Category Archives: Choose Joy

#Choose

Choose One Word 2016

I wasn’t sure I wanted a One Word for this year. The past several years I have picked a word and then at the end of the year I found myself frustrated at my lack of growth in that area….I am one who can be easily discouraged so I thought that maybe I would skip out this year.

If you read my post about the word Depend for 2015, you will know that last year pushed me to limits I didn’t like and in many ways I felt initially like I had failed once again. But I couldn’t put the idea of not having a word for the year to rest so I have been thinking about it for the last few days.

And then this morning I sat down to read a book I was sent as part of another book launch team. Choose Joy – Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts was written by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. It is available for purchase on Tuesday January 5th and I guarantee this is a book that you want to read to start off the new year.

Choose Joy Cover

I read it in 3 hours, straight through, and have underlined so many sections so that I could read and re-read the truths within the pages.

It is so simple really and yet something that I struggle with in a deep way. How do we choose joy when life hurts?

And then I read these words from Sara….“I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn’t forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn’t joy; it’s CHOOSE. It’s looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it. I know, it’s that Pollyanna thing again, but living joyful beats being cynical any day of the week” – Choose Joy

I had been thinking up until then that maybe my One Word should be truth or freedom…things I really want for myself in this coming year. But at that moment I knew that #CHOOSE was the word I wanted to start my 2016.

It is something that I can apply to any area of my life really. And it is so simple, I just have to Choose.

Choose to seek joy even when I feel unhappy.

Choose to find truth, my truth, and live in a more honest and transparent way.

Choose to see others for all of the good things that they embody, instead of focusing on any negatives.

Choose to be grateful for the growth in my life even if it is painstakingly slow at times.

Choose to trust God with the big and the small.

Choose to make time for a relationship with God.

Choose to be more patient and kind to those closest to me.

Yes it seems so simple, but for this human girl with her need for control as well as pride and anger issues….if I am being honest, at times it seems like I don’t have a choice.

But that isn’t true.

Sometimes I have to fight for it….but I always have a choice at how I am going to respond to the life I am living. For a long time I have played the victim. Poor me and how I have been hurt by someone, or life didn’t turn out the way I thought it might…boo hoo. If only things would have gone this way, then my life would be perfect. I have had unrealistic expectations for myself and others and when they aren’t met (because they can’t be) I find myself unhappy and discontent.

And then these words again from Sara – “He used the circumstance of my life to help me grow. He used those circumstances to change my heart. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And more often than not, being changed hurts. I’ve come to understand that the only thing I can control is whether or not I open my heart. Open it to embrace circumstances. Open it to be who He needs me to be in the here and now rather than assume happiness can come from the “If only…” and “When I get…” Open it enough to let Him in to change me here so I can be with Him there.”

Talk about a a smack in the face moment…such truth there!

I know that when I place my feet firm in the ground on a truth like this I am bound to find myself in situations in the coming weeks and months that will challenge my desires to choose well.

Maybe that’s one reason why I didn’t want to pick a word…because I have seen it happen to myself and others and I am so weary from this past year I don’t know if I have the fight in me to walk forward well.

But I realized that in this too I had a choice. I can choose faith or I can choose fear.

So today I choose to trust that God will be walking with me in 2016, guiding me, refining me and helping me to shed some of my old baggage so that I can better be used by Him.

I can’t say it any better than Sara did herself…“But what I have is a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I have been given. I am here to live out this human existence as a spiritual being – a servant to God and His people – before I head back home to Him. I’m not worried about starting over in a new year. I’m not worried about what this year might bring. I am simply keeping in mind that this life isn’t about me and my goals and my wants and my worries. I am here to fulfill His purpose for me, and my job is to keep my eyes open so I don’t miss it.”

Yes it is simple if we let it be. What will you choose for this new year friends? It is my prayer that we choose to seek God and try and be the best we can be for His glory.

Did you choose a One Word for 2016? I’d love to hear it!!

OneWord_letterpressgiveaway_promofinal_2016

Linking up with Bonnie and #OneWordCoffee

 

Stopping to See

Sunrise

“Mom come and see, come and see!” Elijah yelled as he threw open the front curtains to show me the display that was right outside.

“What a beautiful sunset”….well technically it was a sunrise, but he understood what was happening and knew it was something to be enjoyed and shared.

He and his older brother had gone outside to do a few chores but when Elijah saw the sky he stopped what he was doing to run and get me. Gabriel was a bit upset with him but I told him that I always want them to stop and see the beauty around them.

So often we are in a rush. To-do lists and chores, things that HAVE to get done before xyz. Mornings can be particularly hectic around our home trying to get everyone ready and out the door. And Dominic has been gone for work since Wednesday so we all have to stay on task or we would be late late!

But this was one of those moments that needed to be enjoyed.

Elijah wanted me to take a couple of pictures for him and while our view is mostly blocked by trees and other houses, I was able to capture a glimpse of this magnificent display that God had painted across the sky for us.

I want my kids to learn to seek out God’s beauty.

I want them to be focused and taking care of their responsibilities, but I also want them to recognize when a time to pause and see the world around them is good and necessary.

This morning was one where we all needed to stop and see. To thank God that He created this earth, that He gave us one more day to enjoy. There is beauty among the hectic routine of our mornings and we need to stop and take it all in.

A “watch for God” moment if I have ever seen one.

In VBS we teach the kids to be watching for God. They get these bracelets to remind them that God is with them and all around them. We ask them to share their God sightings. We hope that they start to see that God is everywhere. In the people we meet, the earth we get to enjoy and yes the sunrise.

I hope you were able to take a moment to pause this morning and just seek out God’s hand in your surroundings…and if you didn’t, I encourage to watch for God and come back here and share your God sighting with me won’t you?!

Have a blessed Friday friends!

Getting Our Paint On – #TheFringeHours

FringeFridayLogo

In honor of her upcoming book, I am joining Jessica Turner today for Fringe Friday. Sharing fun ways that we spend our fringe hours.

I had seen the idea on Instagram. My friend Logan had created a fun abstract art project for her kids to work on and I was inspired. I showed a picture of it to Elijah and he said that he wanted to do it too.

So one evening I ran over to our local Wal-mart and grabbed some new paints and some 11×17 blank canvases. A 2-pack for $6.97 seemed like a steal, so I grabbed 2 packs, a couple of rolls of painters tape and some new brushes and started dreaming up ideas of what we would do.

I will be honest the supplies sat untouched for several weeks. It is hard for me to take time for things like this. My kids love it and are asking me to let them paint all the time. I tend to get too stressed out about the potential messes and the fun quickly loses its appeal.

But I am learning that I need to take time for myself (and my kids) for fun projects. And I love painting, although I don’t have a lot of natural talent. So after dinner one evening I asked the kids if they wanted to paint.

Excited to get started, we pulled everything out. The idea was to use painters tape and tape off patterns on the canvas and paint around the tape. When it is dry you pull the tape off and the colors pop!

I did the taping, but let the kids tell me where and how to position it. I wanted these to be their projects – not mine! And then I let them choose their colors and set them to painting!

Painting Collage 1

It really was a lot of fun watching them explore their creative side. Continually praising their work, they beamed with pride over their creations. We were all anxious for the next morning when we could take the tape off the dried canvases!

The first thing we did in the morning was remove the tape and wow, what beautiful pieces of art we had!

Painting Collage 2

They are now all proudly displayed in their rooms.

Sometimes my fringe hours are spent encouraging the creative side of my littles. (<====Click to TweetAnd while there was commotion and mess and a little bit of crazy going on during that time, I have memories of fun and laughter and pride over their work.

It was worth every minute.

I forget this all too often. That I need to be willing to make a mess, and to show my kids that I am not going to be stressed over it so that I can enjoy some quality time with them!

And the look on Elijah’s face the following morning as he held his art, perfection.

Painting 7

And after they were all off in bed, I took some time and did some quiet painting of my own and came up with this….

Painting 10

My heart has been focused on community lately, and dreaming of that turquoise table this spring…I thought this painting captured that well.

I don’t always do a good job of enjoying and utilizing my fringe hours, but when I do…what a blessing it is.

What do you like to do in your fringe hours?

More than anything, I want them to see You

merry go roundI am less than a week from turning 40. The BIG 4-0. And I am surprisingly ok with it all.

I wasn’t really dreading 40, I feel better about who I am and where I am, than I probably ever have. 40 isn’t something to fear or dread. It is just another year right?! And I am surrounded by some of the best family and friends a girl can have, so I am really just overwhelmed with blessings.

I have spent more years than I can count, and really that I would like to admit, worrying about trying to be the perfect person.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted what I didn’t have. I wanted the Strawberry Shortcake dolls that the girl down the street had, or the cute red Esprit jeans with the white hearts on them. (Oh how I coveted those pants and don’t even get me started on the matching heart sweater!!) Maybe it was the name brand jeans or a place on the cheerleading squad…there was always something missing.

I found myself wanting, lacking, and it wasn’t a place that I wanted to be.

So I studied hard so I would be the smart one and do something amazing with my life. Then I went off to college and couldn’t hack the career that I was certain was for me. And once again I knew that when someone looked at me, they just saw someone who was lacking.

For a perfectionist like myself, this is a terrible place to be. Because when you looked at me I wanted you to see beauty and grace and maybe the least bit of fashion sense.

But I was certain that what you saw was the opposite.

Have you ever found yourself there, on the merry-go-round of striving to be something, someone better than you feel you are? (<====Click To Tweet)

And yet it seems that no matter how hard you try, you come up short.

The past few years have been growing ones for me.

Yes I may have added a few pounds towards my waistline, ahem 😉 that comes with the aging I am told but I am not talking about that today. No, even more than that I am discovering who I am. What I love and where my passions are. I have reconnected with my love of writing and that alone has brought me so many gifts.

This refinement process hasn’t always been easy either. Dominic and I are learning how to work well with one another in our business, as we also try to manage a reasonable balance between work and home life. We have big kids, and middle kids and little kids…and raising them isn’t always a cake walk.

I yell too much, and get frustrated about little messes. I often forget to take time to count my blessings.

But despite all of that, all of my shortcomings, I am filled with the overwhelming peace that God will use it all for His glory. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have seen Him do it in my life already. How He took all the messy and the ugly parts of me and healed them and then gave me a story to share. He gave me a heart for others, for loving them and sharing the hope that is found in Him.

I don’t head into the Big 4-0 wanting you to see me and how put together I am or what a wonderful wife and mother I am.

More than anything, I hope that when you look at me you see Him.

You see a woman who loves Jesus. A woman who is admittedly a hot mess most days, but even on the worst of them can see the potential for God to use it for good.

Yes Lord, it is my prayer for year 40 and beyond…as long as you have planned for me here, that when people see me, they see You in me. Fashion or no, good hair days and bad, muffin tops and veiny legs….none of it perfect Lord, but through You I have the faith that I will be perfected for Your glory.

And that is all that matters.

Photo Credit: Great Beyond

Not What I Wanted For Today…But…

Choose Joy

I shouldn’t be surprised really, it seems it always happens this way. Life hits, harder at times, and it can feel like things are spinning out of control.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going in for a fairly simple, “routine” laproscopic procedure. It is same day, I should be home around the dinner hour…I am not worried at all. But there is a TON of things I wanted to do to prepare for a few days of me being tied to the couch as I recover.

And so, on a day when we have client deliveries and need witnesses, a day when Dominic won’t be able to answer the phone, or prepare for the things coming up while I’m out…our youngest boy is sick and I am at home.

It is moments like this that I can get so frustrated. Why does this have to be happening now?

But what good does that type of attitude do me?

Yes it is inconvenient, yes it is frustrating…but it isn’t the end of the world.

While my natural response may be one of anger and pity, I can choose to have a different response.

This morning I spent a few brief moments circling my family in prayer. Praying over our meetings for the day, for the health of our family, my upcoming surgery and the big choices that face Isaac in regards to college etc.

What an honor it is to pray for my family.

While I do bring my requests to God, I also bring my thanks even when life isn’t perfect.

I am thankful for each member of my family.

I am thankful for all of the blessings that God lavishes on us.

We don’t worry about food, or heat, or how we will get to and from where we need to go.

We are spoiled really, and while a day like I hadn’t intended isn’t my plan, I can still be grateful.

But gratitude is a choice.

Each and every day I must make the choice to choose joy, in ALL things. (<==== Click to Tweet)

Yes it may be work, it may go against the grain of what my natural response might be. But my hope is that when I make that choice over and over again, it might become the natural response I have to any kind of situation.

My prayer for you today friends is that regardless of what you are facing, that you might make the choice to choose joy. Choosing right along with you this morning!

Choosing NOT to Choose Joy

Choose Joy

Wow it feels like I haven’t settled in this space in quite awhile. I wrote my vacation posts, but I haven’t shared a heart post in way too long.

I specifically didn’t write while on vacation so that I could be more present with my family and once we got back it was all I could so to document everything we had done so that I didn’t forget. While I have notes of ideas for several posts, I just haven’t taken the time to write…and to be honest when I am stressed, well I start to get a little crazy-like, and that is where I found myself at the end of this week.

There are a number of things that “helped” get me to this place, some of which were a really pressured work week, VBS, where I got to help lead the actions and singing and it was the highlight of my days…but left me exhausted. (Seriously if I could JUST lead worship at VBS everyday for the rest of my life I would be a happy woman!) Tensions between Dominic and I. And our new puppy Sydney, who has been waking up at 4:30am the past 2 mornings so I have not been getting the sleep I need.

Did I mention we got a puppy? 🙂 She is the most loving, adorable puppy and I will have to do a post just to introduce her! The perfect addition to our family!!

Anyways, I woke with a pounding headache this morning and found myself in a “mood.”

It was not pretty and I wasn’t doing anything to fight against it.

I had missed  not made my Bible study a priority this week, sleeping in (when pup allowed) instead of doing my study of Acts. I was pretty light on my morning prayer time too so I wasn’t seeking or staying connected to God.

What a hypocrite that I would lead children in knowing more about God at night, and then not apply those same principals to my own life during the day. Sheesh!

I knew that I wasn’t in a good place but for some reason I decided to stew in that place today.

I voxed a couple of dear friends, heart sisters, that pray for me and can take snarky, sassy Kristin and still love me. I shared that I realized I was choosing NOT to choose joy.

My attitude was awful and I didn’t care. I have so many things to be thankful for and yet I refused to acknowledge them.

Whenever I get in these ruts I recognize it (well most of the time). Sometimes faster than others…and today I knew it pretty early on, and yet I let my irritations, anger and frustrations fester and boil.

How old am I?

I am pathetic I know, but haven’t we all been there? (Oh please tell me that I am not the only one!?!)

We find ourselves in that dark place, unable or unwilling to seek out the positive. To find those reasons to be grateful. To Choose Joy. 

And it IS a choice.

I do not have to stay in that place of negativity.

But at times I can’t see the positive on my own. I have to reach out to others for prayer and encouragement. I am so grateful that I have some women who are so faithful in praying with me and for me. Women that listen to my whining, speak truth to me and remind me not to remain in that place too long.

Yes I almost let the enemy have my day today. Almost, but not completely. Thank God for that!

So tonight, even though my circumstances haven’t changed much, I am going to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

I am still tired, feeling a little frustrated, and anxious about my week ahead. But I can focus on all the negative or I can remember all of the things that I have to be grateful for. And the abundance of blessings that God has poured on to us is unreal.

How can I not choose joy?!

These aren’t easy lessons for me to learn. Quite frankly there are days that I wish it were easier…that God didn’t want to refine me because I stink at going through the fires. But somehow he takes my bad attitude and failures and makes something good from them.

Tonight I am holding out hope that this area of my life will be made beautiful as well.

And I am praying that for you as well. Stay strong friends, the enemy is out there seeking to destroy our happiness…fight to keep your joy, seeking God in all of it and giving Him the glory when the battle is won!

Kristin

Photo Credit: Virginia L 

Choosing Joy – How One Man Holding a Sign Can Make a Difference

Sale Sign

A local furniture store has been advertising a HUGE, EVERYTHING MUST GO, SALE OF THE CENTURY, kind of sale since before Memorial Day weekend. They have big banners in the window and a fleet of 3 cars with big signs attached to the tops of them, that people drive in a caravan around town all day long.

And then there is Paul.

Paul is a young man, I would guess in his 20’s, who stands in front of the store with another sign that advertises the sale.

Every day on our way to and from work, we see Paul. And he is dancing and shaking his hips, and waving as people drive by.

He is a young man, holding a sign for his job. All day long, six days a week, he is out on the sidewalk holding his sign.

And Paul exudes JOY.

It has been HOT and then wet and rainy, stormy and windy all wrapped in one.

And yet, Paul is there waving and dancing and reminding me that we can find joy if we choose to in ANY circumstance.

I think of how often I come to my nice comfortable work space, a job that provides financially for our family, and I am unappreciative of the work I “have” to do and I forget that I “get” to work in the comfort of air conditioning, with chocolates and nice people.

I stop choosing joy and allow the stress to overwhelm me.

Yesterday I was driving by and saw him there again and felt very strongly that God was telling me I needed to stop.

But that is ridiculous, and creepy right?

And I stopped to get gas and asked God to tell me out loud if He really wanted me to stop and meet this man with the sign. (Let me just say that God doesn’t give into my demands…He lets the Holy Spirit do some heart work on me instead)

My heart was pounding and so I drove back to where he was. Except there were 2 cars blocking the driveway entrances…so I had no place to stop. (Excuses I know!)

But I felt like this was something I was supposed to do. So I voxed my closest prayer partners and told them this crazy story…so that I would be held accountable.

And then today at lunch Dominic mentioned the man with the sign and I told him that I felt like we needed to go and stop.

And after lunch we did just that.

We brought him a cold soda, a baggie of chocolates (which maybe wasn’t the smartest idea because it was super hot out) and a Choose Joy card with a $20 “tip”.

I asked him his name – it’s Paul if you hadn’t caught that before.

And I told him that we see him every day, dancing and waving and holding his sign, and that what he does matters. 

He is bringing joy to people on the streets of Marshall. He is getting paid to hold a sign but he is doing that job in such a way that it makes a difference.

Maybe God wanted someone to tell him that he was doing just that.

I am so glad we stopped…that moment brought me such joy and a a renewed perspective that we ALL can make a difference – we just have to make the choice to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

Is there someone in your life, someone you see on a regular basis that maybe needs to hear that what they do matters? Take the time today and tell them. Ask them their name and thank them for what they do.

Words can be life changing…what if what you say to encourage someone is JUST what they needed at that moment?

My hope is that Paul will know how much God loves him. It is just an honor to be a small part of sharing that love!

Photo Credit: jakerome

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