Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reflections on Choose Joy {the concept & the book}

Joy was my word in 2015. And, honestly, I think it’s going to be my word in 2016. I know, it’s such a tiny word, but, goodness, it’s had massive effects on my heart and soul. And I know God has more to teach me.

I started the year listening to my playlist of joy songs. I counted joys on a list that started on my phone and eventually moved to my computer. And then this fall I stopped counting – not because there were no more joys, but because I saw joy all around me.

God finally broke through my stubborn heart and I heard him saying, “Kristin, your life is a string of joys. Even on the hard days, you’re richly blessed.” I mean, I’ve know that for a long time, but it’s like I know it deep down in my soul now.

My desire to control – the circumstances, people’s reactions, plans, whatever else – is what most distracts me from seeing and choosing joy. That desire to control is rooted so very deeply in my stubborn self, but I can see it now in a way I never have been able to. My husband has seen it for a long time. I know my siblings have too. And probably everybody else I know.

But as I let go, the joys abound even more.

In “Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts,” Sara Frankl quotes author Jessica Hatchigan: “There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go.”

In 2015, I learned when I let go, I’m freeing myself to be used by God – and that certainly isn’t anything I can control. I also learned I have to let go over and over again. I have to count the joys – either on paper or at least in my head – to get back to that place of loosening my grip.

God is the True Joy – the one from where all other joys come. He’s the one who truly is in control and wants to surprise us with the desires of our hearts in his time. He showed me that this year, again.

Toward the end of the year, I was able to read “Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts” by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. This book echoes what God had been teaching me on my own joy journey.

Sara dealt with health issues that slowed her life to the point she couldn’t leave her house. She passed away, but her legacy of choosing joy continues. Mary compiled Sara’s words, interviewed her friends, and added her own perspective. This hardcover book is beautiful – both inside and out.

As I reflect on 2015, this quote from “Choose Joy” pretty much sums it up:

“You shake your head and laugh at the younger version of yourself for believing life would turn out just as you imagined it. And you look back on the road you’ve traveled and marvel at his, at every turn, you were upheld and loved. You were provided for. You were sustained through every change and every challenge.” (page 135)

That’s what God has done, faithfully. And I believe that’s what He’ll continue to do in 2016 – for me and for you. The provisions may look absolutely nothing like we anticipate but they'll come as we seek the Maker of it all.

There will likely be disappointments and heartache because this world is far from perfect. But even on the hard days, we can choose joy. We can know all things really do work together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

“(Jesus) didn’t let what would overwhelm Him in the garden overshadow the beauty He trusted would come: a beauty that only God can bring from the hard. God wants to transform our hard the same way. We all know how God turned the pain of Jesus’ journey into joy for each of us. And it all started with an action, not just Jesus saying yes, but Jesus giving thanks.”
(From “Choose Joy,” page 164)

So, yes, give thanks, choose joy, and see God as the author of it all because even on the hard days something good is coming true. 

In 2015, I used #choosingJOY on social media, and I’m going to continue that in 2016. I’d love for you to join me. {Instagram is my favorite place for this, but I’m on Facebook and Twitter too.}

ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts” is a compilation of the lessons Sara learned while she was dying, written in her own words and sewn together by her close friend Mary Carver. It is a reminder to see the beauty in life, even when it looks nothing like you hoped or planned. And the book officially releases today!

Published by FaithWords. Hardback. 208 pages.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS :: Sara Frankl entered into the arms of Jesus on Sept. 24, 2011, but her legacy of choosing joy lives on. Sara’s writing tells about her commitment to embracing the life God had planned. Her illness stripped her of the potential for a job and family, but that didn’t stop Sara from chasing down community. You can read Sara’s story on her blog, www.gitzengirl.blogspot.com. To assist in continuing Sara’s discipleship, visit www.choosejoyfoundation.com.

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me, MomAdvice.com, and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

I received a copy of “Choose Joy” for being part of the book’s launch team. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

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