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Thursday, December 1, 2011



I love that little three letter word.  It is rich with meaning.
Some people are so good at spreading joy.
Some are simply full of joy.
Some people are aching for a little joy in their life.

No matter who we are, we all want to experience joy.

Joy is something we experience because of Jesus.
He alone is where lasting joy comes from.
Anything else is fools gold... It may look good for a while but eventually the "pretty" wears off and we are left empty and discontented.
We can experience joy in the midst of terrible circumstances.... Even spread joy during those times.

The word joy is special to my family.
The reason goes back several years now. August 2004

My brother, Greg, was killed in a car accident at the age of 39.
As so many of you can testify to,  when a tragedy strikes and death interrupts our lives it turns your world upside down. A normal day turns into a nightmare with one phone call and we are left forever changed. Different.
Never to be the same again.

My brother was a character. He was always into something... Often trouble.
He had a smile that would light up the room and a laugh that was infectious. If he made you mad, you couldn't stay that way for long.
Spiritually, we never knew for sure where Greg stood with the Lord. He would profess one thing, but lived his life a whole other way.

But three weeks before his accident my husband preached a revival in our home town in the church my other brother pastored. Greg came every night and was under much conviction. He talked with me and my husband about his salvation and he felt like that week he "got things right" with the Lord as he surrendered his life to Jesus.  (little did we know what was to come just weeks later).

What gives me hope that this was genuine is that we talked a couple of times after the revival and he had been reading God's word ... Even asking us questions about scripture. When we packed up his house and things, his bible was open by his bed with things underlined and hi-lited. 
This has given us a peace.

One of the nights after revival services, we were all walking across the parking lot and Greg noticed a licence plate with the letters j.o.y..... He said "look... The word joy. You know,  we have joy whens Jesus Owns You."  Well, we were floored at his insight! (Romans 6)  It probably wouldn't have been as profound if my preacher husband or my older preacher brother had said it... But coming from Greg we were so excited.

Well, flash forward several months after his death and my mom was trying her best to deal with the pain and her grief.  She had been reading books on grief and had recently read one that told of man who was missing his adult daughter who had died.  He was aching for her presence and went for a walk to just be "doing something".  While he was walking, the scent of jasmine overwhelmingly surrounded him which was odd because it was not the season for jasmine to be in bloom.  Jasmine was his daughter's favorite flower and he instantly felt as if the Lord had heard his broken heart that was filled with the ache of missing his daughter.  He felt the "out of season jasmine" was straight from the heart of a loving God sent to comfort him in a unique way.  

 Now back to my mom.....she was having a particularly difficult day where her grief was heavy and she remembered that story and cried out to God..."If You can do that for him, why can't You do that for me?!"  And at that very moment she glanced at her shelf where she had the word JOY sitting out with her Christmas decorations that had been there for weeks.  But this time she saw them differently as the Lord reminded her of what Greg had said.... J.O.Y.  Joy comes when Jesus Owns You.  

That was like balm to her hurting heart.  It was enough for that day to carry her through.  She shared that with us and now we all see the word JOY in a different light.  Our God is so faithful to make His grace abound in our lives....and it is ALWAYS sufficient.

I'm so thankful for a God who hears us and cares for us and knows just what we need at the exact moment we need it.
His grace is always enough.

Do you know the J.O.Y. I'm talking about?
It really is what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate.
Jesus was born to deliver us from our sin so that we can follow Him. 
Only then do we experience J.O.Y....the real stuff.



  1. What a fantastic post. It really spoke to me & things going on in my life right now. Thank you. Do you mind if I put on my fb what J.O.Y. means?

  2. What a beautiful beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your family and the loss you all experienced, but what a blessing He has given you, to speak to your beautiful hearts. <3

  3. Beautiful story! I reminded by Phil 4:6 - especially about the Peace that surpasses all understanding! When I lost both my parents within 17 days apart - I experienced that Peace! As your mom did (& perhaps you do) when seeing "Joy"! Its a beautiful thing! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  4. Very beautiful and heart wrenching story Stephanie, I think of Greg quite often, almost everyday actually, he was like a brother to me instead of only a cousin and he also looked out for me anytime that I was in/at the same place he was. I miss him terribly. I will now, remember your story and how heart-touching it is for the rest of my life. Awesome!

  5. Thank you for sharing such a personal story from your family and using it to point to Jesus! And, I really love the photo of you and your mom!

  6. y'all are beautiful. inside and out.
    praise jesus for his grace and peace!
    i am so upset by this post. like i was not joyful tonight, and this brought on conviction and reminding that Jesus Owns You.
    i gotta live there.
    i know it, but reminders are so needed. i'm so glad you shared this, stephanie! it was a blessing for you, but i needed to hear this, too:)

    love you.

  7. Stephanie, I also lost my brother-he was 26, I was 20. Even today, 22 years later it is the most difficult death I have dealt with. I have lost both my parents since and many, many other family members but the loss of my brother is always the one that hangs heaviest on my heart. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so glad that you and your mom have each other, my parents were what got me through losing my brother. Your love and commitment to Jesus is inspiring and heart warming. Thanks for writing this post.

  8. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your faith during such a trying time. Very inspiring.


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