Jan.2-2013 The Joy Dare (originating with Ann Voskamp and the 1000 Gifts) Three ‘joys’ daily. To paraphrase the idea, it can either be a gratitude, a giggle,or an act of kindness,etc. We are to raise the level of joy in our world one instance at a time. So today, after just getting the kids back to school-I am grateful for their silly,happy,sleepy faces bumbling out of the car,bundled,and buoyant,straggling across the playground, eager to see friends, teachers and the environment which provides so much comfort and stability in their lives. I feel so fortunate to have genuinely good people at our truly great schools-this is a gift.
Second gift, or Joy for this day is Gratitude-or should I say the ability to tangibly FEEL gratitude. It is such a powerful force, strengthening every fiber of my being. There is scholarly research supporting the benefits of practicing gratitude. Not everyone CAN feel deep appreciation. Some can NOT feel joy, or the sense of being Blessed. With the Holidays just barely behind us, and with so many horrendous tragedies in the news lately, it is more obvious than ever that some individuals are blinded by negativity,evil,or debilitating depression and behavioral/mental health issues. Would be wonderful to say, “well, just think positive”. Not all can muster up the energy to even look up and out from the deep black hole they’ve been beaten down into. So beaten down by life that they can not even grasp their might be a better life somewhere out there. So today, even in the face of our own tremendous challenges, it is gift to honestly feel incredibly grateful for the life, the friends, the health, the family and opportunties we have today. That is a gift.
Third gift and joy today is my nifty ‘toolbox’! Toolbox you say? Yes, a while back I treated myself to a new,highly practical, handy dandy toolbox. I had inherited an old tacklebox, with broken,scattered,rusty and often damaging tools. (The symbolism here is not lost on me. In fact there is a children’s book in the works for this story.) Anyhow, I am grateful and joyful for the tools I have today, that help me fix the things that are broken and need fixing.Though I do love my ratchet screwdriver,and shiny crescent wrench, I am actually going to speak more about the metaphorical tools that are helping me today. With my eyes I can see a fresh,crisp,recently fallen layer of snow. This reminds me that nature is one way He brings us beauty,providing messages that speak to the heart of anyone willing to look for and listen to them. What I grasped from today’s blanket of white, is that this is here, pure and perfect right now, at this moment, regardless of what lies underneath, what has fallen before it and what might come tomorrow. For this moment, the snow is glistening,glorious and peaceful. It is a blank canvas sprawling across the fields, it will in time provide water for life hiding dormant underneath. Like this moment of peace, it fuels my Spirit,an emotional savings account from which I can draw upon in times of stress, or fear. To just be silent in the now, without delving into what’s under or what’s happened before I can take this blank canvas and create from it whatever I choose. This day, I choose to create an internal sense of peace,which will provide inspiration for growth, working toward a more beautiful life for my family. Nature-“God made” art, sent to us as a reminder of his Goodness and everpresent love, all around us, blanketing us in his comforting strength. I can do all things through Christ.
And because Christian messages mean so much, ,one of my ‘tools’ is to surround myself with Christian art-proverbs, snip of scripture laid over nature photography or some texture rich collage pieces. What the eye can see, what the mind takes in, becomes a part of who we are, how we think, how we see ourselves and our world. For this reason, I also incorporate inspiring music,usually local Christian radio, local artists who ‘get it’ and express their commitment to the greater good, to social justice, and to community causes. These are the folks I choose to surround myself with. These are the people I want in my ‘ village’ to help raise my children, to provide examples and be role models. Music& the arts are a huge source of strength, with the ability to transcend time and space, unifying across all boundaries. Even in the worst of times, art& music can turn things around. As a little respite in the middle of chores, we often break for creativity- turn on some tunes, break out the sketch pads, or grab some paints, or some clay, or even random assemblage stuff. So good for the Spirit. More tools for which feel deeply grateful. These are the joys that get the public nod today. And of course my most powerful tools are the Awesome friends I have all around me, even those I’ve yet to officially meet. One of these is of course the inspiration for todays “Joy Dare”, Ann Voskamp- Love you Ann, and a huge Thank You! You’ll never know how you touched my heart.
If you wish to learn more about this phenomenal woman, follow her at the link below. For now,I’ll simply say. Choose Joy, Live gratitude, practice Kindness,Be Love in action Today! http://www.aholyexperience.com