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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finding JOY in the Rain

My family and I are on a camping trip during our kid's spring break. We thought it would be fun to go to the highest peak in Arkansas and set up camp for a few days. Hiking, fishing, and family time around a campfire sounded like a great idea when we were making plans. But we didn't bargain for the rain. And a flooded tent. And wet food. And grumpy kids. Where do you find joy in the rain?

Today we look at the second fruit of the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22, 23: JOY. How do we find joy in stepfamily life when our plans get rained on?

It's not easy but I think it starts with our focus. We can choose to stay focused on our negative surroundings or find nuggets of positive change. We can make the best of difficult circumstances or stay fixated on our problems.

As a child, I learned an acronym for JOY that can be applied as an adult:

J - Jesus

If we focus on Jesus first, Others second, and ourselves last, we can find joy in our circumstances. Jf we look to Jesus for help and guidance, we gain wisdom in our decisions. If we consider our stepchildren's needs over our own, we build long-term relationships.

Joy describes an inner peace and sense of satisfaction that can be attained, regardless of our circumstances. We may not be happy with rebellious teen-agers or disappointing report cards, but we can experience joy in our heart as we look to the Lord for answers.

James 1:2 tells us to, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." Trials are hard and long at times, but the end result is good when we develop character that sustains us for what lies ahead.

Our camping trip didn't turn out as we'd hoped. Sleeping in the tent another night was inconceivable with drenched sleeping bags and a leaking tarp. So, we chose to start home a day early, looking toward a movie and nice dinner out. Since we couldn't change our surroundings, we chose another route as we sought to find joy in the midst of disappointment.

I'm certain we will experience rain again on our stepfamily journey. It may be a drizzle or a downpour. But we can experience JOY in the midst of it if we maintain the proper focus.

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