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Disheveled Theologian: Count it all joy!

I stood beside my husband’s car and thanked Jesus that the damage didn’t look too bad.

I also thanked Jesus that it wasn’t I who had done the damage. For a change.

I mean, a scratched car is bad enough, but at least I didn’t have to feel guilty for doing it. And truly, of the two vehicles, ours came through with some minimal scrapes whereas my friend’s car definitely was worse for the wear. I grimaced at her dented bumper as she related the story of what happened and then, her tale told, she ended with these words:

“Count it all joy.”

I looked at her, unsure if I’d heard correctly. “Count it all joy?” My mind ran to the passage I knew she was quoting, James 1:2-4. “Consider it pure joy (“count it all joy,” KJV), my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” NIV

There my friend stood, facing what she later learned would be $1,500 in damages, “counting it all joy.” And, what’s more, she meant it.

What an example she gave to me that afternoon. I’ve had a hard time “counting the joy” lately. Have I been facing “trials?” Not exactly; it’s more the little things that add up. I’ve been a little under the weather. Tired out with running around, work, committees and projects and appointments and lessons and events and commitments. Looking ahead at the next two weeks of my life, I feel more like counting the minutes than counting the joy.

What it comes down to is this — and perhaps you can relate — I need to take time to just sit, be filled, be renewed.

Enter the biggest joy-bringer of all in the next two weeks, the Women Seeking God: CREATE conference that I am a part of. I have mentioned the conference before, and the story The Globe did on it as an upcoming community event explained a lot more. I want to mention it again because I am beyond excited — despite the tiredness, the over-commitments and the stress — to be bringing this to our community.

Please understand: this conference is not about me. It’s not about the other women on the planning committee, women from six different churches, different backgrounds, different ages and stages in life.

It’s about God. And finding your place in His world.

It will not be scary. It will not be intimidating. It will not be demanding of anything but a few hours of your time and a few dollars from your wallet when you register.

What it will be is fun. It will be Christ-centered. It will be a time to come away from that tiredness and busyness I spoke of and spend time with friends, with God, with yourself. To slow down and rest. To eat good food that others have prepared. To rejoice along with our worship leader, Amanda DeYounge, to learn and glean from each other and from Scripture and from our speaker, Tera Elness, as she opens up the Bible to look at our theme of CREATE.

It isn’t a how-to. It’s a why not?

I would love it beyond belief if you come to this event. Every woman, no matter your age, your church, your level of faith, is welcome. I want to meet you! I want to encourage you as you grow in your knowledge and relationship with God!

I’m exhausted out here on my own. Let’s “count it all joy” as we seek God together. Then we will be one step closer to being “mature and complete, not lacking anything!”

See “Women Seeking God: CREATE” on Facebook or call Love INC at 727-7291 for more information or to register. I can’t wait!

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is