Joy In Our Musing

Happy Friday! How has your week gone? Did you find yourself focusing a bit more on what you muse about? Were you able to meditate on Psalm 19:14 where David asked God to let the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart to become a sacrifice of praise?

Today I would like us to begin to talk about what it means to have JOY in our musings…

I have by no means learned to live very well with JOY and INTENTION at all. I stumble and I fall and I get up again and I take the next step. But—I have seen God direct my path over and over and I know that this is true for many of you as well.

Joy Defined

So what is a good definition of JOY? The dictionary says joy is:

“the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

This is maybe not such a good biblical definition of joy…

In her book, Choose Joy, because Happiness Isn’t Enough, Kay Warren writes a more biblical definition,

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

JOY is not smiling every minute, never letting anyone know you are sad, being giddy and laughing all the time.

Some of us are more outgoing in personality, and it might appear that those emotions define joy for us, but we all express our emotions differently.

We all enjoy times of happiness, delight, and beauty, but life does also bring us times of sadness, ugliness, hurt and hardship.

Sometimes we struggle with where is God? And how do I handle this? God wants us to choose joy, no matter the state of our circumstances.

So, how do we, as women, learn how to choose the JOY that comes from trusting God no matter what life brings to us or to those we love?

About the time God began to challenge me with the possibility that it was time to step down from Children’s Ministry, He also brought Psalm 16 across my radar. David also wrote this prayer, just as he did Psalm 19, acknowledging his faith and trust in God. I was familiar with the end of this Psalm, but had never really looked at the whole chapter…let’s read it together…

Joy Described-PSALM 16, ESV

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good thing apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD, who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your Holy One see corruption.

You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

God had taught David to know Him intimately. This became the most important relationship in David’s life.

David came to believe that God was enough for him. David learned to choose joy.

We can learn to choose joy like David did, as we choose to believe that God is who He says He is. He is enough.

Is God enough for you?

One of the worship songs we often sing is Blessed Be Your Name—”You give and take away. My heart will choose to say. Lord, blessed be Your Name…”

David viewed God as his Portion in life and his Deliverer in death.

Is God enough for you?

My MUSINGS this week…

  • I have the privilege of serving on our Women’s Ministry Team as the Coordinator of Heart2Heart, Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.
    • Heart2Heart is a place for women of all ages to deepen their walk with God as they discover more of Who He is, and who they are in Him.
    • We learn together about how deep belief in God provides the foundation of intentional growth in every area of life, whether in our home, our workplace, our church family and in our world.
    • God has given me a passion to see women—YOU—following Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This has given me much to ponder… Will share more about this later.
  • Our Federal Election is now over.
    • My belief in God gives me hope as I choose to continue to live out my faith from day to day in a way that will make God’s Name famous.
    • We have much to consider and to pray about as we watch history unfold before our eyes. God is enough.

Your MUSINGS this week…

  • May I ask you, this week, to consider whether you really believe that God is Who He says He is, and whether  God is ENOUGH…no matter what, when, where, why, or how life is today, this week, this year?
  • Did you have a special moment this week that you’re especially thankful for today? Share it with us…

Continue your journey in joy…thanks for walking with us.

Love you, Colleen

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Why Mrs Vans Musings?

I recently joined a group called Hope*Writers. One of the statements in their manifesto says,

“We build benches, not platforms.”

Hope*writers Manifesto

I love this and so many other things about this writing site.

To “build a bench” is to invite others to come and sit awhile:

  • So that we can get to know each other better.
  • So we can hear each other’s thoughts about what is important to us.
  • So we can share words of hope and encouragement.
  • So each of us can then turn and pass on that hope and encouragement to someone else.

Thoughts. Words. Actions. All so important.

Why MRS VAN?

I had a really hard time deciding what to call this blog. Should I continue to call it “Mrs Van” or should I call it by my full name, Colleen van Nieuwkerk?

Both names apply to me and have for a long time.

My full name is Lola Colleen van Nieuwkerk. “Lola” is my paternal Grandmother’s name. She was “Lola Mae” with roots in Missouri, USA. I always loved being called after her. She passed away several years ago, and I still miss her and her prayer support so much. Sometimes you may see my name as “Lola” even though I have usually gone by “Colleen.” Anything government-related can become tricky when you are called by your second name.

My life as Mrs. Van began in the late 1990’s. I was serving at our summer camp and was asked what my camp name would be. The answer, “Mrs. Van” was my instant response and so began an easy solution to helping all the kids in my “Director of Children’s Ministry” life know what to call me. My husband became known as Mr. Van. We have loved being Mr. and Mrs. Van. Today, even 22 years later, many of the dear folks in our church still call us by those names. And those kids in our ministry, many of whom are now grown up and have children of their own, also still call us Mr. and Mrs. Van.

Part of my struggle in what to name the blog was “Do I need to give up the “Mrs. Van” identity after all these years?” I probably went back and forth about the name over twenty times until one morning last week. I was dreaming about the blog as I woke up and my first thought was “No, I don’t need to give that identity up.” God gave me peace about the decision.

God has kept us in the same church family for almost forty years and we have been so privileged to learn to know and love Him, and to love and serve our people here. For some reason, He didn’t ask us to move on, as ministry staff often do, as their time of ministry ends. He has, instead, allowed me to continue to serve but to carry a lightened load as I grow older. This is amazing to me!

As I consider passing on hope and encouragement to you:

  • I want to walk with you.
  • I want to sit on the bench with you, and visit one-on-one, and
  • I want to also reach out, with you, to others.

And so, again, welcome to Mrs Vans Musings.

Why Mrs Vans MUSINGS?

Anyone who knows me well would say that the meaning of the word “musing” would describe my personality accurately…

Merriam’s Webster Online Dictionary defines the word “musing” as thoughtfully abstracted, MEDITATIVE.

Other synonyms for “musing” include melancholy, contemplative, pensive, and reflective. The dictionary also includes absentminded but I’m not liking that one very much.

Antonyms given are featherbrained, flighty, flippant, frivolous, goofy, harebrained, light-headed, scatterbrained; brainless, mindless, silly, thoughtless, and unthinking. None of those words describe me ever—at least not in my opinion…

My husband would say that I sometimes overthink situations, but also that I often discern truth about those same scenarios.

  • I am definitely not the “life of the party” person, but I do enjoy other people’s kind humor.
  • I am definitely philosophical and analytical.
  • I also enjoy thinking deeply about God and His story…and how I fit into it.

To live life with intention is to muse, to become absorbed in thought and to think about something carefully and thoroughly.

And so, again, welcome to Mrs Vans Musings.

God’s Meaning Of MUSING

God gave the Psalmist, David, in Psalm 19 in the Bible, some words to share that also pertain to musing. Psalm 19:14 says,

I chose this verse to be my Life Verse when I was thirteen years old…

The words, “Be acceptable,” request in this song (psalm) that my “musings”, my words and my thoughts, would be an act of worship before God, like a sacrifice.

MY MUSINGS THIS WEEK…

What have I been musing about this week—what has been my act of worship and sacrifice?

*Family Joy–

  • Mr. Van and I are parents to three sons who are all married with families. We are grandparents to ten grandchildren. Our anticipated Grandchild #11 will arrive in January/20.
  • Thanksgiving weekend was a time of celebration as it was announced publicly that our oldest grandchild and his wife are expecting our first great-grandchild in May/20!
  • This news means that we will have four generations in our personal family. It also means that we will have two babies to love at the same time:) And it also promotes my almost 87 year old Dad to a fifth generation as a Great-Great-Grandpa!

*This next week will be our Federal Government election in Canada.

  • I feel privileged to live in a country where we still have freedom to live openly the life that God has called us to live. However, many things have changed in our culture in the past four years and so we are praying that God will keep our land glorious and free.

*The rhythms of life as I contemplate doing the next right thing over and over every day, and choosing what counts for eternity.

YOUR MUSINGS THIS WEEK…

So, as we together consider entering into this journey with joy and intention, please let me ask you…

  • Are the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart an act of worship before God?
  • Will you begin or continue to “muse” about what God might be saying to you regarding your thoughts and words?
  • Will you share in the comments one way you plan to “muse” well in order to encourage the rest of us?

Thanks for walking with us in this place of Joy and Intention. And so, again, welcome to Mrs Vans Musings.

Love you, Colleen

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Endings and New Beginnings…

Endings…

Where were you nine years ago? What was going on in your life? Does that time have any special significance to where you are today? We all have events in our life that are marked by the day they happened…either with good or hard or sad memories.

Nine years ago I retired from full-time church ministry—a good time in so many ways, and so affirming, but also so hard when considering leaving a ministry I had the privilege to build up over a time period of fourteen years.

I am so thankful for leadership who recognized my gifts and abilities and gave me:

  • Courage to take a risk and step into the unknown.
  • Freedom to soar in creative ways beyond what I could ever have asked God for, or imagined Him allowing for me.
  • Involvement with volunteers who were available to grow and deepen their walk with God as they developed skills and leadership ability. Some of them are now leading in that same ministry today.

And, oh, so much more…

My husband and I have lived in northern Canada since March of 1979…forty years. When we came to this city, I was a young Mom who was tired, disconnected from friendship, and longing to know God more. I am sure that there are many of you who might also identify with similar challenges…perhaps you just:

  • Moved to a new place
  • Decided to begin to attend church or changed churches
  • Got married or had your first child
  • Sent your first child to school or to college
  • Hit empty-nest
  • Lost your husband
  • Began caring for aging parents.
  • Perhaps you are an aging parent…
  • Perhaps you are suffering with a debilitating illness or know someone close to you who is…

Joy and sorrow seem to reside side by side in our lives.

Over ten years ago this past February, Mr. Van and I made the huge decision that I was going to retire from full-time ministry at our church. At that time, I had been on Staff for twenty-two years, twelve years of which I served in the office, and then, with a bit of overlap, fourteen years as the Director of Children’s Ministry. My official retirement happened in June of 2010, about sixteen months later. Our church was in a building program and so a good transition period in between was necessary.

I became a full-time homemaker again…much to my husband’s delight. More homemade meals, clean laundry actually put away, and my presence with a smile, most of the time, greeting him as he came through the door at night. However, tears were also a regular part of my day.

Grief is a natural part of change, no matter what that change is…

Right after I retired, a dear friend came bearing gifts. She knows me really well, and what she brought for me was a bunch of JOY—Bible Verses in this JOY container; a special cup (in which I have often enjoyed my morning coffee), and a magnet for my fridge with this verse,

Her words to me were: “I just want you to ENJOY this time of your life…” Whew!! I really wasn’t enjoying life very much at all at that time. Change was hard!

New Beginnings…

Then, in the spring of 2011, I was asked by our Church Leadership to become the Volunteer Director of Women’s Ministries where I served until December 2012. After almost twenty-six years, I handed in my church keys. That was a much harder thing to do than I had anticipated…and the tears continued to flow.

A few months into my time directing Women’s Ministry, I suffered a heart attack. No one knows for sure what caused it, but certain meds were removed from my regime, and needless to say, times of physical and emotional weakness were again added to my tears.

Whatever our age or stage of life, whatever our circumstances, change and transition are always there to deal with…

We are all on a journey, our spiritual pilgrimage.

On the timeline of history, we are just one little blip, living in this particular period of time, but with the opportunity to impact history forever.

  • Many of us have already chosen to believe and follow God.
  • Some of us are a ways down that road.
  • Others have just begun, or perhaps you are still considering whether to take that first step towards Him.

Joy in that journey…is it easy? Not at all. Worthwhile? Every moment.

Nine years seems like a long time, and yet it has flown by…how thankful I am for God’s presence in my life and His strength to face each day.

How about you? Do you have an experience that happened nine years ago that caused you to draw near or closer to God? If you have freedom to share, please do so in the comments below.

Mrs Vans Musings and more…

Mrs Vans Musings is all about considering the intentional life, pondering on how important it is to be full of joy no matter what, no matter when, no matter why or how. And yet, how does that really translate into a real, beautiful, hard, sometimes ugly life? More about that next time…

I am looking forward to walking with you as we ponder all of this together.

We would love to have you join us on this journey. If you would like to receive Mrs Vans Musings in your inbox, click on the Email Request button below.

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