My students created “Coat of Arms” a few weeks ago to illustrate several things about themselves.

Their personality…..

Their hobbies….

Their favorite sport…..

Their role model…….

Their life motto……

I was fascinated as I looked through 149 different drawings.

Like snowflakes, no two were alike.

Each student’s color choice, design choice, and word choice came together to make a unique collage of “them.”  As I gave them ideas to get started, I told them that if I were making my own Coat of Arms I thought my life motto would be, ‘Choose Joy.”  I explained that in my life I have had many times when it would have been easy to choose something else like disappointment, hurt, bitterness, or even anger, but I wanted to live a life where I purposefully “choose joy.”

Some days, though, this choice doesn’t come as easily for me.

Sometimes the word “joy” actually haunts me as if I am crazy for thinking it was ever part of who I am.

Sometimes I feel guilty for experiencing moments of joy as if by feeling this type of deep supernatural happiness I am saying that I don’t miss Adrienne or Nick anymore.

Other days, I feel joy deep down in my bones.  I feel the presence of God and the hope of Heaven so intensely that NOTHING could keep me from being thankful for even my road of grief.

I love those days.

I love when I can rise above the whispering doubts of satan and stand firm in my faith knowing that ONE DAY all the pain and suffering of this world will be replaced with the perfection of HEAVEN!  The joy of the Lord truly is my strength and when I stay above the devil’s sneaky lies, I am able to remember that when I am weak, I can be still be strong….BECAUSE OF GOD.  Remembering the armor of God helps me, protects me, strengthens me…..but there’s still the lingering places in my mind where doubt can slip in causing me to question my “right” to experience the joy of the Lord on the road I am walking.

I want to be like Paul who from a prison cell unwaveringly penned the words, “Rejoice in the Lord, always; again, I say, ‘REJOICE!'”

How can I become like Paul?

How can I confidently and daily choose joy?

That’s my question today, and it’s one I want to dig into deeply with all of you over the next few weeks.  I am digging into the word “JOY,” and I hope you’ll dig with me!

A treasure like JOY needs to be sought after and claimed by all of us who walk life’s road with Jesus.

If my life motto truly is, “CHOOSE JOY,” then I want to choose it daily not just on days when I feel like it.

My students’ came up with some great mottos. I wish I could walk around my classroom right this minute and share some of them with you.  They are hanging on the walls of my room.  I’ll write some down tomorrow while I am at school and share them Wednesday morning.

For today, have a happy Labor Day!

It’s raining here in Kentucky, and I am working on my power point presentations for this weekend’s retreat at Elkhorn Valley Christian Camp in Ohio.

I love you all so much and am praying for you as I type these words.

Father, I am thankful for the gift of blogging that has enabled me to share life with so many people I may never meet until Heaven and some with whom I walk life’s road daily.  Lord, bless those who read these words.  Bring reasons for deep joy into their lives today.  Protect them, Father, from the devil’s attempts to steal, kill, or destroy their joy.  Place a hedge of protection around their families and allow them to walk in the confidence that comes from knowing Your Son as their personal Savior!  It is in His name I pray these words, Amen