Luck? Happiness? or Joy? A day with FUMC Pensacola

March 16, 2020


luck, happiness or joy? What is God's plan for us?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! 

The Coronavirus is the strangest and saddest thing to happen to the world in a long time. Many are fearful, even panicked, and others believe it’s overblown and a conspiracy. I’m not too worried, and believe all of it — and none of it, and am waiting to see how the story unfolds. My faith has kicked in and I’ve turned the frustrations and worry over to God.

Since I also have a weakened immune system, (princess affliction or rheumatoid arthritis and heart issues, I can’t keep it all straight) I’m staying home as much as possible . . . just in case. 

No matter how you’ve decided to handle this situation, my wish is that you feel safe, calm and healthy. 

Leslie Anne Tarabella uck, happiness or joy? What is God's plan for us?
I wore my favorite green coat for the “St. Patrick’s Day” theme. Oh, how I love a good theme! (I also wore it for Christmas and am thinking of throwing a pink dress with it for Easter!

A few weeks ago, I spoke at The First United Methodist Church in Pensacola for their, “Saturday Morning with Friends” event on the topic of, “Luck or Happiness?” I thought in light of the current situation, I’d give you an overview of the message of hope and joy we shared. 

“Luck of the Irish” is a fun thing to say. I know my son’s red head has been rubbed for “good luck” about a million times. Eating Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day doesn’t bring real luck, does it? It’s more of a “tradition” which is another way of saying, “peer pressure from dead people.” You know . . . granny did it, her granny did it, so I must now do it too. 

Believing in luck often shortchanges God’s powerful involvement in the tiniest parts of our lives. He knows the number of hairs on our head so of course, he’s going to control the small things we often attribute to “luck.” 

Leslie Anne Tarabella uck, happiness or joy? What is God's plan for us?
Of all things, I became emotional and literally choked up and couldn’t stop coughing! Of all times in the history of public speaking to be coughing! They were a class act and ran to offer me throat lozenges. Update for those who were there . . . I’m NOT sick!

We like to think about luck because it brings us happiness. But happiness is dependent upon what is going on around us. If we have a cookie, we’re happy. If we don’t have a cookie, we’re not so happy. 

But more than happiness, what God wants us to have is true joy. He planted it in us as one of the fruits of the spirit, so it is already within us to have great peace and joy. It’s up to us to develop and grow the kind of joy that is present even in times of great trouble, heartbreak and sadness.

Leslie Anne Tarabella uck, happiness or joy? What is God's plan for us?

And how do we grow and develop solid, dependable joy? The same way we grow a relationship with a friend, we spend time with them and learn all we can about them. Bible study, prayer, small group discussions and daily devotions are essential to growing our relationship with God and understanding him better. The more we understand, the more peace and joy we have during terrible times.  

Green vegetable and fruit tray - healthy food - Leslie Anne Tarabella 
uck, happiness or joy? What is God's plan for us?
A green St. Patrick’s day veggie tray I made to serve with cheese and yogurt dip. I always crave healthy food when pandemics roll around.

I shared an example of a time Bob and I felt great shock and sadness (I said it was the worst day we’ve had that didn’t involve someone dying.) But throughout the day of horror, we both felt a strange kind of “beauty” which at first, we couldn’t even name, but later realized it was the hand of God or the Holy Spirit that was giving us peace that passes all understanding and even a glimpse of joy yet to come.

I don’t understand how people deal with terrible times when they don’t have God’s calm peace and joy to see them through. I would have definitely fallen apart without it. 

Joy is an amazing gift. It’s better than run-of-the-mill happiness and much more solid than pretend luck. 

So, on this St. Patrick’s Day, I wish you a day as beautiful as the rolling green hills of Ireland and I also wish you abundant joy. True, real, bonafide joy from God that will carry all of us through the dark troubling times of this world. 

And a quick note about FUMC Pensacola, this is the second time I’ve been with these ladies for their breakfast, and I am so impressed with their United Methodist Women’s group. They use this event, Saturday Morning with Friends, as a major fund raiser for worthy causes that benefit their youth and food assistance program. From the beautiful table decorations, dazzling auction items, music, ticket sales, publicity and delicious food, every detail is well-planned and perfect. I’m honored to have been part of this event and thank these great ladies for their kindness and dedication to their church and the entire Pensacola community. 

Now, let me know how you are handling this Coronavirus crisis. Are you staying at home organizing drawers and reading good books or are you feeling safe enough to go out and about? I’m sure some of you are helping where you can. Tell me where it is you find your joy these days.

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