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True Joy.

I’ve been studying the book of Philippians in a community bible study this fall.

It’s been far too long since I’ve allowed the word to dissect me like this.  My heart was in dire need.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Paul because his life is such a powerful example of Joy in the midst of hardship.

Until this study, I had no idea that 50-80% of the palace guards came to know Christ through Paul’s imprisonment.

Paul didn’t seem to have an agenda for his life after he met Jesus.
He was convinced that his sole purpose was to know God deeply and to make him known.
We can’t get to that place on our own, can we?  We just aren’t strong enough or good enough to want to.
He is the vine, we are the branches.  Apart from him, we can do nothing. {John 15}
Paul’s joy was dependent upon his internal relationship with the Lord and not his external circumstances.
He had learned that with Christ, all things are possible.

I can’t say the same for myself.  I haven’t always had joy in the midst of trials.
Probably because at my core, I’ve always struggled with trust.  It’s been a major player in my story.
God has been so gracious and gentle over the course of 20 years, as he has uncovered the hurt in me.
He has peeled back layer after layer after layer for me to surrender to him .
And just when I thought there wasn’t a single layer left in me, he came back for more.
He does promise that he will complete his good work in us until the day of Christ Jesus. {Phil 1:6}

When you struggle at your core with trust, there is only so far you can go in your intimacy with the Lord.
The time you spend with him when it’s just you and him is mostly you talking..cause that feels comfortable.
I love that He speaks to us through his word.
But, secretly, I’ve always longed to ask him a few questions about something I faced as a child.
Honestly, I’ve wanted to know why he allowed it.
It wasn’t so much the 39 year old me needing answers but the 4 year old me tucked way down in my core.

When you struggle with trust, you’re afraid to ask him the hard questions in that quiet, still place
because you’re terrified he might not answer the way you need him to or maybe even at all.
So, you trudge through life diligently reading his word, getting to know him, and trying to model your life after his.
Over the course of twenty years,  a sweet intimacy with him has definitely developed.
You just know there’s more.
And that “more” that you know is there unsettles you until you’re sick to death of being unsettled.

These foundational questions in my core have been my prison.
I’ve trusted him in many areas of my life, but not with that piece of my story.
Interestingly, many months ago I saw Paige’s “trust your story” cuff, and I ordered one.
It was the beginning of another layer being peeled back in me.
I was finally at the place of total unsettledness that had me ready to surrender this part of my heart.

Joy is deeper than happiness.
At it’s foundation, it is the security that Christ holds fast and gives peace, hope and comfort–
even in the midst of hardship.
Joy is rooted in the certainty that Jesus Christ is Lord, and he is in control, no matter what we endure.

 Joy comes from being connected to him.  It comes from a deep trust,  an inner “knowing”
that he is in control and that he is good.  No matter what.
The freedom he’s given me this year has been a game changer.
I’m learning to trust the hardest parts of my story, and it is beautiful.

{thankful for}
571. our marriage retreat this weekend.
572. someone we trust to love on our kiddos for a couple of days.
573. Paul being an example to me of a life surrendered to advancing God’s kingdom, no matter what it costs him.
574. my noonday jewelry arriving yesterday.
575. angel, who has helped me learn to listen to Jesus without fear and to trust my story with him.

T - Tara,

Your post has uplifted my heart, stirring the deepest part of my soul and at a time I’ve needed it most.

Events of the past week have left me — even as a Believer — hurting and confused and questioning and …

Your post reminds me that indeed God IS in control and He IS GOOD, no matter the circumstances. It is that truth, that piece of faith that needs revisited and strengthened actively and consistently. That is best achieved by being devoted to daily reading of His Word.

And your post!

Blessings to you, Sweet Sister in Christ.

Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage - Wonderful, wonderful post!! I am doing Beth Moore’s James study and last weeks lesson was talking about the same thing, joy in the midst of trials. I had a huge light bulb moment during my homework. Love when that happens!

WhiteWhispers2u - This hit home for me as I struggle with serious trust issues myself.Hard to heal when it continues to be an issue over and over again in your life.
I love the cuff myself, great words! Thanks for sharing your beautiful words with us today~Cheers & Blessings Kim

Kelli - Love this post for many reasons! Something that I needed to read this morning. Thank you.
Happy Friday!

Lissa - I’ve been through this very same journey and still am learning! Loving God and having your deepest desire to make him known. There’s total conviction right there! :) That’s truth.

GLENDA CHILDERS - Thank you, Tara, for sharing this part of your story. As you peel those layers back to that sweet four year old you … I pray that God will meet you there in such personal and precious ways. Your words encourage me, tonight.

Miranda @ Pressing On - Thank you so much Tara. What a beautiful and honest post. You are an inspiration. Nurturing my time with God is something I desperately need to focus on. Thank you again.

Anonymous - Tara, I can’t tell you just how much your story has rung true with me. I too went through a complete unsettling last Fall, and started therapy for PTSD for things that happened in my childhood. A winter of therapy, prayers, soul searching and ever-awe in God and his blessings has brought me to a world of much more peace and joy. I’ve always, like you, tried to live in His likeness appreciating all the goodness and being good to others, but my own peeling back the layers has led me to a much higher level of understanding and love. Thank you for sharing. Hugs.

Patty O

Bonnie Seay - Thank you for opening up, Tara! You have a beautiful story and I’m so grateful to hear how God is bringing you more joy by owning it at a new and different level! Love you, friend. I hope you guys are having a fabulous time together on your marriage retreat! Soak it up!

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh wow… this is rich. And deep and beautiful. I feel like I need to go read it again.

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Yeah… read it again. Loved this:

“When you struggle with trust, you’re afraid to ask him the hard questions in that quiet, still place
because you’re terrified he might not answer the way you need him to or maybe even at all.”

I’m going to chew on this tonight. I think I’m a little bit the same girl. Loved this.

Cat - scrolling thru all your new posts and i am obsessed with the O’Holy Night sign and the Love is….. one. I want both! Love the font they are in!

Linda - I stumbled upon your blog and I am so happy to see how BOLD you are for sweet precious Jesus. It takes most of us many more years than you have lived to gain the wisdom you display.

And I love your signs!

LLH Designs - This post is one of the many reasons I just know I love you…even though we’ve never met. We’ll be bosom friends in heaven, right? :) This post makes me think you would love the Captivating retreat. xoxo!

paige - beautiful post my friend
i just love you
( even if i have to keep signing in through blogger! ha!)

paige - shoot …your noonday just came??that took longer than expected..sorry about that!

Genny - Just came across your blog today — love it — and I can so identify with this post! Thank you!

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