Please welcome my dear friend Mary Carver to the blog today! Mary is one of those people I can count on absolutely—we all need those, yes?—and I’m so stinkin’ happy for her on the release of her new book, Choose Joy, which brings the inspiring words and life of our late friend and fellow (in)courage contributor Sara Frankl to a broader audience.
Three years ago Dawn and I shared a room at the Allume Conference. While we were there we both talked to a literary agent. Dawn was brave enough to follow up with him much sooner than I did and, as a result, she has paved the way for my first steps into the world of publishing.
I’ve shared at (in)courage that I’ve chosen “joy” as my One Word for 2016. And even though my friend (and Dawn’s!) Sara Frankl passed away in 2011, her influence is still very much present as I focus on that word and what it means for my life – and as I publish my first book as Sara’s co-author.
As I worked on the book that tells Sara’s story and shares her message of hope and joy, I was amazed and moved to read about the incredible strength Sara drew from her faith. That inner strength allowed her to withstand immeasurable pain both physical and emotional — and to choose joy through it all. I invite you to read an excerpt of our book today, where Sara considers how to find joy in the small moments of the everyday.
Sometimes we get lucky and joy just knocks us upside the head. It’s cozy and comforting and we sometimes take for granted that it will always be available and waiting for us at the end of a hard day. But more often than not, joy is hidden in the cracks, in the unforeseen places God builds into our hardest times.
I’ve been thinking about praise, my one word for the year. And what I’ve come to realize as I’ve been thinking about praise and how I’ve focused on it more intentionally is that it all comes down to this: My praise is in direct relation to the thankfulness in my heart. And my thankfulness in all things needs to be in equal measure.
Take, for instance, the day I walked out and saw the “Extreme Home Makeover” some of my family did to my new living space. That was pretty much joy smacking me right in the face and flipping me upside down and backward. Same with people helping me to get a new bed that has made life so much more livable for me. I would have to have been dead not to have my heart beat double time in the happy department.
But just because those things were extraordinary and provided a rush doesn’t make them more praise-worthy than the everyday moments of my life.
It’s like walking into a restaurant and having dinner with 10 of your best friends. Now, picture yourself walking into the restaurant and being surprised by those 10 friends on your birthday. The first gives you a warm feeling of being surrounded by people you love; the second produces heart-stopping surprise and a rush of joy because of the unexpected. But at the end of the day they are the same friends, and you have the same gratitude for who they are in your life.
I think sometimes we get stuck on the rush. We’re stuck needing something to hit us over the head and scream, “Something good just happened!” for us to really stop and take notice. But the reality is that when I stop in my moments and give praise to God, my heart feels the same when I am thanking Him for my room as it does when I’m thanking Him for the sparrow that landed on my feeder.
That’s because both are results of His eye being on me as much as it is on that sparrow.
God has given me loving and attentive people in my life who provided a bedroom makeover and comfortable bed. He also has given me birds that sing to me in the morning and fly around to remind me that life exists beyond these walls. He lets the thunder roll – and reminds me of His magnitude. He gives me the ability to walk to the kitchen – and reminds me I will always have the strength I need when I need it.
How do you turn gratitude into praise? How do you find joy in the everyday?
If you enjoyed this excerpt from Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts, you can learn more about the book and its authors at TheChooseJoyBook.com. CHOOSE JOY is now available in paperback everywhere books are sold!
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY, visit TheChooseJoyBook.com.
Photo source: James Walters.