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Two years ago I chose a “word for the year” that would give me a trait to develop more fully in my life.

In 2013 I chose HOPE because my son had died. Though it was a devastating loss, I wanted to hang on to hope when everything else in my life was falling apart.

In 2014, I chose GRACE. I wanted to become more aware of how living out Christ’s grace in my life meant extending grace to others, while fostering a deeper understanding of Christ’s grace in my own life.

For 2015, my theme is JOY. In the last year, I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to choose worry, fear, or the glass half-empty over choosing joy. I know in my head what I should be choosing, but when I’m feeling tired or stressed, it is easy to fall into negative patterns of thinking that zap joy. The Bible reminds us in Philippians 4:4 that we should

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”

This means I need to intentionally plan to choose joy over busyness, fear, and worry. That’s why I started thinking about how I could create a monthly Joy Plan to take me through the year.  But please note, dear readers, this is not forced cheerfulness.

This is joy in the midst of hard days and real life.

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Why I’m sharing the Joy Plan:

1. Joy isn’t something that comes naturally for all of us. I wanted to share the resources, books, monthly plans and more so that you can be inspired to create, adapt or use the Joy Plan in a way helps you have more joy too.

2. Joy is something that is contagious. When I am worried and stressed, it is contagious. The same is true of joy. When I’m joyful, my family often has a more positive attitude. People react to me differently. Joy isn’t something we experience alone, but impacts everyone around us.

What is The Joy Plan?

Over the next month, the plan will include resources and a monthly Joy Plan list with specific ways to find joy in your everyday life. This Joy Plan will include intentional activities to help you choose joy, instead of patterns of negative thinking, criticism, or focusing on faults and flaws.

The Joy Plan will focus on these things:

  • Recognizing God’s grace and how I’m not in control
  • Finding joy in the midst of loss
  • Fighting perfectionism
  • Accepting people as they are, including our spouse, and what real love looks like
  • Where to find true joy

Some of the things in the Joy Plan will be fun and easy; others will require a little more focused effort. You can make your own monthly Joy Plan after seeing mine or adapt it any way that best suits your personality, time, and situation. I don’t believe that a Joy Plan is a one-size-fits-all list. The plan is meant to be flexible and fun.

Also know that the Joy Plan is not legalistic in any way. Joy can’t be forced. We are not Pollyana’s who go through life never being sad. We are human. We have to accept that emotions are part of our everyday life and extend grace to ourselves when we aren’t joyful.

By changing some habits and making intentional choices, I hope to choose joy at times when it’s tempting to choose other reactions. This doesn’t mean I won’t slip up and make mistakes.  I hope to learn, despite my mistakes, how to seek joy instead of worry, perfectionism, disappointment, or fear.

Join me for the Joy Plan over the next month as I cover some of these topics:

  • How to find joy in God
  • 30 ways to find joy in your life
  • How to help your hurting friends find joy
  • How to find joy when you are going though grief

If you’ve just experienced a recent loss, you may not be ready to choose joy right now. Rest, heal and allow yourself to grieve. You need time to process your sadness and the emotions that are part of loss and grief. Don’t rush these feelings. Check out some of my other blog posts that deal with grief and loss and focus on healing.

To receive The Joy Plan quietly in your inbox over the next month, subscribe using the header at the top of the page. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter

Sara

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