. . . JOY.

Last night my friend Amanda mentioned she was a recovering control addict. Umm, that makes two of us.

The first two years of Jamie and I's marriage were dark...I mean really dark. Often people say they could never imagine someone with a sweet Minnie Mouse voice like me being upset or yelling. You don't have to imagine that. Instead, imagine me leaping from the top of my bed onto Jamie's head because he simply would not give me my way.

I'm so glad he didn't.

But the truth is, we were both demanding our ways from God. Sometimes I dream of how God must have laughed and laughed at our running like hoodlums, trying to make our lives work our way.

Flash forward through three God-surprising new children, a few years of deep sorrow and grief and 13 months with an ever-changing cast of characters in our home, and I've swung to another far extreme.

In one sense it is a blessing. I've learned to roll with the punches, think on my toes, and juggle 888 balls at one moment. Yet, as we've entered this second year of foster care, I realized this weekend that something was different. The deep steadfastness of joy and abiding peace has become "unglued," and we're slightly surviving. My children deserve more than that, Jamie deserves more than that, these kiddos we're caring for and their families, deserve more than that, but mostly, my Savior demands more than that.

I've realized that though my actions and reactions are much the same as they were this time last year, I'm failing to truly walk in trust and faith of my Redeemer for myself, my family, and our children's families.

Three times over the last week, friends have remarked to me to be expectant, or to expect joy. As we all know, joy does not come circumstantially, but it is a steadfastness of HIS presence through the circumstances as we abide in Him.

But the truth is, I can't cling to that joy if I'm not trusting Jesus, my Savior...

And I can't trust Him if I don't know Him...really upside-down, deep-rooted, know Him. As I grow in this knowledge, my trust will deepen, and HIS joy will be a cornerstone in my life.

I go back to a quote from Ann Voskamp that I've mentioned before, "I hadn't known that joy meant dying."

The truth is, it's hard. It's hard to fight for faith and trust when you see a broken cycle of sin viciously entrapping a family through generations. It's hard when you see the helplessness the children of those generations. It's hard when you cry out to God to "rebuild the age-old foundations" and to "restore the ancient ruins" as it says in Isaiah 58, but He replies with stillness.

And, then you remember that God moves in the stillness.

And, you remember that He's promised to restore beauty for ashes.

I'm not sure that even once that beauty has been what I expected or asked for in the parameters and timing I imagined. I do know that almost every time it's been harder, deeper, richer. I do know that it has turned this control, bed-jumping, husband-leaping addict, to someone who wants Jesus more than anything, who longs for her children to know her Savior more than all the comfort or safety in the world. It's turned me into someone who wants to fight the fight of expecting joy.

I've been blown away at all your emails!
March 4th is my birthday!
We still need 9 boxes,
but many of you have called
and sent messages that some are on their way.
This is not about me.
It's about us, as the body of Christ,
showing the world His mercy!
Happy birthday to me!

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