Choosing Joy

lilac“It’s rebellious, in a way, to choose joy, to choose to dance, to choose to love your life. It’s much easier and much more common to be miserable. But I choose to do what I can do to create hope, to celebrate life, and the act of celebrating connects me back to that life I love. We could just live our normal, day-to-day lives, saving all the good living up for someday, but I think today, just plain today, is worth it. I think it’s our job, each of us, to live each day like it’s a special occasion, because we’ve been given a gift. We get to live in this beautiful world… I want to say, “What can I do today that brings more beauty, more energy, more hope?” Because it seems like that’s what God is saying to us, over and over. “What can I do today to remind you again how good this life is?”

– Shauna Neiquist, Cold Tangerines

Isn’t this beautiful? Shauna’s words have deeply resonated with me, and I find myself coming back to her books and her words over and over again for perspective and inspiration. I long to choose joy every moment of my day and of my life, and that’s one of my biggest goals and hopes in life. I want to honor God with my outlook and perspective; with my actions and words; with my love, grace, and joy to others.

Book | Bread & Wine

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As you know, I love recommending books to others… if I read a great book, I can’t wait to share it with those who I also think would enjoy it! Someone recently recommended Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist to me, and as soon as I read the summary, I immediately added it to my Amazon shopping cart. Though Bread & Wine was a quick read, it was filled to the brim with insight and anecdotes and descriptions that I adored. Shauna Niequist’s writing style and subject matter were incredibly appealing to me, and I couldn’t read Bread & Wine fast enough. And how perfect is it that the book is described as “a love letter to life around the tables with recipes”? Sure sounds like a perfect book to me!

 

Gratefulness

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Gratitude and thanksgiving are two of the most important foundations in life, I firmly believe. I discussed ways to sincerely cultivate gratitude in your life, something I have been passionate about for a very long time. If we’re not giving thanks for the things we have and the blessings we have received, then we’re being ungrateful or complaining or always desiring more. I have so much. SO much. And yet it’s easy for me to slip into the downward spiral of comparison or envy or greed or simply wanting more and more. But when I stop and take a hard look at my life, I am overwhelmed with all that I do have. Being continually aware of all that you have in your life (big things and little things alike) is a critical piece in gratefulness and gratitude.

I stumbled upon this quote when the incredibly inspiring Lara Casey sent out her November newsletter, and it hit me hard. I love the simplicity – and the eloquence – of this: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” YES! I am in no way perfect, but I try each and every day, and in every moment, to be deeply and profoundly grateful for all that that I have and all of the blessings that I have so graciously received from the Lord. Without Him, I am nothing. Without his love and his grace and his generosity, I have nothing.

In this season of Thanksgiving, it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and in to-do lists, but I want to try to stop and simply be. To think and remember and reflect on the extravagant ways that I am grateful and thankful. To reflect on the people in my life that I love tremendously and who love me back. For the sunrises and the bountiful Thanksgiving meal and the warm home and the laughter and the steady paycheck. I am blessed, truly – and I am so very grateful for it. And there are things that I want, things that are deep desires. But we are commanded to “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.” So even when something is missing or I feel discontentment or disappointment or rejection, I am GRATEFUL. I want to remember, all the time, to give thanks to the Lord & to rejoice in Him. Instead of worrying or comparing or complaining, I want to reflect on and give deep thanks for all that I do have in my life, as I have abundantly more than I could ever ask or receive. I do not need more _____ (whatever it is you think you want!) to live a full life. I thankfully have a very full life, indeed. When I am grateful for what I do have, I no longer need more because I realize that what I have is enough. It’s more than enough. Truth! I am giving due praise and thanks when I stop wanting more just to want more. Gratitude is a definite way of praising Him from whom all blessings flow.

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