Day 30 – Think on These Things…

We’ve spent a month’s worth of posts thinking about ways to Take Joy! (Though that month stretched out quite a bit!) We’ve thought about what Joy! is, and what Joy! isn’t. About the source of true Joy!¬†About ways to fill ourselves with Joy! and share a bit of it with others around us. And I think we’ve just scratched the surface‚Ķ especially in the sharing area.

There’s one thought I’d like to leave you with before wrapping up this series. It’s been very important to me over the years. It’s a thought about how we think. Because what goes on in our heads every day affects our lives and those around us. And what goes INTO¬†our heads on a daily basis affects what goes on in our heads.

Kind of like the “garbage in, garbage out” principle.

That’s an old computer programmer line… if a program is badly written, it won’t work smoothly and produce the desired result. Our bodies are like that too‚Ķ If we fill them with junk, we can expect to get run down and feel yucky. Same goes for our heads. If we fill our heads constantly with the “bad”… and there is quite a bit of “bad” out there to be had‚Ķ there won’t be much Joy! to tap into when we need it.

So what to do?

When all you hear about is war and strife
and everyone is arguing about ducks
and movies are filled with violence
and the news is filled with terrible stories
and Facebook makes sure you know about all of it?

When the world seems especially gloomy, the best thing to do is make a decision about what kind of things you want to think about. Yes, we live in this crazy world, and every day we see so much that is wrong. But we need to remember that there is a lot of what’s right and good in this world too. And that’s what we need to fill our heads with, so our thoughts and actions can reflect good things.

Finally brothers (and sisters!),
Whatever things are true,

Whatever things are honest,
Whatever things are just,
Whatever things are pure,
Whatever things are lovely,
Whatever things are of good report,
If there is any virtue,
If there is any praise,
Think on these things.
Philippians 4:8 (paraphrased)


I’ll be posting Day 31 but the end of this week
with the winner of the Take Joy! Giveaway!
There’s still some time to sign up by leaving a¬†
comment on Day 26! Just click here!!!

To read the whole series,
click on the picture below!

Day 29 – An Open Door Policy

One of the best ways we can share Joy! with others is to open our homes to them. From big family gatherings on a holiday, to a cup of tea and some muffins, to a bed hastily made on the couch because the roads are icy‚Ķ Hospitality is always appreciated. And it’s not about being the perfect hostess, or having everything “Pinterest Perfect!” (I LOVE Pinterest, by the way!) Hospitality is about making room for others in your life‚Ķ Offering some comfort and some friendship‚Ķ Taking the time to read a story to a little person or making a shy teen feel like they’re important.¬†It could be a warm cup of coffee or a cool glass of ice water. It’s all about sharing Joy!

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

Since our nest became empty, Hubby and I have had this feeling deep down that we’ve been blessed with our home for a reason, and that it needs to be shared. It needs to be open‚Ķ ready for family, friends, neighbors, strangers‚Ķ and maybe even some angels. It’s been a lot of work to clear out twenty-some years of clutter and make some room in our home and our lives for the “whoevers” that may come along. But we want to be ready. We want the door to be open.

I know that our house is not “company ready” every day‚Ķ With a busy life, lots of art orders, and a variety of home update projects, there have been days that our house looks like a Michaels/Lowes/packing supply explosion, but I’ve found a few things that can help keep me keep a ready-for-anything attitude when it comes to someone popping in suddenly…

Morning Chores
Since our girls were little, we had a list of chores
to run through each morning. I’ve found when I’m
consistent with this, the house doesn’t get too messy.
I can even skip some of the chores on many days!

Parlor Mentality
Back in the day, our grandparents kept the parlor ready
for guests… often to the point of not letting the children in!
I don’t believe in going to that extreme, but it does help to¬†have
a room that stays relatively clean when unexpected guests arrive!

First Impressions
Something else that has helped me over the years is to stand at
the doorway and look in the entry to our home as if I’m a guest
or the UPS guy. That usually has me gathering up a few stray things
or grabbing a vacuum to give the entry rug a once over!

Five Minute Pick-Up
If you do get a bit of warning that company is coming,
it’s amazing what you can do in just five minutes to make the house
ready for guests! We’re talking triage here‚Ķ gather your stray coffee
cups, straighten the stack of magazines, fluff the pillows on the couch,
empty the trash, and put away that last load of laundry!

Clear the Table
For some reason, our dining room table seems to catch things that
come in the door… purses, groceries, receipts, important papers…
…and for some reason, the dining room table is where guests congregate!
It’s helped to set up a receiving station near the door to have a place
to catch the entryway clutter, but I often still need to make a point
¬†to clear the table so there’s room for good conversation!

Most of all, remember that any guests that come to your home do not usually come to “see” you home‚Ķ They come to visit with you! Forget the little piles of clutter when they are there and share some Joy! with your company. Open up the door and say “Come on in!”

Speaking of sharing Joy!…
Click here to sign up for a free
framed papercutting!
Winner to be announced on Day 31
of the Take Joy! series!

Click below to read the entire series…


Day 28 – Joyful, Joyful!


Joyful, Joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee!

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother –
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine!

TakeJoyButton2013Take Joy!
on this First Sunday of Advent!

And don’t forget to sign up for the Giveaway!!!

Day 26 – Give From Your Heart… and A Joyful Giveaway!

Thought you might like this classic by O. Henry…

The Gift of the Magi

Giving that comes straight from the heart,
with no thought of what you’ll get in return.

Isn’t that where our hearts should be?

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart,
not reluctantly, or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7

As October’s *ahem* 31Days project is stretching out toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, the time of the year when we think most about giving and hospitality, I’m praying that the “giving from the heart” principle will firmly plant itself in mine. I think it will make a huge difference in planning and shopping for the holidays. When we forget self, and think only of others, it really changes our perspective. What a great way to Take Joy!

And in the spirit of giving…

A Take Joy! Giveaway!

To make the button for the Take Joy! series, I actually did a
papercutting for the base artwork, and added the words in PhotoShop.

We just finished framing it…


… And we think it needs to go to one of your homes!

Post a comment on this post to be included in the Giveaway!

We’ll do a drawing from all the names, and the winner
will be announced on Day 31 of the Take Joy! series!

You’ll have to pay attention, because I’m not sure of the actual date of that post!



Day 25 – Share What You Have…


I vote we move the 31 Days Project to mid-Winter.

When nothing else is happening, and there’s plenty of time to blog.

Now… Back to Taking Joy!

One of the best ways to spread Joy! to those around us is to share what we have with others. When we hold onto things tightly, and hoard them away for ourselves, we can start to resemble a toddler declaring “Mine!” when it comes to sharing their toys. Sharing is much more fun than fighting over stuff. Most of us have more than we need, anyway. This time of year, as we move into the Holiday season, ¬†is an especially good time to think about sharing… What do we have that we can share with others? Let’s think practically…

Extra clothes? Things we’ve outgrown?
Do you know someone with kids a bit smaller than yours?

Too many toys? Can we make some room in the toy chest?
It will be overflowing in just a few weeks.

An excess of Holiday decorations?
Is there a newly married couple who might be lacking
ornaments for their tree or need a Nativity Set?

A cake, pie, or batch of muffins?
Do the two of us really need to eat all that,
or would our neighbor appreciate a surprise?

A too-big pot of soup you made and now you wonder
if you thought you were cooking for an army?
Could you freeze it in meal-size portions for
an elderly shut-in at church?

A free afternoon? Is there a young mom that
might appreciate the chance to grocery shop alone?

Your secret chocolate stash?
Would your teen-ager feel extra special if you
pulled a Hershey bar out of nowhere during a
soul-baring after-school conversation?

Or your Hubby after a long day at work?

When we start thinking about what we can give away instead of what we can gather for ourselves, our perspective on Joy! really takes on a new shape. Our thoughts on what is “enough” really begin to change… allowing us to give away more. And there is so much more Joy! in giving than in receiving!


Day 24 – As Simple as a Smile

Giving away some Joy! can be as simple as a smile.


In seventh grade, my new friend Rosie and I had an idea. I can’t remember if it came from the suggestion of a teacher or from something we read, but somehow our twelve year-old minds got the idea to try an experiment in the halls of our middle school. Which, by the way, was a rather intimidating place. We two were the¬†shortest kids in our class. (We’re still shorter than the average 7th grader!) We had just come to this new school from our familiar and cozy elementary schools. We both had a case of shyness around new people and in new situations. And there were big kids… NINTH GRADERS. Nobody made eye contact, but just pushed and shoved their way to their next class.¬†We felt like we were swept along in a rip current when we stepped into those halls.

So we concocted a plan.

We would try smiling at anyone that looked us in the eye.

And maybe even say “Hi.”

And you know what? We saw that smiling and saying hello did make a difference! No, the between-class traffic jams didn’t get much better. But over time, as we smiled at anyone that was paying attention, we began to see some of them smile back. Sometimes they smiled at us first. And if we met them in an empty hall, we’d say “Hi,” and they’d say “Hi,” even if we didn’t know each other.

It was cool.

And it still works, even in real life.

In the long line at the post office.

With the crying toddler at the grocery store.

And with his exhausted mom.

Giving away a smile can help someone else
Take Joy!

SmileBy KateClick on the picture above to see
more of our daughter Kate’s artwork!

It only takes a spark to get a fire going
and soon all those around will warm up in its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love,
once you’ve experienced it.
You spread the love to everyone,
You want to pass it on.

Day 23 – Giving Joy!

Giving is a Happiness

I know someone who visits friends
a basket at her side.
Replete with portions of her heart,
a joy her hands provide.
She’ll bring a freshly minted tea,
perhaps a book or two,
and jam she made a summer day,
a daffodil she grew.
For giving is a happiness
that spreads from just a start
By someone with a basketful
of treasures from the heart.

~Virginia Covey Boshell~

Our next thoughts on how to Take Joy!
will be about sharing Joy! with those around us!


Day 22 – Simple Joys!

Sometimes it’s the little things.


Tea and cookies.

A hot bubble bath.

A shiny sink and just-mopped floor.

A quiet few minutes before the kids
coming tumbling down the stairs.

A walk on the beach.


A good book.

A Jane Austen or Charles Dickens movie marathon.

A “just because” note in the mailbox.

A steaming loaf of homemade bread with butter.

Brand new crayons.



What sorts of little things help you to Take Joy! each day?


The art of being happy lies in the power of
extracting happiness from common things.
~Henry Ward Beecher~