What does joy mean to you?

I am so happy to let you know that I am going to try something new with my blog.  And if all goes well with it and I can keep up, lol, it could work into even more exciting and fun things.  So starting today I will be posting daily, yes daily.  This will be your little daily dose of spiritual and/or motivational content.  Each day I will focus on various scriptures, quotes, motivational talks, etc.  It shouldn’t take you more than 3-7 minutes to read.  This one may be a bit longer because I want to explain why I am doing this.  I would love to have your feedback on things that you would like help with.  Or things that you have questions about that you would like me to study and share.  Or maybe things that I have posted in the past that you would like more of.  And then we will just walk this path together and hopefully it leads us all to somewhere great!

As you may know if you’ve followed me long enough, I LOVE journals!  I have several.  Gratitude journals, scripture journals, personal journals,  mental health journey journals, my favorite-things-I’ve-come-across-that-I-want-to-remember journals.

The funny thing is that they each have their purpose.  But right now they pile up in my home and no one gets to read them.  I really think that they can be of benefit to more than just me.

So on to today and this week’s ponderings. JOY!

JOY!

It’s so mysterious the way the Lord works.  I am continually amazed at how He threads and weaves patterns into our lives and increases our faith by the experiences that we are allowed to have. As I have been preparing my upcoming blogs this past week (because I have to be at least a few days ahead :)), and have been studying joy, I have had placed in my path too many coincidences to count as coincidences.  I have been shown, taught, or filled with joy through various avenues.  Whether it be through a quote or scripture that I have come across on social media etc., an act of service, or a talk that someone gave in church. Even in a book that was recommended  to others through a story on Instagram.  I love to see the Lord working in my life and in others.  He truly wants us to have this joy that feels our souls even in times of trial and difficulty.  I hope that you can find some of that joy today!

Something you should also know about me is that I am a thinker and a ponderer and a lover of learning, and I ask God a lot of questions.  What I know is that He always finds a way to give me the answers.  Sometimes they come soon and sometimes they take longer.  And to be honest, there are some that I am still waiting on the answers.  But here’s the thing, I KNOW that God loves me and I KNOW that He loves you too.  And if you ask, He has promised that you will receive.

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

He wants the best for us He wants us to be happy and above that He wants us to have JOY!  He wants to bless us and He will meet us where we are and show us the way.

JOY!  There is a difference between happiness and joy.  I want you to ask yourself, what makes joy different than happiness for you?

Ponder on that, and today I want to share a story that comes from the Book of Mormon.  I’m not going to share the whole story here because I want you to go and read all of Alma 26 it is SO good!

This is the story of Ammon and his brethren who went to preach to the lamanites and converted many souls to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Ammon is expressing the joy he feels.   He states in  26:8. Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever. 

Here Ammon is expressing his joy for the conversion of many of the Lamanites.  In  fact he is so bold in his joy that his brother chastises him for boasting.  Ammon explains in V.11-12

11 … I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. 

and then further down in v. 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people. 

Yes my friends, we have an awesome God who can bring so much joy!  He is mindful of our daily struggles but if we put our focus and trust in Him we can find that kind of joy.

I also did a little research on Joy which we will get more into as the week progresses.  However, if you look joy up in the dictionary it says that it is an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.  Some synonyms for joy are; bliss, comfort, satisfaction, wonder, gladness, solace, treasure, elation, glee, delight, cheer, gaiety, gratification.  And these are just a few.

I asked my husband what he thought the difference was between joy and happiness, he explained that joy is so much more!  It envelops you, it’s encompassing, it pushes everything else away and consumes you in the most positive way.  I loved that so much!  In short, happiness is fleeting, an experience that comes and goes.  But joy is eternal, everlasting.

I have experienced that true unfiltered joy when I had each of my babies. There is just nothing like that feeling of being so joyful that you feel like you might burst!  Holding that miracle in your arms for the first time, snuggling that tiny nose.  And counting all 10 fingers and toes.  Having them snuggle into your chest and fall asleep.  And oh the smell of a newborn baby!  The feeling, that bond, is like nothing else in this world and it goes on and on as they grow, (even when they sometimes drive you crazy, haha).

There are a lot of other ways and times that joy is developed and grows and we’ll talk about it a lot more this week.   As you go about your day, ask yourself what brings me true joy, the kind that goes on and on?  And then take a minute to record it somewhere… maybe in a new pretty journal 😉 so you can read about that experience next time you are having a down day.  That’s it for today!  Make it a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Have you had your daily dose of water?

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that water is SO important to me!  I have to have my water every day!  It is one of the most important things I do all day is to try and drink at least half my body weight in water.

However, one day a couple of weeks ago, I tipped my head back to guzzle my morning 22 oz. water bottle and had a distinct thought pop into my head.  Call it what you will, but I call it inspiration or a prompting from the Spirit on things I need to be aware of or change.  The thought was this, “The living water (Christ) is so much more important to your day than liquid water.”  It was so powerful that it took me me by surprise for a minute.  I set my water down and began to write the thoughts that flooded my mind.

It was the first Sunday of the month, and as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints, on the first Sunday we fast for at least 2 meals.  Then we donate what we would have spent on those meals to what we call a “fast offering”.  That money provides assistance to the poor and needy.  The fast is also beneficial to us physically, and it increases humility and spirituality on the part of each individual.

As I said it was the first Sunday so I had just prayed before I broke my fast (we also end our fast with a prayer).  These are some of the thoughts that flooded my mind when I tipped my head back to break my fast with that very full water: Do I pray first thing in the morning like I chug my water down? Am I excited to to talk to God about what my plans are for the day? Do I take the time to listen to what He as to say?  Do I take the opportunity to learn from Him by listening to what His plans are for me to do during that day not only through His spirit but also through His words from the scriptures?

Am I excited to talk to Him throughout that day to let Him know how things are going?  Do I ask for forgiveness regularly for the mistakes that I made? Do I check in with Him at the end of the day to discuss how it went and to go over the accomplishments that I had or didn’t have?  Do I talk about my feelings and the strength that I may have gained that day?  Do I take the opportunity to show gratitude for the good that took place in my day?

I know these are a lot of questions to contemplate.  But they really made me think hard about what is most important.  Water for my physical body?  Or Living water for my spirit?

In the Bible, when Christ meets the woman at the well He asks her for a drink.  He then explains the significance of what He had asked.  We read in  John 4:13-14

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (meaning physical water from the well)

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (meaning The Gospel of Jesus Christ)

These things that I have mentioned are so much more important than getting in my daily ounces of water.  While that is important, our emphasis should be on getting our time with the Lord FIRST.  To have experiences or ounces if you will, with the Lord daily, multiple times per day.

I was also thinking about what getting dehydrated does to your body.  Just few of the symptoms of dehydration in the physical body are:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Headache.
  • Dry skin.
  • Dizziness.

So I got thinking about that in a spiritual sense and how dehydration of the spirit (or lack of the spirit in our lives) would look to us.  And these are some of the things I came up with.  I’m sure there are many more but here are a few:

  •  A greater amount of contention
  • Anxiety
  • Easily provoked to anger
  • Lack of willingness to serve others (selfishness)
  • Low self -control or lack of self discipline
  • We may make unwise choices
  • Wrestless feelings or lack of peace
  • Feelings that something is missing in our lives

Since that day with the water bottle, I have actively tried to make Christ an even greater part of my day to day life. I have been amazed at the light and inspiration that seem to flow (like water) into my mind and heart.  I have been setting aside a block of time during the day to study His word.  I have been doing this most of my life.  But instead of rushing through my study just to get it done I am more intentional and dedicated to setting that block of time to ponder and meditate upon the words of the scriptures and to listen to what God has for me to learn, know, or do that day.  It has greatly enhanced my day.

Some of the benefits that I have noticed since I have been doing this are: I am less anxious and more at peace throughout the day.  I am less distracted by social media and other distractions that seem to bombard us daily.  I am happier about waking up in the morning (its easier to roll out of bed and not hit the snooze button).  I find that I have more charity towards others (I am not as easily annoyed, lol).  I’m literally filled with a joy that I have not experienced in this way.  And I find myself looking for ways to interact with others and share a little light with them.  Just brighten someones day with a smile, a text, a phone call, etc.  In John & 37

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Kathleen H. Hughes a former member of the General Relief Society said this in a talk given in April of 2003

“Living water heals. It nourishes and sustains. It brings peace and joy.

A woman I know was struggling with anger toward someone who had hurt her and her family. Though she told her children not to become embittered and resentful, she fought those feelings herself. After weeks of entreating her Father in Heaven, she finally felt a change. She related: “One day, in the midst of my nearly constant prayers, the healing came. I felt a physical sensation spread through my body. After, I felt a sense of security and peace. I knew that regardless of what happened, my family and I would be all right. The anger left me and so did my desire for retaliation.”

The living water is the gospel of Jesus Christ; its communicator is the Holy Ghost. My friend knew what was right. She had said the appropriate words to her family. But only when she humbled herself enough to drink of the water—to feel the Holy Spirit—could she begin to heal.”

It is my hope that together we can seek greater humility in our lives so that we can each partake of the Living Water.  Christ brings healing power, He hydrates us and feels us with love.  If we immerse (I love that word!) ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will be amazed at the light and love that flow endlessly into our daily lives.

Oh and drink your water too! 🙂

XO Wendy

 

Feed my Sheep

Over and over again this thought has come to my mind in the last month.  I will pray and ask God, “Is there anything you would have me do or know?”  And inevitably the answer comes “Feed My Sheep”.  So of course it has been at the forefront of my mind, wondering exactly how he wants me to “Feed his Sheep”.   And then I walked into church on Sunday and wouldn’t you know it,  there were little sheep everywhere, lol.  Not real sheep of course, but the decorations that we had for our special Mother’s Day lesson was entitled, you guessed it, “Feed my Sheep”.    Super cute too!  You know how those mormon women like to decorate for everything, haha!

Anyway, that made me think that I am certainly not the only one that is feeling that prodding and poking to share the word of God with others.  I suppose that is what all of this means.  That He wants us to share his word with all that we come into contact with.   So how do we do that?

Certainly much of what we do is by example.  Matthew 8:14-16 reads:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

If we are to look at our children or children that we come into contact with through various means, how do they learn?  How do they grow?  It is by watching those who have gone before them.  Learning their way from those who have already learned.   That is why we grow up in a family unit, go to school, or to church, or are drawn to others.  It is because of that urgency to learn more, to grow, to experience life. We can not learn all things all at once.  we teach the way our Father taught us, it is ... line upon line, precept upon precept.  Here a little and there a little.  Isaiah 28: 10 . 

And again we read in 2 Nephi 28:30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little;  

This is how God wants us to teach and this is how God wants us to learn.

Another way that we “Feed his Sheep”  is through love.  President Thomas S. Monson taught “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”  

When a lawyer asked Jesus which of the commandments was the greatest, He could have chosen any of the many commandments from the Old Testament, from the law of Moses, or from the Ten Commandments. Instead, He summarized all of the commandments in these two:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  “This is the first and great commandment.  “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” Matthew 22:37–39).

I remember a time when I had a newborn son in the NICU.  It was grueling days at the hospital, hoping to see signs of improvement.  I had 3 other children that had to be cared for at home.  But all I wanted to do was be with my newborn son and comfort and love on him.  I wanted him to come home with me.  Every day I would plead with the Lord to make my son whole so that I could bring him home.  He only spent 12 days there, but that gave me a whole new appreciation for those that spend weeks and months there.  It is not an easy feat by any means.  However, I was shown so much love through that experience.

I will never forget those who took my children so I could be at the hospital, or the many meals that were brought in so I didn’t have to worry about dinner.  Or the church members that came to the rescue and gave priesthood blessings when it didn’t look like he was going to make it.  But one of the acts of kindness and love, I remember the most was probably one of the smallest, but it meant so much to me.

One of my neighbors brought an Easter Lily and left it on my porch.  It was not in bloom yet… maybe just one or two were blooming.  But she had left the kindest note and mentioned that maybe each day when I got home another bloom would be out, reminding me that it is the small steps that my son was making each day that would get him home.  She said, “by the time these Easter Lilies are in full bloom, maybe he will get to come home.”  It meant so much to me that she put some thought into something so small, but that would come to mean so much to me over the years.  He did come home (he’s 22 now!) and the Easter Lilies were in full bloom and it was glorious.  The smell of them always reminds me of that time in my life when I thought my world was spinning out of control.  But it was one of his faithful servants just … responding with love and kindness to whatever came her way.   To this day, I still LOVE Easter Lilies!

 These are not the only ways, for there are many, many ways that we can love, serve, and teach others.  But know that the smallest act of love are a symbol of the love that we have for God.  John 21:15-17 

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Remember that most of the ways that we “Feed his Sheep” are by the small and seemingly insignificant acts, like the Easter Lily, that help someone feel loved, cared for and appreciated.  I hope that today you will find a way to… respond with love and kindness to whatever comes your way.