Seeking Joy

A lesson in life

It seems as though we are never where we ought to be.

We are not in our desired location. We live in an apartment instead of a home.  We are working a job we had far from dreamed up for ourselves.  We live far from family.  We don’t own nice enough things.  We had kids too soon.  We find we can’t have children.  We live in an old house.  We live in a stressful, busy area.  We live in the middle of nowhere.  We are not with the man of our dreams.  We can’t afford the things we want.  We are rich but without love.  We don’t have loyal friends.  We are lonely.  We are too young.  We are too old.  We are too sick.  We are too tired.  We are busy.  We are bored.

It seems we always have too much or too little.

This life lesson is not my own.  It is one being taught all around the world at different times.  The message is this:  seek joy.

A few months ago I was hit with a revelation.  For a few months Josh and I spent a lot of time praying about the next place and the next thing.  We were praying for a home where we could be more at peace, have a garden, have a safe place for the dogs to run, and have a studio for me and maybe even some chickens.  I have a BIG desire to work towards self-sustainable living while growing and working out in nature.  To me this looks like living in farm country with a little house and a lot of land that is conveniently not too far out that I can’t have clients do shoots at the house.

Finally, God answered my prayers and, as always, not in the way I expected.  Josh was gone in Nashville and the first or second day into fending for myself I found myself praying in the middle of the living room when God slapped me upside the face with a vision for our home.  His answer was to stay.  Not particularly what I was looking for but suddenly he showed me how to transform our space into a home and into something we can begin the fulfilling of our dreams.

I had also started fervently praying about my dreams to write and do photojournalism.  I fell in love with both in high school and since then my dream has been to work for magazines like National Geographic.  The dream has since evolved from working as an employee to the company to working freelance for them as a photographer and writing children’s books when I’m off and home.  This dream He suddenly spoke words of hope and direction into.

Three months later I hear a message at Poplar Creek Church, where Josh leads worship on occasion, about seeking joy.  It was the last message of the advent season and it kind of drove this last phase of personal transformation home for me.  This fall to winter season has given me life.  My dreams have taken flight again and I’m living in a home I adore in addition to being adored by my family and making a living doing something I enjoy.

And I had also spent the past three years complaining about where I lived and what life circumstances I found myself in.  It was not my plan to get married.  I thought I would dive deep into National Geographic and maybe meet someone in some exotic land and fall in love and do photography together or something.  It also was not my plan to stay in Illinois.  Unfortunately this is my area of biggest complaint and I’m ashamed to say I spent too much time looking forward to getting out of this busy place rather than using all I had to make the best of it.  Because, fact is, when God plants you somewhere he has a lesson for you to learn and he wants you to learn to thrive wherever he places you.  And so now I have finally learned to thrive in this home and in this place that God has planted us.

I have finished transforming our home so I now have a studio that I hold meetings with clients and sessions, Josh has a music studio space, we have been given permission by our landlord to break ground for a garden in the spring, and I will soon be asking about chickens 😉  The solution to the dog’s safe running space is taking a trip to the back of the neighborhood where there is a park for them to run safe and free to their heart’s content.

I have also begun pursuing my dreams again.  In 2013 I am working towards National Geographic by going on one of their expeditions to rebuild my portfolio in order to present a coffee table book to them of my work to win their hearts and an internship with them.  From there the dream is freelance.  As for my book, I started a book called Antler Elf last winter and for 2013 I will finish it, find the illustrator of my dreams, and try my heart out for a publisher.

These are the ways I set out to seek joy where I am and I have found it abundantly.

It’s not the thing bringing us joy, it’s God.  So, rather than seeking joy for ourselves in the things we think we most enjoy we should seek it in the path God has before us.

If you want to seek joy in your life bring your heart to God.  All you have to do is open yourself up to Him and ask where he is leading you and what he has planned for you.  When you align your heart with His it is there you will find abounding joy.  And I speak from experience.

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