the Three-legged stool…

What does it mean to be joyful?  Is it like living in a utopian existence where you always have a plastic smile on your face? Or maybe always pretending that everything is perfect, while knowing internally that it is not.  Never letting people know the reality of your life for fear of them seeing the reality of your weakness.  

The truth is, those actions actually hinder joy.  It has taken me many years to understand that joy is a choice we have to make for ourselves.  We actually do have the ability to experience joy even in the darkest of times.  Have you ever been to a funeral of a loved one? One minute tears of grief staining your face, while another moment laughter brought on by special memories, that takes us by surprise.  We can choose to stay in the grief, but we can also choose to draw upon the memories that will stir joy even in the midst of loss..  

For me, one of the ways I have learned to be joyful and thankful, is by surrounding myself with special friends.  For years I prayed that God would bring Christian women friends into my life.  It didn’t happen overnight… for years I felt like I was walking the journey alone, but in reality God was working on me… teaching me and training me to be the type of Christian friend to others that I was praying for myself. 

Ours began on a Mission Trip to Costa Rica, here I met two amazing women who both lived in the same city as me, and shared in the same passions I did.  Over time, the friendships grew into a type of Sisterhood.  We jokingly started referring to ourselves as a “three legged stool”, as we were so much support for each other as we held each other up while we carried difficult loads in our separate journeys of life.  

We all recognized that what we had was a gift from God, He had been patiently working things together so that we would end up together on that mission trip.  We also recognized how we could hold each other up, as we prayed together, laughed together and even cried together.  He taught us that Joy was possible even in the midst of the hard times, because He gave us support in the form of each other. 

One of the greatest gifts we received collectively, was the opportunity to come together, this “three legged stool” and God, in a weekly prayer time.  This time we dedicated to God together was like the glue in our lives.  We could be fully open & honest about our struggles and our weaknesses, our fears and our failures, yet miraculously not a single prayer time ended without joy and laughter as well.  God was truly IN it.  

So this time when I read the words I had read so many times before from 1 Thessalonians, seemingly simple words that I had never really understood.  I could finally see them with fresh eyes, thanks to the life lessons God had been teaching me in and through our Three Legged Stool. 

 

Journal Entry:  #34

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.Thessalonians 5: 16-18 NLT

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for Your Word.  So often we look at Your Word as complicated, seemingly spoken in parables or riddles.  But other times Your Word is so clear yet so powerfully simple.  “Always be Joyful”, This is not depending on our circumstances, or it would say “be joyful when..” But Always means in ALL things; the good – the bad – and the ugly.

“Never stop praying” doesn’t mean when we feel like it, but constantly talking to you, a never-ending conversation, in All things and about All things.  And finally vs. 18 says, “be thankful in ALL circumstances”.  If we are to be thankful in ALL of our circumstances, it is because You are with us and working IN ALL of our circumstances…even when we can’t see it or feel it.

It’s so easy to be thankful & joyful when everything is going well, but it is so much more powerful to choose to be joyful, thankful and prayerful when we can’t see clearly and don’t have clarity in our life. When the road ahead appears particularly dark and frightening. For this is exactly where You choose to meet us, where You take our hand and lead us onward… Praise You Lord!

Lord Jesus, thank you for being my strength when mine is not sufficient.  Thank you for letting me see glimpses of You in the midst of the darkness.  Thank you for drawing to me when I pray and seek Your face in the midst of the unknown.

Father, today I feel especially thankful for our “Three legged stool”.  Thank you for bringing the two incredible women into my life, each of us being a leg of that stool that creates such stability in each of our lives.  Thank you that You have gifted us each uniquely, yet given us hearts so much the same.  Thank you Father… my heart is full.

In Jesus name ❤️ Amen.

My Final Thoughts & Encouragement:

Maybe you are in that place I was, praying earnestly for godly friends in your life. Maybe you’ve experienced this kind of treasured friendship that honours God and which He in turn, turns back as a gift.  Or, maybe you have had that type of trusted friendship only to see it dwindle and fall away, or worse broken and damaged.  

No matter where you are on this particular part of the journey, I want to encourage you to follow the words captured within these verses.  Make the choice to trust Gods plan and choose to be joyful and thankful.  Spend time with the Father in prayer, often and throughout the day.  Ask Him to show you things you can be thankful for (especially if you are going through a particularly dark time) there are still things I can praise God for.  Sometimes I just need a little help adjusting my sight.  

Ultimately I urge you dear friends to build relationships, yes they take effort, and yes it can leave you open to get hurt, but they are so very worth it.  I Love the verse from Matthew 18:20 “When two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”   What a powerful promise, when we gather together, God joins us… thank you Lord!

I also want to encourage you to remember that there are seasons in life, and just like the seasons in our world, change happens.  As I write this our Three legged stool has changed.  For one of my precious sisters, God had new plans and new directions for her.  Yes, at first the two of us left behind grieved the loss, but in time came to see All the gifts we had received because of it, and that we still very much had our Three legged stool, just this time God was to become the third leg.  

We came to realize that change is not always bad, the enemy would have had us hurt or angry, had he had his way, but thanks to the loving kindness we each experienced during our special prayer times, we learned to trust God in ALL our circumstances…even when they didn’t feel good, and we continue to Love our Sister deeply and support the path she is on as she serves the Lord

I couldn’t have made it through these last couple of years without these dear Sisters in Christ, God used them to be my strength when mine was gone.  He taught us how to really love others in honesty and truth. He taught us the power of praying together.  And He taught us that He will always be IN it with us. And this my friends is His promise to you as well…

Blessings, Janet❤️ Journey4Jesus

Do you know Jesus ? He’s waiting for you… ( click the link to learn more) 

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{ If this benefited you in any way, I’d love to hear from you and I would be thrilled if you would share or invite more people to be encouraged. }

A MOTHERS HANDS… What story will yours tell?

The Circle of Love

How do I explain what I see;

when I look at you?

I see a past of Strength,

But a present of Weakness…

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Somewhere between then and there…

When I first wrote this Journal entry and prayer below, it was 2 years ago and we were facing a seemingly unsurmountable mountain.  Everything around us seemed to be disappearing, and we struggled to hold onto our hope for any type of reprieve.  All we were able to see, were the crags & peaks of the challenges in front of us every day.

There were so many things we could have done.  We could have continued to strive.. doing exactly the same as we had with no hope of change, yet that seemed pointless… the hamster wheel wasn’t really going anywhere but round and round, we knew we needed to get off and find stability.

The problem is, where do you find stability when all you’ve known for most of your life was self- sufficiency. Trusting in our strength… our ability…our wisdom…after all, were these not gifts from God?  Hadn’t He given us the ability and talents to do the things we were doing?  Our plan and our goals were to make enough money with the business, so that we could go and serve God…why wouldn’t He bless our efforts?

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joy comes in the morning…

As I opened my Bible today, my soul was feeling barren, where should I look for hope?  The book of Lamentations would not have been high on that list… yet, I sensed this was exactly where God wanted me.  As I read, so many images over the years flooded into my minds eye;  Losses from childhood, teenage years, young adult, right to the most recent of losses which are still so very fresh in my heart & soul.

Loss comes in many forms; the death of a loved one, these types of losses, although the deepest, also tend to bring the most people around to help you in the process… these are “sanctioned losses”, easily talked about and understood in their grief. ‘

But what about those “unsanctioned losses and grief”, those ones not so easy to share with others, not easily discussed, these can be losses from miscarriage, or a child given up for adoption… you know those awkward ones we tend to try to avoid and bury deep within us.  Other unsanctioned losses, can be the loss of a dream, when your reality didn’t become your plan and you feel the pain of that loss.

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OLD TRUTHS…NEW EYES

A funny thing happens when we grow, things in us begin to change.  This can be a physical growth, I’ve definitely experience the change in how clothes fit over the years.  Or, it can be a Spiritual growth, where we start to re-look at old truths through new eyes.

This is where I have been recently.  As I look at my life, where God has brought us and how He is using us, I am challenged to look internally as well.  On this day, my focus was my faith… has my faith in God changed or has it remained the same?

Without a doubt, my faith continues to grow, it stretches my thoughts and insights as I allow God to expand my understanding of these spiritual precepts.  One of these “Aha” moments came when I decided to look deeper into the actual word Faith. (for a deeper dive, click on the link).

In Greek, the root word from which we get ‘faith, the noun is PISTIS, and ‘believe’, the verb is PISTUEO.       FAITH means- belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that the lord is working, even though we cannot see it. Faith knows that no matter what the situation, in our lives or someone else’s that the lord is working in it.  (Hebrew Roots, see link above)

I find it so fascinating, I have studied this word and spiritual concept so many times as I was learning to grow.  In the beginning my faith was very childlike, “He said…therefore it is”.  This is definitely not a bad thing, but then I could see, when I chose to go deeper in my faith, looking at those who had gone before me and recognizing that there are actions involved in our faith and that we are meant to act on it.  This essentially turned my faith into a verb… this is when I started to do… and go… and serve.

This too is a great thing, and definitely part of our faith journey.  Yet this time, God was opening my eyes to something new, something exhilarating… something I really wanted to understand.  The words that kept jumping out to me where “firm persuasion, assurance, and firm conviction”.

To me, each of these descriptors come from an external place;  to be firmly persuaded or convicted of something, someone or something must be the persuader of the truth. Assurance as well comes elsewhere, I can be assured of something I learn by testing it to facts, but it still needs to be from an outside force.

Therefore, my conclusion in this, is that God not only desires us to live in Faith, He is the giver of that same faith.  As He molds us, teaches us and grows us, so does He expand our faith by His firm persuasion and the assurance we receive as we spend time both with Him and in His Word.

To me this was a new revelation as to how I perceived my role as a follower of Christ.  I was once again, forced to recognize that I have so little power in my own strength.  This is not because God wanted us weak, but because He wanted us dependant on His strength and power.

There was a time in my life when I was trying to control everything and that thought would have terrified me.  I absolutely needed to believe at that time in myself and my abilities.  All of this has changed in my life as I have learned to surrender my will to His. I am beyond grateful that I can access All I need in Him, I no longer need to carry the weight of living in my limited strength, even in regards to my faith… what a beautiful revelation!  Thank you Lord.

Journal Entry:  #30

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for.Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.  Hebrews 1: 1-3 TPT

Heavenly Father,

As I ponder my faith, what it means…what it even is… You have opened my eyes to a new truth that I had never actually understood before.  I always believed faith was something I was supposed to do… something I had to achieve or grab hold of or attain.  

Thank you Lord, for teaching me that its actually not my own doing.  It is something that You produce in me.  It cannot be produced by people at all.  The word faith means ‘firm persuasion’ a conviction that comes from hearing.  Any faith I have is your divine persuasion in me Lord.  

This faith from You is continually birthed in me as I have grown in my relationship with You… Praise You Lord, thank you!  Now when I feel my faith is weak, it will cause me to look deeper to You, so that You can instil more into me… strengthening and growing me.  

Glory to God, just another of Your beautiful gifts and promises being fulfilled within me.  What a beautiful revelation… Thank you Jesus.  Fill me with your Spirit Lord, and continue to strengthen and build my faith.  Walk with me in this journey and never stop teaching me.  

In Jesus name ❤️ Amen.

My Final Thoughts & Encouragement:

It’s pretty easy to allow ourselves to get lazy in our Spiritual disciplines, to allow ourselves to think we have “arrived”, rather than recognize we “remain on a journey”, a journey that never ends until we reach Eternity with Jesus.  Honestly, the enemy knows that this growth never ends which is why he is constantly trying to keep us busy and away from spending time with God.

The thing God has been showing me since embarking on this Journey for Jesus with Him, is that He still has so much for us to learn.  The more I lean in to Him, the more I experience His presence…the more I grow. He has so much yet to teach me, and I’m excited to learn from the Master.

Maybe you, like me, have had times of striving and struggling with your faith.  Maybe you also felt like it was the golden carrot constantly being yanked out of our reach.  Sadly, that is the Lie that the enemy of our souls would have you believe;  That true faith is both difficult and unattainable.

I want to encourage you with the Truth direct from the Word of God, He is at work IN you.  He is constantly teaching us through His divine persuasion, stretching us out of our comfort zones as we learn to continually look to him as our source of power.

So, the next time you hear the enemy whispering into your ear that “you’re not enough”, take heart… breath deeply and hand it over to Jesus, who is our constant source of power and more than enough for whatever the world throws at you. As we speak, He is at work strengthening your faith muscles, as you trust in Him.

Blessings, Janet ❤️  Journey4Jesus

Do you know Jesus ? He’s waiting for you… ( click the link to learn more) 

YOU KNEW ME LORD?

Was I really created for a purpose?

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, please don’t run away just because this post is a repeat.  As I re-read the words the Lord gave me and the lessons He taught me, I once again sensed His incredible purpose and power in His plans for each of us… may these words be an encouragement in your journey as well ❤️

An amazing thing happens when one gives time for God to become your number one focus… He actually responds.  I’ve come to realize that He is always with us, we just lose sight of Him when we get sidetracked with all of our “stuff”.

I’ve felt myself swing from calm to storm and back again, only to realize that these things were actually raging around me all the time, sometimes I just couldn’t see clearly.   The solution was to learn to re-focus and to see things from His perspective.

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FAITH NOT FEAR…

When I first wrote this journal entry, we were in so much turmoil.  Absolutely nothing in life felt stable or secure.  It was literally a daily battle to not let the fear take root in our lives, our daily mantra was “faith not fear“, which was quietly repeated so often each day we lost count.

We had come to the place that we knew our staging business was not going to recover, we could no longer hold onto the furnishings as we were paying thousands of dollars per month just for storage.  Therefore, the heartbreaking decision to sell off our inventory and watch a huge chunk of our business disappear began.

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(TT) DO YOU SEE ME LORD? Are you listening?

Welcome to Throwback Thursday.  As I re-read this post I could see how relevant it still is.  We are still in the midst of Covid 19, not totally locked down, yet nothing the same as before.  The “new normal” has become  household terminology which indicates life will never go back to what we once new.  As Jesus followers we call out to him, look for signs and try to see where He is in the midst of this.

Do you ever have those days or seasons when It just feels like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.. if they even get that far.  Maybe that’s how you are feeling as you cry out to God to fight this Coronavirus plaguing our world.

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HELP LORD I’M SINKING…why does this keep happening to me?

I have to say that I am a fan of Peter, he is the disciple I most readily relate to.  He was enthusiastic and impulsive.  He loved deeply yet panicked and even failed quickly, these are reactions I see in myself.  Yet, despite all of his human failings and short comings, Jesus chose to use Peter in profound ways to grow His Church.

As I look back at my life thus far, I see so many failures.  So many things I wish I could “do-over”,  I bet Peter wished for a few “do-overs” as well.  So I have to choose, like Peter to leave the past in the past and look forward to what God would have of me now and in the future.

It’s so easy to recall the times that I took my eyes off Jesus and felt myself sinking into the depths.  To recall  the miracles in my own life, yet moments later, question Gods plan and purpose for me.

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LORD,YOU WANT US TO DO WHAT? How does that possibly fit into our plans??

A number of years ago, Mike and I had the opportunity to travel to Israel, and to walk the very streets that Jesus walked on.  It was a trip of a lifetime that I am so thankful for.  One of the highlights was to sit on the very hillside where Jesus taught the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.  We opened out Bibles and read through the sermon once again, drinking in the depth of what He was saying to them, and to us…

Sitting there, reading His Word in the same location that He spoke the words from His own mouth, stirred us deeply in the recognition, that these were not just ancient words meant for people of  another day and time.  These were the Words of God that never changes; He remains the same yesterday…today…and tomorrow.

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