Making a Joyful Livelihood: It’s No Small Potatoes

We had to fly over crystal seas, navigate the bustle of a foreign airport, and do the slow, bumpy climb to 5200 feet above sea level to discover the beauty of making a joyful livelihood. It was, and it is, no small potatoes. A joyful livelihood is a currency that transcends language barriers and economic differences, yet is something I struggle to see in my North American affluence. 

A joyful livelihood is a currency that transcends language barriers and economic differences. Click To Tweet

And I found it last week, high in the mountains of Haiti.

making a joyful livelihood

 

What’s My Livelihood?

In many ways for us, this year has been a lean one. We’ve been lean on income since I was unable to work. We are lean on friends since we are so new to the area. And we’ve been lean on activity since our energy has been spent on healing and regrowing. My livelihood no longer took the form of a pay-check, but of simple emotional sustenance to try to spread among our ranks. 

Now that is shifting, as I am stepping in to a new position. But first, my husband and I were invited to come away to the remote mountains that tower over Port Au Prince. We were asked to bring emotional sustenance to full- and part-time missionaries by leading them in worship in their heart language. I didn’t realize how refreshing that would be to them.

Our modest sanctuary housed silence and song, prayer and laughter as we worshipped together. But it was actually along the roadway that I learned about making a joyful livelihood.

Making a Joyful Livelihood

 

tinder block houseWe almost missed seeing her cinderblock house, because it was disguised by the green foliage reaching towards the hot sky. But we heard her warm voice as we picked our way along the rocky road. Her Creole words bid us to come in for a visit. There was no pretence; no scurrying to tidy up or to hide the fact that life is messy. Instead it was all welcome, just as we are.

Our guides spoke well with her in her native tongue. All the while, her daughter scrubbed clothes in a wash basin, and her grand-daughter smiled with curious eyes. This wash would be added to the clothes drying in the sun on fences and roofs.

drying clothes

The conversation was light as she asked whether we had brought them any gifts. We had not, they told her, because we were simply out for a walk. Our guide teasingly asked if she had any gifts for us, and her response made us melt. 

She said that she, indeed, wanted to give us a gift.

The Gift

My soul was a jumble of gratitude and disbelief as I watched her peel the corrugated metal sheet away from the small cinderblock shed. She disappeared inside with a giant step up, and we heard her rustling around inside. The wash continued to be washed and the curious eyes continued to twinkle life as we wondered what would happen next.

Out she came, a giant step down and laden with a heavy sack. Brown eyes beamed. Inside the bag, 20 pounds of beautiful potatoes: her livelihood. She gave joy currency in that moment, and welcomed us into it. This gift was a gift of self and sustenance. Her hands had tilled the earth to bring these potatoes to life; her back had born the weight of the harvest. Yet her storehouse was open to us.

 

In a moment of welcome and grace, we were invited into her joyful livelihood. 

 

It was more important to our new friend to give than to receive. It was more honorable to share what little she had than to hold on to it for her own hungry belly. There was pure joy in feeding the stranger in her midst, of letting joy loose with no thought of with-holding it from the wealthy.

These were no small potatoes.

Our Joyful Livelihood

God smiled on us last Friday afternoon along the rocky roads in the Haitian mountains. There was no guilt in receiving the gift, only joy. The transaction was grace as He reminded us of His provision. 

ripe unto harvest

As I move from being home back into the workforce, what will my livelihood be? Will I keep it in my storehouse, or will I deal in transactions of grace? I may never see our new friend again, and yet her potatoes have impacted me profoundly. Because what was hers was ours, no pretence or with-holding.

May my joyful livelihood be the same.

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun: It’s the Little Things (Write Thanks)

It’s Friday!! Yay! Which means it’s time for Friday Fun, because it’s often the little things in life that bring us  joy. In our first edition, we looked at my joy blend, and last week we looked at how to actually sing our thanks. Let’s stay on a roll with the theme of gratitude, and plan to write thanks this weekend.

Friday Fun - Write Thanks
Friday Fun – Write Thanks
It’s the Little Things (Write Thanks)

Who do you have in your life that you could thank for something?

  • A parent for their constant care?
  • Or a teacher for challenging you to learn?
  • A pastor who introduced you to Jesus?
  • Or a friend who holds you accountable?
  • How about that one person in your life who causes you to belly laugh every time you are together?

Most of us have people in our lives who have had a much more profound impact on us than they realize. Can we really ever thank them enough?

Challenge

So for today’s  Friday Fun, I’m giving you a little challenge. And it’s an easy one! AND I’m providing you a method to make it happen. 

In a world that is saturated with technology, sound bytes, text speak, and messages in 140 characters or less, when was the last time you wrote a note? Do you remember those things? (Once upon a time, people wrote hand-written notes, in their very own penmanship, to thank someone else.) When was the last time you sat down to write thanks to someone for the way they have invested in you, or brought you joy, or heard what you were really saying, or comforted you, or…(fill in the blank). 

You really have no idea what your words of encouragement & thanks could do. Click To Tweet

Well, now’s your chance for Friday Fun. To help you out, I’ve made two free printables for you, so you can write thanks either as a letter or a note. All you need is some paper or card-stock, an envelope and postage (or better yet, hand-deliver it!)

Download the Notecard   or   Download the Letterhead

Will you take me up on this challenge?

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun: It’s the Little Things (Sing Your Thanks)

Sing Your Thanks

Not that long ago, I wrote about how Your Joyful Heart is a Weapon to Fight for Your Joy. We can do some serious battle in song. I’m a musician, so this comes naturally to me. But sometimes it is difficult for people to actually connect the dots, to tie their story into the lyrics they are singing. It takes practice to get beyond the melody, and get in to the meat of the words, allowing them to begin to be your own life song. It takes practice to sing your thanks.

So for this week’s edition of Fun Friday, I want to help you sing your thanks. I want to help those of you who have trouble relating real life to the songs you sing on Sunday morning. This weekend, a fun (and valuable) goal for you can be to find your song. And then to sing it. Loudly!

Friday Fun - Sing your thanks

What’s Your Theme?

So what should you sing about? Well, first you need to figure out what your current life theme is. Start by asking yourself some questions, and take time to really answer them.

  • What is going on in my life right now?
  • What are my areas of celebration?
  • Where are my biggest needs?
  • What hurdles am I facing?
What’s His Character?

Now that you’ve asked yourself some probing questions, try these:

  • What do I know is true about God’s character?
  • Where do I need to see Him work in my life?
  • Where have I seen Him work in my life before?
  • Why should I trust Him?

Then start searching out some study materials about the characteristics of God you have seen at work lately, or that you really need to see now. Narrow it down to one or two qualities of God’s character.

Find Your Jam

Then take that theme into a song search. If you want help searching songs by theme, check out Praise Charts. Their detailed list can help you narrow down some songs before searching your music player for them. And whether you want to use SpotifySiriusXMEdit, Apple MusicAmazon MusicEdit, or another method to listen, what you want is to find a song that matches your current life theme. 

Sing Thanks

Now Sing!

Once you’ve found a song or two that fits your current situation, put it on repeat! 🙂 It takes time for songs and stories to harmonize! What do you hear? Is this your song? Pray through the lyrics and allow God’s Spirit to speak to you about how He is moving in you. Study how your life is woven in its storyline. Sing it as a petition, and sing it in dependence. Allow Him to remind you what to thank Him for, and declare it as your own praise. Sing your thanks, and sing it loud!

So if you decide to trust me here at  Joy Let Loose, and to find your jam for Friday Fun, you can spend the whole weekend singing your thanks. Because song is so powerful, I believe you’ll enter next week a little more joyful, and a little more confident in God’s character. Your joyful heart really is a weapon to fight for your joy. And it’s Friday – so fight at the top of your lungs!

What’s your jam this weekend?

Elizabeth Joy

How to Find Real Joy Again when Life Circumstances have Stolen it (A Blog Round-up)

Real Joy

I am so happy it is May! Spring is my favorite season: one of new life and new beginnings. But many people can’t face this season with hope. They wonder how to find real  joy again when life circumstances have stolen it. 

Find Real Joy Again When Life Has Stolen It

A Joy Blog Round-up

As I’ve been writing about my journey toward  joy, I’ve discovered other writers that are also joy-journeying. For this post, I’ve rounded up some of my new blogging friends, and asked them to tell you about their experiences. They have been finding real  joy again even when their life experiences have stolen it. Their stories are real, and their joy is contagious. I pray you will learn from them, and then take a visit to each of their blogs to see what God is up to in their lives.

Choosing Joy in Loss

Hannah at The Young Wives Club

Hannah writes over at The Young Wives Club. She shares her experience with devastating loss:

I will always remember the look on the doctor’s face when she told us we were experiencing a miscarriage.

Despite her best attempts to deliver the news with compassion, my heart sank. How could the Lord allow this to happen to us? To me? I’m not sure what stung more in that moment. The reality that our little one had not survived or that looming feeling that God had somehow gotten it wrong.

Pain has a way of blinding us to the Lord’s movements. We feel the physical and emotional oppression. We long to hear his voice, but the silence feels so alone. Regardless of how much we pray, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

For a long time, I lived in my pain. It was my identity and, begrudgingly, I allowed it to consume who I was. I didn’t want to continue in this debilitating cycle, but I couldn’t seem to find my way out. I started the believe that the Lord had forgotten me. How could this possibly be his plan for my life? And years of hurting, how could a miscarriage be added into the mix? It hardly seemed fair from my perspective and, the more I believed that I had gotten the short-end of the stick, the less I was able to relish in the  joy set before me.

You see, real  joy isn’t like happiness or grief. It’s not an emotion that comes and goes with life. Like peace, the  joy of the Lord is something we are offered continually. But we have to accept it, choose it, and embrace it despite the tumultuous waters surrounding us.

Like peace, the joy of the Lord is something we are offered continually. Click To Tweet

Just as Psalm 30:5 says, “Pain may last for the night, but  joy comes in the morning.” The morning doesn’t necessarily mean we are delivered from our circumstances. Though it would be nice to be instantaneously delivered, the “morning” is the result of us choosing to be joyful regardless of everything else that is going on.

Joy comes in the morning. In that ER, I didn’t believe that joy would ever come, but the Lord was gracious and through that grace, I learned to choose joy over my pain. I found freedom from the oppression and encountered Christ’s strength to carry on.

Joy Again, Even After Infidelity

Joy after Infidelity

We learn Esther Hosea’s humble and vulnerable story of  joy restored in marriage at His Dearly Loved Daughter:

When I discovered Your Words, I devoured them. They are my  joy and my heart’s DELIGHT, for I bear Your name, Oh Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Jeremiah 15:16)

My story is pretty simple.  I fell in love with and married a man who has suffered most of his life with addiction, rebellion, and pride.  I knew little of these struggles when I married him.  Despite the monster that hid in the secret depths of his heart and mind, we were always crazy about each other.  

Through the nearly 17  years of our marriage he see-sawed back and forth between two personalities: The secret one who went out into the world and did what he wanted; and the one who came home to me. He was able to close the dark monster in a drawer and walk away, forgetting he even existed.  He wanted to follow God the rest of the time and we built an ideal life together.

But our God is a God of truth and He does not allow what is hidden to stay that way.  Over many painful years He showed me exactly what I was dealing with and I realized that the man I had loved with all my heart had been very unfaithful.  It was devastating.  Earth shattering!  I found myself completely robbed of my  joy for a brief season because my eyes could focus on nothing apart from my pain.

I am the daughter of the High King of Heaven, though, and He does not leave His dearly loved daughters alone in their misery.  He pursues them with relentless love.  Like Jeremiah in the verses above, I devoured the Word of God through those dark months.  As I did, I found my joy restored.  

The Bible reveals so much about who God is, and what He has done for us.  As we read it, we begin to realize His magnitude; to look up in awe at the Mighty One, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!  We realize how very small we are, how insignificant in the scope of eternity.  And then, we see what He did for us.  We see that even though we are nothing (wretched, worthless sinners) this mighty, all-powerful God died in our place!  Why?  Why would He do that?  It’s ridiculous!  

He did it because He loves us, and wants to have a relationship with us.  Plain and simple.  Because we matter to Him.  I am so humbled!  It causes my heart to sing!  It fills me with unspeakable  joy!  I might often feel unloved here in this world, but the Lord God Almighty loves me!  He chose me!  I am in awe!

Writing Joy in Pain

 

Desiree at Making Joy Contagious

Desiree is intent on Making Joy Contagious on her blog. Hear part of her story about seeking joy even in incredible physical pain:

For the last 20 years, I have been praying, seeking and journaling with God through my struggles. It has been an awesome journey seeking Him for my marriage, children, heart, and His strength. It has taught me a myriad of things about myself. Things I wanted to know and things I could do without. I’ve found peace in times of trouble. I have found a breath of fresh air where darkness wanted to creep in. 

I have found a breath of fresh air where darkness wanted to creep in. Click To Tweet

At times when I felt I couldn’t go another day, prayer and journaling reminded me He (My Lord) is always there. Staying in His word kept me in a daily conversation, where God continuously filled me with His abundant, real  joy.

Seeking His  joy provided me the comfort when trials seemed like impossible mountains to climb. It provided me peace when my body was ill with cancer or in pain (did I mention years of pain). And it filled me with love when I sought to be loved in the world and by the world (divorce). 

In my circumstances I chose Him through prayer and journaling each and every time. I chose to seek His real  joy because He has a divine plan for my life and it was the only thing that brought me peace. 

I know today that my peace has come because I have sought Him and have allowed Him to comfort me and give me strength regardless of my circumstances. Seeking His Joy has become a daily action of prayer and journaling that has kept me connected to something so much greater than myself. In His presence I have  found an inward peace and contentment regardless of the circumstances.

Today, in my blog I share these prayers, because God has asked me to. They were a private part of me but I know now after so many medical trials and struggles that my struggles were intentional and purposeful. They have brought me to this place right here where I can share with others on finding His real  joy and living fully in His presence regardless of what life throws at you and not allowing anything to steal what God has designed just for you today.

We are His masterpiece…so begin your journey today by praying, seeking and meeting Him as much as possible with pen and paper through the pain.

 

Seeing Joy in a Disability

Jerusha

Jerusha shares her vulnerable journey over at Beauty in the Broken. Today we hear about finding joy in a disability:

Living with a disability can sometimes steal your  joy. There are uncertainties about your future. There are limitations on your lifestyle.  Inconveniences are peppered throughout your days. Add all of these together, and it can often leave you feeling hopeless, helpless and unhappy.

I have felt all of these things. I was diagnosed with an untreatable disease last fall that is slowly stealing my mobility, my energy and my patience. I’ve lost my  joy a time or two. I’ve cried a lot of tears from deep within my soul. What happens when a happy-go-lucky person isn’t happy anymore?

There was a time when I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again. But then I remembered something that is easy to forget. I remembered I have  joy in Jesus. This is not a fleeting  joy. This is an everlasting joy. In James 1:2-4 it says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great  joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

My greatest  joy comes through suffering. I know it’s hard to understand, in fact, it took me quite some time to realize this myself. How does one find  joy in the midst of suffering? The answer is Jesus. I believe that I was gifted with this disability because God’s plan for my life is more important than my plan. It far greater than anything I could have imagined. When I stop and think about this, I find great  joy that God has chosen me to show his glory through my disability. God chose me.

There is great  joy in knowing that God hand-picked me for a purpose. Even in suffering, we can rejoice. Because we serve a great God who has great plans.  And so I rejoice in Him and His goodness. My favourite way to rejoice in Him is to play my favourite worship music and sing along. Sometimes, I don’t feel like singing. But I close my eyes, listen to the words, and something changes. My heart seems lighter. And out of that, springs a  joy that overflows. From that spring of  joy comes contentment. And just like that, this happy-go-lucky girl is happy again.

Real Joy Again
How About You?

I’m so thankful to my fellow bloggers today for sharing their struggles and their real joy so vulnerably with you today. Visit each of their blogs for more encouragement. Here are four practical steps that can help you recover stolen joy:

  • Choose real joy over pain
  • Find God in His Word
  • Commune with Him as you pray and journal
  • Pour yourself out to Him in worship

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun: It’s the Little Things (My New Joy Blend!)

Today’s a great day for a joy blend. It’s a little cool and dreary outside. The Friday tornado siren practice is back in full swing for the season. If those things want to scream out this morning with their warning rehearsal, I think maybe joy should outdo it. What do you say?

 Friday Fun

Today I’m introducing to you Friday Fun. The topic of joy, and pursuing a joyful life can (at times) be daunting and large. There are just so many things in our world that try to drown out our joy. So, diligently chasing after the joy we were designed for is a big deal. And I’m okay with that. (Hence, articles like this and this!) But much of our joy can be found in the little things too. The little things we sometimes overlook. The small moments we sometimes are too rushed to perceive.

Enter Friday Fun! What if, each Friday at  Joy Let Loose, we simply slowed down to look at one little thing that can bring joy to us during the coming weekend? After all, joy is found and expressed in laughter and little moments. So, on Fridays, be watching for ideas for activities or recipes, conversation starters or gifts, home ideas, getaways or games. 

 

Friday Fun - Joy Blend

 

Joy Blend

Over the last several months, I’ve been learning more about essential oils. I launched into a new world when I got a diffuser for my birthday. I’m a newbie, but have experimented with blends for focus & energy, relaxation, mood enhancement, and respiratory health. I’ve learned some great uses for Tea Tree oil, Peppermint, and Frankincense. 

But on this dreary Friday morning, I discovered an awesome new  joy blend  that I think is one of my new favorites. In each of my diffusers, I used 4 drops of grapefruit, 3 drops of bergamot, and 3 drops of ylang ylang.

  • GRAPEFRUIT Essential Oil is widely popular for its many benefits, including helping with circulation and digestion, reducing sugar cravings and candida. As an aromatic, it is reduces stress, improves focus, and has a positive impact on mood.
  • Bergamot essential oil is another citrus, often used to help indigestion, muscle tension and headaches. As an aromatic, it is an anti-depressant, and it helps to relieve anxiety.
  • Ylang ylang, from the yellow flower of a large (beautiful!) tree, improves immune and cardiovascular health. As an aromatic, it increases energy and helps lower blood pressure.

Fun Friday Joy Blend

Reduced stress + improved focus + positive mood enhancement + anxiety relief + anti-depressant + increased energy + lower blood pressure = definitely worth trying out this Fun Friday! 

 Joy Blend on the Go!!

We are house-hunting these days. Now, I love house-hunting, but when you look at dozens and dozens in the span of a few days, sometimes you start going a little squirrelly. And I decided yesterday that I need some joy on the go. So I picked up something like this! It’s an itty-bitty essential oil diffuser for my car. I’m taking joy on the road with me now as I house shop ’til I drop. The verdict is still out on its effectiveness. But on its trial run last night, I’d say it was helping! 

Thanks for joining me for Friday Fun! It really is the little things, and Fridays are for staying simple and light. My new joy blend is wafting through my house as I write, and I hear the levity in my homeschool teens’ moods even now. So I think it’s working. 🙂

Have an awesome Friday, and a joyful weekend!

Elizabeth Joy