I’m going to try to explain the inexplicable. How do you describe joy? It’s not simply happiness. It’s the overflowing of very exuberant feelings that I believe are brought on by living as I’m called to live in my relationship with Jesus. Indulge me as I try to share my heart on this topic of joy.
As I was thinking about naming my website, I just knew that I had to include JOY in the name somehow. My journey has been focused on joy from the very beginning. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I latched onto it (which kind of makes me sad, considering my Type A tendencies!). I began to realize that everything God was revealing to me centered on the gift of joy. And so, I began including #ChooseJoy in every aspect of my day.
When I talk about this journey, I’m intentionally framing it as “joy IN the journey” instead of “journey to joy”. I was very intentional each day to choose joy. How do you take the mundane day to day and choose joy?
- Joy in getting up? The highlight of my day now is my bible study time and I do this first thing in the morning. My Bible & Beans – a joyous start to the day. I actually wake up excited now to see what God has to share with me through His Word.
- Joy in my 40 minute commute to work (hello snowy covered roads!)? Crank up the speakers and sing worship songs at the top of my lungs. Oh yeah – PURE JOY!
- Joy in the routine at work? There is nothing at work that is going to get me down – besides, I am so BLESSED to have excellent, kind coworkers. It truly is a family environment from the CEO down to the newest hires.
- Joy in grocery shopping. Check out that bacon – on sale again! I’ll take all 10 packages, thank you very much!
- Joy in meal planning? Have you seen all those Keto recipes on the world wide web? We have so many options – I love trying to figure out what will work in my schedule and for my family!
- Joy in laundry? Ummm, hello. My pants are the same size as my skinny daughters (heeheehee!).
- Joy in putting my family’s dishes in the dishwasher. Single. Day? Now this one used to really bother me – but now as much as I’d like them to clean up after themselves, if I have to do it, I do it with an attitude of serving. That’s what moms do, right?
You see my point. I very intentionally began choosing joy in every waking moment. And let’s not forget that I had it tattooed on my arm (still no regrets…HA!).
My journey made me pause and wonder – like the old question “which came first – the chicken or the egg”? Which came first – my attitude of joy by choice or my attitude of joy because of my weight loss and health improvements? I really do spend time thinking about these things! My answer is my attitude of joy by choice– before I even began to experience the health benefits of my joyful keto journey. That intentional effort is what aided me every step of the way on this journey. I have been set free by the grace of God and only with the gift of joy that He alone encouraged and provided. I say that He encouraged it – because it was no coincidence that every God-incidence message I was getting from Him was about joy. Sermons at church. Almost every one came around to the theme of joy. New worship songs. Joy. A speaker at a health conference (not faith based) – main theme: Joy. So much JOY everywhere I went. Message received. I needed more joy in my life.
a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
There are so, so many verses about joy in scriptures. I’m in the process now of compiling them all on a graphic to have as an easy reference. The two passages of scripture that I cling to are from Psalm and Galatians.
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
What an amazing promise that HE makes known to YOU (and ME) the path of life! How do we know the right path? It starts by being in His word and spending time in prayer with Him – literally asking for guidance. I did this with my health. As I was facing a surgery I did not want to have and sleep issues – I literally begged God for answers and began searching for scriptures related to health and wellness. I kept stumbling upon verses about joy. He will fill YOU with JOY when you remain in His presence, and His joy is eternal. JOY is realizing that He cares for YOU and ME.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In this passage, Paul is reminding believers to live life in the Holy Spirit and that it is this indwelling spirit in us that produces fruit for His kingdom. We are unable by our own power to aspire to these Godly characteristics. I go back to this passage time and time again for the reminder and comfort that His Holy Spirit dwelling in us can bring about true joy in living for Him. I am going to be writing more about this passage because I apply all nine of these fruits of the spirit to my Keto journey. There is a lot to explore here!
Both of these passages remind me that JOY comes from a much deeper state of existence than happiness. I have always been a happy person – my life has been blessed. I have a wonderful family, immediate and extended. I have beautiful lifelong friends and lovely sisters in Christ. We have all journeyed this life together and celebrate these relationships. But I never really understood the true meaning of joy until I began searching for something more that was missing in my life.
As a lifelong Christian – it is very humbling and at the same time hard to put this into words that you might understand. I have been thinking and praying about how to share this for weeks and finally, finally God revealed to me a very unusual scripture that gave me my “ah-ha” light bulb moment. Some background information on this scripture – for starters, let me just say that when my bible study resource (Proverbs 31 Ministries First 5) announced that the next study was the minor prophets, let’s just say I was less than thrilled. But I have committed to following this study whatever comes up next. I dove into their study called “Prone to Wander”. Funny how God ALWAYS knows what lesson you need next. Prone to wander? Hello, this was my Christian walk for decades. Those Israelites – the ones that wander and continually repeat the same sin over and over and over and over again (Hello? Don’t they learn anything?) – we do the very same thing over and over and over and over again. Israel’s story is OUR story. Praise God that His love is relentless!
Back to the scripture that answered some questions about my journey. It is found in the book of Amos, chapter 8. Amos? I never would have thought to look in Amos!
Amos 8:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.
13 “In that day the lovely young women and strong young men
will faint because of thirst.”
You might need to read that a few times to get that. What kind of famine is being referred to? Not a famine of food or water. It is speaking here of a famine from the Word of the Lord! What do people do during a famine? They are forced to take action – search for food and water. How much more severe is a spiritual famine? I’d say even more deadly. Amos is warning the Israelites that because their hearts are far from God, there will be consequences! STOP WANDERING! They need to immediately stop satisfying their souls with other things and return to the healing relationship that only God can provide. In regard to food and water, Jesus says –
John 6:35 New International Version (NIV)
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Jesus is the true source of living water. My healing can only come through Him. He started the process of healing my spirit by speaking to me of His JOY and His grace and His love and His mercy. It is only by His guidance that my journey to joy has even been possible. I found everything I need in Him.
When I’m asked how I got to this point in my journey to health, sure I will talk about Keto and fasting and how this lifestyle is perfect for my messed up metabolism. I will talk about how other diets have failed me. I had tried many, many times to lose weight with other diets. I thought I was including God in my journeys then – but looking back, I definitely was not. I was trying to do it on my own power. I never prayed and sought His guidance about it like I did this time. I believe with all my being that because I cried out to God for answers that he led me right to the perfect diet that I needed for my metabolism and my messed up biology. I truly believe that my restored health is 100% the result of quenching my spiritual thirst through my search for JOY. I am overwhelmed and speechless when I realize that I have true JOY. I have been healed spiritually, physically and emotionally! How do you put that in words? JOY is a very hard thing to put into words. I praise Him in the morning, in the evening, and all the time in between for His provisions and for the AH-mazing gift of the JOY in the journey. My deepest desire for you is to find the true source of JOY as you journey through this Joyful Keto Life. Where can you find joy in your journey? I’d love to hear your stories, too!
Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a JOYFUL heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.