Joy- Positive Influence Trait #2


Joy- As Christians Joy is a huge part of our faith. We memorize verses, sing songs and talk all about Joy.

But sometimes as Christians we think happiness and Joy are one in the same. And maybe for the rest of the world that is true. But happiness is circumstantial. Joy on the other hand is eternal. Our world can be crashing down around us and our hearts can leap with Joy at the thought of our HOPE- knowing with confidence tat Jesus died for us and we know he WILL fulfill his promises. Specifically the Hope of eternal life in Heaven.

Joy in the middle

We as Christians also get something else VERY WRONG. We think that Joy equals outward expression of happiness. (aka a smile) If someone is hurting and has an outward expression of such, THAT makes us very uncomfortable. So when they have a smile. on their face it is SUPER easy to pass by and we can feel comfortable that they are ok and that I don’t have to get involved.

But I am here to tell ou can still have JOY in the middle of whatever is going on. It doesn’t require a smile on your face either. Paul from the New Testament faced many hardships, he talked about his sorrow and his tears- life is hard. Paul knew that, Jesus knew that- Jesus Himself hand deep sorrow. He shared that too. He didn’t hide it.

Building On Love

Yesterday we learned all about Love and as we grow in our love the next step we take is built on top. of it- IT’S JOY When you have unconditional love- the same love Jesus gives us, You experience true Joy. Joy that is completely unexplainable.

Philippians: A Lesson in Joy

I have been studying Philippians for a while now and I am amazed at Pau’ls Joy despite his sorrow- (2:27). Paul is telling the Philippians that he God spared him (Paul ) from having sorrow upon sorrow when Epaphroditus almost died from an illness. This indicated that Paul was already dealing with sorrow. But you cannot read the book of Philippians with seeing that despite the sorrow he was still filled with great Joy.

But over what?

Well Right off the bat in Chapter 1 He prays for the Phlippian Christians with great Joy because of their partnership in the Gospel from the very beginning AND he is confident that God will complete the good work the God started in them.

Chapter 1

Then later in Chapter one we see a HUGE indicator of Paul’s Joy . In heres prior to 18 Paul talks about how some believers are taking advantage of him being in prison . They are sharing Christ out of selfish ambition but instead of being over taken by “righteous indignation” Paul’s perspective is Different In verse 18 he asks

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or True, CHRIST IS PREACHED. And because of this I REJOICE YES I WILL CONTINUE TO REJOICE! (NIV- Emphasis mine)

Wow! We can get so wrapped up into what people think of us or what people are saying about us- but in this example Paul gives us a very healthy dose of perspective!

Chapter 2

Chapter2 starts with what will bring Paul even more- or maybe continued Joy.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Paul’s Joy would be made complete by UNITY. Yes UNITY.
  • like-minded
  • having the same love (remember yesterday’s post?)
  • being one in spirit
  • and of one mind (the mind of Christ)

So then he goes on to give what exactly this looks like:

  • DO NOTHING out of selfish ambition (aka don’t seek your own way)
  • OR vain Conceit ( seeking your own glory)
  • IN Humility
    • value others above yourselves
    • not looking to your own interests but
    • to the interests of others

Then we goes on to explain even more (in case we couldn’t get the picture) That in our relationships with each other we should have the mindset of Jesus Christ : (verses5-8)

  • Even though Jesus was in the very nature of God had humility to not think himself equal with God (he could have used this rightly to his own advantage BUT didn’t)
  • But instead he made himself NOTHING taking on the very nature of a servant- he was made in Human likeness
  • in taking human form he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death (People he didn’t have to die He choose to die)

And because of THAT kind of humility he was exalted!

My own experience- Positive

I can honestly tell you that when serving with people who have this kind of humility it sparks HUGE JOY! Why? Well because it is a picture of what heaven is going to be like! We were all working together for a common purpose- wWe all had the same heartbeat for that ministry. We gave our all and I loved working on that conference team. We hit road blocks and struggles and sorrows and exhaustion. BUT what Joy!

I know that people say quite often that such and such a thing is “a little piece of heaven on earth”. BUT in reality we can’t really know that because this world is so flawed with sin. We cannot begin to imagine what heaven in all of it physical beauty will be like (physical beauty is usually what’s being referred to in those statements).

However I do believe when you are in the middle of serving Jesus with people who have the unity spoken about in this passage THAT is the closest thing to heaven ion this earth you will bget to heaven AND THAT kind of Joy that is sparked is and will be one of your greatest influences.

My Experience- Negative

What if there is no unity? Well that becomes our negative influence and unfortunately it becomes very obvious very quickly.

The reason….. is mentioned in just a few verses after this. And we will visit THAT in about a week or so! We will spend a LOT of time hashing this out because it is a huge problem and is rooted in entitlement the antithesis of what Paul talks about above.

The rest of Philippians

I know there are two more Chapters left in Philippians and there are still more reasons for Joy found in them but I want you yo dive into them and seek them out for yourselves. Part of this journey is seeking the treasure hidden within God’s wordAnd then I want to discuss them in the comments bellow.

Thank you so much for Doing me on this Journey Through the power of our influence!

Check out all the links Below

Write 31 Days 2018 Influence Posts

Choosing Courage 100 Day Writing Project

Write 31 Days 2021 Link up List (Scroll to the bottom)

Love-Learning to Love Like Jesus


Welcome to our first Positive Influence Trait- LOVE. The word love is tossed around like a frisbee at a beach. We use it so flippantly that it loses it’s power and meaning. We start off my saying “I love you mommy and/or daddy”. Then we end up saying things like “I love those chips”. We tell our husband/wife “I Love you” then in the same breath say “I love football”. Our children hear “I love you” but then they also hear us say “I love this TV show”. Are these all on the same playing field? Do our relationships deserve the same LOVE as chips, football and TV shows?

What does the Bible say about Love?

The two greatest commandments are Love the Lord your God with all of Your Heart, Soul Mind and Strength and Love your Neighbor as Yourself. (Luke 10,27 NLT

We are to spend every part of ourselves loving God AND THEN we are supposed to love our neighbors like we love ourselves! You know the Golden Rule. Treat others they way you want to be treated.

But what does that look like- are there things that we all want or need ?

I am so glad you asked!!

I Corinthians 13- The Love Chapter

In First Corinthians 13 we see a list of what love is and what love isn’t.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

  1. Patient
  2. kind
  3. Not Jealous
  4. Not boastful;
  5. Not Proud
  6. not Rude
  7. Doesn’t demand it’s own way
  8. Not irritable
  9. keeps no record of being wronged
  10. Does not rejoice about being wronged BUT
  11. Rejoices whenever the truth wins out
  12. Never gives up
  13. Never Loses Faith
  14. Is always hopeful
  15. and endures through every circumstance

I want to be loved like that! So therefore I MUST love people like that!

Whew- Did you notice JUST how many fruit of the spirit are listed in the “what Love is and Isn’t” set of verses? Almost all of the Fruit of the sprit can be tied back to one of these traits of love.


I can hear it now here it comes I’m gonna hear why all of the circumstances surrounding someone’s life scenario keeps them from these action steps to being loving. I think that one of the craziest excuses I have ever heard was ‘I don’t have to be loving because they are being stupid”.

I cringe because so often that’s how we look at the Bible….We can dismiss it away accornding to our own perceptions in life. We are so self focused that we can say it’s ok for me to treat this person rudely because……and we forget that “Love is not rude”

How we want to be Treated Vs how we treat others

The same goes for all the other traits- but one of the worst is Patience. We want everyone to be patient with us but when we don’t have patience with others it’s not a problem. We feel entitled to their love, their attention, their money their….Goodness you fill in the blank. And feel angry and frustrated and let down when they don’t fulfill that need in our lives and yet rarely do we stop and ask ourselves “this is outside of their character, I wonder what’s going on with them? ” And then ask in patience and kindness. It takes our minds off of us and onto other people. It’s loving other people like we love ourselves and it’s treating others how you want to be treated.

But we are quick to ignore and forget I Corinthians 13:1-3

It Says

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

If we do all the “good things” in this world and we treat people rudely- and we aren’t patient and we aren’t kind, and we areself-serving- than we are just a bunch of clanging symbols….we ARE ANNOYING!


We are just a bunch of senseless chatter when our walk doesn’t match our talk. And people aren’t stupid. They catch on pretty quickly. The person who said they could treat someone rudely because they were “acting stupid”. was such a clanging symbol- They could talk all day about how the shared the gospel with people and how much they prayed and studied God’s word and then they would be rude to people and did things out of selfish ambition. And as soon as the person would start talking about their spirituality you could see the eyes roll. There would be heavy sighs.

The same is true for those like I mentioned yesterday who wear their sins as badges of honor. “I’m not very patient”. “I am just not a merciful person”. And usually they will tack on some form of “and that’s just the way God made me” dismissal. But then they will tell you about how long the spend studying God Word.

And I hear the words from the end of verse 3 echoing in my heart….

I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Why do we have Nothing? Because we haven’t let God’s word CHANGE US.

When we let God Change us with his word that’s when love starts to grow within us. .

Paul issues a strong warning just before the Fruit of the Spirit passage- It says:

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Wow. That’s powerful. Ya know we have kids learn verses in Sunday school and other church programs like Galatians 5:22-23 and I Corinthians 13: 4-7 but what good does that do them if we don’t teach them I Corinthians 13:1-3 and Galatians 55:13-15.

Modeling Love and the Best Model of All

How do kids learn to love? By being loved! How did Jesus teach the concept of unconditional LOVE? By loving people unconditionally. He was all of 1 Corinthians 13- He loved so well and he was not a clanging symbol. He didn’t treat people poorly. He loved the “unlovable (unlovable according to the cultures standards). He met them where they were at not where he thought they should be. He loved prostitutes and tax Collectors. The paralyzed, the sick- with leprousy and the woman with the issue of blood (things that would have caused him to be “unclean” in the culture). He loved people from other cultures (mixed races if you will). All Culturally unheard of practices.

But he set the culture and the religious systems aside. He practiced what he preached. And when a Pharisee came to him with honest questions and sought understanding he didn’t treat him like an idiot- he loved him unconditionally- Jesus loved people to a place of growth and understanding He Loved them to life!

That’s what I want

I don’t know about you but I want to be THAT kind if influencer I want to love people to life! I don’t want to be a clanging symbol. I don’t want to be annoying.

This world is in a constant state of hurt and pain. I want to be the hands feet and voice of Jesus. I want to be the living breathing example of Him. Because that maybe the ONLY way someone will ever be introduced to Jesus. But the ONLY way I can do that is choosing (That’s it- it’s a Choice- To quote an old DC Talk Song– LOVE IS A VERB) to love unconditionally like Jesus did. Love is the post powerful influence you can ever have!

And when we mess up…Because we will

We apologize…not with empty words but with sincere hearts. And how can we demonstrate our Sincerity? With Change! Let God change us into the loving image-bearer of Christ he wants us to be!

Thanks so Much for doing me today ! I have enjoyed being on this Journey with you and if you are new Here introduce Yourself in the comments below! I would love to connect with you!

Check out these Links

Write 31 Days 2018 Influence Posts

Choosing Courage 100 Day Writing Project

Write 31 Days 2021 Link up List. (Scroll to the bottom)

A Look Back and A Look Forward


A Look Back

As I look back over the last three years, I have to ask myself what has influenced me the most…good or bad. And the answer has to be my husband in the best way possible. And at a close second are my children and their friend group within our former church. And the third not far behind is Ester Queen of Persia. And then there is a small group of friends who loved me and accepted me as I am not who they wanted me to be and who didn’t assume they knew my circumstances. Now all of that being said this isn’t some linear grouping…some people influenced me more at different times than others. Notice how these are all VERY close to me. (Minus Esther who even though I have never met her became a close friend as I sat and had coffee with her every morning). There aren’t celebrities or politicians or some random guy that did something nice- OR- some internet sensation (AKA instagrammer or Youtuber)

BUT in the same vain- in the last three years, as I look back and see that the biggest negative influences in my life have also been those who were closest to me. Not the same ones who were listed above either.

A Look Ahead

So in thinking about this amazing Topic of the Power of our Influence I had to ask myself what are some of the most influential traits of Christians today and these are what I came up with. There are 9:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Forbearance (AKA Patience)
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self-Control

We, as followers of Jesus know that these are called the Fruit of the Spirit and the context of this Fruit can be found in Galatians 5. The fruit is specifically mentioned in verses 22-23. Over the next 9 days we are going to look at these 9 traits and discuss how we need to change in pursuit of becoming more like Jesus.. AND THEN… we are going to flip these babies and talk about how these 9 traits can if not embraced be turned into 9 of the biggest negative influences within the Christian community and the body of Christ!

A Word to the Wise

I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard believers IN CHURCH say something like this, “Oh well God didn’t make me a very patient person…..” and we use God as an excuse for our poor behavior and we choose to dismiss the sin in our lives as some sort of spiritual gift.

Nope, Wrong. Please Stop!!! This is called hypocrisy. We as believers are called to be like Christ- Christ Emulators . When we choose to wear our sin (Anything that goes against God and who he is) as a badge of honor- we defame Jesus not bring him glory and Honor.

Yes we all make mistakes. Goodness my patience is tested frequently. Sometimes I ace the test . And sometimes I bomb it with the biggest Fattest F you can imagine. But I cannot and should not- stand there and dismiss my poor behavior as an entitlement because that is just how I am.

Let’s be honest I am a far greater influence when I humble myself and apologize for my wrong doing (and actually change the behavior) than when I just dismiss it as who I am and ignore the pain I’ve caused. And in that lies the difference of WHAT kind of Influence you are.

One More Look Back

Over the summer our church did a study of “Respectable Sins”. loosely basedd on the book by the same name and compared them to the Fruit of the Spirit. What an eye opener.

There are so many things we as Christians hold on to. A couple that hit me upside the head: ANXIETY and Gluttony- but before you think I’m a glutton it had the reverse affect on me. Our pastor read a verse that convicted my heart that I was being fearful of what I was eating. After all the medical stuff I had going on and doctors kept throwing out scary things as possibilities (None of them really were what was going on though) I had started to let that control my mind. There are some others too but we will delve into those as they are appropriate!

Another Look Ahead

So now we have a plan for the next 18 days…(there is a plan for the remaining 13 as well- but more on that later). I can’ wait to dive into that LOVE trait tomorrow.

Let me know which of the above traits is your biggest struggle. (I already told you mine is patience. Not in waiting for things but with people) Is there some way you help to combat the struggle? I would love to hear about it in the comments befow.

Check out all the links Below

Write 31 Days 2018 Influence Posts

Choosing Courage 100 Day Writing Project

Write 31 Days 2021 Link up List (Scroll to the bottom)

The Power of Your Influence- #31Days2021


Hello everyone and welcome to October and The Power of Your Influence series.

If You are New Here

WELCOME!!! I’m Mary I have been blogging since January of 2007-Yikes that’s a long time! And a lot has happened in those 14 years!!!! Feel free to poke around and get to know the place! I am a pastor’s wife (though we are in the middle of a church search right now) . We have four kiddos – 3 boys and a girl- ages 16-11. We are currently homeschooling all 4 and loving it. We are also a special needs home as one child has Autism and another has Central Auditory Processing Disorder and Dyslexia. We also have 2 Dogs (Nugget and Rosie) and 3 cats (Mia, Tia, and Daisy). My hubby and I have been married for 18 1/2 years and we are best friends!

Why I write

The Short answer is to GROW! I want to be on this journey with fellow believers who seriously want to grow in their walk with Jesus- NOT stay where they are at So here is my purpose satement:

Hebrews 10:24 NLT

24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

And that is my hope and prayer that we as a community can work together to motivate each other to acts and love and good works. It’s that simple! But it also means we can deal with some hard stuff too! This walk-journey is full of good and bad, mountains and valleys and the only way we can get through them is together.

This isn’t My first rodeo

Back in 2018 I started the Write 31 days challenge with the same topic on influence- I made it 18 days. I have no idea why I stopped with only 13 days left- but I did. Looking back over the topics I had left in the scheduled posts that I had planned out I realize now that I needed to experience some things. I needed to get a little closer to Jesus in some areas and in the middle of all that 18 more posts came from that- So here I am .

Influence is something I am EXTREMELY passionate about. Because as much as some people hate the word and as much as some declare that they aren’t an influence, THEY. ARE. DEAD. WRONG. WE don’t get a choice in the matter. We are all influencers whether we like it or not. Our only choice is what kind of influence we are!

(You can check out the first 18 posts from 2018 here)

So I’m doing this thing

So If you have checked out this blog and you took notice that there are a lot of mentions of Choosing Courage 100 day writing project and you ask your self “Is this girl NUTS?” the short answer is yes. But let me explain.

Before the summer I knew I wanted to get back into the swing of writing again but there was this thing standing in the way. FEAR I was afraid because of some extremely harsh and rude criticism I have experienced over the last 7-ish years surrounding blog and social media posts and because of that I had become paralyzed. I was just writing the easy stuff and that was few and far between

Back in August hubby and I attended The Global Leadership Summit, where I had heard Michelle Poler speak. In that she challenged us to face our fears and do something for 100 days- BAM and just like that I knew that was my challenge. So in the middle of August I started this journey I have now called Choosing Courage.

When I stepped out

When I stepped out on this Journey of writing for 100 days I knew that October would fall into the end of this journey. I didn’t know if the write 31 days challenge would happen BUT I did know I wanted to finish what I started back in 2018 and so I decided that whether or not it happened the whole month of October would be devoted to the topic of Influence!

Low and behold a few weeks ago I started getting emails for write 31 days! Yippee!! And so I knew that I would just add the link at the end of posts !

I am so excited to get started and to get to know each one of you through this journey!

Feel Free to Check out my Choosing Courage 100 day writing project (Today is Day 47)

And Don’t forget to check out the Write 31 Days Challenge here.

And please introduce Yourselves in the comments below. I am so glad you have decided to Join me on this crazy journey!

Hard- 2021 Joy Dare


Happy Thursday Everyone! It seems as though each week there is one hard day in this challenge where I am left sitting thinking about that one gratefulness prompt for that day. This week I think everyday was hard- or maybe almost every day. I’m not really sure why it was like this, but sometimes even if it is difficult we need to still choose gratitude.

Day 24- 3 Gifts funny

  1. The kids- their antics and laughter fill our house with joy!
  2. Hubby- He always keeps me on my toes
  3. Animal videos and our animals too

Day 25- 3 gifts finished

For the record this is probably the hardest one for the week- We are in a season of new beginnings- We are “just starting” many new things

  1. It is Finished- the final words of Jesus – The atonement for my sins made complete
  2. Journals and sketchbooks
  3. Summer- as much as I hate seeing it go it is time to move forward

Day 26- 3 gifts Flourishing

  1. The petunia outside- We were given this gift as we left our church in the spring. That poor plant has been so much! We hung it on our hanging basket hook outside. It has been blown off twice- the pot is cracked ( for what its worth we have hung other things up there and they have never blown off). It has been overwatered- not by us but it had been caught in NUMEROUS torrential downpours. The leaves are almost non-existent. And a week ago I thought the plant was finished flowering for the season and was ready to dispose of it. The day I went out to do so I noticed a bud ready to bloom…upon closer investigation there were 4 buds and so I let the poor plant go. By the end of the week that poor sickly plant had 9 flowers open. So despite all of its circumstances it was still blooming!
  2. my heart as I seek to grow in my relationship with Jesus
  3. friendships

Day 27- a Gift unexpected, Uneven and Unpopular

  1. Unexpected- a Gift of thanks (a sincere one)
  2. Uneven- Playing field. watching the kids play soccer watching them overcome
  3. Unpopular- being different

Day 28- 3 gifts Shy

  1. a little boy stepping outside of his comfort zone making new friends
  2. Shy friends who show they care
  3. A little dog who hides behind my legs when new people comets visit

Day 29- 3 Gifts Shelved

  1. Books
  2. We have had to “Shelve” some normal life routines as we are in a new but temporary season of life.
  3. Homeschool Curriculum

Day 30-  3 gifts Shining

  1. The Sun – we have had much more sun over the last week!
  2. Stars- I love stars!
  3. Testimonies- like little bright lights pointing the way to Jesus in a dark World

And that my friends wraps up the month of September for Our Joy Dare posts.

I’m so glad you came by for the Joy Dare this week and I’m praying You all have a fabulous week full of gratitude and Joy!

And how about You what have you found joy in this week?

For more Joy Dare posts click here and for more Choosing Courage Posts click here.

To Check out The Joy Dare and One Thousand Gifts  by Ann Voskamp click here.