Jesus Ramblings

Choosing Joy

While scrolling social media one day I began to notice something –
New Years Resolutions are a thing of the past! Apparently, the thing to do now is to pick a word for the year, and I don’t know why but this got me all kinds of excited!

Seriously though, this took a lot of thought and prayer. The whole process was very intentional and focused for me. I just couldn’t figure out what my word needed to be!

Then one Sunday morning while sitting in church my word came to me. Or I suppose I should say, God sent my word to me like a slap in the face!

Joy.

Why Joy?

If I’m going to be transparent, which I should be since this is my blog and I really do want to be honest here, 2018 had its rough moments.

I know that’s a normal thing in life, but I really seemed to struggle with handling the weight of multiple businesses piled on top of being a semi-decent wife and mommy. I felt like I was going through the motions more than actually living, but those motions were more like sprinting a race that I could never win. Every time someone took a picture of me all I saw was a tired, forced smile and dark circles under my eyes that my concealer was obviously doing a poor job of hiding!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re working too hard Stephanie! But all joking aside, my schedule really isn’t terrible. What was pulling me down was how poorly I managed that schedule. I could go into so much detail here, but that is a blog post for another time!

At the end of the year I looked back and realized that this really wasn’t how I was meant to be living. That kind of stress is not God’s desire for my life. I am just not naturally an optimistic person. I think I used to be but sometime in early college that began to fade out in my life. Since then I have had a hard time enjoying the day-to-day jobs and responsibilities that honestly seemed so menial.

I think what really opened my eyes was a new friendship that I was blessed with right around the holidays. I was amazed that no matter what the world threw at her she still smiled the most genuine smile and exuded so much sweetness that she made sugar looked sour. All I could think was how?!

I knew without a doubt it was joy, and I really needed it.

What is Joy?

I don’t think anyone really knows this about me, not even my husband.

I love definitions.

There is something about taking a phrase word by word and breaking it down…when I start I can’t stop! Picking a word apart and digging deep into what it really means, learning its origin, finding words that help support it – it’s so good. It’s like a guilty pleasure for me!

Seriously, try it.

On second thought, let’s do it together.

Joy.

It is a commonly used word, often misused as a synonym for happy, but what does it really mean? Where does it come from? How do we obtain it?

Merriam-Webster defines “joy” as:

1. the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

2. a state of happiness or felicity

3. a source or cause of delight

I don’t usually disagree with these folks, but this time I’m going to have to. In my humble opinion, the first two just don’t cut it.

Sorry.

First of all, joy doesn’t come from wealth, having all your desire, or doing good at life. In fact, joy comes even in the face of trial.

James 1:2
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

Joy has one source, and that source is God.

In Proverbs 10:28 it says,
“The prospect of righteousness is joy…”
and a synonym for prospect is expectation. I can expect joy to come as a result of righteousness! Even better than that, Romans 15:13 says,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Do you ever feel like you need something so bad that your entire being is drawn towards it? I do every time I read that verse.

That right there my friends, that hearty stuff that Paul is talking about in Romans 15:13, it is exactly what I need. I need that joy and peace that will make me overflow with hope!

Here is the thing about joy though – if we know Jesus, like really hardcore love him and desire to follow him in our lives, we have joy. It’s in there deep down, even if you don’t feel it.

And that’s where I was – I couldn’t feel it or see it. I had taken that beautiful gift of joy that I was so blessed with and buried it deep. I buried it under all of my insecurities, anxiety, stress, responsibilities, and the list goes on. I took the pressures of life and allowed them to cover my joy so heavily that I couldn’t see its light anymore.

Choosing Joy.

So this part of the post actually took a while to write. About a month after the rest to be exact. The first two sections were easy, I had figured out what I was missing in my life – the fix though, that is not an overnight thing. It’s more of a work in progress!

It literally starts by waking up each morning and choosing joy.

Even reading that as I type it I know it sounds crazy. What on earth does that mean?! Choose joy. I still don’t think I really know for sure but I’m slowly figuring it out.

Everyone is different, but for me I had to enforce some discipline in my life.

A quote from Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst – which I highly recommend – says:

“When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

Day 21, page 63

My life was chaotic. I don’t know why I say “was”, it definitely still is at times! It was getting bad though, no rhyme or reason to what I did or when I did it. This resulted in loads of backed up laundry, a house that needed cleaned, business opportunities I was slacking on, fights with my husband, and so on.

For me it all begins with getting decent sleep (still working on this part!), followed by waking up before everyone else – this is necessary for me! I knew I needed alone time with God but I wasn’t making myself do it. I would wake up scrambling to get myself semi-presentable, dress Oliver and get him to school, then get myself to the cafe. I left no room for any kind of quiet time or even reflection on God before jumping into my day, and if I try to do it at night I will almost always fall asleep in the middle of reading. I also know that for me a good morning equals a good day, while a bad morning equals a rough day, so I need to be refreshed and ready to go by the time my boys start waking up.

The next area I am working on is my attitude.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says,
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

This verse has become my slogan for my daily duties. I have to put mind over matter and actually will myself to enjoy what I am doing each and every day. Not only in the area of housework, but also in how I respond to people.

Over the holidays someone very close to me informed me that they were struggling to believe in God, partially because they don’t see Jesus in the people that supposedly love and follow Him. This hit me hard, because I’m sure I am one of those people way more often than I should be. I made it part of my goal that whether I am passing a stranger in the grocery store or talking with my customers at the restaurant, I will try to let them feel the warmth and joy of Jesus coming from me with each interaction.

The Result?

I’m still new to all of this and I have already failed so many times, but I can honestly say when I at least try to follow these practices, it works.

I have felt an unusual level of happiness, peace, faith and unmistakable joy.

I am still, and will always be a work in progress. However, as a result of these efforts and more than anything else, God’s faithfulness, my days have become more routine and productive without feeling overwhelming, I am not drowning in laundry – which is a big change, my house is clean and I am working hard on organizing our life daily, I greatly look forward to waking up early so I can have my quiet time, and I have more patience with my family and less fights with my husband.

So, this is where I agree with the final definition from Webster.

3. a source or cause of delight

Joy is the source of delight. It produces happiness.

I have no doubt about that.

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Jesus Ramblings

What is Love?

I read that title and Haddaway’s song start’s playing in my head!
“What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me no more.”

Come on, own up. You were singing it too.

But really. I want to dissect the word love today.

I know this has been done a million times, but I want to do it for me. I feel like it is so easy to say I love someone, but to actually show them the real, nitty-gritty, hard to swallow, Biblical concept of love is a totally different story. The Bible best describes love in the popular Corinthians verses:

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7

This is what I want to break apart. I can read these verses a hundred times a day and they will still just be words to me until I take them piece by piece and try to apply them to my life. I hope you join me for this self-revealing journey!

***A quick disclaimer – I don’t know where I am going with this. It may just be one post, it may turn into a series of posts. I’m just typing what is heavy on my heart right at this moment. When it is time to start dinner I will stop and publish the post (to avoid another drafted post getting forgotten) and we will see where it goes from there.

So let’s take the first portion of verse 4.

“Love is patient…”

Patience according to Dictionary.com
1) the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
2) quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.

I feel like this is something I struggle with on a daily basis! Oh man…I can only imagine what it will be like when we have children!! Lord, help me!

To love patiently is to have steady perseverance and be even tempered, no matter the situation. Dealing with the many worldly issues that come up in a relationship without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, etc.

Oh man…I struggle. I complain. I lose my temper. I get irritated. All it takes is one misdirected comment or one misinterpreted gesture or tone and I’m gone. How do I work with this? How do I turn my love for someone into a love filled with patience?

Jesus and his relationship with his disciples comes to mind. It didn’t matter how many times Jesus told them who he was and what his purpose was they just didn’t get it! And then even worse was Peter’s denial of the Christ! Even still, Jesus was always patient towards them.

I can’t figure out an easy fix to be more like Jesus. Let’s face it, Christianity isn’t an easy fix to life’s issues. It is an ever-growing and ever-learning lifestyle. I feel like the best way to show patient love to those around me requires diving deep into the Word of God, focusing on applying His truth to my life through seeking Him and memorizing scripture, spending a lot of time in prayer, and taking a deep breath and refocusing my attitude when frustration or impatience sets in.

I pray God continues to lay it upon my heart to focus on loving the way Jesus does. The way He has commanded me to.

Well, it is time to go cook dinner! It’s Mexican Night in the Bleckley household!
Thanks for sticking through all my ramblings (:

Jesus Ramblings

He Makes Me Brave // New Website

Far too often I let fear and uncertainty dictate my life. It has caused me to make poor decisions or miss out on something important too many times.

This time last year a man very dear to me, practically a second father, was losing the fight against cancer. I was already here on the island at that point so I couldn’t see him, but I had access to a phone. All I had to do was call – but I was scared. Scared of how he would sound. Uncertain of what to say. Terrified to say goodbye because of what saying goodbye would mean. I was afraid to let him hear me cry, that it would be selfish in the midst of his suffering. So I kept putting the call off.

He died on March 25th, 2014.

I never got to say goodbye or tell him I loved him one last time. To this day I find myself breaking down out of sorrow and guilt whenever I think about it. All because I let fear and uncertainty take over.

I feel as if some of the words I write are often inspiration from God with the purpose of sharing them with others. However, when it is all written or typed out I find myself hiding it away or clicking “Save Draft” rather than “Publish”. I find myself fearful that I didn’t write it well enough to convey my thoughts. Nervous that what I wrote isn’t doctrinally perfect. And most often I worry that the many mistakes I have made in my life well prevent people from reading the words and taking them to heart, and instead they will view me as a hypocrite and turn away.

The song “You Make Me Brave” has been stuck in my head for weeks! Normally if I listen to a song that is stuck on replay in my head it will help silence it. I have listened to this song by Bethel Music more times than I can count and rather than my brain coming up with a new song to sing to myself as I cook these words have been drilled into my memory…

As your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For you are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

I don’t know why it took me so long to find the meaning in the words I have been singing daily. How can I let fear hinder me when I have the Champion of Heaven on my side? The words “you call me out beyond the shore into the waves” reminds me of when Jesus walked on the water of the lake in Matthew 14. Peter of course desired to be out on the water with Jesus – and that’s exactly what he did! But, when he took his eyes off Jesus and began to focus on his fear of the water and the wind he started to sink. Isn’t that exactly what fear does to us? If we don’t fight it off it drowns us. We just need to cry out “Lord, save me!” like Peter, and He will reach His hand out and save us.

In my Lent Study with She Reads Truth we have been reading in Lamentations. It amazes me the amount of pain and suffering happening to them, yet out of it all the author doesn’t get lost in fear or doubt. He has faith that God will redeem them.

My life is a constant work in progress – but someday I hope to have that level of faith. Until then I will focus not on the drowning power of fear, but instead on the wave after wave of God’s love that is crashing down on me. The fact that during those times of fear and uncertainty I have a Savior that I can call out to who will pull me through it.

So here it is. Attempt #1 at overcoming fear’s hold on me. A new website (: This will be a centralized hub for all my Jesus ramblings, updates on our life, my photography and my graphic design work. Bookmark it, follow it, share it, comment, etc. – I love to hear from people!

You Make Me Brave - watermark

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