Tag Archives: joy

Shall we dance?

Finally, back to Five Minute Friday writing after 31 Days in October!

Joining FMF today with Kate Motuang. A community of bloggers write from a one-word topic for 5 minutes. We writing teachers call it a “writing prompt”.


I don’t know how to dance.

Ask anyone over 50 (or maybe 40) who grew up in the Church of Christ if they can dance. Probably 85-90% will say no. It is a fact that we are known for our unique disability – rhythmless. As a general rule we have no rhythm.

Dancing was one of the major items on the “Do not participate in these” List because it will lead to even worse sins, in this case, sex.

I bring this up, not to debate the right or wrong of dancing. It just has to be said as my reality.

I grew up learning the words and music of all the classic Broadway musicals: Camelot, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, The King and I.

I learned to play this piece on the piano, “Shall We Dance?” It just makes you want to move with memories of the teacher’s huge ball gown flying around the room.Celebrate

One of my favorite country songs is “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. That is the message for me when I think of dance.  Take advantage of every moment, every blessing, every challenge and participate. Not sit on the sidelines, dressed in a beautiful dress, watching. I’ve done that literally and figuratively.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

It takes courage sometimes. Other times it takes the willingness to take a risk.

Grab a hand, hold a toddler, or just let yourself go and move to the music you hear NOW.

I am thankful for memories of being in the moment with family, with Jennifer, with learning to be grateful for ALL things.



My One Word Resolution for 2015


My first one word resolution, Joy, came by accident. Reading Ann Voskamp’s book sent me on a journey to seek joy and begin this blog.


Last year the word Mercy seemed to be an obvious choice for my new-found ministry to others.

Martell's One WordThis year I looked at the suggestions on the My One Word website as I reflected on the past year and pondered the coming year. Here are the three steps they suggest:

  1. Decide what kind of person I want to be. Who did God create me to be?
  2. List the characteristics of that kind of person.
  3. Pick a word.

The website provides lists of suggested words which I finally decided just gave me too many choices. But reading Max Lucado’s newest book, before amen, gave me some ideas. I’ll write a post on this excellent book on prayer later, but I could see that Trust is an area I need to develop. But Trust has so many meanings, so many ways to expand. Another word that means almost the same thing came to mind along with this verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:55

Trust also means lean on for support or rely.

My daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, repeats the themes of trust and peace.  Over and over Sarah Young uses Scripture to convey God’s desire that we decrease our independence and increase our dependence on Him. I confess that I have a strong streak of independence and wage a personal battle with this.

In my journey of grief and trauma over our daughter’s death I have come far in my battle, but still see room for growth. Right after Jennifer’s death I leaned on  many people and for a time I leaned on God. You can find that story here.

Looking back I can see changes He worked in me through those years after Jennifer died. But I have this little niggling thought in my head that if I ask God to increase my trust, to help me trust Him more, He might allow another traumatic event in my life! I still struggle with where God’s hand was in Jennifer’s death, so I remember  an old adage: “be careful what you ask for”.

So I’ve settled on LEAN as my word for this year. I want to LEAN on God, LEAN in to His promises, LEAN on others, LEAN in with sisters for supportI want to teach others so they can experience that peace when we LEAN on the FatherThere are many Scriptures on this topic, and I’ll be writing posts throughout the year on LeanLean

Have you found a word for this year?

Check out the My One Word website. You might also like Kayse Pratt’s post on why she’s NOT choosing One Word! Another alternative is Ann Voskamp’s 25 Word Manifesto. It is a lovely, free printable.

I am thankful for new years and new beginnings, for time to reflect on a year past and to make plans for the year to come.







“gratitude is a memory of God’s heart,

to give thanks is to remember God.”    Ann Voskampcropped-give-thanks-31.jpg


if I give thanks in all things, I must search my present circumstances.


I search for the blessings of TODAY my mind and my heart are lifted from . . .

the mosquito buzz of trivial irritations

the chronic pain of arthritis (substitute your own chronic)

the fatigue of a sleepless night

the brain fog of media overload

the frustration of incomplete to-do lists

the turmoil of conflict


I give thanks for

the birth of a long-awaited baby girl (Jennifer’s best friend from childhood)

the hug of a friend

the prayers of soul sisters

a husband who drops everything to vacuum or drive me to a doctor appointment

bright leaves scattered on September’s grass of deep greenOrange Leaf

I am filled with JOY,

and I remember to TRUST the One who never leaves me.



A Prayer for Teachers, 2014

Created by a former 8th grader

Tuesday is for Teachers

I know, today is not Tuesday. But this is a post for teachers that should have been written weeks ago. I’ve been suffering from a root canal resulting in lots of pain, and it has taken longer to recover than I would like.

My local church has adopted a nearby middle school and an elementary school for the past few years. As a teacher I was on the receiving end when they brought us lunch on in-service days and provided school supplies for our large enrollments of children living in poverty.

As a retired teacher I enjoyed blessing teachers a few weeks ago with a simple lunch and then buying school supplies for church members to load into backpacks — for every child in the school! It is a blessing to give back and show appreciation for teachers who are so stressed these days. I look forward to volunteering at the elementary school for tutoring in reading.

I begin each fall with a prayer for teachers. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or a community member with no children in school, ALL teachers need encouragement and prayers ALL year long.booksMMSbuildingSchoolTables

My Prayer to Teachers 

I pray that God bless you this year, whether you are just beginning to arrange your classroom or whether you have already been in school for a a few weeks.

I pray that you are blessed with


  • courage to do what is best for your students
  • courage to analyze whatever  “new” mandate is being pushed this year
  • courage to hold fast to classroom rules or procedures to foster a productive learning environment
  • and courage to bend those procedures in necessary


  • physical strength to meet the daily demands of your schedule
  • emotional strength to support students

in crisis

with trauma

who challenge you


  • wisdom to know how to meet the needs of challenging students
  • wisdom to know how to balance classroom management with humor, or “the look”, or “stick-to your-guns”, or flexibility


  • I pray you will find ways to develop an environment that supports creativity despite the pressures of high-stakes testing
  • that you have the creativity to make learning dynamic, risky, open to mistakes, and full of wonder


  • to fight the good fight despite discouraging news, policies, or difficult days
  • to teach perseverance, an important habit of mind to your students


  • may you find joy in your students — in their humor, their innocence, their unique personalities
  • may you transmit the joy of learning to your students and inspire them to find the joy and wonder of learning

Teaching is a gift that can enrich the life of the one who is teaching as well as the one who is learning.

I am thankful for teachers at every level of learning.


Related posts can be found in my Sub-Category of Grit, Growth, and Mindset:

Got Grit?

What You Believe

Smart Is Now a Dirty Word?




Joining the new host of FMF today, Kate Motuang. A community of bloggers write from a one-word topic for 5 minutes. We writing teachers call it a “writing prompt”.

A Meditation Prayer

Empty me, Lord.

Cleanse my heart, oh God. Take all my thoughts

and wash them into the river of forgetfulness.

Open my eyes to Your gifts.

Illumine the blessings in my life.

Draw me near to You.

Fold me into union with Your Spirit;

Fill my heart with joy.

Gratitude is the first step to being filled with joy.

Unload the noise in your head;

empty out the randomness, the chatter of your thoughts.

Make space for gratitude.

Cross 2.compessed

“Every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give into those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope.” Brené Brown

“. . .practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.” (Brené Brown)

The only way I have found it possible to remember gratitude in all things is through the daily counting of gifts.

If you are a new follower to this blog, you will have noticed I end every post with thanksgiving to God. I began this blog two years ago to share my path through grief. You can learn how gratitude made a difference in my grief here.

Thank God for the perspective that gratitude gives me every day. I can look at a picture of Jennifer and be filled with joy instead of grief.


Five Minute Friday: JOY

I’ve been writing about JOY since the began this blog back in 2012. Where is Joy? sits permanently on my Home Page to open the door to my journey without JOY.

This is what I know about finding your JOY when it has been snatched from your life:

  • there is no magic pill
  • no “one thing”
  • no perfect word to give you

I want to offer some things that helped me, words to consider, Scripture to memorize, but if you are depressed or walking through a valley of grief, these little things just seem empty. You have no motivation to try anything.

But, try this:

  • Ask someone to pray for you.
  • On a better day, put a card with a Scripture by your bed where you will see it.
  • Let God hear your groans. You don’t have to use words, His Spirit is interceding for you NOW.
  • Do Not Give Up! This I know: our God is gracious and merciful
  • Give thanks for the pain. Lean into God.

HealsBrokenMay you find JOY today in the small, in the tiniest moments when you see God’s gifts.



For another perspective in looking for JOY, see this post, Where Do I Put the Sadness?

I am full of JOY for the blessings God gives me. Today is a Grace Day, so hearing her little voice call, “Miss Tell, I want to share my crackers with Lawwy.” just brings JOY.


Have You Heard?

Debbie Macomber wrote a book about it.

Ann Voskamp has advocated it for several years.

Several bloggers recommend a this book to read about it.

Yesterday I found a whole organization to join in this pursuit.


all these folks suggest selecting One Word.OneWord

I’ve already jotted down some resolutions for this year (actually they came to me during last Sunday’s sermon!). But it occurs to me that I had One Word last year. My One Word really started when I began this blog.JoyBirdIMG_0820

So how do I choose this one word? It seems quite a commitment to announce that I’m focused on One Word in 2014. But, there is a word that has been popping up frequently. It all began with a study of spiritual gifts in our Sunday School class. Nila led us in a 13 week exploration of spiritual gifts. We used this book by Lindsay Garmon. At the end of the study is a Spiritual Gifts Survey to help identify your gifts. My survey showed six areas that seem to be my strengths in ministry. One of the gifts is new for me, but in the last year or so I can see that God keeps nudging me that direction.

In the Romans Project (memorizing Romans 1, 8, and 12) I’ve been learning these verses this week about spiritual gifts. “We each have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying then prophesy in accordance with your faith; . .  if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Rom. 12:6-8)

By the way, I’m so happy to say that I’ve made it through to the last verse of chapter 12 (woohoo).

Martell's One WordSo here’s my One Word for 2014: Mercy reminds me of God’s mercy — he has shown me over and over, but it also reminds me to look for opportunities to show mercy to others.

I’ve had opportunities recently to show mercy, and God has truly surprised me.

  • I didn’t know that I could rush to a friend’s house when I heard that her son died in his sleep.
  • I didn’t know I could just be with her and give her some comfort with one of the clay crosses I made.
  • I didn’t know God would give me the heart of compassion without swallowing me up in my own memories of grief.
  • I didn’t know He would give me the words as I prayed with families who came to our church for much-needed box of groceries.
  • I didn’t know how blessed I would be by these experiences.

I am thankful for 

  • this new year and fresh beginnings
  • this warm house while the wind whistles around us 
  • relief for arthritic knees — no cane, no crutches, no walker for weeks!
  • God’s grace that extends to all of us sinners