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Over the last number of months I have had the opportunity to read the biblical and helpful blogposts of our sister, Holly Sands, through the ministry of United in Christ Jesus. Joy brought my attention to the content, particularly, of an email that Holly had sent out to a few of the ladies involved in the UCJ ministry this past Monday. Both Joy and I were encouraged and exhorted to believe in the goodness of our sufficient Savior and God in the midst of trials and thought it may be helpful to share with the other ladies in the church. May our feet be firmly planted on the goodness and kindess of our Savior as we cast all our cares on Him. - Pastor Steve

Growing up in a Christian home, the Bible has always been an important book in my life. I was in 6th grade when I first felt personal conviction that I should read it on a daily basis. I was also in 6th grade when a struggle began in my heart. The struggle to read my Bible became a legalistic issue almost as soon as it became a conviction. Reading and studying God's word became something that I knew I should do and when I didn't I stood ready to be condemned. And yet, in the midst of what would be a 27-year struggle God used his word in my life in powerful ways. I had many seasons of growing from what I learned in God's word and many times that it spoke to me directly.

In just three days my oldest daughter will be married. How did we get here so fast? As I looked for an old blog post to share with you all today this one reminded me, though I am now in a different season of life, to cling to Jesus in the midst of whatever situation I find myself in. That I am reconciled to God through the blood of the cross and have the Spirit living and actively at work in me is truth I don't want to lose sight of - even in the midst of busy wedding preparations!

It's been a busy season for us. Life is always busy but this season of moving, selling a home, and planning a wedding, though all good, has been a bit disorienting. How thankful I am that God is never disoriented, stressed, or overwhelmed. He is steadfast, never changes, and is always in control no matter what fills our days. I can have peace at any time no matter what the circumstance is simply by looking to Him and remembering that He is on His throne and that He loves me and is committed to me! Praise God for that!

My name is Joy. It's actually my middle name; my first name is Elizabeth. There's a long story about how I came to be called Joy instead but suffice it to say I've been called Joy since the second grade. Joy is as fine a name as any other but there's something about it which I have found somewhat difficult to live with. Most names are just names, but my name carries with it a certain, presumed persona; my name suggests that I should be joyful. All...The...Time.

The struggle is real. I hear this phrase quite a bit from my daughter who tells me it's a common saying among the "younger generation." I've heard it used as a comic narrative regarding things that don't really matter such as, "I can't decide what to wear...the struggle is real," but I have also heard it describe true struggles like, "I don't know what to do with my life...the struggle is real."

I recently awoke with a cloud hanging over my head. Ever had one of those days? You know, nothing is really different in your life and circumstances than the day before but your outlook today is dismal. That's how I felt as I awoke and all the little nagging concerns over a myriad of issues began to grow and threatened to blow my faith to bits.

I grew up in a state where fair skies were the norm, beautiful mountains could be hiked, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean enjoyed. While I certainly enjoyed all of those things, growing up in Southern California also quickly acquainted me with fear. I am sure that I would have been a fearful person no matter where I grew up but the uglier realities of living in Southern California increased my natural tendency to fear exponentially. Turn on the local news and, of course, you were inundated with news of rapes, kidnappings, murders, and even serial killers. But unfortunately there were even more "closer to home" examples as well. A woman in our church was stabbed and killed as she was taking her morning jog by a man who was casually jogging past her from the opposite direction. A guy from our youth group was killed by a gang on the beach. The examples were not all violence. My brother's best friend died in a car accident when he was a teenager. We visited one of my dad's friends in L.A. who went into a depression and lost everything when his wife left him (he was literally living at the park for quite some time as a homeless person). A young wife died of cancer (as did my mom). These people were professing Christians and this challenged my young hopes that God protected those that belonged to him. It was quite obvious to me that God "allowed bad things to happen to good people" and so I became even more fearful.

I love Sundays; seeing one another, greeting one another, encouraging one another, worshipping our Lord together through song and the preached word...already can't wait for next Sunday! But it's certainly easy to forget the gospel throughout the week isn't it? It only takes a brief amount of time before our memory of what we were so encouraged and challenged by begins to drift. One of the purposes of this blog, beyond announcements and such, is the desire to spur the church on in Godward thoughts throughout the week. Lord willing, as this blog continues to become used by our body it will serve to be an encouragement and reminder of our hope in Christ th