Joy in THIS journey

I watched Ashley grow up.  A few months ago we were chatting over a little color and cut - (she graciously takes care of my hair)  Of course the conversation turned to McKinley.  McKinley is their daughter - she and Evan.... officially their daughter just a few weeks ago.  Joy unspeakable.  Tell me the story again, I pleaded.  She knew that I was preparing for a conference - Joy in the Journey. Well, you know, she began, I wasn't experiencing much joy... as a matter of fact, I was experiencing just the opposite: feelings of abandon, defeat and depression.  When she and Evan married, they expected to start a family immediately.

"I always considered myself a glass half full and positive gal, but honestly my cup was running on empty.  Sad, angry... angry at myself, angry at my body that wasn't working; questioning was God punishing me.  Several miscarriages brought despair to a new depth.  I stayed home from church, stayed away from prayer, seemed to be just existing.  I found myself in the middle of an honest conversation with someone I barely knew.  I caught myself in mid-sentence - thinking - if I were the one listening to this... I would run form this negative, defeated person.  All I heard was:
 I... I... I...
I am angry... 
I am depressed... 
I can't have children...  
With all those "I"s, I realized I was the problem.  So I found myself asking who does God say I am?  Were my words, my thoughts, my actions pleasing to Him and indicative of who He created me to be?  

My Heavenly Father reminded me of who He was - trustworthy, loving, deliverer, the Giver of so many blessings in my life.  In a prayer of desperation, I asked God to forgive me for doubting His plan, to forgive me for not trusting Him and to forgive me for not living in joy He provided.  During this time, I came across the verse I now try to live by, Romans 12:12 - "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." These are now the words I repeat.

The call came to the receptionist at our church, "Do you know anyone who wants a baby?"  Ashley's mom just happened to be within earshot.  That evening Evan and Ashley drove to the hospital and met a desperate mom looking for help.  After some discussion, she agreed to terminate her rights if they would adopt McKinley.  Two days later they drove away from that hospital, and that baby girl has never been out of their sight.  

Ashley's words, "I had a baby girl in my arms that would forever call me 'mom'.  God is real and always present in our circumstances.  God graciously bestowed this miracle to me in the form of a precious baby girl.  He clearly taught me that we can't find joy in ourselves or our circumstances, but only in and through Him.  He is faithful.

Many of us would agree that our circumstances, in and of themselves, rarely offer joy.  Clearly the Bible states in Hebrews 12:2-3:
For the joy set before him he endured the cross,
 scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Our joy comes through the hope we have in Jesus as He endured the cross with its shame for our salvation!  Thanks be to God the Father -  We have this hope and joy in our journey!

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