Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Upon Us……

I was recently reading an old Calvin and Hobbs funnies newspaper clip about New Year’s Resolutions. Calvin was upset with Hobbs’ obvious insinuation that Calvin had made a New Year’s Resolution - to which Calvin responded defensively with an overall attitude of “I’m perfect- what’s to change”.   

We all probably know some people that see themselves that way! Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha But, truthfully you cannot be a follower of Christ and not recognize the need to grow daily in our likeness of Him which is part of the journey.

I spoke with a precious young man this past week that has lots of things on his heart and plate.
I loved something that he said, which is so true. “Well, no matter what I do there are going to be consequences.” Absolutely, I responded to him. For every choice you make there is a consequence, maybe good and maybe bad, but there will be one or two or three or…….

That is why many years ago I made a decision to choose to seek after the LORD in all things. All things, yes! Is it hard? Yes! Do I fail at it? Yes! Do I just want to give up sometimes? Yes! Would the world’s way of handling life, emotions, thoughts, words, behaviors/actions, etc. be easier? Yes, temporarily. But aren’t you tired of watching and living with the consequences of how the world does things that impact your life? Yes! Why would we want to contribute to that?

As we step into a new year I want to encourage you to hide these verses in your heart! Memorize them!  

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith!” And remember this, He endured the cross, because of the joy set before Him. He knew where He was headed! Precious ones….we know where we are headed!

If you are going to make one New Year’s Resolution that will lead to major changes and good consequences when it is all said and done, choose to look up and become more like Him in 2015.  

Love you all and I am praying for a Blessed and Growing in Him New Year for us all!


Monday, December 22, 2014


A couple of weeks ago I was playing with my 2 ½  year old great nephew in the living room floor. He is kind of a hat fanatic as long as it isn’t the hat you need him to put on for the cold weather outside. He likes to put on pans, and cups, bowls, books and anything else he can balance on his head, which he then identifies as, “look at my hat”. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that he found great joy in balancing an empty popcorn can from Walmart on top of his head at just the right angle to stay long enough for me to capture a precious picture moment. Seriously, we are talking it sat there on his head all of 2 seconds. But, isn’t it sweet when the timing of something is perfect and it wasn’t planned. Don’t get me wrong I plan lots of pictures for the little guy to be in but they don’t work out so well. Ha,ha,ha

OK, so no that isn’t my 2 ½ year old nephew but you get the idea. 

In a few days, Christmas Eve and Christmas day will be upon many of us. And I suspect lots of planning has gone in to it for many of us. Trying to figure who is going to be where, when, and what gifts will be opened at what house. What is meant to be a joyful, peaceable, and exciting time of celebration and good will towards man can so easily be lost in the middle of the chaos of it all.

My point: Keep those hearts, ears, and eyes open because you never know when that perfect timing of something not planned takes place right in front of you and it is priceless! 

Two thousand years ago, that moment happened not according to man’s plans but God’s plans. And the amazing thing is, if you will open your hearts, ears, and eyes you can still experience the sweetness of the birth of Christ in your own life. It is a priceless moment when that takes place!

We at Pure Joy International want to wish you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Joy of Moving in our Spiritual Gifting…

The week of December 1 -7 was a pretty fun week for me. While I didn’t have a voice most of it, I did experience the joy of moving in my spiritual gifting. I had two opportunities to share with women about Pure Joy at Christmas dinners: one in Olive Branch, Mississippi, and the other at my home church.

The tables were decorated so beautifully. I am including a very small sampling of tables but maybe you can see some others in the background of some of the pictures. 

Something very exciting took place in my heart that week. I was reminded of the joy of moving in our spiritual gifting. Those two speaking events allowed me to spend time sharing the message God would have me bring to those women specifically, along with sharing about Pure Joy and my people group: missionary women. If you really want to see me experiencing some joy, it is when I’m exhorting my people group or talking about them!

I’m not sure what any of the women got out of those two meetings but I know God reaffirmed in me the joy of moving in the gifting He has given me: to encourage and exhort people in their walks with God by being in the Word and applying the Word to their lives daily.
I want to encourage you in your walk with God. Please if you are not growing in your walk with God get in the Word. Yes, God gives us others to encourage us and feed us regarding His Word but honestly you better know how to feed yourself because most of the people around you are probably starving. Also, you can’t afford to eat out all the time! And you can’t afford not to eat if you are going to withstand the struggles of this world! It isn’t going to get easier! Don’t be deceived! As believers we need to be in the Word and we need each other!
I pray you know and are reminded of the joy of moving in the gifting He has given you so you may experience the joy of His presence!

Love you all,


Monday, December 8, 2014

Did you know …..

As, we head into the Christmas season I am always mindful of families. Maybe because the counselor part of me knows that Christmas can be the best and/or hardest time for people. Very few people fall into the in-between category. It is either the best or hardest time. The best …it means seeing family that you only see this one time of the year, kids and grandkids, cooking and baking together, traditions, laughing, joy, silliness, ballgames, etc., and for sure pecan pie!  The hardest….missing loved ones that passed this past year, broken and wounded relationships among parents and children, grandkids, siblings, and others, financial stressors, divorce and loneliness, un-forgiveness, bitterness, depression, etc.  

The best or the hardest time? While you cannot control anyone and/or many of the circumstances around you this Christmas season, remember this ….. you have a choice about your response and attitude towards those people and circumstances. It is my prayer that whether you are headed into the best time of the year or the hardest time that Jesus will be at the root of your response and attitude. The song below is a reminder that He is our All in All. 


Mary Did You Know?
By Mark Lowry

Mary did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh, Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the Lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I Am.
                               Jesus Makes a Difference

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Giving Tuesday

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.
It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company, or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. We would love for Pure Joy International to be one of the organizations that you choose to support. You can give online by clicking HERE.

Blessings to you and your family!

P.S. We also participate in the Amazon Smile program for 501c3 organizations. If you are purchasing Christmas gifts through Amazon please utilize Amazon Smile. Click HERE to register for Amazon Smile and designate Pure Joy as the charity you would like to support. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving and family are upon us…..

I got a chuckle from this story and want to pass it on. I hope it brings a smile to your face during a time that can be not only a time of thanksgiving but of stress for some. I found it at!
The Taylor’s were proud of their family tradition. Their ancestors had travelled to America with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower. They had included Congressmen, successful entrepreneurs, famous sports people and television stars.
They decided to research and write a family history, something for their children and grandchildren. They found a specialist genealogist and writer to help them. Only one problem arose – how to handle Great Uncle Jefferson Taylor who was executed in the electric chair.  
The writer said she could handle the story tactfully. When the book appeared the section about Jefferson read:
Great Uncle Jefferson Taylor occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution, he was attached to his position by the strongest ties, and his death came as a great shock.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your “ancestors”!

From the Staff of Pure Joy International!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One Team Member's Reflection of Tanzania…..

So…it’s the morning after arriving home from Tanzania, Africa. Scratch that. Just looked at the clock. It’s afternoon here; it’s 10:30 tonight TZ time. Although I’ve been up for 8 hours, my body has no idea what time it is, when it should eat, when it should sleep. My head has no idea what to think besides, “What just happened?!?” In the 7 days I was on Tanzanian soil, it never sunk in that I was really in Africa. Hopefully telling the story will help me realize that I really was there. And so, with that bleary-eyed thought, I will try to express through written words my experience in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

It’s no short journey from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Tanzania, Africa. I arrived at the airport at 7:30 am on a cold November, Friday morning. Our entire team met in Atlanta, most of us never or barely having met before, and continued our trip together from there. When we finally landed in Tanzania it was about 10:30 pm Saturday, TZ time, having skipped 9 hours on the clock. It was hot. It was HOT and HUMID. The black sky looked exactly as you would expect it to in Africa, with wisps of clouds illuminated by the bright, full moon.

Next, we squeezed a huge plane-load of people into a hot airport room and handed our passports and a $100 dollar bill to a man for VISA approval. No. Not the spend-now-pay-later kind of visa. The let-you-into-the-country-for-$100-dollars kind of visa. We waited until our names were called and our passports were returned, plus a visa page, minus $100. While I waited in the absolute slowest line ever to have my passport/visa approved, the rest of the team gathered our luggage which, by the literal grace of God, bypassed all inspections. That was great! Because it was LATE by then, we were TIRED and HOT, and we still had a hotter journey to the hotel to accomplish.

There was a quick stop to exchange dollars for shillings (a thousand shillings equaled about 60 cents), a struggle to fit 15 women and 45 pieces of luggage/equipment onto a bus with significantly smaller capacity (we ended up renting a cab/van, too), and our journey, both physically and otherwise, within Tanzania had begun.

It was impossible, even on the dark streets, to miss the poverty. Everywhere we looked there were make-shift shops along roadsides, spilling over with people.  Some appeared to be grabbing a midnight opportunity to accomplish tasks, carrying huge loads on their heads or from poles across their shoulders.  Others seemed to be enjoying the company of their community.  The streets were dark, minus the lights from small fires, candles, and headlights.  It was Broadway, NYC, minus money, electricity, and “real” buildings.  The Tanzania version, maybe, of a “city that never sleeps.”  Or so it seemed to me.

Some time passed, maybe 30 minutes or more, before we pulled through the gates of our walled-in resort, leaving behind the darkness and poverty.  This was upscale Tanzania, reputed around the country for its luxury.  Though it was “morning” when we arrived, it was still hours until daylight, so it wouldn’t be until after a little sleep that we would get to take in just where we were.

If you are curious, our rooms were nice, though not fancy.  Air-conditioned, unless the maid shut the electricity off. We had mosquito nets, geckos, and copious amounts of nightly pesticides to protect us from bugs. The water only shut off once, though my room lacked enough shower pressure to even wash sand off my body. We made it work, creatively at times, and truthfully, we were comfortable. I slept well every night.   The missionaries were delighted with their accommodations.

Daylight came quickly, and as my roommate and I pulled back the curtains to see the view from our room, we gasped in equal delight and surprise. Just in front of us were Caribbean-blue waters and palm trees framed in by brilliant colored flowers. THIS is Africa?? WOW.

Downstairs we found that the grand “lobby” of the hotel was a massive, open aired space, as was the large dining room, with ocean breezes blowing through and breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. Everywhere, there were beautiful dark faces smiling and serving us.

Wait, wait, wait. THIS is a mission trip?? I know what you are thinking; I was thinking that, too! But please understand; we, Pure Joy International, were there to pull missionary women off of the mission field for a few days. Our mission field was the ladies, and this place was the background of their much needed rest and restoration.  But first we did need a couple days to acclimate! And so we walked the beach, swam in the Indian Ocean, snorkeled from an uninhabited island, and rested…, so that we would be refreshed and ready to receive and love on the women who would soon join us. That is where the real story begins, with the missionary women.

Forty-nine women (one had to back out at the last minute) arrived over the course of a few hours. From the moment they arrived, we began serving them, though it was difficult for most to even allow that. It is their habit, their calling, their way of life to serve. To be served, that is an entirely unfamiliar place for them! So we took suitcases (or just backpacks for some) from them, escorted them to their rooms, and encouraged them. “Relax! Rest! Let us take care of YOU for a few days.

I first began to understand the need for this retreat upon the women’s response to Vickie when, that first evening, she told them, “Ladies, I love you, but I want you to know, I am NOT impressed with you.” Forty-nine women applauded.  Forty-nine women were grateful to hear that for a few days, they did not need to measure up to anyone’s expectations. I was beginning to see: these are not just missionaries, these are very ordinary women called to extraordinary lives. My heart and my eyes were opening to a new perspective and a new understanding of the challenges of living under the title of “Missionary”. 

Most people would agree that the title “missionary” conjures up images of faith, foreign lands, foreign languages, teaching, serving, praying, and leading great lives of faith, service, and sacrifice for the sake of God. Maybe, like me, you hold them up to a pretty high level of admiration. Maybe you also consider them to be…I don’t know…better at life. More faithful. Wiser. Better parents, with better children. They can probably do most things better than I can. They are missionaries, after all. They are just…better.

And part of being better means that they can handle more pressure, than I can. They can withstand bigger challenges because they have bigger faith. They can endure tougher circumstances because they are, well, they are missionaries. It’s what they do! It’s what God called them to do!

If you are a missionary and you are reading this, please forgive me! I understand so much more now. 

These women, these ordinary, extraordinary women…they are just like you. They are just like me. They do not have any kind of special skin which is thicker and more able to withstand the personal blows.
They have good days and bad. Days they love to serve and days they are empty. Days they enjoy their husbands and days they just fulfill their vows.  They love their kids, but their kids go through the same battles that yours or mine do, needing instruction and discipline. Yet even missionary kids do not always want it and do not always learn from it.
And protecting your children from threats as real as violence or malaria is no small undertaking. Missionaries can suffer profound disappointment, genuine depression, loneliness, fear, doubt…just like you. Just like me. Just like all of us.  

One favorite moment with these women was watching them open their favorite bag…each bag made and filled by women in the USA who long to send love to these missionaries, though they’ve never met them. The missionaries were overwhelmed—over whelmed by gratitude.  Those bags were filled with things like…. Chocolate, Cheese-itz, parmesan cheese, canned pumpkin, tampons (yes, TAMPONS)…. There were Lego toys, protein bars, drink mixes, Fritos, etc.

I learned a lot from them while I was there to serve them. They refreshed me, as I watched them be refreshed through fellowship, Bible study and worship. They laughed a lot. They cried a lot, too. They got real. They were open. And there was hope and healing and joy restored to them in so many ways.

And then they left. So did I. Only I took a series of long plane rides back to my comfy, easy challenges in the USA. They? They returned to the mission field some to areas so remote that they are the only one of their color in town, some to areas where they are veiled beneath the customary clothes of Muslim cultures.  Back to lonely, hard, hot, difficult places. Back to places where the needs of the people are so massive, so immeasurable, so potentially hopeless at there seems to be no end, no solution. But. They go. Because they believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that He sends them. 
They go because the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be lived out, taught, spread among the nations. They grow to love “their people”; they return to continue serving them. And because they’ve had a few days of rest, because they have had their own spiritual tanks refilled through prayer and lessons and worship and fellowship, they return happier, lighter, better….I went to Tanzania because I wanted to serve. I’m still processing what I gained, not because I have any doubt that I did gain, but because I gained so much that I am unsure of just how to sort it, store it, use it…Missionaries. Missionary women. Ordinary in every way. I get that now. Real. Imperfect. And yet…and yet…they are on the mission field. I am not. I can’t help it; I’m still impressed by them, more than ever before.