When a nurse calls early and says she has the results of the chest x-ray, I’m standing in the kitchen.

A kitchen of muffin tins and cracked eggs and two frying pans and the bacon already gone.

She puts me on hold to get the file.

I scratch away at the glass splattered stovetop with a razor, as if there’s this way — this way to cut things right down to the bone.

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The nurse gets back on the phone and talks about those x-rays I had over the weekend and I’m wondering why in the world getting breakfast for three starving teenagers, two bottomless boys and a curly-haired tomboy, and a hard-working Dutch farmer, leaves one kitchen looking like something eggy and oiled exploded volcanic?

This stovetop is going to need more than a razor.

“But your doctor looked at them this morning and it look’s like, from your chest x-rays…”

Who let porridge crust like a fossil formation to the side of the counter? And why pile plates in the sink like these sticky skeletal remains?

“It looks like you have pneumonia.”

And I stop… look up and out the window. Look out across the weedy tomatoes. Out to the corn leaves all chaffing in the wind.

If the joy of the Lord is my strength — if the joy of the Lord is my strength, the oxygen that keeps me standing —

why do I deprive myself of joy’s oxygen?

Why deprive myself of joy’s oxygen?

The swiftness and starkness of the answer startle.

Because you believe in the power of the pit.

Really?

Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love?

That Satan’s way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus’ way? Why else get angry?

Is it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want?

When I choose — and it is a choice — to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness?

Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective — more expedient— than giving thanks? than living joy?

~ One Thousand Gifts

My chest hurts.

Braced against the counter, I hack-cough like I’m hoping something in me might break — like the hardest places.

“So your doctor would like if …” I cradle the phone, stack the dirty bowls so I can fill the sink with hot water.

Cynicism isn’t strength and ranting doesn’t rejuvenate and frustration can never accomplish what Faith can.

Does my life testify to my belief in the power of complaint — or the power of Christ?

“The doctor would like if he could get this turned around for good this time….”

And I’m nodding…. it’s so time to be well.

If neither height nor depth nor death nor anything in heaven or earth can separate me from the love of God — surely neither can messy bedrooms or dirty sinks or loud kids or ugly days separate me from the joy of the Lord.

Really — if nothing can separate me from the Love of the Lord — can anything separate me from the Joy of the Lord?  Breathe.

“So the doctor’s set up a treatment plan for you….”

And the cough gives way to this happy relief…. I can feel it — A smile is where the first strong surrender to His will and His joy begins.

Why let anything steal your joy?

If the Joy of the Lord is my strength, then why let anything steal my strength?

The Joy of the Lord is our strength — and anger leaves everyone weak.

The corn out the window — the chaffing of the leaves, it could be strings of something like a song. And the clattering of plates, it could be a chorus, the water running — and why not laugh and why not breathe? Why let the naysayers say there’s not enough reasons to enjoy right now?

I wash dishes. Scrape off the stove. Go fill a prescription. Change the laundry. Read aloud to the kids. Hack-Cough. Heave. Straighten. Step over the mess. Breathe. Smile.

Smile.

Let something steal your joy — and you let something steal your strength.

And it comes — the lungs healing, the oxygen filling.

-with love for you by Ann Voskamp 

 

Q4U: What’s stealing your joy right now? Distractions? Fear? Busyness? Stress? Worry? Anger? Is it worth it? What if you tried the Smile Project: Smiling every time you felt something stealing your joy? What’s keeping you from joy right now in your life? How could that change? 

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  1. 1

    I lost my job at the end of July. I know not being able to find a job has really made me lose my joy. My paycheck helped pay our bills. Not having a job is both fearful and stressful. I am worried about the bills and I am angry with God not letting me get back to work. I know deep down inside I must allow my job to come in His time…it’s just hard. I want that job so I can help pay the bills and just not get behind or have our loan company foreclose on our home. I have let go of some of the fear and anger the past two or 3 days. I have a long way to go though. I feel like I am in a bottom of a pit and can’t get out.

    I do need to smile!! and have faith in God.

    • 2

      Oh, Patty, reaching over and coming alongside with a hug. So difficult…but our God holds. Praying just now for a new job for you, friend. Heart broken with you…and grateful He gives us His broken-and-made-whole heart when ours just don’t know how to go on…

      • 3

        Patty,
        I so feel your pain. I lost my job this month. For me it wasn’t the fact that I lost my job it was the how and the who. It has been so hard to forgive. It has been so hard not to despair because I am a single lady. A friend of mine gave me some great advice. She said, “As single women our only husband is the Lord. He is our provider. He is enough” It is so true in every situation in life He is enough. I also have a little business card that I received from a very sweet church which says: “______ (insert your name), don’t worry I have it all under control.
        -Jesus
        Patty, there is a reason for all that is going on in your life right now. I am going to pray that the Lord continues to reveal Himself to you and that you will continue to smile!

        Funny thing for me-I used to complain that I didn’t have enough time to participate in things at church because I was always working. Well, I can’t say that now. God removes those things that get in the way of service to Him-doesn’t He?
        It has definitely began a shift in my priorities. For me it is a shift to my past but will tie into my future but that is another story.
        Have a blessed day.

      • 5
        Kirsten says:

        I pray that provision comes to you in surprising and miraculous ways. I remember that God told us to get out of debt 7 years ago and so we worked hard at it and God provided….He spoke to me and said I am jealous for my people to turn to me as their provider and not the banks for credit. I pray for all of the women who have lost their jobs, I pray that Heavenly Papa would provide for them beyond their imagination. I pray for creative ideas to provide income independantly for themselves and become employers for others. I pray that peace settle into their hearts that your plans Heavenly Papa are plans for prosperity and not destruction and I thank you that your ways are higher. In Jesus’ strong and mighty name I hold your daughters to you Father and ask for more than enough provision for everything they need. Blessings to you, you wonderful daughters of Yahweh!!

    • 6

      Patty…I’m praying for you!

    • 7
      Sarah Wood says:

      I am in my final year of university (and post secondary for a bit), getting married come May 3rd, and my fiance and I are saving to move to the UK for his job. It’s always worried me, but I worry most about my fiance. So there is a ton of planning,saving, missing all my friends because work and school have taken over my life to just make a living in the UK. I am grateful that the Lord has graciously provided me with a job and has also provided me with the amazing opportunity after University. It becomes hard when the UK seems so far and bills pile up in my life and student debt will commence… those haunting numbers of what some people make in their lifetime is my student debt and paying it off will be a nightmare. God so graciously is always providing for both our needs which I am have been truly blessed from it. Trying to get a foot in the door at a local church to develop even more support. I am far to young to even be worrying about things like this! Worry is everywhere and so is anxiety but I am always reminded of Philippians 4:5-7 that helps me get through this difficult time. God is always providing and he will always provide for us all even when the storm is uneasy

      5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

      • 8
        Christine Fischer says:

        Phil 4:6-7 is my verse for 2013; I have two choices. Push the worry button and wear myself down, accomplishing nothing. Push the prayer button (with thanksgiving) and open up the doors to heaven where God can accomplish anything! Worry-free living is transforming me. Less stress. More joy. More dependence on Him. God has been in control all along. I’m learning to let go and lean back on His chest, hear His heart beat. He is able. He is faithful.

        • 9
          Barbara says:

          Christine, I love the image you created in my mind with your words: “…to let go and lean back on His chest, HEAR HIS HEART BEAT.” (The capitals are mine for emphasis.) I’ve been learning to lean on Him for about 8 years now, and He is SO able and faithful to provide. But all too often I straighten up and try to take care of some things in my own strength….and do a miserable job. I’ve just not been listening to “His heart beat” as I should.

          Thank you for the reminder.

      • 10

        Sarah, I would love to speak with you:
        lisabaarns@hotmail.com
        818-903-0087

    • 11
      Pastor Carolyn Lee says:

      My first thoughts were of me, not you. Forgive me. I so depend upon the revelation moments I spend on your blog. They lift me oftentimes when life gets heavy. So I’m wanting you to be well…so you can continue to blog. How utterly selfish of me. I do very much want you to be well–sincerely!!!

      Our God is truly all we need. Yet, there are places where life gets way so heavy. Like chronic illness. Our daughter is fighting functional bowel disease and has been hospitalized multiple times with an infection called C-Diff – which has left a train wreck inside. But I reach for gratitude. Our youngest son is battling stage 4 cancer. But I reach for gratitude.

      Truly, your blogs, your books, your devotional…all have come to me at such a critical time. And they lift my soul to open up once again to the Mighty God we serve.

      Please take care of yourself and rest…so you will be well. Whether you blog or not. :)

      • 12
        KPhelps says:

        Oh my…you are in the rock tumbler. The fiery furnace. The good news? He’s in it with you, with us…all of us! Praise his name.

        I want to recommend a book that might be helpful. “The UltraMind Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman. You can probably find it at your local library. I am recommending this book in relation to the health issues your family is experiencing. You may find it as a valuable resource. It helped me tremendously.

        Much love to you in the Lord,
        K.Phelps

      • 13

        Dear Carolyn, If there are a hundred people who’ve offered you hope and encouragement where your children are concerned, then I am so glad. But, if you have not found the help they need, I humbly suggest Sanoviv.
        I know this site is probably more for spiritual encouragement, and I am there for you. As Ann has been for me in this post. But, I would be remiss not to offer this possibility. I nearly died from medical mismanagement with traditional medications. Your daughter’s C-diff can can prove fatal if not eradicated. Sanoviv.com will allow you to livechat and you ask questions, and proceed or not from there.
        Praying for you, as one who has been there, both as the ill one and the one watching loved ones suffer. <3 Cori

      • 14

        Carolyn, I think I might be able to help. Call or email me:
        lisabaarns@hotmail.com
        818-903-0087

    • 15

      Hi Patty,

      You’re not alone! I lost my job 10 months ago and my unemployment ran out yesterday. I’m wondering, why are others getting interviews and I”m not? The feelign of rejection has been overwhelming at times. I’m single and have no other income at the moment. I relate to your frustration, pain and fear – I’ve been there!! Yesterday, I had no energy to do the things I love to do…I didn’t even leave the house. But, today, I’m trying to focus on God’s promises and remembering that my God is MUCH bigger than my problems. There is always a purpose to His plan. Please don’t let fear and frustration steal your joy. Spend time in prayer and in the Word. Surround yourself with loving, positive, supportive people. I’m parying for you.

      • 16

        I am entering the beginning of my second year looking for a full-time job. For the past year, I’ve been working part-time for minimum wage, unable to find even another part-time job to reach full-time hours. I had to move back in with my parents since I could no longer afford rent. At 25 years old, I did not expect my life/career to look like this. 2013 has been a year of much searching, inward struggle, disappointment, and crying out to God.
        Through it all, I’m reminded of David’s story. As he was leaving Jerusalem, a broken man, his own son (Absalom) fighting against him, he simply stated, regarding God’s will, “Let him do with me what seems good to him.” No matter what happened, David was willing to accept his lot in life. His patience, trust in God’s perfect plan even when it was confusing and seemingly harsh, and endurance are inspirational.

        • 17
          Beth Williams says:

          Holly,

          Praying for a job for you. Asking God to watch over you and bless you immensely!

          I’m reminded of Job who lost everything and still praised God through all His trials. Perhaps this is to bring you closer to God.

          Lord,

          Please help Holly find a good job. Shower her with mercy and grace and allow her to get closer to you and your will in her life. Let her see your handiwork in all this.

          AMEN!

        • 19
          Ashley M. says:

          Hi Holly,

          Your testimony resonates with me because I find myself in a similar season. I resigned from my full-time job earlier this summer after sensing for some time the Lord was asking me to take this step of faith. Needless to say, it did not look the way I expected it to (does it ever?!). I turned 30. I finished college and graduate school…and, like you, I moved in with my parents before this transition began. It’s hard to not know the next step, but God is teaching me so much during this time! I pray I pass the test and move on to the next round SOON :) I know He has a beautiful plan for me – and for you too.

          Blessings to you,
          Ashley

      • 20

        Hi… to all of you who have lost a job… etc… or have some other misfortune, i just want to speak into your lives something that has blessed me SO often.
        When our heart’s cry is “Lord, WHATEVER builds Your kingdom, the most, do it, no matter WHAT it may cost me….” THEN we find true freedom. Then it’s no longer about us, having a job or not, being single or married, well or sick… It’s about HIS KINGDOM PURPOSES! And when we joyfully surrender to that it changes our perspectives!
        Not only this, but we KNOW that God will answer our prayer! For that is a prayer he surely will answer! :) And the enemy can no longer taunt us with doubts and fears if we are saying “YES, Lord, whatever it is, the BEST for your kingdom’s sake, for it’s growth, Do it..!!”

        • 21
          Ashley M. says:

          Thank you for this!! Much needed encouragement and truth :) If God is FOR us, who can stand against us?

    • 22
      Beth Williams says:

      Patty,

      Praying for a good job for you to help pay your bills. In the meantime.. pray and pray hard. I know, in His time, God will send the perfect job your way!

      Lord Jesus,

      Please help Patty and her family to pay their bills and not lose their house. Help her to find a good job that can add income and pay their bills. Shower her with your mercy and grace and give her the strength to carry on during this trial!

      AMEN!

    • 23

      I know just how you fill.i lost my wife of 25 1/2 years to cancer.if that wasn’t bad enough,3 months after loseing her I was laying on the table with lung cancer.if that wasn’t bad enough,i was told that I was born with only two lobes on my right side instead of three.so now I only have one third of a lung there.so here I am now75years old and four years later doing fine.i do what god lets me to do.i stop when he tells me to stop.you have to believe in god and he will show you the way.love to all who read this.john taylor

    • 24

      I’m going through difficult times in my second marriage. My first husband passed away after 19 years of marriage. It was not a great marriage. We were separated after 17 years of marriage and then got divorced. We were about to remarried when he passed away from pancreatic cancer. I was angry at the Lord for allowing him to died, but I finally learned that through it all, he still loved me and was watching after me. Even that painful experience was a demonstration of Jesus’ love. Now, the problem comes from the ex-wife. I met my husband three years after the divorce was finalized. Lots of things have happen and I do not know how to deal with all of it. Yesterday was my birthday, but I had no joy the whole day. I had no peace either, and although I smiled it was not a real smile. The joy of the Lord seems so far away. I am angry at myself because I feel abnormal. It seems as if for some reason, I always have to do things the hard way. No matter how much I pray and try to seek the Lord’s guidance, I always make the wrong decisions and pay dearly consequences.

      However, it did help me to know there were others who struggled and whose hearts were broken beyond repair. I am not the only disobedient child in the Lord’s house, although, I didn’t realize I was being disobedient. I believe, I had to be otherwise, things would be much easier. I am selfish because I wanted and still want to experience the marriage I didn’t have the first time around. How silly can a grown woman be??!! The Lord gives good things…yes, he does, but at this point in my life, I do not know what the future holds for us. I pray that it will be a long marriage for his glory, but that is even selfish.

  2. 25

    Stress seems to be the thing that keeps on stealing my joy. I do agree that we should smile more often and appreciate the things that we have instead of ranting or being frustrated about the things we don’t have.
    Good article!

  3. 26

    Ann,
    Stress and worry and weariness of waiting for answers to prayer for my prodigal son…I admit that they sneak in to steal my joy. I will definitely try the smile project. I also kick into prayers of thanksgiving whenever Satan attempts to rob me of my joy. I love all your words, but this morning the line, “Does my life testify to my belief in the power of complaint – or the power of Christ?” struck a chord with me. Thank you for a beautiful and Godly reminder…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • 27

      Bev – know I am praying this morning with you — the body earnestly locking arms in prayer. Leaning into the power of Christ with you! Yes!

      • 28
        Kirsten says:

        The Father of the prodigal was always watching for his son to come down the road….I pray that discouragement does not have its way and that you keep on watching!! I pray that the angels assigned to this young man will be joined by others to minister to him and to shephard him into Jesus’ arms and right back home again. I pray that he understands that the Father’s heart is the home for his heart and in finding this also finds his way back to your heart. In Jesus’ strong name, Amen

    • 29

      We also have a prodigal and he is out of state so I don’t feel that we have much influence. As a mom I did all I knew to do and thought I walked my talk but he chose to go his way. He is a good young man with a wondeful work ethic but he is not walking with the Lord and now he has 2 sons not being brought up in a Christian home. It is hard to feel joy in the situation when your heart is breaking and it involves 2 small boys too and their unsaved mama. I have to keep reminding myself that God word does not return empty and he heard that word…Sometimes when I see my grandsons pictures and realize that they don’t really know who we are , i am filled with joy and pain.I try to lean hard into Jesus the lover of my soul and remind myself that for all of our love for this son that God loves him even more and he has a plan.He knows our pain and He cares…I am sending up prayers for our prodigals <3

  4. 30
    Melanie Vanlaningham says:

    Exhaustion is what has continued to pound on my spirit – chipping away at my joy. It’s been an ongoing struggle for some time now. I’m back in a bad place where I can’t seem to break through the darkness – the try-hard life. It feels so hard to keep going. BUT, my God is faithful so I refuse to let go of His hand. He WILL bring me through and I will dance for joy knowing He is always my strength.

    • 31

      Praying fervently with you just now, Melanie. My heart is with yours, friend. You are so right – He is faithful. Clinging to that truth with you today.

  5. 32

    Ann,
    Praying for healing for you this morning and that you will feel the nearness of our Lord today.
    Thank you for the beautiful reminder.
    Sarah

  6. 33

    Every word you write touches my soul….thank you, Ann. Praying for your healing and Perfect Joy today.
    I guess what steals my joy is the frustration of busy days gone bad. I think I have it all figured out and I so don’t. In my right mind I stop, refocus on Him, and rework my messy emotions.
    We won’t discuss wrong mind. I love how you wrote about “letting someone steal your joy, they steal your strength”… that is so true. It IS a choice. They can’t have it unless you give it up….
    I am strengthened by that today.
    Hugs & blessed healing to you:)

    • 34

      Yes I agree with Tori ” Your every word you write touches my soul”, they are so inspiring. Thank you Ann, and many times I wounder where you were years ago….
      Praying for a quick recovery of healing and JOY today. Also, I am have a small group gathering on 11/1 and have encouraged each one to make a Joy box to share with some ladies from my church.
      Hugs and blessings to you.

  7. 35

    Yes, yes, Ann. There truly is a power, a grace in a very tiny smile -

    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-very-tiny-smile.html

    I know this truth because I am living it.

    Please do rest well, lovely lady!

    ;-}

    • 36
      Kirsten says:

      Ann, rest in sickness….not our first choice but rest nevertheless….I encourage you to let those wonderful children of yours run your household for awhile as you lay your body down to recover!! You may be surprised at how well they do it and amused as you watch them be their own persons bringing their characteristics to play in this exercise but also at how much of you will come out in their actions as you watch them carry on during your rest!! I pray for your healing in every way to continue well and if needed to come miraculously!! I thank our Heavenly Father for you and all that you give in encouragement and revelatory wisdom to the family of God.

  8. 37

    We weren’t designed for the things that cause frustration, hurt and resentment – maybe that’s why it is so hard to figure out how to let it go – to step over that mess. One of my son’s – the 3rd – we say has the Joy of the Lord – that we should have named him Joyful – but just like me – he is learning joy is often a choice we have to make. Your message has been settling into the worn part of me this whole last year or two. I’m a slow learning – it takes awhile for things to sink in. Your message was good nutrient for this growth – praying that the Holy Spirit go deep into your lungs, clean it all up – and leave you healthier, stronger with energy to do what you are called to do with your family and your life mission:)

  9. 38

    We are all hack-coughing in my home. It’s a draining action, isn’t it? But I smiled at the end of today’s post, and it actually felt really good.

    Thanks, Ann, for the constant reminder of the Source of all real joy.

    Praying for healing and rest for you!

  10. 39
    becky gustafson says:

    Like David life cause me to lament because I am still this side of heaven. I pray that the Lord will except my lament even as I name them. Like thanksgiving I let Him cradle them and I still choose to smile and breathe. Sometimes life is just hard and those are the times that remind me I want Him bad.

  11. 40
    marylou says:

    Your words inspire me and are used by God to help me to focus on what really matters. My husband of 39 years left our home this past January and just a month ago, I was served divorce papers. Our 4 children are grown and married (2 just this summer) and we have a wonderful 6 month old grandson. God has blessed me beyond measure, but sometimes the fear, the unknown, the feelings of abandonment certainly steal my joy. I am striving to focus on what God has for me in the future, but some days am overwhelmed.

    God is still God! I know He still has me in His hands.

    • 41

      Praying for you this morning, MaryLou.

      • 42

        Thank You Ann for your ministry and for sharing with us even tho’ you’re sick. I pray the Lord will give you the motivation to rest and recooperate and get back to where your body can function properly without the infection in your lungs. I deal with Asthma too not fun but it definitely puts our perspective of life on a whole nother level!! Maybe that’s a good thing… (?) In Courage – Encourage THANK YOU ANN and all our sisters in the Lord!!! I can’t wait to share this with my friends as well!! I would ask that you all pray for my family’s healing…and that I can find a job too!

    • 43

      I so understand this pain, Marylou. It is overwhelming to be at this point in our lives only to have our entire worlds turned upside down and inside out. Believing with you that God has something great in store for us . . .

  12. 44

    With prayers that by the time you put your turkey on the table your lungs will be ship shape and bristol fashion, even if your stove isn’t! I won’t meet you till heaven, but love you dearly and am grateful for the generosity of your heart (and pen!) Climbing our own steep road here in upstate New York, almost 4 years since a drunk driver seriously injured both my daughter (traumatic brain injury) and my sweet husband AKA Titanium Man). There’s no cleaning up this mess, only walking with God through it… Today, you made me smile:)

    • 45

      Loriann..this made me tear up. Praying God gives you strength every moment as you live out the hard things you are called to do. Your last line..of..there’s no cleaning up this mess…only walking with God through it….humbles me. May you run the race with renewed strength today and may God give you fellow sisters to encourage and life you up when you are tired and down.
      Bless you!!! You inspire me.

  13. 48

    The craziness of tending the needs of five little people and figuring out how to homeschool with a thousand interruptions. Feeling isolated in this place. But what joy those night time snuggles and spur of the moment kisses and sweet conversations are. And what I want these boys to learn more than math and spelling and history is that they are loved deeply by a great God, that they can have open hearts that receive love and can love in return. I want them to know that it is okay to make mistakes, to own them and learn from them and seek to make things right. And when I forget these most important lessons I get frustrated and impatient and anxious. To take time to engage the body and smile as an aid to renew the mind sounds like a good idea, for me and the boys. Thanks, Ann. Blessings to you.

  14. 49

    Oh Ann, Joy…has been the “fruit of my prayer” for so long! What steals it can vary, but most recently it has been stolen through fear and comparison. I want to talk to the neighborhood teenage girl, but I’m afraid of doing it. I want to have people over to fellowship, but I have a mini panic attack right before they get here. My friend is a missionary with her family in the Middle East and seeing and experiencing the miracles of God every day and I have laundry piled as high as Pikes Peak. This wasn’t the life I thought I’d have and though I love my life, I some times don’t know how to cope with my lot. I feel very similar to the Queen Aunt in “It’s a Bug’s Life,” “It’s not a lot but it’s my life.” (chuckle:)) But God is showing me over and over again this past week, that He thinks my simple, little life is large when lived for Him. He sees my getting excited about cloth diapers coming in the mail and a pizza dinner out with our five children last night as good and glorious when done in His Name. He is revealing to me the love and value He found in the thousands of faithful God followers that were living during Elijah’s time. They may not have prayed physical fire down from heaven, but their lives brought the glorious “fire” of God down in the day to day. And the amazing thing is…He noticed and knew them! So, onto hold a baby girl who just woke up…to wipe a nose, change a diaper, settle 10 year old disputes, and hopefully do that laundry…oh and while I’m doing it, to remember to smile:)

    • 50

      Anastasia; Oh my gosh ! Your post is awe inspiring ! I read a similar devotional this morning (think it was Spurgeon), and living your life for God as beautifully as you are, bringing Glory to His Name in your home is priceless ! I am a Jewish believer in Jesus, and also feel “called” to the middle east, but would like to thank you for sharing how incredible it is to serve Him in our dwelling place(s) ~ He, Emmanuel, tabernacles among us and dines with us ! I pray with all of my heart that you will enjoy opening your home and inviting others, because you have the fire and love that draws others to God ! Love, Lee from Philadelphia

  15. 51

    It has been a month of doctors and hospitals, of prescriptions and waiting rooms. A month in which the fragile threads of relationships have been pulled taught, threatening to break. And if I’m honest, it’s been a struggle to unclench my fists and accept what God gives. But I’m fighting for joy, really fighting for it -maybe for the first time ever.

    Weaving in yours and all these stories into my prayers today.

    • 52

      Beautiful Women (and Men) of God; Thank You ! I find in you such strength, wisdom, courage, and above all ~LOVE. Each post becomes a prayer that I may offer up to our High Priest who is our Messiah, Comforter, Physician, Counselor, Best Friend, and Warrior. I pray that love abounds to all of you, and true JOY and peace are yours even now ! Isaiah 9:6

  16. 53

    Thank you for this reminder today. I have a choice. Every single time. I can choose Joy. Every single time.

  17. 54
    Tammy EL says:

    Blessings Ann.

    Always beautiful words.

  18. 55

    Sweet sister in The Lord, Ann, you have been a source of encouragement for me through your words. I cannot thank you enough. I just got news that I have to have a major surgery to resolve an issue of getting blood clots. the last 2 years have had a lot of time spent at doctors, hospitals, tests, recoveries, etc. I read one thousand gifts 2 years ago and it transformed my perspective! Today’s blog is another wonderful reminder to me that the joy of The Lord is my strength! I know I am in his hands and He will take care of me. I am praying that He will take away all fear about the surgery and long recovery time that the doctors said will happen. May The Lord continue to bless and guide you. Thank you again for sharing your heart! In His Love, Britta

  19. 56

    There has been much over the last year that has stolen my joy. Last winter I was struggling to get over mono for a couple of months, and still feel the affects today, then have had 2 precancerous moles removed, lost a middle school friend and 2 grandparents in under 2 months all while being engaged and trying to plan a wedding. Then, just last week we found out my aunt was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer in her lymph nodes. In July, the doctor diagnosed me with depression after a major breakdown on my birthday just a few days before. I do not say these things for pity, as I am trying my best to lean into God and get over this hump, but there are days where, I just want to be well again, with all of my being. Right after my doctor’s appoitment, a dear friend gifted me with your book and journal and they have truly been a God sent. It has helped me remember to look upwards and to always remember God is always good and God Holds. Even though I know our Heavenly Father is always there to love and protect us, it can be difficult at times to remember. Today, I will take your advice and try to just smile in the face of anger and depression and continue to lean into my Savior.

    Thank you for your book, your blog and for helping me see the world in a much better angle.

  20. 57
    Patrick McNally says:

    Ann, I am concerned about the doctor’s comment, “the doctor would like if he could get this turned around this time”, have you had many bouts of pneumonia? My late mother got pneumonia in late June, and the doctor said it was an odd time to get it, and asked if she had a cold or the flu, and she said no. He moved the x-rays up and down. I don’t want to scare you, but I want you to make sure that if you are getting sick all the time that they do a very thorough check of your x-rays. We found the tumors, which was causing the pneumonia. Please be safe, and check, not just the lower part of the lungs but the upper part as well.

  21. 58

    Thank you so much for this Spirit led article. How often I choose to not embrace joy in my life, to walk in fullness with Him, and hang onto such pain – and deprive myself oxygen. Life changing, renewing strength from the Lord. I have loved your writing for some time, as it has drawn me closer to God, but your heart for Him, just pours through in your authenticity. With open hearts we breathe in life anew, as we choose Christ in our everyday moments. Thank you so.

  22. 59
    Shirley says:

    Ann,

    It seems like whenever I need a reminder to chose JOY you are there for me. I have read 1000 Gifts twice now and I have found that I look at every minute of my life differently. I am a Mother and a Grandmother of 3 Grandsons and what a Joy it’s been to write down gifts every single day. AND I am even writing the “hard ones”.

    Thank you for your beautiful God Filled words……I am sharing them with someone almost everyday.

    Please take care of yourself and I will pray that God heals you quickly.

    God Bless you Ann,

    Shirley

  23. 60

    I ask for prayers today FOR a smile. I got Bell’s Palsy in August and I have found it difficult to not be able to smile. Then I get angry at myself because others have it so much worse. I am trying to lean on God and my faith and some days I do pretty good. I used to be a happy person who loved to smile and laugh and now I find myself avoiding people and laughter and anything social. I try to lean on Psalm 31:16 – “Warm me, your servant, with a smile because you love me.” I just try to remember that God is good and try to keep a positive attitude.

    • 61
      Peggy Roll says:

      I am praying for you, Kay. I got Bell’s Palsy, I can’t believe it has been so long, about 21 years ago. Much came back, but my smile is still a bit lop-sided. I know exactly what you mean about wanting to stay inside and avoid people. The hardest is the weddings when I have to be in pictures. I pray for God’s grace to touch you. It helped me to see and understand others who had physical things–like my child’s doctor who stuttered. I was mostly helped by the verse in 11 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

      • 62

        Thank you for your kind words and prayers. My son gets married on December 31 and I would love to have just a little of my smile back. I have made improvements but very little and it’s been 10 weeks so there is the concern that I won’t recover. I would take a lopsided smile for sure. Again, I do appreciate your prayers. And thank you for the verse to carry me.

        • 63
          Lisa H. says:

          Kay,
          Whether your lips smile returns or not, your eyes will smile…. and they are the windows of your soul. Your smile in your eyes will surely shine through!

    • 64

      Oh, whispering prayers for you just now, Kay. Bowed and praying for beautiful heart, beautiful you. You are always loved, Kay — He’s always loving us. Grateful with you in this.

      • 65

        Thank you so much. I believe in the power of prayer so I am thankful for any and all prayers.

        • 66
          Kirsten says:

          What a shock when something that is so easily such a part of us is gone. My heart also cries out for you and I ask our Heavenly Papa to take you onto His lap in a way that you can feel it in your spirit and know that His arms are around you with comfort. I pray Kay that the smile that is in your heart shows again through your face. I pray for miraculous healing! I pray that the desires of your heart are answered by our wonderful and good God!

  24. 67

    I lost my marriage, which is such a long, long journey of grieving. But I have to say there have been more than 1000 miraculous gifts along this journey. God has met each and every specific need, cared for me and comforted me in ways i could never have imagined. He is my joy and my salvation. The sozo kind of salvation that brings healing and wholeness. I pray that the healer would also touch your lungs and give strength to your body Ann.

  25. 69

    Busyness is what is stealing my joy. Thank you for a great reminder to not let anger or frustration take away my strength from the Lord.

  26. 70
    Lori Coon says:

    I smiled as I was reading your post and how acurate it depicted our thoughts going back and forth. I’m a counselor and I often read a book to my little clients about the Worry bear and Reasoning bear. I just lost my father 2 weeks ago. He was my Hero and it feels very catastrophic for me. My selfishness/grief is in full swing right now. As I was reading what you wrote about …’why let the enemy steal the wonderful promises that we have… “. I think more than anything I form a habit of distressing. It’s a mode I have become comfortable with and I always go there. Today I began asking God to give me His peace. To give me strength to ‘be anxious for nothing’. I enjoy your page and ready your wisdom:)

    • 71

      Lori,
      I am so sorry to hear about losing your father. When I lost my dad six years ago to cancer, I felt as if my safety net had disappeared, even though I was turning 40. My dad was a stable force, and a comforting voice in my life for so long. May I say something to you sweet Lori? Grief is never selfish. Grief is hard work. Lean into it. Be gentle with yourself. And as you keep looking to God to be your peace, I can tell you, from a fellow daughter losing her daddy..he will not only pick you up and love you, he is gracious and kind and longs to be your Abba. He holds you now. One of the most precious things he impressed on me as I missed my dad was that He was the one who gave me this earthly father in the first place. He knows what a great daddy is. Praying sweet comfort. All around. Bless you…

      • 72

        Lori,

        I lost my Daddy about 4 years ago. He was the best! Thank you for your sweet words about your Dad. I never thought about it quite like that: That God gave me to my Dad to be his daughter and so God knows how special he is………..Thank you.

        Debbie

    • 73

      Thank you for your wise words here, Lori. They are a gift today — to many.
      Praying for you just now, dear heart.

  27. 74

    Ann,
    I began reading your writings in January, when a friend gave me 1000 gifts. We had just lost our 27 yr old son to suicide. Was my joy stolen. Absolutely yes. That is the goal of satan, to steal. I began your book devastated, broken, void of any feeling but overwhelming pain and grief. As I progressed from page to page, and allowed the truth embedded within each sentence to invade my heart, I can say I slowly, still today, slowly began the ascent out of the pit of darkness. I began writing my gift list. I honestly never imagined the difficulty I would have renewing my thankful heart each day. My list is not nearly as long as I would like it be but it’s coming and it is becoming easier as God faithfully covers me each day in His healing balm. Thank you. I digest everything you write. It’s food for my soul, strength complementing the Word of God.

    • 75

      Oh, dear Teresa. Tears at your difficult story. Just, tears.
      Jesus does something between feeble words and open hearts. We thank you, Lord.
      God just bless you abundantly today with more of Himself as you seek Him in everything, friend.

  28. 76
    Beth Stark says:

    My daughter who has been ill for twelve years… and I…. were sitting in a doctor’s office chatting with a specialist doctor about her condition. A few days later we receive the report that he is recommending a counseling evaluation for apparently we were in denial of the seriousness of her situation. Really? No. We live with it every. single. day. Apparently, the doctor was unaware that we have purposely chosen joy when facing these rough days. That we have a God who is faithful. That we can laugh and smile and face these rough days knowing that He has a plan, He is faithful, He wants us to represent Him to the world with our deep unshakeable faith. I am so very proud of our daughter and her kind, sensitive, caring spirit. God IS faithful. We CAN claim JOY. We CAN choose JOY. We do. ……….most days! = )

    • 77

      Beth, praying for you and your daughter. Thanks for sharing….. He is faithful, we can claim JOY.

      Much love

  29. 78

    another miscarriage. But I am focusing on all of the many other gifts God has given. There is too much good to allow my joy to be stolen over the bad.

  30. 83

    Oh this! What if I smiled every time I felt something stealing my joy?! Should the Lord allow, I would arrive in my senior years with this most amazing testimony of overcoming literally written on my face. Forget piling up those remembrance stones, I’d have remembrance wrinkles! Hoping by His grace for smile lines and crows feet instead of furrowed brow lines!

    • 84

      This…”grace for smile lines…instead of furrowed brow”
      Yes may it be so, Lord!

  31. 85
    Sharon Hearn says:

    Ann,
    Worry, stress, fear and so many other things have crept into my life for the last five years. I hate to even admit it. Depression took residence in my heart for a period of time. I felt hopeless. Some days, most days I still feel that way and it is a feeling of defeat that I don’t like. I know that Satan grips and takes a hold and it is debilitating. Worse it affects my sons and that is the last thing I want. No matter my circumstances, my heart truly longs to give God praise even through the hurt, the pain, and the fear and uncertainty my boys and I are faced with daily here. I pray silently, I pray out loud, I audibly tell Satan to leave me and my sons alone. So many times I feel that my cries are unheard and unanswered but yet I know my God hears my cries. My middle son began having Grand Mal seizures this past June and they have gotten worse. With the change of medication I pray daily, minute by minute it seems, breath by breath that each moment is seizure free for him. It’s hard to praise when you see your son seizing in front of you as you talk him through and know that there is nothing you can do but let him hear the sound of your voice to love him through. How I need a miracle for him, for us. He is five weeks and 2 days seizure free. Our longest seizure free span was 9 weeks 4 days. Praying for God to heal my son. I want to smile through everything that we seem to be walking through right now. I want to sing again with a joy that comes from only Him. I am weary and worn and want to be that rock for my sons. Praying to rest completely in Jesus’ arms and that He will sustain us with strength and joy. Your words always touch my heart so deeply and today God has used you again. Even through everything I want my life to testify to the power of Christ.
    Because of Jesus,
    Sharon

    • 86

      Sharon, believing and praying for God to be close. Thinking of Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before you and will level the mountains.”
      You are soul beautiful, friend and what a strong mama you are.indeed. Thank you for taking time to share this with us here. Praying for your precious son right. now.

  32. 87

    I want to have the joy of the Lord, I need His strength especially in this season in my life. My husband had been unemployed 18mos till he found a job in another state. Which we have had to live apart for 5 months while I try to homeschool and pack/purge our home. It means leaving the only home town I have known for 51 years. Our funds have been depleted, Our friends have been depleted, Our family has been depleted, our relationship has been depleted. Our faith has been depleted. Some days we are just barely hanging on. I know the Joy of the Lord is what I need in my brain, but that seems as far as it gets. Thank you for hopeful posts.

    • 88

      Oh, April. Your story hurts my heart in deep places. Leaning and clinging to Him for Joy in this, friend. How He loves you — and will make a way, even when we don’t see it, know it, or feel it. But this I know, friend – in Jesus we win.
      Tears brimming…reaching over with a hug and much love just now, April.

      • 89
        Kirsten says:

        April, how difficult to be in this wilderness far away from the support of your husband!! My sister went through the exact same thing two years ago….it was so difficult to watch….. everything they had known for 55 years gone….but I saw her hang on to her Jesus and there were times that she could literally feel His presence. I pray for you April that you literally feel His tangible presence….something extra as He puts His arms around you and says, I am here, I am here and my angel armies are walking this with you, they are preparing the way, they are preparing the way…trust me that I have good plans for you, trust me that I have good plans for you.
        Her story….she is thriving and so is he…they are both growing in the Lord and have found a community of people in their new city and church that is better than what they left!! Hallelujah! Although we are far apart geographically as family we are closer together than ever!! Blessings to you wonderful daughter of the Lord High God, Yahweh!!

      • 90

        Oh! April, your story touches deep places in me. My husband was “let go” of his church where he was Associate Pastor of 27 years because he was no longer a good fit. We left with heads held high, Psalm 3:3, yet I hit rock bottom, leaving my lifelong friends. God picked me up by the hair of my head and so got my heart. He moved us to a new town. My husband lost his church job here & has gone 3 years looking for another job. We really are good people. Just not wanted on a church staff. But we are both so alive in Him, more than ever! God is always doing us good, Jer 32:41. While I don’t have good friends here like I once had, I wrestle with you to live for first things. Praying you are startled by His Goodness in what you face. I am so sorry. You are finding the only One that matters in so many obstacles/ so much change. 51 years is a huge deal!

    • 91

      April,

      Praying………..I don’t know what else to say. Stay strong in your faith. God will see you through this.

      In HIM,
      Debbie

  33. 92

    We just went through a month or so where every time I turned around he was there. The enemy. Trying to steal my joy. Sick kids. Ear infection. Rashes. Car trouble. Appliance trouble. Sick kids again. And more. But my husband and I recognized it as the enemy.
    And we said, He is not stealing our joy. He is not shaking our faith. And I came out of that time stronger. More in love with my Savior. God is so good!!
    Thanks for sharing from your beautiful heart and home!

    • 93
      Peg Fury says:

      Melanie, I’ve been there too, it’s really a GOOD place, when the bad things are happening, but you can recognize it for what/who it is, and say, “Oh no, Satan, you’re not winning THIS round, not since we can see you!” And it’s such a help to have a spouse who can see these things as well. The tough times, I think, are made up of exactly the same events happening, but we don’t recognize what’s going on. I pray for all of us, for discernment to recognize Satan’s work when we see it, so that we can resist him.

  34. 94

    I have just recently liked your page, yesterday, and then today I read this. I was diagnosed with RA in 2011 at age 38 and in July of this year taken out of work due to chronic pain. There are days that it is all I can do to smile. When I was growing up, I was a happy person. I laughed all the time, people picked on my laugh but they would remember me. Now days, it is hard to smile or laugh. Your devotion has hit me hard today. I’m going to go back to my childhood years and smile and be happy. I’m not going to let this sickness take another day from me. I know it is all happening for a reason and I must find my joy in knowing God has a plan. Thank you so much for your encouragement.

  35. 96

    Worry steals my joy these days. I wake up and it descends like a cloud. Some things I have no control over, like my oldest daughter’s depression and self-harming, and the only thing I can do is smile and pray and hand it over to our God. Oh what a day it could be if I could truly hand all my worries over to Him.

  36. 97

    Fear. Anger. Jealousy. Discontent. How do you release the constant fear of messing up, of never having enough? Constant repetition that HE. IS. ENOUGH. I want to be done with Satan and his never ending snares. Thank you Ann for this. My scripture this morning from Hebrews 11 is of Able still after all of these years his faith still speaking. May that be my legacy. That my faith was strong in HIM!

    • 98

      Yes, yes, yes. Being sure of what we hope for and certain of things unseen. With you, Paige. Each and every day. Battling for strength in HIM right. with. you. He is *always* enough. Yes, Lord.

    • 99
      alina y says:

      Oh yes Paige, this is exactly how it is with me. Fighting for joy with you today. Repeating with you He. Is. Enough. yes He Is Enough

  37. 100

    I have been letting anger at God steal my joy. I had shingles on my face last October that got infected and was terrible. It finally went away. I then got pregnant with first baby and had a great pregnancy. My labor and delivery were traumatic however and my postpartum healing has been difficult…yeast infections in breasts, terrible hemorrhoids, baby with acid reflux, fungus on my feet from hospital…and this morning I woke up with the same beginning signs of shingles. This time on my chin. Instead of counting blessings, I have counter things that haven’t worked but in my heart I know God works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Thank you for the reminder to not let satan steal my joy in the Lord because when he takes it, my strength goes with it.

  38. 101
    Christene says:

    Cancer is stealing my joy – wait not even that chemo is. The days are so hard and the life is ever so demanding. I can’t seem to take joy in the little things these days.

    • 102
      Peg Fury says:

      Christene, I don’t know you, but am praying for God’s grace to wash over you and lift your spirits, even in these dark times. Praying for you to be buoyed by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that He will lift you above the pain and frustration, to a place where you can see the goodness of the “little things” again.

      Praying His blessings upon you–

      Peg

    • 103

      Tears, Christene. Many tears. I pray earnestly, dear heart…that today you feel wrapped in the love of Christ and His amazing grace and you feel His strength in your bones, gently reviving your soul. Much love to you.

      • 104

        My heart goes out to you Christine. The cancer meds I am on right now are so hard to live with, but chemo—no words. Praying that the Holy Spirit will be an iron rod of strength for you. Jer 1:19

  39. 105

    So needed this :) Smiles have been absent in the past few days. Yes, I believe I’ll sit and smile now..! Thank you :) ))

  40. 106

    I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder and chronic clinical depression. I do pretty well in the summer months with all the sun and the warm weather, but it is getting darker and colder here and i find myself slipping. I have a special light that i use, but it seems that i am slipping in to the darkness and finding myself in a place i don’t want to be. trying to be thankful and count blessings but even this feels like a task instead of a joy. but i know the Lord of Light holds my hand and is going to walk me thru this winter as he does every winter….

    • 107

      Oh, Diane. May I just reach over and hold your hand too? Sending love to you and many prayers today…battling for Joy in Him with you!

  41. 108
    Christy says:

    Wow, so glad that I chose to check your blog this morning before I start schooling the kids. I have been fully giving way to the darkness lately… allowing for my joy to be stolen. I have hated the feeling, and shared with a friend about how I feel joyless these days. SMILE … I will smile every time I feel like my joy has been stolen. Thank you for sharing your heart, your words, your life. It is always so refreshing and seems we are so much on the same page … just MILES apart… you, in Canada , and I , just south of Charlotte!

    Thank you!

  42. 109
    Annette says:

    My theft in joy has come when I do not leave God the room to work in my life. I am learning from on my knees that my power comes in the tears He catches and the smiles He brings! All my love to you Ann !!

  43. 110
    Heather says:

    I think I was stealing my own joy, when I began to feel happiness in my heart, BAM I start thinking of another million negative things or I turn on the tv & there is nothing but terrible news. What have we done? First we cancelled cable, that in itself was a great stress relief. We began really treasuring our children, the time with them, why we haven’t done this before I will never understand, “life” was clearly in the way of our joy! Now I try to see the good in everything, no complaining, no negativity, because our time on earth is short, but our joy, The Lord is eternity!

  44. 111
    Theresa Jackson says:

    My cousin Cynthia Maddox is my hero. She exemplifies this joy principle.
    On Saturday we we celebrated her son’s wedding with her. She smiled and danced and celebrated like there was everything was completely perfect in her world.
    If you didn’t know her you would never know that on Monday she would go back to the cancer treatment center for a scan to see if the whole brain radiation treatments she endured six weeks ago had been successful in curing the 25+ lesions the last scan had revealed. You would never know that she hadn’t been able to keep anything on her stomach for the last six weeks and that her thin frail body was only a shadow of what it was a year ago.
    Yet she continues to smile and love and enjoy her friends and family and the peace that passes all understanding.
    Cynthia Maddox is my hero.

    • 112

      I don’t know her, but from what you share, she’s my hero too! Grace to her (and you!) in a thousand ways!

  45. 113
    Joy Holmgren says:

    This is exactly what I needed.

    Thank you,
    Joy

  46. 114
    Keva Fontanille says:

    Inching closer to age 40. . . Hormones seem to swirl sometimes and joy can get lost in the current.
    God is constant.
    While my emotions aren’t, I will purpose to SMILE and dig deep for the joy filled hand of God. Hold on tight and walk firmly in HIS joy in spite of my feelings.
    Thank you for sharing, Ann.

  47. 115
    Tammie Jones says:

    I just feel like I am a mess that cannot be cleaned up. It seems everything i do with good intentions gets misunderstood or goes wrong. I look at me and dont like me. Why should anyone else? I try to understand God’s love in a different way, but somehow I always attach the human element to His view of me as well. I shield my heart most of the time from people b/c if i dont it seems i get hurt so deeply, i cannot bear it. The pain is too great. Joy? I have no idea what that is right now.

    • 116
      Carolyn says:

      Tammie,
      My heart is moved by your words and I truly understand, for I have been there. I do not know what has happened in your life, but God can bring you to a place of wholeness!! He did for me. I am not the same person I was 2-3 years ago – do not even know that person! God loves you and you are a person of great worth and value! Love yourself – your words and thoughts about yourself have great power. Please begin to only speak good things about yourself (God’s view of you) God’s 2nd greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself Matthew 22:37-39
      My prayer is that you will have joy and smile again!
      Scriptures that may help and declare out loud are;
      *I am made in the image of God Genesis 1:26-26 *I am a child of God John 1:12 *I am a temple-a dwelling place-of God. His Spirit and His live live in me 1 Corinthians 3:16 *I am a saint Ephesians 1:18 *I am chosen of God, wholly and dearly loved Colossians 3:12 *I am fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139:14 *I am God’s treasured possession Deuteronomy 14:2

    • 117

      Tammie,
      I am praying right now that God would show you how He sees you– as a pearl of such great worth that He would give up EVERYTHING to purchase you. I pray that He would send you such an encouragement today. I pray that He would be your peace, when fear is crippling, that He would be true in your wandering, that He would be your joy and the reason that you sing. I pray that He bring that peace which passes all understanding to your heart.

    • 118
      Rosemary Williamson says:

      Dear Tammie
      know where you’re coming from! I’m 60 yrs old, still working hard at a job I’ve grown to dislike. Deep in debt, have recurring altercations with my husband of 40 years who has depression and has had one business failure after another. Try so hard to smile and be joyful but the darkness surrounds and I wonder where on earth I’m going to end up. I know I am a daughter of God but I’m finding it hard to hear His voice right now.

  48. 119
    Marjorie says:

    fear of the unknown..

  49. 120

    According to your blog on the 22nd you were diagnosed with pneumona! I will be praying for your rest, plenty of orange juice and a quick and speedy recovery! Maybe your children could make you breakfast?? I am so blessed by your blogs….always praising God, always filled with joy, though our bodies ache. Slow down and rest! Love a sister in Christ….

  50. 121

    I think worse than anger, complaining, or grief-is not feeling at all. Sometimes anger, grief, etc take us on a journey to joy or maybe joy has the potential to reside with some other feelings at the same time but for myself, numbness is the dangerous place. sometimes it is hard for me to know if I am numb or just accepting of what all has happened.
    But I do know that I will be asking myself the question of the day-Does my life testify to my belief in the power of complaint — or the power of Christ?
    I am the caregiver for a handicapped (both physically and mentally) sibling who is seriously ill, my husband is basically out of work, and my daughter is struggling with school. But God is good, our church has been so supportive, and my boss has been very supportive with my needing time to be away. So grateful!

    • 122
      Kirsten says:

      Father I pray for Trisha that she is able to take time to grieve what needs to be grieved in her life and that you help her grieve well. I also pray that you provide for her all the emotion she needs to walk through her life!! And I say no to numbness and yes to embracing all the gamut of emotions that life takes us through…Blessings in the Lord Jesus….I also pray that you have many, many moments of jump up and down joy….just like Jesus did!!

  51. 123

    I almost lost my husband to suicide this summer. Then he lost his job. He got another one, but it’s so part time we’re in the hole about $500 a month, and our church and my baking and the grace of God are the only reasons we’re not homeless right now. And last week, his brother underwent emergency surgery for a brain abscess, and almost died; he has a long road to recovery, yet, but we are seeing miracles, and he will be coming home in a few days (vs 6 weeks as originally projected). Thank you for the reminder. I really needed it, today.

    • 124

      Oh, Alena. Oh. Friend. Can I just sit here with you? I’m putting on the armor of God with you. Praying fervently for you and your family.
      He will keep her in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Him. Amen. Thank you, Lord.

  52. 125

    I have learned so many times that our heart will follow our actions. Even if I don’t FEEL like doing something {smiling}, if I begin the practice of doing it, slowly my heart, my mind, my spirit will follow suit. If I let myself dwell in the joy-stealers {for me right now: comparison, if-onlys, resentment, worry}, then my heart and my mind will rest there. But if I guard against that and I physically as well as mentally practice the art of smiling, my spirit will join in and feel the grace and gratitude.

  53. 126

    Joy in a season of storms? My daughter, 19, walks through everyday with a constant, raging headache. She wakes up with it and goes to bed with it. The only relief she gets is sleep. My mommas heart just wants her to be well, but over the past 3 years and over a dozen brain sugeries, it has been her cross to bare. I am learning to count the storms of life as pure joy and learning in through the storm, to dance in the rain, counting every moment a blessing.

  54. 127

    A divorce as a result of my spouse’s substance abuse problem is stealing my joy. Also in the midst of a custody battle with my (not biological) son’s grandmother. I feel like most days life is literally crushing me. I try to find God in the small things, but like others have said, I’m angry that I am here. Only having been married for three years, this is not where I thought I would be. All I have ever longed for is to be a wife and a Mommy and those things are falling apart in front of me.

    • 128

      Lisa, many tears here. Just tears. I have no words for the pain in this world and in your heart, friend. Thank you for being so brave and sharing here with us. Bowed, praying and seeking Him just now — for you, with you. Comfort her, dear Lord, a cupping close that won’t ever, ever let go… Cling to the Truth that He SO LOVES you, Lisa.

  55. 129

    I really heard you this morning, Ann, on why I also seem to think complaining, resentment, anger, and other un-ways of God can get me to the place I want to be.

    It’s not the way to where I want myself and my family to be. The only way to get there is through God’s grace, and his ways of love.

    Thanks for sharing so openly, and I hope you feel all of the way better soon! :-)
    Nancy

  56. 130
    DeAnn Miller says:

    Watching my father’s mental and physical health decline has drained my joy. At 83 he was still working as a locksmith, but we had to make him stop driving he was becoming a danger to himself and others. It didn’t take very long and we had to get him into hospice, he didn’t want to go to a nursing home. He died at home on Oct 4th, my joy returned! It sounds crazy but at the end my stubborn father let me read from the bible, feed him his last bowl of chicken rice soup, help the hospice nurse change his bedding…let me take care of him. I am at peace he no longer suffers and we were able to let him go to his Heavenly Father, I miss him but at the end he was the man I knew growing up. Now I can remember how he was, my hero and as I told him every day at the end,” Remember pops you are the Child of the King” , his eyebrow would raise ever so slightly, he could no longer speak or open his eyes, but he knew what I said was true. So all of us must remember we are Children of the King!

  57. 131
    Heather says:

    Since we moved 6 months ago, I have been blessed to be able to stay at home with our two boys… something I never thought would be an option for our family. While my stress has greatly decreased since I decreased all the many demands on my time, I still have a hard time finding balance… prioritizing and keeping the proper focus to be the person and parent I want and need to be. Thank you for your reflections. It has been difficult, but I’ve been slowly making more time to reflect on God’s word, promises, and purpose in my life. Your site has been a great way for me to take a little time to focus. Thank you! I was able to share your post with my friends and family today along with some self-reflection…
    “Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love?” Anger is a choice. Choosing joy in the midst of frustration and disappointment is hard. Insert picture of me scraping frost from the windshield, youngest screaming in the cold wet grass that he refuses to wear the coat beside him, oldest waiting inside the car knowing he now will be late for school. “Cynicism isn’t strength and ranting doesn’t rejuvenate and frustration can never accomplish what Faith can. Does my life testify to my belief in the power of complaint — or the power of Christ?” The church message two days ago had a powerful line in it: Every complaint is a confession. I know I need God. I know my children need love. Ephesians 3:14-21… I need God to strengthen me. I need His Spirit. I pray Christ may dwell in my heart and in yours through faith and that we may move today rooted and grounded in love. I need strength to comprehend, I need to know the love of Christ, and I need to be filled with God so that I can glorify Him when I give all that everyone will need from me today. “If neither height nor depth nor death nor anything in heaven or earth can separate me from the love of God — surely neither can messy bedrooms or dirty sinks or loud kids or ugly days separate me from the joy of the Lord. Really — if nothing can separate me from the Love of the Lord — can anything separate me from the Joy of the Lord? Breathe.”

  58. 132
    Leah Oliver says:

    My husband lost his job recently. Thank you for the reminder that even in the unknown places our God is good and gracious and being joyful and thankful brings a peace to our home that we need right now. I loved the comment “Cynicism isn’t strength and ranting doesn’t rejuvenate and frustration can never accomplish what Faith can.” Was ranting this morning and you are so right it does not rejuvenate, it drains. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement. Smiling as I go finish up some tax returns for I do serve the Living God. That’s all the reason I need to smile right there.

  59. 133

    Ann, one of my favorites lines is – “Who let porridge crust like a fossil formation to the side of the counter?” Thank you for adding spices of humor to mix with the deep truths you shared. I am sorry you were ill, but I am thankful that you had a road of health to follow. Thank you for pouring down the concrete to form a path and a new road for others to follow as they work their way through difficulty, sickness, sorrow and pain in attempt to go forward. I appreciate you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experience. I pray that the Lord would show you His great favor in a special way and you will fully know how much He appreciates you!

  60. 134

    The stress of 3 teens (young adult) all prodigal in their own way after being raised from day one to love and serve the Lord. The 21y/o is living the party life at college as a frat star, the 18 y/o we adopted from foster care 9 years ago has left us, and the 16 y/o is sunk deep in depression with self-harm, anorexia and suicidal attempts. I was a full time home school Mom for most of their lives and can’t help but shoulder the blame. We tried fervently to follow God’s will and just can’t comprehend the magnitude of this season in out lives. Everyday I try and give it over to God and trust that He has a plan and His promises will be fulfilled…but the weight of it all suffocates the joy and the tears flow and won’t stop.

    • 135

      Pam, first prayers.. I am a mother of 5.. ages 28-36!! We home schooled for a few years.. all my children though raised in the best Christian home that we could provide at the time.. have strayed..all three of my daughters had children out of wedlock. ( two are still living w men they are not married to). My son battled drugs and depression and what was diagnosed as Schizophrenia but now seems quite good , still on meds and the love of a tremendous woman..I could go on and on.. so many heartbreak moments.. Ann’s book had taught me that my 36 year walk w Jesus is not a roller coaster ride.. Up one minute down the next.. He’s got me one minute and not the next.. this past June after learning through Ann’s book that He has me, Loves me is in control EVERY MINUTE of Every day. in one week. my daughters pregnancy was at rsik, my son who has not had a mental relapse in years had one and something else traumatic ( can’t remember now what it was?) but I held on , I fought not to slip , not to believe that even in all these storms that He had let go of me, that He was not in control I did not allow fear to take over.. In one week.. a healthy baby boy was born, my son w the love of an amazing wife and much prayer became stabled.. and haha can’t remember the third thing but it too was o.k.!!
      Not taking your pain for granted. but no matter how good of parents we are our children still make their own decisions.. ( even Billy and Ruth Graham had their moments).
      The other day I heard on the radio that Our Heavenly Father H TRUE and PERFECT Parent has at this moment in time 7 billion children that fall short of the glory of God.. Hah hope that puts a smile on your face.. Yes we all wish we would have done some things different.. start w a small list.. five things each day to thank God for.. just five every day.. your mind will wonder you can’t stop at five it will become ten and fifteen and more and more.. and as you learn to focus and PRAISE Him in that moment for the things He has chosen to BLESS YOU w today.. You will start to realize how much HE LOVES YOU.. HE’s got THIS and That and EVERYTHING!! Much love , prayers and peace in the name of our Lord and SAvior Jesus Christ who is able to do all that we ask.. in His time!! <3

      • 136

        Thank you Deborah! One day at a time… I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and daily remind myself that He does have it all under control.

    • 137
      monkey tamer says:

      Dear Pam,
      Seems there can be little more painful than prodigal children that we pour our lives into. I buried one son and lived w a lost son who was homeless & addicted to heroin. Having home schooled all the way from age 5 until they went off to college I felt so responsible. How could I keep going on?

      On my face before the Lord and alone, terribly alone while God did amazing& glorious things in my life. (Romans 8:28 a great comfort when there was no comfort.)

      I say all this only because it did help me to know there were others who struggled and whose hearts were broken beyond repair. Others whom God loved and cared for. Our Lord loves you Pam, loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and like many of us, it may be that you have to be in that deep place in order to fully appreciate the glorious love of God which is from everlasting to everlasting.

      Whatever God’s plan, He will never leave or forsake you and oh how He loves you & me. Praying there will be many people who wrap their arms around you and remind you that you are not forgotten. Praying for you and your dear family. Thank you Jesus you never forget us.

      Forgive me, I have no words to offer, but my heart aches for you. Weeping is good, there is little we can do beyond praying, but it is enough. Joy cometh in the morning.

      Hold fast to Jesus, He will carry you, He will lift you up.

      • 138

        Thank you for sharing and for praying with me and for me. I will keep you and yours in prayer also.

  61. 139
    Colleen says:

    I have been resentful because of the broken ankle and while nursing this resentment my dearest friend of 32 years passed into the arms if the Father on Friday. Jesus blessed me with sharing her last hours on earth with her….praying with her , living her, holding her hand … Broken ankle and all !

    She would always smile and say perfect joy when something unforeseen would happen be it illness etc

    She was Gift !

    You are in my prayers Ann…everything is indeed Grace

  62. 140

    What a great thing to think about. A great question to be stopped by, even for a few minutes: what steals? I think in answering it, there’s that chance to look it square in the face and maybe deal with it.

    For me, FEAR. I fear letting go, because I think I’m holding the whole world together by what I do and don’t do. And so if I DON’T then what? And if I DO, then what? And somehow Jesus isn’t a part of it all. And His joy is just an unopened gift. If I could let go, look up, and just trust instead of being so deathly afraid of what I can’t see, I would experience Him and His joy.

    I’m taking steps toward that today. Can feel Him saying Just follow ME. Stop trying to reason it ALL out, and have it figured. Figuring first isn’t faith! Following is. I don’t need to have the answers, just keep putting that one foot in front of the other and walk on. And each day will overflow…

  63. 141

    The Smile Project: love it a thousand times over.

    And you.

  64. 142
    Christine says:

    What a beautiful reminder – thank you! I’m in a season of waiting and trusting God, walking through forgiveness and not giving bitterness a place. My husband and I have been actively serving in ministry for the past 14 years and recently took a major blow that left us feeling betrayed and just broken. We know God is sovereign and He is leading us, yet it’s hard when you find yourself in a place where you never would have fathomed. Waiting, trusting, holding onto joy and hope. Thank you for pointing to the source of true Strength.

  65. 143
    Struggling says:

    This is what I needed to read this morning. My anger is eating away at me and I am, in my heart, a joyful and positive person. And the comments on this thread are humbling to me. I am employed, our bills are paid and my family is healthy. My anger comes from lack of communication in my marriage and being overworked and spread so thin that I find I am unable to truly savor life. I feel like life is rushing past me and I am hollering for it to wait a bit so that I can keep up, but still I am missing it all. Lost teeth in my 7 year old’s mouth, foam curlers in my 9 year old’s hair, bad jokes over the kitchen table, fall’s bounty of veggies and squash and turning leaves are rushing by so fast I can’t even stop to be thankful for them. So I am left with this anger. But what good is it doing me? If I give into the anger, I am squashing my own joy. It feels good for a moment but then leaves me empty inside. Choosing joy, choosing to love, choosing to give thanks is hard, daily work, but it is worth it.

    • 144

      Yes, yes, yes. Smiling tears – and bowed grateful with you, Jamie. May we notice the moments — each one –and give thanks.
      Thank you, Lord.

  66. 145

    Dear Ann, you know I lost my job and health insurance 18 mos ago. It has been a long and difficult journey and now I am about to loose my health insurance again because of the US’s botched launch of Obamacare. I am harboring so much anger over the job and the fact that I may very well be without healthcare and that is scary.

    What I need right now is peace. I now God has a plan and I know I am in that plan, but the day to day worries are getting me. I am going back to read your book again in hopes and prayer that your words will come alongside me again and calm me.

  67. 146

    And yes, how selfish of me not to wish you good health! I am sad you are suffering and I pray God’s healing hand over you. Bless you my sweet friend!

  68. 147

    Oh sweet Ann!
    The Lord uses you & your words to inspire, uplift and convict!
    I must continually seek God and renew my mind in order to stay at peace.
    My family consists of three grown children. My eldest has disowned all of us and quite frankly, it’s hard to keep positive. It’s been going on for three years. I know God is working while I wait. And my mantra will be “strength will rise as we wait upon The Lord”!! Thanks for reminding me. Please pray for healing & restoration

  69. 148

    I just want to say reading your post and all the comments has reminded me once again the power of having community, unity and receiving strength from beautiful people of God. You may not receive it from your close loved ones as I do because they do not understand. But there are others that go through the same valleys Thank you! My heart felt hurt, sad.. I too need a job, and I will stand in believe with you all believing and knowing that God is going to provide for us all. Thank you for encouraging me again as you always do with your Blog Ann. God bless you!

  70. 149
    Joanne Peterson says:

    Motherhood, and just not being very good at it, and not being very good at housekeeping with two preschoolers in the house, and just not having energy to be a wife, and being menopausal. Feeling like I am not enough for my family and the demands and expectations of me.

    • 150
      monkey tamer says:

      We are never enough, but God is. He will fill in the gaps. Bless you sister, bless your weary heart

  71. 151

    This post spoke volumes to me.

    One week ago, I was diagnosed with a rare and incurable lung disease. I may have 5 years to live, I may have 20 years to live. No one knows why this disease progresses quickly in some and slowly in others. Eventually I will need a lung transplant.

    I have been praying to our Lord for healing of my heart and mind, but most of all healing of my lungs. There have been some very dark and lonely days and at times I have felt my faith faltering. But this post has reminded me, not to let Satan steal my joy. My joy is that God has blessed me with wonderful supportive Christian family and friends, He has blessed me with faith in Him and hope in Him. And for those things, I can smile.

    • 152
      Kirsten says:

      My heart goes out to you with the unknown before you…what you do have is the known of Jesus and I know that He heals….the stories abound and so I ask for Healing for you Roxy….that Jesus put His finger on your lungs and breathes the breath of life into you, His life, the one that He chose to give for you, dying and resurrection. I pray resurrection to your lungs and say ‘no to the disease in Roxy’s lungs” and say yes to the healing breath of life in Jesus’ name.

      • 153

        Thank you Kirsten. I appreciate your kind and loving words and thoughts and your prayers to our Lord. Jesus rewards persistence in prayer and as I continue to pray for myself, I ask that you please continue to pray for me too.

  72. 154

    My husband says we are “blessed” with a prodigal daughter. There are times I find hope when she calls just to chat or comes over for a pleasant visit. Then drama sets in one way or another–health issues because she is not taking care of herself, a toxic relationship she is in or only calling when she wants something. I sometimes freeze with fear because of her history–bad things have happened in so many ways. I would say the joy stealing comes from the fear of the past–but then I just read this in a devotion this morning–
    When we look to Jesus, and see His reflection, the distortion of the pace, pain and pressure of life is refocused and redirected. Feelings no longer take control and become our reality. The life of Christ can then be reflected into our lives, and the lives of those around us. The journey of your Christ Walk takes discipline and consistent perseverance. Thank you for your post Ann

  73. 155

    When I saw this today and clicked on it to read….I had JUST finished praying a cynical prayer and truly giving in to my anger. Against God. We’ve been making efforts in recent months to learn lessons and change wrong behaviors of the past. So we have been paying our tithe. Even when it hurts like the widow who gave her last two mites.
    We paid it this time knowing full well there would be more month than money.
    And sure enough….I fixed literally our last meal last night. I have an empty gas tank, an empty wallet, and empty cupboards and fridge. It’s all gone. i have a $150 heating bill that desperately needs to be paid for the below freezing temps hit tomorrow. I have been praying and crying out to God for days now, in anticipation of this moment!!! Pleading for his provision!! But there’s been nothing. I have four children….and they’re hungry this morning. I have nothing to give them. And I surely have no joy.
    Your blog post was so good and I enjoyed reading it, and mentally assented to it. But my heart, my grumbling tummy, and smile muscles just don’t have it in us. All I can say is please pray for us. Pray that God will prove himself faithful. I’ve run out of words to offer him…maybe someone else can get through

  74. 159
    Frances Still says:

    So needed to hear these words right now. I was just in the shower before reading and speaking to my Lord telling HIM that I would praise HIM today no matter what. It was a rough morning here in my house with three boys and a slight fender bender in my car on the way to my sons school. Satan could definetely use these opportunities to steal my joy, but I won’t let him!!!!

  75. 160
    Shannon says:

    Oh gosh did I NEED this today! I had 2 strokes the end of June. My short term disability ran out at the first of October. It was so helpful to have that. SSDI is still DETERMINING if I qualify for help. So, I am completely stressed and fearful, even though I KNOW that God has this and that we will be OK. I KNOW it but I don’t FEEL it. Does that make sense? My income paid most of our living expenses. My husband makes less money than I, but he does work close to home which helps so much since I now can’t drive either. It feels like so many things have been taken away. My ability to speak well, I have 2 kinds of aphasia, constant left side pain in arm, hand and leg. lost of hearing on left side and my vision of left side is spotty at best. We are struggling with each other and with faith… and I know it comes from fear, pure and simple. We are trying to be strong, but we are frayed, and our daughters see that and feel it. How do you move forward when it seems like the way is constandly blocked? How do you truly let go of fear in the face of devestation? I have no idea, we’ve been through job loss before, the death of a child, and lots of other losses… and we did make it through… but ways were made open for us. At this time, ways have not been opened, doors are closed everywhere we turn. It’s bizzare and disheartening to say the least… I do so appreciate your share though… I don’t have pneumonia, but I do know the feeling of NOT breathing… Shannon

  76. 161

    Pam please please don’t blame your self for the choices of free willed frail humans. Our God our Yahweh is Jehovah Roi the God who see ‘s who see’s all And He knows you did the best you could you did the best you could. You did the best you could. Sink that in. Please. I did the best I could I am still doin the best I can my oldest boy Jacob who is marked for ministry a prophetic worship mantle on this one is sitting is state prison an addict. He has 2 beautiful children both the mommy s addicts. In jail as well ! My husband is a preacher anointed with miracles n healing n deliverance ministry he is military disabled more then I can even go into my youngest son aspergers. Syndrome. Oh I have wasted years blaming myself asking what did I do wrong what did I get wrong. Ect ! Jehovah is sovereign He positions us makes arrangements for our discomfort pain. And sorrow to keep us seeking Him. You love Him you live for Him your children will come around. My son will walk in his calling my husband will be healed and declare the works of The Lord my joshua is designed and created uniquely for Gods plan and purpose for him our God is faithful He is actually the prodigal I just learned fri night from Louie Giglio prodigal actually means Lavish extravagant isn’t that awesome our lavish extravagant loving Father God is waiting to pour that love on you. Final end product He will have His way cast off the self hate and blame and get under the water fall of His prodigal love He is always. Good and you are always loves. As Ann always reminds us. Uh we love you Ann Voscamp. What a life line you are to so many

  77. 162
    Lonesome@home says:

    I just recently found your blogs and I have so enjoyed them. I am trying desperately to allow them to sink in. I have allowed life to steal my joy and I haven’t smiled in so long that it literally hurts to try. I have been married for 24 years but the last 13 have been lonely. There is no relationship there, never was but I have tried to remain and hope. Three years ago we had to ask our son to move out after struggling with him for 5 years of bad choices. My middle child just turned 18 and left with no warning in the middle of her high school year and I am desperately trying to get her to finish her education. My youngest is still at home and I try daily to hold it together for her. Who wants to be around a broken woman, right? I have tried to raise my children in a Christian home in a world that does not welcome it. Every thing I believe in goes against what they are drawn to in the world. I know I have allowed Satan to steal my joy, yet I do not know how to even begin to reclaim it. Each day I search for answers and try to remain faithful. My prayers for a speedy recovery to you. Thank you for sharing your heart and godly wisdom.

    • 163

      My dear sister,
      My heart goes out to you. I once sat where you are sitting now, with no joy and only grief. We have 5 children whom we home-educated, one dear daughter (14) still at home. Some of the others have gone off the rails big time, including drugs and a prison sentence, producing a grandson we never see, lesbian relationships etc.etc. Our marriage of 35years has undergone tremendous strain, and husband has become bitter and angry, and spiritually cold. He has shut down to us. I nearly went under with the pain of it all, but our faithful God pulled me out of the pit. A beautiful verse you can personalize and take to heart is in Isaiah 54, “My maker is my husband, the Lord of hosts is his name…..He has called me as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit…”. Allow the Lord to be a husband to you, and cherish His arms around you. Encourage your daughter to look to God as her Father, who is a “Father to the fatherless”, and “When my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up”. Start enjoying your daughter and have fun with her, and leave the rest to God, who does great and mighty things. Be blessed.

  78. 164

    This is the question, isn’t it? Why would you let something steal your joy? I feel like I need to have someone stand next to me and whisper those words all day long. When I feel completely overwhelmed by the 5 kids, the tight budget, the unfulfilled dreams, I need to come back to this. Just breathe…smile…joy. So true. So good. So simple. and So hard. thanks ann for continuing to speak to my soul. your honesty is a gift.

  79. 165

    My husband is a pastor. Lately, some grumpy church members have been trying to steal our joy. He has just started offer ing communion weekly and it has been amazing how upset people have become at the idea of getting more Jesus. It has been heartbreaking and so discouraging to hear what people say about my husband. It is only a few that feel this way, but after hearing it from this same few day after day it is so easy to let it steal our joy. Ann, you always have a way of whispering Christ’s encouragement into my soul. Thank you…

  80. 166

    Anger overflowed here this morning. Two daughters with special needs. When we filled out the adoption papers, the only box I remember checking was “no” to special needs. I remember thinking..wow..I can’t do that. But..God bless the mama’s who can. God had other plans. They are 8 and 9 and I feel as though it will never end. Most of the time, I can see the small miracles of grace unfolding, but today..all i saw was my own energy gone, my own laments and rants. Timely reminder today. Thank you.

  81. 168

    I so didn’t want to read this today. I wanted to stay in my pity party, as miserable as I’ve been. But isn’t just like God not to leave us alone when we are like little kids pulling the covers over our heads telling Him to go away. :) I’m a full time staff pastor, mom of three little boys and wife. 14 years of serving and you just get tired….of people, of church, of sadness, and hurt. It’s easy to slip into a place where the joy is gone. And I know full well that when the joy is gone there is no strength. How the enemy wants us in that pit! I’m telling you, smiling today is truly surrender…giving up my right to be angry and hurt and tired and fed up…. and choosing to trust Him to take care of me, that He loves me, that He’s working all things for the good. A smile is surrender today.

  82. 169

    Ann,

    I am thinking of you and pray for your recovery

    Thank-you for sharing this message even though you are going through what you are.

    Be well….

    Penny

  83. 170
    Karen Fawcette says:

    I believe that satan is working overtime… he senses something in each of us that he can destroy. I too have suffered loss – two years ago my mom, and along with that alot of family relationships shattered, then two jobs…and have been unemployed for over a year… a son in jail, weight gain from ‘depression eating’… and still today, after reading your blog — I tried it, I smiled. And I could sense it… joy. How hard it is some days to make ourselves smile…through pain, doubt, fear, loneliness, despair… if we can only grasp for a second that satan is happy when we are not, and force a smile… we will be built up inside with the strength of the Lord’s joy. Thank you for the reminder, the encouragement… this too shall pass — and the joy of the Lord will be our strength to get through…

  84. 171

    Fear. The irrational, illogical, trapping kind. I am so frustrated to feel this fragile and unpredictable. I have been singing “The joy of the Lord is my strength” over and over, so thank you for your timely words. Praying that your body gets strong and well soon.

  85. 172

    After reading some of the notes – I realize that we all have a LOT in common. I too, lost my job this summer (8/21) and have come to terms with that loss to see it as a blessing. Even though, at the time, it was one of the most stressful times of my life. My step-dad passed away in July; I experienced my first ’round’ of diverticulitis that same week; and, upon being scanned for that, found out that I have an ovarian cyst). So, not only are we struggling financially, but, health-wise as well. But, in all of this, I still know He can calm the storms – and, that He will guide us (if we, in our stubbornness, will let Him). We can cast our burdens upon Him…and, take up His yoke.

    Oh, and, my Asperger’s son is a senior in high school, so, we’ve been looking at local colleges – prayers definitely coveted for him, and us, as we seek a campus that will meet his needs. He is my primary concern at this point, as I am making my best effort to ‘let go, let God’ in the other concerns. You know how we Moms can be when it comes to our kids – holding on! ;D Phil 4:19

  86. 173

    Oh Ann! At first I thought I was reading a past post of yours and your pneumonia. Then I realized that you probably have it again… Can you get a nanny/housekeeper to take up your chores so you can rest? Your body is trying to tell you something! Praying for your speedy recovery. Just wanted to mention there some are great essential oils you can breathe with steam or put on your feet that are used for respiratory distress. Healing oils that were used in Biblical times.

  87. 174

    As I await my own appointment this afternoon for a second set of chest x-rays to see if any progress is being made in my pneumonia this really reached out and held my chin up to see into the Father’s eyes. To see his compassion, tenderness and the fire of passion he has over the plans for my life was such a gentle correction to my tired soul. We have spent the last 6 months in and out of the hospital with my 3rd child, my toddler… first for a serious asthma attack that kept him on full oxygen for 8 days and then e.coli poisoning with some serious kidney damage and 10 more days in the hospital later. While God is providing, it is so tiring and my strength finally gave out just in time for me to be the special speaker to our youth group of 150 tomorrow night. I was desperately reaching for God’s strength until I read this article just now and felt the tender whisper of my Redeemer say, “Be still, my child. Know that I am God. Know that I want my word to be heard by the hearts I am preparing. Know that I am holding you. Trust me.” Thank you for sharing your weakness, Ann. Thank you for reminding us where our strength comes from- the joy of the Lord!

    • 175

      You bless, Sarah. Praying for His strength to revive your heart (and lungs), friend. Also fervent prayers for your precious toddler. With your mama heart…

  88. 176

    Hmm…what is keeping me from Joy is ironically the same thing (child) that brings our family so much JOY. Our family has a precious, baby boy living in our home. He has been with us for just about one year, dropped off at our door step afraid and alone. There is a possibility that he could leave. Struggling with fear of the unknown, my heart wants him to stay forever. Struggling with Peace for this little boy. Of course, he is God’s child, not ours. Requesting prayers for not only “our” little boy but the thousands of children all around us living in foster homes……to not give up but to give more. JOY, it’s in me and right there in front of me. Thank you for the reminder.

    • 177

      Beautiful heart, beautiful words — just thank you, Tami. Thank you for giving, serving, being the gift. The hands and feet of Jesus. Praying with you in this. Heart hurts with yours.

  89. 178

    The waiting room often times steals my joy, waiting for prayers to be answered, waiting on God to bring light upon a situation, waiting just because it’s time to wait, waiting on results, waiting to get well soon, waiting on finally learning a lesson, sometimes it’s hard to sing “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord” waiting weakens my body.

    Today I was choosing to believe more in the power of my complaint and then I saw your post on FB “Does my life testify to my belief in the power of complaint — or the power of Christ?” JUST WHAT I WAS THINKING (of course I did not want to read it at first, and wanted to wallow on my self pity
    for a little longer)!! Incredible how God works in community, He takes us through suffering and comforts us so we might help comfort the body of Christ. He blesses us so we can bless others, though it may be painful.

    Thankful for His comfort to you, though I know it hurts, but He blessed me and many others today through your struggle. My prayers go out to you and your family all the way from Mexico! :)

    p.s. keep us posted on the Pneumonia

  90. 179

    Thanks you for your wise words today. I felt God telling me some weeks ago “I am stripping you down of all that clogs up your life” and “What you call strength is not strength”. I took pride in my busy life but without Grace or gentleness. Two weeks ago my husband and I came home from a challenging mission trip in Africa. Three days later I was barely conscious, massively dehydrated and confused. I was admitted to hospital (infectious diseases) with severe pneumonia, renal injury, sepsis and a parasitic infection. All thought to have been acquired in a refugee camp. I am home now, but not allowed to do anything physical for at least six weeks. So in effect, my life has been cancelled for a while. But you know what?? God allowed it, for my good, and in this recovery period I remember about the stripping, and I’m just going to lie back in Abba’ s arms and choose joy. I have to, Don’t I? Blessings and complete healing for you dear one xxx

  91. 180

    So much… frustration… worry… envy… self pity…
    Things I allow to seem so big, which are so small and powerless when placed at the foot of the cross.

  92. 181

    Ann, I’m praying for your health….thank you for the encouragement!

    For me, the past few years have brought about a son’s divorce, a daughter’s moving 30 hours drive away, retirement of my husband from the church we planted and loved for 15 years, betrayal from some of “God’s people” who I would have sworn were some of our best friends, husband’s rejection from 2 secular and one ministry job(s)…, my starting my own practice which I love!, our house value plummeting, and not selling since June on the market, my daughter moving back here for a wonderful job opportunity, my son finding an amazing woman to ask to marry, another son doing well in college and a sweetheart, my mother-in-law dying of cancer, my mom getting cancer, my sister getting Crohn’s Disease, my nephew doing drugs and now sober…..I could list all day the things that God has taken away in his own great wisdom and the things he’s given–all Blessings but oh, how difficult to walk through at the moment by moment….as I look back, Abba’s been right there, here, loving, encouraging, helping, soothing, comforting…and HE always will be. I have no doubt! (tho sometimes I do doubt). We need one another like this! We need to hear each other’s stories and encourage and share and cry and rejoice….one day, we’ll all be together and we’ll understand everything and everything will make sense….LOVED is what we are, WORTHY is what we are, CONNECTED is what we need…Love to all you writers and prayers. Cindy

  93. 183

    May the joy of The Lord be your “RESTING” place! Praying for your exuberant healing of that which gives you breath, oxygen and feeds your body and nourishes the body of believers! Go Soak in stillness girl!

  94. 185

    That knot in the stomach… fear. What if? As a 1st-year homeschool mom, I want my kids to do well and LOVE learning. So, I pine if we don’t accomplish enough in a day… Other days I push them too hard then that love of learning is replaced by my sense of accomplishment. Also, resigning instead of faithful prayer for loved ones who seem never to change. But, what an awesome God we serve! He views us with such pity and concern and love! It breaks my heart and I hunger and thirst to know Him and serve Him better each day! Yes, joy, as all the other fruits, are choices. We DO it, for HIM! He loves us and has given Himself for us!!

  95. 187

    This is so timely for me right now. My father died in September and we’re burying him tomorrow. My sister and I live with him and been caring for him at home. I gave up a job in London in 2006 to come home and look after my mother, who died only a few years later, and stayed to look after my father. Our relatives were no help, if anything they add to our burdens with their expectations and bullying. We can stay in this house for our lifetimes but others own shares in it. I don’t have a job to help pay to run it, and I’m so afraid of the future. All I do is clean and cook and cry. I’m dreading the funeral tomorrow. I have Daddy’s eulogy to write and I can’t seem to concentrate. I am so fearful about how we’re going to manage after this.

    I know I just need to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for me and that he will help me one day at a time. It is hard to be cheerful when so much bad has happened. But it’s harder to stay sad when God brings so much beauty and joy into the world.

    God bless you for writing this, Ann. May he surround you and your family with love and healing until he brings you out into a spacious place.

  96. 188

    Love this! Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? How true! Thank you for sharing I need this reminder. May God heal you quickly:)

  97. 189

    I tend to steal my own joy. By overloading myself. By trying to do it all, everything. But with posts on (in)courage, being a part of an (in)courage group, joining bloom’s Fall book club along with TWO blogs (see?) I am learning to rest in His arms, smiling.

    I know the pneumonia poor baby. It lifts it’s ugly head way to often. Get your shot darlin… I just got mine last Monday. And the oxygen…. 12 years with it now 24/7 because of COPD.

    I realized, just this morning, that when an ‘old thought’ of being anxious (as I have not ‘caught up with my plans for today’) a Bible verse pops into my head and I smile!

    Before reading this, before coming to (in)courage it was…. Philippians 4:6
    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication;
    And I did smile… without even knowing!

    So as I go about my day, it will happen again and I will think of God and you and smile…

    Thank you for this post!
    To me it was God’s affirmation that I am on the correct path!
    Love,
    Patty

  98. 190

    Unkn

  99. 191
    Jeannine says:

    Thank you, Ann! I so needed to read this today with my husband going through another severe struggle with anxiety and depression and two toddlers to care for. God is good. He is showing me His love in so many ways while we go through this time. Your post is one of them – as well as the new Natalie Grant song you posted on your blog :) .

  100. 192
    Suzanne says:

    We have so much to be thankful for and yet I am guilty of being “unhappy” with our current circumstances… Dear Lord, please forgive me & help me to see Your love all around me.

  101. 193
    Peg Fury says:

    Destine’s on-and-off defiance is sometimes stealing my joy. But sometimes I remember to breathe, and to respond calmly. This morning I remembered something you wrote somewhere or other, about when your kid’s behavior most repelled you, that was the time to draw closest to them. So I sat on the couch with her and hugged her, and we talked through some of the fear and jealousy that have been sending her into rants. I think we made some headway. God has promised me to bring glory to Himself through this child’s life. He didn’t say Satan wouldn’t try to steal her all along the way. I just need to remember that God’s ways are more powerful than Satan’s, and to try to make myself as available to Him as I can.
    Thanks as always for your witness.

  102. 194

    After five years of working to overcome mono and anxiety, and believing that the worst was over, suddenly my heart is acting up and as of yet doctors can’t say why. In the meantime it wakes me up at night. The fatigue makes the days hard and anxiety and depression are a constant battle.
    I try to trust in Gods love and goodness but I get worn out physically and emotionally so much at times.
    I am challenged and encouraged by your question about what steals my joy? I don’t want to let this win. And to smile. Even when I feel like crying.
    I want to encourage you too, Ann. My sister recently had pneumonia which reoccurred. But with rest and medication she healed and is well now! I pray you will be able to rest! It’s so hard with the demands of a family. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us.

    • 195
      KPhelps says:

      Consider a pharmaceutical grade magnesium..there’s one by a company called Jigsaw…time release. Most of us are magnesium deficient for a variety of reasons. It may help with many of your symptoms, including your experience of depression. Soaking in a hot tub..adding 1 cup of epsom salts and a bit of lavendar oil might help as well. God has provided so much for us…I’m so grateful to him for helping me discover these seemingly hidden gems he so graciously gives.

      Blessings to you,
      Kath

  103. 196
    KPhelps says:

    Ann…consider taking a pharmaceutical grade probiotic 2x a day. The one I use here in the states is Ultimate Flora-Critical Care (50 BILLION live cultures) manufactured by a company called ReNew Life. You can find them online if you don’t have access to them in Canada. If you’ve been prescribed anti-biotics repeatedly for pneumonia your body needs to be replenished with GOOD bacteria because that’s how the Lord has put us together! YOU HAVE TO REST. Bottom line! It sounds like that’s what’s on the menu for you at this juncture! Oh the goodness of the Lord to help us to STOP when he knows that’s what’s needed.
    Also, you might find this wonderful website helpful http://www.culturedfoodlife.com … if you can carve out the time, watch her short video. Her story will inspire and lift your heart to the heavens.
    Be blessed dear one,
    Much love to you and those you love..
    KPhelps

  104. 197

    Thanks for the great words of encouragement. My husband and I have been through 2 1/2 months of a large amount of stress. We recently decided to set up an artist’s studio for him on the central coast of California. In order to do that though, we had to move out of our house, move his studio over there, put nearly all our belongings in storage and rent a room from my Mom so that we can afford the studio. I know that God has a great experience in store for us by taking the opportunity to realize one our dreams. But I have been overwhelmed by stress and worry through this whole process and your words remind me that I have lost my joy. This is the day for healing and to trust God and SMILE and not let the devil take any more than he has already. Thanks again for your wonderful insight.

  105. 198
    Christy says:

    The Lord is leading me to a new chapter in my life and I’m fearful and excited at the same time..but also running. Raised my three girls as a single mom for the past 12 years, on my own. God is faithful. So faithful, and He provides when I couldn’t/can’t. They are all in college now. Smart and walking straight and saved by the blood. I didn’t do this….He did because I gave it to Him years ago. Now I am an empty nester and standing at the edge of this big crevice wondering how I’m going to get over to the other side, where He wants me to serve. He will provide..physically, but I have to go emotionally and mentally. So I stand here with open hands and cry because I am scared of how this will change things

  106. 199

    Thank you ann…..
    Ive beautiful beautiful family…a hardworking loving husband and the most gorgeous boys….one whos laughter makes the heart glad and another who’s eyes light up a room….
    Why then…. is the void in my heart so big…
    the darkness isnt lifting this time, in fact it has got so dark that i have tried to take matters into my own hands to end the darkness…
    I’m lying in bed after spending 3 tear stained days in torture after a Happy week (first in many) finding it hard to smile…..when i decide flick open the computer….and i stumble open this…..
    you’ve made me concentrate on 3 things from today that will give me JOY…
    1 the clicking of the computer…means my husband is close by…
    2 the bluest of blue eyes of my firstborn…nathan…my Gift from God…
    3 the cheeky little laughter of my football loving youngest….my precious reuben

    any time the prince of darkness tries to pull me into the darkest of places i will remember these 3 things…

    Thank you
    Laura (a new follower)

  107. 200

    I just want to send you love and a huge smile. Thank you for faithfully writing your true heart Ann. You make me smile – and I’ve found that smiles are highly contagious.

  108. 201
    Sarah F. says:

    I’m 19 years old, My dad died 7 months ago…. I am overwhelmed by fear, anger, worry, stress, and sadness. Falling into depression… so badly trying to find answers to my questions, Peace and Joy for my heart and life…

    Thank you for these words of truth and encouragement.

    Much Love, Sarah

  109. 202
    AnnMarie Dixon says:

    Thanks Ann for this article. So much going on right now that I have let the cares of this world steal my joy and strength. I will try and smile more knowing that it will lift my soul and God will work through me. Thanks again.

  110. 203

    fear of failing in college, fear of always studying and missing out on precious moments with my daughter….. most of all fear of trying so hard to make a better life for her and I, trying to make it out of the “single young mom on public assistance” life, that I never give her a FULL life,……

    • 204
      KPhelps says:

      A friend of mine did a word study on the word fear! Guess what? According to her, the words “fear not” appear 365 times throughout scripture! Whew! A “fear not” for EVERYDAY OF THE YEAR!! The Lord knows our frailty doesn’t he..and I’m glad of that! He is so tender with us…he gathers us in his arms…finds us when we’re lost, hold us close even when we’re thrashing about. I know what it is to live FEAR too. I forget how BIG our God is…that my name is written on his hands (Yours too!). He knows you. He knows your name and where you live…He knows when you wake and when you lie down on your bed at night. He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb…and that’s a “knowing” that surpasses anything I’ve ever heard of in my 61 years of walking this earth! I encourage you to consider those that have gone on before us….all frail, broken, and needy people, ALL. God’s people. One of the most helpful things I remember hearing from the pulpit that I like to reflect on is this: THE ONLY THING WE CAN BRING TO THE LORD.. IS OUR NEED. That’s where the rubber meets the road! We come with empty hands and longing hearts needing to be filled over and over, over and over.

      I pray that the Lord will bring the people HE INTENDS to come alongside you as you walk this journey with him. In Christ, NOTHING ever goes to waste. We are on the potter’s wheel being formed in His image as HE WILLS.

      Many blessings dear one,
      KPhelps

  111. 205
    KPhelps says:

    I can’t even describe how refreshing and encouraging it is for me this morning to read these words….ALL OF THEM. ALL who are sharing their lives here. God’s people…walking along this bumpy road at this time in GOD’S HISTORY. Thank you for being REAL and TRANSPARENT and willing to share your lives. So often we tend to slip into empty Christian platitudes…”easy” answers for one another, speaking “Christian-ese” rather than the language of the heart. Thank you Lord, for directing my steps here today. I needed to be reminded of who YOU are…who YOUR people are…who I am in you. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul…and all that is within me bless His holy name.

  112. 206

    Help me! My fear robs me of joy, it puts me in a dark, dark place where I am scared to be and where I am afraid to escape to something new. I sit and I cry and I hurt and I long to be free. I am tired of struggling against the hijacker, I can’t do it anymore. Ann, am I lost?

    • 207
      harriet says:

      You are not lost. You are like a sheep caught among thornbushes but the Good Shepherd sees you right there, and help is surely on the way.
      You may need a person alongside to help you for a bit. if you do not have anyone at all, ask God to show you somebody. I live in Europe and your heartcry touches me – Ruth, I will pray for you tonight.

  113. 208

    As a tear lingers on the edge of my eye, I have to laugh about God’s timing. I had just reached the precipice of my frustration and was tumbling over the edge, crying, literally, out to God, when I came upon this post. God heard my plea and answered.

    Yes, I was abandoned after 28 years of marriage. Yes, I’ve been unemployed going on 3 years. Yes, I am bankrupt. Yes, my back hurts a lot, injured doing what I love. No, I can’t do anything I used to love to do. No, I can’t go to the doctor because I don’t have the money or the health insurance.

    But I can smile. I can be grateful. I can count all the ways God has been good and has provided. I can look at the pictures of my unbelievably adorable 4-month-old granddaughter, smiling back at me from 400 miles away, and whisper, “I am so blessed with this family HE gave me.” I can look into the pools of blue belonging to the man God blessed me with 3 1/2 years ago and know, He cares for me even more than how this man adores me.

    Thank you, Ann, for being the catalyst for smiles. Heal well.

  114. 209

    I am almost ashamed to say that I too have something stealing my joy, when I hear of you and others that have much worse things. My Grandmother passed and I miss her terribly. I have a job that I truly hate, but I do have a job. I have a family that I adore. I have a home and a great husband. I should be so very blessed and happy. I will try to smile more.
    Thank you for your post.

    • 210
      V. Higgins says:

      Laura,
      It is difficult, so much of our days consist of our work (whether that be at home or not), and when you truly dislike your work, it is a struggle. I pray that God will be near to you and that you will experience the filling up of the Holy Spirit in you to help you in your work and in your grief.
      Hugs to you dear sister.

  115. 211

    All the recent changes in my life has caused much stress and worry and it sucks away all joy. Some days it turns to anger and sadness and it is hard to manage especially when I need to be able to because I am a stay at home mom. I really try to focus on my fabulous daughter to keep me going, which most days she is my saving grace! I know one day things will get easier and go back to somewhat normal. I just pray for patience and peace until then. Thanks for your encouraging words and I pray the lord will heal you as you have helped in “healing” others.

  116. 212

    wow!!! Praise the Lord! Thank you Ann. I so needed these words this morning & for this season of waiting I am in . thank you. thank you.

  117. 213
    V. Higgins says:

    Oh this touched me!
    Yesterday was very unnerving, for the second time in a couple months, unsolicited roses were given to me… first time they were left on my car, no note, definitely wasn’t anyone I knew. This time they were on my office windowsill. Whoever this person is, they know which office in the building is mine. This is very unnerving as I work in a 3 room office, alone. There was a plan in place to have me move offices in about a month, now it will be happening in less than a week. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
    But even though I do not know what is going on behind these ‘gifts’, God does and His timing is perfect.

    • 214

      It’s sad that we live in a day and age where this gesture seems a bit odd instead of being romantic as it would have been viewed in the past. I pray it’s an admirer (who isn’t creepy) and perhaps someone that you might be able to get to know.

  118. 215
    Kathy S says:

    Just this morning I was praying over critical needs – two years of unemployment for my husband, a disintegrating marriage of nearly 24 that has been without affection and intimacy since our honeymoon, living with a hoarder and watching my child become a protégé in the same vein. Not really getting a handle on any of it. And the Lord says to me this morning as I pull into my parking place at work, “It is time to take off the mantle of sadness and replace it with My Mantle of joy.” I really don’t know how to do it; but I am certain the Lord will show me. Your Word today is confirmation that in joy is strength – not in demanding consideration, anger, frustration and tears. This, today, is my prayer. Help me to put on Your Mantle of Joy, oh Lord, my Maker and Redeemer.

  119. 216

    As I read all of these comments and feel the pain of so many trying to keep their joy, I think why am I feeling so bad. Mine is a loss of the past and a fear for the future. 25 years ago last week our 3rd child, our 3 year old son was killed in an accident; after that I lost 3 babies. I read 1000 Gifts in the weeks leading up to last week. I vowed I was going to get through it with joy, with Thanks Giving. I did good until the night before the anniversary then I lost it. Today is the first day I feel free of the pain that anniversary always brings. the fear of the future is that all my children have grown up and left home now, and I had always felt that maybe they would all stay near the farm, near me. but they have not. and the younger two have just announced that one is going to Nashville in April. and the other is going to California in April but with a questionable person. My closest son, the eldest has a house up the road but he is moving an hour away next week and the eldest daughter is 4 hours away. I’m just feeling such pain.
    And yet, compared to what so many of you are facing this is really nothing. I must let go of the past. I just don’t know how.

    • 217

      Barb, praying for you. Asking God to wash His peace all over you….. I have adult children too… some of the choices they make are so very hard on my mama heart. I have not walked your shoes but I wanted you to know I care… and I am thinking of you. My life has completely changed since I started counting gifts…. in 2006-2007. Changed the way I see life… hasn’t changed my situation but the way I see…. it is amazing. Much love, Barb.

  120. 218

    Last night in our dgroup we were listening to One Thousand Gifts dvd… amazing how you post this today. Session 4…. The Bridge to Joy. I can choose Joy (like Gitzen girl/Sara) even when I do not understand, when my dreams die…. I can choose Joy and enJOY each moment with my children that are still home and TRUST God… always .. especially with my older adult children who are at of our home. Quote from one of my fav. shows… reminded me of what you have always shared… “Even on your hardest day there is the possibility of JOY.”

    Praying for you, Ann. Asking God to heal you completely…. also, sorry I missed you at catalyst… really wanted to hug your neck!

    much love

  121. 219

    Last night was horrible at our house… I’m allowing my husbands anger to steal my joy. I’m getting closer and closer to calling it quits and I’m scared I’ll make the wrong decision. This blog was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you.

    • 220

      Dear sister,
      Please take a look at the reply I sent to “lonely@home”, further up the list. May God give you the strength to remain faithful to your wedding vows and to let HIM be a husband to you. Remember that the enemy wants to destroy your family, but he can only do it if you let him. You can bring joy into your home, as long as you look away from the circumstances and look to Jesus. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Praying for you.

    • 221

      Jen,
      My husband’s anger has been hard to deal with too. After returning from 6 months of mission work, he has been lost and confused. Top this with our pastor (and dear friend) having an affair and dropping off the face of the planet. I have felt so often close to giving up. I hear the voice of the enemy tell me how I’ve put up with enough, how I deserve better. His evil voice whispers to me the long list of wrongs. Then God reminds me that He has plans for me, that He ordains marraige and He wills it to stay forever, that TRUE LOVE keeps NO RECORD of wrongs. That His love for me is patient, and kind, and longsuffering. And that MY love for my husband must be too. That love endure all things and hopes all things and above all LOVE NEVER FAILS. And each time I feel closer to giving up, He sends me reminders– many of them Ann’s posts on A Holy Experience, or a song, or an old note written from my husband, or something else that reminds me that HE HAS PLANS FOR US– PLANS TO PROSPER US! Have no fear, dear sister, your husband needs you in this time. If he is angry and lashing out, he is HURTING inside. Ask God to show you your husband’s heart behind his hurt, ask Him to send you reminders of the man your husband truly is. He can get us through this! And He will! Also, I have begun fasting one day a week as I pray for my husband. I am seeing some signs of spring. Hold on, dear sister, He has got you! And He can HEAL YOUR HUSBANDS HEART and my husband’s heart too! Much love, dear sister, much love! :-)

  122. 222

    I used to have problems with repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis, so a couple of things come to mind that might be helpful to you. I was tested for allergies and then had a series of allergy shots. It really made a difference for me. I have not had any serious respiratory incident for at least 10–12 years now. Also, I agree with the suggestion to make sure you have adequate Magnesium and good probiotics (either as a supplement and/or preferably in fermented foods). In addition, keep in mind the dark leafy greens and bright orange veggies for vitamin A, as well as those foods high in vitamin C. And the final thing I’ll mention, that actually came first to my mind, is the suggestion to try to cut refined grains and sugar from your diet. These lower one’s immune system . . . along with many other detrimental effects to one’s health. With love, from a fellow pilgrim who is learning how to be a good steward in caring for this body I’ve been given. Shalom (in the fullest sense of the word) :)

  123. 223

    Fibromyalgia, human parvovirus, and some soul healing (pain in the process) are trying to chew away at my joy. Praying for your strength, and that of all the ladies commenting today. A God who knows, hears, and answers brings me joy.

  124. 224

    Ann,
    This: “Cynicism isn’t strength and ranting doesn’t rejuvenate and frustration can never accomplish what Faith can.” This is what I’ve been feeling for so long and haven’t known exactly how to get up and out from under it. So many things in this world to be cynical and skeptical about, but you are so right. These things never bring me strength or rejuvenation or more faith. You have put words to something I could never quite articulate or reach out and grasp. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m about half way through your 1000 gifts book. It’s beautiful and rich and full of strength, rejuvenation and faith. You are an amazing steward of God’s grace. I hope you feel better soon. Hugs & Prayers coming your way.

  125. 225
    Toni LaCentra says:

    I feel like I could pour buckets of ice and cold water on the sidewalk so all could see the emptiness of the last 14 years. My husband died then. Here now,I am all alone and smiling has been a weight bearing exercise. Recently, however, a friend has challenged me to be thankful for small things…like being grateful for Face Time and the times I get to spend with my great grands there and not be sad because they are so far away…thinking about how things info and want affect others. it’s not just a ME world. Smiles come easier…arms outstretched to Jesus whom sits on the throne and unto the Lamb…Smiling deep within at the quiet place I am in now…dog and me and the fall sunshine. Love and appreciation, Toni

  126. 226
    Linda Ayer says:

    My daughter Carrie Ayer age 37 lives on the Big Island Hawaii with her husband Colin. She was told she thyroid cancer last Friday. I live in Northern Nevada so far away from her. She has an appointment with the doctors in Oahu which is a different Island in Hawaii on the 28 of this month to see what stage she is in and what their treatment plans are for her. I want to be with her, but money is a issue since I live off social security disability which is about $1000.00 a month. Praying God will heal her and I do not want her to go through this alone. Who ever read this please pray for her, Thanks!

  127. 227

    I am trying to smile through the tears because my friend died last Friday after a relatively short illness from cancer. We were teenage sweethearts and then went our separate ways till God miraculously brought us back together after forty years. We have spent two years and nine months sharing a wonderful friendship. When he got diagnosed with the cancer the Lord graciously enable me to care for him in the residential home I manage. i nursed him till the end and then spent the last two days and nights with him in the hospice. I kept my promise to hold his hand to the end and was ab;e to be with him till his last breath. Our time was short but in the four months of his illness we discovered a holy love which blessed us every day. I miss him and he has left a huge hole in my heart but i thank the Lord for all the blessings we had, which we would have missed if he hadn’t had cancer. Tearful but thankful for so much

    • 228

      Alice,

      My heart hurts reading your post as I lost a dear friend to lung cancer this past May. He was 35 (my age). I completely understand that hole in your heart. I pray for your healing and yet I can see how thankful you are to have been able to be his caregiver for his last last couple months.

      Much love,
      Maria

  128. 229

    Nehemiah 8:10–such a familiar verse. But your twist, Ann, gives a crisp freshness to the well-worn words: “Let something steal your joy — and you let something steal your strength.”

    Thank you for the Smile Project, to help me choose joy, so my spirit is open to receive God’s strength!

  129. 230

    I am a Momma of 5 and I am on my third week of battling/recovering from Pneumonia. My husband doctor and sweet friends have me on all kinds of good healing remedies, alas, I am back to bed today….This post was such a God-send to me. I have joy and love all around me. I want to let the healing of my body to be inner-twined with my soul!! Thank you, Ann!

  130. 231
    harriet says:

    I get quite impatient at God sometimes – why does it all take so long? But I must admit it’s true: physically smiling helps! Lauging at myself helps, too! Realizing He is gently smiling with me – that’s just great. But talking and praying with others helps best.
    Bless you!
    PS: Ann, my doctor instructed me to take a walk every day. Walk away from it all for a bit. She is right, too.

  131. 232

    Ann, thanks and thanks again! SMILE, sometimes I forget too or don’t realize my furrowed brow, until my husband says”What are you thinking and worrying about?” Wow, is it that obvious that I am not even aware of my own countenance. Everything you write pierces my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and I am reading one thousand gifts for the second time since July. It started to change me and then I became distracted. I feel God doing something in me , and this time I am determined to dig a little deeper and keep my list and be mindful of all the gifts he bestows daily. Feel better soon, many prayers for u today sweet Ann.

  132. 233
    Annie P says:

    What is stealing my joy is an addiction I’ve been bulimic for 30 years . I’m going to try to smile more. Thanks Anne

  133. 234

    Sharon Hearn, my heart goes out to you so deeply. I have been where you are now, many years ago with our son. Your words echoed what I too felt, but oh Sharon , He is so faithful. He was always there with me.He turned my mourning into dancing! I would like to talk with you. allforhim_ml@yahoo.com

  134. 235
    Catherine says:

    Ann,

    How incredibly God works in us to will and do of His good pleasure! Praying for your healing and awed by His timing. Last night after having an honest, but very difficult, discussion with my brother we had to agree to stop speaking to each other for a little while. I have never in my life not been able to pick up the phone and talk to him. He has been my best friend my entire life and we have helped each other through the darkest times of our lives. I knew though that what I had said needed to be brought up, no matter how uncomfortable.

    As I was waiting for my train home, after this conversation, and after a great many tears, the song by Charlie Chaplin, “Smile” was playing over the speakers in the train station. And I knew it was God reminding me that He has the entire situation under control, and my only responsibility is to rest in my faith in Him, and receive his love and joy. And now today, you remind us to smile. I’m getting the message!

    Reading your book, and now following your blog has been so incredibly important to my journey of faith of joy! Even just a year ago this situation would have cost me my peace and my health because of worry and stress. But I have grown so much. Now when a difficult or hurtful situation confronts me, I am immediately thankful for those things around me that are gifts, and I give God the parts I can’t figure out. And here, you have made a space for all of us to share our hearts, make each other smile, and pray for our sisters and brothers that we’ve never even met! What an incredible gift you have given us all. I know that in His presence, you will find healing. Thank you, and so much love!

  135. 236

    Major depressions steals my joy. My addictions steal my joy. My fear of abandonment steals my joy. Not knowing what my purpose is steals my joy. My being unreliable steals my joy. My medical issues steal my joy. I don’t want to be in this world anymore. I’ve made suicide attempts before but I’ve promised my adult daughters that I wouldn’t do it again. I still think about it often. I am in counseling and see 2 NPs. My horrible messy house steals my joy. I am overwhelmed.

    • 237

      seek God first. sounds simplistic, but that’s the first step. YEARS ago, before i found the Lord, I too was suicidal and tried it a couple times. i actually tried it as a child, too. (so i can say, been there, done that with the depression, addictions, fear of abandonment, etc.) i’ve been walking with the Lord for 23 years now and have learned that our enemy will do anything to end our lives. it’s easy to say “don’t give in” to those thoughts, but much harder to put in practice. find a Bible-believing church that knows about spiritual bondage and setting captives free, and that can walk with you. the oppression can be lifted but you need to seek the way out from under it. a relationship with the living God is the only answer.

  136. 238

    financial bondage – in debt around $40,000, mostly because of my (ex)husband’s issues during our marriage that ended in 2012 after almost 20 years. and being laid-off from a great job that i only had for 9 months … unemployment ended last month … i’m hundreds short now to pay the monthly bills and will be until i can find work. thought i would be ruined within 2 months of the lay-off, made it through until this month with God’s amazing fishes and loaves miracles (which is just about 8 months). after 80+ applications and a couple handfuls of interviews, my joy comes and goes … thanks for the reminder that joy IS a choice, that i need to continue to smile. my son, who graduates from high school this spring, is learning some valuable lessons about trusting and leaning on the Lord. i’m learning these lessons, too, learning that the Lord my Husband and Father, and my everything. i have two estranged daughters and an estranged mother, and have had to be independent all my life. it’s been challenging to learn to be dependent on God, but He is faithful beyond comprehension. so grateful for my church – God arranged for a church home change and it’s so amazing to be under leadership that truly seeks Jesus first and the leading of the Holy Spirit instead of performance-style worship and programs. while i wish my plans to be debt-free and on the way to the international mission field to help trafficked victims after my son graduates, i’m grateful for the heart-changes the Lord has done in me during these last 8 months (and who knows for how many more). i just need to keep remembering to smile and not lose my joy, especially since His joy and His peace are what have kept me going through the marriage, family, and financial losses. God is good, no matter what.

  137. 239

    I am thankful! So very thankful. LIfe hasn’t been easy but my Father has given me strength and hope. Sometimes in the middle of work/play/life an intense melancholy grabs me and holds tight. I have been through enough therapy to know there are reasons, but sometimes it is just unexplainable. Sure, life happens. I don’t expect everything to be lovely all the time. But it isn’t even when things are rough that the melancholy hits. I’ve learned to just be quiet and allow it to pass, continually expressing praise and thanksgiving to my maker, just allowing it pass. It always does, eventually. Thanks for all your blogs. I read them daily and rejoice.

    • 240
      Kirsten says:

      I remember after suffering with depression for 7 years….not diagnosed….. I was prayed for and it was gone….until one fine summer day it came at me unexpectedly….i went out into the backyard and was ready to surrender to this black cloud….for some reason (really, some reason?…) yes God sent him….my husband came looking for me and although he was not walking in the fulness of love and purity at that time he asked me what was wrong…I told him about this black cloud thing that was coming towards me and I had no reason for it…..he put his arms around me from behind and completely encircled me….and asked….do you want it to come back?….my answer was no and I felt it immediately lift from me and back off…It is a rare moment when depression tries to come back and the circumstances are always connected to a direct hit from the enemy at me when something in relationship is going wrong!! Mostly I get surprised by it but I am so much quicker at saying no I don’t want this and getting on my face before God….I do not often reach for the phone first….I reach for my intimacy with Jesus first….the battle is being won!!

  138. 241

    Thanks for these words of hope today. This post really blessed my soul as most of your blogs do. The joy of the Lord is my strenth is one of my many favorite scriptures. Lately though, ive been feeling trapped. I have 2 teenagers in the house right now with rude and rebellious behavior. I mean to the point where i have been feeling like i cant take anymore. Like all children do their parents, they know how to pull at heart strings. Lately I’ve been, losing my temper, in an attempt to treat them the way they have been treating myself and my husband for the past year. Its not working for me.. they are fine with their behavior, but me with the yelling and cursing, silent treatment and overall anger, its not making me feel like the happy person that i normally am. I have been feeling depressed and have not felt like praying much, my spirit wants to but not my flesh. Just had surgery 3 weeks ago, came down with laringitis last week which i think is a result of stress. But enough is enough, I know that God will never put more on us than we can bear. I will continue to press on in the Lord and speak blessings, not cursings over my life and my childrens lives and think on the things which are true and good, and noble and peaceful. Taking my joy back, right now! i understand where you were coming from Ann, you keep on keeping on, Gods got your back! Thanks for keeping it real and reminding us of the goodness of the Lord! God Bless you!

  139. 242
    GradStudent says:

    Graduate school is stealing my joy. I am almost done. How I am managing to take three classes, plus do a 20-hour-per-week field placement required for graduation, PLUS homeschool my children, is only through the strength God gives me. I haven’t even mentioned the politics of the academic department, or the politics of the workplace that I try to dodge, bob and weave away from on a regular basis. It feels less like graduate school and more like a perverse hazing ritual that steals me away from my family. I would much rather be with them, than writing papers or dealing with surly people in my department.

    But, by God’s grace, I will graduate in May, if the Lord says the same. The trick is to maintain some semblance of sanity between now and then. Do you know how hard it is to watch your 8-year-old and 6-year-old sons cry for their mother….I mean, literally cry. This has been so hard on our family, but we are going through this together, and experiencing God’s grace together.

    Almost done.

  140. 243
    Kirsten says:

    Fear with anger as it’s companion is what robs my joy….but winning the battle towards more and more trust….loving you all and blessing my sister’s in Christ with His goodness, His life, His love, His jump up and down joy, and keeping your smile on, not measuring your success by what you accomplish but who you are and encouraging you to keep your face turned towards the Throne Room where your Heavenly Papa sits and Jesus is consistently interceding for you and commanding His angels to keep guard over you so that as you walk in righteousness you won’t stub your toes against a rock. Psalm 91
    Asking Heaven for consistent and more than enough provision as your daily bread comes from Him for all of you daughters of the King!! In Jesus’ strong and precious name, the name with authority, and the name that is sweeter than honey on our lips.

  141. 244
    Allison says:

    Ann, your post today was from God’s lips to my ears and heart! What is stealing my joy? My anger and frustration that has come because I feel so…unheard. So…dismissed and ignored here at work. I have a low position here, but my experience is deep. I do know what I am talking about, and it has been verified over and over as time passes. Yet when I am asked what I think or what my professional opinion is and I tell them, they refuse to listen. I guess they like their own answers better. This happens more often than I like to admit, and I do give in to the bitterness of it all! So I especially thank you for these words: “Cynicism isn’t strength and ranting doesn’t rejuvenate and frustration can never accomplish what Faith can.” It all feels so powerful at the moment when the emotions run high. Thank you for reminding me that if I just BREATHE, then FAITH has a better way.

  142. 245

    OH. OH. OH. How I needed to read this today. I smiled, at the end, as you said–the project. And when I did, I realized it had been a long while, since I smiled-? And that made me sad, because though I’m not generally a giddy one, I have been more of a smiler in the past than I have been in a long while. Joy. Not fake happiness. JOY. Contentment Peace. Resting in Him. I can smile in that.

    I am praying for healing for you–complete healing of your pneumonia. So sorry.

  143. 246
    LeslieGK says:

    Hello Ann,
    I first have to say that your blog brings a smile, joy, encouragement – I love you pictures – I like to take pictures as well… of “life and God’s beautiful creation”
    What if I deel like I don’t have a right to – not feel JOY? But yet, the joy is gone…
    I have a wonderful family – husband, daughter, son-in-law and 3 (almost 4) grandchildren – that ALL love the Lord.
    I work at a non-profit ministry – for the last 10 years…
    This ministry has just gone through transition, all new BoD, new President/CEO – It is such a long story – I don’t even know where to begin… But am strongly thinking about, praying about, “Is this where God want’s me to be?” Yes, my income does help to pay the bills – I don’t want to become a burden to my family – however – In my curant state, I am still a burden in a way, as I am just not myself, and am loosing who I used to be. My confidence is nearly non-existant and feel as if I am of no value to anyone in this state.
    The Lord has blessed us in this last year, paying off most of our bills, and cutting our house payment literally in half, is this a sign? I am having trouble knowing what direction to take… My family believes I should let go of my position and spend more time with them – I am beginning to think, yes, this is the answer… still
    I want to be sure of God’s desire for my life… Will you join me in prayer?
    My 1000 Gifts for Oct 22:
    SILENT: Large white snow flakes falling outside my window
    STILL: Seeking God’s STILL small voice (to be loud) =O)
    STRONG: Faith in my Lord to show me the way to go – THE ARMOR OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH

    …smiling

    • 247
      eforman says:

      Being in a similar stage in life, I can so identify with the cry of your heart… to know His guidance and direction. And I have learned in the past couple of years that He is just as desirous to answer. But I have often second guessed his answer, binding myself to undesirable conditions with the concern that my relief couldn’t be the right choice. An illegal burden. An accusation of irresponsibility.
      I encourage you to step out of agreement with the message that ties you to obligation and agree with the freedom the LORD intends for you. To be you. To be whole. To be at PEACE.
      No matter whether you change jobs or not. It’s not worth the compromise to your integrity. Be encouraged in GOD. YOU are WORTH IT! John 17:20-26
      blessing…

  144. 248

    I feel like the cross beam of my family. I need to remain joy-full for all them and their current life struggles. Little has changed for those closest to me, but as much as I want to scream in frustration, I continue to pray. My struggle to remain faithful in prayer during this time, takes my joy. I would love to pray for something frivolous, like I did as a child – you know, an A+, a date for the dance but life is just as serious as it can be with big wants and needs for everyone. But they need to be approached with gratitude and a happy heart. Always remembering that He is here, although we might not think so every now and again, and that He hears. He is really my cross beam and holds up this old house pretty well. Give me strength in prayer!

  145. 249
    eileen forman says:

    This encouraged me today. I hope it does the same for you…
    SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by MARSHA BURNS:

    I heard the heart of God calling to us. At first, my flesh wanted to respond religiously, but when I did I could no longer hear His call. So, I went back to the place of purity in the Spirit. Then, I could hear my own heart echoing His heart, and I responded by rising up towards Him and becoming one with Him. There were no longer two hearts (His and mine), but One. After a time, this unity began to affect my body and soul with alignment, organic healing and deep, profound order.

    John 17:20-23 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

    • 250

      Eileen: Simply, Thank You! Have a very wonderful day, filled with all good things. Peg

  146. 251

    I have fibromyalgia. It really bothers me when the temperature changes. Last year I renamed the tenth month-Fibrotober- I hurt so bad. I have to keep going because I like to be busy. I enjoy your writing so very much.

  147. 252
    Michaela says:

    Dear Ann,
    thank you for this post – I hope you feel better soon. I meant to write to you for a while – your book ’1000 gifts’ spoke to me in the most powerful ways. And yet here I am again – I lost my joy. Part time HR work is taking over my life again: stress, worry, problems, anger and anxiety contribute to sleepless nights and feeling exhausted and worthless, not achieving anything I set out to do. I try so hard to balance work and family – and yet I am missing deep inner joy in my Saviour and seeing my life in HIS perspective to bring him glory – I can only see ‘mountains to climb’. Thank you for challenging me again – I don’t need to try so hard by myself. Yes, the joy of the Lord is my strength – not the anger I feel right now as I am weaker than ever. Oh Lord, help me to gain your joy and inner peace again so that you may be able to use me again.

  148. 253
    alina y says:

    Oh if I can only be so strong to always choose joy over anger, to always choose to love and to always choose to be patient. Fear, I have so much fear for my children future, for our future, whats gonna happen next? whats going to happen to them if I don’t live long enough… we just never know. and this fear just comes over me and when it does I have these verses written down for my self in my journal (Romans 8:38,39) they keep me going and calm my soul. Romans 8:31. Thank you dear Ann for sharing this with me. It means so much to me.

  149. 254

    Ann I love your devotionals. I will pray that you are well soon. It has been difficult to accept that our daughter left home almost 2 years ago at age 20. We are praying our prodigal daughter home.

  150. 255

    Oh Ann, there is a lot of things trying to steal my joy. The enemy is working hard on this family. We have a funeral debt that looms over our head that we never asked for. We are just begging for God to continue to show us the way through this and fighting for joy on our knees all the way. We just need all the help we can get. I have blogged about it here.http://livingtocarrythecross.blogspot.com/ Please join us in asking our wonderful Father to provide the monies needed to pay this.
    Dear North American Church,
    Will you please be the church?
    ~ Fighting for Joy on our knees
    ~ Lori

  151. 256

    I can’t believe that what’s captured in the very first picture above is the very thing I allowed to steal my joy yesterday. Steal my strength.

    Cracked eggs.

    My 3 and 4 year old were playing under the table so nicely that I decided to grab the baby and go in my room for a couple minutes to start packing for Allume. It was quiet. I was thankful. But then it was a little too quiet. And quiet boys usually means trouble. I peek my head out and I see it. Brothers smashing raw eggs into the carpet. Legs covered in yolk. Shells everywhere. I lost it.

    Yes, the rug was ruined. Yes, I had to bathe boys for the 2nd time that day (and it wasn’t even noon yet). Yes, I had to disinfect the floors and toys for fear of salmonella. But did all that really necessitate me choosing Satan’s way? Me making my sons cower at my mama wrath? Me crying hot and desperate tears of anger, then regret?

    Absolutely not. Yes, I needed to clean. Yes, I needed to discipline. But next time, I will do it with a smile, at least a smile in my heart, knowing who God is and who I am in Him…even with cracked egg shells all around me.

  152. 257

    Dear Lord,
    Thank you for Ann’s honesty and challenge to our hearts. Heal her lungs completely as only YOU can do. Give her peace in the process and mercy in the messes. Grant ALL that have posted here grace more abundant and faith for the walk they are facing. Let us all remember to hold YOUR hand, hem or whatever part of you we can catch hold of, with all our might and keep our eyes focused on love, light, truth and… well, Jesus. Help me, even now as I grapple with understanding my present and forgiving my past in the light of Adult ADD. Help me forgive my parents. They did the best they knew how. Help me forgive myself. YOU made me and you made me just right. Thank you for the love, grace and mercy you give us. And thank you for loving me.
    In the name of Jesus, AMEN! <3

  153. 258

    I love it, Ann. Thank you again. And best wishes for a speedy recovery!

  154. 259

    What is stealing my joy, is my son’s suffering. He is 13 and has been suffering with mental health issues. Seeing his struggles everyday robs my joy.

    • 260

      Dear sister…please consider reading the book “The UltraMind Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman. I think you’ll find encouragement in those pages. It is an incredible resource for ferreting out the underlying cause(s) related to a myriad of disorders, including those who struggle with mental illness. You can pick this book up via your public library. If you find the information helpful there’s a downloadable Companion Guide that you can access online for free. I can’t recommend it highly enough. God’s blessings on you and your son.

      Kath

  155. 261

    I experienced probably THE most spiritual and God-connecting time I’ve ever had with my LORD during the home-going of my younger sister this summer. Still, I am grieving her death from the depths of my soul. EVERYthing reminds me of her, including my 17- and 18-year-old sons, who speak of her all the time! They have virtually grown up in the hospital watching their grandparents and then their darling beloved aunt pass–all from (ultimately) cancer. God has bestowed blessing upon blessing upon blessing through this wonderful journey; and I know my young men have more compassion than most and their hearts do overflow with love due to sharing in the JOY my sister exuded during her illness. BUT I am grieving. Grieving the Thanksgiving to come without her…the sisters gathering to bake cookies without her…Christmas Day without her. No one would know outwardly even though I am vocal about it…but. it’s. stealing. my. joy.

    • 262

      Dear Maureen,

      I will be praying for you this Holiday season to come. That the Lord will take the grief and turn it into a testimony of his faithfulness to meet you where you are and allow you to bring Him glory in your weakness. Death is hard and I find myself re-grieving the loss of my great-aunt who was like a second mother to me. I always seem to restle with the regret ofnot loving her enough. The same questions she would ask about this world and the bad in it push me to make it a better place. When the loss of her steals my joy I remember to give it back up to God because He knows why she left when she did and why I hold on so tightly to her memory. Her absence is noticed by all in our family especially during the holiday season. So, our family decided to always make the raspberry casserole she would bring each year. It helps us remember all she did to bring joy to our lives and thank God for her and her love for us. The first year without her we sat together and said all we were thankful to God for that year and a memory of Aunt Marion. I encourage you to do something similar. Jesus our perfect example of how to live, also felt troubled and mourned at the death of his good friend and then got up and brought glory to his father through him, by bringing him back to life (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2011:32-44&version=NIV). Mourning is Christlike… How can you keep the memory of your sister alive and the joy she brought your family?

      God is good, praying he shows you his goodness this season.

  156. 263
    Judy Tadros says:

    Dear Ann,
    thank you a million, billion, trillion times for your down-to-earth and yet heavenly messages, your look into a carefree and joyfully abandoned daily living in a caring, loving, safe and secure Father in Heaven who loves and cares for us in the here and now and in all eternity.
    Thank you for making me, through your words, laugh and cry, shout and sing, – thank you for showing me how to LIVE for JESUS, my Saviour, my Helper, My Friend and my Redeemer. May our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ fill your lungs with His Healing Breath and fill your heart with His Love, His Joy, His Strength, His Wisdom, His Discernment and His wonderfully Perfect Peace that truly passes all our understanding. with love in Christ our Redeemer.

  157. 264

    Ann,

    I’m not sure how I will ever wrap my mind around the fact that you always speak straight to my heart. Right at the very times I need it most. I began following you several years ago when a dear mentor of mine shared your name with me. She told me I should check you out, and boy was she right. I have learned so much from you. Mostly, of course, about joy and attitude. Well, today is no exception. I sit here at my desk whinning because I’m not home with my kids (they got out of school early today) and really just throwing myself a pity party. Circumstances of life have just not been great lately. I’m truly struggling to trust that God has it all taken care of. Most days I honestly think my heart will break into a million pieces. You always bring a fresh reminder that no matter what joy can be found. Even when there is no money left and payday is 10 days away, I’m always reminded that it could be worse and not matter what Jesus loves me!!!

    Thank you so very much for your huge heart for God!!! Thank you for sharing it!!! You are truly a great blessing in my life and the life of my family. I often marvel at your ability to so graciously point everything back to Christ. I truly pray that I live in such a way that does the same thing. God has provided you as a beautiful example of His love, grace and mercy.

    I pray you are better very soon and please keep sharing!!!

    In the dust of His feet,

    Amanda Dunn

  158. 265

    So many hurting posts here and I think my joy stealers are insignificant ( busy schedule, dreading laundry) and yet if I don’t face them and fight them because I think I shouldn’t be bothered by it, then it consumes me and my joy.
    Housework, and the desire to do better has stolen more joy and years than I can fathom. The sheer amount of time I have wasted in worry or feelings of failure is almost too much to bear as it makes me sad to think I still don’t know how to step out of that fear and enjoy my life, my babies, my Lord. I have come a LONG way in 3 years of Christianity. PRAISE GOD! However, I struggle still in this area. Still believing on some level that once my house is cleaner ill be able to relax and enjoy life…. Knowing on another level that is not my issue.
    I have not read your book yet, a fried recommended it and I am looking forward to diving in ASAP but it led me to this post today. Thank you, Ann.

  159. 266

    Ann,
    I speak to your sickness and say in Jesus name and by His stripes be healed. I ask for breath and help in the breathing. I know it can be painful and the cough even hurting your head.I pray He holds you close and breathes new, fresh, alive, wellness in you. Keeps you joyful in Him in the waiting………speak to the apple of Your eye Lord………….come for your Beloved…………she needs you so……….carry her THROUGH and I pray this will not be a long sickness, if it be Your will.Thanks for ALLLLLLLLLLLLL you do. I am so blessed by how He has you write. Hope to meet you one day!
    I try and not think of the “bad”,but I have health issues all the time, no job right now, finances so gone, and still wondering is there a Prince Charming after being left since 1992 and being 54 and still waiting, waiting also for both kids to come back to the Lord and want to spend time with me! So glad My Beloved is ALWAYS there! Always Faithful! And Always True!Yes, He is my ONE JOY! Be blessed All!

  160. 267
    Judi Siegrist Stahly says:

    Oh, Ann! Not again! This is a re-run, isn’t it, of the time when you had pneumonia? I hope so! I’ve read this before, but I think everyone thinks you are sick now. Could you clear that up for us?

  161. 268

    Thank you for you post Ann. I’m so sorry you are unwell. Keeling before our Lord’s throne of grace for you. I hope you feel much better soon.

    I’m very aware of my battle with the joy stealer. So many things have happened to try and steal my joy. The one that really sinks deep is unsubscribes from my blog. I know it sounds ridiculous and I know it shouldn’t bother me, but my heart’s desire is to encourage others, standing with them in their pain and point them to Jesus.

    So thankful we can know real joy as we lean into our Saviour.

    God bless

  162. 269
    Rachel Snyder says:

    What is stealing joy in my life right now? EVERYTHING. And all of it is worth it. And none of it matters. My grandma who lives with us just turned 92. Most would say, “What a gift! 92 years of life!” And some days I say that, too. And other days I get mad, because being 92 is hard.

    Everything aches and moves slower than she remembers it should. And most of the time she cannot remember. That simple task of eating meals every day, she cannot remember it. She does not remember that her granddaughter loves her and wants her to be healthy and only tries to get her to eat to live. instead the 92 years has made her tired. And she refuses to consume more than 7 tablespoons of anything. So the granddaughter who doesn’t see the 92 years as a gift, gets mad. Because she is scared. The person who holds those 92 years is slipping away every day. And she has only been able to share 33 of them with her grandma.

    This is only one of the joy stealers that should be a joy giver. I’m saying “yes” to smiling instead of anger. More deep breaths. Less fear. More looking forward to the 93rd year and less dreading the “yucky” tasks. After all, He who gives the joy was a stinky-feet washer Himself, right?

  163. 270
    Mindy Faith says:

    Ann,

    I was called into ministry as a young teenager nearly 21 years ago and I am just now finally, stubbornly, answering that call. So what is taking all of the joy out of that for me is pure, practical terror. There are so many steps in front of me and I can’t see how God is going to get me through them. Between here and Nineveh, I have to be expectorated by a whale. I am amazed at my own selfish whininess over such a great gift.

  164. 271
    feelinglost says:

    what steals my joy: fear over my family’s future. we found out my husband carries the gene for a fatal disease. no symptoms are manifesting yet, but since he has the gene, we know he will get sick within the next few years (barring a miracle, which i think I’ve lost the courage/faith to pray for). the disease has no cure or treatment and it is very destructive. Everyday I look at him and wonder if it’s starting, and how I will cope when it does. Our kids are at risk as well.

    I feel trapped and hopeless. I know I have so many blessings to cherish right now, and I want to just enjoy each moment we have, but fear and grief seem to seep in around the cracks no matter how hard I try.

  165. 272

    Ann, praying for you. What do I let steal my joy. Ahhh, that yucky comparison game will do it every time. Thankful for a few moments to read the struggles of other women to put it all in perspective. Some time to sit and knit and smile……….. ( and being thankful that we can comment and post here! )

  166. 273

    This is so true. I do this all the time. There are a few ladies at my church who are making fun of me for trying to lead a Bible study. So I start to wonder should I do this, I get afraid if I can teach, then I get worried no one will show up. I started doing “A Confidnet Woman” and chapter two had my name all over it. That is letting people steal your joy which is your power in Jesus. I keep trying to remind myself its not about me its about God and nothing can get in God’s way when He wants to accomplish something.

    • 274

      Louisa,

      It saddens me that ladies in your own church are making fun of you for trying to start a small group. It sounds like they need some more Jesus in their life. Good for you for putting yourself out there and not allowing that vulnerability to take over you. If you open your home for a bible study, the ladies will come. Don’t let others discourage you.

      Many blessings,
      Maria

  167. 275

    Worries about my kids. Always a joy-stealer! Seeing them struggling, in pain, it drains me in every way. And I wonder, how do people do it without Jesus?! Thank you that HE is enough.

  168. 276

    What has been stealing my joy is the stress that weighs me down as I try to be strong for my hubby while he looks for a job, the fear that keeps me awake at night, and the worry that I might break while trying to be the supportive and encouraging wife I should be… and worry that I am not going to make it another day… But I smile and I do.

    • 277

      Beth,

      I understand worry all too well and when I feel like someone is stepping on my chest and that I can’t breathe from anxiety, I remind myelf, who am I to worry as it does not add any value? I’m praying your husband finds a job soon and your worrying can take a backseat.

      Here are my two favorite verses to read when I get anxious: Luke 12:25 and Matthew 6:34 (my life verse).

      Many blessings!
      Maria

  169. 278

    How much LORD, how much? Three lost jobs in our family, two bankruptcies, an adult son who was diagnosed with diabetes, going to a surgeon because of abnormal bleeding, pain with arthritis and spinal stenosis, an empty bank account, and other health issues too many to say. I do fear..it is hard to smile anymore….thank you for this post, but……

  170. 280

    My inability to be content in the present is stealing my joy. I will be graduating college this december and have yet to figure out what is next. The fact that I do not know what is ahead other than change is driving me to anxious thoughts and detachment from others. I am going to miss my friends and church family here more than I could of imagined. I know the Lord will provide all I need when I need it but I am struggling to love and live in the waiting.

    Thank you for this opportunity to share and pray for others. It was so simple, and so helpful.

  171. 281
    Chrissy s says:

    Ann
    , bless you for taking the lid of our cans of worms! Even in your pain your honesty leads us to peeling back our clenched fist to let out our pain so he can get to it. When we acknowledge it is ours we can give it away. Owning were we are can be so hard! Sitting here, in England, past midnight in my daughter’s house having heard her rage at God because her son has cancer and the chemo is so hard. I feel helpless. But needed the company of the broken. Thank you all. You have blessed me. trying so hard to hold us all in prayer. Xxx

    • 282

      Oh, many tears with you, Chrissy. Just — tears. Your words pierced right through. When grief is deepest…. words are fewest. Bowed through this messy, crying prayer – for your daughter, son, family.
      With more love than thin letters can hold, Ann

  172. 283

    Oh how perfect the timing. As I drove home from work today I thought, “What do I need to do just to be happy?”. I am so tired of being tired and angry and sad. My husband is going through such a rough patch and it impacts me in a negative way. I do not even know what to say. I cannot put in to words how down and sad and hurt and upset I am. I do want joy. I want happiness. I need to break through. Life is so hard. Thank you for sharing your struggles and knowledge of God’s ultimate plan. Usually your words are an arrow right to the heart of my struggles. Bless you.

  173. 284

    Oh you poor thing. That used to be said when one heard someone’s troubles and the troubles were real troubles! You need someone to say You poor thing. And say Ofcourse you feel grumpy because your body is really sick. It’s God saying to lie down. There’s a time to work and a time to rest. Yes you can give your kids cookies on big sheet and put in a movie and bundle up and sleep. Oh yes you can call a friend or neighbor and cry If I just had chicken soup. Bless you dear honey. You need rest. Total rest. That’s why you haven’t fought this pneumonia yet. Now don’t worry about satan or joy or any worries. Just rest. Let go of doing it all. That cough? It’s Gods voice, This is not a cold. This is serious. Don’t do all the work. I will provide for you. And call the church office and ask for meals until you feel stronger. Nap. Sleep. And you know what?? With you listening to Gods plan of care for His design, you’ll get we’ll and your joy will just be!!! Remember cranky babies that are sick? That’s you. Go easy on yourself. Let God heal you!!! Be wise!!! Joy to you well and strong again.

  174. 285

    When the doctor calls and tells you that the lump is cancer the choice is to ask why God or why not me God? The journey through cancer is tortuous but with God my paths are straight. I laugh, cry say whew and wow. God has provided for me each step of the way even though I have looked down into the deep water and begun to sink like Peter. I sit in waiting rooms with beautiful people each struggling with their own journeys. I think oh Lord I am so grateful that I have you with me each step of the way. I hope and pray that these dear people do as well. My journey is not quite as hard because I can smile and know that God is my Jehovah Rapha.

  175. 286

    I am walking through a cancer journey with my best friend. Four occurrences in five years. She has learned that her medical team is viewing it as a chronic illness. This means chemotherapy maintenance until her body can’t tolerate it anymore. This steals my smiles. She’s young. Ovarian cancer. All of her kids live at home still. She questions. I question. She is “my person”–the only one, besides my husband, that I can absolutely say is unequivocally there for me. So yeah, my smiles have been robbed. I know God is good. I know He cares. I just struggle with her pain.

  176. 287
    anita gaddis says:

    I needed this-
    I spent the whole evening angry- so angry
    Then I read your post
    And I tried it- I smiled
    and kept practicing until I felt joy flooding my heart again.
    thank you

  177. 288

    I am a new mom of my 4 month old daughter. I’m 25 years old, my husband is a youth pastor and I’m staying at home right now with my Harper Grace. My joy feels stolen because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m always exhausted, tired, worn out mentally and physically. Every day I wake up wondering how I’m going to do this again for another 24 hours. It’s so hard because this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of my life, but I’m crippled by fear, and I never knew how selfish I was till I’m faced with a season of selflessness. I love her so much and want to be such a great mom, but it’s hard to keep smiling when you feel guilty, ineffective, lost, and helpless. Sleepless nights, days full of to napping, trying to love, trying to rest in Him…but this is so hard. And I feel guilty for feeling this way. Prayers would be so appreciated

    • 289

      Heather,
      My prayers are for you.
      It sounds like you are experiencing post-partum depression. Please let some ladies close by know how you are feeling so they can physically come alongside you to get you through.

  178. 290

    Ann, I am a doctor in rural Missouri. I know your doctors have probably treated you well and considered all possibilities. However when I read this I thought immediately of “farmers lung”. There are a host of infections and conditions related to farming. Traditional antibiotics might not be effective. Here is a link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677788/
    Please email me if I can help in any way. Oh also your book and blog have meant the world to me in the last few years. I love you much sister in Christ. Praying for healing. Lori in MO

  179. 291

    I lost my husband suddenly in January and have been trying without success to sell his business. It is so easy to focus on the hurt and loneliness and to give in to the stress and worry . It is much harder to know that Gods timing is always right

  180. 292
    Jennifer says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear tonight. My eyes need to be lifted to the hills and I need to be reminded where my help comes from…it comes from Him! Thank you for driving the point home, that I don’t need to lose my joy over what the world brings my way. I don’t need to be all consumed with things that happen during the day, don’t need to take things personally, I need to steady my focus on Him, make sure I have integrity in all I do, and trust Him to handle the things that come my way that I don’t like or that I have a hard time dealing with. He will help me know what to say or not say. He will guide me. My hope and joy must always be in the Lord…my eyes are lifted and I’m smiling. I love this…”A smile is where the first strong surrender to His will and His joy begins.”

  181. 293

    Hi Ann,
    I’m so sorry you’re not well! I’m praying for you to feel better! I met you at She Speaks two years ago–I’m on the P31 ministries speaking team.
    I have a wonderful medicinal chicken soup recipe for you: http://sharonglasgow.com/2013/01/the-healing-recipe-chicken-soup/
    Get your children to make it for you!
    Love and hugs,

    Sharon Glasgow

  182. 294

    I so needed to hear this…this month, this week, this day, this hour….this minute.
    Life steals my joy. A life I didn’t want to live in the past which presents now in post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Fear of the life still to come and how I will manage it…when I am not managing my here and now. What steals my joy is the cloak of worthlessness, shame, guilt and filth I feel for who I am, where I have been, the things I have had to do to survive and how I hide everything from others. The very deep internal wounds which I am working to heal with the help of my psychologist have now become very open and raw physical wounds to help my brain believe there real and visible reason for it to think and process things as it does and for my heart to feel hurt because it can see the wounds seeping blood…not just thoughts in the air. A friend and I have been sharing the 1000 Gifts journey and are looking forward to sharing your new book in December….my Gift List is small but it makes me smile and they are the deeply rewarding things I hang onto when the lights of my life are so dim. Your gift of writing is a life saver and a game changer.

  183. 295

    thank you for this. I do need to reclaim the joy that God has to offer to me. I trust Him. I need to trust Him more. I am sick, very sick. Wasting away with a chronic disease that won’t leave me. I have 4 littles to take care of, and 3 more waiting in another country for my husband and me to come and get them. But right now I can barely get out of bed each morning, much less get on a plane and fly half way around the world to adopt my 5th, 6th, and 7th child. But God gave us this call. Though terrified, we agreed. I pray daily for healing. I still thank Him. I have much else to be grateful for. But that resentment…it does try to creep in. Thank you for the reminders. I choose joy!

    • 296

      Dre, wow you have your hands full. I pray for healing so that you can bring your 3 babies home!

      Many blessings,
      Maria

  184. 297

    I just tried it and it works! Smile when you feel hurt, smile when you feel sad, smile when you feel the anger build… Smile and remember Jesus goes before us, He has made the path straight, He goes behind us as our rear guard. Smile and remember His Word, the Living Word that we can’t help but find joy in… I choose Joy!
    Thank you Ann for always encouraging us women! Reminding us who we are in Him! Even when you are sick! ;( I am praying for you, that our great Healer will reach down and heal you with His mighty hands!
    Blessings!
    Susan

  185. 298
    Carolyn says:

    Just read this & really – I am so confused. I have allowed my joy to be stolen by many things – a wayward son, the mess of staying at home, homeschooling, starting a homebased business. Many GOOD things that, in reality, because I cannot control them, I find frustrating & lose my joy. Why is it a lose joy by teaching my children or teaching a woman skin care? What is stressful about that? And yet I do. And then – this week. The show stopper – emergency back surgery to remove a cyst on Saturday morning. Two weeks of no lifting bending, twisting. Have you tried to empty a dishwasher without doing any of those? Ain’t happening. So now the REAL challenge. If I couldn’t find joy with all of those minor irritants, can I find & keep joy now?? Can I relax & enjoy the meals being brought by loving friends? Can I relax knowing my home based business does not pay for the roof over our heads & is supposed to be FUN?? I don’t know – I haven’t done too well since Saturday. I would appreciate prayers that I can let go of all of the shoulds & let my body heal peacefully

  186. 299

    So many things at this time have caused me to lose my joy, 1) my grandchildren don’t know The Lord and are struggling as are their parents 2) we lost a dear friend from cancer ,he was going through a divorce at the time, his mom took care of him, now the wife( because he didn’t live long enough to finalize) has taken his body from the funeral home and cremated him, which isn’t what he wanted – there’s so much more but I’m not quite sure how to handle any of this. My heart hurts so much for them all:(

  187. 300

    Dear Ann:
    I am sorry to learn of your pneumonia. I hope by now you are well and breathing. I have never had pneumonia but I’ve had stress, suffered fear, loneliness and felt the sense of running away from all things. My joy is never stolen altogether but subjected to lapses in appreciating some sense of happiness due to another’s sullen reasoning, or to some family problem that needs constant consideration. My reasoning has been to consult the Lord and ask Him to get me through the day and He always has. And I’ve learned to find joy in all the things I love to do, despite the things I don’t want to do. As long as I am able to perform the tasks before me, I am joyous. As long as I can balance what I love to do with God’s love and will, I have to take each day as a present and try hard not to worry about what will come. In God’s love I leave you and pray for all those in need of His constant presence. Joan

  188. 301
    Michelle says:

    Lori Ann,
    My heart hurts for you with the results of the wreck your daughter and husband were in. I myself was hit head on by a drunk driver when I was 22- two weeks after graduating from college to be a coach and science teacher. Head on with driver (at a .36 BAC one hour after the incident) in a 3/4 ton pickup, I was on a ten speed bicycle, at 40mph.
    I remember everything and at first I just focused on healing. I FELT God’s hand on me after I landed in the street face first. I felt a very sweet, warm calm over me; all without fear. I was protected by an angel for sure!!
    I was fortunate in that I only suffered a broken nose , arm cut down to the bone- through all muscle and ligaments, permanent muscle damage in my thigh, a cracked vertebra in my back and road rash. Only one day in the hospital but 18 months of rehab and countless Dr.’s appts. That was in 1991.
    I changed things about how I walked and ran but no one knew unless they knew me before the wreck. I struggled with anger, frustration, nightmares and poor choices in dealing with it. Just 4 years or so ago I experienced some “backlash” in PTSD. I WAS AFRAID!! With the help of a great counselor, I made it through what felt like an experience that I would never kick.
    My life has changed for the better as a result of this unfortunate incident. I still struggle with physical issues, genetic disease that effects my back , and then just a year and a half ago, the passing of my dad after a six week struggle with cancer.
    I guess I am telling this because I have physically made it and yes became a teacher- 21 yrs at the same school now

  189. 302

    I let distractions and lack of discipline steal my joy. Therefore, I run late, I run out of time to get things done,etc. and get “flustrated” too often for comfort. Thank you so much for this word, it was very timely and hit home big time. And I love the idea that, “A smile is where the first strong surrender to His will and His joy begins.” I love all things “smiley”, so that really speaks to me. :-)

  190. 303
    Michelle says:

    Lori Ann,
    My heart hurts for you with the results of the wreck your daughter and husband were in. I myself was hit head on by a drunk driver when I was 22- two weeks after graduating from college to be a coach and science teacher. Head on with driver (at a .36 BAC one hour after the incident) in a 3/4 ton pickup, I was on a ten speed bicycle, at 40mph.
    I remember everything and at first I just focused on healing. I FELT God’s hand on me after I landed in the street face first. I felt a very sweet, warm calm over me; all without fear. I was protected by an angel for sure!!
    I was fortunate in that I only suffered a broken nose , arm cut down to the bone- through all muscle and ligaments, permanent muscle damage in my thigh, a cracked vertebra in my back and road rash. Only one day in the hospital but 18 months of rehab and countless Dr.’s appts. That was in 1991.
    I changed things about how I walked and ran but no one knew unless they knew me before the wreck. I struggled with anger, frustration, nightmares and poor choices in dealing with it. Just 4 years or so ago I experienced some “backlash” in PTSD. I WAS AFRAID!! With the help of a great counselor, I made it through what felt like an experience that I would never kick.
    My life has changed for the better as a result of this unfortunate incident. I still struggle with physical issues, genetic disease that effects my back , and then just a year and a half ago, the passing of my dad after a six week struggle with cancer.
    I guess I am telling this because I have physically made it and yes became a teacher- 21 yrs at the same school now

  191. 304
    Michelle says:

    Ann V. ,
    THANK YOU for sharing your life and love. It is an honor to know someone like you-even if only through your stories.

  192. 305

    I let the lack of disorganization in a department at work get me down, frustrated and angry. Most days I let it steal my joy. LET being a key word.

  193. 306
    Natasha says:

    So sorry to see you have pneumonia, praying for a speedy recovery! I think it’s pretty neat to see so many people praying for one another on here.
    Right now my marriage is stealing my joy. Or should I say my husband. We have an 8 month old son that we both adore. But otherwise we have nothing in common. He tends to be verbally abusive and I feel like I walk on eggshells around him because I can never do things right. I’m an educated woman with a great career, but I don’t know why I put up with him degrading me all the time. Here’s the kicker… He’s very active in church and seems to have the church community behind him thinking he’s a great guy! But at home things are very different. I’m beginning to question Christians because I see my husband being a hypocrite and I wonder how many are out there doing the same as well. I just don’t get it. Im feeling lost and confused. Definitely not filled with joy

  194. 307

    Loosing joy ~ ouch.
    In the fleshiest parts of me, when I forget His whisper that the paying clients are already being nudged to seek support, I’ll wonder how long did He mean before OptiMOM Coaching becomes the vision He shared. THEN, in the present, Joy returns to knowing our needs are met now, He is near now, He is Leading now and I choose to participate now…and now, 2 young parents in the Body that I’m knit into are walking out cancer in their bodies, leaving families with young children to know Him more in their absence. I ache. I trust. I petition and know He hears me. With intention to experience joy in great sorrow, it certainly slips and it sometimes simply and deeply hurts.
    (prayerful in all our healing ~ bless you for asking, may we all know His presence and rest easy in Him)

  195. 308

    Thank you so much for this post!!! In the 2 weeks since I have been home from a trip …my daughter-in-law has been diagnosed with MS. I have been scheduled for surgery to remove a lump from each breast and I am bawling my eyes out because a mother just facebooked me that she had a horrible fight with her son on Sunday because he doesn’t want to come to church with her anymore. He was my star pupil and I am more devastated by this more than all the medical news. I needed to be reminded of my source of joy. Thank you so much!

  196. 310
    Georganne says:

    Dear Ann,
    I will pray for recovery, and for insight into why your pneumonia recurs, and a lasting cure.

  197. 311

    Ann, I pray you are better soon! Thank you for always speaking deep into my soul.

    Tomorrow would have been my 31st wedding anniversary. Instead of celebrating our anniversary, I will try to celebrate that my husband went home to be with Jesus nearly 9 months ago. Most days I can celebrate and find the gifts God is giving me (putting those gifts on paper was one of the things that got me through those first shock- filled, dark winters days……thank you, Ann, for your 1000 Gifts!) But there are the days like today where other’s expectations and feeling defeated when I don’t meet them totally steal my joy. Days when I know the enemy is rejoicing at gaining a foothold. God has been so generous with His provisions, yet there are days when the quickly dwindling bank account balance steals my joy. Days when my light does not shine & tears are always just below the surface. I struggle with trusting God with my future & days when I feel excited about the new adventure He is leading me on. All of your posts are an inspiration to me because we are all just holding on by Grace. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. for I am The Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you.” Isaiah 43:2-4

    • 312

      Wow I love this! Thanks so much for the “smile” challenge!! I will try this! I have been so blessed by your book 1000 gifts. I have been blessed by counting my blessings and looking to God and acknowledging His blessings in my life. I have had a rough year. Struggling with staying positive with a difficult time in my marriage. I have gone through my life with “clinched fist” learning to avoid feeling because stuffing hurt and pain was survival for me. Because you have been willing to share your struggles and insights to what God has done in your life I have found new ways to open myself up to God and his direction. It’s a journey and a process I love another way to remind myself that in God’s love and care I can always smile because he is with me on this journey no matter what the day brings and He always loves me and will guide me no matter how I feel!
      Thanks so much for sharing your journeys!

  198. 313
    Karoletha Stone says:

    Why is it that as I look back over my life, I discover that Christians have taken away my joy. I was scared to death as a child by the hellfire & damnation. I was terrified of God. I sang Jesus Loves Me, but I did not feel it. Just recently, my church split over the homosexuality issue. My church is now gone. Divided into 3 different churches. Friends no longer speak to each other. Where is the love? Where is God? Does Jesus still want me?

    • 314

      Oh Karoletha, I’m so sorry to hear about your very tough experiences with other Christians! It’s the worst when such experiences happen with those who share our faith. And it’s so awful that your church is splitting so much and that people are no longer speaking to each other, even friends….that really must be terrible! The church is definitely supposed to always be full of love and great friendship, no matter what! I hope and pray that your church will overcome its divisions and that everyone will start loving one another again! God is right there with you, supporting you, even if it doesn’t always feel like it, and He loves you so much!! God and Jesus always love us all, love everyone and always want everyone, no matter what, including YOU! I pray you will know God’s infinite love for you and will feel Jesus’ arms around you, supporting you. Sending you many prayers, blessings, hugs, and love!

  199. 315

    Precious friend, fear threatens to steal my joy. It hasn’t even been a week since my sister’s home was broken into. It has left me anxious. Although I have wanted to stay locked inside, I would miss life and the opportunity to choose courage. I am forcing myself to continue on with daily activities so the enemy doesn’t win by holding me captive, but fear still has my emotions unsettled. I need the Lord to “break in” and remind me of His joy that isn’t dependent on feelings or circumstances.

    Ironic that my name is Joy. May it be so Lord, may it be so.
    His,
    Joy

  200. 316

    Just left the hospital where a 25 year old son, married two months fights for life. Two battles of cancer, now mersa, and on life support. We drove all day to be with his family and to just show love to them. How small my own cares and worries are when seeing him. Seeing tubes, seeing is fight between being here and being far better with Christ. Oh that I would learn to take more joy in This life. In every.thing.

  201. 317

    Joy! I share your struggle. I am praying for you….YOU this night. Much much love to you!

  202. 318

    As a working mom of two little ones, I feel I unfairly take out my frustrations of the day on my precious kids and my spouse…they get just little bits and pieces of me. Joy is desperately lacking by the time I get home. After they are asleep, I am often overcome with extreme guilt and sadness that I was perhaps too short with them or worried more about cleaning up dinner dishes instead of coloring a picture with them. Please pray for me and all other working moms…that perhaps taking time to pause, smile and be thankful will help in feeling more joyful. My kids deserve it, and so do I. God bless.

  203. 319

    Six months ago my husband of 15 years left me for another woman from work that he’d been having an affair with. In the summer of 2012 he had confessed to having an emotional affair. I immediately forgave him. We began counseling and started to get closer as a couple again. And I poured out more love onto this man than I knew I was capable of. (I know it was Christ’s love for me that gave me that ability.) But suddenly this spring, he was constantly texting and behaving in strange ways. One day he told me that he wasn’t in love with me anymore and was in love with this same woman from the previous summer. He said he had no desire to resume counseling or to try in any way to rebuild our marriage. He said he had no desire to even try to love me again. He has filed for divorce and is making things quite difficult. We have two children: a 14 year old & an 11 year old. We had decided very early in our marriage that I would stay home with our children and we’d homeschool. That is exactly what we have done. Now he is trying to work the system to pay less child support and impute full-time work on me. Right now I am living in our house, but because of some other choice he has made, I may lose it. Our children have been devastated by this divorce. I cannot imagine them being further traumatized by losing homeschooling and the only home they’ve ever known. The only thing I ever wanted to do “when I grew up” was be a wife and and a mom. One person’s selfishness has completely robbed me of half that dream. One person’s selfishness has robbed his own children of a whole family.

    My husband has abandonment issues and, I believe, depression stemming from some traumatic experiences in his adulthood. But my friend tells me that this all all boils down to one thing: when my husband looks at my face, he sees Jesus, and he can’t stand that. He can’t handle my unconditional love for him, and he can’t handle facing Jesus because he has never fully accepted Him. So he chooses to push away Jesus and me both.

    Being a single mom and taking on everything here at home, not knowing if my children and I will be able stay in our home, not knowing how I will support them, having to deal with malice and spite from my husband…some days I am so worn I have all I can do to. just. breathe. I thank God for our incredibly supportive church family and friends and for the encouragement I get daily from reading your blog, Ann. My children and I are in month 2 of the Joy Dare. Some days we really have to search for those 3 gifts, but God graciously opens our eyes to His good and perfect gifts. We continue to be amazed at His provision and His grace. I am learning to trust The Lord in ways I’ve never had to before. My children and I are drawing closer to Him and to each other. Those things are worthy of much praise. I pray that our testimonies speak of Jesus through this trial. And I long for the day that we stand on the other side of this and praise Him all the more for the beauty that I know He will bring from these ashes.

    • 320
      Beth Williams says:

      Kelly,

      Prayers for peace and contentment in you and your children’s lives. I pray God will work out all the details and allow you to stay in your home.

      Lord,

      Please bless Kelly and her children. Shower them with mercy and grace. Show them your unconditional love through family and friends. Most of all–help them through this rough trial. Allow them to stay in their house and for the children to continue homeschooling. I ask for you providential will in this situation! Help Kelly, especially, not to worry and stress over all this, but to rely on you and your will for her life!

      AMEN!

  204. 321
    Chelsea says:

    My husband’s only sister suddenly passed away 3 weeks ago at the age of 35 and leaving him as an only child. We have grieved and continue to grieve, but are not overwhelmed because we choose to stand on the truth that we our time left here on earth without her will seem like the blink of an eye in respect to eternity. There are a few around us who don’t understand our choice to choose truth and maintain our joy in the midst of sadness. We continue to pray that we can be an example of God’s peace that surpasses understanding and are so thankful that He has granted us this gift and for the encouragement of blogs like yours.

  205. 322

    So much steals my joy…physical pain/fatigue/disability…since I was 16. I’m not 32. Half my life and all I know is pain and exhaustion. And loneliness. Abject loneliness. The love of my life is still long distance…we’ve been off and on for years…he’s sorting through his own journey…and I’m just begging God for he day he finally wakes up. Or God tells me it’s enough–that I can walk away. But so far–I know I am to continue to love him with the Love of God…which is hard. Especially when I am ridiculed and mocked and doubted regularly…I guess it does sound rather crazy and counter culture to love the way Christ has Loved us…everyone tells me I’m wasting my heart and my life. But the funny thing is–it’s not like I’ve got Romeo’s lining up outside the door! lol! And I have prayed SO MANY times that if he is not for me–then for God to speak clearly. It’s always the opposite…sigh. So I keep loving him. And missing him. And pursuing God and running hard after the moon and the stars and soaking up every moment of beauty I can feast on–because I will die without these…my family is a nightmare. So much shattered. And yet God is still God. I need a car. I have no money. What little I get in disability goes to pay my parents rent and for my meds…there’s never any left to save. I watch my peers run marathons and travel to europe and get married and have so many adventures. I read books and quietly dream. Someday life will not be this hard. Someday there will be healing. And I know that someday will come perhaps in part in this life–but for sure in the next. And when I dream of Heaven–I wonder why am I still HERE?! My life takes on more of the absurd on a daily basis it seems! I can’t even imagine most days what a future looks like. My heart is stabbed through every time I see the baby girls of my friends. I long for a a baby girl. And then I think, “Well, even if I did have a baby, I might not be able to hold them…” I have 40% function in my right hand/wrist, 25% in the left. Nerve damage in my arms and hands. Degenerative spinal condition…LOTS of things steal my joy! Then I see two mossy green hearts growing outside my door…one big, one small. And I know it is a love-note from God for me to take heart! And there is a rainbow in the middle of the thunder and lightning flashing on the horizon as I pull up my hood to go get my laundry from across the way…and I don’t care that it’s raining–because how the HECK is there a rainbow in the MIDDLE of the storm? And I am in awe…<3

  206. 323

    Well, after reading so many posts here I see that most are all struggling with one thing in common…pain…pain of some nature—big or small. At that all I can say is we continue on through our faith and the love of Christ so let us be thankful for that. Praise the Lord! :) I am not happy with life right now, but I do have many things to be happy about. So I stand with those happy blessings and say thank you Ann for this enlightening e-mail I received tonight to remind me to smile. Smile because Jesus loves me and He will see me through this tough time and bring me to a brighter tomorrow big or small He knows it all. Thank you Lord for this moment and the smile.
    Blessings and prayers to all….Amen!

  207. 324

    I love your writing, it always hits home for me. I am currently in the biggest season of change in my life. Medically, emotionally, financially… It is a tough time. The Lord has overcome this world so I am sure that I will overcome my situation. I will come out stronger. I have my 3 hr glucose test tomorrow I ask the Lord that I do not have gestational diabetes (I failed my first one) but if I do I am sure it is for a purpose.

    Praise the Lord and all of his goodness!

  208. 325

    Ann,
    I am sorry you have pneumonia! My now 10 year old son used to have it frequently, our 8 year old had recurring respiratory infections for years also. It’s was always so frightening watching them not able to breath or watching them panic because they could not breath. I pray you are well soon.
    I came to your post today because I was struggling so! So saddened. So disappointed. So overwhelmed. Some times to the point of despair. These two boys of mine have full spectrum Autism and it is hard, so very hard to live with. Oh I cherish and adore them! But the truth is, it’s a very very lonely place to live! Family abandon. Friends abandon. Church does not have “accommodations.” It is hard and it is lonely.
    Sadly, I still try jumping through hoops so God will fix it all. Bad theology I know. But I keep finding myself there anyhow. What my brain knows vs what my heart knows… I wonder if they are in the same body?
    Thanks for continuing to speak words of Truth.
    Bless you!
    Thanks for being a blessing to me!

  209. 326
    natasha carr-rouse says:

    Dear Ann,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and eagerly spread the word of your inspiring message to friends and family here in England. I just had to write this morning and say I know how pneumonia hurts and leeches your strength! I had it a couple of years ago and it wasn’t until I slowed right down, breathed in and allowed myself to be nourished and cared for by my kids and husband that I finally sent it packing. So, sending you prayers for strength, healing, and deep down nurture. Take care of yourself, take it easy and let them make the pancakes once in a while! :) and thank you for all you share and give to us via your blog.
    x Natasha, Bath, England

  210. 327
    Marianne Rice says:

    I’ve been so angry lately. So sad. So many reasons and I thought where is His joy? Then this dear friend told me when she is headed down that spiral of depression and misery she just starts ACTING happy and she soon is. I thought’ “It can’t be that easy.”. That still small voice inside kept whispering “Smile. Just smile”, and here you are dear Ann saying the same thing. Confirmation! Right now I’m kind of crying, smiling, but because the Lord is my refuge,strength, joy, I’ll get there. :) Thank you.

  211. 328
    Marianne Rice says:

    BE WELL.

  212. 329
    Slawomir says:

    I enter Ann’ s blog once or twice a month. I’m very impressed with power of this free-called community kneeling on what steals our joy. We also have in Poland thousands of women and men loosing their job. Sometimes this is more destructible than sickness. I’m lucky to keep having my joy everyday – thanx to God.

    • 330

      Oh, please know – praying for you and friends in Poland this morning, just now. Bowed in this messy, crying prayer – for many who are losing their jobs. Lord, be close.

  213. 331
    Beth Williams says:

    Ann,

    That line: “Does my life testify to my belief in the power of complaint – or the power of Christ?” sure struck a chord in me. Sometimes a sleepless night, aging parent, work stress all add up to non-joyful me.

    I listen to Christian Praise and Worship music to help bring back joy. I also exercise and write out my blessings. All that suddenly brings joy into my life!

    Thanks for a great post!

  214. 332

    a frriend suggested this site last night.
    we were talking about the difference between being grateful/thankful when all is going well and the choice of continuing to be greatful/thankful in the difficult- that Lam. 3 choice – no matter what i will trust joyfully moments. Those times in life when the choice for our life walk to match our words is challenging. Oh to be in that place of faith-in relationship with the FATHER – where there is no straining no wrestling – where the i will trust no no matter what is as normal as our next breath.
    thank you!

  215. 333

    Its so heartwarming to know that so many of us share similar brokenness, and at the same time, are children of a wonderful Father so full of love and grace for us!
    I’ve been letting my home life steal my joy at times. Im sorry for that, and want to learn to yield my will, my vulnerable heart, more to Him and to my family.

    Ann, I also want to say thank you for letting God speak through you and sharing your thoughts every day! So much beauty and grace!

    Love you all!

  216. 334

    This was very timely for me. I had melanoma earlier in the year. I’ve not been feeling my best and have been told I have pigmented cells behind my eye at a recent eye test. So my consultant has now put me forward for a scan of my brain and chest. I have a two week wait for the scan. I am frightened of the possible outcome but it could be nothing. I am tired of the check ups, I am tired of being burdened by melanoma. I am 40 in 3 weeks – and would like to be married and a Mother. This is nowhere on the horizon. I am worried my life is something else. I have trouble seeing the joy in God’s will. My friend has told me she thinks God has plans for me. I feel God is asking me to look at the situation through his lenses.

  217. 335
    Jackie Frymire says:

    My brother died suddenly of cardiac arrest in mid-September. It has been a difficult time for our family. But God is faithful and has held me up and kept me sane! I smile through my tears, ever thankful that God gave me the gift of my brother’s life! His wonderful promises remind me that our family chain will be renewed in heaven!

  218. 336

    In the depths of sadness and heartache, I will find joy as I shower my Sister-in-law and nieces with God’s love, His arms, His tears, and His Words. My prayer this morning is that He uses me to be all these things as they grieve the loss of their husband/father just yesterday. And I will walk with them, through the intense and surreal pain, over the next few days, as we do all those things that you never imagine you will have to do.

  219. 337

    I am now 8 years out of treatment for a vicious eating disorder that literally ate my life and soul to pieces. I am now going to my first women’s retreat where I have absolutely no control over any of the food and the fear levels have been steadily rising unless I keep looking at Him. Coupled with this, my husband and I are finally trying to conceive our first child and my past mistakes are being flung at me by the enemy in the form of whispered lies in my head about not wanting a child when I was 17, and now not deserving one. These are not good and true things and, as such, I know from where they originate. It is still so painful, though. This Sunday, I heard the best thing possible in church: that while survivors rely on desired outcomes, overcomers rely on Christ. Regardless of any outcome, His plan is good and I will see His good in the land of the living.

    • 338

      Praying for you right now, Abi. You are a courageous woman! Praying for you to be deeply blessed on this retreat–that food will be the furthest thing from your mind…that through this retreat–you will see Christ strike down EVERY fear and lie the devil has whispered in your ears as HE goes before you–your Mighty Warrior King!! Also praying for the Lord to bless you with a child.

      Sigh. My greatest longing and the deepest ache in my heart is for marriage and a baby girl…that dream has been slipping away fast lately–still being single and in my early 30′s now…but I still believe God can make it come true. And if HE planted this dream in my heart–it is on HIM to come through…I just have to stay open and follow Him. Even when it makes no sense.

      p.s. I am sure you will be a great blessing to the other women there as well. You encouraged my heart just now…

  220. 339

    A sweet friend of mine told me about your blog and sent me this post. It touched my heart, your concept of ‘joy stealing’, and tears came to my eyes as the truth washed over me. I have recaptured my joy the last couple years with a positive change in my life’s circumstances but the real change came with giving my life over to Christ. I had been in depression, I knew that something was fundamentally wrong in my marriage, I felt like I was going crazy with the feeling that their was someone else in my husband’s life. It still baffles me, he never talked to me about being unhappy in our marriage but he found solace in another woman’s arms. I pray that he let go of the anger he has with me (for what things I can only guess) and renew himself at least for our children. I have remarried and have been able to build up our farm and recaptured my dream. thank you for your blog. My heart is with you!

  221. 340

    Today is the 5th Anniversary of my then 5 year old son Brendon moving to heaven. He was a dear sweet boy full of life even in the last week of his life, although riddled with cancer.
    Today we choose as a family to celebrate his life and his life he lives now with Jesus. He knew he was going to heaven as he had already seen the angels in his room a week or two before he left.
    This blog and daily Facebook reminders make me re-focus daily on the Lord and why we are here. It is not for ourselves but to make Him known.

    • 341

      Oh dear Julie, my heart hurts reading your post. I’m praying for you during this difficult time.

      Maria

  222. 342

    Another great article, Ann! I think that what tends to steal my joy is trying to control other people. When I believe that my joy is dependent on others’ actions, I am usually disappointed. I go over and over in my mind the many ways I might manipulate them to do what I want them to do… what will make me happy. Yet, it is only when I release my controlling tendencies that I can once again receive the peace of God and feel the Holy Spirit filling me with joy! I must stay connected to the true source of joy and not rely of mere mortals to do that!
    Bobbi

  223. 343
    Mamabear says:

    Reflecting today, while filling out a medical form, on life’s stressful events. Praise God that He has walked beside me in every one! I am grateful for His compassion, direction, and healing! Praying for you just now, dear Ann, for strength and healing.

  224. 344

    Things that happen without “reason”… When my mind just can’t get the “Why?” of something that happens… That can zap my joy faster than anything. So 2 weeks ago this Friday a 32 year old brother and co-worker in ministry had a massive heart attack while playing ultimate frisbee and died immediately leaving his wife and 3 young boys. And I find myself grieving for them and struggling for joy…
    And on this Friday, exactly 2 weeks after his home going, I am scheduled to teach a lesson to elementary girls and their moms titled “God’s Girls are Thankful”. We’re going to make Thanksgiving trees, Ann, from your blog and my plan was to use your blog on the first real thanksgiving to start our discussion and teaching time. But how do I talk about that when I’m not thankful… When I daily am rehearsing to myself that God is good because deep in my heart I don’t want to believe it… How can it be good when 3 little boys won’t remember their daddy who passionately loved God and them? How do I teach those precious little girls the importance of developing thankful hearts through daily thanksgiving when my own heart is fighting it? When all of us have lost a pastor and friend and we’re grieving? We don’t want to be thankful… And so there it is: my ugly sinful heart throwing a two year old tantrum. Pounding, kicking, screaming, wailing. I DON’T WANNA BE THANKFUL!!!! My being fighting against the very thing that will give life and breathe… And JOY! God forgive me and free me from myself.

  225. 345
    Darlene says:

    Ann, I wish you well & lift you in prayer for a speedy/complete recovery. Up very early this morning still dark as night…..watching the sun rise over the lake…the gift of another day. Snow clouds above, frost & first ice on confused colorful fallen leaves. The gift of another season upon us. Hot cup of coffee in hand & the gift of your blog, your heart, your gift of words which reaches & touches & blesses SO many of us. I read every single post here this morning. So much pain, sorrow, sickness, hurt, longing, anger, hopelessness, helplessness. Part of me compelled to respond to every single post, the other part of me knowing it unrealistic & impossible. Prayer is, & oh did I pray for all my sisters who are hurting in so many different ways. We are all only human. Some strong in faith, some holding on to faith by a thread. Others lost. Words come easy, “let go, Let God”., “Be Still”. We all long for peace,& for each of us peace has a different definition. Peace can only be understood & realized within our hearts. Beneath all the unhappiness & pain & longing. We have to find it in the deep deep silence & stillness of our souls,….it is the spirit of God. “Faith is the substance of all things hoped for”. (Hebrews 11:1). When we are lost it’s easier said than done. I know,, oh DO I know, but won’t elaborate on my “stuff” of 62 years. Day by day, hour by hour, & if that’s too much… minute by minute. Reflect on Matthew 6:34. I am praying for all my sisters here…….understanding, loving, and……..smiling.

    • 346

      Darlene, I loved your post. Matthew 6:34 … that’s my life verse. I could not live without it as a constant reminder.

      Maria

    • 347
      Denise says:

      very well put. Words that I needed to read tonight in Germany. Thanks!

  226. 348

    In June of 2011 my husband finally confided in me that he was an active homosexual for 15 years till his conversion a year and a half before our marriage in 1982. He didn’t tell me at the time because he was afraid I wouldn’t marry him if I knew the truth. My adulterous husband had divorced me and left my 4 girls and I after 19 years of marriage. So, when the Lord brought Dennis into my life a Christian man, I was fearful, but thankful and ready to have a Godly home together. The guilt from his deceit began to slowly cause our marriage to deteriorate and I began to cry to God to show me what was so wrong!! We had been married 29 years at this point. He is trying to minister to other x-gay Christians and striving to refute the “Gay Christian” movement, through Twitter, social media, and one on one with a gay man at his work who is unconverted. It is hard, for me, as a wife to have this be the focus of our lives, yet, I want God to use him to help others who are struggling. I’ve tried in vain to find a support group of other women who are in similar situations. The joy of the Lord IS my strength and only hope!!! I so appreciate Ann’s “A Holy Experience”site. So comforting and uplifting!!

  227. 349
    Lou Ann says:

    Thank you, Ann, for your encouragement and faith sharing. In the midst of trials is so hard, but I know without a doubt that God is with me. He sees.
    He knows. He loves. And then I realize that others are going through things much heavier. Thankfully, He bears our burdens daily. If we could just let go and cast them upon Him. Help us, O Father.
    Grief for my prodigal daughter and precious 2 year old grandson who is being carried through the darkness with her. Looking forward to the day that he heals our daughter’s heart and restores our family.
    I have been allowing the enemy to steal my joy, and I can definitely feel the draining of my strength and waning of my hope – but I will give thanks to my Rock and my Redeemer and look to Him and smile. :)

  228. 350

    Marylou- you are in Jesus’s watchful care! Isaiah 54 susatined me for many years. Once you receive His free grace and comfort you WILL once again turn and see His abundance for you and your family. It’s taken years for me, but now I am trusting to move into Isaiah 55 and feast on and give from His Ways.

  229. 351
    Linda Percoski says:

    Thanks Ann, I needed that!

  230. 352
    Henry's daughter says:

    I don’t know if you read any posts the day after the conversation, but Ann, I’m so grateful for you. God has used 1000 Gifts as a huge means of grace in my life. I first read it shortly after one of my teenage children had attempted suicide. The next year, a special needs child was diagnosed with a dangerous disease that will affect the rest of his life. Last year, a third child also attempted suicide. My husband and I have been married for nearly 30 years, have a stable relationship and have raised all our children in the church, not perfectly, but the best we knew how. Adult children are walking in the Lord–what happened to the 3 youngest? The dwelling on my own sin and failure can be a definite joy-robber. We scratch our heads in perplexity and the cry of our hearts is, “We know not what to do, but our eyes are on You.” Giving thanks to God in all circumstances has slowly become more of a way of life over these past few years. There is so much fear in the unknown, but we cannot live our lives based on the imagined troubles of tomorrow. There will always be grace for each day and there will always be something for which to give thanks. My 1000 gifts journal has helped save a life–mine! And as I try to teach my children to also look for grace, I trust there will be healing and hope for them, as well. God bless you and keep you today.

  231. 353

    Hi Ann
    My cousin just showed me this article you wrote. I love how you said to smile every time you feel something steal your joy. I have been through the ringer since I was 9 years old. My parents divorced when I was 9 then 1 year later my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. A year after that my mom passed away with cancer. I then went to live with my dad’s parents after my mom passed because my father had some drinking issues and that was my mom’s wish. My dad was supposed to have me every other weekend and every Wednesday. My dad would always make up excuses why he wasn’t able to pick me up and would sometimes tell me he was going to be there and he would never show up. I felt very abandoned. Living with my grandparents was not the easiest but now I look back at it and I SMILE because of how I was raised. Through all of this I have suffered through depression almost my entire life. In 2003 I married my best friend. We have one special little 7 1/2 year old boy. In 2011 my father in law passed with esophageal cancer. I was very close with my father in law. He was the father like figure for me. Soon after he passed I got diagnosed with endometrieosis and had to have over 20 cysts removed off my ovaries and had one ovary removed on one side and one tube removed on the other side due to so many cysts. I was told that I had a 1 percent of being able to get pregnant. We were devastated. We always wanted 1 more child to make our family complete. Four months after my surgery we found out we were pregnant! I had no idea. I was going in for a normal checkup to check for cysts. Three months after that we had an ultrasound to see if we had a boy or a girl. Well we didn’t just find that out. We found out that our Rebekah had Anencephaly. This is a neurological birth defect that is not compatable with life. We were devastated once again! We continued on with this pregnancy because we knew this was God’s plan and he was in control. We had our precious Rebekah January 31 2013. She lived for 51 precious minutes in my arms. Today I SMILE because I know that she is the only grandchild my Mom has been able to hold. And I know that Bekah is getting spoiled up there in Heaven. I do have my every day struggles but I know God is helping me SMILE through the pain!

  232. 354
    Valerie says:

    The past 7 years have been a roller coaster of illness for my family. One daughter had leukemia during her junior year of high school, soon after all her treatment another daughter was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. She dealt with so much from that during her high school years also. She went from being this exuberant personality to one afraid to leave the house or hang out with friends. She had to be on steroids for months, which caused weight gain, mood swings etc. Then she had surgery to take out her colon & give her a colostomy bag, and months after that it was reversed. She has suffered since from PTSD from all of this & I am really trying to get her back to college.

    In the midst of all that, my oldest daughter became pregnant with conjoined twins that she lost. Then my husband was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. He went through chemo & a stem cell transplant. Shortly after his last two chemo treatments he lost his vision due to a rare occurrence (Non arteric ischemic optic neuroapthy) of his optic nerves. (We really believe chemo had something to do with it)
    He was a deputy chief of the Fire Department. Since he lost his sight, he could no longer work & is very depressed. Through all of this we have been loved & supported by God’s army. But it has been a lot. Right now we are trying to figure out our new normal. My husband is really wanting me to quit my job & stay home with him & I am struggling with fear, but also want to honor my amazing husband. I have fear of future, finances, insurance etc. Seeking God’s guidance for all of the above.
    Love this website & all you do here & especially love Ann Voskamp

  233. 355

    I feel angry all the time and I have prayed and prayed for the Lord to give me back my joy. When I am with Him in His Word He is there, but out into the world at my job resentment & anger continue to rise to the surface. My life has been one perpetual no after another – prayer for a husband – no, kids – no, I love to study & teach God’s word but all doors have remained shut. I am 50 years old and I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Because of the economy, my job will soon be gone and as hard as I try, as hard as I pray, I cannot manufacture joy. I try praising God and for a little while it returns, I try asking for HIs holy Spirit to help, but seemingly no help comes. But the waves crash even harder – pressure to perform at work, pressure to serve, pressure to be someone or something that just doesn’t exist – and the boat begins to break up one sail, one mast, one board at a time until there will be nothing left – And since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. (acts 27:20) I am in need of a miracle, deliverance from myself and my sin – only God can save me, but for now He remains silent – so I wait – hoping that the storm will end and that I will be able to pick up the broken pieces an begin again

    • 356

      Dearest Kari, my heart goes out to you in your pain. I have no easy answers or pithy advice. All I can tell you is this: in Acts 27, Paul and his shipmates were saved from the storm. God didn;t abandon them and God has not abandoned you. Why do you believe it’s God who is to blame for the ups and downs of life? God has never rermained silent since He came to save us in the form of Jesus Christ, never. His answer to us is to persevere and become strong. Though I do not know you at all, I would strongly suggest you seek out a spritual leader (pastor, friend) and discuss your distress wiith them. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! God is wiith you always and there are people who will be His loving hands. DO not dispair You are in my prayers and will remain there. God is reaching out to you at this moment, call His name, Jesus is there with you. GRACE

  234. 357

    I guess my joy is based on temporary things because I’m finding that I am lacking it more than I actually experience it. My joy is being stolen by loneliness and desire for community that I just can’t seem to find. It’s being stolen by Satan’s lies that I am not good enough and I am unwanted.

    I know all the right answers, the joy of the Lord being my strength and so on, but there are times in our lives when it’s hard to live it because we just don’t feel it.

    Praying for renewal and focus and for JOY.

    • 358

      Dearest Katie, I have been where you are many, many times thru life. Feeling alone, misunderstood without joy and grace. I no longer live there, because I discovered it isn’t feeling that drive our lives- it is CHOICE. Yes, I chose to live in that place, now I choose not to live there. So, you also have a choice to make. True Joy is based on CHOOSING to believe a loving Father is so filled with Grace that it pours down on us like living water, every single moment of life. Then live in gratitude every single moment -Not for feeliings but for HIM. Then, GO DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE IN HIS NAME. Make a choice to be Joy-full and Grace-full and Thank-full. Make a choice to believe with eveery fiber of your beiing that God is pouring joy out on you, you have to choose to receive it! Grace, Linda

  235. 359
    Monique says:

    It’s getting harder and harder to feel the joy…and a positive attitude towards living…life. My husband has been under-employed for over a year…just got the mail, looks like foreclosure is in the near future….how do I tell our 6 kids we might lose our home? The frustration and defeat I see in my husbands eyes, his feeling of failure to provide is SO VERY GREAT…I can’t say anything to change it for him. On Sunday, I asked him again to go to church with us…WHY…he answered, I’, not going to fake church, said I could go…asked me how prayers have worked for me, because they aren’t for him. My heart is just so very sad…..the beatings of life have take His Life and Light from my husband, and left me grasping for ways to continue to love Him, show my children that He is good. I’d like a renewed sense of Joy, Purpose, and new Hope, as well as a job that will provide for all our needs. Not wants, needs. And, the Life Giver to show my husband Life again.

  236. 360

    turning toward joy is such a scraping… scraping off the layers of disappointments and fear that can bury a heart… Thank you Ann for letting your words from the father perform that must needed surgery. our family found out in January that the ceo and founder of 40 years for our mission had an affair and was resigning immediately… for the past 10 months there has been much reeling and a very steep learning curve on fund development… something we have never had training on… lots of reorganization and a clawing to hold on to God’s word for each breathe… getting out of bed has been so hard and I have thought a million times maybe I should put my kids in school because my emotional state felt paper thin everyday and homeschooling near impossible… as inner city missionaries living above a neighborhood outreach center God would gently remind me of the many impossible stories walking in and out everyday, he sent texts and emails and friends to pray and speak courage… when we were removed from ministry to fund raise full time I went through another round of failure… why didn’t I know how to do this after. 20. years. but I can say He holds and his pruning is good and JOY does come in the morning….he is opening amazing doors for us to share what HE had called us to and the new folks we have met in this journey have been used to heal and bolster my timid heart to see what we are doing in fund development as it’s own type of ministry to the body of Christ and to our family…I join all of you amazing sisters in Christ with a smile…

  237. 361
    Toni LaCentra says:

    Ann…I am so enjoying reading through these awesome posts and your loving responses. I am new here but wish. I had found you years ago. My smile is almost back…after 14 years of grief and all that comes with that I actually arise with songs in my heart. You are a jewel…I LOVE your blogs. You are such an encourager to many women would otherwise suffer alone with no idea of how to go on. Your heart throbbing His love in all you say breathes life and joy. To all of my sisters who post here today…may His joy rain down.

  238. 362

    A friend sent me your link today, this is so encouraging. Something my pastor had taught me thats been profound and life changing for me – a “blessing is considered by most people to mean we are healthy, financially secure etc but thats not promised in His Word. A true blessing is ANYTHING that allows us to see Jesus and draws us closer to Him.

  239. 363

    I live in Africa where life is hard and not for the faint-hearted. Everything is vicious: the sun and weather, dangerous and poisonous animals, poverty and hunger, crime……every part of life is a struggle and the only way to survive is by being prostrate before His throne. He is my only provider, grace bringer and life giver. He provides and protects in the wilderness and there is no reason to wake up and live other than Him. In that place of utter dependence, I can live life to the fullest and am filled with peace and joy, I love my circumstances and my country, I see His rugged and soft beauty and love in the African nature. I live for and through Him!

    • 364

      Gina, Keep the faith! God IS good, even when circumstances aren’t. In the US, we worry about having too much “stuff” to take care of, too much to think about and not enough time for livinig life well. It is very humbling to read your comments and think about how very different our lives are. You will be on my prayer list of people I am thankul for, people with a faith beyond any boundaries. May our loving Father bless You and those you love as He has blessed me with your words. GRACE, Linda

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    Melissa says:

    What is stealing my joy? Of course my own anger. Anger that I do not know what to do to help my 5 year old, wild and willed one to obey her mother, father, and Heavenly Father. We are in a battle. A battle of love, patience, soft words, prayer, and fits. She gives fits at everything. This has been a battle now for a long time and though lots of prayer, reading, love from my Father, I know I am called to be patient, to bear with her in long suffering. BUt really in the day to day when she is screaming for over an hour and refusing to obey even the simplest of requests other days would be followed without a thought, some days, days like today are a battle. I forget in these moments/days, the joy of the Lord is my strength.

    Thanks for sharing Ann. Your writing and heart are truth and God speaks through you.

    Bless you,
    Melissa

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    I know that when I lay my burdens before the Lord that He hears me and cares for me. That He clothes the the lilies of the field…..but stress is stealing my joy and clouding my vision. My husband and I have been living from paycheck to paycheck for awhile do to a past of unwise financial decisions. We’ve been trying to get our act together and climb out of it when an error on our past two years taxes has put is into the hole again. I don’t like being here again. I need my husband to get his head out of the gaming world and lead our family. He keeps saying it is a team leadership but I don’t want to make any of these decisions by myself…that’s what got us here in the first place. Thank goodness for the wisdom of Dave Ramsey to give me a map. Now I need wisdom from God to create a plan and TONS of COURAGE to call the companies we have bills from and to tell them what is going on and that I’m coming up with a plan to make certain they get their money. My mother has once again offered a reprieve but I pray that she won’t hold it over our heads like she has in the past. Thank you for the opportunity to just get all of this pain and stuff out. Leslie

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    Ethel M Miller says:

    What is stealing my joy right now? The answer is easy — I know — it’s the enemy of my soul plain and simple. But how to fight against the depression that comes is weighing me down. Sundays are wonderful at church, singing the hymns and listening to inspired teaching, and getting and giving hugs, but it isn’t long before I feel the joy leaking out of me. I could blame someone, but I know that the ony One who can make me happy or give me joy is Jesus, It’s a constant struggle.

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    What’s stealing my Joy right now? Relationship issues with 2 adult sons who have forgotten all the good memories of growing up and instead choose to concentrate on mistakes we made along the way.

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    Susan Stracuzzi says:

    My joy has been trapped lately waking up everyday and wondering if my 19 year old daughter will live life…She suffers from agoraphobia and has not had any contact with her friends or contacts via text or facebook in over 5 months. She is progressing slowly with her therapist who come to the house twice a week. Yesterday we went to a matinee about 25 miles away to watch a movie where she wouldn’t see anyone she knows. I feel it was a miracle that I came upon your blog one day back in June when she couldn’t even leave her bedroom. God bless.

    • 371
      Darlene says:

      Susan, I am praying for you and your daughter. I myself have struggled with agoraphobia., and it can be a grip on you that is hell on earth. It’s a blessing that her therapist comes to your house twice a week! The fact that you went to a matinee, even if it was 25 miles away is a BIG STEP on her part. Be patient with her. She needs that. She doesn’t need coddling, but she needs other peoples patience to understand that what she is feeling is very very very real to her. I’m a RN, and thought I was bigger than depression/anxiety/panic much less agoraphobia. I got help, and for a while felt like having to take meds for depression and anxiety made me less of a person, less of a person who believe in God. People at church made me feel as if I could recover without meds. I’ve grown and realize I need them., and there is no shame to that, and it doesn’t make me less of a believer. He’s given others gifts to help those of us who need it. Stay with Ann’s blog. If you need an understanding shoulder, feel free to email me. darleneyager@ymail.com <3

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    I recently read a devotion that changed my perspective on worry. “When we worry we are praying to the wrong god.” Now, when I find myself dwelling on a person or situation by worrying, I immediately lift it all to my Lord and provider. I simply will NOT pray to any other god of my own making! Romans 8:38-39 is one of my “go to” places in Scripture- NO THING will Ever separate me from the love of God, that’s a promise we can all believe with our deepest being.
    In case anyone thiink I must have a wonderul life- I do- because I Choose to! I have PArkinson’s disease; my husband has diabetes and heart arrithmia; one of our dear grandsons has a demon tatooed on his forearm; another is living who knows where; two of my dearest friends are dying of aggressive cancer- lots to worry about? NO, lots to Praise God for every single moment of life!

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    Sweet Ann, I have a 13 yr old cancer survivor who is down to one kidney. She had cancer as a baby, but she is doing fine now. But we had a scare this last month … high protein level in kidney … maybe the kidney is having to function too hard. Life-threatening scare. Re-tested. Normal. Whew. A call later from doctor … but there were crystals present. Not life-threatening, but wearisome. Doctor wonders if indication of problems with kidney stones for her in the future. The Lord was tough on me about faith. Faith. Don’t let this steal your joy. I didn’t. Retested … had a message tonight that it was normal. Whew. Told that baby girl … we are putting this behind us and see how it looks next year. Much love … shelli

    • 374

      Shelli,

      What a relief to find out everything is normal. I’m so relieved for you and your little girl. God is good and faithful all the time. I just read in a post a few above yours that when we worry, we pray to the wrong god. That’s so very true, but hard to remember when we’re in the weeds.

      I live by Matthew 6:34.

      Many blessings,
      Maria

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    Well I identify so much with the lost job people, word of encouragement, I lost my job Dec1 2012 4 months after God put this amazing man in my life. (I was 37 and never married, he was 39 never married) long story short I write this as I lay along side my farmer. I prayed foe a man who loved God first one with a heart for people and one with a desire for missions. God gave me al three, in the last few years I would always say and if he was a farmer that would be good too. Well he is. We are just past one month married, we are in the thick of corn harvest long days short nights. I find myself trying to be wife, puppy trainer and grain cart driver. So my fear is that I know we want kids and we can’t wait long because of age but I already feel so overwhelmed that I start to question children.

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    christy says:

    I am in awe at how much you do. You seem to be everywhere. Speaking, traveling, writing books, saving children in other countries, writing devotional studies and homeschooling all your children? who makes all the meals, cleans the home, does the laundry? I ask because I want to know how you seem to have it all and and yet seem to do it all. I can hardly get through a full day here at home in the city with out leaving my home and yet you are all over the map? I admire you and your Proverbs example to all of us. Blessings hope you heal quickly. <3

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    Thank you for opening your heart to us / for us… it is always important to understand that these in these struggles, we are not alone, and that they are our common connection.
    My husband and I have been waiting a year to be together while british immigration pushes our papers about from desk to desk. It has been a heart wrenching process, just when it seemed a dream come true, it wasn’t.
    I know that God is bigger and more powerful than any official and that our dreams are safe with Him… it is just a daily struggle to hold on to my joy and trust that He will bring good out of this.

    I pray that you are renewed daily, strengthened within and without, rebuilt and made whole. xx

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    Jessie Cox says:

    Thanks, Ann. Keep leaning for all of us who need your insight to carry on with joy in our hearts. NEVER get discouraged. Because you’re breaths of faith over your messy life is leading us to be as full of love and true life and happiness… The kind He intended us to have. Keep it up, sister. Your mess of a life is what keeps our messes a gift to each of our souls. The kind of messiness He spilled for us… Lead us and guide us, Ann. Because you’re there… Always messing up and always letting Him pick you right back up… And then… Showing us how to follow along to our joy. Our true breaths of the life He wants us to have. God bless you and keep you strong, heart-sister.

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    May the Lord Jesus awaken our hearts to His everlasting joy. May He have rule and dominion over our hearts to help us choose His joy. Father, give us hearts to trust you even when we can’t see. You are are our Rock and our Redeemer. You will put a new song in our hearts and help us in those every day moments when we need you most. Your arms will always be outstretched to receive us and fill us with your joy, power and forgiveness. May we seek refuge and strength in you and not think that we are self suffiecient or independent. We need you sweet Jesus! We are weak, but you are strong. Come and help us!

    Ann, your words – they help me worship, they help me fix my eyes where they need to be, they give me hope. I am grateful to Him for the beauty in you that helps me to see! You are a gift from Him!

    With His love,

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    Andrea Kopataki says:

    Dear CAROLYN,

    Please look into ” fecal transplant”. Might save your daughter from C. Diff. Infection.
    Praying for her.
    Andrea

  253. 381

    It seems like everything is falling apart! I am grateful to be homeschooling 4 boys between the ages of 5 and 12. My youngest son has Leukemia and though he is doing well, it has been the hardest year of our lives. My husband is a medical student so I handle pretty much everything else (yes, cancer too), and while I’m happy to do it, there’s only so much “me” to go around, right? Our marriage (which has never been healthy) is on the brink of complete destruction. We are set up with good counselors but we are just. So. Tired. Most recently my husband’s physical weariness has been more than just “stress” and we found out his muscles are breaking down. Now we are seeing doctors, doing tests, and awaiting the second catastrophic diagnosis in 14 months – this time regarding Daddy, our Breadwinner. In the midst of it all, I know that God is in control; that every disaster is actually a gift; that He will see us through. Ten years ago we buried a much-wanted, deeply-loved baby and through that nightmare I learned a lifetime of God’s goodness and grace. Yet now, in spite of my deep unwavering trust, I cannot find deep joy. All is lament and I am too broken to rejoice. I want to be faithful to that command and I think I AM truly grateful in my spirit, but it seems like every time Joy begins to sprout, she gets ripped up, crushed, or just quietly frozen until she’s wilted and dead like everything else. I want my life to exude the abundant life and joy that Jesus promises – and I know He can deliver – but I think I’m doing something (or everything) all wrong. I am one big, walking, weary sigh. Your thoughts, Ann, ladies, will be much appreciated. Thank you.

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    Just what I needed to hear. I so often don’t choose joy because that means accepting my circumstances. I can’t believe how you put my subconscious thoughts into words – I believe that anger is more powerful than joy. Lord, please help me.