My Word for the year is JOY
There are at least four areas of my life where i will focus on finding joy:
1. in my relationship with the Lord.
2. in my family/home.
3. in learning new things.
4. in prioritizing what's important in my life (and removing what isn't important).
I've also created a reading list (12 books on Joy)... my thought is to read as many of these as I can this year.
My JOY Book Reading List
The Book of Joy (Dalai Lama)
Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts (Sara Frankl)
Choose Joy (Kay Warren)
Choosing Joy: Your Journey to Joy (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)
I read this book in January. It was very inspiring. Nancy Leigh continues to be one of my favorite Bible study leaders. One of my favorite "stories" in her book is the one about George.
George rented a room at the Y where he slept at night. Many of his days were spent in a chair - an old metal chair - at the back of the local police precinct. I'm not sure why that's where he spent his days, but he did. He was somewhat of a permanent fixture there.
George attracted the attention of a few good people. The short-order cook at a near-by greasy spoon diner made a habit of fixing George a hot breakfast - free of charge - every day... and two of the police officers at the precinct became sort of attached to George. They noticed that he'd wrapped his shoes in rubber bands so the soles wouldn't flap and his overcoat was bare. Winters could be brutal, so these two police officers came up with a plan.
Christmas came and the two officers and their families invited George to join them for dinner. While he was there they gave him several gifts; gifts that he unwrapped as the officers and their family members unwrapped gifts. It was as if they were including him as one of their family members.
After dinner, the officers were driving George back to the Y when he asked them to stop at the local diner first. In disbelief, they watched as George went inside, his arms laden with the many gifts he'd received and gave them - every single gift - to the short-order cook, saying, "You've been good to me; now I can be good to you."
Oh that I would be more like George - not wanting more for myself, but finding joy in giving.
Choosing Joy (Dan Lord)
Count It All Joy (Kathleen Murray)
Such a delightful (and easy) read. Kathleen speaks from the heart of a mother about the lessons she's learned from her son Christian. Christian has multiple diagnoses - Down's syndrome, autism, and congenital heart defect. But more significant than those diagnoses, the lessons he teaches him mom, dad, siblings, and others is what's important.
Here are just a few of the lessons he's taught through his life: Make something good happen * You can't change how things are but you can choose how you feel about those things * Have a sense of humor in life and find ways around your barriers * Turn ordinary into extraordinary * Simplicity is beautiful * Give a hug whenever you can; you never know when someone needs one * Inspire yourself to do what you love to do * Patience takes practice * Find peace and joy each day
Thank you, Christian!
Finding Joy in What Really Matters (Ann Voskamp)
The Happiness Dare (Jennifer Dukes Lee)
I read this book in February. It had valuable information/moments and was an enjoyable read, though I'm not really sure it fit what I thought I wanted to focus on this year - Joy. That's okay, though. I discovered that my Happiness Style is Giver, closely followed by Relater. That was interesting.
In the chapter that focused on the Relaters there was a story that really grabbed my attention. Jennifer's (the author) daughter hosted a sleepover for several of her friends, a group of girls who were approximately 10 years old.
The mother of one of the girls contacted the Jennifer to let her know that her daughter would be bringing Lovie with her to the sleepover. Lovie was a ragged blanket - the blanket this girl had slept with for ten years, first as a baby in a crib. Lovie had been on long car rides and had soothed loneliness and fears. As the young girl had grown older she had begun to keep Lovie a secret, but she wasn't yet ready to part with this special part of her life.
The day of the sleepover, the girls had fun doing what girls do best. Then night came and it was time for dimmed lights, a movie, and hopefully some sleep. Jennifer watched as the girl's vulnerability played out in her facial expressions, but soon her concerns gave way to her need and she quietly slipped Lovie out of her overnight bag.
"What's that?" one girl asked and the girl "lifted her chin, mustered her voice" and she introduced her friends to Lovie.
The girls listened to her and no one laughed. Instead, each (every!) girl went to her own overnight bag, unzipped it and pulled out their own form of Lovie - a bear missing an eye, a doll, a blanket. They all had one. Jennifer said, "That was the Night of the Great Unzipping." And everyone slept better that night because they first unzipped those bags.
Jennifer then goes on to tell us that we adults try to hard to act like we have it all together (we hide those things that we think are "wrong" about us); that we, too, fear rejection. But once we open ourselves up to that vulnerability, we become approachable to other women who are struggling with their own "wrongs." If we hide our own struggles, other women will never know that we are uniquely equipped to understand their pains, struggles, wrongs.
Patches of Joy (Velma Daniels)
Seven Things That Steal Your Joy (Joyce Meyer)
Surprised by Joy (C. S. Lewis) - this one is high on my list of "want to read JOY books"
What's Missing? Inspiration for Women Seeking Faith and Joy in Their Lives (Rena Pederson)