...may the GOD of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE

.... and as strange as it sounds, tonight I am filled with JOY.  I am filled with JOY because the LORD cares about EVERY SINGLE LITTLE DETAIL OF OUR LIVES . . . right down to mounted deer heads (but more on that in a minute!)...

This morning, my devo read in part, "Your longing for heaven is good, because it is an extension of your yearning for Me.  The hope of heaven is meant to strengthen and encourage you, filling you with wondrous Joy! . . . This hope keeps you spiritually alive during dark times of adversity; it brightens your path and heightens your awareness of My Presence."  This HOPE, the reason that I can go on day by day.  This HOPE the reason that I can find JOY in each day, sometimes in BIG things and sometimes in the LITTLE things.  There IS reason for joy in each day, sometimes I just have to look for it!

Today, it first came in a text from a beautiful friend (I have paraphrased it a bit to protect her identity), "One day, many years ago . . . (here she filled in details of an EXTREMELY dark time in her life) . . . I cried out to God, "What now?"  God told me 3 words, "REST IN ME".  Suddenly I had strength I never knew was possible.  It was God.  Time went on and people couldn't handle the fact that I was ok.  They would say I was in denial or not dealing with my feelings or avoiding the real issues.  I began to listen to them more than God and before long, I was a total mess and was bitter, angry at the person who caused this, angry at God, depressed.  I often wonder what would've happened if I would have continued to stand strong in HIS presence and HIS peace.  People have good intentions, but I think they don't know how to deal with someone who isn't falling apart. . .. Just felt I was supposed to share that with you".  That was a JOY for me to hear today.  Because though I grieve, deeply, I'm not "falling apart".  When people ask me "how ARE you?" I respond with "Really, o.k., I serve a GREAT GOD, my faith is STRONG".  More often than not, I get that expression - or sometimes even the comments, you are in DENIAL, you are not facing reality, don't you EVER cry . . . ????  So quickly, I'll address those . . . no, I'm NOT in DENIAL.  I am VERY AWARE that I suddenly became a SINGLE PARENT on November 5.  I am VERY AWARE that when I have a BAD DAY at work, my BEST FRIEND isn't a text or a phone call away.  I am VERY AWARE that my children (the "big ones" and the "little ones") are GRIEVING the loss of an AWESOME DADDY.  I am VERY AWARE that when I crawl in bed at night, someone is missing & the Outdoor channel is not on the T.V.  I am NOT in denial of the fact that a huge part of my heart was ripped out on November 5.  I remember once, Rick telling me that my mom thanked him for making me SO HAPPY :)!!  And he did!  What a compliment from your mother in law!  But, because we shared SO MUCH happiness, should I now walk around with no happiness?  I don't think that is what God created for my life, and I do not believe it is what Rick would have wished for my (our) life.  I believe that my peace and yes, even joy, is because I'm keeping my eyes on CHRIST.  My dear friend reminded me of that TODAY . . . when she allowed the outside pressures to close in on her, she took her eyes off of the One who told her to REST IN ME . . . she became, in her own words, a TOTAL MESS, angry, bitter and depressed.  She and I have talked, the Lord has become her REST again, He has RESTORED her REST.  I appreciate her willingness to share her hurt, her taking her eyes off of what TRULY matters, her "mess" with me.  Her willingness to share confirms to me that I need to keep on "RESTING".  I need to allow HIM to keep on carrying me.  I need to shut out what satan wants to make me believe and to let myself continually be filled with all JOY and PEACE from the only TRUE SOURCE . . . GOD! 

Another source of JOY today was the "bringing home" of something Rick TREASURED! :)  I know I've said it before, but after God and his family, nobody would question that his earthly passion was ALL THINGS HUNTING!! :)  Two years ago TODAY (12/15/09 - I have the receipt to prove it) Rick brought in his TROPHY 10 pointer to the taxidermist to have it mounted.  The guy told him it might be awhile, and Rick said that was fine, he wasn't in a hurry.  After a year, though, Rick began to get a little "antsy", so he began to check in on the progress (usually not with much success).  He made phone calls, went to the shop, and always came home a little frustrated as there wasn't any progress - his deer head was not yet ready to come home.  After the accident, my precious cousin Liz (who is really more like a sister to me) said (like so many others), "If there is ANYTING I can do . . . ".  Well, yes, Liz, actually, "GET THAT DEER HEAD!"  Now, Liz and I are definately related, because when you put us on a mission, you WILL get results.  They weren't immediate, and it actually took countless phone calls, texts and even visits to the shop, but, finally tonight (which was now, so obviously in GOD's plan, being 2 years to the DAY) the buck came HOME! :)  Now, there are already 6 deer heads in the living room, a full body bear mount in the dining room, a head & shoulders bear mount AND 2 bear rugs (one Rick's one my dad's) in my house, so we didn't "need" another, yet this one will always hold special meaning.  I will always cherish it.  The guy that did it left the tag on the antlers . . . something that was Rick's and Rick's alone, that makes it special.  The trouble that Liz went through to make sure that "he" came home, spoke LOVE to me in such a huge way!  :)  I was at the Elementary school's Christmas program tonight when she made the "pick up".  Since I'm "deer illiterate" and Liz had no idea what the deer looked like, she went armed with PICTURES, which she COMPARED to make sure we were getting the RIGHT deer.  I then got the text from her, "I have him!!! I have him!!!", I responded, "Really! And it's HIM?!" to which she replied, "It's HIM".  Gramma & Papa Rye were at the Christmas program and stopped by on the way home, and they thought he looked good!  So Rick's "Christmas present" is home.  Only, it became "our" present, not his, but still with a value beyond what money can buy.  Another "piece" of Rick, here with us, where it belongs.  

So, yes, JOY!   In the LOVE from my dear friend who took the time to share her heart with me today.  In the Love in Action from Liz . . . in her relentless pursuit of the deer head.  In watching my "middle" play the part of one of Santa's elves - sharing some Christmas "magic" with the little kids.  In my girls, who I love with ALL MY HEART!  In my in-laws who are the GREATEST.  In the phone call from my Daddy that "Funny Pup" is doing really good - even joking around that "he has it much worse than my dad ever did"!  JOY from the hand of the GOD of HOPE.  

JOY . . . 
in the bringing home of a mounted deer head!

"As the deer panteth for the water, 
So my soul longeth after Thee,
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee.

You alone are my strength, my shield,
To you alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee.

I want you more than gold or silver,
Only YOU can satisty,
You alone are the true JOY giver,
And the apple of my eye."

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