Growing Closer to God

My Two Cents


God does not look at what man looks at. God judges the motives of our hearts. (Proverbs 16:2)

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

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Can’t you image this scene? People are coming to give their money to the temple treasury and Jesus is watching. Some would say the bigger the bag of money, the better the person. Others may say the more money you give, the greater the sacrifice.

Not Jesus.

As Jesus watches the crowd bring their offering, he knows what lies deep within their hearts.   He can see what others cannot see.

Jesus knows their life stories.

As the widow places her two coins into the treasury, she is no stranger to Jesus.  He knows everything about her.  He knows she is poor and that she is giving all she has.  Jesus knows the gravity of her sacrifice.

Today, I want you to remember that God sees your whole story. There is nothing hidden from His sight. (Hebrews 4:13)

He knows every battle you are fighting.

He knows the struggles you’re having with your sister. He knows how insecure you feel about your body.  He sees you go into your closet, in secret, to cry.  He knows every failure you have experienced, every sin you have committed.  He knows how you worry. He knows every doubt and fear that keeps you awake at night.

God knows when you are exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually.

But you know what else He knows?

He knows when you give your all to serve Him. He hears you when you praise Him through song, in your car.  He listens as you pray for your friend.  He sees you read your Bible.  He watches as you stand for righteousness.  He knows about the meal you brought to a friend.  He saw you give extra money, in secret, to help a stranger.  He knows how hard you work, serving at church and in the community.

God sees everything.  Not only does He know what you do, He knows why you do those things.

I wonder if you ever feel like the widow who only had two coins to give.  I wonder if you sometimes feel that your contribution to God’s kingdom is insignificant.

Sometimes I feel like that.

Sometimes the enemy whispers in my ear, “Someone else can do it better than you, Joy.” or “Why do you keep trying when you never get it right?  Joy, you should quit.”

When you begin to doubt your contribution to the kingdom of God, you need to stop and remember that the enemy is a liar!

Here is the Truth:

  • You are significant to the kingdom of God.  (Psalm 139)
  • He created you with a purpose in mind. (Romans 8:28)
  • Unfortunately, you will mess up.  We all do!  (Romans 3:23)
  • But, you are forgiven through the blood of Christ (Isaiah 1:18)
  • God’s compassion on you never fails.  His mercies are new every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  • When you are tired, He will give you strength.  (Isaiah 40:29)
  • When you feel brokenhearted, He is near. (Psalm 34:18)
  • He keeps track of when you are sad.  He collects all your tears in His bottle and records each one in His book.   (Psalm 56:8)
  • Remember, life is not all fun and games.  God has work for you to do.  (James 2:17)
  • Know that He has gifted you to serve others. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
  • He is faithful, so don’t give up!   When He calls you to it, He will do it!  (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
  • His plan for you is not an easy plan, but it is a good plan.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

God knows everything you are going through, and like the widow, sometimes you only have two coins to offer Him.

That’s okay.

Put what you have into His kingdom’s treasury my friend, and trust that He will use you for His purpose, His will, and His glory!


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”   ~Isaiah 6:8


Ready? Set? GO!



Do you send emails on a regular basis? In my job as a pharmacy professor, I send a lot of emails. Some emails are quick and to the point. Other emails are more detailed, especially when the email involves instructions about a very important project.

When I type out an email, it is very important that it is concise and correct. It needs to be free of spelling and grammatical errors and it needs to express my thoughts clearly. So, before I send an email, I re-read it several times. I proof it for errors and rework my sentences to make sure I am communicating the way I intend.

I can proofread and rework my sentences all I want to, but there comes a time when I must click the send button. There is a time when the preparation of the email is over. There is a time for the email to GO!

This makes me think about my walk with God.      

When God calls me to do something for His kingdom, there is usually a preparation period. I think about it. I pray about it. I stay submerged in God’s Word.  I seek out good Christian counsel about it. I begin to make plans to do what He is calling me to do.

The preparation period is important, but there comes a time when I must take that next step to DO what He is calling me to do.

Joshua was a mighty warrior. His charge was to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. As the Jordan River stood between his people and their destiny, Joshua prepared. He told the people to consecrate themselves before God. He told them to get ready.

The day came when the preparation and planning period was over.   The day came when Joshua and the people had to GO!


“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 

the water from upstream stopped flowing.” ~Joshua 3:15-16a


I wonder if there is something God is urging you to do.   I wonder if He has placed a specific calling upon your life.  Maybe there is somewhere He is urging you to go.  Maybe there is a new project He is calling you to start.  I wonder if you have spent time thinking, praying and planning.  I wonder what your next step needs to be.

I wonder if you are fearful about that next step.  

God had a specific calling on Joshua’s life.  Joshua’s calling was not easy.  It involved hard work!  As Joshua was preparing to fulfill his calling, God told Joshua to be strong and very courageous.  

I encourage you to be brave and take that important next step, my friend.  Be strong and very courageous.  Remember, real faith is not passive.  Real faith requires action!

Get ready. Get set. GO!

Thanks for stopping by!


In your darkest hour, do you trust Him?



One Sunday morning, I stood in the hallway of my church, waiting to talk with a friend about her upcoming visit to see her Doctor.  You see, she had a strange pain that could not be explained and after seeing multiple doctors, she was told there was a good chance it was cancer.  She had some scans done the previous week, and she was going to find out the results of those scans the next day.  She was in a dark place.

As a church family, we had been praying and I had prepared myself to encourage her with all kinds of wisdom.   I just knew she would be anxious and upset.  I just knew she would need someone to talk to, so when my friend came around the corner that Sunday morning, I was ready.  I was ready to give her the encouragement she needed.

Yeah!  About that.  What happened next could not have surprised me more.

As I hugged her and started to tell her how sorry I was that she was going through this trial, she stopped me dead in my tracks.  She began to tell me how she was NOT worried and I could see in her eyes ….that she really was NOT worried.  She began to tell me that God was in control of all things and He was allowing her to go through this for some purpose.  She told me she knew God had a plan that she could trust.  And then she said something to me that has stuck with me ever since.  She said, “I want my life to bring glory to God.  If me having cancer will do that, then I am ready.”

Whoa!  That was not what I was expecting.

This was not a conversation about her being healed or about it not being cancer.  This was a conversation about trusting the God of the Universe with the outcomes.

I was speechless, and as our conversation ended, I began to feel challenged in my spirit.

Did I trust God that much?

Did I really feel in my heart that I was willing to go through whatever in order to bring glory to God?

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  ~Matthew 16:24-25

This friend of mine had two small children and yet, she was not doubting God because she was going through this trial.  Oh, I’m sure she struggled in her own private place because she loves her family and she wants to raise her children, but she had complete assurance that God had a plan.  She believed with all of her being that she could trust Him…no matter the results of that scan.

I do not know what you are going through today my friend.  I do not know what trial you are facing, but here is what I do know.

I know that God loves you and nothing you go through catches Him by surprise.

I know that God will never leave or forsake you.

I know that even if you or I get the worst diagnosis possible or if a tragedy strikes our family, God never changes.  He is constant.   He is who He says He is.

I know that this life is temporary and the struggles we face will only last a little while.

I know there is a real eternity awaiting those of us who are in Christ.  It will be more wonderful than our human minds can fathom.

Remember….we serve a God who is trustworthy.  Surrender your darkest hour to Him.  Trust Him my friend.  No matter what, trust Him.

I am grateful for you and would love to hear from you! Email me at joy@joytime.org




When Christmas is NOT the most wonderful time of the year…


I am not a coffee person. I know!  I know!  You probably think there is something seriously wrong with me!  Well,  I have tried it many different ways but cannot get past the coffee taste. For me, the coffee bean is not flavorful.  Although coffee is not for me, I do think that people who drink coffee look sophisticated. I am very impressed when I hear folks speak the “coffee language” because I have no idea what they are talking about. Coffee people understand the differences between Mochas, Iced Coffees, Cappuccinos, Cafe au Laits, Frappes, Macchiatos, Lattes, and Espressos. Just thinking about it makes me dizzy.  Just look at this menu below:

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No, I am not a coffee person. My favorite cold weather beverage is hot chocolate!   YUMMMMM!  When it is loaded down with marshmallows and whipped cream, I am one happy camper. I love a cold night when I can wear my fuzzy wool socks, put on my soft, comfy pajamas, and have my favorite mug full to the brim with that warm delicious drink from heaven.   It is something I look forward to as the Christmas season approaches.

What do you look forward to as Christmas gets closer?

Many of us get excited when we pull the Christmas decorations out of the attic and begin putting together our own winter wonderland. We look forward to finding that perfect gift for our loved ones and we smile when we hear Christmas music on the radio. We often sing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, but for many people, the Christmas season is not the most wonderful time of the year. For many people, Christmas is full of painful memories, loss and sadness.

My Mother-in-law was admitted into the hospice unit at Presbyterian Hospital the day before Christmas Eve many years ago.   All she wanted was to spend one last Christmas at home with her family, but instead, she was rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress because the cancer had spread violently to her lungs. So that year for Christmas, we all crammed into a small hospital room and spent Christmas listening to the sound of a breathing machine while nurses and physicians came in and out every hour to check her. She was jaundiced, weak and unable to speak clearly. She was dying. We set up a tiny Christmas tree in her room.   We held hands, we prayed, we cried, and we told her how much we loved her. Just as we had done for seven years, our family pleaded with God for healing, but in His sovereignty, He chose not to heal her. She died at the age of 46.

Our family had Jesus with us each step of the way that Christmas. He never left us. He was there to comfort us. He was there to love us. He was our strength and our joy.

For many this Christmas season, there is no joy because they do not know the giver of joy. There is no hope because they have never met the one who brings hope into this lost world.

This Christmas season, I hope you and I will pay close attention to those in our midst who are struggling with sadness and pain. I hope we will not turn a blind eye to them, but instead, I pray we see their needs and step into their lives to bring HOPE. We can bring hope to them because we know the HOPE of the world! We need to tell them that God sent His son into our world to save us. We need to tell them that Jesus is HOPE. He is LOVE. He is JOY. He gives us every reason to smile and sing, regardless of our painful past.

If someone you know is hurting this Christmas season, I encourage you to reach out to them in a special way this year. Invite them to be a part of your family tradition or ask them to come share a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with you. However you reach out to them this season, just be sure to tell them about your amazing Savior, Jesus, the one who gives life everlasting.

Merry Christmas to you, my friend!


Just a Spoonful of Sugar…..



I hope you are you geared up for the Christmas season because it is here! We will be baking, cooking, decorating and we cannot escape the CLEANING we will be doing. Sometimes I wish I could be like Mary Poppins. If only I could sing “Spoonful of Sugar” and smile as all of the dirty dishes wash and put themselves away. For most of us, life requires hard work and sometimes we do not feel like doing the work.

In the book of Luke, Jesus visits Martha and Mary. Martha is busy working. She is preparing an important meal for Jesus.   As she slaves away in the kitchen, she is frustrated with her sister Mary because instead of helping with preparations, Mary is spending time with Jesus.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me. ”But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)

Can’t you just imagine the scene? Martha is busy running around getting everything ready for this important meal and there sits Mary—lounging by the feet of Jesus. Martha was not a happy camper.

I can relate to Martha. Can you? I know what it is like to prepare for a large gathering. I want everything to be perfect so I work and work until it is just the way I want it to be. There is nothing wrong with hard work, but when it prevents you and me from focusing on what really matters, then we have a problem. You see, Martha was so busy working FOR Jesus that she abandoned spending time WITH Jesus.

This can be the case for us too.

As followers of Christ, we often have good intentions. We help out at church by serving on different committees. We may lead a small group Bible study or sing in the choir. This type of work is so important but we must be careful that we do not get so busy working FOR Jesus that we fail to spend time WITH Jesus.

This time of year, there is much to do. Cooking, decorating and cleaning are usually a part of our holiday celebrations because we want everything to be “just right”. My friend, we need to be careful. We can pile too much on our plates or set our expectations of the holidays so high that we miss the whole point of celebrating in the first place.

This year, I hope you and I will reflect on the story of Martha and Mary and find encouragement from how Mary responded to Jesus. She was desperate to be in His presence. She listened to Him with an open heart and she was grateful for what He had done for her.

May we embrace the this Christmas season and worry less about how the food around our table tastes or how the house looks. Instead, let us focus more on spending time with our Lord and Savior and the people we love.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”      ~1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

Giving thanks for you!



You and I cannot see what God can see


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Have you seen one of those backup cameras inside of people’s cars? Maybe you have one in your own car. I think a backup camera is pretty awesome! When you put your car in reverse, it flashes up a grid to help you back-up right into place. It is so exact that it helps you back-up within inches of hitting anything behind you.

The camera is positioned in such a way that it gives you a much better perspective than you can have by only looking in your rear view mirror.  It helps you see what you normally cannot see.

Lately, God has been reminding me about perspective.  He has been reminding me that He can see what I cannot see.

God has a greater perspective than you or I do. He is not limited by time. He is not limited by space or anything else. He is God…the beginning and the end.

There are times when life is really hard and we are afraid about what we are going through. There are times when we wonder when or if we will get our normal lives back. We often wonder why God does not come in to rescue us from our troubles.  We wonder why life has to be so hard.

During those tough times, we must be careful that we do not fall away from God. We must be determined to lean on Him and draw closer to Him regardless of how we feel.

You and I must remember that we are merely human and we are viewing our situation from a set of human eyes. We cannot see what God can see.

You can find comfort in remembering that God knows the whole story of your life!

He can take your brokenness and turn it into beauty!

He can take your tragedy and turn it into triumph!

He can take the darkest moment of your life and turn it into something brilliant!

He really can!

If this blog posting finds you in a scary place in your life, remember; you and I cannot see what God can see. He has a clearer, higher perspective than we do. My friend, you can trust that He is working things out according to His good and perfect will.  Trust Him!

 “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” ~ Psalm 56:3

Grateful for you!


Lord, are you listening?


It has been heavy on my heart today to send you some encouragement straight from God’s Word. I know that life can really get us all down. Everywhere I look it seems there is some crisis on the horizon. I wonder if you, too, feel this way.

Threats of the Ebola virus, Enterovirus, ISIS, horrific storms, and the list goes on. If we are not careful, the enemy could have his way in our minds.

You and I must not allow fear to rule over us. We must remember WHO is in control! As chaotic as things seem right now, God never loses control!

Our God is working behind the scenes even when we feel that this world is falling apart. Even though at times we feel that He is silent, He is weaving His plan together.

This is a truth that we must keep close at heart because there are times when we wonder if He is listening or if He is concerned with our problems.

Here are a few verses that I hope will bring you some encouragement today:

  • … I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you   -2 Kings 20:5 
  • For they cried to the God in the battle, and He was entreated of them; because they put their trust in Him.  – 1 Chr 5:20
  • I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill.  -Ps 3:4
  • And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. -Is 65:24
  • The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.  -Ps 34:15
  • And call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.  –Ps 50:15
  • As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.  –Ps 55:16,17
  • Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.  -Ps 107:6
  • And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.  -1 Jn 5:14,15 

Over and over again in His Word, God assures His people that He hears them!  He sees them and He is with them.

I want you to stand firm today on TRUTH!   The God of the Universe loves you! He has not forgotten you.

When you feel as if there is no hope in sight, you keep stand firm on God’s Word.  Believe Him to be who He says He is.

Don’t give up on Him, my friend.   Be patient as He completes the good work He started!


Hoping this brings you encouragement today,







It was that kind of night…


Have you ever had one of those evenings when you had hopes to have a fun night with your family and it turned out to be a disaster?

That was my night recently.

We went out for pizza and then decided to go to watch a movie.  I checked online and found the movie we wanted to see and we headed out.  It was a 25 minute drive to the movie theater and we were on schedule to make it with no time to spare.

As we got in the car….it started.  The bickering in the back seat!

Ellie and Sam were not happy with each other at all!  Just the slightest thing set them both off.  They were arguing back and forth and Bryan and I had had enough.  So then we started fussing at them and how they could not get along and the conversation escalated.  Before I knew it, we were all arguing with each other and I had no idea how it all even happened.

There was heavy traffic and we hit every light on red.  By the time we arrived to the theater, we were all in a terrible mood.  I was just ready to get into the theater, sit down with my popcorn and enjoy a good movie.


I think all of the greater Triad area decided to go to this same movie theater on this particular night at this specific time.  There were at least 50 people in line to buy a ticket and by the time we pulled into the parking lot, we were already 10 minutes late.

There was no way we were watching this movie.  We could never get through the line in time, so we got back in the car to drive 25 minutes home.

I wish I could say that we all had a positive attitude, ended up doing something super fun and made a beautiful memory with the kids!  Nope!  We didn’t.

We were frustrated and in a bad mood.

As we drove home, the complaining began about all the time we had wasted, and how this night had turned out to be a terrible night, and we didn’t get to have any fun and now we wouldn’t get any movie popcorn, and we should have never came to see a movie, and how we should have stayed home. etc. etc. etc.

So I sat there, in the passenger seat feeling sorry for myself over something so ridiculous, but when you’re in the moment, you do not have good sense.

I was discouraged that my kids were not getting along.  I was discouraged that we missed the movie.  I was discouraged that we wasted so much time driving to see a movie we couldn’t even see because half of America was there to watch the same movie.  I was disappointed.

As we were nearing our neighborhood, it was quiet in the car and we had our radio on the local Christian station.  I heard Bryan start to sing along with the radio.  This song was playing:

As Bryan continued to sing along, Ellie began to quietly sing too and then Sam joined in.  They were singing, “Lord I need you, Oh I need you”.  Eventually, they all three were singing to the top of their lungs this beautiful song about our dependence on God.  I sat there with a smile on my face because God was using this evening to remind me how desperate we are for Him.

We need Jesus.  Without Him, we have no hope.  We need Him every minute of everyday.

Life isn’t what we see on Facebook.  No one has a perfect life.  People have troubles.   People argue.  People get on each other’s nerves.

You and I should strive to love each other the best way possible, but we will have moments of failure.  We will fail as a friend, spouse, parent etc and when we do, it’s a good reminder on just how much we need Jesus.

When people and circumstances disappoint you my friend, I encourage you to remember this beautiful song sung by Matt Maher.  Listen to the lyrics and sing out loud, “Lord, I need you, oh I need you”, because….you do.

Hoping your next trip to the movie theater is better than mine was!


Hot Pink Zebra Print Yoga Pants!


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Today as I was driving to work, I was pulling out of the local Sonic where I get my sweet tea for the day and I was waiting for the stoplight to turn to green.

It was then that I saw her!

She was certainly hard to miss because of her tight hot pink zebra print yoga pants and her matching top. She was bright! She was noticeable and I am so glad she was in my path this morning because she brought me some much-needed encouragement.

You see, this young lady I saw was severely overweight. By medical definition, she would be considered morbidly obese, yet there she was—jogging down Main Street!

Did I mention she was wearing a tight, hot pink zebra print yoga outfit?

This girl had her iPod in one hand, a water bottle in the other, and determination written on her face!

She had to wait at the same stoplight where I was waiting, but did she come to a halt and just stand there waiting for the light to turn green?

NO!   She continued to jog (in place) while waiting for the light to change. I am telling you, this girl was on a mission!

She was making change happen in her life!

She was up! She was moving! She was headed somewhere and she looked like she could conquer the world. It was all I could do not to roll my window down and yell out—“You go girl! Keep it up!”

As the light turned green and I continued on my way….this girl made me think about my life. She made me question my determination when the odds are stacked against me.  She encouraged me to be more determined to run the race God has set for me to run.

What about you?

Are you headed somewhere in your life? Are you on a mission for God?  Are you running your race determined to fulfill your calling?

I wonder if you are geared up and ready to make change happen for the better around you. Maybe like me, you sometimes forget to attack life with this kind of attitude.

You and I cannot let the world define our successes.

We cannot allow the world to make us feel defeated.

If you and I are not grounded in God’s Word, we can get stuck right where we are and we accept our current circumstances. We can believe the lies of the enemy that there is too much stacked against us.

This is a lie!

God says we are more than conquerors through Him (Romans 8:36).

He says we are to be salt and light in this world. People should see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)

Our God is a BIG God.  Nothing is impossible for Him. (Luke 1:37)

The young lady I saw this morning has a lot stacked against her. She could easily feel that she is too overweight to go for a jog. She could worry about how people will perceive her. She could come up with all kinds of excuses on why she cannot get out and get moving this morning…but she didn’t.

Instead, she went and bought herself some cute workout clothes and got busy running!

Be encouraged today my friend— God has work for you to do.

You are in the world but not OF the world. (John 17:15-18)

You are not supposed to fit in. (Romans 12:2)  God wants you to shine! He wants you to effect change for the better!

Let’s stop being complacent with where we are in our spiritual journey….let’s get out there and run our race!


Hoping you have a fantastic day!


Do I look fat in this?


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Let’s face it—-Sometimes the truth hurts.

When we ask someone the question, “Do I look fat in this”, we are usually fishing for some conformation that we do NOT look fat.   If someone responds with “why yes, you do look fat in that”….well….we may just have to throw something at them!

We really like it when people affirm who we are.  Even if it’s the truth, most of us do not like it when people provide “helpful” suggestions on how we can do better.

We live in a world where there is very little distinction between right and wrong.  Things that used to be universally considered as “wrong” have now become “ok”.  Most things are in the gray zone and it’s a scary place to live.

Our world has lost its moral compass and we are spinning out of control!

Ephesians 4:15 says:

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

You and I should seek to know God as fully as possible on this side of eternity. We should not be satisfied with the current state of our spiritual lives. No matter how close we feel to God, we should chase after Him more in an effort to know and experience Him more.

As we walk our life’s journey, we need to know Truth and then we are called to speak Truth to those around us. We should not shy away from speaking what is true and right.

This world will lie to you. Continue Reading