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the joy of the Lord


It's been three years since I was driving home on that freezing cold January night, listening to an audiobook and not thinking anything about how my life could change in an instant.

. . . . . .

I remember this season so well. It was terrifying, surreal, painful and humbling all at the same time.

. . . . . .

I was hit head-on by a drunk driver in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We were both going 45mph, so the paramedics said it was equivalent to driving into a brick wall at 90mph. Just walking into wall hurts--imagine driving at full-speed! I wrestled with injustice for a while in my heart. The girl who hit me walked away the next day with some burns, where I was stuck in a wheelchair for 3 months, taking blood-thinner shots every day and depending on everybody for everything. I had a surgery that lasted 7.5 hours and a recovery that was too painful to even describe. At first, I didn't feel like I was living. I was barely surviving.

It wasn't until I stepped back and stopped thinking about what I was feeling and started thinking about what God was doing, that I realized all of this was for His glory, and suddenly my surviving turned into thriving.

Yes, I live life daily with restrictions. But, after several days of feeling miserable and afraid when I was still inside of the hospital, I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going to live in my own misery, injustice and pity for months, or heck, years. I gave God full permission to keep breaking me. I said,

Lord, you've allowed my body to be broken for reasons that I do not know. But while you're at it, go ahead and break me emotionally, too, that way I truly have nothing--I truly am nothing--and then you, as the Master Potter, can pour your Living Water into my broken heart, and mold me and shape me into the woman that you have created me to be.

And man, did he certainly break me. He pulled people out of my life that needed to go and then healed me physically, emotionally and spiritually all at once, for months.

I reconnected with Payton, who had been my friend for years before that accident, and later in a very beautiful way, the Lord revealed to me that we would be married. (I wrote a blog about it! If you go to the welcome page on my website, go to the category "Family" and it's called "When God Writes Your Love Story"!)

. . . . . .

I have learned a lot of lessons as the months and years fly by.

One of them being: small steps will still get you the distance that you want to go, it'll just take a little longer.

Or another: celebrate the little victories, because they aren't insignificant.

Life is too short to live bitterly.

Has that car wreck changed my life? Yes.

But it's up to me whether it's for the better or for the worse.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"But the Lord said to me, "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in my weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Does that not make you want to endure the hardships, to glorify our Savior?

As soon as a friend showed me that passage, I immediately clung to it for life. If everything that I experienced, the highest mountains and the darkest valleys, was to be a testimony to Jesus' power, then I want to walk through it all.

And we have.

I could sit here and name everything that I, as an individual, and then us, as a married couple, have walked through in just a few years. (another post, perhaps) But, when the grieving has passed and we put one foot in front of the other to walk out of the agony, His strength got us out. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, so when you are at your weakest, just lift your hands up in surrender and let Jesus guide you!

There's also another part to this equation that I want to talk about. When we are weak, Jesus is our strength; and there's a very special way to find that strength:

j o y

Nehemiah 8:10:

"The joy of the Lord is your strength."

Joy is a very tender topic for a lot of people because it comes with a lot of expectations: You always have to be smiling, happy, laughing...etc. Joy does express all of those things, yes, but when you are going through hell on earth, you ain't gonna be laughing! Joy is a state of mind, posture of prayer, a declaration in your heart. Joy is 99% expressed outwardly, but when you're going through a terrible season, your energy is nooottt going towards smiling all of the time.

And that's okay.

Ecclesiastes says it perfectly:

Ecclesiastes 3:4

"a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,"

When you are in a season of grief, of agony, loss, is okay to mourn and to cry and wonder what is going on. That's the only way that our human brains can process sometimes! Yelling, crying, throwing things...but Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for that. Time comes and goes, it is not the same time forever, which means there will be a time for you to shake it off, stand up, and let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Often times, you'll find that when you DO have the joy of the Lord, it IS easier to express that joy outwardly, despite what is going on inside of your life--and that is because God's power and strength isn't meant to be hidden, but shown for the whole world to see!! You won't be able to help yourself! That's what I found.

Here's my most joyful moment during the whole season of being in a wheelchair:

my first steps!

April 22, 2017, I just got home from getting the "okay" from my doctor that I could now put my full weight on my ankle!

Standing up was such an exhilarating feeling, but walking was a difficult thing because I had to keep my boot on for another month or so, so I walked uneven and rather clunky, haha!

But, there was a time for me to heal, sitting inside of my wheelchair depending on everybody else, but the joy of the Lord got me through those 3 months of frustration and then inspired me to share everything that I went through!

Dear reader, I hope you find these words encouraging, and I hope that you find the joy of the Lord in your heart through whatever season that you are in! Don't just survive...thrive!

Much love,

Hosanna <3

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