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Choosing Joy

I've been thinking more about the events of January 16 and 17 and of how giving thanks is not my natural response in circumstances like this.  (In case you missed the news, churches in three towns in Niger were attacked and burnt.)  I've been studying through Philippians and am amazed that Paul, who experienced persecution in a very personal way and was imprisoned for his faith, talks so much about joy.  I'm not sure if I were in prison, even under house arrest, that I would speak about joy.  I'd more likely speak about my rights (Paul did mention that, too!) and my demands than about joy.

Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts writes, "How do I have the holy vision in this mess?  How do I see grace, give thanks, find joy in this sin-stinking place?"
And then later:  "Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan's way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus' way? ... When I choose -- and it is a choice -- to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness?  Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective -- more expedient -- than giving thanks?"

Monday -- For Christmas John bought me a rose bush for in the garden.  When I came home on Monday, he had picked a rose and put it in a vase for me.  It was so sweet and an encouragement to me!

Tuesday -- Woops.  I kind of forgot to take a picture.

"Eucharisteo, wholesale worship, is redemptive work wiping away the soot of days cindered." -- Ann Voskamp

Wednesday -- This gal is the only lady student who comes to our Bible study.  She's done well in her studies in a male-dominated field (meteorology in the air-traffic domain).  She has been with us over a year, but finished her program and will be leaving us soon.  We had a special time of prayer for her Wednesday night.  I'll miss her a lot, but I'm thankful for the short time we had with her.

Thursday -- I'm thankful for this new ambulance for one of our medical centers.  They are not a full hospital and often have to transport patients to a bigger medical center.  I thought we were going to get to drive it part way to its end destination, but that didn't work out.

Friday -- Some of us had a pie party.  I tried a new recipe for a strawberry pie and it turned out to be delicious!  It was quite popular at the party and unfortunately for us there were no pieces left to take home.  I ate myself almost sick on pie (that was also my supper!).  Poor John had another commitment and couldn't come, but I saved him a piece of each kind of his favorites.

"For all my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy -- is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark?  Prefer drama?  Why do I lunge for control instead of joy? ... If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment -- am I not ultimately rejecting God?" --Ann Voskamp

Saturday -- This is just a fun picture because I loved the colors of the pencil shavings from the colored pencils I've been using in my Bible study.

Sunday -- John and I have been visiting a church outside of Niamey as a case study for his doctorate.  We've really enjoyed going there.  Today he interviewed the youth.  I love watching John work when he's in his element, such as today.  One of the members made a casual observation today that is exactly the conclusion that John is coming to in his doctorate!

 "The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is."

Ann Voskamp's question, "Do I want control or do I want joy?" is very convicting to me!  Paul was chained to a guard and was on trial for his faith.  Some people were preaching Christ for good reasons, but others were preaching to cause him more trouble.  But Paul's response to all of these circumstances was, "And because of this I rejoice.  Yes, and I will continue to rejoice." (Philippians 1:18)

I choose to rejoice!

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