How to Live a Life that Overflows with Thankfulness

Last Monday I had my second opportunity to lead in prayer on Facebook Live. It was the fifteenth day of  21 Days of Prayer for Waterline Church, where I am the Director of Relational Arts. You know, I absolutely loved my time leading online and experienced fantastic engagement with the people who joined me live. We talked about how to live a life that overflows with thankfulness.

How to live a life that overflows with thankfulness

Thankfulness

The theme that book-ends each week of our 21 Days is  thankfulness. Therefore, we begin and end each week with gratitude. The Scripture I shared was Colossians 2:6-7.

 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7 NLT)

I love how the Message words this same passage:

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6-7 MSG)

 

#BOOM

Paul paints a clear correlation here:

Rooting + Building our lives in Christ  —>  Strong Faith + Thankfulness

I believe most of us want to be thankful people. And I think many of us want to have strong faith. But it’s hard to muster those things up. It seems they depend on our rootedness in Christ, which leads to lives built up in Him – living Jesus.

When we begin to live Jesus, to truly walk out the things we’ve learned (from the Word, from our Pastors, from our worship songs, from others’ life stories), then our faith grows, and we become thankful people.

Does that sound scary to anyone? Doesn’t walking out what we’ve learned mean stepping out before you are sure God will catch you? Isn’t that kind of like jumping out of the plane before you know for sure the parachute is going to open up?

 

That’s faith, my friends.

Faithfulness is one of the spiritual fruit listed by Paul in his letter to the Galatians.

Spiritual fruit grows naturally in people rooted in Christ. Click To Tweet
Fruit

One of my sons likes to grow things.

At any given time, we could have potted plants from pineapples and cantaloupe to avocados and tomatillos in various stages of growth around our house and patio. I don’t know if any of you are gardeners, but I’ve noticed that sometimes fruit grows v-e-r-y slowly. After all, nurturing young plants requires incredible patience and diligence. And it generally helps if he keeps going back to check them, care for them, and assess their progress.

Sometimes I think our spiritual fruit grows in us so incrementally that I wonder if we even notice. And I wonder if we forget to keep track of its progress.

So, I want to help us notice fruit.

Monday evening, during prayer time for the 21 Days of Prayer our church is walking through on Facebook Live, I issued a challenge I’d like to extend here too. Instead of looking for external things to be thankful for (let’s face it, there are a TON), instead, why don’t we start to look internally for some fruit to thank God for?

Overflowing and Spilling Over

Did you notice that Paul said our thankfulness would overflow? The Message version says, “spill over.” That means it comes from the inside. And it can’t be contained.  After all, things that overflow come out from somewhere, and can’t be held in any longer.

So what’s on the inside? What’s going on inside of us that might begin to spill out thanks? 

One key to natural gratitude is being diligent to acknowledge and express what God is doing in us. Click To Tweet

Now, an incredibly important discipline for the joy-seeker and the one who wants to be grateful is to  look for things to be thankful for. So let’s start the inward search. Let’s take inventory of our fruit – the ones that are ripe, and the ones just blossoming.

Notice Fruit and Discover Thankfulness

 

Printable to inventory your spiritual fruit

 

Download the free printable

As you take your time considering each of these spiritual fruit, allow God to direct your thoughts. Important: Recognize that our fruit doesn’t grow all at once. Often we are in a season where God is helping us to grow just one type of fruit. Other times several types might be growing at once, but you’ll still find it s-l-o-w.

How do you start?! Survey your day today. Do you notice you reacted differently to any situations than you might have a few months ago? Think about conversations, or your inner thoughts. Do you have a sense of contentment where there used to be anxiety? Do you notice you have been able to be more kind to someone difficult in your life?

Where are you changing?

Then, as you notice that you indeed have grown, even if it is just a small amount of growth, begin to celebrate that! Speak it out to the Lord. Write it in this Colossians 2:6 journal, leather notebook, or on the printable above. And tell a prayer partner or friend.

Let your living spill over into thanksgiving. 

 Live a life that overflows with thankfulness

Habits take time to form. So I invite you to keep today’s printable handy. Let it remind you to go back to the garden again and again. Assess growth, nurture and cultivate it. And with every new leaf or new blossom, thank God – loudly! Praise Him that fruit is growing and you are living Jesus.

Those who do overflow with thankfulness.

Elizabeth Joy

Reclaiming Joy: 3 Prayer Prompts to Help You Find Joy Again!

Sometimes we straight up need some prayer prompts for reclaiming  joy. We need guidance how to navigate this life and all its unexpected happenings with a perspective that is hopeful. If you agree, read on…

 Reclaiming Joy

Life is Hard. We need to actively work at reclaiming joy. Take the 3 Prayer Prompts challenge to find your joy again.

Hope doesn’t necessarily come naturally to many of us. Rather, it often lives trampled in the dirt of disappointment. So we need help to pick it up, dust it off, and then walk in it.

There are things in our lives that seem to thrive on stealing our joy and our hope. Discouragements, doubts, heartbreak, and fears all connive to strip the joyful person of a hopeful heart and render him or her joyless. We wonder if we will ever find our way back up again.

But it is not our destiny to remain there, my friend.

In fact, Scripture tells us to rejoice and be glad, because our reward in Heaven is so great (Matthew 5:12). And it says to rejoice in the Lord at all times, and always be full of the joy of the Lord! (Phil 4:4)

Is that even possible?

Well, I suggest it is, but we have some work to do to get there. We need to be on mission reclaiming joy if we haven’t been living a rejoice-always kind of life.

We need to get on mission reclaiming joy if we haven't been living a rejoice-always kind of life. Click To Tweet
Rejoice Always

So, let’s start small.

What if, for the next 3 days, you chose to be deliberate about reclaiming joy?

What if, for the next 3 days, you chose to be deliberate about reclaiming joy? Click To Tweet

 What if, no matter what life threw at you in those 3 days, you grabbed this goal by its seemingly impossible horns, and didn’t let go, not for one stinking second? Or if you did, you grabbed right back on to it again? What if?

Are you up for that challenge?

If you are, then I applaud you. And I want to encourage you in it! I’d love for you to join in the discussion over on my Joy Let Loose Facebook community. Could your reclaiming joy journey impact others?

If you aren’t up for the #ReclaimingJoy challenge yet, then I also applaud your honesty, and pray you will take the time to prepare for it. You can jump in anytime!

The #Reclaiming Joy Challenge

Each day, as early as you can, set aside 15 minutes to spend by yourself. This time is similar to The Morning Joy Challenge. But this time, we are on an even more specific mission.

  • Quiet your mind, breathe deeply, and spend a few moments simply relaxing. Then move in to the Prayer Prompt for the day. The printable below is to help you.

Reclaiming Joy Infographic

Download it here!

  • Read the verse several times, slowly. Allow certain words to stand out to you. Look them up, if you want to. This is a good resource for that (simply type the English word in the top search bar.)
  • Focus your thoughts, and then your prayer, on something that stands out to you. Ask God to show you where this particular verse is applicable in your own joy journey. Confess the areas where you have with-held yourself from Him, or deliberately gone another way. Acknowledge areas where you know you are already maturing. Re-read the verse, and ask the Lord to help you lean in to Him today. Plan for hope!
  • Then as you go about your day, remain conscious of how God is with you.
  • Finally, at the end of the day, revisit the morning’s Prayer Prompt. God may show you something you hadn’t noticed before.
What’s next in Reclaiming Joy?
  1. If you are taking the reclaiming joy challenge, let us know in the comments below!
  2. And after you’ve focused on your #ReclaimingJoy prayer prompts over the next three days, I’d love for you to report your progress either in the comments, or in the Facebook Community.  We need community to spur us on! Use the hashtag #ReclaimingJoy.
  3. And, if you haven’t yet, subscribe to  Joy Let Loose to receive even more Prayer Prompts in your inbox. I won’t be spammy – I promise!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Believing in you as you begin #ReclaimingJoy!

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun (It’s the Little Things): Fancy Progressive Dinner

The weekend is here, which means it’s time for Friday Fun on  Joy Let Loose! This week I was remembering a Fancy Progressive Dinner my husband and I were part of many years ago. And I thought, “Why on earth have we not done that again?!” Because it was REALLY fun!

So because I want to do it again, I want to share it with you and invite you to think about doing it too! 

Fancy Progressive Dinner

Fancy Progressive Dinner

First, start by planning out your guest list. Who would really get into something like this? Is there a family you are trying to get to know? Add them in! This will work best with about four couples (or families) who live relatively close to each other.

Then, create your invitations digitally, or on paper.

Here’s what you might want to say:

It’s time for some Friday Fun!

What: Fancy Progressive Dinner

When: Friday, _________

Where: All of our houses!

  • Family #1 provides their home and the appetizers from 5:30-6:15pm
  • Family #2 provides the main course at their home from 6:30-8:00pm
  • Family #3 provides dessert and coffee a their home from 8:15-9:15pm
  • Family #4 provides their home & munchies/games from 9:30-end.

It’s going to be Fancy! So let’s pull out our best dishes and put on our fanciest clothes for a night on the “town”.

The Menu

Next, work together with the other people (a week or two in advance) to co-ordinate your menu. You want to find items that complement each other well, but also have options that work for everyone. Once the items are finalized, create menu cards to display on each table. I’ve created a sample menu you can use if you like it!

Fancy Progressive Dinner Menu

Download the PDF free!

The set-up

A while back, I posted about Family Traditions. Several of them could come in to play with this Friday Fun activity, including helping your kids learn how to properly set the table, and having conversation starters at each house. After all, it is never too early (or too late!) to learn proper etiquette, and the safety of friends’ homes is a great place for that. Also, spills and broken dishes are always forgivable; lifelong lessons need practice.

Spills and broken dishes are always forgivable; lifelong lessons need practice. Click To Tweet
Other ideas

There are as many ways to do a Fancy Progressive Dinner as there are people to dream them up. Get creative! Here are just a few ideas to start you off:

  • Base your evening on a Roaring Twenties theme, complete with swing jazz, mint juleps, and Gatsby-inspired fonts.
  • Follow an Indian theme, including flavorful curries and sweet punjabi lassi.
  • Make it a black-tie night, and make all of your decor black & white.
  • Incorporate a mystery party that requires numerous locations.

The possibilities are endless!

Fancy Progressive Dinner Follow-Up

Finally, it’s always a great idea to follow up a dinner party with a proper “Thank You!” And in this case, where several families had to open their homes and provide part of the meal, I’d suggest it is a definite must! Allow leftover menu cards to double as Thank You notes, and pop them in the mail 1-2 days after the event. Because the more you can show people value, the more they are built up. And the more people are encouraged to open their homes and build community, the more they will desire it. After all, it’s in the little things that we often discover joy. And it’s in community that we best let our joy loose.

It’s your turn: Have you done a progressive dinner before? What ideas do you have? Leave a note in the comments below.

Elizabeth Joy

 

 

4 Lies that Steal Our Joy (& the Truth that Sets Us Free)

Joy is real. It’s an actual wellspring that can sustain us, strengthen us, and spill over to people around us. Joy is promised to us in Scripture, so why do so many of us feel we have lost it? What is it that comes along to steal our joy?

A primary reason is that there is an enemy that is real whose goal is to steal our joy. His lifeblood is to steal, kill and destroy. His nature is to lie. What greater power could he have over us than to deceive us, stripping us of confidence, and silencing our wellspring of joy?

Thankfully, we can identify lying thoughts, take them captive, and make them obedient to Christ. For the good of our souls, it is absolutely essential that we name the lies, and replace them with Truth.

For the good of our souls, it is essential that we name lies and replace them with Truth. Click To Tweet

 

At  Joy Let Loose, we passionately pursue the kind of life that explodes with joy. So we want to help identify 4 Lies that Steal Our Joy (& the Truth that Sets Us Free.) It takes practice, and often a whole lot of accountability, to recognize, name, and replace the lies. But I promise you that freedom and joy lie on the other side!

4 Lies that Steal Our Joy
(& the Truth that Sets Us Free)

4 Lies that Steal Our Joy

 

  • Lie #1:  I am less than… 

Oh, how easy it is to look at ourselves in light of everyone else! It’s incredibly simple for the enemy to gain access to our perspective as soon as we begin to evaluate how _____ we are compared to anyone else. Have you experienced this?

                                      I’m not:

pretty enough

smart enough

thin enough

energetic enough

spiritual enough

young enough

______ enough…

It takes very little time for a comparison mindset to steal the wind from our sails and suck our joy dry. But Scripture is clear that we only need to see ourselves in light of Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul says that if we follow Jesus, then the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are God’s children, and co-heirs with Christ. As a co-heir, we are joined with Him–adopted as God’s sons and daughters–and compared only to Him.

Truth: I Am Enough

God says that we are enough.  Psalm 139 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s gift of grace in Jesus Christ to rescue us from sin and transform us in to His likeness demonstrates pure, unrestrained love.

The next time the lie comes to your mind that you are not ____ enough, capture it. Name it as a lie. And replace it with the Truth that God sees you, chooses you, and loves you enough to call you His own son or daughter. He sees you as welcome and wonderful enough to join with Jesus.

God sees you, chooses you, and loves you enough to call you His own son or daughter. Click To Tweet

 

  • Lie #2:  I don’t have enough…

I’ve lived lots of places. Most of them have been in (North American) depressed economies. But God recently called us to minister in a very wealthy area. Feeling out of place? A little! But I’ve found that it doesn’t matter whether I live around luxury or lack, the enemy still likes to throw darts about it.

When I had to rely on WIC to afford milk for our kids, I thought, “I don’t have enough.” When we struggled to pay for car repairs or to fill the tank, “I don’t have enough.” When our oil bill exceeded our mortgage payment…same thoughts.

But in those seasons of scarcity, God proved again and again that He is enough. His repeated, miraculous provision through the hands of the generous showed me that, in fact, I had so much that I could overflow it to others. When bank statements made no sense, still there was just enough for us not to sink. When we were not sure how we would make it to another pay-check, bags of groceries and plentiful harvest would be waiting on our porch. 

Recently, we bought a house. The house-hunting process in a wealthy area proved to be a tempting place to begin to say, “I don’t have enough..” But I’ve learned not to pine after what I can’t have, and to be content with what is possible. And high in the mountains of Haiti, I was reminded again that He is enough. And not only do I have enough, I have enough for others too. I will not be defeated by a poverty mindset. My God provides.

I will not be defeated by a poverty mindset. My God provides. Click To Tweet
Truth: My God Provides

So whether you are in a season of luxury or one of lack, be wary of your thoughts. Gratitude and contentment are always possible as we lean into the Lord’s provision. Challenge the lie that you don’t have enough with the truth that He will provide for all of your needs in Christ Jesus.

 

  • Lie #3:  My circumstance Means no joy…

Let’s face it: life is plain hard. Many of us struggle against realities we never dreamed possible, and navigate circumstances that seem too much to bear. Energy gets zapped, hope seems lost, and a joyful perspective seems impossible to find again. But our joy is not dependent on circumstances alone. In fact, it is dependent on our God.

In a previous post, I quoted Dallis Willard who said that joy is “not pleasure, a mere sensation, but a pervasive and constant sense of wellbeing. It claims our entire body and soul, both the physical and the non-physical side of the human self.”(1)  Abiding joy is what causes the widow to turn toward God for solace, and makes the cancer patient intent on leaning in to each remaining moment. 

Truth: Joy Disregards Circumstances

Our circumstances might dampen our feelings of happiness, but the wellbeing that is found in Jesus will not be shaken.  Joy remains. We must peer through the fog to remember it and lean on its strength. When Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 52 that deliverance was coming, he instructed the Israelites to lean in to the promise of salvation, and to take off chains and shout for joy, even as they waited. They weren’t to hold out for rescue before they rejoiced about it.  

Joy disregards circumstances. And our disciplined rejoicing in faith can yield the fruit of abundant joy. So the next time your life circumstances threaten your wellbeing, and the enemy whispers to you that your joy is lost, refuse to believe it. Claim the truth that the joy of the Lord is your strength, and lean in to it.

Claim the truth that the joy of the Lord is your strength. And then lean in to it. Click To Tweet

 

  • I’m just not a joyful person…

I know people whose nature is to exude happiness. Their thanksgiving is inspiring and their energy is boundless. I know others who express joy through patience and contentment. Still others depict joy in their compassion and generosity. It takes on different forms, and is not a one-size-fits-all quality.

Joy is a God-like trait, and a fruit that grows in us as we grow closer to the Lord. It becomes our very nature as we are transformed to be like Jesus. I am introverted in personality, and even-keel in temperament, so I have often thought I may not be joyful. I’ve questioned where my joy is. But Scripture shows joy in many forms: it looks like perseverance in trial, exuberance in praise, confidence and gratitude for God’s provision, and deep and abiding faith.

Truth: My Joy is Unique

So, when you are tempted to think you are not a joyful person, shake off your one-size-fits-all definition. Your joy is unique. Joy doesn’t look just one way – it is not only exuberant, chipper, and boisterous. Instead, remind yourself that joy also abides, remains steadfast, believes fully, and bears patiently. Ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

4 Lies That Steal Our Joy
(& the Truth that Sets Us Free)

 

Lies & Truth

Joy, my friends, grows in us as we grow in Christ. It is bold and it is active. The enemy of our souls is a thief and a deceiver., and he wants to steal our joy. So I pray today that you will see fruit in your lives from unearthing these 4 Lies that Steal Our Joy (& the Truth that Sets Us Free.)

How about you? How do you take thoughts captive and claim what is true? 

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