Welcome to September’s Matthew 5:16 Project!
If you remember, the idea behind this year-long project is to challenge us to live intentionally and in such a way that our actions point others to God… resulting in His PRAISE.
- January’s project – Replacing lies with the TRUTH of who we are.
- February’s project – Learning about God’s active love.
- March’s project – Owning our sin and receiving His forgiveness.
- April’s project – Using our words for good… to bless others.
- June’s project – Making the right choices in life.
We took a break in July and August to entertain our kids, and are back on track for September. So let’s get to it!
By the amazing, Amanda Barnes…
Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, in email, and on Facebook… it all points to JOY.
Counting it pure joy: my blessings in the midst of trials, and also in just my normal, everyday life.
I started out this summer knowing that God was bringing into focus my choices – and how very simply, yet very powerfully – God has given us the FREEdom to choose…
- He doesn’t force us to rely on Jesus, or
- to receive his LOVE, or
- to dwell on whatever is right and pure and holy.
But God makes it clear in scripture that we will have peace if we do. That we will be blessed when we do. And we will walk in JOY if we focus on HIM… praise Him… and believe Him.
But He never makes us do what He wants us to CHOOSE to do. We have a choice.
So I jumped in – and started counting…
I took my family with me on this JOY dare – it’s the one that Ann Voskamp has been writing about for years – to count blessing and find JOY right where you are.
I’ve been reading her blog for years and have fallen in love with her writing and photography. I treasure her daily blogs deposited into my email each day.
And all the while, my heart was in awe…
How exactly does this work?
How does she do this?
I’ve been chewing on this concept for years, talking about it, and bringing the topic to the dinner table. I just hadn’t actually DONE the thing.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Really? For years you’ve been reading and talking, but haven’t done the thing?”
Yup – I’m owning it. I’m not sure why– but it’s the truth.
That all changed in July, when my family and I started counting. We’ve been collecting our daily thanksgivings. It’s not a perfect practice yet, but we’re doing it!
I continue seeing the concept of counting blessings, and focusing my thoughts on what is GOOD over and over and over.
If I want to have a JOY filled life…
If I want the over-flow of my heart (that escapes from my mouth) to be lovely…
If I want my kids to see Good in the midst of hard…
If I want the entitlement to fade and gratitude to emerge…
If I want complaining and whining to be a distant memory…
If I want my kids to have a new path and new legacy…
If I want my kids to live life with the cup not only half full – but OVERFLOWING…
Then I must choose this day to serve God – in my thoughts – and count it all GRACE.
It starts with me.
- I can’t expect my kids to do something I am not.
- I cannot expect my kids to have a habit that I don’t also have.
- I can’t give my kids what isn’t mine to give.
SO… it’s game on! I want it!!! JOY – pure JOY – overflowing JOY – the kind that is my knee-jerk response to life’s spills and tumbles.
I want to take up residence in JOY.
I want my kids to have it – to LIVE it – to know it’s the only way.
And I could write all about why it’s good for us… why you should join us… why it’s important.
But that’s been done before. And I could never do justice to something I am so very humbly only learning to do myself. So instead, check out some of my favorite reads on it:
- Ann Voskamp’s blog : A Holy Experience – One Step Towards Raising Happier Kids
- Elijah list from July 2 - New Joy Will Break You Out Of Your Shell
The truth is, the habit is still shaping. But I can say for sure that there is SO much to be thankful for.
In the midst of trials, and painful diagnosis, and crazy-overlapping schedules full of activity and life – we’ve been able to see God. With an intentional drive to look for God – to find his fingerprint in our lives – we find Him.
He promises us that.
And we are experiencing that.
- We are discovering new JOY, new WORSHIP, new GRATITUDE.
- We are discovering the TRUE source of JOY is in HIM.
- We’ve tasted and seen first hand that finding JOY will come with a focus on God: what He’s done for us, and what He’s given us.
I’m expectant that as we press on in counting each gift He’s already given, we’ll find even more peace and contentment.
Here’s what it looks like in my home…
My family decided to start with recognizing a minimum of 3 blessings each day… equaling 1000 blessings in a year. (And is the title of Ann’s New York Times bestselling book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).
We’ve also printed Ann’s August Joy Dare list to jog our thinking… as each day of the month has a different prompt for gratitude counting.
Ann Voskamp has shared her testimony of counting gifts and has made this blog her ministry. She is helping others find JOY and so instead of recreating the wheel, I am gleaning inspiration from this lovely lady and bringing her passion to my family.
Take the dare to turn your perspective towards heaven… and see Good in the midst of it all.
It be pure delight to know that THAT is where lasting contentment will come… in seeing God and His hand everywhere in your life.
Won’t you start today – and count it ALL grace?
For as we choose our stance… our perspective… our thoughts… so will our actions follow.
Let the JOY begin!
©2012 careyscotttalks.com, Amanda Barnes
In the trenches of motherhood and looking for inspiration?
Find my Raising Godly Kids devotional book here.