Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. What was one of the best part of your Christmas celebration?  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We all want to be happy but perhaps it is better to seek joy. Happiness is based on having the right circumstances in our lives and everything working out perfectly; but most of life is not like that so happiness is fleeting. But joy is consistent and not based on everything going well but finding strength in the Lord. As it says in Nehemiah 8:10 b (ESV), “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In Hebrew the word for joy is chedvah, which means rejoice and make glad. Strength in this context is a place of refuge and safety. Our joy stems from inner strength from our relationship with the Lord, so that means we can have deep down joy no matter our circumstances.
Perhaps more than anyone I know of, Joni Eareckson Tada is a beautiful example of someone who exudes joy. She is 72 years old now but has been in a wheelchair for 55 years as the result of her diving accident leaving her a quadriplegic. Yet, she lights up the room with her joy and has written 45 books, is an artist, speaker, and aids special needs people all over the world. How can this be? Only the Lord! Joni lives in overwhelming chronic pain, had cancer twice and COVID not long ago; yet she embraces the pain and often cries out scripture verses that give her help and the ability to endure. She shares how pain puts God’s promises to the test and said, “Suffering is like a textbook that teaches us who we really are and what we really believe.” She bases her life on what God has promised and embraces her trials with courage. She also memorizes hymns to help her focus her mind when she is in severe pain.  
Her word to all of us is to choose joy. We need to desire the life God gives each of us, even when it involves suffering for His glory. Let us finish well and bring glory to Him, especially in our pain and difficult circumstances. One day we will be with the Lord for all eternity and have no pain or sadness but rather the fulness of joy!
Challenge for today: The next time you are in a hard place, quote or sing Psalm 118:14, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy