Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January in Review

Well friends, my first month of The Joyfulness Encounter is quickly drawing to a close so I figured I better write one more January post! For your reading pleasure I will review some January highlights, and then inform you of slight changes I'll be making to the completion of this project :)

January Highlights:

Kairos Joy - it has been so beneficial to search out those Kairos moments in each day, and be intentional about keeping my Kairos "memoir" (a simple doc on my computer at this point). It has been an integral part of keeping my focus on Joy, rather than fleeting happiness!

Motivation - after a month of choosing Joy, I am finding my motivation has increased! Motivation to get out, to make connections, to pull myself out of a slump, etc. One practical application of this motivation is my newly scheduled Tuesday Coffee/Playdates! I sent out a message to a number of other young moms in my church, suggesting they bring themselves and their little ones over on Tuesday mornings to get out of the house and hang out together! I finally feel Joyful enough to do something about my winter cabin fever and my winter loneliness - killing two birds with one stone :) (Unfortunately, we are a bunch of sickies in our home right now, so we won't actually be beginning this new playdate until next week)

A few things that need some more intentionality through the next months...
I need to work on Beginning and Ending my day in Joy! My Joy awareness has been increasing throughout each day, particularly during moments of stress (although I would be lying if I claimed to change my attitude immediately!). But I have not been intentional enough about getting out of bed each morning with a prayer of Joy on my lips, and laying my head back down at night with whispers of gratitude and Joy!
I need to focus my intentionality into certain areas of Joy. Through the month of January, I randomly chose resolutions out of my collection ending up with resolutions in various categories of life (i.e. my roles as mother, wife, friend, etc.). But I really struggled this month, feeling as though my focus was spread too thin trying to cover so many areas of Joy! Which leads me to the change I'll be making for the following months...

I have grouped my resolutions into areas of Joy so I will be able to give more intentional focus to those areas (i.e. mother, wife, friend, home, etc.). There will still be an element of random-draw to choose the category each month, but I will have the opportunity to concentrate each month on one area, which I'm hoping will help with the focus issues I've been having. And maybe this will give me a higher "success" rate as I won't be constantly flitting from one area to another throughout my days. We shall see...

Well, friends, that's all I have to say for January (my head is a little fuzzy from this cold...can't remember anything else I had wanted to mention)! Until tomorrow, when a new month of Joy begins :)

I'll leave you with the lyrics from a childhood favorite:
"Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart...for the King is in residence there." ~ Joy is the Flag :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Joy 101 (or maybe 102?)

Thus far, I've learned two very basic and blatant lessons about Joy:
  1. Joy needs to be intentional, and...
  2. Joy is a choice!
These may seem like no-brainers to you, and they were such for me in the beginning as well. But just because something takes "no brains" to comprehend, does not mean it is simple to live out!

Let me share some of my learning process with you...and let's look at a very real-life example (2-yr-old tantrums?) of choosing intentional Joy!

Intentional - (adj.) done on purpose, deliberate.
Joy is not the same as happiness. Through my own experience with Joy vs. happiness I have learned that happiness is fleeting, often shallow, and motivated by circumstances. Whereas, I have come to learn that Joy is lasting (when intentional), Joy has depth (when intentional), and Joy, regardless of circumstances, can be motivated through perseverance (when intentional).
Joy is not the same as happiness. Take a look at the grammar behind the words:
Happy - (adj.) feeling or showing pleasure or contentment, having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation).
Joy - (noun) a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, a thing that causes joy.
Happiness is an adjective, a word used to describe. Joy is a noun, something that can stand alone! 
But, just because Joy can stand alone, does not mean that is does stand alone. Not without intentionality! Joy must be deliberate! I can preach and blog and think positive thoughts about Joy until "the cows come home." But if I don't do something intentional and deliberate about choosing to be Joyful (my next point), all my blogging and whatnot will mean nothing! My Kairos moments will just look like fleeting happiness, until the next 2-year-old tantrum hits!Good intentions are just intentions until coupled with Choice!

Choice - (noun) an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
To Choose - (verb) pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives; decide on a course of action, typically after rejecting alternatives
Joy is about making a choice! Let's go back to the 2-year-old tantrums for a moment. Happiness says, "I'm happy my son is not throwing a tantrum." And when the tantrum hits, the happiness dissipates into frustration, anger, embarrassment, etc.  
Joy is an entirely different approach and choice! Joy says, in the midst of a tantrum, "Thank you God for my son. Thank you for his opinions and for his voice. Thank you that he is learning that he can choose one from another. Please give me patience and wisdom in directing my son to discern his choices as he learns to express his opinions within a godly character!" Joy is a choice! 
In reading this, please don't put me on a "Supermom" pedestal! Please do not judge me for being "idealistic" or living in a dream-world. Please do not assume that my son has no tantrums, or that his tantrums are "mild" by comparison! I can assure you, he can wail with the best of them! And please don't assume that I have this seemingly "oblivious" mentality each time my son hits a tantrum (which can sometimes be more than daily)!
The tantrums are not the point! The point is the intentionality of choosing Joy in every circumstance and letting the perspective of Joy re-align your focus!

Like I said in the beginning of this post - Thus far, I've learned two very basic and blatant lessons about Joy:
  1. Joy needs to be intentional, and...
  2. Joy is a choice!
These lessons are basic, but no less difficult to apply. These lessons are blatant, but no easier to remember in the midst of trial. These lessons I am learning, but I am no closer to "complete success."
But I can say...
I am more aware of my choices!
I am more aware of my intentionality! 
I am more aware of my Joy!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith (or patience, or humility, or trust, or love, or "parenting skills") produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." ~ James 1:2-3 (emphasis and parentheses added)
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:" ~ Lamentations 3:21 (emphasis added)

For those struggling through a current trial, I encourage you to read Lamentations 3, specifically focusing on verses 21-24 "His mercies are new every morning." And pray James 1:2 over your heart and mind - "consider it pure joy."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kairos Joy

I've been doing a whole lot of processing these past few days - ever since my last post. After writing, I felt as though I really had nothing of value to say, other than a check-yes-or-no to my success or failures. That was definitely not my intention with this blog, or this project!
In any case, shortly after writing my last post, my mom sent me an incredibly inspiring and challenging article entitled "Don't Carpe Diem" (you can check it out for yourself here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/dont-carpe-diem_b_1206346.html). The part that really challenged me was when the writer spoke of Kairos time. I've included a snipit, in her own words: 

"Then there's Kairos time. Kairos is God's time. It's time outside of time. It's metaphysical time. It's those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them. Like when I actually stop what I'm doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can't hear her because all I can think is -- This is the first time I've really seen Tish all day, and my God -- she is so beautiful. Kairos."

After reading these words, I began to look for Kairos moments in my own day. Moments when God would break through my "chronos time" and I would be transported, for just a moment, into "kairos time," overwhelmed by the wonder of God's grace and blessing in my life.
As I was still pondering the importance of "Kairos" in my everyday, I started reading a book titled Who Got Peanut Buter on My Daily Planner?: Organizing and Loving Your Days as a Mom, by Cindy Sigler Dagnan. And what should I read in the first chapter, but a challenge to "Cultivate a Hearty Sense of Humor." This may seem unrelated to you, but read this section I pulled out of the first chapter:

"The truth is, kids, and our lives with them, are hilarious. Get a fun-patterned spiral notebook and start jotting down the cute things they say or do, together with the date and their age. Whenever possible, tuck a snapshot of the moment in next to it. Not only will it be fun to look back on, but it will craft a touching and priceless log of your days together." (pg. 19)

Still unrelated? Well, let me attempt to guide you through my train of thought.
  • I am focusing for the next 6 months on cultivating an attitude of Joy in my daily life! I want to encounter Joy in every day and every aspect of my being (mom, wife, friend, etc.).
  • In reading Don't Carpe Diem, I was convicted to pay more attention to the Kairos moments in my day. Be attentive to the moments when God pulls me from Chronos time to make me fully aware of His blessing in my life.
  • Within a week of my Kairos conviction, I am reminded that God has blessed my life with humor! Humor as a mother, especially!  And, through Cindy Sigler Dagnan, I am given practical tips for creating reminders and intentional memories of these humorous moments!
  • Within this past week, it is as though I have been given very clear, practical advice for intentional joy:
Seek out Kairos moments, gifts from God, and keep them as Joy memoirs!

In light of this thought process, here are 3 Kairos moments from yesterday:
January 24, 2012 (Kaidyn, age 2; Selah, 5 mo.)
  1. While attempting to feed Selah her cereal, Kaidyn sat beside me at the table and struck up a conversation with his little sister. They smiled and laughed together, clearly aware of something that Mommy was not :)
  2. During my morning kitchen clean-up, I put my ipod on with some Christian pop tunes. Kaidyn came running into the kitchen saying, "Dance. Dance." Then he proceeded to fill my kitchen with dancing that only a joy-inspired 2-year-old could create :)
  3. We were having company for dinner last night and I was trying to get ahead on my to-do-list. So I set the table in the morning with a fancy table cloth, plates, silverware, napkins, fancy glasses, etc. Kaidyn came by and set himself, his Lamby, and his Puppy up at each place setting to enjoy their own fancy pre-dinner imagined meal :)
Kairos! Thank you, Lord for Joy!

"This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” ~ Nehemiah 8:10b

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mid-January Reflection

Well, it's been a couple weeks since my last blog. And I'd be lying if I said I'd been 100% faithful in keeping up with the January resolutions. So, here are my "mid-month" retrospective thoughts:

1. Find a creative activity for the kids each day (eliminating TV take-over)
This has not actually been nearly as difficult as I first imagined it to be. There was a week we visited Florida wither my parents, and that was easy to get out and do things other than watching TV. Then the week following our vacation was less successful, as a result of returning home circumstances...
But on the whole, when my mind is put to it, I don't find it that trying to find something interesting for us to do. And it has been a big help in eliminating the "all-day-TV" dilemma I had been facing in 2011! I look forward to more creativity as Selah grows up and can join in our activities!
2. Do for others what I would want for myself
Wow - I nearly forgot all about this one! But, in saying that, I remember my motivation for this resolution was to do something about feeling "lonely" or "disconnected" during the week. And in light of this purpose, I have actually been somewhat successful, making an effort to invite people over, or offer my assistance to others, etc.Again - it's about being purposeful and stepping out of the "laziness" cycle!
3. Sort out the storage clutter
Haven't even attempted this one...
4. Go to bed earlier
Yikes! My intentions have been good - but as we all know, good intentions do not mean anything in the end! So, regardless of my next month resolutions, this one will be a continued attempt to create a daily habit :)
5. Eliminate "correction" in conversation with Chris
For women (and mothers), especially, it is so easy for us to "correct" our husbands in conversation. And this is a habit that is not only annoying, but disrespectful to the man Chris is, let alone the head of our home! So, I have been keeping this as a forethought in my day and I've noticed it's made a big difference! Not that I have completely eliminated the bad habit! But the resolution is about awareness as much as elimination. Now that I think about it so often, I am aware when it happens and I must keep myself in check, humbling myself to apologize for the tone, regardless of the truth in what I may have said! It's about humility, people!!!
6. Read a passage (at least a chapter) of Scripture every day
This one went to the back-burner again! While I happened upon a scripture here or there through conversation, or facebook, or email, there was very little intentionality in my own disciplined reading. With 10 days left, I need a revolution in this resolution!!! In fact, I'm going to go do some reading right now!!!
7. Put on an attitude of joy every morning - or, in my case...many times throughout my day :)

Thanks again for reading :)
I have had some definite truth realizations already through the project that I am excited to share in the very near future! In closing, I leave you with this verse that has been a Word right to my heart this past week:

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Phil. 2:12-13 (emphasis added)

p.s. in addition to my monthly resolutions, I feel the need to acknowledge the work of God in each day, through daily joy, He provides. Therefore, I will be adding a "Grateful Joy" moment at the end of each post - something that I am grateful for through this process - a moment, a success, a shining glimpse of the Joy of the Lord, etc.

Grateful Joy:
God is providing for my very basic needs by giving me sleep. Selah has been moved back to Kaidyn's room, and after a few rough nights, is now settled in and sleeping through with only one additional early morning feeding! It is a small thing, but I am praising God for small victories and simple joys!

Monday, January 2, 2012

So far, so good...well that might be a stretch?

So, we are nearing the end of day 2 and I have some successes to report, as well as my first Joyfulness Confession. We'll begin with the confession so I can end this post on a positive note :)
Joy-Confession #1: This process of joy is a difficult one and already I have to confess and repent of some less-than-joyful attitudes through the last two days. My temper has been shorter than necessary and my general disposition much more melancholy than one would label as "joyful." This is partly due to not following through with my resolution to "go to bed earlier" and partly due to an internal pity-party I allowed entrance to my heart (a not so attractive bad habit!). I allowed myself to dwell on minor frustrations both yesterday and today that sucked the joy from me, and in turn, my household. I also stayed up much too late last night reading a new book, setting me up for absolute exhaustion today, a state in which I do not function well (hence the resolution to get myself to bed earlier). So, there is my honest confession of joylessness - written out plainly for all to read (how embarrassing, but necessary for accountability).
Now on to some joyful sucesses!
First, I am pleased to report the creative activities with Kaidyn have been going well. I admit I was not very excited to this among my first month of resolutions as I expected it to be one of the more difficult ones to keep as it would require some definite thought and motivation. But we have had 2 creative successes thus far, raising the level of joy in our home already! Sunday night I introduced Kaidyn to a long-standing Franzen family tradition of indoor picnics. We laid out a blanket in the living room, put out some PB&J, apple slices and cookies (a simpler picnic fare than the usual Franzen picnic), and enjoyed eating and laughing together right there in the middle of the floor! Kaidyn had a blast! Them tonight, after a very lazy day, I broke out the playdough for the first time. After a number of war iva against eating the strange white stuff I laid out in front of him, Kaidyn warily began to squish and pull apart and generally "play" with the dough. Creative success #2.
It's funny how such simple creativity can redeem seemingly depressing days of joylessness into exciting moments of family fun! It wasn't easy, by any means. But with some determination, breathless prayers of confession, and seeking a joy from the only One who can provide joy out of sorrow, both days were redeemed of my feeble attempts at joy. And I would say days 1 & 2 have been successes in The Joyfulness Encounter, defintwly by God's grace and not my less-than-successful attempts!
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!"
Psalm 30:11-12 (emphasis added)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Good morning 2012

Hello New Year!
For most people, a new year means new resolutions. And, often, I am one of those "most people." But every year I end up feeling like Rachel Green in FRIENDS: "Dear Diary, I'm going to write in you every day...." and then a diary of blank pages!
So what have I decoded to do about this New Year's flaw? Well, I'm beginning an entire project (over-zealous much? I know!). Each month I will be adding some new "resolutions" all toward the same purpose of finding (or creating) more joy on my daily existence. This particular project should last me 6 months. And I didn't include every "resolution" that I considered. But these are the ones that coordinate together and I believe will work toward my overall goal.
So, here are the first 7 "resolutions":
1. Find a creative activity fr the kids each day (eliminating TV take-over)
2. Do for others what I would want for myself
3. Sort out the storage clutter
4. Go to bed earlier
5. Eliminate "correction" in conversation with Chris
6. Read a passage (at least a chapter) of Scriptire every day
7. Put on an attitude of joy every morning
There we go. Month #1 of The Joyfulness Encounter!

"There must be more than this; O Breath of God, come breathe within."
Consuming Fire by Tim Hughes