I have a friend named Joy. To me, she is the living example of what joy is. She carries with her a peaceful and strong faith and hope. She has many challenges in her life and yet, when talking with her, I come away with a feeling of joy. I have often said her mother named her correctly.

Yesterday while I was walking I had the phrase, “Joy comes in the mourning”come to me. I saw the word mourning and thought, well, I spelled that wrong. I was impressed to think about that statement.

I immediately thought of the last part of Psalm 30:5 which says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (NLT)

This morning, this was in my devotions. I hadn’t planned it that way, it was just what came up. Once more, the phrase, “Joy comes in the mourning” came to mind.

As I have pondered this the past 36 hours, these are the thoughts I have stumbled on. Joy, true joy is a result of difficult situations.

There are several seasons of mourning in our life. Some, in retrospect may seem tiny, but while going through them, they are anything but small.

We mourn broken relationships. Losing a friend is heartbreaking. A part of you that trusted and confided in, is gone. Gone also are those things shared with someone you trusted. Things spoken in confidence only to have that confidence shattered.

A death of a parent. We mourn what we have had taken from us. A part of who you are is lost. There is a void there that cannot be refilled. It is like walking with a gaping hole in your being.

A fractured marriage. The intense isolation that comes with this. The questions that plague you.

Loss of a spouse. I have no idea how this is. I do know that I have witnessed through friends this unbearable ordeal. It is worse than loss of a parent, this is truly losing part of your heart.

But, I believe, through the midst of all of this, joy comes. It may not be the laughing, jovial type of joy, but it is joy nonetheless.

A synonym for joy is comfort. In times of mourning, there is a time where comfort resides. It’s not that overwhelming feeling of laughter, but there is a comfort, an acknowledgement of life being better, richer because of that friend, that spouse, your parents.

These people who are lost are truly gifts in your life. They have given joy, love, truth. We learn vital lessons from them. Our lives are changed because of them.

I am still trying to think through the phrase of joy coming in mourning. I had to get them down so I can remember.


“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

The past few weeks I have had several conversations with people going through difficult times.

Each person is experiencing a time that would like to rob you of any joy, peace or knowledge of the Lord.

I have tried to be a good listener and to respond how I think the Lord would have me respond. What I have concluded is this world is not pleasant. Yes, the scenery and artistry of God is present everywhere in this world, but, living here is filled with troubles.

Each of us experience things that can tear our heart out. Sickness, cancer, death, isolation and loneliness can drive us to the brink of wondering where our God is and if he is actually listening or caring about us personally.

It is easy to look at the situation looming towards us. It is easy to say that there is no possible way that God could be in the midst of things. It can be easy to look at the world and what it holds and be disillusioned. Personally, I have done this. I have lost joy before, I have questioned and yelled at God.

What I learned is that God is big enough to yell at Him. He can take it. He, like the loving Father He is will allow us to scream, holler, yell, roll on the floor, pitch a fit, kick and fuss. He allows our tantrums, and again, like the good Father He is, He will gently pick us up and hold us.

The situations may not have passed, but He is watching over us. It could be days, weeks, months or years later and we look back and marvel that the Lord was in the midst of that season. Ever faithful, ever watching, ever caring.

Today was a day that would have liked to rob several people of their peace, it was an unsettling day. But, God. He was in the middle of it all. He was not distant. He was not taking a nap. He was not ignoring cries from hearts. He was in the center, watching and supporting.

This morning a young man in our church ran through the gates of Heaven and into the arms of a waiting Savior. As he rushed into Heaven, I know he was greeted by our Lord, His arms wide open and waiting to hug this man. He met him and greeted him with a “Welcome Home Son, I have been anxiously waiting for you.”

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NKJV)

This scripture has run through my mind this afternoon. The joy of our Lord is my strength. I do have the joy of the Lord. He gives it in abundance.

We may want to falter, and hesitate, and give up. Between the peace of God so freely given, and the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, there is nothing we cannot conquer. So, I will continue to have difficult conversations with friends. I will continue to pray how to respond. Most importantly, I will pray for them.

But Never Have to Say Good-bye

As we grow, we realize that at some point we will have to say good-bye to our folks. Dale and I lost our parents early. We were in our late thirties when we had lost all of our parents. So, the thought of saying good bye to parents was something we accepted.

We have remarked several times through the years that we were approaching, or had hit the age our parents were when they died. It is a strange feeling to be the age your folks were when they passed. You sort of do a victory jig when you pass the age they were.

Yes, this sounds very morbid. But, it was something that has rumbled around my brain today. Actually, these thoughts began when I started to think of my daughters. Both have families of their own and both are busy raising their children and working. I admire my daughters greatly. They seem to be far ahead of myself at their ages. They never cease to surprise me.

I have a friend who lost her daughter about a year ago, and another friend I have known since high school lost a daughter last week. I cannot begin to imagine how they are coping. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. It breaks my heart thinking of them.

This all reminds me that it is important to keep in touch with family. Texts, phone calls, visits when possible, these are imperative things to do. To keep that bond secure.

I never felt a panic or gave much thought to my mortality, I figured when it was time to move to heaven, I was ready. I had had a family, I saw my daughters grow, get married, have children and become settled in their lives. I felt a measure of success.

I am gifted in that my daughters do many things I did when they were little. This is a true blessing to Dale and I. It’s like we made a difference in their lives. No one could ask for more.

When our first grandchild was born, I spent time with our youngest to help her out in recovering from birth. As she napped one day, I held my grandson and began to sing to him. I started to sing the songs that I sang to his mother. A part of a song goes, “In His name I say good-night, but never have to say good-bye”. I got the first part out and my mortality hit me. I would have to say good-bye to this precious boy. I held onto him and cried.

A couple of years later, our Little Miss was born. I knew that song would get to me, and somehow I managed to squeak it out. I felt a twinge of victory. The thing is, though, she loves that song sung each time she goes down for the night. She will choose who is putting her to bed whenever we are together. Each time I put her down, that song is sung (well, a whole lot of songs are sung). Each time I come to that last part and choke up.

Each time I choke up, I remind myself to make more memories with my grands. I desire to give them memories for a life time. Memories that will follow them throughout their lives.

When Jesus was on earth, He watched His Father. “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19 (NKJV) Much of what I see my daughters doing, I recognize that I did similar things. Likewise I have caught myself doing what I saw my mother-in-law doing. Jesus gave us the example to follow the Father. I try to follow that example, but I cannot help but see how that example bleeds into every facet of our lives.


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Chinese Proverb

This morning while walking, a plane flew overhead. While we lived in San Diego, that would happen every couple of minutes as we lived in the flight path for the airport. Here, in upstate South Carolina, a plane passing overhead is not a common sight for us.

As I looked at the small plane, obviously a private jet, I wondered where it was headed. I often think of that when I see a plane. The point being, it has been a long time since we have taken a journey, a real vacation. A journey that ends at a destination. The kind of destination where you plan.

A place where you look forward to being there. You have just the right outfits for day and evening wear. Those outfits being planned down to shoes and jewelry all coordinating. A trip where you research where you are going, seeing all the sights and monuments and museums that have been on a list as a must see. This place is where you make dinner reservations in advance and you scour the menus to allow your mind and taste buds to prepare for a meal.

I haven’t been on a vacation like this for years. A part of me would love to go somewhere exotic and fun. Actually Dale and I had a conversation about this recently. I am of the mindset that we most likely will not go on such an adventure again with all the restrictions now in place.

But, I know that I do have one adventure to take hold of. It is one that I look forward to.

Yesterday we went to a funeral. A brother and uncle of some dear friends passed away last weekend. As the young minister spoke, he reminded us that this man was no longer encumbered with pain, illness and inabilities. No, he had finished his life here and was now free of the burdens of this life.

He talked about having the finger of God placed upon each of us when it is our time to go. This spoke to me. There will come a day when the finger of God will touch each of us. At that moment our life here is finished.

Almost a year ago, a dear friend passed away. He was our pastor and dear friend. He taught us so very much in his lifetime, I have notebooks filled with his insights and messages. I never expected his death to teach me as well. Watching this man struggle to let go of the bonds of earth was difficult to say the least, but, he was filled with anticipation for his journey.

It wasn’t a journey of a thousand miles that he had to plan and pack for. He had prepared his whole life for this final journey. No new clothes were needed, no reservations needed, he had his journey paid for at the cross of Calvary. He had the finger of God touch him, closing his eyes here and opening them to see his Creator.

Yes, I would love to see many things this earth holds. Pyramids, great water falls, ruins from ancient times, having high tea in London, seeing Scotland where my grandfather was born and Ireland where my family lived. Yes, there are many things that I would love to do. Distilled down, though, the most important journey I will take will be my last one. The one where I will one day close my eyes here to open them and run into the arms of my Savior. I wait. I enjoy my life. The greatest thing on my bucket list though is to be held in the arms of Jesus and hear His heart beating for me.

“But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed” I Corinthians 15:51-52 (MSG)


Death. It seems so final. The emptiness that echoes in your heart. The darkness that creeps on the edges of all you do. The hollow feeling that envelopes you.

Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb. Out of fear, His tomb was sealed. Not only gone, but locked away.

Imagine what the disciples felt. Their friend. Their teacher. Their Lord. Gone and sealed off. Their feelings of desolation must have been indescribable.

“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.” Matthew 16:21 (NLT)

Having heard the above from Jesus, as humans we are sometimes slow to comprehend what we have heard when faced with tragedy. I think (and this is my opinion) that one of the disciples would remember this statement and share it, reminding others that there is hope. But, Jesus is full of surprises for us. I can’t imagine how the disciples got through those three days Jesus was in the tomb.

They thought He was lying in there dead, but, no, he was busy. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.  I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” Revelation 1:17-18 (NLT)

Jesus was working, grabbing the keys to death and hell. I personally cannot wait to hear this story.