Thursday, 9 August 2018

Choosing Joy

I'm tired. I never fully understood the whole "emotional rollercoaster" thing until this year. Cause oh boy. It's funny how you can feel on top of the world one day and then down in the deepest, darkest depths of despair the next. I thought I had cried the hardest I could possibly cry one day - and then cried even harder the next.

I overthink things. I question my motives, my decisions, and am always second guessing myself. Take the past two days for example. I feel like I went through a bunch of odds and ends jobs that were almost back-to-back to each other the entire day. And I'm hoping I was doing that because I truly wanted to help people. But what if I was doing it just to keep myself busy and not let myself sink into that dark depression again? Or the next morning, I woke up fairly early and got right into my day - but doing a lot more than I usually do. Did my devotions, then ate breakfast (since I don't normally eat breakfast that's actually kind of a weirdly big deal for me), took Maple for a walk on the road (I like never do that), read a book by the Girl Defined gals, started to go on the computer to scroll through social media, but suddenly decided to read through a whole container of books with my baby sister instead (also hardly ever do that), emptied the dishwasher (one of my brothers' chores), and then drove to change bunkies at a neighbours'. When I got home, I read an entire book then fell asleep - and woke up crying because I finally remembered what I had dreamt about the night before. You know those dreams where it just hurts and then when you finally wake up you're so relieved that it was just a dream and not real? Yeah, one of those. And when I finally sat down and let my mind think - yep. Now it's bugging me that the reason I actually did all those things that morning was not that I wanted to be involved in my family life and be a help - but rather because I was unconsciously trying to forget that dream.

I almost feel like that's what I've been doing all summer. Working, trying to keep busy, desperately searching and finding things to do to keep my mind on anything and everything but the thing that will drag me down. Hoping that maybe if I stay busy enough I'll forget, that the pain will go away, that it won't hurt anymore, that the ache will fade. And sometimes I feel like it's working - but then one thought and I come crashing back down again.

But, praise the Lord, I'm learning.


Enter that thing called Choosing Joy. Possibly one of the hardest yet best choices any person could make. Because when I decide to follow joy, my mind is directed onto something else. It doesn't make me forget the worries and problems of life - but it helps me find a way to deal with them.


Happiness is not the same thing as joy. Why? Because joy does not depend on the circumstance. If you're reading this, you probably know how difficult it can be to choose joy in the middle of a hard time. How, at some points, it would be so much easier to just give in to the feelings and stop fighting those tiring mind battles and just sink. But I'm telling you right now, as someone who's gone through it and someone who still is going through stuff - it IS possible to choose joy right smack in the middle of the problem. No matter how hard the circumstance.


I'm not going to pretend that choosing joy - and continuing to choose joy - is easy. It's not. I mean, when everything's going all fine and dandy then yeah, of course, it's easy to be joyful. But when times are hard? When everything seems to be falling apart? When you feel like you're sinking into a black hole? Proclaiming joy - pure, 100% joy - is not easy.

Even if you're able to somehow drill the whole choosing joy thing into you, it can still be a struggle. One day, by God's grace, I was reminded of James 1:2-3 where it says to "count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness". I was determined to count it all joy no matter what happened - and then the very next day went through one of the hardest things I've had to deal with in my life. So there I was, basically crying my heart out and at the same time whispering "I choose joy" over and over through my tears.

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I'm still thanking God for giving me the strength to have been able to do what I did that day. Despite the seemingly endless hurt and ache, I was eventually able to refocus myself and actually be joyful. I still remember looking at my sock drawer of all things and realizing that the ache had turned into joy - a joy that made me want to twirl and dance around. It was a joy that was anchored in someone - Someone who I knew I could always count on, who would never end, who was always faithful and who was the best source of joy in the whole entire universe.


I still struggle to choose joy in circumstances. It's definitely not something that automatically happens once you conquer it the first time. Maybe it makes it easier, but it's something you have to choose over and over and over again. But I've realized - it's so much more worthwhile to choose joy. It might be harder to follow, but it has more lasting results than the whole "keep busy and you'll maybe forget" lie I was believing for a while. And, I don't know about you, but for me personally, I find it harder to stay grumpy. I can get grumpy easily enough, but staying that way for an extended period of time is a bit harder. Like, if I'm grumpy but something funny happens, I have to laugh even though I'm "supposed" to be grumpy. Or the times when I'm feeling down but really want to have some fun but can't very well do so being grumpy, so then decide to maybe save the grumps for later :P I'll admit, there have been occasions where that was so not the case and I've sunk into darker, deeper depressions than I'd like to have experienced. But I couldn't ever truly stay that way. That God-given joy and peace and love isn't just some fairy tale! It's very, very real. So yeah. I still prefer choosing joy. And trust me, I'm not just saying that because I want to spew out inspiring quotes and it's really easy for me to say because I'm not actually going through anything right now etc. Yeahhhh no. I'm saying this as someone who is going through something Right. This. Very. Moment. So there!


I don't want to feel like I'm acting all the time. It's too tiring that way. I want to be myself - and I want myself to be joyful. I want to overflow with joy, spread joy, give joy, share joy. I want to be someone who chooses joy no matter what - and I hope I AM that kind of person. Not for any reason on earth. But because of God who wants me to be joyful too. And I'm praying that the joy I have is not any kind of world-given joy but is the truest, most authentic joy that exists - the kind that can only be obtained through our Heavenly Father.

Aaaand of course we, as Christians, need to make sure our truths are grounded in THE truth. So...here are some truths on joy.

TRUTH: We are called to be joyful 



"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" - Psalm 32:11

"Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him" - Psalm 98:1

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" - Psalm 37:4

"Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright" - Psalm 33:1

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!" - Psalm 100:1

"Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!" - Psalm 47:1

"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!" - Psalm 95:2

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!" - Psalm 98:4

(soooo many more passages like these...but I'll leave some for you to look up yourself ;))

TRUTH: The hard times won't last forever (Praise the Lord!!)



"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning" - Psalm 30:5

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!" - Psalm 126:5

TRUTH: A joyful life can be a testimony and witness to God



"The fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" - Galatians 5:22

TRUTH: Joy is actually good for you! Like chocolate - but even better πŸ˜„


"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" - Proverbs 17:22

"I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live" - Ecclesiastes 3:12

"And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun" - Ecclesiastes 8:15

TRUTH: The truest and best joy comes only from God



"The joy of the Lord is your strength" - Nehemiah 8:10

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" - Psalm 16:11

"For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence" - Psalm 21:6

"For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart"- Ecclesiastes 5:20

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit" - Psalm 51:12

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" - Romans 15:13

"Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes evident the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish" - 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

TRUTH: Joy is a choice



"I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation" - Habakkuk 3:18

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds" - James 1:2

TRUTH: You can be joyful in the fact that God has got e. v. e. r. y. t. h. i. n. g in control and He's ALWAYS there for you!


"In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him" - Ecclesiastes 7:14

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" - Deuteronomy 31:6

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" - Isaiah 41:10

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" - Proverbs 3:5-6

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" - Psalm 37:17-18

'" am with you always, even to the end of the world" - Matthew 28:20

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" - 1 Peter 5:10

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness'" - 2 Corinthians 12:9a

"...for with God all things are possible" - Mark 10:27b

"For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" - Romans 8:28

"There is no temptation overtaking you but that which is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to bear, but will with the testing also make a way to escape, that you may be able to endure it" - 1 Corinthians 10:13



There's still gonna be hard times. I'm still gonna fail. I'm still gonna cry. I'll probably be down in the dumps sometime sooner or later. But it's what happens later that really counts. Am I gonna stay a grumpy bear (and scare off anyone who comes within a ten-foot radius of me)? Or am I gonna sort through those feelings, refocus myself, and choose joy?



Trust me, I know it can be hard to choose joy, especially with everything going on around us. I need to constantly remind myself to redirect my thinking. It strays like nobody's business.

One way I've found that helps me choose joy is to... focus on joy. *blows mind* A shock to hear I'm sure ;) But it's true! The past little while, I tried finding ways to focus on joy. I wrote down quotes/Bible verses that I wanted to remember, saved inspirational images from my FB feed, switched my desktop screen to yet another quote, went through my Bible several times over to underline verses, etc. I just wanted to have these good (and godly) reminders everywhere so that no matter what, I'd have these things right in front of my face telling me to refocus myself and to shut up the dark thoughts dragging me down. 

Of course, it's not just the quotes that are doing the work. It's ultimately a matter of the heart. Whether we're actually willing to let the light be shone into our darkness. But if we give ourselves over to God, if we turn our focus on Christ and let Him lead us - then well, we're good to go!

I thought I'd share some of the quotes I've saved over the past couple of months. Prepare yourself though - there's a lot πŸ˜„





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And more quotes for you, just in case there wasn't enough already πŸ˜‰

"It is not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy"

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day" - Henri J. M. Nouwen

"The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives" - Russel M. Nelson

"I find joy in every day, not because life is always good, but because God is"

"Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy" - Joseph Campbell

"Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose" - C. S. Lewis

"Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God" - Sam Storms


Choosing joy can be hard. But just like anything else in the Christian walk, it is always worth it later on. And we're never alone in the fight! I maaay have believed the lie that I was alone for a little while...but then I was reminded that we're never alone in our struggles. We all learn the same lessons in life - just maybe at different times and circumstances. And that's why we have all these awesome brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us and encourage us along in our walk for the Lord. 

It's going to be a struggle. Probably a daily battle too by the looks of it. But God's on my side - and since He is, no one, not even Satan, can stand against us. 

I'm choosing joy, y'all! 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

THE RELUCTANT GODFATHER...Blog Tour!!!


*happy sigh* Just LOOK at that cover. Isn't it just amazing? I have a thing for filigrees...and gold...and ahhhhh xD 

Aaaaanyway we gotta get onto the book and a ton of other fun stuff too. Ahem. Welcome to the second day of The Reluctant Godfather blog tour relaunch! If you've never been to my blog before, then welcome and greetings and hope you enjoy your visit! And to those who've been here before...welcome to you too and SO glad you came back!! 😁 Now! Onto the tour!! 


ABOUT THE BOOK

A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella from a unique perspective. 

Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care...a cinder girl and a charming prince. 

A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He'll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love. 

The debut novella from Allison Tebo, The Reluctant Godfather is a new addition to the charming fairy tale tradition of Cameron Dokey and K. M. Shea 

You can find (and buy!!) The Reluctant Godfather on Amazon HERE or on Allison's website HERE

MY REVIEW

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This charming little novel is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story…but with a twist! I’ve read a lot of Cinderella retellings, but this one has got to be one of my favourites. It comes from a very unique point of view, not your typical retelling, that’s for sure! And the twist at the end! Ahhh! I mean, I’m *very* glad it happened, but still…totally wasn’t expecting that at all xD I'm not gonna reveal the twist cause DUH but hey, if you’re curious, you should go read it. *hint hint* Really though, I very much recommend this book to basically anyone and everyone! 

Oh yes and Burndee’s baking! *happy sigh* As a baker myself, I love love LOVE reading about any kind of baking in books :D And the wonderful author, Allison Tebo, not only did an awesome job with the characters and the plots and story telling, she did a marvellous job describing all that baking. Made me feel hungry yet strangely satisfied all at once ;)

My favourite character I think is a lot of people's favourite...but I mean, he's just AWESOME ok? And I think it might also have to do with the fact that you just don't normally see a fairy godfather in the Cinderella story. And let me tell you...he sure ain't the bubbly, bouncy, bippity boppity boo fairy godmother in Cinderella. If anything he's more like...the exact opposite. And yet somehow he's just as awesome...maybe even more awesome. Despite his cantankerousness (Is that a word??) he just had me laughing so much...he probably would've frowned on that but oh well. Burndee's just amazing, y'all. 

But I won't tell you ALL about him, otherwise it'd spoil the fun for you when you read it. So...obviously you know what I'm gonna say. 

Go read it!!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Allison Tebo is a Christian author in her mid-twenties who loves to write fiction in every genre. It is her goal to write fiction that appeals to many different kinds of people by writing clean, classic fun. Her desire is to provide quality stories for every age to enjoy. When she is not writing, Allison works as a sales associate for a major transportation company or might be found singing, painting, baking, or defending her championship title as Gif Master. 

Find her on social media! 

So today, I have the privilege and honour of interviewing the author herself....Allison Tebo! Shall we? πŸ˜‰

Welcome to the blog, Allison! So...how long have you been writing for and when did you discover your passion for writing? 
I've been writing for sixteen years. I originally started writing to imitate my big sister, who is also a writer--but almost immediately discovered that writing was something I loved to do. 

That's amazing! It's always so much fun when we discover passions of ours. Now let's talk about this novella of yours! What is your favourite part about The Reluctant Godfather and who's your favourite character? 
My favourite part about The Reluctant Godfather is that it makes people laugh. Even though I've read it so many times myself, it still makes me laugh. Laughter is such a gift, and to be able to give it to other people in the pages of a story is a blessing. My favourite character, at this point, would probably have to be Burndee--he is such a bundle of curmudgeonly insecurities and raw talent. A gruff, sarcastic mentor with a heart of gold. 

Yessss...Burndee is awesome. He just always had me laughing! Ok so slightly random question, but I tried to tie it into writing. What's your favourite food to snack on while you're writing?
I try not to eat TOO much while I write -- but I love to reward myself with some chocolate. I occasionally munch on popcorn or slurp on ice cream. 

Chocolate 😍That's all I'm gonna say on that certain topic xD Where do you find is the best place for you to write?
Either my desk in my bedroom or on the living room computer. I am very picky about where I write and once I get accustomed to working in a certain place, it's difficult for me to write anywhere else. 

Now for that one question where you just reveal some awesome amazing advice πŸ˜‰ What would you say to anyone aspiring to be a writer?
Don't rush into publication! A writer isn't necessarily the same thing as an author. Just because some publish doesn't mean you have to. If publishing is in your future--then I would advise you wait. Maturity will only enrich your writing to where it needs to be for publication and prepare you better for being a published author. Nothing in the world can replace experience--not only in honing your craft, but in living your life. Nothing can replicate the maturing that comes only through time. Just like a connoisseur waits for wine to age, the same truth applies to writers. 

There. See? Told ya. Awesome amazing advice. And totally relevant to life in general as well! Thank you so much for the interview!! ^_^ 

GIVEAWAY

Surely you didn't think we weren't going to have a giveaway too did you? This tour has it ALL, I'm telling ya! And ahhh would you just look at these amazing prizes??


All you gotta do is enter in the Rafflecopter below πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡ and you're good to go! The giveaway is only open for another 10 days so hurry and sign up! 


And just another pic of the prizes because they're just that awesome 😁

That about wraps up my post for today! But...the party doesn't end here! You can check out Alli's blog here: Allison's Well for more posts and fun stuff from her. And here's a schedule so you can follow the blog tour the next few days! 

Sunday, July 15th:
Introduction // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries
Review // Olivia R. @ Meanwhile, in Rivendell ...
Monday, July 16th:
Book Spotlight // Gabriellyn @ PageTurners
Tuesday, July 17th:
Review & Author Interview // Chloe @ Purely by Faith
Wednesday, July 18th:
Author Interview // Kimia Wood Blog
Thursday, July 19th:
Book Spotlight // Serethiel @ The Book Sprite
Friday, July 20th:
Book Spotlight // Angela R. Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger
Saturday, July 21st:
Author Interview & Book Spotlight // Victoria Lynn @ Ruffles and Grace
Sunday, July 22nd:
Review // Kimia Wood Blog
Monday, July 23rd:
Book Spotlight // Hannah @ H.S.J. Williams
Tuesday, July 24th:
Review // Rayleigh @ Literature Approved
Wednesday, July 25th:
Author Interview // Medomfo @ Writings From a God Girl
Thursday, July 26th:
Character Interview // Angela R. Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger
Friday, July 27th:
Review // Jessica Greyson
Review // Gracelyn Buckner @ Literatura
Saturday, July 28th:
Book Spotlight // Erika Mathews @ Resting Life
Wrapup // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries