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

Kids say it Best

Sometimes it’s better if we just let the kids explain things. Today, my 10y & 9y boys had a very profound theological discussion.

Joe (10y): Last time we were at this park I was swinging really high & I was looking at all the buildings & trees & the sky so close… I really connected with God…”
Wes (9y): Yeah. It truly IS beautiful here in Hong Kong.

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It was very short & in remarkably matter of fact tones… Then back to the business of playing. How awesome is that?! Oh – to be more like the little children…

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” -Mathew 18:3

-JK

happy Chris-Columbus-was-a-TURD day

So it’s Columbus Day. Woohoo. NOT. 

That’s about as cool as going to Germany & saying “Hey everyone, it’s Adolph Hitler Day, let’s go have a beer!” Um… EW!

Here I am with a million things to do: Order school books online, set up a fundraising page for our adoption, study my own school books, correct 3 kids’ homework, clean my tiny 2 sq ft kitchen, fold laundry, fill out reimbursement forms & file receipts, etc…

However, I put off writing about this topic last year & don’t really want to skip over it again. People should really hear more about the other people involved & what really happened… in ALL parts of our “American” history. In regards to this day, people should know the names of Leif Erickson & Bartolomé de las Casas as well as the Lucayan people…

So, obviously having lots of my own opinions on this & very little time to express them, I will instead leave you with a link to a page that pretty much sums it all up! If you’re even more interested in finding the truth, I recommend you look into reading Columbus’ own journal for yourself &/or the other informative resources sited on the bottom of the Oatmeal page.

The Oatmeal: Columbus Day

EDITED TO SAY… I just found another good link for a quick up-to-date list of which states still give CD as a paid day-off AND which state gives it a much better name. To which I say – Way to be leaders South Dakotans!!: “Since 1990, South Dakota has marked the second Monday in October as Native Americans Day, an official state holiday.” (Fact Tank)

With Love,

A frustrated American homeschool mom, living in Hong Kong, desperately striving to teach her children the TRUTH… the REAL STORY about HIS story. You see, one day we will all KNOW the truth & on that day, we will finally meet the ONE who saw every war & every ‘discovery’ first hand… that’s why it’s HIS story.

-JK