Joy is a Choice of My Behavior- Choose Joy Week 4

So many things are out of reach as well as out of our ability to control, but our behavior, that’s not one of those things.

When we are choosing joy, we need to realize that what we say, think, do as well as how we treat ourselves matters.

If it matters to you, then it matters to God.  He cares. 

Kay tells us that “Unresolved emotional pain and brokenness can make choosing joy on a daily basis challenging” and that we need to take care of ourselves.

Choosing joy is not always easy and sometimes can be most difficult, but it is possible to do so and to choose joy daily.

She gives us some practical things that will help us in our desire to choose joy:

  • Look for a Joy Mentor – find someone who is more than just a happy personality, but rather a sister that will find joy in the tears, God in the ordinary and is thankful for the perfect will of God even though it is painful.  Release the little girl in you to experience unbridled joy.  I love that she calls children “joy factories,” as they truly do just soak up the precious moments surrounding them.
  • Avoid Small Potatoes – I often remind people that it’s the little things that make life big.  While completely true, it’s also the little things that steal your joy.  Traffic, spat with family, flat tires, things not going the way as planned, etc.  Joy thieves are waiting in each instance of your day for one purpose…to steal your joy.  You get to choose if you hand it over willingly or not.  Choose wisely.
  • Rediscover Pleasure – I often talk about ordinary joy and the hidden treasures in our day to day life.  I tease my boss sometimes by saying “I want it all and I want it wrapped” but truth is, we do want the best of the best and often miss the greatest joys in the most ordinary of things.   The feeling of stomping through puddles, the giggles of joy when romping through grass, the cheesy look of the full moon as he lights up the darkest night.  When you open your eyes to see the treasures in the ordinary, they quickly become priceless treasures.
  • Express Affection Extravagantly – I’m a hugger.  When you meet me, you’ll likely get a hug, huge smile and hearty hello.  Many people can barely make eye contact, much less express affection in this manner.  I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone when in public this week and smile bigger, greet others with a warm handshake or if circumstances allow it a warm hug.  You’ll be amazed at what it does for YOUR heart.
  • See the Humor – I love laughing. Often when I’m laughing, I don’t realize it but I carry a lot of volume, and sometimes my children don’t see the humor in that.  Making the best of the worst situations sometimes requires seeing the humor.  Sometimes you are the one that can point it out, when no one else even sees it.  Recently we had our family vacation.  Whirlwind, lots of driving but lots of fun.  On the way home we had a plan to just drive straight through (12 hours) and take one day to rest before finishing up our final trip home, another 13 hours.  Four hours into the trip our tire blows.  We don’t have a special tool we need to change it, so what went from normal 30 minute inconvenience was now an almost 5 hour ordeal.  We “picnicked” on the side of the interstate, laughed and had a good time while basking in the morning/afternoon sun.  We get another 3 hours under our belt and another tire “sounded funny.”  We pull over and sure enough the tread is ripped and the tire needed to be replaced.  We immediately find a Wal-Mart Tire Center, take it in while they are changing the 2nd tire, we shop.  We are laughing at the craziness of it all when my son hugged me and said “Mom, I’m glad you are my mom, because with anyone else, this would have really been bad.” I reminded him we can’t change the situation so we needed to simply enjoy it and reminded him that we may never know what God protected us from.  Find the humor!  Kay reminds us that “when you recognize both the pain and the humor around you, you take another step toward knowing true joy.”
  • Practice Gratitude – Even if we are never blessed with another “great thing” we can always be grateful for our home in heaven, the amazing grace of God and His never ending mercy. There is always something to be thankful for.  Question is, will you see it during the storm that rages?  Will you see it in the ordinary?  Will you be looking for it?  When you are thinking about all the great things that surround you, you will be thankful.
  • Live in the Moment – I love those precious moments where joy just bursts into your heart from the most unexpected places!  Trouble is, we want to live there all the time.  If we were to never experience pain or sorrow, we could never truly experience great joy.  Stop looking at the trouble you are enduring and focus on the priceless moments of joy and blessings.  If your sorrows are so great, grief so heavy and burdens are so deep, then take time each day to focus on the blessings of heaven, amazing grace and God’s great mercy by way of the gift of the cross. Live in that, even when the storm is raging.
  • Find the Blessing in the Mess – Have you ever watched a child play in the rain, mud or even finger paint? Have you just quietly observed their smile and laughter or do you see just the mess they are making?  Inside of every mess we get ourselves into, or the ones that seem to sneak up on us, there IS a blessing.  I have no clue what it could be, but seek it out! Look for it! If you never find the blessing in the mess, then trust God to work it out for your good.
  • Passing the JOY on – Our tag line at Spreading Joy Corporation is “There’s no joy like spreading joy.” There simply isn’t.  If you want joy to be at your very core, then “give.”  If you want to have joy flooding your heart each day, then “do.” If you want joy to be a way of life, then “serve.” Don’t think about how you’ll be thanked, who will see, how much value your act of joy is worth, just do it.

JOY is a choice!

Prayer Requests

When you visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request, know that we have a team of women who are praying for you. In order to receive the blessing of these prayer warriors, you need to submit your prayer request. If you have a private prayer and don’t want to post it on the website, please email wbcprayers@gmail.com

Assignment For This Week

  • Join a LIVE CHAT via Facebook at 9PM EDT/ 6PM PDT- with Christine on Monday and Traci on Tuesday
  • Register for the next online Bible study- click here

Discussion – choose to answer any or all of the following:

  1. Looking at the list above, what one thing will you choose to do this week to add JOY to your life?
  2. Has your attitude towards JOY changed since reading the book Choose Joy and completing this study? How?
  3. Which session on Joy has had the most impact for you: Jesus, Man of Joy, Joy is a Conviction of My Mind, Joy is a Condition of my heart, or Joy is a Choice of My Behavior?
  4. Find one Bible verse on JOY from this study or one you discover on your own, write the verse on a card and carry it with you until you memorize it. Share your verse with us if you want.
  5. Would you recommend the book Choose Joy to a friend? Why or why not?

Create JOY, Cause JOY and Spread JOY while you are choosing JOY!

Thank you for allowing me the honor of leading this Bible Study.  Thank you for the desire to be women of joy!

If you’d like more help and/or ideas about Spreading Joy, you can check out our book here, Spreading Joy Daily as well as our most popular articles encouraging you in JOY listed here.  http://www.spreading-joy.org/site/quick-links/

 

Spreading JOY,

Marie Wikle

 

Joy is a Condition of My Heart- Choose Joy Week 3

Before this study, have you ever really thought about joy being a heart matter?

In our day to day life, there are so many uncertain things, uncontrollable things and scary things. Those are the kinds of conditions that we simply have no control over. The condition of our heart is completely ours to control.

You may have heard the saying

J = Jesus

O = Others

Y = Yourself

While this saying is completely true, the problems come in when we forget the “Y” in joy.

As ladies, we are typically so busy being wonder woman wife, caring daughter, fearless mom, awesome employee, awesome employer, leader, blogger, and a whole host of other things that we forget to take some time out for ourselves.

Kay reminds us that to nurture and build joy in ourselves we must:

  • Focus on Grace
  • Trust God for the Future
  • Have Balance in our Life
  • Practice Acceptance

“Happiness comes unbidden and unexpectedly and can leave just as abruptly; joy can be available anytime, anywhere, anyplace but it is a result of our decision to choose it.” ~ Kay Warren

As a child of the King, doing the things listed above doesn’t give us the right to trample all over God’s amazing grace and live a life that will kill our relationship with God, but on the other hand, never obeying the Word of the Lord will also kill our relationship with God.

Choosing joy isn’t always easy, but that is where our faith grows.

All of us at some point will experience great sorrow, but IN that great sorrow is an Almighty God that will never leave us alone.

Doing the things Kay reminds us of will get our minds and hearts in the right direction. Take time daily to do something for yourself that will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.

We forget that WE are loved unconditionally by our heavenly Father even though He knows the worst in us. He chooses to love us in spite of our short comings. Yes, we want to get better, yes we want to reflect HIS love and compassion and yes, we want to ultimately live like Jesus. As long as we remain in our human body, we will fall short.

Extend yourself some grace while trusting the Lord. When you fall short, stumble or even freak out over various situations – ask God to forgive you, forgive yourself and then take the next step. Doing this for yourself will allow you even more freedom to nurture joy in others.

Nurturing Joy in Others:

  • Believe the Best about Others
  • Offer Nonjudgmental Love
  • Empathize with other’s Feelings
  • Appreciate Other’s efforts

When we have been hurt by others, beat down or even unappreciated, many find it difficult to extend their heart to spread joy to others. It’s painful.

Sometimes believing the best about others will turn out that we were completely wrong in our beliefs. They control what we see, they show us only what they want us to see, and then the truth comes out (it always does) and we are hurt because we are taken advantage of. Don’t let this stop you from making a difference in the heart and life of others.

We need to push past our hurts, our fears and the things that hold us back from making a difference for others. We will disappoint others as well as be disappointed.

We also need to push past our guilt when trying to make a difference for others’. Many of us desire to do more or value what we do for others based on the “cost/price” we had to pay.

Look at the few things Kay listed for us and tell me the value. Believe, offer, empathize and appreciate are all things that will not cost us a single penny, but are priceless! When we are giving these types of gifts, we often negate their value and as a result, feel guilty for “not doing more.”

Prayer Requests

When you visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request, know that we have a team of women who are praying for you. In order to receive the blessing of these prayer warriors, you need to submit your prayer request. If you have a private prayer and don’t want to post it on the website, please email wbcprayers@gmail.com

Assignment For This Week

  • Read chapters nine and eleven, plus conclusion (part 4) in your book Choose Joy by Kay Warren
  • If you are using the Participant’s Guide, complete Session Four
  • Join a LIVE CHAT via Facebook at 9PM EDT/ 6PM PDT- with Traci on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

Choose to answer one or all of the following questions:

  1. What are some ways you kill joy in yourself ?
  2. What are some ways you kill joy in others?
  3. How can you be a conduit for joy this week?
  4. Share a favorite moment from this study so far!

Marie

 

Joy is a Conviction of My Mind- Choose Joy Week 2

Welcome to another week of Choose Joy.

This week we’ve taken a deep look into our own heart and mind.  If we are honest, it’s not always pretty there is it?

I love the verses found in 1 Thes 5:16-18 because they are crucial to the heart that desires true joy.

They tell us to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks!

This starts with determination.  We must decide “do do” this because we are certainly not going to be “feeling” this.

Kay reminds us that “joy begins in the mind” and is ultimately how we respond to life.

So many things bring us great joy but those things can and sometimes will bring great sorrow.

People – The very same people that bring you the greatest joy will one day bring you more tears than you ever imagined. We are all human and we will disappoint…it’s just a matter of time.

Places – Not every place we travel to or explore will bring us the joy we thought it would.  Sometimes, it simply isn’t all our heart imagines.

Possessions – Keep in mind just how miserable the “Hollywood” crowd often is.  They have the nicest of things, shop in the greatest stores but often swim in great misery and pain.

Positions – In this day and age, positions come and go.  Many who hold this as a source of joy will often find themselves discouraged.

Personality – Shy, awkward and backwards people can have just as much joy as the most outgoing extrovert you’ve ever met.

The good and the bad go hand in hand.  Joy and sorrow are right there in the midst of all of these situations and it is our choice to let go of the high expectations of perfection and greatness that keep us pinned down and often miserable.

When we realize one fundamental thing, we’ll be able to start seeing and choosing joy in nearly everything.

JOY is in our heart, simply because Jesus is there.

 

When we look at the everyday with the knowledge that Jesus is in control, Romans 8:29, Jeremiah 29:11 and Eph 2:10 still hold true and that our hope is in the One who spoke this world into existence, then joy will not be as elusive as it once was.

Where is your heart at these days? Matthew 6:21 tells us that “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 

Have you ever really considered that Gods Will can be painful?  I have, but this year it has hit home more than ever. As a mom, I treasure my children and want the best for them.  My son is currently in the middle of God’s will, serving and seeking where God will use him as a Youth Pastor.  You think…wow, that is wonderful Marie! Congratulations!  And it IS wonderful….but at the same time, painful.  This year will be his last year in college and the pain comes in that I simply miss him.  I miss the hugs, the laughter, the jokes, and the silliness.  I miss his serious when necessary side.  I miss him.  But this IS God’s will for him and there isn’t a single day that goes by that I’m not thankful for him being where he is.

Sometimes a period of darkness is God’s will for us as well.  I’ve been there.  It’s difficult, scary and we wonder if we’ll ever make it through.  But we do and we are never alone.

I wrote an article a while back about peering into the darkness and what we see there. To read the article- click here or visit http://www.spreading-joy.org/site/peering-into-the-darkness/

What do we typically see in the darkness? 

  • Nothing…and in abundance
  • Fear
  • Intimidation
  • Hopelessness
  • Despair
  • Loneliness
  • Danger
  • Enhanced Pain (pain is always worse at night isn’t it?)
  • Discouragement
  • Shame
  • Guilt

And I literally could go on and on because “SEEING” the negative is so much easier than seeing the positive in every situation.

We forget that our darkness is another way for our Lord and Savior to remind us that HE Lives! He lives in our darkness along side of us!

 

When you peer into the darkness KNOWING that God is with you, you’ll see:

  • Peace that surpasses all understanding
  • JOY unspeakable
  • Light that brightens up the darkest of nights
  • Hope, never ending
  • Mercy, renewed each day
  • Grace, marvelous grace
  • Courage, because your Father HAS you
  • Comfort, knowing you are not alone
  • Faith, because HE will never leave you

 

It is a natural thing to fear the darkness and takes work to get to a place where we can see God there.  But like Kay tells us, it starts in the mind….

Will you surrender to God in the Darkness?  Will you believe that you will find treasures of joy, blessings and meaning there?  Will you cling to God’s promise that HE will never leave you, even when you feel completely alone?

Remember Kay’s prayer “may the pain I am in push me toward a great passion for you and a greater joy in you.”

My daughter has been fighting a painful battle for the last 5 years. She experiences flu symptoms every time she eats.  Take your worst stomach flu, the cramping, the pain and aches and the vomiting and when she eats, that is what happens.  She had about a year where she only had the pain and she celebrated that! She loved that she could eat without the vomiting and pushed past the pain and just enjoyed each day.  The vomiting is back and we have been trying to figure out what is going on for almost a year now.

Will she use this pain to fuel her passion for the Lord? I don’t know as she is 17.  She trusts Him, she still lives and serves the Lord but all of this is hard for me to process, much less a 17 year old mind.

I don’t know what God has in store for her, but I do know that HE is in control and I trust Him.

My prayer for you is that you’ll look for the good in the bad, the light in the dark and God’s hand in everything.  Treasure the beauty in the ordinary and the little things in life that make it big!

Dwell on this – What are some of the little things in your life that make it big? Do you treasure them?

Remember, I’ve got JOY in my heart, because that is where Jesus lives!

 

Prayer Requests

When you visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request, know that we have a team of women who are praying for you. In order to receive the blessing of these prayer warriors, you need to submit your prayer request. If you have a private prayer and don’t want to post it on the website, please email wbcprayers@gmail.com

Assignment For This Week

  • Read chapters seven and eight (part 3)  in your book Choose Joy by Kay Warren
  • If you are using the Participant’s Guide, complete Session Three
  • Join a LIVE CHAT via Facebook at 9PM EDT/ 6PM PDT- with Christine on Monday, Traci on Tuesday and Sunday

Choose to answer one or all of the following questions:

  1. Think about a time of deep sorrow in your life, one that has passed. What treasure did you find?
  2. “God values character over comfort, faith over fear, mercy over judgment, justice over injustice, people over possessions, truth over falsehood, humility over pride, hope over despair, love over apathy.”  Where did you see the value system of heaven in your life?
  3. What false sources of joy trap you? Is it people, places, possessions, positions or personality?
  4. What would it take for someone to describe you as a woman of joy?

Marie

 

Joy Is My Inheritance- Choose Joy Week 1

What an exciting introduction to Choose Joy by Kay Warren!  Have you ever taken time to ponder the thought that Joy IS our inheritance?  Pure joy as we walk the streets of gold, as we live in mansions prepared for us, as we finally see our Savior face to face?  That inheritance is waiting for us AND if the Lord did nothing more for us while we were here on earth, that would still be reason enough to choose joy in our daily lives!

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t stop with the joy of heaven?  The mercy and grace that He gives to us each day is simply amazing.

I love the authentic honesty that Kay Warren starts out this study with.  I love the fact that she lays it all out for us saying that Joy is a choice and that yes, even though we are Christians, we still struggle to find joy in the most difficult, darkest times of our lives.

We tend to forget about the verses that tell us to “Count it all JOY” when we face trouble, like James 1:2 reminds us to do.  Also John 16:33 tells us that we WILL have tribulation in this world, but it doesn’t end there, it also reminds us that Jesus has overcome this world.

When we are struggling to see joy in our trials and we fail to, it brings about guilt, depression and makes us wonder within our heart “why bother.” That guilt weighs us down and wears us out to exhaustion and then we are no longer effective for the Kingdom of the Lord.  If we are doing nothing but drowning in guilt and depression, then the enemy has won that battle.

Keeping in mind what Kay says “Joy and sorrow will always be linked” we can truly step back from our trials and remember Romans 8:28 “ALL things work together for good” even if we can’t see it right now, or if it’s been many years, we can always trust God to work it out for our good.

As Kay points out that yes, even though Jesus was a man of sorrow, He was also a “vibrant, compassionate man, a man of both sorrow and joy who could enter fully into life with all its brokenness.”

Let’s strive to be like Jesus this week and be:

  • A Woman of JOY through our Attitude – We can’t change what happens, but we can control how we react to various situations.
  • A Woman of Joy through our Words – Words are lasting! Good or bad, your words will linger in someone’s heart!
  • A Woman of Joy through our Actions – Jesus was a servant! As you are making a difference for others, your heart will be flooded with great joy!

As you go through your week, seeking to choose joy, remember Kay’s definition of joy.

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

What have you allowed to hold you back from living a life of joy?  Before I answer this, I want to remind you that pain is pain…regardless of what kind – it ALL hurts.  Many feel that there are big hurts, little hurts and everything in between, but, keep in mind pain hurts.

Even though I’m a pretty joyful, roll with it kind of gal, I struggle with seeing the good in the negative just like many others do.  The worst time was when my father died.  I knew it was coming, the doctors told us he had 6 months due to a worn out heart.  I tried to prepare others, get cousins, family and friends to come and see him and say what they wanted to say.  I moved in with him to help him with various physical limitations he had towards the end.

I thought I was ready.

I thought wrong. 

For nearly 2 years afterwards, I was such a deep depression that I hardly remember any of it.  There was no scrapbooking, no journaling, no nothing.  I went to work or church and came home to sleep.  That was it. It wasn’t until I started pouring myself into others that needed help, senior ladies in my church that wanted to be a “secret sister” but couldn’t afford to.  I asked people to donate things they could use and started praying more, covering the pain and guilt of not being able to “fix him.”  I knew that I had done all I could for my dad, but the loss was so great that it stole my joy for a long time.  He would not be happy with that as he was a “giver.” We never had a lot growing up, but we always gave to others and helped where we could.

Do one thing a day for someone else.  This will take your eyes off of your pain and troubles for just a little bit and allow you to see the needs of others.  Also, do something you enjoy daily.  These things do not have to require money, but the decision and determination to do them.

The lack of “Things” will try to steal your joy, people and their attitudes will try to steal your joy, and circumstances that are beyond your control will try to steal your joy – but remember…you have a choice.  You can choose joy.

It’s okay to choose joy in the middle of pain and sorrow.  It’s okay to let go of the guilt and give yourself permission to be happy.  It’s okay to say, “I don’t understand, but I believe God has me” and simply trust HIM.

Look to your inheritance, don’t focus on the fear or sorrows that surround you, focus on the Father!

Prayer Requests

When you visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request, know that we have a team of women who are praying for you. In order to receive the blessing of these prayer warriors, you need to submit your prayer request. If you have a private prayer and don’t want to post it on the website, please email wbcprayers@gmail.com

Assignment For This Week

  • Read chapters four through six in your book Choose Joy by Kay Warren
  • If you are using the Participant’s Guide, complete Session Two
  • Join a LIVE CHAT via Facebook at 9PM EDT/ 6PM PDT- with Christine on Monday, Traci on Tuesday and Marie (to be determined)

Discussion – choose to answer any or all of the following:

  1. What do you allow to hold you back from living a life of joy?
  2. What does your faith-life reveal about the depth of your relationship with God?
  3. How does it make you feel to understand that God dances over you with joy? Is that easy for you to believe? Why or why not?
  4. Share something you enjoyed from reading Choose Joy this past week.

Choose Joy Online Bible Study Starts Today!

Welcome to the Womens Bible Cafe” as we begin a four-week study based on the book Choose Joy by Kay Warren. We have more than 480+ women participating in this online Bible study. It’s not too late to join us- click here to register.

I’m so excited about this Bible Study!  Joy doesn’t come easy for many of us and with the issues that we face daily, sometimes we wonder if we’ll ever see/feel or have joy again.

The truth of the matter is that we can, and on a daily basis.  Choosing joy is possible, regardless of darkness that seems to surround you.

It is my desire that as we go through this study together you’ll not only choose joy but that you’ll daily display that the JOY of the Lord is YOUR strength!  Neh 8:10.

I know how painful day after day of troubles and trials are.  I know just how frightful and discouraging life’s issues are.  I know firsthand financial troubles, health issues with children and how the sting of unemployment affects families.  I know the loneliness and fear that can consume your heart during those times of complete darkness and sorrow.  I know how tightly discouragement holds on to you, rendering you powerless to even lift your head sometimes.   I know the pain and grief of families being torn apart and loved ones dying, never to hear their sweet voices or see their precious smile again.  I know how guilt and shame leaving you feeling like you have no right to blessings.  I know how the pain of any situation is enhanced when night falls and the silence of darkness surrounds you.

But….

I also KNOW the ONE who is right beside me as I’m struggling to choose joy and trust His will!  As I’m traveling through the darkness, HE doesn’t mind living there to protect me, to strengthen me and to guide me.

Our darkest days are no surprise to HIM.  Our tears of pain, aches of discouragement and feelings of failure are no surprise to Him.  Our anger and questions screamed at the top of our hearts because we simply don’t understand does not cause Him to worry or wonder what will happen.

I know how choosing joy through all of that is possible!

Can you imagine how your heart will be swimming in true joy, even when you wonder just how things will work out at all? 

Can you imagine the joy that others around you will experience, because joy is highly contagious?

Can you imagine living a life of joy, simply because you choose to? And we know that we can do all things through Christ. Phil 4:13.

Let’s strengthen our resolve by studying this together and choosing joy together.

Can’t wait to see you and study this with you.  Dive right in and choose joy!

Prayer Requests

When you visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request, know that we have a team of women who are praying for you. In order to receive the blessing of these prayer warriors, you need to submit your prayer request. If you have a private prayer and don’t want to post it on the website, please email wbcprayers@gmail.com

Assignment For This Week

  • Read chapters one through three in your book Choose Joy by Kay Warren
  • If you are using the Participant’s Guide, complete Session One –  if you’re not using the video DVD’s the answer key for the video sessions is on page 58-59

Group Discussion

Close your eyes for a moment. Now imagine how you would look if you experienced JOY. Where are you located, what are you wearing, are you alone or with someone else…share your image or definition of Joy by posting a comment below.

Spreading JOY Daily,

Marie