What I call my “Joy Journey” continues beckoning me forward in abandonment of old ideas that no longer serve me. Throughout the month of January, God’s curriculum for educating me on my Word for 2021 included stripping away former definitions. I now realize how little I truly understand about joy from His perspective. But, finding joy in the North Star, helped change that.
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
finding joy in the oddest places
You can read my introduction to my One Word choice of Joy in this POST. Since settling on Joy as my word for 2021, I eagerly greet each day wondering where it will show up. This requires a new level of faith for me, considering the troubled life circumstances I experienced over the past several years. Amazed, the word “Joy” met me in some odd places this month. No one can convince me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Seeking Him in prayer at the start of each day, I ask He open my eyes to all opportunities for joy.
On one particular day, joy was not foremost in my mind; in fact, annoyance described my attitude best that day. I often choose taking a walk when struggling emotionally, so this day I headed out through the neighborhood in search of a better attitude. Long after Christmas, I noticed everyone had put away the seasonal decorations I enjoyed viewing on my walks. As I muttered my annoyances with the day, I glanced at one house. There in the window rested a red, lighted “JOY” sign. I agree, the perfect way to grab my attention and in such an unexpected way.
The north star
Even before the red “JOY” sign, God seemed proficient at putting the word “joy” before my eyes. It popped up in conversations, books I read or emails at work! I chalked this up to a sensitivity for the word since that was my focus word of the year. But each night as I closed my time out journaling, I sat astonished at the lessons learned about joy that day. Most lessons were small, like finding joy in ordinary tasks like dish washing. Others challenged old ideas about joy. I didn’t realize how stuck I was in thinking of joy as a simple emotion. Certain days God pointed out my focus on obtaining joy as an emotion. Joy is so much more than that!
My foundational verse for my joy journey is Psalm 16:11, reminding me that I find joy in God’s Presence. After a trying day where I mostly failed in finding joy, God reminded me of Psalm 16:11 in a unique way. I delight in taking a walk in the evening after dark, regardless of the temperature. After I finish my work, I find it super refreshing but also exhilarating and relaxing both at the same time. Not to mention the science geek in me adores star gazing. On this particular evening, I stood transfixed on the North Star.
Joy and the North Star
My mind travelled to thoughts of navigators using the North Star as a compass when out on the sea. The North Star is known for staying immoveable in the night sky, while the other stars revolve around it. The fact is, it does move slightly, but it steadily with reliability points “true north”. I thought of an analogy I shared with a friend who was experiencing trials with a wayward child. She wrestled with “who” her child needed her to be, and I encouraged her to be the “North Star” for him. Pointing him to the “true north” of their home, values and faith so he could easily find his way home.
As I remembered that conversation, God reminded me of Psalm 16:11. He showed me when I was lost, unable to find joy, He was the “North Star”. His Presence never moved. When everything swirled around me, when circumstances shifted, He was always Present. I only needed to look to the “North Star” to find my way home to joy. I laughed loud and long, right there in the middle of the street head lifted to the night sky. My neighbor came out wondering if I “needed” anything. “No”, I said, “I just found everything I needed right there”, pointing to the sky.
Joy is Like Manna
I’m sharing my update on joy with you as promised on Mindfulness Monday for a reason. The other thing God most impressed on my heart this month about joy is, it lives in the present. I share often about mindfulness, and staying “in the present moment”. Joy, like the manna the Israelites gathered, can only be found “today”, in this present moment. I can’t find joy for today, in the past and I can’t borrow it from tomorrow. I must find it in the here and now.
Besides all of the wonderful ways a mindfulness practice benefits you, now I can say it also adds joy to your life. Choosing to see all of the good God has for me in the present moment ignites joy in my heart. Instead of simply “reminiscing” about joy from some past moment or “wondering if” joy will greet me tomorrow, I can gather it today. Truly savoring what is right before me each day fosters gratitude, ignites joy and envelops me in love. Even on especially trying days, choosing to accept with gratitude what is before me, transforms disappointment into joy.
Finding Joy in the Present
Armed with this knowledge, I employ a few practical methods to keep me focused on joy in the present. While not successful every moment or every day, these do help me stay grounded and focused rather than bouncing around hoping for the best.
- Begin with Joy. During my quiet time, I take a few moments in quiet contemplation asking God to help me focus on His Presence with me. The reminder of His Presence starts my day with joy.
- Choose Joy Now. Throughout my day, I seek to remain present, with gratitude for what I have in this moment, not what I wish I had or used to have. It seems simplistic, but gratitude ignites joy.
- End with Joy. At the close of my day, I spend time journaling all the joy moments of my day. I sit quietly in the joy of God’s Presence; joy breeds more joy!
finding joy in the north star
Just as the North Star faithfully appears night after night in the sky, God’s Presence faithfully remains with me. In His Presence is fullness of joy, and I can always find my way home to joy by living in the present moment. The joy I find in His Presence is constant, unshakable and unchanging.
My January Joy Journey was filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, but in the end increased my faith. I knew when I started I needed to believe big if I wanted to experience joy in 2021. January’s journey did not disappoint, such a small word with so much to teach. I remain committed to all God has for me in the teeny tiny world of Big Joy.
Bev Rihtarchik says
I like the analogy of the North Star always being a fixed point, like God, which we can count on. Joining with you in wanting to have my “life arrow” pointing others to true north. Like you, I’m also looking for the simple joys that are often right under my nose if I simply slow down long enough to take them in.
Bev, thank you for your encouraging comment. The North Star analogy has been exciting for me, and a great reminder to keep focused on God and set my course straight when I get off course. Here’s to looking for those “handfuls of purpose” joy God leaves for us everyday!
I love the thoughts that God led you with here! And how beautiful to find that perfect object lesson in His North Start that He placed in front of each of us! May I remember that He is right here, my True North, pointing to the joy of His presence wherever my day might lead. Blessings to you, dear friend!
Thank you so much Bettie, dear Friend your comments encourage me! I’m such a science geek, I LOVE the stars, and I think God blessed me so graciously by allowing me to see this analogy. Blessings to you!
Paula Short says
Donna, such a blessed post about finding and being mindful of joy. And, mindful of recognizing your one word 2021 in daily happenings. I love how you said ” lives in the present.” Thank you for that great insight and reminder, for it sure does. I need to selah (pause and reflect) (my one word 2021) on where joy shows up in my daily happenings too. Blessings.
Visiting today from Let’s Have Coffee.
Paula, I enjoy when you stop by, your comments are insightful and encouraging I love your one word of “selah”, I have been pondering that too, and how needful it is each day to remain present!!
Jeanne Takenaka says
Donna, your thoughts on joy are beautiful. I’m pondering them. The one thing that really spoke to me was the idea that joy lives in the present. I hadn’t considered that before. I’m enjoying reading what you’re learning about joy and about living with joy.
Jeanne, it brings me joy to think my meditations on joy bless someone else! You know, God impressing on my heart about joy living in the present has been revolutionary for me. I need to stop living on yesterday’s joy or wondering if I’ll find it tomorrow, so I don’t miss what He has for me today!
I love your thoughts on Joy, Donna. God has chosen this word for you for a reason. I often go for a walk (or run) when faced with annoyances too. Your comparison of God to the North Star is a good one. He does remain a constant in our lives while everything else seems to change. I can just imagine your neighbor coming out to see if you were OK when you laughed in the middle of the street. 🙂 I will remember to fill my basket with joy today because of this post.
Laurie, I am learning every day more and more about joy, and feel God continues to confirm His choice of that word for me this year. I loved what God showed me about the North Star, it has stayed with me, and I still chuckle when I see my neighbor. She probably thinks I’m mad as the Mad Hatter!
Joanne Viola says
This is such a beautiful post, Donna. This is what grabbed my attention: “Choosing to see all of the good God has for me in the present moment ignites joy in my heart.” We must choose each day to see what God has for us. In the present – not looking back nor running ahead, but presently.
Joanne, I’m blessed by your kind words! God is so impressing me about staying present and gathering the joy He has for me right now, as you said, not looking back or running ahead, because when I do, I miss what is right in front of me!
Tea With Jennifer says
Great post Donna! I particularly enjoyed the following;
‘Joy, like the manna the Israelites gathered, can only be found “today”, in this present moment. I can’t find joy for today, in the past and I can’t borrow it from tomorrow. I must find it in the here and now.’ Amen!
Too many live for a future joy missing the present joy or look back to a joy long past but joy is ever ‘present’ because He is ever present! 😉
Jennifer! Thank you for your comment, so pleased that the post blessed you. Yes, that particular section was something the Lord showed me which I found really meaningful. It’ so important to be present today, to receive the joy He has for us!
Lisa notes says
What a beautiful post, Donna! I’m enjoying your journey with joy so much that it makes me wish joy were my word too. 🙂 But I’ll just concentrate on picking up the lessons you share with us for my own joy as well.
I appreciate this manna analogy with joy: “Instead of simply “reminiscing” about joy from some past moment or “wondering if” joy will greet me tomorrow, I can gather it today.” May we each fill our baskets full of joy today!
Thank you, Lisa, that really encourages me! I love the manna analogy too, God is really working on me staying present and sitting still! But truly, joy is in the present and most days I think I miss much of it through distraction!