father, she walks confident in KNOWING who holds her tomorrows & who restores all “things” in His time. He gives her beauty for the ashes she surrenders to Him. Beyond what she could ever even ask or imagine. She just KNOWS. The confidence of knowing makes her brave when everything around her is in ashes. There is a peace that she knows, beyond all human understanding. The soft voice of the Spirit, telling her He is never letting go of her. Surely she must BRAVE the winds that throw the flames, as she hears only the voice of peace that guides her ‘home’. A place she knows not where. But she casts aside all doubt, in exchange for bravery born out of past experience. He will DO what He said He will do.
  2. A friend who IS my sister. (If you don’t have one, I’m praying you will soon!) This week she BRAVELY walks into new things, a new job, which brings a new lifestyle of sorts. It stretches her. It strengthens her. It launches her out of her comfort zone fast & furiously. Yet she embraces the challenge & confronts her old thinking in order to make room for newly improved approaches. She takes time to evaluate the why & where of questions like ‘How did I get here?’ & ‘Where should I be going next?’. Instead of running from the change & newly found accountability, she took on even more by telling me about it all. Knowing full well that I will also ask her ‘So how’s that going?’ in the days & weeks to come. All this while raising her children in the fear of the Lord, & serving her husband & her mother in every way. She exemplifies a life of prayer & trust. Brave is the one that walks WITH the Lord, following His lead even into the high waters where her feet cannot stand. She has an understanding that others have not reached. One that comes only from being carried through the storm(s) once (or twice) before. The fear of the unknown is not a stranger to her, nor is it a crippling distraction. Rather, it is simply a reminder to refocus on the One who leads the way, remembering that His way is straight & narrow, & there will always be grace enough to travel it. And she REMINDS HERSELF that she will never walk alone. She is BRAVE, because He is WITH her always. She is His & He is hers.
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  4. My daughter. From the moment we first saw her face we knew, this one is BRAVER than most. Tiny, frail & weak. Yet full of such power & fight. She will not back down or give up on herself or her love. She survives. At all cost. Her world has been capsized more times than I care to count. Her heart has learned to fight love to protect her, & now it’s learning to let love in… to heal her. What whirlwinds have tossed them about, She & her heart. Often they have been bruised & battered by the very ones they thought would treat their wounds. But her Creator has placed a love in her, deeply knitted into her soul, that no evil or pain could remove. Buried in the rubble of breaking trusts & stolen dreams, that love is emerging & reaching for the light. Every day she finds new strength. She is tiny, but so very fierce in wanting only to love & be loved. She has felt the Father’s touch. I see it in her eyes. I saw it before I met her & it shines brighter each day. Surviving is her gift, it birthed in her a BRAVE SPIRIT that will not quit. What horrors & sorrows she has felt, we may never know. But the love that spills out of her we recognize. The Author of her soul has written her new song. She sings for me sometimes, a song of forgiveness, a song of renewal. She sings to Him too, praises & anthems of His glory & goodness. She bravely lifts her head & walks on broken legs, into the safety of His presence. Each day we see her overcome new obstacles that once stood between us, she is not waiting for ‘someday’, she walks on. One foot after the other, with a band of brothers following close behind. Her steps are not always sure, but she will not sit still while there are stairs to climb. Up & out of the sadness, she climbs higher than she could ever dream. Far beyond what her strength allows, she swims to the depths of grief in order to bring it all to the surface. The Spirit that dwells in her deepest parts is guiding her to wholeness & healing through His mercy & grace. Not every broken part of her can be casted like her legs, but she is LEARNING that she WILL BE MADE WHOLE one day. From the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Ten she will dance in the freedom that come from understanding how He brought her out of bondage & pain, & into the freedom of His love!

Think of the ones that inspire you friends. Tell them. Encourage them. Then go out & find that strength to face some things that are meant to destroy you. Walk in the knowledge of He who made you. Tell the mountains to move & the giants to fall. Be strong & courageous, in the face of your fears friends… BE BRAVE…

-JK

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how to live – full of JOY {be transformed}

Today I ran across an old FB note from 2010 – before this blog began… I thought it’d be good to share with you all here, starting with a quote from one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met:

“A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstance or environment;
it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.”
-Francis Chan

July 27, 2010
“Dear Joy: How do you stay so positive and joyful? I am always blessed by your posts. You shine Jesus, keep it up and share your secrets.”
-Blessings from Sacramento

joyful_heart_cheerful_face_pocket_prayer_cardHAHA, well it prolly helps that my name is JOY. LOL So glad I can bless you! You bless me every time I see you! =) So I guess we’re even! I don’t know that it’s a secret, but I truly do LIVE to WORSHIP & that is where I am renewed daily. You can’t shine for or with Jesus’ love if you are not first filled with it, right?! But… you know that already!

((Also, I figure if Face Book {or WordPress} is going to be any good at all, I should look at it as a Mission Field of sorts… I represent Christ WHEREVER I go, even on FB… so I try to check any negative attitudes at the ‘door’ & not just “barf up” my most recent struggle/drama online for everyone else to be polluted by it! It encourages ME when I FORCE myself to come up with an uplifting comment to share with others, esp. on those days I don’t feel very positive!))

Here’s a good pointer though, to keep from DISCOURAGING yourself or others: If you feel rotten, discouraged, angry, etc (anything NOT good)… give your FLESH exactly 5 minutes to FEEL it & to express it to God… sometimes I take 5 to feel & another 5 to tell God! LOL – But the KEY is that after that, you GIVE it to God & CHOOSE life & love as your response from that moment on! It isn’t easy, but we can do that if we ask God to help us! =) Of course He WILL since this is the way He has instructed us to respond!

joyful_heart_foundation_inspired_nails_by_samikelly-d6cfze9The hardest for me is when people who KNOW BETTER still hurt me, I find that I have to remind myself how Jesus treated those closest to Him, even while they questioned Him, lost trust, & then betrayed Him… He forgave in love, taught them, came alongside them, & asked His Father to forgive them!

To sum it up:

  • KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW “WHO Jesus is & Who YOU are IN HIM” ((this happens through relationship/communion with the Father, Spirit, & Son through worship, prayer, & study/meditation of the Word & Truth!))
  • SPEAK (& THINK) only LIFE, that which is edifying.
  • DON’T sin in ANGER, better to do nothing than the wrong thing.
  • FORGIVE, as you have been forgiven.
  • PRAISE & WORSHIP the God that gave you life more abundantly!

This is the way to live IN the SPIRIT, even while your flesh is struggling to adapt to/survive in your circumstance/the world. (See Rev. 1:9-10a)

"Be JOYFUL always!" -1 Thessalonians 5:16

My joyful boys – Wesley & Joseph in San Fransisco, CA @2010

“Be JOYFUL always!” -1 Thessalonians 5:16
-JK

redeeming our Victory lap… {be transformed}

Today started out like any other Friday… I had stayed up too late working on adoption grants & FB, so I slept in while Mark cooked me bacon/eggs/hash for breakfast. Tryston took the train to piano lessons. The other boys played & messed around instead of school because mom was asleep, until Daddy cracked the whip & they got to work. Once I was sipping coffee around 9, Dad left to run errands (Friday is his study/work at home day, so he also runs errands that must be done during work hrs-VERY helpful!) & we all got started on some projects…

Somewhere around 11, Mark & I both had the same idea for a fun family outing everyone had been trying to fit into our busy schedule. This was no small miracle, since we weren’t together or even on the phone/texting each other when this happened… As soon as he got home, I asked if he had seen my text about my idea. “He said no, but can we talk in the other room?” LOL Short story is, we agreed it was the perfect day & weather for a day at the public pool! YAY for taking the afternoon off from school!!

And THAT’S when it happened. Out of nowhere, the house seemed to be in a fog. Kids started bickering, parents were nit-picking & the teenager was huffing around… What is this all about? We were having a great morning & planning a fun afternoon??!! What the heck?

So.Not.Cool.

This was going nowhere fast friends, I was about fit to be tied. With everything we’ve been working on lately for work & the adoption, we have had precious little time as a family to go have fun & relax. How can we throw it all away? People were already suggesting that we just stay home… 😦 I was about to cry…

Instead, I made a DECISION. A choice. We are NOT going down without a fight. Fear Not little family! This is NOT how this battle ends. The devil can go play around with someone else’s family because we’re not defeated today! — So I told my family all that. I reminded them who we are, Children of God. I acknowledged that we have plenty of ‘issues’ that need to be addressed from time to time. (Every family does, if they’re honest!) I told them how we have a CHOICE to get into all of it today, right now, when we KNOW we are planning to leave for a much needed family day… knowing also that the ‘discussions’ may ruin our plans altogether… Or we can CHOOSE to set an appointed time to calmly/rationally address these little dust bunnies that get swept under our rug now & then… when we are rested & can come prepared with rational & well thought out opinions, rather than feeling defensive & angry at not being heard ‘right this second’… For everything has its rightful time & place. But THIS was neither the time OR the place. Not today, not on my family’s ‘family time’!

Of course, I’d like to say we all held hands, prayed & sang ‘Jesus loves me’ at that exact moment. But that would just be a silly lie & you wouldn’t buy it anyway… right? Well not if you know us very well! Ha ha. What we DID do is take a deep breath, go to separate rooms (admittedly, the hardest thing to do in a 680sqft flat with 5 people!), & cool down until lunch was ready… The rest is history. We had a perfectly lovely day at the pool & water slide playground! We had a delicious dinner at a little noodle shop, bought some groceries & topped it off with some soft serve from McDs & a short tv show before bed… Successful fun family day! – Praise the Lord for His grace – our victory lap for today was indeed redeemed!

Moral: NEVER let the enemy steal your joy! Protect your family! PRAY! Mark & I pray constantly pray for our family, our kids & our marriage. The Holy Spirit lives in our home & I’m certain HE is the reason I had the clarity to grab ahold of our quickly spiraling day this time! Be ready to kick the devil out of your house friends! Be ready in & out of season! KNOW that you are God’s children, He is WITH you always. But because of that, the enemy of your soul is out to attack everything he can to derail you from God’s calling & plans for your life! It’s no surprise to us that we’ve had more & more moments where we’ve identified enemy attacks like today’s on our family since starting our adoption of AnnaBelleYou can be sure, if you are following God’s will for your life, it’s not a matter of OF the devil will attack your life/work/ministry/family/health/finances… but a matter of WHEN! – Don’t LET him beat you! He only wins when we stand down… but why should you? With God on your side, who can be against you? The VICTORY is won friends – CLAIM IT IN JESUS’ NAME!

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” -1 John 4:4

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15

As always, feel free to leave a comment about your experiences or how this peel into our world may have helped you… But please also email me if you have any questions or if you would like prayer for your family!

-JK

thanks disney… NOT

Training up my children in the way of the LORD, not the way of the mouse. Discussions on the Disney Channel always make me glad we left the country & don’t have cable here in HK. We actually only see what we purposely record online & then make special time to view, which is not even on a weekly basis; maybe LESS now that our TV broke yesterday… LOL! I totally agree with the below comments on the Disney Channel programming… While I do let my boys watch Good Luck Charlie & Jessie on occasion, the catch is that I’m watching with them & we discuss the negative attitudes as we go. The rule at our house is, if you learn negative behavior from ANYTHING, out it goes. They all agree to this for their movie, music, tv & friend choices. I believe it’s very important to teach our children to use their own discernment & I totally agree that when it comes to Disney, much discernment is needed. Thanks Disney, for giving me so many chances to teach my kids what NOT to let into their growing minds! 
These days, less is more friends. Discernment is KEY. Training is needed so our kids will be wise as serpents & gentle as doves, both now & as adults.  -JK
Re-Blogged from “Life Inspired” – original post

Between Us: An Open Letter to the Disney Channel

No More Disney Channel copy

Dear Disney Channel Executives,

My daughter Journey has recently become a fan of the Disney Channel.  She just turned 7, she has officially outgrown Nick Jr. and since Nick seems to show SpongeBob all day, she has moved over to the Disney channel.  At first, she was pretty much only watching Phineas and Ferb.  Eventually, she started watching the rest of the line up including Good Luck Charlie, Austin and Ally, Shake It Up and Jessie.

The more she watched, the more I realized that all of scripted shows on the channel have one thing in common—all the storylines center around pretending to be something you are not or lying to get what you want.   I also realized that just about all of the episodes are recycled sitcom storylines from 20+ years ago with the same premise.  The pet that dies (or gets lost) and is replaced.  The favorite item that is mistakenly given away and has to be retrieved by any means necessary.  The boy who pretends to be someone he’s not to get the girl or vice versa.  While the setting, faces and fashion has changed, the stories are basically the same.

So much of our world has changed in the past ten years alone.  Yet Disney continues to promote shows built around formulaic characters that reinforce negative cultural and gender stereotypes.  There’s the doofus dad (Good Luck Charlie, A.N.T. Farm); the scheming brother (Good Luck Charlie, Jessie, Wizards of Waverly Place); the not too bright best friend (Wizards of Waverly Place, Austin & Ally).  But the worse show on the channel by far is Jessie.  A show about self-absorbed absentee parents that have left a flighty, inexperienced nanny and lazy butler to care for their culturally diverse adopted brood that represents as many stereotypes as it does ethnicities.

I am also concerned about the portrayal of mature subject matter between some of the characters.  Girls and boys regularly pursue each other and sometimes end up in relationships.  While this may be appropriate for teenagers, I don’t think it is behavior that should be presented to children around my daughter’s age.

At first, I thought it was my fault for allowing her to watch a channel that was programmed for older children.  But after a bit of research, I realized that Disney Channel is programmed for kids ages 6-14.  The obvious way to solve my dilemma with your programming would be to change the channel, and believe me that is exactly what I did.  When I made that decision, I sat my daughter down to explain why she couldn’t watch the channel anymore.  She was upset about it, but she did agree that most of the characters make bad choices at one point or another.  “But mom, they always fix it by the end of the show,” she said.  This is the message that our children are getting—that no matter how many times you lie, scheme or make bad decisions, it will all work out in the end.  Of course, anyone over the age of 7 knows that is simply not true.

With three Disney channels, I am asking that you consider airing programming on one of them that is suitable for kids ages 6-10.  Or at the very least, a block of programming during after school hours that features shows like Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, and Disney feature films, as well as age appropriate scripted shows.

But then again, maybe I’m just expecting too much from a corporate conglomerate that occupies such a large place in the hearts and minds of children across the globe.  In the end, it’s up to me as the parent to make sure that the content that my child is exposed to is in line with my beliefs and values.  So for now, much to my daughter’s dismay, she is no longer allowed to watch the Disney Channel.
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