Saturday, January 25, 2014
Take the Joy Dare
Occasionally in my reading life, I find a voice that resonates with me. Someone whose words mine my own thoughts, sometimes thoughts I never knew I had, and express them in ways I never could. It's a rewarding experience, one that makes me feel connected and like I have a friend out there in the world, someone who really gets me. Margaret Atwood, for instance. I simply adore her books. She speaks my language. I have this feeling that were we ever to meet in "real" life, we would be instant best friends and never spend another day apart. (Marge, if you're reading this, give me a call!)
Ann Voskamp is another of those voices. She has inspired me to do two things: 1) Take the Joy Dare. 2) Share it with you. Every Saturday, she posts something called "Only the Good Stuff" (link is to today's). Uplifting, encouraging, good stuff from the internet. I love this. I need this! And I learn about so many incredible stories and people and new songs. This week's really hit home for me in the story about a disabled girl and her older brother. If you read/watch only one thing in her post, watch that one!
Inspired by her "Only the Good Stuff", I am going to post each Saturday (ideally) and share four or five of my "joys" from the week. Ann's Joy Dare charges her readers to count their gifts, three each day. By the end of the year, that adds up to over a thousand gifts! (1,095 to be exact.) The idea is that if we continually ponder the blessings in our lives, we put them before our eyes and see God's goodness in every day, especially the days that seem less than good. Her templates have prompts for those days when I'm not feeling so joyful. I consider "Three gifts blue" and suddenly I find blessings I hadn't seen yet. I know God has taught me that having joy in life is a choice, that even when our circumstances seem perfect, we can choose sorrow, that even when our circumstances seem dire, we can choose joy. That, in fact, joy is the center of our purpose and worth fighting for.
I'm not sharing *all* of my gifts because some of them are silly and some require explanation and I'm just not committed to listing them all out. But I want to share some of them because I want to put God's blessings in my life before your eyes, so you can see God's goodness in every week and be inspired to find it in your own little corner of the world.
So, from this past week, five gifts in my life:
1) The ring around my son's eyes. My eyes are brown. Just simple, not exciting brown. I have never minded this, but I love meeting someone with exciting eyes. An interesting color or pattern or ones that change depending on what they're wearing. Mine aren't any of these things, but they have a ring around them. A dark ring that changes sizes depending on how big my pupils are. My son has this, and as much as he looks like his daddy, I love looking into his eyes and seeing a piece of me.
2) A late-night snow. It had been a crazy-busy week and I found myself waiting desperately for my husband to come home from his closing shift at the coffee shop. He walked in the door and I exhaled loudly with relief (ever find yourself holding your breath without realizing it? that was me...) and he said, "It's snowing. Like, really snowing!" Immediately I grabbed my two-year-old son and a big blanket and we ran outside to catch snow flakes on our tongues. My son looked at me with such surprise and excitedly said, "Dart ow. Nooooo!!!!!" ("Dark out. Snow!!!!!") I loved how he was surprised that we would go out when it was dark (we rarely do) and I love that the way he said "snow" sounded like he was excitedly shouting "no". It was a precious moment with my boys.
3) A new covenant, not the law. My reading in Hebrews left me pondering the comparison between the Old Testament covenant and the new covenant with Jesus. The new covenant, the one we are a part of, throws off the trappings of the law and puts it all on Christ. What a blessed freedom! It stirred up such a thankfulness in my heart for a High Priest we can truly lean on, trust in, and live through.
4) Getting all the laundry done in one day. This is a victory, a big one! Four people (even two of them tiny) produce a lot of laundry. Getting it all washed, dried, folded, and put away in one day is practically unheard of in my life! We celebrate every victory around here, even the *little* ones :)
5) Winnie the Pooh. I know this might seem crazy, but that silly ol' bear really saved us the last couple weeks! My son had a pretty bad cold and just wanted to sit on the couch and not move. Very unusual for a little boy who barely sits down most days! Pooh bear kept us company and made us laugh. I'm thankful for this simple thing that both of us can enjoy. Its innocence and imagination inspire me and my kiddo.
There you have it! Joys from my week. Consider taking Ann's Joy Dare. It has become one of my favorite parts of the day, to list out the unique ways God has blessed me each day. If nothing else, when the skies look grey and bleary (as they currently do at our house -- more snow coming?), turn your mind to the sun. It's always shining, even when you can't see it!