Will You Choose Joy?

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises ~ Psalm 98:4 NKJV.

Christmas has recently passed, and if you’re like me, all the decorations are neatly tucked away for another year. Although the house is back in apple-pie order, my emotions mourn.

A month before Christmas, I labored for a week to arrange twinkling lights, pine boughs, crèche figures, and ornaments. But now, after just a few short days, no trace of that joyful celebration remains.

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

I admit, I was rather sad to see such lovely beauty vanish.  I also pondered why my JOY had disappeared along with the decorations.

True JOY isn’t a by-product of the physical realm–that kind is passing, not permanent. Instead, JOY is a lasting gift God plants deep down in our spirits.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation ~ Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV.

Years ago, when I was still teaching, I used to always smile and bubble over with JOY. Students would often ask me why I was so happy all the time—especially early in the morning. Since it was a public school, I danced around the real reason, which was the JOY of Jesus living in my heart. But it thrilled me that my witness made a difference, even in a place where I wasn’t verbally allowed to share my spiritual beliefs.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven ~ Matthew 5:16 NKJV.

 

The Holiday Blues by Karen Jurgens

We realize Christmas isn’t just about outward glitter, presents, and holiday feasting. All that is a by-product of the JOY of the birth of Jesus Christ.

This first month of the New Year, let’s take that precious JOY, live it out in our daily lives, and let our lights shine from the housetops!

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! ~ Psalm 32:11.

Although happiness can turn upside down and dissolve with life’s circumstances, let’s allow the JOY of the Lord to shine through every word and action. No matter what comes our way, we can choose our response–JOY. 

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

 

So, let’s take off the lid of that pot of JOY bubbling in our hearts and allow the bliss of God’s love to overflow to the world in 2018. Let JOY be the witness of our salvation through the blood of the Lamb, having made us whole in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation ~ Psalm 95:1 NKJV.

Will you choose JOY to shine from your life this year?

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year by Karen Jurgens

Wishing all my readers a blessed and prosperous New Year!

Thank you…

I want to take this opportunity to thank you so very much for following me, whether you’re new or have been here from the beginning. I appreciate each and every one of you for taking time to read my blog. My goal is to always bring you fresh insight from God’s Word that will bless and enrich your spirit as we travel along life’s path.

Next Year…

Look for some new changes I hope you’ll enjoy. Each month will have its own theme, and I plan to blog at least twice a month. January will begin with the theme of finding deeper JOY–won’t that be a great springboard for us as we launch into 2018? I’m anticipating a wonderful New Year and trust you are too.

A Deeper Path…

You will also receive an invitation to subscribe to a newsletter for more in-depth communication. I’m creating something you’ll be excited to receive in your inbox just three or four times a year. So, be on the lookout for it this winter.  I earnestly hope you’ll come alongside as we travel a deeper path.

Warmest Blessings for the Happiest of New Years,

Karen

 

Christmas Memories

Dear Readers, I’m sharing this post from Heart”wings” blog where it was first posted on Christmas Day. Since it’s a personal story about the passing of my grandmother, I also wanted to share it with you here. If you’re missing a loved one at this time of year, I pray this story will be comforting. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season!

Merry Christmas! May I wish you a joyous day, as all around the world we celebrate the birth of Christ.  I would love to share a special Christmas memory with you on today’s Monday Memories.

Let’s turn back the clocks to Christmas Eve afternoon, 1977. My parents and I were busy making traditional preparations for our family’s celebration. Glittering presents tied with shiny bows tumbled in piles beneath a sparkling tree. Fireplaces crackled out warmth from blazing logs. Mantles displayed holy crèche scenes inside nests of pine boughs and twinkle lights. The kitchen bulged with Christmas stöllens and cakes, smoked turkeys, hams, and all the trimmings for tomorrow’s big dinner.

Our routine included attending a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, followed by dinner at a restaurant. After returning home, we would open presents—a tradition passed down from my father’s family.

But this season unveiled an alarming surprise. Two days earlier, my mother and I drove to a hospital in Morehead, Kentucky, where my maternal grandmother had been admitted to ICU.  My grandparents had just moved to our family’s farm, and this happened to be the closest hospital emergency room.

Christmas Memories by Karen JurgensWe parked, walked to a red-brick building on a street corner, and climbed the cement steps to the front entrance. Once inside, we located an elevator and rode to the second floor. Tiptoeing down an antiseptic hallway, we spied a door with a sign that read ICU, and beyond, a hospital bed where Grandmother lay.

Her face shone, despite having survived a major heart attack. Rosy-cheeked, her lips tipped up to smile as she shared her good news. The doctor claimed she was doing well and, at her current rate of improvement, announced she should be able to go home shortly after Christmas.

Relief flooded through all of us. She was going to survive. At seventy-five, she was still young compared to family members who lived well into their nineties. Up to that point, all ten of her siblings were still living.

Christmas Memories by Karen Jurgens

After a short visit, we left the hospital the same way we had entered and drove home. On that cold, golden evening, we admired the forested hills, almost bare of their autumn leaves. Peace enveloped our hearts in the flickering sunset—God’s whisper that the situation was under His control. We could trust Him. Grandmother would live.

On Christmas Eve Day, we kept a close eye on the clock. One last job before leaving for church involved arranging luminaries around the driveway. As we lighted them, my dad appeared at the front door and called my mother to the telephone. The message that came through the wire would permanently change our lives.

Through the receiver echoed the words, “Mom’s gone … Mom’s gone!” My grandfather’s sorrow announced his wife’s unexpected departure for her heavenly home.

We were stunned … shocked.  Our upcoming celebration halted. Rather than enjoying that night’s traditions, my mother made phone calls. Instead of opening presents, we prepared for a funeral. The Lord carried our family on His wings of grace through those hard days.

But that’s not the end of the story.

After the doctor’s report had sparked hope that the crisis was over, my grandfather and two of my great-aunts left the ICU for a much-needed shower and a good night’s sleep. So, for about twenty-four hours, Grandmother was alone.

That no one had been present at her hour of death shrouded everyone’s heart with deep regret, especially my mother’s. But how could anyone have known? Still, she wrestled with her conscience and found it difficult to forgive herself.

In her sorrow, God answered one day when she was in prayer, The Lord reminded her of a vivid dream He had given her in 1969. In it, she remembered she had seen that same red brick building, elevator, and visiting her sick mother on the second floor. But the dream added one extra element. After she left, crystal-clear water, symbolizing death, poured out the front door and washed down the steps.

Neither in the dream, nor in reality had she been present with her mother at the time of death,

God had drawn back the curtains of the future eight years ahead of time, allowing her to take a peek. No arguing against God’s perfect plan. After she understood the dream’s deeper meaning, her guilt lifted.

Although every Christmas Eve is bittersweet, God is amazing. His lovingkindness to us is boundless, and our sweet memories comfort us as we carry on our holiday traditions to celebrate Jesus’s birth.

Is someone special to you missing this Christmas Day?

Today let’s draw on God’s infinite comfort, realizing our loved ones are in heaven, waiting for us. As we gather our families and friends close this Christmas Day, let’s bask in the hope of God’s perfect gift, His Son. Sent to be our Savior, this Babe in the manger brings us joy and peace in the midst of our circumstances. Let’s make room in our hearts to receive Jesus and His eternal gift of salvation.

 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 

‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14, NKJV

 

Christmas Memories by Karen Jurgens

http://www.heartwingsblog.com/2017/12/christmas-memories/

Traveling to Bethlehem

Traveling to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

It’s Christmas Eve. Just like the magi, we again make our way to worship our newborn King.

In 2007, I made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to visit the place where He was said to be born. Inside the Church of the Nativity, down staircases to the coveted spot.  A beautiful star marks it. I’ll never forget how I felt when my life touched the place where His began. I worshiped Him.

How must the shepherds have felt that sacred night when they were interrupted with bright lights from the night sky? Angels singing glorious songs, trumpeting the arrival of the Saviour. Fear at the initial sight, then wonder and scurrying to witness the truth of their heavenly visitation.

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Luke 2:15-16, NKJV.

When the shepherds found the stable of animals with the Christ child nestled in the manger’s straw, their lives connected with His. They worshiped Him.

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them ~ Luke 2:20, NKJV.

The three kings from distant lands also followed the bright star. When they found the humble abode and the Christ child, their lives connected with His. They worshiped Him.

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh ~ Matthew 2:11, NKJV.

Tonight, make that pilgrimage in your heart to see Him. Let His life connect with yours. And let’s worship Him, our newborn King.

Click Here to worship

 

The Holiday Blues

Karen Jurgens

Can you imagine that Christmas is exactly one week away? In honor of the season, I’d like to share with you a previously published post from Christmas, 2014. I hope it will be a blessing to you today.

holiday shopping

Do the approaching holidays bring you joy? Or not?

Everywhere you go, anticipation of Christmas Day abounds. Neighborhoods glitter with lights outlining rooftops and everything on the ground that can be wrapped or staked. Reds, whites, purples and blues reign in the form of sleighs, Santas, and snowmen in the darkness. Christmas trees twinkle behind windows, promising wonderful surprises for December 25th.

But on the other side of the glitz and glamour is a different story that begs telling.

Shoppers exhaust themselves over the hunt for good parking spaces as they fight bumper-to-bumper traffic. Artificial trees, lights, wreaths and bows adorn malls and stores, luring buyers to the latest price reductions…

View original post 347 more words

Author Interview and Giveaway

A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens

You’re invited to join me today over at http://www.inspiredprompts.com for an interview with Betty Thomason Owens. I’ll tell you more about my past as a teacher and how I got into all this writing business–you’ll even find out what my favorite color is! (You might be surprised.)

If you haven’t read Desire’s Promise, this new edition is even better. Revised and expanded, the new title is A Perfect Fit. It deals with the dilemma of how to find a godly husband in our modern culture. Should you just take whomever you can find or wait for God’s best?

Instead of a dating site, ask God to be your matchmaker. As your designer and author of life, He knows you better than you know yourself. And He doesn’t just bring anyone. His choice is always a perfect fit.

I hope you’ll want to read Carlie’s story and see how she found her perfect match. If you leave a comment on the Inspired Prompts site, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a free eBook copy. Just scroll to the bottom of my interview and that’s where to enter. Great for a cozy read in front of a crackling fire or give to a romance reader on your Christmas list!

See you at http://www.inspiredprompts.com!

3 Questions Wednesday with Karen Jurgens

 

 

Thanksgiving Lemons

 

Thanksgiving Lemons by Karen Jurgens

Can lemons teach us something about life?

When life gives you lemons, make … lemon meringue pie. What? Kind of a strange flavor for a Thanksgiving table. More along the lines of a Fourth of July picnic or a summer tea party, wouldn’t you say?

So, how does lemon pie relate to Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Lemons by Karen Jurgens

Lemons have significance for me this year. Learning how to cope with that sour, seeded juice has been my most important lesson. If I strain out the seeds and add lots of sugar, water, and ice, I create a lovely, refreshing drink full of healthy Vitamin C. And I enjoy Every. Last. Drop.

When life throws us a sour curve ball, how should we handle it?

Prayer. Take everything to the Father, and He will comfort us. Have a good cry in His arms, and you’ll feel better.

This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me ~ Psalm 119:50

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ ~ Matthew 5:4, NASB.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4a, NASB.

Praise. He is worthy of our worship and our praise songs that honor Him. Sing to the Lord–it will renew your spirit.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms ~ Psalm 95:2, NASB.

I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving ~ Psalm 69:30, NASB.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name ~ Psalm 100:4, NASB.

Thanksgiving. Of all days of the year, we have been taught from childhood to celebrate this day and give thanks to God. But let’s thank Him from our hearts, from the depths of our being. He alone is our all in all. Let’s lavishly thank Him for every blessing and be truly thankful.

‘He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God’ ~ Psalm 50:23, NASB.

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me ~ Psalm 30:1, NASB.

Wait. What do we do about our hurts? How can we be thankful for them?

When we run to the Father, he heals our hurts. He wipes away all disappointments and soul wounds and lovingly replaces them with hope and joy. In time, He turns life’s sour lemons into sweet lemonade.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight ~ Psalm 3:5-6, NASB.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones ~ Proverbs 16:24, NASB.

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands ~ Psalm 92:4, NASB.

Thanksgiving Lemons by Karen Jurgens

Have you suffered hurts and disappointments this year?

Here’s the remedy: overcome them with God’s forgiveness and grace. Leave them at the foot of the Cross. Then thank the Lord for the sugar and the lemons. There’s nothing better than heaven’s lemonade.

And while we’re expressing thanks this Thanksgiving … you’re invited to join me for a piece of lemon meringue pie.

Thanksgiving Lemons by Karen Jurgens