Monday, December 29, 2014

RECAP: 2014 - MY YEAR OF JOY


Word for the Year.

It's kind of a fun tradition in Blog Land.

When I first came across the idea, I liked it.  Mostly because I love words. Words have meaning and importance.  Words can shape and mold.  And so, I liked the idea of having a word that would become the *theme* of my year.

But, I wanted God to pick it.

I didn't want to "hedge my bets" and pick a word that I wanted.

I wanted Him to speak.

And He did.

In 2011, my first full year of blogging, He gave me the word: Determined. And indeed, that year was one in which I set my mind to achieve some goals (with His help, of course), and a year in which I became determined to follow Him even more closely.

In 2012, He gave me the word: Overcome.  And indeed, that year was one in which I had to overcome many things.  It was the year I moved, after 29 years living in one place, to completely new and unfamiliar surroundings.  It was a year when I overcame (with His help, of course), feelings of loneliness, and isolation, and homesickness.  A year in which I overcame obstacles that kept me from following Him even more closely.

In 2013, He gave me the word: Direction.  And indeed, that year was one in which I learned that God had a definite direction for me.  At first, I was desperate for a "direction" to go.  I wanted a ministry, an impact, a greater footprint in the world.  But, what God taught me (with His help, of course) was this – His direction was not about a path, but a Person.  It was a year that I learned the direction He had for me was, "Follow Me closer."


In 2014, I was floored by my new word.

It arrived unexpected, and if I might be so honest, unwelcome.

JOY.

I experienced great angst over the word joy, (I know – supreme irony).

Someone left me a comment on that very first post.  It hit me hard.

Her words:

"Sharon, I should probably not tell you that "joy" was my word for 2012.  I actually had a theme: 'Ain't nobody gonna steal my joy.'  And then I went on to have the toughest year of my life. 

He definitely led me back to that Scripture in James that says, 'Count it all joy when you face various trials...'"


Yes, her words resonated strongly with me.

For two things immediately came to my mind when I heard the word JOY.

The first was this:

"Really, Lord?  Me??  Joy?  You do know who I am, right?"

You see, I am not known by my happy-go-lucky, constantly upbeat, optimistically rose-colored look at the world.  Ask my family, they most often know me as a doomsday what-iffer, a woe-is-me grumbler, a glass-half-empty-when-I-can-even-see-a-glass pessimist.

A Nervous Nellie, and a Nora Naysayer.

And so, this word did not feel good.  It felt just like my jeans do lately.  Too tight, uncomfortable, pinching in all the wrong places.  And, quite frankly, just like my jeans lately, I had no interest in putting on the garb of Joy.

Which leads me to my second thought.

I figured that God has a way of teaching you things in unusual ways.  If you want more faith, He'll probably bring you more trials.  If you want more patience, He'll probably litter your path with frustrating circumstances and aggravating people.

And so I figured that if God was going to teach me about Joy, He was probably going to do it through pain.

Little did I know that the very same day my *announcement post* published, Monday, January 6th, my journey of Joy was indeed going to begin with pain.

That is the day that my father fell, badly, and ended up in the hospital.

And just ten days later, he died.

The words of that very wise commenter echoed inside of me.

Indeed, this was going to be a very difficult and painful year.

I remember looking at the heavens and asking God, "Why did You give me this word?  Why are You testing me so soon?"

Truthfully?  Sometimes I just want to stay off the enemy's radar.  I don't want to learn the tough lessons.

And though I might have roused myself to want to learn about Joy, I did NOT want to learn it in this way.

But God…He has other plans, other ways.

And in them we must rest.


So, here I am, almost a full year later.  And I would like to share some of my thoughts on the word JOY.

I hope I have learned His lessons well.


1) Joy is not happiness.

This might seem like a "duh" thought.  I have always known this concept to be a fact, at least intellectually.  But, learning this truth internally, in the very depths of my heart, had to be learned when I felt sad, when I was singularly unhappy, when I was grieving.  Joy had to be something deeper, or it would die, a victim of outside circumstances just like happiness perishes at the whim of turmoil and strife.  I had to find out that there was something more powerful than the fleeting experience of happiness.

Lo and behold, JOY was there.


2) Joy is not a feeling at all.

This was a big revelation.  I knew that joy was not happiness, but I still thought it was something that would emerge in the realm of my emotions. What I ended up finding out is that it is instead a frame of mind.  A chosen path of my will.  It is a position we take, in spite of the onrush of overwhelming and indiscriminate feelings that wash and crash upon the shores of our hearts.  I had to let go of my emotions.

Lo and behold, JOY was there.


3) Joy is revealed when we least feel like feeling it.

Yup.  As I said before, I did not want this word.  And certainly, I did not want to feel it when I wasn't *feeling it*.

Some of the moments in this year's journey?   Spooning food into my dad's mouth.  Trying to speak sense to a man who had fallen deep into dementia. Rubbing his brow, trying to return him, amidst thrashing and yelling, back to sleep.  Getting a call at 3:45 AM to tell me he was gone.  A funeral.  Going through his things.  Seeing his shoes under his workbench.  Caring for an increasingly helpless and confused mother.  Doing mindless and tiresome and menial chores.  Mourning the loss of "what was."  Confusion, confrontation, conflict.

There have been countless other things, too.  Personal stuff, financial stuff, health stuff.  Stuff that has brought the most brutal anxiety that I have ever felt.  Days when I thought I could not take another step.  Nights when I could not sleep.

Lo and behold, JOY was there.


4) Joy is not about us.

Uh, yeah.  One thing I learned is how much work God still needs to do inside of me to rid me of ME!  I truly thought that this whole joy journey was going to be about me.  Changing and re-forming me.  Shaping me.  Refining me. Transforming me.  And in many ways, this is what the journey was about, for sure.  But, at the end of the day, joy is not about me.  It's about Jesus.  He is the Source, and the Fount, and the Continuing River of Joy.

I learned that JOY is all about this one unchanging fact in my life.

Jesus, Only You.

And when I got my focus off of myself, and instead fixed my eyes upon the Savior…

Lo and behold, JOY was there.


5) Joy is created when we understand grace.

Grace – the awesome and incomprehensible Gift.

I'm convinced that most of us do not fully understand grace.  And that's because most of us don't understand the full horror of our sin.

Thankfully, because of Jesus, we don't have to.

If we so choose, we will never have to experience what it means to be completely separated from God.  Only Jesus, the perfectly sinless One, ever understood the black void of having God turn His back.

Grace is the offer made to us – the free gift of salvation.

And, when we understand and accept grace, when we receive the gift of redemption, when we comprehend the undeserved offer of forgiveness…

…when I fully contemplated the immensity of it…

Lo and behold, JOY was there.


6) Joy is the handmaiden of hope.

Hope is inextricably intertwined with Joy.  The two go hand-in-hand.  For it is the hope of God that brings us joy.  And it is His presence that brings me the uplifting sense of joy, bought by love, offered through grace, and upheld by the assurance of confident hope.

I spent a great amount of time this past year contemplating the thought that God is both before me and behind me.  What does this mean?

Considering the fact that my father's death was the biggest event of the year, and its most un-joy-full moment, I use this as a benchmark to evaluate this idea.

To me it means this:  God went before me into the difficult days of my father's injury and subsequent passing.  The Lord was there before I got there, and led me through it all.  How was He behind me?  On days when I was tempted to look back, and to question decisions, or regret negative thoughts, the Lord was also there.  His gentle hand told me to stop – don't go back – those days were also covered by Him.

So, before me ("Don't worry about the future, child") and behind me ("Don't dwell in the past, child") – HE IS THERE.

When I remember this…

Lo and behold, JOY is there.


7) Joy is anchored in eternity.

Though joy can be experienced in the here and now, its true value is rooted in eternity.

That is why Peter counsels us to look at the big picture, the long view.  He acknowledged that this life is full of trials.  Peter told us the truth.  But then he told us the Truth.  He encouraged us "to be truly glad" in our suffering and tribulation.

Why?

Because there is wonderful Joy ahead.

For our faith will bring much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

When I think about the sadness in this world, and how so many hearts are broken – and sometimes, even my own – I could be overcome with defeat and despair.  But when I look at the promise of Heaven, and an eternity with the Lord and faithful loved ones who have gone on ahead (including my dad, whom I will see again), I smile.

For though this life is hard, when I look to the sky…

Lo and behold, JOY is there.


I know this post is long, and I hope I'm not rambling.  But it's so important for me to reflect upon this year of JOY, and I hope in my reflecting, you find something of what JOY can mean for you.

Joy for me most often wasn't the big *cymbal* moment.  It was rather like the tiny tinkling of a bell, heard in the middle of difficult circumstances, sounding a quiet but reassuring message of hope.

I love the scene with Elijah and the Lord.

Sometimes I find myself wanting the "big" appearance of God, coming like a thunderstorm to fix everything that is wrong in my life.  But, more often than not, He arrives in a whisper.  But, a whisper can only be heard when someone has drawn very, very close to Him.  With God, that is more than enough.

For me, joy very often creeped – but it also seeped into every crevice of pain, and filled me up with the Love of God!


Yes, for my most difficult year, God chose the word Joy for me.

And He gave me Joy in ways I could not have fathomed beforehand. 

I didn't see it fully until now.  In the looking back I see.  I see Him.  His hands.  With Him nothing is wasted.  He used it all – the heartaches, the tears, the doubts, the suffering, the trials, the sleepless nights, the indeterminable days, the confusion, the fears, the endless questioning.

He used it all to teach me the fullest meaning of Joy, as only His heart could reveal it.

Joy is more than what I thought it was.  

And I have been blessed in the expanding.


Yes, this past year of my JOY journey was fraught with crazy and difficult circumstances.  

And I often wondered, "Really, Lord?  This is what joy is all about?"

And yet, as I look back, I see that He has quietly answered...

"Yes, this is what it’s all about.  It's about seeing Me."


What is it that I want from God?

Or do I really just want God?

There's a big difference.  And I am pondering the differences, and what a difference it will make if I only seek God for the sheer pleasure of knowing Him.

For indeed, when I seek Him…

Lo and behold, JOY is there!


Jesus, Only You!

Yes, amen, yes. 





Wrong will be right,
when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar,
sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth,
winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane,
we shall have spring again.






"We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen.  We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands.  He is the Word of life.  This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him.  And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life...We are writing these things so that you may fully share our JOY.

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all...if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin." 
(From 1 John 1, NLT)

"Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your JOY." (John 16:22, NIV)

"And a great road will go through that once deserted land.  It will be named the Highway of Holiness.  Evil-minded people will never travel on it.  It will be only for those who walk in God's ways; fools will never walk there...Only the redeemed will walk on it.  Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.  They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting JOY. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with JOY and gladness." (Isaiah 35:8-10, NLT)




What was your word for 2014, and what did you learn?




Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVALUNITE, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAY, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, CHATTING AT THE SKY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, SO MUCH AT HOME, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE AND CONVERSATION, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAYHEARTS FOR HOME, FAITH FILLED FRIDAYFELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, A GROUP LOOKFAITH AND FELLOWSHIP, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS,  FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, MISSIONAL WEEKEND, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

39 comments:

  1. Where's the beef?? It's right here in this blog!! You have expressed truth that sometimes takes a lifetime to discover. What a seeker of feelings we seem to be, and what you have said is exactly the truth of the opposite, Little did you know what was in store when you headed out with your word of JOY last year, both in circumstances in your life, and in the truth God would reveal. When we really seek, with an honest heart, the ways and things he shows us are seldom what we expect, and always what we need.

    I will be coming back and reading this one over and over. What honest reflections, and the truth of it strikes a chord in my heart this morning. Thanks Sharon, one more time...

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  2. Wow...what an awesome post. I remember your earlier posts this year as you were dealing with your word...JOY. I also remember you were really having many difficult days as you were trying to place "your word" into your life among those hard times. I remember praying for you during those times especially and then I noticed that somewhere along the line, you seemed to gradually turn a corner. I knew God was doing His work in you and through you...and teaching you what His joy is really all about...and thank you for sharing what you are learning with all of us :) Many blessings to you in the New Year, Sharon!

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  3. "Lo and behold. JOY is there!" Awesome Sharon ... because JOY is in you!

    Every of the the 7 summation phrases you wrote could be replaced with my one word "Hope"; only #6 would read "Hope is the handmaiden of Joy" that we both discovered, right? I had hoped to write a recap, but I believe yours takes care of mine too! WOW! meaning Well done, Outstanding, Wonderfully written: JOY ful and HOPE ful ... and I love the ending with your photo! This is the best ever recap... so now can you do mine too!???

    What a glorious testimony of JOY in the midst of pain, suffering, trials, heart ache, grief ... because as you write so poignantly Jesus Only You ... before you, beside you, behind you and most importantly within you: His JOY!

    I've learned alot from your JOY journey. Mostly not to have that one as my one word! just like I pray ...never patience, never ... well, who knows what God will speak for 2015 for you and me! Could we be on the same path? me thinks so...
    "Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight..."

    Love you, many blessings and prayers as we draw near to J.O.Y. in 2015 and our new One Word!
    Peggy

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  4. A word for the year should do exactly as you write and the word should not be ours but God's for us. I love this concept - how He teaches me so many lessons and as I reflect back, I can always point to the word of the year nicely fitting in place! It has been a rough year for you and you came out of beautifully too. Praise God.

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  5. I think as hard as this year was for you, Sharon, you did find joy in it. I know it was a tough time coming to that conclusion, but I believe God knew what he was doing when he laid that word on you heart. I look forward to what 2015's word is.

    Betty



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  6. Oh, dear friend! Your beautiful post brought me to tears. I could SO relate to what you said on so many levels, having walked a similar path with both parents. Losing a parent is truly one of life's greatest sorrows. I think the words in this post that struck me deepest were these, "If we so choose, we will never have to experience what it means to be completely separated from God. Only Jesus, the perfectly sinless One, ever understood the black void of having God turn His back." Oh, my! I had to call Kevin in to read it to him. We were BOTH so blessed and moved! You continue to edify and inspire with your heartfelt, sincere words. I can't wait to see what word God gives you to focus on in 2015, and I so look forward to walking this faith walk with you, dear, sweet friend. :) Love you so.

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  7. What a great recap and a powerful testimony of finding Joy... of discovering what it is and what it isn't! Sorry for your rough year, but thankful that you found Him there in it, right beside you! Jesus, man of joy! Lo and Behold... He is there!

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  8. What a beautiful testimony you shared here. I enjoyed reading and reflecting on your thoughts here. I have had a word for the year before I began blogging, more of a prayer for the year but it was the same concept. Looking back, at those words, I see how He used them to prepare me to seek Him in the ways I would NEED to learn, grow, and live more in Him. My word this year was , lean, and it was a year I needed to lean fully upon God because there were days I wasn't sure I could adequately stand right.
    I am so sorry for the loss you experienced and will pray for you as you miss your father. I lost my grandmother on January 4th and it truly rocked my world, changing the way we all look at life w/o her here, but rejoicing in the beauty she is experiencing in her eternal home.

    Blessings and thanks for sharing!
    Dawn

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  9. "Joy cometh in the morning." I loved your recap of your year and how (with the Lord's help of course) you learned to experience (HIS) joy even in hard circumstances. Choices are there from our first decision to follow Jesus and then to choose each day our attitude that will please Him. Joy is not because we are glad we are having a trial, but Joy in knowing that we are never alone and that the Holy Spirit inside us is our comforter. Thank you for your sweet comments at my story site, and for sharing with us here at "Tell me a True Story."

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  10. I chose the word Breath in 2010, and it was the year my father got lung cancer and breathed his last breath. Yet the Lord was with me still in every breath I took, just like he was still giving you joy in this year of loss of your own dad. So much grace! I'm so glad you shared this year-end post, Sharon. You always leave me encouraged.

    My word for 2014 was compassion, and oh, how God showed me how much more I need to grow in this, even as he had compassion on me. So many precious lessons that I never want to forget.

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  11. Oh, my, Sharon! I could write a post about what I loved about this post! I think it is my favorite of yours from 2014! JOY is my LIFE word, and yes, I realize what I just said. SO much of what you experienced and shared here resonates deeply with me. Yet, at the same time, I can't tell you how encouraging and inspiring it is - - you are.

    The word God gave me for 2014 was Intentional. This really was an action word for me. He wanted me to make better use of my time. For Him, for me, and I've come a long way - and still have a long way to go!

    Thank you, Sharon, for always glorifying Him here. I'm looking forward to our time together in 2015 - and learning what your new word is - ha! Blessings.

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  12. Oh. This, Sharon, strikes me: "Joy for me most often wasn't the big *cymbal* moment. It was rather like the tiny tinkling of a bell, heard in the middle of difficult circumstances, sounding a quiet but reassuring message of hope." Yes. Yes to so much you have written here. And yes, most of all, to the way you've digested joy this year, even when you didn't want to, and how this reveals more of the gentle persistence of God's love in our lives.

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  13. Once again, sweet woman of God, you've spoken right to my heart. I too have found that it's those "dark places" that produce the most treasure (Isaiah 45:3). I'm always amazed at how God never fails to use every.single.situation in our lives to bring about glory for Him and good for us. Many places that I thought I'd never manage to walk through have now become a platform from which to shout His praises. Isn't He truly awesome?!
    Blessings,
    Candy

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  14. You're right about joy and grace being so intertwined. God clearly told me JOY is to my focus this coming year, but, like you, I'm wasn't entirely thrilled at first, mostly because it goes against my natural being. Of course, that's probably the point. :) Thanks for sharing and linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

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  15. Sharon, I just love everything about this post. Recapping how this word JOY impacted me in 2014 feels so hard. I don't know where to begin. Can I just do a post that says come over to Sharon's place and read about this word JOY? I remember when God first gave me this word. "My husband is leaving for a year, God. Remember!!!! Joy? Really?" But it was a year of Him revealing over and over again that He is the source of our JOY. This so stood out for me . . . "Yes, this is what it’s all about. It's about seeing Me."
    Yes, indeed! It was all about seeing Him.
    And the next thing that stood out was this . . . "Joy is not about us."
    Which led me to my word for 2015: SELFLESS
    At some point I am sure God will help me to write about it. :)
    Taking this journey of JOY with you has been such a blessing. YOU are a blessing to me. Truly. Forever grateful our paths crossed in this blogging world.
    Btw, I have dates for when I will be in San Diego. I would absolutely LOVE to meet you. Not sure how to email you??? Can you email me at simplybeth3(at)gmail(dot)com
    Many blessings to you, friend.
    Happy New Year.
    xoxo

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  16. Good words to think about... thank you for sharing this...

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  17. Sharon, I have missed being here and learning what words of wisdom God has been teaching you. You are so close to the Lord and your heart seeks to please Him always. There is always something important to learn in your posts.
    Such growth the Lord has brought you through while opening your eyes to His meaning of joy. Until your post today, I have believed that Joy is a feeling we can have in the midst of trials. Now I understand to a certain degree that Joy is discovering Jesus is with me, before me, beside me, behind me, and in me--strengthening me. Thank you for this insight, Sharon. Like your other commenters, I will make reference to this post often.
    I've missed you. And now I am going to read a lesson from Marty!
    Have a Blessed New Year! I still need to discover God's plan for me in this new year
    Janis

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  18. Yes and YES! Happy New Year, Sharon! May 2015 find you enjoying the blessings of God in a mighty way.

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  19. I'm always moved by your wisdom and ability to express yourself. I've been with you through some of your growing pains this year. Although I lost my dad in 2010, I can now relate to others who are going through what I couldn't completely grasp until I walked down the path myself personally.

    The best times looking back are never the ones that we asked for or would have asked for, but they always have more value than we can place a mere number on.

    God bless you on your journey and I pray His mercy and grace upon you along the way.

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  20. Happy New Year Sharon! Just want you to know how blessed I am to call you my friend. I never come here without leaving richer. I love God's gift in your life of just the right words to say what I so often feel, and always to see things more clearly in what you voice.

    Love you my Westmont buddie!

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  21. I actually read the whole thing! I really enjoyed it though! I love how you have a word for each year. I do agree that joy comes from deep pain. I've seem this pain before and I know that you have to go through pain before you understand what Joy means.

    God always has special ways to send us messages and it is pretty cool that he can send different messages to different people.

    I'm glad you have learnt so much about Joy in 2014! It is definitely true that joy is not only about laughing or being very happy but knowing that we are blessed.

    I loved your recap of 2014 and I hope you have a Happy New Year and more to share during 2015! May God bless you and your family!

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  22. thank you for sharing what you learned! it is so good to remember that "Joy is a chosen path" and "Joy is not about us" :)

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  23. Your quote - One thing I learned is how much work God still needs to do inside of me to rid me of ME! Says it all for me. What a wonderful post that touched my heart. Reading about your parents made me cry. You watch your parents slip into something you can't explain, or you hear, I only have a few months to live and whats next!! Faith. Leave it in Gods hands. I've watched what Grace can do over the past year. No more laws in our lives. Thank you for brightening my morning.

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  24. wishing you His joy, Sharon, everyday in 2015!!! Hugs.

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  25. What an awesome post! I identified.... My middle name is Joy, and I have had my share of challenges living up to this name, or rather letting this name define my character! LOL!

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    1. And by the way, my word for 2015 is GRACE! Yes, I believe that JOY and GRACE are intertwined!

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  26. Wow. What a meaty, powerful synopsis on "joy". I have often pondered that condition, joy; especially as juxtaposed to happiness. You're right: a huge difference.

    I've also been a harbinger of an annual word focus. This year I'm working on "humility" (oh man ... what am I in for?!!).

    Blessings to you & yours,
    Kathleen

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  27. This is my first year of choosing one word.
    My one word is Faith. I wonder what God has in mind.
    Wishing you a blessed 2015!

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  28. I am so glad you stopped by to visit me on Heart Choices. I have to say I've seen your photo on some blogs too so it's high time we 'met'. As I was reading about your year of joy, I thought to myself. I wonder if I'm going to encounter some very hard to love people this year since my one word for 2015 is LOVE.

    I see that Sassy Granny is a friend of yours. She is a good friend of mine. I had the pleasure of spending time with her several times while she was living in Arizona. We made a trip up to Prescott to meet with another blogger named Mary. We also went to church together. She is amazing and I miss her since she moved. Anyway I hope we can get to know one another better this year.

    Happy New Year!

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

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  29. You truly expressed the depths and riches of the joy of the Lord even when life is full of pain. I think joy is not a light and fluffy feeling when things go our way, but the joy of the Lord is the strength of the Lord in us to face the hardest things knowing Him, trusting Him and resting in Him. So happy we shared this word in 2014.

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  30. Sharon, thank you for sharing your lessons with us. Joy is such a simple, yet such a complex word. I'm sorry that you had to go through what you went through to learn the joy, but what a joy that you knew that joy was at the center of it! (don't know if that quite made sense). I know what you mean about having a word that doesn't sit comfortably with you. My word this year is disciple, and while I'm an encourager, I'm not necessarily a discipler. That scares the heck out of me. I can't wait to hear what your word for this year is.

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  31. Joy comes in the most unexpected circumstances as you found out. Thank you for sharing your journey into joy. The joy of the Lord. How I wish everyone in the world knew that joy but sadly few do.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  32. Dear Sharon,
    What a beautiful and inspiring post! Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Praise God that like Paul, we can rejoice always because of our blessed hope in eternity with Him. May your joy in Him be full until He comes again!
    Laurie

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  33. Such a beautiful post Sharon. The Lord went before you, into that ver hard season when you lost your Father. He is the giver of Joy and I know that He has given you the capacity for joy, even in the midst of hardship. Blessings!

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  34. I can imagine how you felt with the word Joy, but you have allowed God to be the Joy in your life. Thank you for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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  35. Oh, I just love that -- Joy is about seeing God. My word was cherish and I've found memories in the cherishing. Memories I'll cherish of my mother, my youngest daughter and the others so dear to me. It was a year of God's love shining from every day, whether a good one or painful.

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  36. Hi Sharon! Thank you for leading me to your Joy Wrap-Up. What great wisdom you have accumulated in your year. Wow. I guess I'll have a lot to face this year. I already can think of a few things that will/have happened that will challenge me. I hope to meet the Lord's will with the same intensity as you have, and to receive the same Joy.

    God bless us both on our sacred journeys,
    Ceil

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  37. Finally made it with some time stolen from my afternoon of wandering about with tear filled eyes as I'm meditating on my word . . . as you know . . . Unbridled Joy. I really struggled with that, too. First off, I knew it was your word from last year and didn't want to "copy" - ya know? Second, I have always signed my name with that word--Joy. It's already MY word. So, why should it replace Graciousness and Humility and Hope from previous years? Ha! Didn't you even say how Hope and Joy are linked? Yep - last year it was all about clinging to Hope in the Waiting (Patience) and therein is my Joy. The thing for me this year, though, is the adjective that I believed God was insisting upon. Never had an adjective before. Unbridled. To that end--I'm posting a word study on it this week. I think the emphasis is on that word rather than Joy. Even though, Joy feels like it's supposed to be the star of the show.

    I'm thankful that you plowed this field before me. Your insights are deep and profound, as usual, and some of your quotes will be making it into my new art journal this year. The Lord's given me some direction there, too, and I'm thrilled. It is a ministry to my heart in joy that the Lord has begun directing me in this journal. I will be posting monthly on it's progress.

    Take joy, milady! You are a blessing!!
    Kathy

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"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)