My Joy Journey

“Nona, do you smile all the time?” My granddaughter asked.  These words fell on shocked ears.  My response?  “I do when I am with you!” The shock came because one of my spiritual struggles has been that I allow my circumstances to rob me of my joy.  A few years ago, I started paying attention to all the times any little thing would aggravate me, or set me off, or just plain make me sad. I decided that my joy was not going to be hijacked anymore.  It hasn’t been a perfect journey, but it has improved. What made the difference for me?  Here are somethings I tangibly chose to do.

Paying attention really made a difference.  Whenever my joy would start to slip and it was evident in my attitude or words, I would catch myself, or my husband would give me “the look.”  You know what I mean.  I think every couple has these looks between them. (BTW, I had given him permission to do that.)  Accountability helps.

Secondly, I came to the realization that, as a Christian, my hope for a perfect world or life, cannot rest in the circumstances we experiences on this earth.  Instead hope has to be placed confidently in the next world, Jesus new Kingdom where He will reign as King.

Thirdly, I read John 15:11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  Jesus is addressing His disciples here.  Jesus had complete joy and He wanted His disciples to experience the same. This joy brightened His path through his darkest days here on earth. And it is in me!

Jesus knew by this point He was facing the cross, I imagined how He must have felt and yet he said He had complete joy.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t faced anything remotely close to the cross.  I doubt many of us have. Jesus could not have been focusing on the cross before Him.  Instead He must have focused on the crown He would have in eternity.  I understood that I needed to do the same – focus the eternal, not the earthly.

My granddaughter isn’t always with me to make me smile, but Jesus is.

Ever time you choose to smile genuinely, even though your circumstances are less than joyful, you give evidence that the same joy Jesus experienced in spite of the cross is in you.

Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.

Resources:  The Christian Life Profile Assessment tool.



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The Hebrew Day Planner

Several people have recently gone on my blog to look for The Hebrew Day Planner link.  I am so sorry that somehow that link was removed from the picture it was linked to.

Until I get it re-linked (which will require skill beyond my own) here is the link to The HDP so you can print it and try it for yourself.  So sorry for the inconvenience.  Hopefully I will get it fixed within the next couple of days.

The Hebrew Day Planner

HDP CoverIn Real Simplicity, Randy and I share a new vision for managing the hours in your day.   It is based on the priorities the Jewish people followed as they lived and worshiped. The Hebrew Sabbath began at 6 p.m. on Friday evening.  This was the most important part of the Hebrew family day–Their worship day began with dinner and relationships around the table.

The tool we offer is called the Hebrew Day Planner and it has 3 things to offer:

  • First of all it will enable you to put your planning for the relational season of your day first.
  • Secondly, it can help you become more productive focus on getting your workday to cease at 6 p.m.
  • Third, the HDP can enable you to sleep better than you ever have.
(For more information on these 3 benefits read Chapter 5 of Real Simplicity.)

The Hebrew Day Planner helps make the relational season of the day, the dinner table and beyond, the first priority in our daily planning by placing it at the top of page.  This highlights 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. as the hours to linger around the dinner table and waste the rest of the evening away with family, friends/neighbors.  If wasting the evening hours away with friends/neighbors or family sounds good to you, you might be closer than you think to a life of Real Simplicity.

We would like to introduce you to a broader sample of  The Hebrew Day Planner right here on this blog.  It is available in the upper right hand corner of this blog and can be downloaded to your computer for you to print off and use.  Simply click on it.

If you’re like me, when you first begin to use it, it might mess with your head.  It’s harder than you think to plan the last part of your day, first.  Keep at it though and it just might be what you’ve needed to help you not only enjoy your relationships more, sleep better than you ever have, and also make you more productive than you’ve ever been.

(For more details about why we developed this tool, read Real Simplicity.)

If you try it, please comment here and let me know what you thoughts.  I would LOVE to hear from you!

A Wake up Call

As I woke up today I am pondering some questions running through my head. How much time do I spend in prayer?  How much time do I spend actually thanking God when I pray???  Am I worshiping God in my prayer time or just giving Him my to-do list for the day?

These are some of the questions that filled the room at our Neighborhood Bible Study this week.  The discussion was going well, and we were all somewhat tritely admitting, “Yes, we probably do need to be more thankful.”  UNTIL, one of the ladies in our group posed this question.

What if you woke up this morning with only the things you had thanked God for yesterday?

The silence immediately following her question became quickly filled with an audible gasp as the question hit our consciousness.  We all knew it was the right answer, but until we heard the question poised in such a personal way did it really hit home.  Three days later I am still contemplating how I can become more thankful.  Not because I want to keep the things I have, but because I realize how much God has blessed my life and how little I deserve.

Everything we are or own belongs to Him.  James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift” comes from God our Heavenly Father, who spared nothing to have a relationship with us.  BUT do I live as though it is reality?

When my children come to me and thank me for things I do on a daily basis just because I love them — like preparing a meal, or running an errand for them, or making a phone call for them — it makes my heart smile.  I wonder if God’s heart smiles in much the same way when we thank Him for all the little things He does on a daily basis for us that most of the time we overlook.  I’m sure we all remember to thank Him for the big things, but what about all the blessings He gives us every day?

May our day be filled with praise and thanksgiving to a God who has given us ALL things both great and small!

Trick-or-Treating Chili

Hi, Friends!

If you want to make Halloween a little more friendly and less dark, instead of heading to the church carnival and taking the presence of Christ off your street, simply put up chairs in your front yard and take your candy outside.  As neighbors pass by with their children trick-or-treating, you can meet them, or engage them in conversation as their children gather candy from near-by homes.  We have found this a wonderful way to have a first encounter with new neighbors we haven’t known before and re-engage with others we don’t see very often.  By the way, it’s fun!

Let’s face it, you can’t get anything done if you stay in your house and have to keep answering the door-bell anyway.  Why not use it as a night out with neighbors!  Be sure to bring some extra chairs so neighbors can join you and visit for a while.

For many years I hated Halloween, mostly because as a child it frightened me, and let’s face it, it truly is a sinister holiday.  I didn’t want my children to trick-or-treat when they were young, but finally realizing that “This (too)  is the day that the Lord has made,” I have decided instead to “be glad and rejoice in it!”

This year let’s reclaim this day the Lord has made by bringing our “lights” out to the street and getting to know our neighbors, discovering their stories and then discerning how we can love them. Start by just taking your candy outside and lingering. You might be surprised how many interesting conversations start.

For about 8 years now, I have put on a pot of chili and taken it out to the street in my crock-pot and shared it with everyone who passed by.  People seem to love it.


If you are a little more adventuresome, below you will find a chili recipe I have used.  It makes a huge pot and can be doubled and tripled easily if you have lots of traffic on Halloween.  Just put it in a crock-pot and take it with you to the street. Don’t forget to buy disposable bowls and spoons.  You might want a pitcher of water to serve with it and some cups, especially if you make a really spicy chili!

Try it and let me know how it goes!  What a simple way to throw a Halloween party and shed the light of Christ on an otherwise eerie holiday!

Or if you have Halloween traditions in your neighborhood, please share them with me and the others who view this blog.  Thanks!

Hearty Chili

Cook Time: 2 Hours 30 min

Serves: 20

2 medium green pepper chopped            2 can (16 oz.) kidney beans

4 medium onions chopped                          2 can (8 oz.) tomato sau

1 clove garlic crushed                                    2 – 4  TBSP Chili powder

2 TBSP vegetable oil                                       4 tsp. salt

4  lbs. gr. beef/turkey                                    2 TBSP. flour

4  (28 oz.) diced tomatoes

Brown ground meat, onions, green pepper, garlic sprinkled with 2 TBSP. flour in 2 TBSP. oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until onions are tender.

Stir in tomatoes, beans (w/liquid), tomato sauce, chili powder, and salt.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 2 hours – stirring occasionally.  Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

There is a gift to choosing the right necklace  to go with your outfit, and I do not have that talent  After years of trying, I have given up even buying them. So a few years ago, I decided I needed to have a small, simple necklace I could wear with everything and keep it on 24/7.  Yet another attempt to again simplify my life.

I chose a cross, because my faith is important to me, and I am not ashamed of it.  If I was going to wear it 24/7,  I wanted a symbol with meaning.  I’ve worn this necklace for about 6 years; day and night.

Michael Card, one of my favorite musical artists for years, came to teach and worship with our congregation this year. His songs are deep theologically.  He writes about things others haven’t; for example, “Jubilee,” about the Year of Jubilee in the Old Testamnent, a time when debts were forgiven and slaves were set free. Another is a song centered around the story of  Jacob’s ladder, a sweet, beautiful lullabye, “Are you dreaming Jacob’s Dream?” 

My husband, Randy, and I had the privilege of enjoying lunch with Michael after the services on Sunday.

During our lunch conversation, Michael made a comment, I think unintentionally, hitting  me squarely between the eyes.  With the same great passion I find in his songs he said, “It upsets me when Americans wear crosses around their necks and on their clothing.”  (My paraphrase 6 years later.)

Sitting across from him was one of the people he was talking about — ME!  A little embarrassed, hoping he hadn’t noticed my necklace, I quietly listened intently to him and my husband discuss this topic.

Michael continued, “We as a nation have no idea what a suffering Savior looks like, since we have never experience suffering!  We have no idea the sacrifice made for us, and we take it for granted.”  At least that’s what I heard loud and clear.

As I swallowed my lemon water, I drank in his words as well; my necklace now suffocating me. I wanted to remove it in shame, but couldn’t figure out discretely how to do it.  I knew he was right.  Not just about people but about ME.

Arriving home, I re-read Isaiah 53, which portrays the enormous sacrifice and horrible death Jesus suffered for me.  With tears I realized  the cross is not a symbol of MY faith, but instead a symbol of God’s deep love that would go to any length to be in a relationship with me, a sinner.

I meant to simplify my life, not my faith!

Every evening, my cross comes off now.  Yes, it still dangles around my neck sometimes, but I it bears the new challenge God brought me.  Each time I put it on, I recall our lunch conversation.  My cross  is no longer a symbol of my weak  human faith, but a symbol of God’s strong, eternal faithfulness to pursue a relationship with me.

Thank you so much, Michael!

Thank you so much more, My Jesus!

follow: @Michael_Card on Twitter

I was so excited about the response to the contest, I’ve decided to giveaway 4 signed books of Real Simplicity rather than just 2.  Thank you all who retweeted and sent in suggestions for How to Work Smarter Not Harder.

Our winners are:

  • Blair Gulley
  • Amy Richardson
  • @geekettebits
  • @melissaledbetter
Congratulations!  DM me on FB or Twitter with your address and phone number and I will send you your copy of Real Simplicity.

If you haven’t seen some of the suggestions that were sent in go to  They were all great!

I would still love to hear your comments and suggestions for ways to work smarter not harder!

Thanks so much for your entries and suggestions!

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