Choosing Joy

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“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been informed by maintenance that this plane has irreparable damage at this moment and we need to change planes,” our captain broadcasted over the PA system onboard my flight that was scheduled to leave before 8am. The sleep and caffeine-deprived Jersey-bound passengers were not happy as muttered expletives resounded about the cabin like ripples in a pond.

As we de-planed, I heard the flight attendants announce that any complaints or suggestions should be made at the information booth in the airport terminal. They anticipated the backlash.

An hour and a half later, I found myself on a new plane in the same seat, but the difference was the grumpy attitude that had filled the air.

“I have to cancel my spa reservation now because, of course, there was a delay.”

“I need to speak with the Captain. We shouldn’t have to pay for refreshments now, because of the inconvenience.”

“Ugh, I am so tired and I have to be at work in a few hours.”

I was dumbfounded by the entitlement mentality that my fellow passengers exuded. It was toxic. I felt myself almost give in and agree with them:

“Yea! This is ridiculous! I deserve a free cup of coffee because you guys are trying to keep us safe!”

In moments like this we have a choice. We can choose life or death.

I’m really into chalk art right now. A few months ago I found a quote by Henri J. Nouwen that I handlettered on the chalkboard that’s in my house.

“We have to choose joy and keep choosing it.”

I think about the quote daily because I’m reminded of it every morning as I leave the house.

I also came across an article recently on the seven secrets to live a happy life, as taught by children. One of them was embracing joy! When was the last time you squealed with wonder at snow falling from the sky? Or how often to you jump up and down with excitement at just the sight of someone you love? As adults, we lose our ability to express childlike joy. We choose to grumble. We choose death.

What’s the use in freaking out about something that you can’t control? What makes you so entitled that you feel the need to be compensated for a minor inconvenience? Why is your immediate reaction a negative one?

My God is so sovereign that He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. So perhaps we were delayed so that my dad wouldn’t get in a car accident on the way to the airport. Or maybe the mechanic that was fixing the first plane needed overtime to feed his family. Or maybe I just needed to learn this lesson in choosing joy.

So, early this morning, instead of jumping on the bandwagon of complaints, I waved it along and chose to ride on my tricycle of joy. My circumstances will not affect my attitude. I’m sitting in a padded chair, in an air-conditioned cabin, traveling over 600 mph, miles above the ground on my way to see faces I love. Wheeeee!

Today, and everyday hereafter, I’m choosing joy. What about you?

Advent 2013

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I love Christmas.  The family traditions.  The food.  The decorations.  The music.  The movies.  Everything about Christmas brings warm memories for me.  I look forward to this season all year (ask my roommates, to whom I asked if we could get a Christmas tree in October).  Now that it’s here, I’m trying to make time each day to reflect on the reason for the season.  We hear that phrase over and over, so much so that it’s lost its meaning.  But this season, called Advent, is the time of year that makes me anticipates the celebration of the first coming of Christ on Christmas morning, but also reminds me to anticipate His second coming on that Day. 

However, this season to some doesn’t bring the childlike joy and anxious anticipation that bubbles up within me.  It is a painful reminder of lost loved ones or family members who are far away or children who’ve begun to make bad choices.  This past year, in my world travels (Japan and the Bahamas) and my interactions with friends, family, students, and members of my congregation, I’ve become aware of so much brokenness, hurt and suffering on a global scale.  I’ve heard people ask, “Why did God let this happen?” and witnessed others question their faith.  My heart aches with them and everything in me wants to bring restoration and healing to their brokenness.

But I can’t.  I’m not their savior, but I know the One who is.

For now, I can celebrate Advent with them, share Hope with them, and look forward to the second Advent, when Jesus comes back and fixes what I can’t.  

My neighbor bought me an Advent Calendar this year, and every day my roommates and I get to open a little tin and enjoy the delicious treat inside.  It’s a tangible way to countdown to Christmas and a reminder for me to be thankful this season.  I’m also reading John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, a free ebook of daily devotionals written specifically for Advent 2013.

How are you celebrating the season this year??

 

How Traveling 200 Miles Gave Me Eternal Perspective

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Back in August I went on a missions trip overseas to the Bahamas.  It was a short trip (both in length measured in miles and length measured in days), but it expanded my perspective in massive ways.   I wrote an article about it for my friends at Circles of Faith.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has just alerted us that we’ve reached our cruising altitude.  You’re now free to move about the cabin,” the flight attendant chirped over the loudspeaker in our tiny airplane heading from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Nassau, Bahamas.

What seemed like less than five minutes later, I heard her voice again announcing that we had begun our initial descent and anyone moving about the cabin had to return to their seats with seat belts securely fastened. Our flight time that August morning lasted a total of 26 minutes.

I had expected a quick flight. I hadn’t expected that through this trip God would teach me vast lessons about His character and my heart.

Read more about it at Circles of Faith!