there can be joy.

I have been feeling very blessed by some of the sweet friendships in my life this last year. One of the greatest purposes of the church body is not only for the members to encourage each other but also to sharpen one another. I am very grateful for these friends who have not only called me out on things but have reminded me about deep love, joy, and peace from the Lord. I rode around Afton for some time with Amy this morning while she picked up job apps and coffee, and I couldn't help but feel on the cusp of something as we talked about our futures and the things we were dreaming about for the next few years and how God could change all of it for better or different. (Side note - I just opened my window to hear the rain better, and there is a cool, water smell all over the room now.) I felt the same way tonight when Els and I were sitting on the brown couch downstairs discussing monotonous days at work and her adjusting to working at the zoo and how it really is impossible to know everything there is to know about penguins and money-sorting and front desks in the first two weeks of the job. She told me how working at the zoo each day is different from going to the zoo only once or twice in a year and that there is so much more to notice: double-decker strollers, hundreds of different kinds of parents and their children, uncommonly known facts about Chloe, the two-toed sloth, and her absence at the zoo (they are currently mating her with another two-toed sloth named Stephano - what could be better than little two-toed sloth babies?)

All of this played a part in the prompt I feel now. There is so much in life to see and understand. I feel as though my heart has been in a constant mode of change this last week - like I am very much a lump of clay, and I am very much being whittled and formed, and it isn't always pleasant. It seems different to me now, though.

I am learning that, each morning, I can wake up and choose the joy that the Lord freely offers me, or I can choose to see only through my fleshly eyes and feel things through my fleshly reactions. There is great freedom in this, and I am now looking forward to some of the more uninteresting and repetitive things in my life like work and closet organizing and the mass of boxes I am sorting through in the garage (everything is being cleaned out right now). There is stuff to learn from Jesus even from the smallest points of my life.

These are just some things I've been thinking about. Hope this encourages you if you've been feeling as though you lack hope as of late.