Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Joy is...

Wow - mid-February already! I am past due for another Joyfulness post!

"[Joy] can take different forms at different times. Joy can be contentment. Joy can be delight. Joy can be elation. Joy can be mirth. Joy can be celebration. But joy is always infections, and joy always begins with a thankful heart...why not strive for an attitude of gratitude?" ~ Cindy Sigler Dagnan, Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?: Organizing and Loving Your Days as a Mom (p. 205)

It is amazing to me how such a simple 3-letter word can carry such power! I am finding more and more often that when I choose Joy, it can flip my day entirely upside down! So, in an attitude of gratitude...

Joy is a sleepy morning smile from the baby that kept me up all night.
Joy is the gift of chocolate-covered strawberries for me to enjoy all by myself on a quiet Valentine's evening while my husband is away at an important meeting.
Joy is clean dishes when I get up in the morning.
Joy is a husband who consistently takes out the trash!
Joy is the delight on Kaidyn's face when he sees snow falling on our need-to-be-shoveled driveway (and especially as he tries to catch it with his fingers as we venture out for groceries).
Joy is the warm camaraderie of moms sitting around the living room, together enjoying the chaos of the babies/toddlers life-phase.
Joy is Kaidyn repeating flashcard words as he develops his growing vocabulary.
Joy is watching Kaidyn scribble on his paper, saying "A, little a."
Joy is a snuggling baby when Selah doesn't quite make it to "nap time."
Joy is a good-night kiss, particularly after a late-night conversation.
Joy is the silliness of a 2-year-old as he catapults himself off the couch and into my back.
Joy is a text/photo from my sister and niece, when distance can seem especially difficult!
Joy is finishing a meal, but remaining at the table to enjoy the companionship of the one who is meant only for me.
Joy is bedtime prayers with my 2-year-old.
Joy is a little voice singing along with "This Little Light of Mine" and "Jesus Loves Me," no matter how many times they are repeated!
Joy is finding a new treasure in the Word of God, particularly within a well-read section!
Joy is an impromptu lunch-date, despite the foreboding pre-nap meltdowns :)
Joy is noticing the differences between Chris and I, and appreciating how we have been created unique. 
Joy is the irony of plans made, and plans thwarted!
Joy is the contentment of a peaceful afternoon after a long-suffering morning.
Joy is capturing silly faces on camera
Joy is the anticipation of new life, and a visit with family :)
Joy is witnessing life-change.
And one from a well-loved, dearly departed soul:
"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls." ~ Mother Teresa (Thanks, Kristin, for the inspiration!)

I am finding it increasingly more incredible how God can use something as simple as the word "joy" to speak to my heart, over and over and over again. Have you ever noticed how often a word pops up around you when you choose to focus your attention around a word? Even in the most unsuspecting places...

For example:
Our Senior Pastor spoke a few weeks ago on the parable of the talents (found in Matthew 25). This particular parable has been covered in numerous ways, by numerous pastors, throughout numerous centuries...But! Guess which word is hidden right there in the middle of the parable? Joy!
"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the Joy of your master.'" ~ Matt. 25:21 (ESV, emphasis added)
Ya - never would have noticed that before. I tended to focus on the "well done" section. But the "well done" doesn't just end there. Since we have done well, we are given more responsibility and given more work. And what is our response to this additional responsibility? To enter into the Joy of our Master! We are welcomed into Joy for our faithfulness and Joy to continue in our faithfulness! And the application takes on a whole new light when you see the parable through the perspective of Joy. It is an application for stewardship (my finances, as pertaining specifically to the parable) and responsibility in all areas of my life. I have been especially convicted of showing this faithfulness in my attitudes (Joy) and relationships!
"For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." ~ Matt. 25:29
The master is coming, and I will be held accountable! How am I investing my "talents" (joy, relationships, resources, etc.) RIGHT NOW?

Come, be thankful, be faithful, and enter into the Joy of the Master; begin to infect the world around you! It will change your life - it will change your perspective! You'll be amazed by what you see!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Joy & Love

Welcome to February, Everyone!
February is my favorite month!!! I don't really know why that is...maybe because it means January is over (the longest and coldest month), maybe because it means spring is coming, or maybe it's because I have three strategically spaced special "events" in one short month!!! Whatever the reason, there is a bounce in my step today because it is February 1st :)
I suppose, since it is the beginning of a new month this means the beginning of new resolutions. In complete honesty, I went to my resolutions envelope with some trepidation this morning. It's one thing to keep some resolutions in January (everybody does that), but to continue keeping resolutions, and adding new ones in February...
I guess it gives a real sense of reality to what I have taken on for the next 6 months! If I start this next month, I can't go back! Not that I necessarily want to - I like where this has been going (albeit, a difficult journey) and I like the person it is making me into. But it's so much more final to continue through 6 months than to just give it a "good 'ol try" for the first month! In any case - read on to discover the next step in my Joyfulness Encounter!

February - the Month of Love
Is it not fitting that I should randomly pull the category titled "Wife" for the month of February? Honestly, it was random draw!!! I even had the smallest inclination to put the category back and draw again...but that would not have been very honest (or random)! Not to mention, this category in particular has been looming over my head since the day I put all these resolutions safely into my Joy envelope, ready for the coming day of truth, when I would have to make some serious Joy changes!
Don't get me wrong - it's not that I don't love being a's not that I don't enjoy being a's not that I would rather be anything else...but...being a wife is HARD! Way harder than being a girlfriend, or even a fiancee. And it got a whole lot more difficult when we picked up our new marriage and moved out to Ontario, harder still when we had our son two years ago, and yet harder still when our daughter was born this past summer! Dating was easy in comparison (although I would not have said so in the moment - "the grass is always greener on the other side" and all). There were no household responsibilities and "conflicts" of interest. There were no jobs or children taking what seemed like "first priority." Both my husband and I were putting our best foot forward to keep the spark alive and guarantee the other would still be falling in love with you "tomorrow." In marriage, the spark somehow becomes less important, and the only foot of any importance is the cold one you are kicking over to "their" side of the bed :)
I say this so you can know just how meaningful this month will be for me! I'm in neither the far right or far left end of the marriage spectrum. I make no claims to be in the "honeymoon" phase of my relationship! I make no claims to be on the verge of a marital break-down! I'm somewhere in the middle - just a stay-at-home wife seeking to find the most Joy within the blessing of God's ordained marriage for me. I don't want to focus anymore on the realities that marriage is hard! I want to focus on the Joy that is given through the blessing of marriage, and the good things God has been and is still doing in my relationship with Chris! I think it's a good month to be making an effort toward that Joy! So here are my monthly resolutions for February:
  1. Take initiative!
  2. Say "I Love You!"
  3. Be present in the moment. (for example - stay at the dinner table until the meal is over for both parties; actually focus on conversations; etc.)
  4. Eliminate "You get...then I get" mentality.
  5. Find daily obvious expressions of Love.
  6. Remember - prayer causes things to happen - So Pray!!! (about my marriage, for my marriage, for my husband, etc.)
Well, there you have it, friends! I look forward to seeing where God will challenge me most in this month, and where I will find new realms of Joy within my marriage.
Thank you again to those who are reading this Joyfulness ramble...
And special thanks to those who have sent encouraging messages, phone calls, etc. Joy is definitely easier (and more rewarding) in community!

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are." ~ Marianne Williamson (emphasis added)