Guest Blogger: Lindsay Harrel
***For the first three weeks in May, I want to introduce you to three author friends. They have books that have just released, and each of them has wisdom they’ll share in their posts that guided their stories. I am including links to their books, should you want to learn more. And no, I’m not earning anything from sharing them. I just want you to get to know these authors. Enjoy!***
I first came across Lindsay Harrel on a blog we both frequented. When I met her in person at a writer’s conference, I felt like I already knew her. She’s got a way with words and a passion for encouraging people. She’s a wife, a fellow boy-mom, and an author. I’ve loved reading her books, especially her most recent, The Joy of Falling, and walking this writing journey with her. Please welcome, Lindsay Harrel!
Last week’s book winner is: Jennifer Smith! Please email me within the next week with your address so we can get you your book.
I’ve been thinking about joy a lot lately.
Like many, I’ve struggled with a bit of depression over the craziness inflicted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It comes and goes, and it’s nothing like others experience, but it’s there, lurking in the corner and coming for a visit when I least expect it.
But here’s what I’ve learned about hard times—even in the midst of them, we can experience joy.
Let me rephrase that: we can CHOOSE joy.
How is that possible when so much is going wrong? When there’s so much uncertainty? Well, unlike happiness, which is temporary and based on circumstances, it’s because joy is something staid, permanent.
And joy is possible because we hang our hat on something deeper, because we believe in something—or Someone, rather—beyond ourselves, who is always there beside us no matter what storm is raging.
This is something the characters in my latest book, The Joy of Falling, have to discover as they navigate a journey of grief. They start out seeking happiness, and end their journey with something else entirely.
But how do we find joy? And how do we hold fast to it once we have it? I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few months, and I’ve realized that it’s something that needs to be cultivated with intent and purpose. Lately, I’ve tried to do just that, and I encourage you to do the same.
Remember: finding joy means doing things that remind us of the deeper hope we have in God. To that end, here are three specific ways I’ve tried to add the cultivation of joy into my life during this pandemic.
Prayer and Meditation
If we are constantly being depleted by life, by giving to others, by circumstances raging around us, then we NEED to be refilled. And for that, we must go to the source of living water. I have been trying to start my mornings with prayer, reading Scriptures, and meditating, and have found joy in the quietness with God. That start to my day is something I don’t want to trade for anything.
Yeah, there’s social media, but nothing beats true connection with friends who know us well (and love us anyway). I have been meeting virtually with a group of friends once a week since the quarantine began, and this has fed my soul in a way that nothing else can. These women encourage me, pray for me, and remind me that the dreary days will never be outweighed by the eternal hope I have in a God who will stick with me. They are the embodiment of God in that way, because I have confidence that they will never leave me either. So find ways to grab hold of true connection and don’t let it go!
It can be really easy to focus on the negative in life, especially when we are going through hard times. When I am intentional about writing out things I’m grateful for, it reminds me of all the blessings in my life, and that makes it even easier to choose joy. Looking at things in hindsight gives us the benefit of seeing how God has been faithful every step of the way—even when we didn’t see it at the time.
What about you? What are some ways you are cultivating joy in the midst of your trials?
Lindsay has offered to give away a copy of The Joy of Falling to one reader. Simply comment on Jeanne’s blog and you’ll be entered. (Open to the US only).
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommy-hood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time.
Fifteen months after Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident, and each woman is trying to navigate her way through the grief, without making much headway.
Angela barely makes ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Eva is stuck after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.
Then Eva receives a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they registered for an ultra-marathon in New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place. Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband’s choices.
Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who’s covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela ask themselves questions they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?
Connect with Lindsay here:
To purchase The Joy of Falling: click here