Ten Things of Thankful, more or less.

Another week…how does this happen? It just whizzes by. My grandma warned me about this. About 20 years ago now, she and I were having a chat and I said, “Grandma, seems like the years go by faster the older I get!” She said, in her very Southern Grandma way, “Honey, wait till you’re old as me. Life is just one big ole blur!” She is now 93 years young! And she is hilarious! I am thankful for her sense of humor. I honestly think she has gotten funnier with age. No, she is not senile—she’s just like a fine wine, getting better with age, I reckon.

I am thankful for Emma’s continued improvement. If her chasing her daddy around the kitchen two nights ago is any indication, I’d say she’s just about 100%. I am also thankful that she is very nearly completely caught up with the schoolwork she missed while she was recuperating from her Close Encounter of the Reptile Kind. Did I mention that I hate snakes? Now more than ever.

I am thankful for a movie date night with my two guys last night. (Emma got a better offer from the BFF.) We went to see the new Thor movie. Chris Hemsworth is quite lovely. There was the obligatory abs and chest shot. Completely unnecessary, but greatly appreciated, I am sure, by all the ladies who were attending  at the request of their menfolk. I think I speak for all of us, when I say, thanks, Mr. Director, for thinking of us girls.

I am happy to be on the homeschool prom committee again this year. I know, maybe that sounds crazy to some of you who have at some time served on such a committee. I was happy to be involved last year, especially since it was Jacob’s senior year and secretly (or not-so-secretly) I wanted to be on the committee so that a) Jacob would go and b) I would be helping at the prom the night of the event so I could make sure Jacob was okay and enjoying the evening. I dragged Clyn in on it as well. It was a big win all the way around. Jacob and his lovely date (his friend, Rebecca) had a great time with their group of friends. Clyn had fun. And I had a blast. It was a lot of work, but what made it so fun was the ladies on the committee. Many of them are serving again this year and I am so thankful for the friendships I gained, and deepened, and I am hopeful that we will able to put on another fantastic night for the kids who will be attending this year. For your enjoyment, a couple of throwback pics from last year’s extravaganza:

Pre-Prom  Post-Prom

I was happy to be able to get back to the gym this morning! I have missed the last couple of weeks of my beloved WERQ class because of the whole snake bite business and then Clyn had a foot issue as well and I needed to drive him to the doctor, as his driving foot was the problem. (Nothing serious, mostly annoying to him.) AND then my gym went and switched one of the classes I used to go to, to a day and time that I cannot go, so that kinda threw me off schedule as well. Anyway, I am glad to get back on track!

We {heart} Chick-Fil-AI am thankful for our weekly Saturday Chick-Fil-A trips. It is something we usually do as a family and we sit there and eat our “Chick’n” and chat about our plans for the day. Jacob inevitably removes his straw paper, twists it into a small projectile, puts it in his straw and blows, usually shooting it at his sister—which is funny (to the rest of us, not to Emma). We go pretty nearly every Saturday…enough so that they don’t ask us for a name for our order anymore. They already know it. When Emma and I have been out doing some shopping and we are meeting Clyn and Jacob there, the kid who is taking our order will say, “Will the guys be in today?” They know us. We know them. Traditions are nice.

Speaking of our weekly Chick-Fil-A visit—it is about that time! Hope you all have had a great week filled with lots of thankful stuff!


On the weekend, I link up with the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop to celebrate all the things I am feeling especially thankful for this week. You can join in the gratitude at Lizzi’s blog—Considerings.

Ten Things of Thankful


Filed under Gratitude

Marriage That Lasts: The Happy Factor

There have been a couple of blogs recently floating around about marriage. In reading them, I noticed the word “happy” is getting a lot of use.

One blog submits, in part, that marriage it not for you, it is for the other person (which I don’t entirely disagree with)—to make the other person happy. The other post asserts that you should marry a person who makes you happy.

This word “happy” is what gets me.

Personally, I believe the word “happy” is why so many people split up. Some people believe they are entitled to a life filled with happiness. Unicorns and rainbows. And that they should never, ever be unhappy.

I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 24 years. Have we had moments of happy? Yes, we have. Lots of happy. Do I feel like it is my job to make my husband happy? No, I most certainly do not. Do I feel like it is his job to make me happy? Absolutely not.

Happiness is an emotion and you cannot base a relationship solely on emotion. Maybe emotions brought you together initially, but emotions wax and wane. Happy is not 24/7. Happy is temporary. And Happy should not be a pre-requisite to love.

Love is something different.


People do feel love, but to me, love is not an emotion. Love is a choice. It is a verb, requiring action by both people in the marriage. It is a thing you DO and I am not just talking about what you DO in the bedroom.

If you spend your married life demonstrating love to your spouse, I believe you will find yourself in a long lasting marriage. If you spend your time worrying about your happiness, or the happiness of your spouse, you will be sorely disappointed. I promise you.

What does this mean? This means that you have to ignore toothpaste splatters, toilet seats left in the upright position, how he loads the dishwasher or diapers the kid. It means you will have hardships. It means that sometimes you will feel like you are giving more to the relationship. Other times, you will be the needy one. It means sometimes he will really get on your nerves and hurt your feelings and you will not be happy at all. You will have to do things you do not want to do. So will your spouse. That is just how it is. That is called relationship. You will be happy and you will be unhappy. That is the reality of marriage.

Marriage that lasts is about love, but it is also about forgiveness, which, like love, is not an emotion, but a verb. Oh, and there are those other verbs: commitment and work.

I have heard people say, “I love him/her, but I’m not IN love with him/her anymore”, which is basically code for “he/she doesn’t make me happy anymore.” If I had based my marriage satisfaction only on whether or not I was happy, honey, I’d have been out of here long ago!

Marriage isn’t about the Happy Factor, people!

Marriage is about love, forgiveness, commitment and the work it takes to make a life together and honor each other. It is about wanting the best for your spouse and being the best you can be for your spouse. Marriage isn’t just about you and it isn’t only about him. There will be times of happy and there will be hard times, but you can’t just bail because the thrill is gone.

So, maybe you want to ask me, “Joell, are you happy in your marriage?” My answer would probably depend on the day, because my Happy Factor varies. But if you ask me if I love my husband, my answer is this:

Unequivocally, yes. I love him differently today than I did when I met him 30 years ago. I love him more deeply and more completely than I did on the day we married. I am wholly committed to him—on the days that he annoys me and on the days he seems too needy and on the days he gives me a can-opener for Christmas (yes, that happened). I love him on the days he rubs my feet, just because. And on the days he works extra hard to do a good job at work, because he loves his family and wants to provide for us. And on the days he puts a blanket on me when I fall asleep in the recliner. I choose to love him every day, regardless of how I am feeling at the time. I love him because he loves me, even on the days I am a moody, hormonal, straight up pain in the butt. I will never regret my decision to love and marry such a good man.

I believe we need to take our example from Christ and how He loves us—freely and without condition. Then, work each day to demonstrate that same kind of love to our spouses, which is no easy task. And which is why people get tired and unhappy about having to do that day in and day out. I get it. It is hard work. Guess what? Sometimes you just have to dig down deep and love anyway. Even when you aren’t feeling happy. I am pretty sure there is nowhere in the scriptures that says, “Thou shalt always feel happy.”

So, I encourage you to press on, my married friends. Enjoy those happy moments, and embrace the not-so-happy ones too, for they are what enduring marriages are made of.


NOTE: Please don’t take this the wrong way, y’all. It is great to be happy, to feel happy, but don’t base everything on that. Also, I am not saying you should stay with your abusive spouse—if you find yourself in that situation, please get help and get to where you are safe, for yourself and for your children. And I am not saying you should tolerate unfaithfulness either. Just want to clear those things up!


Filed under Family, Marriage

Giants of Faith.

Hebrews 11.1Do you ever look around you and really admire the people that God has placed in your life? Whether they are family, life-long friends or friends He brings you only for a season, look at those people and learn from them and thank God for them. I know I do. As I was reading in Chapter 6 of The Fire of Delayed Answers this week, I was reminded of so many amazing people.

Chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews is often called the “faith chapter”—and for good reason.

Hebrews 11:1-2 says “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith.” (The Living Bible)

The rest of the chapter goes on to list giants of faith—Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, among many others. All of these examples are given as a testimony of faith and an encouragement to those of us who have come behind.

I love the pillars of faith of the Bible. But as I look around me, I see giants of faith every day—people I have known for years, who are incredible people of faith. Many of them have walked, and are still walking, through circumstances that would tear many people apart, or cause them to turn away from God because it seems their struggles never end. Some of these people have endured the same struggles for years.

Illness and disease. Loss—loss upon loss. Estrangement from children. Death of children, of parents. Mental illness. Deep emotional pain. Raising children with special needs. Suicide. Financial struggles. Legal struggles. Joblessness. Divorce. Living in the middle of aging parents and growing children.

But these people, all the ones who are in my mind right now, have never wavered in their faith. They all wait with certainty, with hope, with confident assurance. I think these are the ones Bob Sorge is referring to when he says, “In the face of delayed answers, it takes great faith to persevere in seeking only the face of God—to ‘cry out day and night to Him.’” (Chapter 6, The Fire of Delayed Answers)  And perhaps Jesus would include them in the blessed servants “whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (Luke 12:37 NKJV)

These are the ones who are persevering, crying out to God and are given over completely to “vigilant watchfulness” and “intense, prayerful alertness in the Spirit.”  These people are watching and waiting and praying without ceasing in great faith, while they wait with expectation for God to bring them through. All the while, they continue to press forward. It amazes me and blesses me.

There is a great reward for each of them, whether their answers come now or later or in eternity. In the meantime, each of them is an encouragement to me. They minister to me and some of them don’t even know it. I watch them and I learn from their examples of great faith and strength and I say to myself, “THIS is how you walk through the darkest valleys of life. THIS is faith.” And though my heart breaks for their sufferings, and I pray for their deliverance, my heart is also filled with awe and gratitude for their great faith and strength.

Look around you and be encouraged by how the giants of faith in your life walk through the fire of delayed answers.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me with such people and may You act swiftly and send their answers speedily. In the name of Jesus. Amen.


I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!


Filed under Faith