I looked up and I was shocked!

“Who is THAT?!?!?!” I asked myself, truly taken back by the face staring at me in the mirror.

It was me! Brows twisted in pain, shoulders slumped with exhaustion, and despair drowning my countenance, I was a pitiful sight. And so it was, with that image fresh on the brain, I collapsed into bed defeated. I didn’t have an ounce left in me for another minute of that day.

Have you ever felt like that? Like this day has to end so a new one can dawn, full of hope that it will be better in the morning?

Stirred by the pitter patter of puppy paws moving across my body the next morning, my brain woke while my body rested, JJ curled up on my tummy. My thoughts turned to a scripture from my Bible study lesson the day before:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

What was I doing? I had a choice to make, and I had not been choosing the one the Lord was bringing to my mind. I’d been letting the strain of all the details of planning a wedding drain me (yes, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing as you’ve heard very little from me lately).

Cracking an eye to check the time (and giving JJ full permission to greet the morning too), it was time to face a new day. With a new attitude.

(This is JJ. Isn’t he cute?)

Count It All Joy JJ

As I approached the coffee maker, there sat a journal with a little yellow sticky note:

“I thought we could do that thing again where I would do a SOAP with a scripture and then you write feedback. So if you want.”

Count It All Joy SOAP

“Yes!” I whooped in my heart!!!

Let me explain what she was asking. SOAP is an acronym that can be used to help us read God’s word and reflect on it. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. You can take any scripture and apply it by reading the verse or verses, observing what it means, considering how it applies to daily living, and then praying about it. One mom who spoke at a homeschool conference used SOAP to teach her kids how to spend time in the word by themselves, but they would write their thoughts in a journal and pass it back and forth with her. She would see what God was teaching them, and then she could share what He was teaching her about that same passage.( A word to the lecture-loving moms: I don’t see this as an opportunity to preach at my kids; rather, it’s an opportunity to witness God’s work in their hearts and to share how He’s using the same scripture to work in my heart too.)

I’d be crazy not to say yes to that!

So I grabbed my morning cup of coffee and her journal, so thankful that she had asked. I mean, think about it. She just invited me into the private place of her heart before the Lord. Absolutely precious.

She had chosen James chapter one. Guess what verse two says:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

The image of my face in the mirror the night prior immediately surfaced in my mind’s eye. It was the opposite of joy.

I thought about the word trials. My English brain wanted to categorize it as trials of the tragic kind, like when you lose a job or a loved one or your marriage ends or you or someone you love is injured or sick. But that’s not the kind of trail James is referencing. In the King James Version, the word that’s used is temptations, which in the Greek is peirasmos, which can mean adversity, affliction, or trouble, but it can also refer to trials that test us in order to prove us.[i]

So I wouldn’t call a wedding a trial in the sense that it’s an unwelcome tragedy. In our case, it’s a welcome blessing! But the process of planning a wedding and managing all the decisions, details, duties, and ancillary activities like showers, luncheons, and house guests demands a lot beyond the usual demands of daily life. It’s tiring. It’s emotional. It’s a lot of work. It’s all worth it, and it’s for the most amazing and worthy cause, but in the sense that it has demanded more than I could ever have to give in the flesh, it’s a trial. Does that make sense?

I realized as I read my daughter’s thoughts about James chapter one, and as it lined up so perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I had a choice to make. I could continue to push through, forcing the energy to meet the demands, or I could choose joy – rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks IN all circumstances.

The word count in James 1:2 is hēgeomai in the Greek. It’s what we think it would be in the sense that it means to consider with the goal and accounting for something. What surprised me, though, is it also means to lead, rule, command, or have authority over.

Take authority over your joy! Lead the way. Set the tone.

Count it all joy, even in the trials, because “the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4).

I am not defeated, even by the details and demands of a wedding. I am in Christ, and He is in me. He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, including rejoicing always and giving thanks in these next seven days of preparing for a most incredible day. And because His power is at work in me, it can be done in such a way that Jesus Christ gets all the glory.

Lord, let it be so.

[i] “Greek Lexicon :: G3986 (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 17 Jul, 2015. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3986&t=NKJV>.