Today for my Playdate with God, I'm hosting one of my favorite people, Dena Dyer. You can read more about my friend Dena at the end of her post. But one thing you must know: Dena knows how to enjoy God and she brings him much glory with her life. Welcome, Dena.
The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is. --Ann Voskamp
In Wounded Women of the Bible, I wrote about a particularly difficult season of my life. I wanted to share a little bit more about that time, since Laura graciously asked me to guest post on her beautiful site.
One morning in 2010, as I drove the boys to school on my way to work, my first-grader cried, "I want to be home-schooled!" He was still adjusting to a new teacher, building, schedule, town, and house.
He was also getting used to Mommy working full-time.
When I said, "We'll get to spend time together after school," he replied fiercely, "But you're not there when I get home."
I was thankful my husband Carey could pick Jackson up, but that stung. I liked my job, but it was difficult to work 40-plus hours a week when I'd been used to a much more flexible schedule. When I saw moms congregating outside the school building after drop-off, chatting leisurely, I longed for the days when I could stop and visit, too.
That year, I experienced many moments when I was tempted to feel sorry for myself. We moved for the second time in three years, from a 1,700 square foot house into a <1,200 square foot apartment. We didn't have a yard, our dog was staying with my parents, our finances were unsure, and we hadn’t met many people yet. I missed my friends terribly. And while the apartment complex was quiet and pretty, I longed for more of my things. Some days, I gave into the temptation and pouted like a little girl who didn’t get the ice cream cone she wanted.
But just when I was ready to throw a no-holds-barred pity party, God reminded me--mostly through my job--how blessed I was.
--When Carey had to be out of town, I was able to call my parents (who lived only an hour away) to pick the boys up from school. We often met my brother and his family for meals, ice cream, or kids’ soccer games. It was wonderful to be near family, especially because we'd never experienced that blessing in all our years of marriage.
--As I unwrapped certain items after our move, I was often forced to send them to storage. I whined, "Lord, this isn't fair." And then I thought about the refugees who came to Amarillo from overcrowded camps, traumatized and exhausted--with no possessions except the clothes on their back. They were ecstatic about the simplest things that the non-profit I worked for provided.
--Lamenting the lack of space to spread out, I often drove up to our office building and saw disabled and/or homeless people (many of them mentally ill) waiting on the food pantry to open. Day after day, I prayed: "Lord, forgive me for being discontent."
--When I complained about my schedule, God reminded me of our clients who worked nights slaughtering chickens or packing meat, only to head straight to a morning English class, just so they could get a better job. And listening to the radio, I heard that 500,000 people lost their jobs in one day. Mercy!
Slowly, God continued to work on my heart. Gratitude took root, and turned to joy.
I had a job. We had more than enough of everything we really need. We sold our house and avoided having to rent it out or sell it long-distance. Our little brood loved each other, and we laughed together. A lot.
That move highlighted what's really important--family, friends, faith--and what's not--a big house, a well-manicured lawn, neighbors who look just like us, and too many things cluttering up our minds, hearts, and space.
As overfed American Christians, it's hard for us to understand how people of faith in Africa, the Middle East, or South America could have joy. Happiness in the midst of tragedy? Peace coinciding with hunger? Joy stemming from persecution? What's that all about?!
God's perspective is different. He sees poverty of spirit as the real tragedy. And in America, we're saturated with it.
Remember Haiti after the earthquake? Newscasters told stories of nationals who'd lost all their earthly possessions--and some of their friends and loved ones--singing praise songs. People were mystified. How could those who'd lost so much be singing? They had nothing materially to call their own. The people of Haiti had lost all that the "world" considers important.
But maybe, just maybe, in that moment, stripped of all their worldly goods, they had everything they really needed.
I'm learning that life continually places moments of decision in front of me--and you. The choice is ours: gratitude or greed? Contentment or anger? Peace or frustration?
It's all a matter of perspective.
As a busy mom and minister’s wife, Dena Dyer constantly loses things—but she’s holding onto her sanity (barely). J Her favorite forms of therapy? Talking and laughing with her sons, date nights with her hubby, reading, cooking, and watching movies. Dena is thankful for her creative life, which is varied and full. In between helping her boys with homework and shuttling kids to school and music lessons, she writes, speaks, and participates in the music and women’s ministries at Lakeside Baptist Church, where her husband serves as the Worship and Music Minister.
Dena’s publishing credits include the books Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Help When Life Hurts, Let the Crows’ Feet and Laugh Lines Come, Mothers of the Bible, The Groovy Chicks’ Road Trip series and Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms. Her articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Woman’s World, Home Life and many other magazines, and her tips have been published in Working Mother, Thriving Family, Redbook, Family Circle, Parenting, Nick Jr. and Scholastic Parent. She currently serves as a contributing editor with The High Calling (www.highcalling.org). Visit her website/blog, “Mother Inferior,” (www.denadyer.com) or connect with her on Facebook (denadyerauthor) or Twitter (motherinferior2).
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:
The Playdates button: