Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes
and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you,
declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Jeremiah 29:12-14

I took this picture from underneath my neighbor’s tree, which extends to my driveway. I like to think we share it since my actual property has no trees. The leaves were absolutely glowing in the sunlight, but I was more interested in how they looked against the sky. But you really can’t see much of the sky in the photo; the leaves are blocking the view.

I’ve been feeling a lot of feelings this week. It’s been a long few days and I’m feeling restless and fearful and sad. Sometimes this time of year makes me feel a bit caged–the days are getting shorter but they seem impossibly longer, especially the hours after dinner but before bedtime. Can I get an amen, mamas?

I discovered a notebook from a conference I attended last year as I was angry-cleaning the office for the second time this week, so I took just a moment to flip through my notes. And of course I landed on exactly the page I needed to see.

I had the pleasure of hearing Margaret Feinberg speak at this conference. I’d heard of her most recent book Fight Back with Joy but was unfamiliar with her story. She was about to turn in her manuscript for Fight Back with Joy, capping a year of research about the concept of joy, when she found a lump in her breast. She vowed to use what she’d learned to carry her through her treatment, which she is still continuing today.

Margaret Feinberg had many brilliant things to say that morning, but here’s the one thing that keeps speaking to me: “Remain suspicious that God is up to something good.” Even as she travels through the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis, Feinberg trusts in the goodness of God and God’s fierce love for her.

And even as we pass through uncertain times in our country, I am assured that God is up to something good.

I think my definition of joy is too narrow because I wouldn’t describe myself as joyful very often, especially in the mundane moments of raising little people and keeping a home. I feel appreciative and tired and satisfied and curious and frustrated and content, but joyful just seems out of reach. I am good at being suspicious, though I’m usually worried that I’m one step away from disaster rather than looking forward to something lovely. And when I worry like that I’m not trusting in God’s goodness or love for me. I’m choosing to see the leaves instead of the sky.

When I pray, I can ask God’s help in finding joy in the small things. I need to work on seeking God through the leaves and darkness. Only then will I see the good that God putting together.
Insight and Inspiration:

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! Psalms 66:20

 

The Invitation:

Of what are you suspicious lately? Are you seeing the sky or the leaves? How can you find joy in your daily life?

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Christina Krost
Christina Krost is a United Methodist pastor’s wife, mother, educator, and Earth care advocate working for Faith in Place, the Illinois Affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light. She lives with her husband and three daughters in rural Illinois and blogs at 5Matches.com. When she’s not working, chasing children, or helping minister to churches she enjoys reading, writing, and sneaking fair trade chocolate in her closet so she doesn’t have to share.
Christina Krost

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