So You Want to Know Real Joy?

This was one of the ways I had known joy in my adult life.

The piece of paper comes out of the fax machine slowly. I look and I see it is a purchase order from the biggest client of my year-old chemicals company. I look at the quantity and the amount and I am astounded. Then I leap in joy and laugh and kick my legs in glee and laugh some more. The heavens have poured out a blessing in measure I can not contain.

That was joy after the relentless hoping and working hard and sweat and tears and never giving up.

Then joy became like this.

Pearls – white, pink and bluish grey set in gold, surrounded by perfect diamonds – adorn the neck, ears, wrists, and fingers. String of diamonds that go all around and look beautiful in the wrist, don’t they call it eternity? Wardrobe that is never satisfied. Climb up the ladder of success higher and higher still.

But joy can never walk hand in hand with covetousness. Never. For joy satisfies and fills. Joy is a product of not wanting more, but being content with and grateful for what is graciously given.

That is how I know joy now.

I sit in my high back swivel chair. No, this is not my office chair which I used as president of my company. This is a substitute for a wheelchair for it is more comfortable when I’m home. I listen to praise songs, and when the crescendo of the glorious chorus lifts up my spirit to great heights, I weep and beg God to heal me so I can sing like the singers in the CD do. Then a still small voice speaks in my heart and asks, “What would you choose, to be able to walk but not sing, or to be able to sing well with all your strength but not walk?” And without hesitation, I answer over and over, “I want to sing! I want to sing!” Tears stream freely from a heart that is hungry for the Lord.

I cannot walk for now. I can only do it for a few steps and with support, only as a daily exercise. I cannot travel because I have problems with breathing. But I plan my family’s trip while I stay at home and wait. My heart hungers to travel with my family – walk barefoot on  golden sand glinting in the summer’s sun, or gaze at the green fields and trees as we walk by in the countryside… There are so many desires of my heart – travel to different parts of the world to share the Gospel and my testimony to win souls – but I remain here in this place of hope and waiting and expecting.

You might want to know – how do I go through the day? How do I curb the hunger?

You may not believe it but I live in joy. In the mornings, I awake to joy and inspiration from the Lord to face another day. How do I find joy? It is given to me by the Lord. It is His wonderful, beautiful gift. It is His grace. It is a fruit of seeking Him, of wanting to know Him more, of relentlessly pursuing Him, of spending time in His sweet holy presence, of delighting in Him! It is something that I humbly and gladly receive from His hand as He lovingly offers it to me.

Depression is absolutely absent. For the joy that comes from the Lord is real and pure and durable!

I had known joy that was riddled with guilt. Later, I realized it was not joy at all but sin, SIN, masquerading as joy. So beware!

What, then, is the difference between the joy that I had known when I was well and strong – working, traveling, shopping and embracing the pleasures of the world – and the joy that I know now? It is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life. It is His Spirit that dwells in my heart who enables me to bear its fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

That and all the wonderful ways He brings joy to my life:

praising and worshiping

love of family and friends

writing: blogging and journaling

homemaking: decorating, cooking, baking, ice cream making, vegetable gardening

reading (I love the Holy Bible and books!)

studying (the Word and other pursuits)

listening to praise music

photography

drawing

lavender scent and green grass and trees and birds!

shampoo and bath assisted by my husband

and many other simple things that most people would take for granted.

Friend, are you searching for joy in your life? Joy that fills and satiates and sees one through even in the most difficult times? Joy that is not fleeting but remains? Jesus is the answer. Let Him into your life now. Know the keys of salvation here.

Additional readings, yes? :):

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

How to Maintain Inner Peace

The morning of the day I planned to write this, a problem arose that would test exactly what I wanted to write about. This wasn’t the first time that it has happened – the testing before or after the writing. It is as if the real Author of all these Spirit-inspired written words are testing this writer if she could practice what she preaches, or walk in the way of what she writes about.

Early in the morning, my beloved husband learned that our company driver who was sent to the province with the delivery van was apprehended by the traffic police and without calling and informing his boss (my husband), he paid the police PhP2,000 just so, according to him, they wouldn’t impound the van and take his driver’s license. My husband at once got furious.

Why didn’t he call him about the problem and before he paid PhP2,000?
What exactly was the violation? Transporting a second-hand oven. (Huh?!)
Did he get a receipt for paying PhP2,000? No. It went straight to the hands of the enforcers. (What?!!!)
Did he get the names of the traffic enforcers who received the money? No, he did not.

My husband started to think that maybe the driver, who has been working for our company for eight long years, wasn’t telling the truth. He gave him PhP3,000 for gas and toll fees which was more than enough (the tank was more than half-full before the trip). Without going into much detail, he has reasons to think so. When he told me all about it, I myself was surprised. To be apprehended by traffic police for transporting a second-hand oven which sits inside a closed delivery van is very unusual. (We upgraded our kitchen and the old oven was going to a relative). And, being born-again Christians, it is our company policy never to give bribes for any reason at all.

The endless analyzing and discussing while temper is slowly brewing can sap one’s energy for sure. And I didn’t have my praise and prayer time yet! Which effectively brought to mind my topic for today. So, I told my husband this: “What has happened has happened and we can no longer undo it. If the driver is telling the truth, we have to accept it and move on (except of course, my husband has yet to discuss it again with the driver in person). If not, God knows it and He will be the one to do something about it. The thing is, there should be an end to all the angry talk and doubts.”

That is what I really wanted to write about today: Much of our problems are aggravated (if not triggered) by our incessant worrying, analyzing, judging, discussing, complaining, striving, and by often choosing the way of anger and dissatisfaction. This happens when we focus more our attention to the things around us – people, events, material – than focusing our eyes on God.

I remember the early days when the “new man” was a babe in Christ – fresh, yielding and with an undistracted, quiet spirit. We were on our way to a nearby province to attend a wedding where my husband and I were principal sponsors. We were traveling with a sister in Christ who was older than us, both in age and in years of serving the Lord. She and my husband were jovially talking about people and events, and now and then, joked and laughed at the stories they were sharing with each other. I sat quietly in my seat, not speaking a single word. I was revelling in the quiet of my spirit, soaking up in the peace that the Lord put in my heart. I would sometimes stroke the long strands of my hair while I looked out the window and gazed at the seemingly never-ending green fields and rolling hills in the horizon. Ah! What peace! What an invigorating feeling of fresh holiness! 

I have to be honest: I have lost much of that holy quiet and calm throughout the years as I wrestled with prolonged physical suffering and with the difficulties of trying to keep up with the daily grind, what with a body that easily gets weary and weak.

I grieve about losing much of that constant quiet glorying in the Lord, but I haven’t forgotten that day nor the feeling of basking in the Lord’s light, unmindful of the chaos in my surroundings, and I believe it is still possible. It is always possible.

Here are some ways to maintain inner peace:

  • Be mindful of the things we think about. Don’t let negative things play in our minds, endlessly and futilely wrestling with them.

Is there somebody in your life who hurts you with his or her rude or thoughtless behaviour? Don’t focus on it. It is not your problem. It has nothing to do with you. But you can pray for him or her.

  • Don’t weary yourself by endlessly thinking, analyzing, worrying, or discussing about things that you cannot change or have no power over.

Learn to accept the things that you cannot change. Hand all of them over to God. Let Him do the solving and fixing. He is a specialist in mending the broken, rearranging what has gone awry, and making all things work together for our good.

  • Fix your eyes on Jesus and stay under His light.

One day years ago, my husband walked into the room with the news that there was something wrong with the papers of one of our properties that we were planning to sell. I understood that I might not have transacted with the rightful owners when I bought it. When he left, my body at once reacted with the stress this news brought, but I raised my hands and prayed. I relinquished all control to God. I found peace also in releasing that material thing. Later in the day, my husband told me that there was just an error and everything was well.

Don’t let problems suck you up. But be sucked up in the Lord’s light. Under His light, we receive wisdom and the peace that comes with it. Away from His light, there are shadows and darkness and it would be easy to lose our way.

Additional reading: The Spirit Bids {Ways to Seek Holy Moments}

Giveaway Winners!

DaySpring “Blessed and Loved” mug with lid and Dayspring “Live, Love, Laugh” journal.

DaySpring mug with lid and journal: Bing Puzon

DaySpring journal (consolation prize): Marilyn Facton

Congratulations and thank you all for joining!

******

My gratitude list – the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • My daughter Hannah lovingly offering to massage my aching legs; she did it well, inducing me to a sound slumber :).
  • Learning to photograph objects in motion
  • The peace that descends and covers my whole being after a heartfelt praise and worship.
  • The blessed celebration of my birthday: family, good food, love and laughter.
  • A nephew who helped me with all the preparations so that I was able to rest and relax.
  • Filled to overflowing for all the testimonies of God’s miracles that I heard in Church today during the 12th Victorious Mindanao Peace Mission Anniversary.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

The Benefits {and Birthday Giveaways}

Early-2008 photo of our family :).

A family that is not bound by the sanctity of marriage, albeit, love is present for the years of unholy union have borne children. Children that are hopeful for a happy and harmonious family and a bright future. But nowadays, it is becoming more apparent that there is something weightier than love. It is ambition. For a dream and an ambition, one would gamble all. And so, leaving behind a mother with a heart that’s torn and wide-eyed children whose future now looks dim – one would set out to pursue that dream. That dream would require a marriage to another, someone who could bring one to a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a marriage for convenience, people say. But in this case, the woman loves the man whose heart belongs to the mother of his children. But ambition is weightier than love…

This is a true story. There are others quite similar and they’re just near. The world is so broken but it can’t heal itself.

I think about these things deeply. I know that for most people of the world, this phrase has become so commonplace it has probably lost its power to them, but it is always true to me and I will not grow weary in declaring it: The Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can turn a life around. 

What makes me think deeper is the question: How will a Christ-follower make one see that the Lord Jesus can fix a life – solve its problems and change its course? 

One hindrance that I see here is one’s belief that one is serving God from wherever one is, not knowing that one is in a place where Truth is not present. For if one were truly in the Lord, why is one still so lost? So, there is that belief that there is no difference whether one stays and serves God where one is, or seeks a more intimate relationship with Him in His Church.

My “remedy” for this is: see the benefits. There is a whole lot of difference between a life in the Lord Jesus Christ and a life that is in the world which falsely serves God (or serves a false god). Truth is, life in Him is incomparable. For how would one compare eternity with death, or heaven with hell?

The benefits of a life in Christ are summarized in this:

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30)

Wisdom

Righteousness

Sanctification (or Holiness)

Redemption

All these things are absent in a life that is not in the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, all blessings emanate from these. One need not wrestle to try to make life right and repeatedly fail. One needs only to surrender one’s life to the Lord Jesus Christ and He will make everything alright.

Endnote: Know the Keys of Salvation here.

******

Birthday Giveaways!!!

DaySpring “Blessed and Loved” mug with lid and Dayspring “Live, Love, Laugh” journal.

To join, may I request that you do the ff.:

  • Leave your comment to this post.
  • Subscribe to Healing Moments via email. Please put it in your comment upon accomplishing this or if you’re already an email subscriber.
  • “Like” Healing Moments on Facebook.
  • Giveaways for Philippines only. OFWs are invited to join. Should you win, giveaways will be sent to your Philippine address. (I deeply apologize to my friends and followers outside of the Philippines :().
  • One winner will be selected.
  • Giveaways close on October 6, Saturday, 6:00pm.
  • Thank you for joining!

******

My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • Sharing testimonies of God’s healing miracles to my sister so fervent that tears flowed freely. And the Lord touched and changed her heart.
  • Tim’s recovery from an asthma-like cough only through prayers.
  • Beloved pastoral workers coming at midnight to pray over and lay hands on him (bel. husband was away fasting and praying).
  • Bel. husband finishing three days of prayer and fasting at Pampanga Fasting House.
  • my life and the days and years He keeps adding to it
  • the love of my husband and kids – my treasure
  • our group hug as tears flowed and mingled and love is recommitted
  • laughters in the garden
  • cooking, baking, ice cream making!

My kabocha pumpkin pie.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Beyond Comparison

This conversation I had with my sister ended (I hope!) my practice of looking at people of the world and comparing my life with them, often, me, feeling and believing that they have it better than I do. So, as I had written in When We Look at the Temporal Instead of the Eternal, I used to look and think that these people are so abundantly blessed despite not serving and worshiping the living God in spirit and in truth. And as I had come to realize, our vision is sometimes shortsighted: tending to focus our attention to what is seen and not  to what are unseen which are the eternal blessings our salvation brings.

And as I had experienced amidst the trials, there’s also a great possibility that we may overlook the instantaneous gift we have received when we surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is our liberty. Sometimes, it’s easy for us to take it for granted, even forget, until we see someone struggling to obtain it.

People can be held captive by the enemy in many different ways: drug addiction, alcoholism, chain smoking, gambling, materialism and covetousness, promiscuity, womanizing, etc. One may not be looking like the wretched person that we know of. And that is exactly what the Lord has showed me lately. I had admired her; she seemed to have it all (well, except maybe true salvation), until I learned that she is chained to something destructive that she’s completely powerless to extricate herself from. Her addiction is so pernicious that no amount of rehab can save her.

I’m not happy that I learned she has a huge problem, but this has taught me never to think that there are people from amomg those who have not received salvation who are better off than those who have. This has made me realize the fact that the life of the redeemed is in no way comparable to others. Truth is, it is beyond comparison. The redeemed life is a freed and powerful life. It is a life free from bondage. It is a life sealed with the Holy Spirit and closely guided by it until we reach eternity. 

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

And because of these realizations, my gratitude to my Savior and Healer has grown deeper. I have gained fresh new appreciation to my salvation and the new life it brought, despite the many trials. The glory of this liberty that I have obtained and hold has shone brighter. I will in no way trade it for the world. Having a deep, steadfast gratitude and appreciation to what the Lord has done for us helps us run the race with endurance, rejoicing all the way to the end.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.
Linking up with Lessons from Ivy.

When We Look at the Temporal Instead of the Eternal

(Meditating on Psalm 73)

I can so relate with Asaph. Read this:

Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
 (Psalm 73:1-3)

See those sentences which I made bold to emphasize my point? Yes, I was intimately acquainted with the words of Psalm 73. In the past years, I used to marvel at other people, families, who did not worship and serve the Lord in spirit and in truth and yet, to my eyes, they were abundantly blessed. I used to enumerate to my husband the things I perceived they have and enjoy, like good health, happiness, peace, prosperity, friendships, pleasures, travels, celebrations, and I compared our life with them, us, serving the Lord diligently and steadfastly, yet, constantly being tried and tested. Through my limited vision, they seemed to enjoy life to the full without the tribulations that we were going through. I echoed Asaph’s words true-to-heart:

They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
 (vv. 4-5 NIV)

Just like Asaph, I honestly believed what I observed, and because of that, I often lacked joy and gratitude. Envy and discontentment would invade my days ferociously, and I would often succumb to them. Although I revelled in the presence of the Lord during worship, I just couldn’t shake off the practice of looking at other people’s lives and comparing. You see, just as Asaph had actually believed for a time that he had cleansed his heart in vain – following closely after godliness and willingly yielding himself to God’s chastening every morning (vv. 13 and 14) – I lamented God’s refining of me, too, and envied those people whom I thought are “untouched” by the Lord. That is, the hand of God was not heavy upon them.

All day long I have been afflicted…

When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply. 
(vv. 14 and 16 NIV)

Ah, these words! So familiar. Having gone through physical suffering for so long, I used to dwell in them. They were constant companions.

Oh yes, until I went in to the sanctuary and the Spirit of the Lord spoke in my heart and made me understand. He made me see my error, my weakness. He made me see the painful truth: my heart was bitter and it wasn’t doing me any good.

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you. 
(vv. 21-22 NIV)

The psalmist and I, aren’t we kindred spirits? For when the Lord made me realize my foolishness, I was greatly ashamed. When He made me remember His salvation, His great mercies upon me – taking me out of the miry clay and saving me mightily and giving me life so I could be with Him through eternity – I lay at His feet – repentant, humbled.

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. 
(vv. 23-26 NIV)

Ah! This is my song! These beautiful words – they are mine and they are true in my life. There’s nothing truer. He’s my portion forever! How could have I easily forgotten?

When I am weak and tempted to look at other people , I will remember Psalm 73.

And the story of the pig. Its master feeds him everyday so that it grows fatter and fatter. He washes it also. It does nothing but eat and sleep and sometimes digs on the earth with its snout for its pleasure. It is as if its master loves it so. But we know where the poor thing will end up someday – to the abattoir (like what vv. 18-20 say).

But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds. 
(v. 28 NIV)

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Our Unique Life

When the astrovan finally left, I got ready for my morning prayer. It should have come first but I had to supervise the preparations for the kids’ trip to Holy Carabao and Fun Farm – braid Hannah’s hair, check their bags, set camera, give instructions and reminders, etc. My mind wanted to imagine the pure enjoyment of traveling with my family to the countryside. Oh, I know that would be blissful but I didn’t want to let my mind wandering in that direction and lingering. It would be too painful.

I thought long and hard about my sharing with you our unique life. That is, the setup our family has learned to embrace in the midst of my frail health. I wanted to protect that part of our life and keep it hidden from public knowledge, but lately, something has been urging me to open it up and let you in. If in any way our life would become an inspiration to others, then I would have given glory and honor to Him who has mercy for us.

Since 2009, I haven’t been able to travel far from home due to my illness. My abdomen is weak and I get tired easily and when I do, my breathing becomes difficult and I get dizzy. But I don’t let this hinder my children to live their lives as they should. When they are invited to birthday parties, their daddy accompanies them. When he has commitments concerning our company, one of the maids or a cousin would accompany them. I haven’t gone to any school event. When Hannah had her piano recital at the Meralco Theater and it was a Sunday and her daddy must not skip church, her uncle and cousin were the ones who assisted her (her dad rushed to the show after church).

Those are events that our children need to participate in. But there are also things that children would love to do during summer or Christmas Holidays. So, I plan for those things then. I plan and prepare every detail that they would need, where they would go, what they would do, etc. I don’t forget to tell them to enjoy and not be sad for mommy. Then I wait at home while they and their dad go out.

When they arrive home, the kids would excitedly run to me, hug and kiss me like they had been gone for days! They would give me the camera and together, we would view their pictures, the kids rattling off about their day.

It was hard at first. After they had left, I would drown myself in praise music, letting my spirit be carried away by the glorious praise and strain to feel God’s comfort. I don’t know how I had survived those first lonely years, but miraculously I did, and I am now in a place where joy and thanksgiving weigh heavier than any self-pity or bitterness. God has brought me to where I am now. I still can’t travel, but my spirit soars higher than I had ever imagined and I have learned to live in contentment and pure gratitude. The words of the Apostle Paul have become true to me:

For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Phil. 4:11-12)

I’m not saying this is a perfect situation, and thus, I’m satisfied to stay this way. Not at all. I long to travel, foremost to testify, share the Gospel and win souls. I never gave up praying and dreaming to be able to travel again. But while I wait, the Lord taught me to live in the moment’s grace, to relish what I have right now, and to delight in Him no matter what. For most people, it’s easy to delight and rejoice in the Lord when they seem to have it all: good health, material blessings, and strong spiritual life. But for one who has not good health, yet delights in the Lord and rejoices in Him – that is satiating grace!

Lately, I took inventory of God’s blessings in my life and realized that I have all the beautiful, priceless things the world yearns for: love, joy, peace, faith, hope! And I reviewed my days and I found myself really delighting and rejoicing in the Lord not because I want Him to give me the desires of my heart but because He has given them already and more!

But what does this satiating grace consist of?

  1. Grace that teaches the heart to love God more than anything in the world. When hunger to travel and see the world visits me, I think about Anna. She was very young when she became a widow, but she didn’t use her freedom to take pleasure in the world, instead, she chose to stay to serve the Lord night and day. [Anna] was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day (Luke 2:37). She did it voluntarily and willingly. I want to remember the Lord Jesus’ words, that I am not of the world as He is not of the world, for He has chosen me out of the world (John 17:14, 15:19). And so I soak in this truth: I’m chosen, therefore, I’m blessed.
  2. Just as Anna was gifted with constant prayer and fasting, the Lord has made me worthy to be a vessel of His gift – the gift of writing. Writing, and sharing our testimonies and life lessons to the world, is for me like a journey – a journey wherein I continue to learn and grow in the process, and take pleasure in the experience. It doesn’t matter if I have only over a hundred blog followers, or receive just 1 0r 2 emails in a month from people who seek the truth, healing, and  the Savior’s love (and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to serve). The Lord has called me to write and I am His willing vessel. He will achieve what He purposes.
  3. Grace to hunger for Him and seek Him daily. Just as the sun is sure to rise every morning, He sends His joy and inspiration to see me through the day. And the joy of the Lord is my strength. His presence goes before me, covering me with His love and comfort.
  4. Grace to be a wife to my husband and mother to my children, nurturing the family with the wisdom and strength the Lord has blessed me with.

Related:

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Widening Our Gratitude

Is unhappiness a frequent visitor? Unhappiness that comes from our practice of focusing on what’s lacking and what we think is wrong with our lives? Have our hearts been trained to pursue perfection (that is, of the world) rather than holiness? Eyes that see more of the world’s standard of beauty and success rather than the underglorified beauty of Christlike simplicity?

Maybe the scope of our gratitude has been growing narrower because discontentment has acquired broader territory, and we have missed many an opportunity to thank and praise God for the things that we believe are sparse and not worthy of our gratitude? Or maybe we have been living with more of “if only’s” rather than “even though’s”?

But what if we focus our eyes and hearts to Christ-beauty rather than to world-beauty? But Christ-beauty is entirely different from the world’s. They are exactly opposite and worlds apart, like two parallel lines that will never meet. For the beauty that is Christ’s —

are feet that walk the narrow and dusty roads bringing the Gospel of salvation to the poor, the sick, the outcast.

is a love that loves even the unlovable and the ones who count themselves enemies.

sacrifices willingly and serves joyfully.

If we train our eyes, minds, and hearts to focus on Christ-beauty, our gratitude will widen to even as far as uncharted territory. We will be thanking God deeply not only for the beauty and the goodness He brings to our lives but also for those things we wished to be better or to be changed or to do away with (but God put them there to prove us and teach us precious lessons). But what advantages us if our gratitude grows and expands?

True gratitude liberates the heart from discontent and ushers in pure joy. Joy that is unbreakable and remains. Gratitude honors God and a God-honoring life will be blessed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Linked to A Holy ExperienceBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living WellProverbs 31 Thursdays