“He who is not busy living is busy dying” Bob Dylan

lucy complains

Sometimes it helps to look back to where it all started. We humans do something that no other living thing has the the ability to – complain and despair. Eventually it dawns on us that nothing changes as a result. You have probably heard of the idea of keeping a gratitude journal, an effective way to break this bad habit. A journal implies consistency, which produces habit.

For me, remembering that time when I awoke to the truth that I do a miserable job of running my own life. That realization required me to admit what none of us wants to – that however hard I may work at being a good person, I will always fail. No one has ever lived life without failure. Why? Because we are not wired for perfection, just for the longing for it. Is that a cruel joke of some kind? Not at all! It is the very element that causes humans to look Godward.

wrong way sign

We are all just living dead before that moment when we decide to let the Divine live in us. Here is a poem I wrote about my awakening.


Head to toe bruised,

bones broken

yet walking!

Hidden sores

not yet healed.

Suddenly under the soaring

white of the

Spirit’s light

I am revealed

And am amazed.

So I really wasn’t

doing so well, I really

didn’t come through

strong and whole!

I really don’t know how

to entrust, to the

tender care of another,

my soul.

Why, and how,

have I

been walking around

like I’m all okay?

It’s time to set the clock back,

leap in the river,

fall upon the hem,

go the other way

And tear these

grave clothes off!

                                                                                      © Janet McDonald

Grave clothes





Let my every day be a dawn

graciously sweeping down

The hillside in the still;

sweet not just to Thee

but to all who fall

upon my path.

Let drink who will  

as my face turned up and

warmed, as cup I lift

to see You fill, and

cool, clear, living water spill

© Janet McDonald                                             waterpouringintogoblet

A Cup of Joy?


 What is joy? Let’s start with our usual definition, according to Webster.

  • “A feeling of great happiness.
  • “A source or cause of great happiness”
  • “Something or someone that gives joy to someone”
  • “Success in doing, finding or getting something”

So, do we have to depend on something or someone causing our joy?  If so, then it certainly is elusive.  Is it a feeling, like happiness, maybe intensified?  Look around at random faces.  Can you see joy reflected there?  Eavesdrop on passing conversations.  What  tone do you hear?


God has not promised us happiness. He has told us that we will have trouble in the world.

The Greek word chara is the word translated as joy. Some say it would better be translated as rejoice. Joy is a noun, a thing. It implies passivity on the part of the person. What is the hope of ever experiencing joy if it depends on what happens in our life? Rejoice is a verb, an action on the part of the person. But how do we rejoice?

The act of rejoicing is a direct result of grace. The word chara is related to a root word charis, meaning grace. Grace is abiding, it does not come and go. It is always with us because of forgiveness. So then, joy is dependent on one thing only, and it remains whether life is showering us with blessing, or immersing us in sorrow.

Grace is why Nehemiah could proclaim that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Neh. 8:10

We are also told that joy is the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit is a collection of virtues that are produced by our walk with Him, and our obedience to the Word. Fruit is produced as a natural process of the tree or vine from which it comes forth. The Holy Spirit is our process. He produces that fruit.

apples on tree

So then, is it possible to practice joy? Not really. But it is possible to practice rejoicing. Self-reminders of that work of Grace that infused us with the life-quickening Spirit the instant we responded to that Grace.

How to Rejoice

  • Remember Grace:

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7

  • Express thankfulness:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Phil. 4:6

  • Sing:

I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Enter into His gates with singing and His courts with praise. Psalm 100:4

  • Trust

Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation…

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. Psalm 146:2-7

The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. Prov. 29;:25

  • Serve

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Gal. 5:13

  • Surrender

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Col. 3:2

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Tim. 2:3,4 

I am only beginning to understand this, and it has taken many sorrows to get here.  Yes, it is not because of the many happiness-inducing things in my life, but sorrow.  Having a good family, or good friends brings happiness, but relationships can fracture, people leave or die. Sweet little children grow up and become drug addicts. Having a career I loved made me happy, until I was let go.  Owning my first home ever at the age of 50 was thrilling, but then a set of unfortunate circumstances caused us to lose it.  

Fortunes are lost, beautiful people grow old, the glory of man fades.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires devour entire homes and towns; cars crash, companies fail, crime happens.  We are always saying to ourselves “why me, why now, what did I ever do to deserve this?”   As if we were taught that life is fair and we will never suffer loss or sorrow.  What entitles any of us to only good fortune?  Why are we angry at God every time, or at the least, bewildered?  

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? Psalm 2:1

If we are good at it, we will look for God in all these circumstances; we will listen to his voice of comfort.  

 He does not expect us to despair.  If you are hurting or suffering, feeling blinded on the path, join me, share your own insight.  I will pray for you to open that treasure box that is hidden deep inside of sorrow.


Holes in the Sky

wpid-img_385312276033566.jpeg Not theologically sound, but a very real experience in the human drama of life and death!  Perhaps we all have had a Charlie Brown moment. Is it not a self- comforting action when we say “I know he or she is watching over me”? Some think of them as angels, assigned to look after them. Have you heard any of the countless stories of inexplicable occurrences that seem as If they are messages from loved ones? Consider http://blog.godreports.com/2012/06/when-god-sends-signs-in-the-natural-world-after-the-death-of-a-loved-one/  an account written by Mark Ellis about his friend. Bereavement is not conducive to preaching or platitudes. It is that time after the sudden blast of the storm when one rides out the menacing turbulence with courage and whatever is at hand. Should one find comfort in seeing their lost one twinkling at them in the skies, we listen.  We who know Christ are not without hope. We know where our lost ones have gone. Yet, being human, we somehow need something to hold onto that keeps that sense of connectedness.  Keepsakes, photos, letters, memories.  These are symbols of the connection we had. And now we can no longer speak to, embrace, laugh or cry with. Our finite humanness urges us to find something  that now connects us between heaven and earth. We seek to fill the hole in our heart, the absence in our life. And sometimes we peek through holes in the sky.



wpid-amie-and-joey.jpg.jpegAmie July 13th, Sunday, Amie went to heaven. Bekah called crying to say that Amie flipped her car and she didn’t make it. “What! Wait What?” Jim bolted up from the bed faster than he ever moves. “She didn’t make it. She is in the morgue Dad!” Bekah cried out, emotion charging her voice and dragging it into sobs. They cried in tandem, agreeing to hang up. My dear man wailed, calling out for Amie, as his heart was tearing apart from the depths of his soul like angry waves crashing violently upon rock. Time sped away, vacuumed into the silence of eternity where only the moment exists. It feels as if this moment is all there ever was or ever will be. In such moments one’s entire being, every cell, desperately seeks reason. It screams for reason. But the soul already tested by the One who is eternity, hesitates. That soul has developed an alarm control that wraps itself around the human torment, gently whispering, infusing the moment with hope. It does not leave one suspended in that terrifying place alone. The wails became sobs. Sobs became punctuated with expressions of trust. ” He will yet again deliver and exalt them. They are truly blessed, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33 : 27

Why Follow God?

IMG_20140717_135000There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.  Job 1:1

…and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. Job 1:3

Most of us can only dream of the financial wealth and good reputation that Job enjoyed.  Yet none of that, not even the blessing of family,  distracted him from his devotion to God.

Enter Satan. He who was Lucifer, brilliant son of the morning, high in heavenly rank. Lucifer,  “light-bearer”, and the anointed musician.

You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  Ezekiel 28 : 12  Every precious stone was your covering……the  workmanship of your timbres and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were blameless in your ways… Ezekiel 28:13 NKJV. You were the anointed cherub who covers… Ezekiel 28 : 14 NKJV

And he was cast out. He who was most highly blessed by the Creator lost it all. For what reason?

By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within…your heart was lifted up because of your beauty…you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…Ezekiel 28 : 17 NKJV

Lucifer was more consumed with his talent, beauty, position, and God’s blessings, than with God.

Two beings, both richly blessed. One the greatest among men of his time, the other once the greatest of angels.   One devoted to God, the other devoted to destruction of all who love God, a love he did not possess.

“Why does Job serve you?” Satan challenged. He made the presumption that, like himself, Job served because of blessings. He assumes that humans will only follow God if He blesses them; that they will turn away if He allows loss and tragedy to enter their lives.

And, to a degree, he is sadly right. Many have been taught or have become convinced that God is mean by not stopping or preventing sorrows and tragedy. People are so easily outraged, throwing accusations heavenward, for atrocities in world. Or they believe that  “a God of love would never let that happen” thereby implying that God is not a loving God.

What do you think?

I think  “who am I to rail against God if my life is unpredictable, if what I have gets taken, if worldly blessing does not flow continuously?”

Let’s go deeper. Assuming He allows pain, then why?  And how does it translate to love?