Thursday, September 27, 2018

Little Women: A Modern Retelling ~ Movie Review

Louisa May Alcott's novel, Little Women has endured as a favorite for 150 years. It is considered to be a timeless classic, and rightly so as it has served as an inspiration to generations of women. Originally published on September 30, 1868, Little Women remains a favorite and continues to inspire and encourage women, young and old, to dream new dreams and pursue purposeful lives.
"I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen."
 At the beginning of Alcott's writing career, she wrote poems, short stories, and potboiler dramas. Then in 1868, her publisher asked her to write a book for "little girls"...and the rest, as they say, is history. 

And now, on the 150th anniversary of Alcott’s original release, a modern retelling of LITTLE WOMEN brings us the same story of those beloved sisters to a new generation.




Movie Synopsis

(Pinnacle Peak Pictures)

Sisters—and dreams—are unique in their ability to inspire, encourage and change the world. 
From girls playing in the attic to women living with purpose, the March sisters- Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy- are committed to always supporting each other. 

Yet growing up sometimes means growing apart.

An aspiring writer, Jo leaves for New York determined to publish a novel. In the wake of rejected draft upon draft, her editor challenges Jo to write about something more interesting...her family.

When tragedy brings the sisters back home, sticking together takes on new meaning. As Jo comforts her sick sister, Beth asks for one thing: a story.

Jo knows the perfect one by heart. 

Starring Lea Thompson as Marmee and featuring a talented cast, Including Lucas Grabeel and Ian Bohen, LITTLE WOMEN tells the story of the same beloved sisters to a new generation. Celebrating dreams, family and unconditional love, LITTLE WOMEN opens in theaters this weekend(Sept. 28th).

Themes

  • Family 
  • Purpose: Finding your purpose, following your dreams
  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Identity
My thoughts

I have to admit when I screened this movie, I was ill prepared to do a true comparison to other Little Women movies...or even with the book. It has been so long since I had read Little Women that I needed to do some research to get the story back into my recent memory. 

While some of the elements of the story are obviously different than the original story, such as Marmee(Lea Thompson)dealing with creditors on the phone while her husband is overseas in Afghanistan serving as an Army medic, the heart of the story remains true to the original. The unshakable bond between the March sisters remains the same...and that is the heart of this film. 

Pinnacle Peak Pictures
Jo (Sarah Davenport) works on her novel in “Little Women.”
The movie begins with Jo going to New York where she has grand plans to publish a novel and then continues a series of flashbacks to where it all began...in her family home, growing up with her sisters and their wise mother, Marmee who encourages them to follow their dreams. 
I admit that I did get a little confused at a point or two with the chronological flashbacks, but overall the story began to flow for me and I settled in to enjoy the movie.

I did get a little put off with how strongly cruel Jo could be to her sisters, particularly to her sister Amy...but sibling spats can resort to being mean-spirited arguments. I have to admit the 'B' word did come to mind a time or two, but as Jo grew in character some of that meanness lessened as well. And in the end, there is reconciliation...which in my opinion is a necessary element of a good story. 

Pinnacle Peak Pictures

I'll leave the rest of the storyline for you to discover. The writer and director of this modern retelling seem to have worked hard at staying true to the heart of the original. The themes of celebrating sisterhood, unconditional love, and the quest of following your dreams come through clearly in this beautiful retelling of this much loved classic novel.  



Genre: drama
Rating: PG-13
Release date: 9/28/18
Studio: Pinnacle Peak
Talent: Lea Thompson (BACK TO THE FUTURE), Sarah Davenport, Lucas Grabeel (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL), Ian Bohen, Bart Johnson (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL).



Ticket info here.

Take the quiz! Which March Sister are you?












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  • Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Rambling on about books...and a movie ticket giveaway! Little Women: A Modern Retelling

    My idea was to share how this love affair began.  You see, I was going to write just a bit about my passion for all things books. After a bit of rambling on about my love of books, I was then going to find a way to segue from talking about a classic I read as a young girl to introducing a movie that is a modern retelling of said classic...releasing in theaters later this month...Little Women: A Modern Retelling.

    Photo courtesy of Official Facebook Page for LITTLE WOMEN,
    a modern adaptation of the classic book Louisa May Alcott
    But the 'just a bit' became several paragraphs and was on track for becoming a full-blown article...without mention of the movie. No surprise there. So I've decided to just talk just a bit about the movie here.
    She is too fond of books, it has turned her brain.   
                                 ~Louisa May Alcott
    I can totally relate to that quote! Books like Little Women tend to make us stop and take a deeper look at the way we view ourselves and the world around us. Books have deeply impacted my sense of right and wrong, taken me on exciting adventures to new lands, and given me insight into the way others think that is profoundly different than my own way of thinking. Reading has shown me glimpses of characters who portrayed such traits as valor or courage or chivalry. 
    But enough about books for now...


    You can check back later to read the article on my love of books and how it all began and where it has taken me. 

    Also, next week I will have a review of the movie on the blog...so if you haven't made up your mind to see it, be sure to check back here to see if it sounds like your cup of tea. 

    In the meantime, I'm running a giveaway!! Be sure to enter below for your chance to win a $25 Fandango e-gift card, redeemable for LITTLE WOMEN!

    It's the 150th Anniversary of Little Women, which makes it the perfect time for the release of a new film adaptation of this beloved classic.

    Little Women releases in Theaters nationwide September 28, 2018. 
    Get your ticket info here: Little Women Ticket Information. 

    Watch the trailer here...



    Happy Birthday, LITTLE WOMEN!!! Let's Celebrate!! Be sure to enter below for your chance to win!!


    a Rafflecopter giveaway  
    Note: only US-based giveaway winners are eligible due to Fandango limitations in Canada and outside the US.

    Just for fun take this QUIZ to find out which March sister you are!
    Little Women: Find Your Sister Quiz

    See you at the movies! 
     #LittleWomenL3

    Thursday, September 6, 2018

    Healed By Grace 2...Review & Movie DVD Giveaway


    Overview

    Studio: Blended Planet
    Genre: Family/Drama
    Rating: NR/Dove Approved: All Ages 
    Run Time: 1:32
    Release Dates: 8/20/18 Digital, 9/18/18 DVD.  
    Talent: Sean Young, Kennedy Martin, Natalie Weese, David Matthew Weese

    About

    Jesse is approaching her 15th birthday and the only gift she desires is a horse. 
    Unbeknownst to Jesse, her mother Brandy is in the throes of a cancer diagnosis which has Jesse's father jumping through unexpected obstacles. He signs Jesse up for summer camp, but when summer camp falls through he decides to have her stay with her estranged grandfather, an old gruff horse trainer named Gauff. Gauff, still recovering from the death of a special horse named Grace, now faces the challenges of teen negotiation. Gauff finds he must swallow his pride and ask his daughter Brandy for forgiveness. A humorous and inspiring story of how Grace works in mysterious ways. 

    Themes

    • Forgiveness
    • Reconciliation
    • Faith


    Available now on Digital. Available on DVD 9/18/18! 
    Purchase your copy here: Healed By Grace 2 DVD 

    Official Movie Trailer


    My Review


    Healed By Grace 2 is the second in a film series set in an inspirational equestrian training setting.  While the movie begins by establishing Jesse's love of horses, it quickly gets into the tricky problem of dealing with a cancer scare for Jesse's mother, Brandy. Brandy doesn't want to let Jesse know about the possible cancer diagnosis until she has had time to go through diagnostic testing to establish whether it is cancer or not. So, they begin making plans to send Jesse to camp in order to give them time to work things out.

    I don't want to retell the entire story in my review so I will just say that things begin to get a bit more complicated as Jesse's dad works on taking care of not only Jesse's situation with camp but also Brandy's need to take care of some emotional baggage in her own healing process with the cancer.  And it all becomes entangled with an old horse trainer named Gauff and a horse named Grace. 


    The Takeaway


    Again, as I said in my last movie review, like so many other movies within this genre there is a certain level of predictability. And some of the humor is a bit too cheesy for me...particularly the Christian camp director who Jesse's dad first spoke with. He was a bit too caricature-ish for me. 

    That said, I would still recommend this movie as a good family movie. While it handles some serious subject matter, there is also a good amount of humor to lighten it up. 

    I believe that there is value in watching movies with our children that handle difficult topics with grace. It can provide opportunities to discuss life's tuff stuff with our kids. In this case, there is family division, divorce, and cancer. But even more so the movie points out the importance of reconciliation, the role forgiveness plays in our healing both spiritually and physically, and the importance of unity within the family. 

    This film will encourage you to trust "...that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."  


    Here's the fun news! I have a flash giveaway! 
    Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win not just one, but two DVD's! The original Healed By Grace and Healed By Grace 2 


    No purchase is necessary to enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Must live in the United States and be 18+ or older to enter. Must use a valid email address to enter. Winners will be notified by email used on the entry form and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.  


    HURRY!! CONTEST ENDS  September 10th!


    As a contributor for the Lev3L digital Influencer Program, I offer my honest opinion. I am not monetarily compensated, but I get to run the free DVD combo contest and receive a free DVD combo set for myself. So that's a possible win for you and a win-win for me! 
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Grab some popcorn and enjoy the movie!
    #HealedByGrace2L3 


    Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    Daily Question For You & Your Child | More Than A Review

    I don't usually do straight up book reviews here on the blog. However, I do love to post an occasional Interview With The Author article. I work with some publishing companies and authors to help promote books and movies from time to time. I can assure you that I only recommend those products, whether movies or books, that I can honestly get behind. My heart in sharing these things with you is to give you resources to help you to grow and continue to pursue all that you were created to be. I will only promote products that I personally use and/or that I believe will add value to you, my readers, and will further the Kingdom building message and purpose of my site.

    With that in mind,  I want to introduce you to a book I have had the privilege to preview. I believe this little book is a precious opportunity for parents to create lasting memories with their children. The Daily Question For You And Your Child: A 3-Year Spiritual Journey. 


    Publisher's Synopsis:

    A fun, thought-provoking 365-question guided journal and keepsake that sparks daily interaction with your child to create a memory book capturing your child's life, personality, and faith journey.

    This interactive prompted journey allows a parent to create a keepsake of three years of their child's life. By answering each of the 365 questions together on the same date each year, readers will get a unique and precious picture into their child's feelings, development, and personality. Some of the questions focus
    on spirituality and the child's heart, while some are meant to capture their creativity, spirit, and sense of humor. All questions spark conversations and memories that span well beyond the pages of this book.


    My thoughts:

    As a woman who has two grown children, I can tell you that I wish I had something like this book when they were little to prompt me to write down some of their precious thoughts on...well...so many things. 

    We all think we will remember the cute, funny or sometimes profound words that spring forth from our children's mouths but as time passes so do those memories. Our recall becomes questionable...how did they say that again? Oh...it was sooo cute! Or perhaps their words revealed just who God created them to be...their creativity or industriousness, or their tender heart. By the time they reach their teens we sometimes have to dig to find that tender heart again. 

    As an adult, I wish that my mother had written down more to recapture the essence of who I was as a child. I believe that when we are very young before the world has had a chance to tell us who it thinks we should be, we are who God created us to be, even though getting fully there is a process yet to have taken place. All of those inclinations, tendencies, dreams are there...until someone comes along and tells us how childish, silly and impractical we are being. And begins to extinguish the dreams our Creator placed in our heart and spirit.  Or as one author put it,
    Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. 
    ~Ann Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups
    Now I don't necessarily believe I have turned into someone I was not meant to be...but I can see how the obstacles along the way have put roadblocks in my way to feeling completely secure in who I was created to be.  And perhaps have kept me from fully realizing all that God created me to be. I'm still on that quest.

    Getting back to the book at hand. I believe that this is a great tool to create a beautiful keepsake not only for the parent's but for the child as he/she grows into adulthood. One that will be treasured.  

    This is a quality little hardback book with a pocket on the front cover of the book where you can place a photo of your child, and even change it out with each year. I would recommend getting one book for each of your children. You can record their words when they are young and as they are able they can write down their own answers. 

    I love the questions! They are thoughtful and have the potential to prompt great conversations. Some questions are just fun and silly, while others are thought-provoking and have the potential to reveal your child's heart as you listen to their answer. The questions could be read at the dinner table each day or at bedtime each night.  Or whenever it works best for you. They are so simple that if you miss a few days it would be easy to just ask a few questions at one time to get caught back up. 

    Take a look at this photo of a two-page spread from the book. 



    There are 365 Questions, here is just a handful:


    • Who do you think needs a hug today?
    • If you could spend an hour as any animal, what animal would you pick? 
    • Do you prefer to build snowmen or have snowball fights?
    • If you could ask Jesus a question, what would you ask him?
    • What makes you sad?
    • What is something you'd like to know how to make?
    • What do you wish I did more of?
    • What do you wish you could spend less time doing?
    • If you could meet someone from the Bible, who would it be?
    • What is the first memory you can think of?
    • What is hard for you right now? How can I help you with it?
    Some who have reviewed this book have stated that the drawback, like so many other things begun with good intentions, is that it has the potential to be just one more thing on our already too long list of to-dos.  But I think it is something so precious it is well worth the effort to get this book and begin making memories with your child.   

    It's time to slow down in this crazy media driven world. Take time to sit down at the dinner table with your family, put the phones away, and talk to one another. Ask questions and listen...really listen to your loved ones as they answer. Don't tell them what or how to think, but listen to their hearts. You might just begin to understand why you have been given the privilege of having this child pass through you into this world. You did not create their destiny even though they share your DNA. Listening to the way they process these questions just might give you an idea of the inclinations of their heart.  

    Parents, we are not the ones who created these precious ones who have been given into our care. No, they are the offspring of our heavenly Father, their spiritual Creator...just as you and I are. So listen and learn, so that you can be a part of the legacy that HE wants to leave with this world through the lives of our children. Be the guide in their lives to help steer the inclinations of their heart toward their Creator so they will grow fully into the man or woman God created them to be. 

    God has given us an awesome responsibility.  Let's use all we can to help us accomplish His purposes for our children. 

    I'm not saying this book is the end all to good parenting...not at all. I just think that it might be another small tool (and a fun one) to help us along the parenting journey. 

    My plans for this book? I'll be ordering a second book to give as gifts to my grandsons, Judah and Eli, for Christmas.

    You can order your copy here: The Daily Question for You and Your Child: A Three-Year Spiritual Journal

    I hope that this book helps to create some very special memories for you and your child! 





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    Tuesday, July 3, 2018

    5 Battle Ready Tools To Help In Hard Moments | Kelly Balarie | Guest Post

    I'm so excited to have Kelly Balarie, author, speaker, fear fighter, and faith cheerleader guest post on the blog today. Kelly gives us a glimpse of what it means to be "battle ready" by giving us 5 tools to help in hard times. 

    The enemy of your soul wants nothing more than to jump into your weakest moments and ambush your faith, leaving you weak and exhausted and doubting the Lord's love for you. Don't wait for that to happen. In her latest book, Kelly provides a variety of biblical truths to renew the mind, exercises to boost hope, and habit altering strategies to equip and prepare us to be ready to stand firm when the attacks come...even to experience peace in the midst of the mess.

    Kelly gives us the tools to equip our heart, spirit, and mind to be Battle Ready.

    So grab a cup of coffee/tea and join us. I hope that you are blessed by her words today!  

    Oh...and Battle Ready releases today!! Congrats to you, Kelly on the birth of this beautiful book-baby!! 
    Follow the links in the post below to get your copy today!!

                                                                By: Kelly Balarie

    She didn't so much as say hi to me. In fact, even worse, she walked right past me, looking the other direction. She pretended I wasn't there. Hmph!! After all I've done for her. After all I've given her. After how I've gone out of my way to love her. 

    Now I'm the one left looking like a crazed waving-at-the-air fool.  Like - an idiot.

    humph at her husband along the way to my church seat. Silently, I critique her in my mind, She's rude. Before not too long, I get side-tracked by own thoughts: Everyone always hurts me. Like that boy, I asked to dance in 4th grade. Like those girls who circled up to whisper about me in that damp locker room. Like the group of women who act like they're far better than me.

    I'm supposed to be listening in church, but who can listen, thinking about all this, all of them!?

    Here, I find myself, in the heat of a horrible battle. You can always tell if you're in the heat-of-a-battle. Almost instantly, your soul-crushing problem magnifies 100x larger than your promise-keeping God. Suddenly, you're standing weaponless, in all-out combat within your own mind. Hardly able to win.

    Ever been there?

    I've struggled through a lot – through massive health-scares, depression, an eating disorder, financial debt and relationship-severing dramas. Battles. Huge, hard-fought battles, loaded with momentary decisions of pain, struggle, and uncertainty.

    I remember the time:

    1. The doctor returned to the room with the clipboard saying, "You really might have Mulitple Sclerosis."
    I thought: How do I keep my thoughts close to God with this kind of news?
    2. My colicky newborn made me pace my hallways 24-7. Sleepless, hardly-thinking and powerless to change my health-situation, I didn't know what to do.  
    I thought: How do I still love people when my whole life is unraveling?

    3. A family member called me to say I really should get on setting up long-term care for myself.
    I thought: How do I deal with the fact all my dreams will now look different than I thought?

    Through all this, I realized, real wisdom is having a battle-plan.

    Let’s talk about Christ-centered battle-plan preparedness. Begin by asking yourself: What am I currently facing?

    Identifying your main struggles (resentment, regret, trauma, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, fear) is to allow God to help you win your battle. For example, for me, underneath that issue with the girl, was an old war full of rejection, humiliation, and abandonment from years past. Underneath, were old battles I’d lost – because they were left unaddressed. Therefore, they left me with resentment towards God.

    Seeing our battles for what they are, gives us a clear-cut strategy to fight - and win.  It also removes all the pent-up offenses that, like plaque, cover our heart.

    What about you? Do you emotionally respond to happenings set before you or do you wisely act based on God’s Word and promises?

    Today, you can fight your battle a new way. Consider:

    1. Asking God what feelings of fear, worry, anger, resentment, neglect and hurt He desires you give to him.
    2. Giving those hurts to Jesus, by saying, "Jesus, I am not meant to carry these. Forgive me. They've hurt me for far too long. I know and believe you have peace, joy, life, and freedom for me as I give you these things."
    3. Blessing any women who have hurt you.
    4. Reframing your moments of hurt. (Example: when she passed by me quickly, she was probably was in a rush, she might have had something to do or she lost in thought)
    5. Returning to a heart of love. (Example: Thank you God that you love me and I can love others. In fact, I can love the very person who hurt me by ___.)

    This is the start of being Battle Ready. There truly are practical insights, wise biblical instructions and truths that can help you rise above the mayhem of trials, and hardships. You can find the light of Christ and step into all God has for you. 

    The victory belongs to the Lord. Isn’t it time you began to make room for it?


    About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind To Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously

    "The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy's tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!"
    Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence building mind-sets to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You'll gain practical wisdom, like how to

    • make new habits stick in just five steps
    • disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
    • exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
    • implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
    • create boundaries so you live life full of what matters

    Buy Battle Ready here: https://amzn.to/2Ng6xEu


    To get Battle Ready freebies - printables, devotional reminders, a customizable daily Battle Plan and the Find Your Battle Style quiz, visit: www.Iambattleready.com


    To order the companion Prayer Journal that will help you take a practical approach to change your thoughts, then your life, visit here: Battle Ready Prayer Journal: A Simple 3-Month Battle Plan to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt, 





    Kelly Balarie, an author, and national speaker is on a mission to encourage others not to give up. Through times of extreme testing, Kelly believes there is hope for every woman, every battle and in every circumstance. She shares this hope on her blog, Purposeful Faith, and on many writing publications such as Relevant, Crosswalk, and Today's Christian Woman. Kelly's work has been featured on The Today Show, 700 Club Interactive, Moody Radio and other television and radio broadcasts. When Kelly is not writing, she is chilling at the beach with her husband, a latte, and 2- toddlers who rightfully demand she build them awesome castles. 

    You can find Kelly here:
    Website    Facebook    Twitter    Pinterest    Instagram
    ________________________________________________________________________________


    I have found through the years that yes... life is hard, but God truly is good. It can be hard to hold onto that truth in the midst of a battle. In Kelly's book, Battle Ready, she gives us the tools to stand firm in the midst of the mess and the conflicts of life.

    If you have questions for Kelly, please leave them in the comment section below.




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    *Affiliate links in this post: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases. This helps me to update and improve my site and keep it running.  Regardless, I will only promote products that I personally use and that I believe will add value to my readers and further the Kingdom building message and purpose of my site. Thank you!

    Thursday, June 14, 2018

    Where is the Joy?


    I'm having one of those days.

    You know. The kind where I have a to-do list that needs tending to, but my active thoughts are in a completely different hemisphere. Do you ever have those days? The list looming, while the brain just wants to sit and ruminate on something the Lord has been speaking to you? And then you know you need to get it all written down because that same brain is capable of completely deleting the current revelations that won't let you go?

    It's pretty bad for me today.

    I went to grab a notepad off my desk to write down something the Holy Spirit has been whispering to me in my reading time for two days now, and the words I see at the top of the first page on the notepad read: In Christ. And so I think, "Sweet! The Lord is just waiting for me to write this down right on this very notepad" ...and then at second glance, I realize it actually says: Thin Crust.
    Yep...it was the first line in a list I had written for ordering pizza for the family one night two weeks ago.

    Yep...one of those days.

    So, while the list has been made...not the pizza list, the to-do list...and the laundry is started, I want to tell you a bit about what God has been whispering to me. And while you might think, "why would I care what God is saying to you?" I think some of this is universal to us all. If you are having any kind of struggle with where God has you right now. If you are wondering what's next. If you are even thinking, "I would be so much more content if _________ happened." You might want to hear some of what God has been whispering. When He whispers, I tend to lean in...just a bit closer because I don't want to miss it.

    Let me back up a bit...I believe it actually started with a dream. Now I don't dream very often, and when I do I don't tend to remember details...especially days after the dream occurs. So, when this happens I take note. Literally. I write it down in my journal. Yes, it might have just been indigestion from the pizza I had the night before or it could have just been from concerns of the day working themselves out in my dreams. But I write them down because every so often they are confirmed to have been a prompting or nudging or just flat out a message from the Holy Spirit.

    So, bear with me as I share what I wrote in my journal that morning:
    May 3, 2108. Thursday
     I had a dream last night that won't leave my thoughts.
    Scene one: A man came to stay with us, but I somehow was not prepared. The room he was supposed to stay in looked pretty much like our toy room...a wall to wall mess! I was mortified! Rod (the hubs) was not happy. And the next thing that happens? I just walk away...apparently feeling powerless, not knowing what to do. I left Rod with the guest. 
    Scene two: I was standing in front of a long rack of clothes looking for something appropriate to wear to a meeting I was to attend...church meeting? conference? I don't even know, but apparently, we were all going this event. So I picked out an outfit and shoes and put them on. 
    Scene three: At the event, I meet with this man again, our guest. I think perhaps he was the speaker at the event, but I don't remember anything other than meeting him there.
    Scene four:  Back at the house, apparently following the event.  I walked back into the guest room to find it immaculate. Everything had been picked up and put away. The hardwood floors were spotless (in real life our guest bedroom has carpeting and no toys on the floor). The small bed in the corner of the room had been neatly made (in real life we have a queen bed in the guest room). And suddenly I realized that the clothes that I had worn to the meeting/event were off somehow...like maybe they were inappropriate for the weather and I had two different shoes on. 
    I know...weird, right?

    In my journal, I had followed the dream by writing down a few thoughts:
     Is this just a random dream from my subconscious? Maybe about getting the house in order as we prepare for a possible move late summer or early fall? Worry about not being ready?
    (Side note: we are currently renting so a move closer to the church would make so much more sense).
    Or perhaps this is from God. Do I need to prepare for the next thing He has for me?
    I really had no clue what it all meant. But I knew in writing it down that I would be able to return to it if need be, when...and if...the Lord began to confirm its meaning through other events.

    Just 7 days later I wrote these words in my journal:
    May 10, 2018. Thursday p.m. 
                           WHERE IS THE JOY?!? 

    That was it. Just three words. I honestly don't even remember what happened to prompt me to write those words down, but apparently, at the time something had occurred that made me question God.

    You see, in the past two years, I have had multiple people prophesy over me that God is going to restore my joy. I thought...what? I have joy! I'm not a 'joyless' person.  

    And then it occurred to me... when I was younger I had so much more joy that it was evident to others around me.  My mama would tell me that I was such a happy little girl that I would go around singing all the time. In my teens, an older gentleman in the choir at my church nicknamed me Happy. Even my husband has told me that I don't sing around the house the way I used to. I realized that I'm not THAT joy-filled girl anymore. What happened?

    A song is playing in my head. Cue the song, Where is the Love? sung by Roberta Flack. Only in my head, I am hearing the word love replaced with the word joy.


    Where is the joy?
    You said was mine all mine, 'till the end of time
    Was it just a lie?
    Where is the joy?
     I know ...I know! The rest of the song is totally inappropriate to my point. Still...it's on replay in my brain. And so I cry out with the words of the psalmist, "Restore to me the joy of my salvation!"

    Sometimes,  life creeps in...disappointment, unmet expectation, family illness, death, you name it...bringing with it all the drama and trauma to destroy our boundless joy in the Lord. It can happen...and the boundless energy that joy brings is replaced with a 'tired' that just sits in your bones. You know what I mean? Even though we are relatively happy and still trusting in the goodness of God...that bone aching weariness can set in and steal our joy.  I was and am still...aching and waiting for my joy to be restored.

    So you may be asking, "What does this have to do with what God is speaking to you? or What's with that weird dream?" And quite frankly, so am I!  But bear with me. The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. I think God is beginning to make some of this clear. And with what's not clear?  I'll just choose to trust Him with that.

    I consulted with my daughter, who has a bit more wisdom and experience with prophetic dream interpretation and she said shoes indicate something about 'direction' in life...as in the direction of the path I am going, or the focus of that direction. Makes sense. In Ephesians, we read that shoes represent readiness.
    And as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.                    ~Ephesians 6:15
    Perhaps the mismatched shoes indicate more than one path and a struggle in knowing which direction to take. The whole scenario that played out in my dream seems to indicate that I'm at a crossroads in my life,  maybe even being pulled in two different directions or more. But I'm not ready to step forward yet...I'm not prepared for the next thing. But how do I prepare for something when I don't even know what I am preparing for?

    After much contemplation over all of this, I heard from the Lord again, directly from His Word...
    Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. ~Ecclesiastes 9:10


    Wow...this really resonated with me. Do what I can with what is in my hand. 

    So I began to contemplate the question: What is in my hand?  

     Maybe this was the answer to the direction my life is to take and in taking this direction the Lord is going to restore my joy.


    And what is in my hand?
    • Wife, mama, and Gigi (to two amazing grand-boys).
    • Caregiver to our mildly disabled son
    • A joint venture in a re-church plant with my husband as lead pastor, my daughter as Creative Arts Worship Pastor, son-in-law who volunteers as a youth sponsor and teacher, and my son joining in where he can be ministering in ways that only he can with the way God has woven the effects of his disability, the strong convictions of his faith, and his love for others together to touch the hearts of so many.
    • Overseeing and Co-leading a (small) women's ministry as well as leading a Propel Women Chapter.  
    • Years of experience as a Voice Teacher/Vocal Coach...currently using my gifts in this area as a vocalist and keyboardist with our worship team.
    • Writer/ blogger 
    • Teacher...more specifically a Bible Teacher, although I am not currently leading any Bible Studies...lest you think I am doing too much. 

    But here's the thing. I still don't really know that I am to do something specific...a specific vocation, or ministry or just a specific new direction at this juncture in my life. I am still praying and asking for clarity. When I take a look at 'what is in my hand' I feel a tad bit overwhelmed, because it's not that I'm sitting around doing nothing, after all.

    Still...it begs the question. Is there an assignment that I am missing or am I to be focusing on something that I am already doing...something that will restore the joy? 

    Or maybe...just maybe, I'm already doing the doing that I am to be doing...I'm just missing the joy to be found in the waiting.  And we come back to joy...where is the joy? I know ultimately the answer is found in Christ. 

    But...and there's that.  And that needs to be walked out. 

    Oh...there's more...but I think this I need to stew on this a while longer. I hope you'll stick around as I walk this out.

    In the meantime, I would love to know your thoughts on this subject. How would you answer these questions?
    • What's in your hand? List the things that are on your plate right now. 
    • What skills, giftings, or experiences can you add to that list?
    • Has God given you a specific assignment for this season in your life? 
    • Do you find joy in the daily grind? Or joy in spite of the daily grind? 
    Let's continue the conversation. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.





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