Good morning, blog readers.  As I sit here in front of the computer, I realize I may have 2 minutes or 20 before some little feet come shuffling down the stairs and I'll have to abandon my thoughts here, so here we go.  Let's see if I can do it one sitting.  :)  fingers crossed.

Funny, my page subtitle is: Writing and singing when I should really be sleeping.  Which is true much of the time.  And yet, these past couple of weeks, it's just the opposite.  I can't seem to drag myself out of bed early enough or stay awake long enough to have substantial time to work.  Bummer.  This is a great time of year, I find, to be up early with the sun shining and the outside air the exact temperature of your skin...well, know what I mean.  But I'm seriously bone-tired lately and my body seems to be one with the mattress...

And YET I did manage to write a new song last week that I'm kind of excited about.  I'm pleased to say I've written more this year already than I did all of last year...that's a bi-product of having my youngest move out of babyhood, I think.  I'm slowly re-acquiring a few lost brain cells.  :)  Let me tell you what I wrote about.

It's a simple, somewhat unfashionable word these days, that you almost don't hear when you hear it, if you know what I mean: Joy. 

On Yahoo! news yesterday, one of the top articles was (coincidentally) about Happiness.  Which countries are "happiest" and which the most "glum."  (Denmark and Zimbabwe, respectively, by the way)  Everyone is really eager to figure out how to feel "happy" and quite frankly, that makes me a little cranky.  Why,  you ask?  Well, because it's my impression that when we think "happy" we are primarily thinking about feeling warm and fuzzy and comfortable and satisfied and pleased with life.  This is tricky territory to tackle in a little blog, and of course, I like to feel happy as much as the next person!  We all enjoy sense of well-being and contentment. So why am I picking on "happy" and showing favoritism toward "joy?"  Well, here's my personal, non-scientific, non-Webster explanation. 

Happy comes and goes.  Joy can be unwaveringly present. 

Happy is a feeling.  Joy is a state of being.

Happy is based on circumstances.  Joy is based on knowledge and love of unchanging Truth.

Happy is often self-centered.  Joy is usually outward-focused.

I am so happy when my house is clean, when a concert goes according to plan, when my garden is growing and not being eaten by deer (ahem), when the behavior of my friends and family members please me, and my hair looks good.  Find me on a day when any of those things are not happening, and I am less likely to look or feel happy.

Then take a look at those around us who are facing much bigger disappointments than a bad hair day. I have a dear friend who was just diagnosed with cancer and had major surgery within a month's time.  I have friends who lost a child this year.  I have met old women and men whose spouses have gone ahead of them, leaving them alone in a house of memories that only they hold.  And they have traveled through these valleys with real and transparent grief, sadness, with tears and every emotion under the sun. 

But you know what?  These particular friends have traveled also with Joy.  Without knowing it, they are a huge inspiration to me and every person they meet, because they live every day to testify to the grace that is being given to them as they need it.  Their hope is not hung on doctor's positive prognosis or on human agendas for coping and managing. Their hope is in a Person who doesn't change with the weather or the fulfillment of their personal goals.  Their Joy is a product of this Hope.

Check this out:

1 Peter 1: 3-9

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Let me here admit that I have not yet suffered greatly in this life.  I know it will come in some form, because that's an inevitable part of life.  I guess it's that knowledge that makes me so eager to find people who testify that it is possible to endure with joy!  So that when I enter the "valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" because I know my God is with me. 

Why are so many followers of Christ walking around this earth without a light in their eyes that speaks of this knowledge?  Why are so many of us completely dependent on our regimen, our plans, our expectations being carried out--when they are not, when we are disappointed by life, we are not merely bummed out, but we are glum and angry and fearful.  We exhibit hopelessness, purposelessness (is that a word?) and lack of Joy. 

I believe the reason for this is that we have fixed our eyes on what is seen here (Hebrews 12) and we have functionally forgotten "the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  If we consider Him and find our delight in knowing Him and serving the greater kingdom rather than merely our own little nest, we will "not grow weary and lose heart."  We will discover the beauty of JOY. 

So back to the song!  You may never hear my voice singing this, because I wrote it for an artist who has a very different style and much bigger lungs than I, but it's an uptempo tune that will get your toes tapping. Here is an excerpt of the lyric:

Joy is a fountain that bubbles even when it's been

Raining and your head hangs low

But your spirit fully knows there is a reason

For Hope, there is a reason to dance

Joy is the spirit of the one true God

It is the fruit up on the tree

When you cannot get enough of Him

And you've got to dance,

You've got to dance in the fountain

I'll share the music with you as soon as I'm able.   

I hope I haven't gone on too long here and lost you--I do tend to get excited about things.  Wow! only one set of feet up so far!