5 Steps Toward Joy in Adversity

It’s easy to lose our joy in the world we live in. 

Originally posted in ggmandy dot com on November 10, 2016 
 

Just watch the news or even just look at your own life, your failures, your unfulfilled dreams, the junk that life is throwing at you, and boom! you’ve fallen into the pit of despair. But I believe that we have a choice whether we stay there in the muck or find joy in the moment. The apostle Paul wrote of that joy sitting in a prison in Philippi. (Philippians 1:3-7) So if he can do it .. we can do it! Right? 

But how can we have joy in adversity? 

That is the question. And that is what I have been searching for this year. Let me share a few steps I am learning to take … 

1. Understand that joy and happiness are NOT the same things. 

You can have both or you can have one but not the other. The difference is the source. Happiness is a result of some outside force. It is dependent on our “happenstance”. We are happy because of what is “happening” to us. We are happy the day we graduate or get married or when we receive a gift. But joy is much different. It comes from inside of us. The scripture says … 

 The Lord is my strength and shield. 

    I trust him with all my heart. 

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. 

    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving 

Psalm 28:7 (NLT) 

If you take a look at the context of this verse (as with many of the Psalms) you will find that David was crying out to God. His circumstances were anything but good. He had enemies all around him, yet .. he was “bursting out in songs of thanksgiving”. Wow! Just knowing that the Lord was with him was enough to sustain him, to keep his joy. 

Steps Toward Joy Through Adversity: Understand #Joy and #Happiness are NOT the same Click To Tweet

2. Read a Psalm every day. 

As I mentioned before, nearly every Psalm begins with distress, speaking out the trouble he was in; but before he gets done, he is praising the Lord. There is nothing better for us than having an example set before us and the Psalms are it. Read one every day and you will be reminded of how awesome our God is. How much He loves you. 

3. Praise the Lord. 

We were created for praise. God made us for this sole purpose.

Psalm 148 says ” let every created being praise the Lord.”

Praise opens the door of communication with God. And that is what He desires. Being in His presence, in communication with Him fills us with joy. If we start looking for something to praise the Lord for, we will find it. There is always something to praise him for. I am reminded of a song the Imperials sang many years ago. “Praise the Lord“. It said,

‘When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams … Praise the Lord.” Every word of this song is on target. 

Praise the Lord by The Imperials

Let’s go back to that prison in Philippi.

Paul and Silas began praising the Lord. What happened next? An earthquake opened the prison doors, broke their chains, and ultimately the prison guard and his family were saved. That’s what happens when others see us being victorious in and through our struggles. We are always wanting God to take us out of the situation, but maybe God has placed us there to bring others to Him. 

4. Additionally, Give Joy to Others. 

shut-in crochet joy in adversity

I recall when I was single and lived far from home and family. I would get lonesome and depressed. So I would call home. Mom told me time and again, to get out and do something for someone else and it would help. You see when you give joy to others it comes right back to you. It’s one of those “reap what you sew” ideals. If we go around complaining and grumbling, we get grumbling and complaining in return. When we start doing for others and see the joy it gives them, guess what, we find that the joy rubs off on us! 

Since my health began to fail, I took up crocheting again. I learn to crochet way back in high school through the 4-H program. Never really got the hang of it. But I decided to give it a try once again. But I need a reason to crochet. So I started looking for who I could make something for. First there was a new baby, then a wedding. Then I decided I would make a shawl for all our shut-ins. That has kept me plenty busy. But here’s the catch … the absolute best part. When I finish a shawl. I can hardly wait to give it away. I am beside myself while I watch them open the package and take out the gift. And it’s not just a blessing that one moment. every time I see them, they speak again of how they love the shawl! And there it is .. abundant joy! 

5. Finally, some practical advice … 

A. Eat right. I know we don’t like to hear it; however, our tendency when we get down is to go eat a bucket of ice cream! Come on , you know it’s true. And I’m not saying that you can never eat ice cream. But do it with moderation. Slow down and eat a few bites. Be sure to enjoy it. And then get right back to eating right. 

B. Get your vitamins. Most of us are vitamin and nutrient deficient. So eat those fruits and vegetables. Resist the grains, bread, sugary desserts. You may need to have your doctor check some of those vitamin levels, such as Vitamin Bs and D. 

C. Spend some time outside EVERY day. Soak up some natural vitamin D. Take in God’s beautiful world. 

D. Do what your doctor says. Take you medications faithfully. 

E. Exercise. (Did I have to mention that one?)  Sorry. But it can help you feel better! 

Okay. I am #preachingtomyself here. But maybe you can come along for the ride and find your joy too! 

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International Day of Happiness

Originally posted on ggmandy dot com March 20, 2018

Who Knew There was a Day of Happiness?

So, today is the International Day of Happiness.

What is happiness anyway? The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines happiness as:

 : good fortune: prosperity

all happiness bechance to thee —William Shakespeare

 : a state of well-being and contentment: joy

: a pleasurable or satisfying experience 

I wish you every happiness in life.

MIriam-Webster Dictionary

The thing about happiness is that it depends on your circumstance.

You are only happy when things are going well. It is relative to your happenstance. Such as being happy on the day you graduate from high school. But that kind of “happy” doesn’t last long because your circumstances can change in an instant.

I submit that we should rather strive for joy.  The dictionary gave the same type of definition as for happiness but what they fail to tell you is that joy is not dependant on what’s happening around you. Joy can be constant in your life, regardless of the situation.

Here’s a short video where I shared what joy is and where you can find it. You might be surprised by the places where joy can be found. Take a few moments and listen in.

Scriptures from the video

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.

Philippians 3:1

You will show me the way of life,

    granting me the joy of your presence

    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 16:11

Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

Philemon 7

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!

    The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.

Psalm 41:1

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

3 John 4:4

For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.

2 John 1:12

The watchmen shout and sing with joy,

    for before their very eyes

    they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem.

Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song,

    for the Lord has comforted his people.

    He has redeemed Jerusalem.

Isaiah 52:8,9

Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,

    who have no confidence in the proud

    or in those who worship idols.

Psalm 40:4

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.

Romans 4:7

In Conclusion

In short, joy is found through accepting Jesus Christ as Your Savior. If you would like to learn more, click here.

Have a happy Joyful day!

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA
international day of happiness

He Can’t Help It

I never really knew how much Labs like water till we got our Lab. Water is life for Tucker. He seeks it out daily in his drink and for play and enjoyment.

Often on our walks, he will pause at the creek or river and “ask”. The asking looks like this: he stops and turns, looks at me, makes direct eye contact, ears are raised and set, eyes glowing as if to say “Mommy, please?”

It’s hard to resist him. So, I say “Okay, go.” And with a big smile, he runs down the bank into the river or creek. As he swims he laps up water. I laugh because I envision him trying to drink his way out of this big “bathtub”. After his drink, he finds a shallow spot and then rests.

I see his joy in being in the water, he just can’t help it. The peace and contentment I see fills me also. Reminds me to find joy and contentment in little things.

Today, where ever you may be. I hope you find a big “creek” to run into, to drink of and play in. Finding joy and contentment it just being there even though it may not last long. Soak it up, let your tongue hang out and smile.

-Finding “creeks” of contentment to enjoy today, wherever they may be.

Michele
Defiant Joy

Be Defiant in the Midst of Suffering

I recently wrote some thoughts on the Christmas hymn/poem by Henry Longfellow. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day but I didn’t finish the thoughts he shared on the Truth of the matter. Yes, life may seem drear and sad and lost. BUT GOD… and THE BELLS do ring out Truth.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, https://www.lyricsforchristmas.com/christmas-carols/i-heard-the-bells-on-christmas-day/

Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World.

I just finished a book that I have been slowly working on all year. It was sent to me by Susie Larson because I commented on her webpage. Typically when I read a book slowly, like this, it’s because I am having trouble grasping the truth and I am not wanting to accept it. (ouch!) Thankfully, I am getting it. Read on!


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The title, itself brings curiosity. Defiant Joy. It almost seems an oxymoron. But defiance can be defined as a determination. We can determine to have joy in spite of the trials and sorrows, thus be defiant for joy.

Jeremiah placed this instruction smack dab in the middle of his lamenting to God about the devastation that Israel was struggling through. Recall this scripture with me…

15 Joy has left our hearts;

    our dancing has turned to mourning.

16 The garlands have fallen from our heads.

    Weep for us because we have sinned.

17 Our hearts are sick and weary,

    and our eyes grow dim with tears.

18 For Jerusalem[c] is empty and desolate,

    a place haunted by jackals.

Lamentations 5:15-18, NLT, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=lamentations+5&version=NLT

By the time we get to the end of Jeremiah. We find him giving us hope, and beauty, and joy in the Lord.

They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem.

    They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—

the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil,

    and the healthy flocks and herds.

Their life will be like a watered garden,

    and all their sorrows will be gone.

Jeremiah 31:!2 NLT; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+31:12&version=NLT

Realize Your Need for God

Our despair is really the Spirit wooing us, showing us our need for His Mercy. Suffering reminds us that we need the Lord. We can’t get along without keeping God in the forefront of our lives. When we get off of His path, the way gets dark and lonely.

God invites us to make a turn to the right. Set our compass back on the North Star (Jesus). Get our eyes on Him and allow Him to direct our lives. Then and only then will we begin to have Hope and Find Joy in this desperate world.

Expect His Joy to Flow in and through you

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible joy.

1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+peter+1%3A8-9&version=NIV

It all depends on where our gaze is.

  • When we are looking down, we see our feet and not the rising sun.
  • When our hearts are heavy with doubt and fear, we “miss the wonder all around us“.
  • When we look to Jesus we are lifted up.
  • We receive His “courage to believe and the ability to wait on Him.

Waiting in Hope; Defiant for Joy

In the missing and the aching and the desparte pain, we will not give in to devastation. We are called to live. and eventually, miraculously, to live with joy.

Defiant Joy, Sasi Eldredge, page 196
In the missing, the aching and the desperate pain, we will not give in to devastation. #defiantjoy #pain #suffering #ancientpaths #grief @stasieldridge Click To Tweet

Don’t get bottled up in the struggle. The more we fight, the more we get entangled in the troubles of this life. We must remember how Paul said that we are pressed on every side be not crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV). When we relax and lean into the arms of Jesus, He will carry us. When we look upward and breathe in His promises, we will realize all the joy that is coming and the inheritance we will soon gain.

My visible world may scream loss, but the victory cannot and will not be held back. And because of that, because life wins and has won already, because of all Jesus won for us, I – like you- can be diafiantly joyful. I will choose it. Join me.

Stasi Eldredge, Defiant Joy, page 199

Be Defiant, Choose Joy with me.

Mandy Farmer

Next Year Be Defiant

I am going to be defiant next year. I want to determine to follow the ancient paths of God. Won’t you join me? Sign up for the newsletter (below) to receive your free calendar of Scriptures for each day in January. Share your thoughts with a hashtag #ancientpaths


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Hate is strong and mocks the song 🙁

Do you hear the sound of Christmas bells this season? Sadly, 2019 this has been the Christmas song on my mind. I look at the headlines and watch the news. It saddens me that we must be at each other’s throats. We can’t seem to find anything to agree upon. If we do, we don’t dare admit it.

Longfellow wrote this poem in the years of the American Civil War. In many ways, we are again fighting a civil war. Lives are being lost and hate grows strong. May we find peace in Christ this Christmas.

I pray that God will help us find commonality in our lives. In so many ways we all want the same things. I know that true peace will only come when Christ returns to rule the world. I ache for this day. But I also know that God is waiting so that He can save as many as possible.

Do You Hear the Christmas Bells?

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Longfellow’s Complete Poem

Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863. “Christmas Bells” was first published in February 1865, in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.

In 1861, two years before writing this poem, Longfellow’s personal peace was shaken when his second wife of 18 years, to whom he was very devoted, was fatally burned in an accidental fire. Then in 1863, during the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union Army without his father’s blessing.

Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer”, he wrote. “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good.” Charles was soon appointed as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, during the Mine Run Campaign. Charles eventually recovered, but his time as a soldier was finished.

Wikipedia

Let’s listen for the Christmas bells and find the true peace only in the Christ of Christmas.

Longfellow’s Poem Set to Music

In our hymnals, music by Jean Baptiste Calkin, 1872 sounding somewhat like this by the Spartan Dischords

Recently by Casting Crowns

May you find true peace this Christmas

Mandy Farmer

Continued Thoughts: Defiant Joy

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Finding Joy in the Pain


Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5 ESV

Finding Joy in the Hard Places

FInding Joy in the Hard Places
photo credit Canva
Modified by Mandy

Throughout my years of reading the Scriptures, this verse has been one of my favorites. It has brought such comfort and joy in so many hard places. When night fell it seemed that the problems always loomed much larger in the dark than in the light of day. And as my heart ached with the weight of so many burdens, I held tightly to the promise that the Lord would bring the dawn of His light–the night of the trial could not last forever. And He did bring such peace to my heart as I watched the light dawning in so many of those dark, hard struggles.

The Hard Place of Chronic Illness

However, when chronic illness fell upon me several years ago, I found this verse taking on a literal meaning that hit me in a new way. The physical pains brought new tears in the evening. Every time I lay down, needing rest so deeply, the throbbing would heighten. Every time I finally drifted off to sleep, a jolt of fresh pain would awaken me. And the anxiety that accompanied so many of the medications brought nightmares and levels of pain that finally left me weeping before my Lord.

“How long will this night last, Lord Jesus? When will You bring the rescue?”

Finding Joy in the Morning

Finally, every morning, when the rising of the sun would finally light up my window, I could hear His words echoing in my heart:

“Rejoice, my child! We made it through one more night! My own heart is filled with joy to see you trusting Me even here.”

I could hear His words, and I could rejoice in the sunlight, but I could not rejoice at the coming night that I knew would fall again, all too soon. Recently though, He has been asking me to offer even that pain in the night up to Him as an offering. It has made little sense to me until I came across these Scriptures recently. Words that again, I have read so many times, suddenly jumped off the page for me:

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus Feels Our Pain

Additionally, Jesus endured the cross, and suffered that shame for us, but why? For the JOY that was set before Him. He offered Himself, every pain and every burden that was taken for us, and He gave it all over to God, for the joy of bringing us to His Father. Could I offer my own pain in that same way? Could I see my own sleepless and pain-filled nights as a place of offering to Him?

“Oh Lord, how I long to be able to offer it all to you? But even that offering is too hard for me. I don’t know how I can do that.”

Into the midst of my tears, He brought His Words to me yet again. This time they were ancient words, uttered to God’s people who had been long at work, obeying the Lord to rebuild His dwelling place and the wall of protection around His city. And God had called them to celebrate their place with Him:

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

Finding Joy in the Morning Through Jesus

Consequently, it was the very answer that He had been whispering to my heart every morning. It is the JOY of the LORD that will be my strength. I cannot strive to attain that. But He has already won it for me. He bore all that pain for me, and now He is the One who can show me how to offer my own pain back to Him again and again, every dark night.

And always, the morning of HIS light of Joy will dawn in my heart, because it is His gift, His fruit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22,23 ESV

Bettie Gilbert


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Here are the featured posts from October 2019 Legacy Link-up. Kudos to Tammy Kennington and Karen Sebastian.

Most Clicked

Tammy Kennington had the most clicks last month. Go check out her post What Freedom in Christ Looks Like.

What Freedom in Christ Looks Like

My Favorite Linked Post in October

My favorite post was Karen Sebastian’s post. Karen was participating in the 30-day writing challenge. She wrote on the theme “How to Live 101 Wonderful Years” in celebration of her father. This post on Joy was a perfect segue into the November theme of joy.

How to live 101 wonderful years. Joy in the Hard Places

4 Habits of Joy-filled Marriage Book Review

I have noticed lately that there is a lot of talk about a joy-filled life in recent years. It seems at every turn you can find someone talking about finding joy. Even the Bible is filled with references on finding joy. Got Questions says that The Bible refers to finding joy over 300 times.

As it turns out, authors Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey have found there is a scientific basis behind it all.

There is no more powerful motivator in life than joy.

Chris Coursey

Warner and Coursey discuss finding this joy in their new book, The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages.


It takes a plan to achieve a joy-filled marriage

Our emotional capacity is directly proportionate to the amount of joy we have. When you have large amounts of joy, life is just better. Note here that joy is not the same as happiness as we learn in the above-mentioned article from Got Questions.

So first, what is emotional capacity? It’s the ability to bounce back after a difficult situation.

And how can I have more joy? It takes a little work but it’s really not that hard. Make a plan, just a few minutes a day for 30 days can change your whole outlook on life. Ann Voskamp shared in her book, A Thousand Gifts, that finding joy through gratitude changed her life radically. She took a few minutes a day to think of three things she was grateful for and her life has never been the same.

Chris and Marcus say we can decrease our joy gap in 30 days. Our joy gap is the amount of time between feelings of joy. The way to do this is through your own intentionality. They say if you follow the instructions in their new book, The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages and do the prescribed exercises…

“… you will almost certainly begin to see changes for the better in your marriage. If you do them for sixty or ninety days, you will develop habits that make joy the new normal in your marriage.”

OK, What’s the plan for joy-filled marriages?

I was glad to find that my husband and I have been following the plan without even knowing the plan. 🙂 We have been doing many of the things Chris and Marcus suggested and I’d say it must work because Michael and I consider our marriage joy-filled. There are four habits discussed in the book easily remembered by the acronym P.L.A.N.

  • Play together
  • Listen for emotion
  • Appreciate daily
  • Nurture Rhythm

I would say that these are quite self-explanatory. I mentioned that my husband and I feel that we have already been doing these things. Some suggestions we follow are:

  1. Going on dates. This does not have to be expensive. You don’t even have to spend money here. Take a walk. Goo.g.le “Things to do for free” in your city. You will be surprised at what you can do. Check out what we can do in Savannah. When we lived in Milwaukee, citizens could visit the museums for free on certain days. We hit these as often as we could.
  2. Listen for Emotion. Make sure when you are talking that you are actually listening to your mate. Keep eye contact. And LISTEN, don’t start thinking about your reply. Hear what they are saying to you. The book will give you some wonderful exercises to teach you to listen.
  3. Appreciate Daily. When is the last time you said, “Thank you” to your spouse? Not for the big things but the small things like taking out the garbage. Take notice when they do a small kindness and show appreciation.
  4. Nurture rhythm. This is about routine. find a routine and stick to it. Don’t continue to break the times you do have together. Michael and I always enjoy breakfast together and in the evening, we watch some tv together. These are times you have to catch up with what is happening with your spouse. This is important.

An Easy Read

You won’t have trouble reading this small book. The first three chapters explain the brain science behind it all and then how and what they have developed to helped others have joy-filled marriages.

The remaining chapters discuss the PLAN and give you plenty of simple exercises to do together. The exercises are very simple. Some of them might feel awkward at first if you haven’t already been doing them. (ie. eye smiles.) You may not be in the habit of looking into one another’s eyes but they explain how to work on it and lengthen the time.

I did get caught in the last chapter. They actually said if I was like them I hadn’t done the exercises. ha! They were right. Seriously, for us, we do these things so, in a way, we did the exercises. I would encourage you though if you need more joy in your marriage, read the book, do the exercises.

Need a more joy-filled marriage? Read the book, follow the plan, do the exercises. #joy-filledmarriages #marriage #moodypress Click To Tweet

Caution:

Men who have done these exercises faithfully with their wives have commonly reported feeling more secure and less anxious in their marriages. The same is true for women, who have reported feeling more highly valued and cared for by their husbands.

You have to be careful though. One man who went through the process wrote, “I work from home and I had to cut back on the exercises because my wife and I found ourselves in bed too much during the day and I was not getting any work done!” You’ve been warned.

The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages
Mandy Farmer

I express joy-filled gratitude to Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey along with Moody Press Publishers for providing a copy of the book. This review is my own words and not affected in any way by the publisher or authors.

Book Giveaway

Who wants my marked-up 4 Habits of Joy-filled Marriages book? You will be entered in the drawing each time you comment during November. Comment on any post during November 2019 for an entry in the drawing. Winner to be announced in the December 3 newsletter.

Speaking of Ann Voskamp

There is a free Bible Study of her book One Thousand Gifts coming up on Faith Gateway beginning November 18. Come join me to learn how to create a joyfilled-life. Sign Up Now.