November Joy

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November might possibly be my favorite month of the year.  It’s just so beautiful, the season of Fall is truly underway, and the delights of friends, family, and food await us by the bucket-load!

Happy November to you if you’re reading this!

When I think of November, I always think of our American tradition of Thanksgiving. This is the month of all months, especially for dwelling on how grateful we are for the blessings in our life.

After deciding to do a Thankfulness journal back in August, cataloging my days with the boys like a diary of sorts, and adding in one thing every night that I was grateful for, I’ve decided this is something I will always try to do.  It’s been so wonderful to look back at the days, see what we did, the little hilarious things that happened, or the sad things and how we got through them, but especially to see what I thanked God for before bed each night.  It’s been interesting to wrap up each day, no matter how good or terrible it was, with the blessing of choosing thankfulness for at least ONE thing I was grateful for.  The days ebb and flow, stretching out and long, or passing by faster than I felt I could keep up, but God’s love remained the same.

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I love the seasons, how each year brings a chance of renewal and remembering what God has blessed us with or brought us through, or what He’s doing right now in our trials.  Recently, our Bible study has switched from studying about the wonder of God, to the joy He wants us to experience.  It’s a strange thing to be studying so much about joy when November, for me, has always been about thankfulness.

I didn’t really realize it, but joyfulness comes extremely easily to me… and this is a gift I should be thankful for!  Ever since being accused of not being genuine – being too happy to be real – back when I was maybe 16 or 17, I’ve wondered why my joy, my genuine happiness wasn’t always perceived as a reality.

Our study guide asked us each to rate on a scale of 1-10, how much joy we have in our life, and I rated it easily at a 9 out of 10.

Joy, happiness, cheerfulness are feelings that come easily to me, but I never understood how much of a blessing this was until doing this study.  In fact, I almost felt a little ashamed at my celebrating the joyfulness of life, afraid that I only looked fake.  I never realized how this is something people sometimes have to work at, and sometimes very hard.  The author of the study admitted she believed her capacity for joy in her life had been only at a 3 out of 10 before searching it out in Scriptures.  I guess when someone is at such a low score of joy in their own life, when they see someone who has a higher level of joy, their first thought is that this person can’t be real, that having that kind of experience must be fake.

“Joy is a gift.

You can be more joyful tomorrow than you are today.”

A huge part of being joyful though, is allowing yourself to enjoy the gifts God’s give to all people in life.  It is also understanding yourself enough to know how to search out and go do the things that fill you back up with more joy when you’re running low or going through a difficult time.

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Whatever it is, joy doesn’t seem to be something that is passively waiting for everything to be just right before we can feel it’s pleasure.

JOY INVOLVES A SPECTRUM OF EMOTIONS, ACTIONS, AND RESPONSES THAT INCLUDE GLADNESS, CHEER, HAPPINESS, MERRIMENT, DELIGHTING, DANCING, SHOUTING, EXULTING, REJOICING, LAUGHING, PLAYING, BRIGHTENING, BLESSING, AND BEING BLESSED, TAKING PLEASURE IN, AND BEING WELL-PLEASED.

One of my favorite places to go in the mornings for a walk with the baby.

One of my favorite places to go in the mornings for a walk with the baby.

Make November full of joy for yourself and your family!

Cook up your favorite holiday dishes a little earlier, make some delicious pumpkin pancakes with hot maple syrup for breakfast, go for a walk in nature and really feel the vibrancy of the colors around you.  Curl up in quiet space with a good book and glass of wine, or get up early and wrap up in a blanket on the couch with a hot cup of your favorite coffee.  These are things that never fail to bring me joy.

Promise to do something, to be radiant with God’s love for you, and to allow yourself to search out joy this November, and I wonder if you’ll find yourself also swelling with gratitude in the end.