Motherhood. Neighboring. Grief. Sarcasm. Jesus.

Writing what I’ve learned along the way.

I Choose Joy

I Choose Joy

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. {1 Thessalonians 5:16-18}

Joy. Prayer. Gratitude. Always. This is God’s will.

“But how do I choose joy when life makes me feel every emotion besides the one called 'Happy?'”

“How can I pray when I can’t even find the right words to say?”

“How am I supposed to be thankful when I wish my life had a lot different circumstances?”

Joy. Prayer. Gratitude. Always. This is God’s will. Simple in theory. Difficult to practice.

We received the results from our blood test. The Genetic Counselor called a day earlier than expected, which was a gift:

"The test came back negative, which means your baby probably doesn't have Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, or Trisomy 21."

"This doesn't mean that there isn't anything wrong with the baby, it simply means that those specific chromosome abnormalities can probably be ruled out."

"Remember that this test is less accurate than the amniocentesis test, with results being about 90% accurate." 

"You can still get the amniocentesis at any time, which may help you better understand the risk factor of this happening again."

"Your next step will most likely be another ultrasound and fetal echo scan."

"Have you and your husband talked about what you plan to do with your pregnancy?"

I never thought I would have to say the words out loud: "We are not going to abort our baby. We will carry this baby for as long as it lives."

I start to think again. Think about God's will for us in Christ Jesus.

Maybe "being joyful" isn't actually a feeling, especially not the feeling called "Happy." Maybe "being joyful" gives us the freedom to embrace whatever emotions we are struggling through: the sadness, the anger, the worry, the pain that paralyzes at times. Maybe "being joyful" is more of an attitude. Maybe "being joyful" means that we simply choose to see God's hand orchestrating, choose to trust His sovereignty, and choose to praise His name - no matter what. {Even when we continue to walk through the darkness.}

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. {Habakkuk 3:17-18}

And maybe prayer isn't just about trying to find the right words to say at exactly the right time. Maybe prayer sometimes means taking time to climb up onto God's lap, and then to cry out "Why?!," and then to shed lots of tears, and then to fall asleep and rest like a little child, safe in the Father's arms.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. {Romans 8:26}

And maybe gratitude isn't a command to never wish things were different, but the ability to pray "Thy will be done" even when we do wish our lives were different. Even our Savior prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" in His final hours before the cross; finishing with the perfect amen: "Yet not as I will, but as You will." {Matthew 16:39}

Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. {Job 1:21} 

In this trial of darkness, in this time of fear and pain, I choose joy. We choose joy.

And we praise God that He chose to give us joy as well:

Our baby is a girl.

And we gave her the name Aliza Joyce. {Pronounced "Uh-ligh-zuh"}

Aliza means "joy, joyful."

And Joyce is for my Grandma, Betty Joyce.

Joy. Joyful. Amid the darkness, we have great joy.

The Sunday following our 20 week ultrasound, the Sunday I didn't want to go to church, we sang the hymn "All Those Who Are Weeping," based on Psalm 126:

Our mouths were filled, filled with laughter.
Our tongues were loosed, loosed with joy.
Restore us, O Lord.
Restore us, O Lord.

Although we are weeping
Lord, help us keep sowing
The seeds of Your Kingdom
For the day You will reap them.
Your sheaves we will carry.
Lord, please do not tarry.
All those who sow weeping
Will go out with songs of joy.

The nations will say, “He has done great things!”
The nations will sing songs of joy.
Restore us, O Lord.
Restore us, O Lord.

We choose joy.

Not just for the name of our baby girl, but in the attitude we choose to have on this journey. Amid the sadness, the anger, the pain, the fear, the worry, and the "what" and "why" questions we would love to have answered right now.

We choose to pray.

To pray for a miracle. That God would demonstrate His healing power through our Aliza Joyce, and that we would be blessed with her life beyond a few months in the womb.

We choose gratitude.

No matter the outcome. No matter how long or short Aliza's life on earth may be. May the name of the Lord be praised. Always. 


And I hope that in your life, in your circumstances, in your happiness and sadness and laughter and anger and pain and fear and worry, that you will choose joy too. It's not an emotion. It's in spite of emotions. It's not pretending everything's okay when it's not. It's in spite of life running a muck. 

"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation." - Rick Warren

Joy. Prayer. Gratitude. Always. This is God's will.

Grace and Peace,

If It Brings You Glory, Don't Lead Me Down Sesame Street

If It Brings You Glory, Don't Lead Me Down Sesame Street

By Faith We Walk Through the Darkness

By Faith We Walk Through the Darkness