Guest Posts, Joy, Trials

Joy: Three Ways to Find Joy in Difficult Times

A zucchini blossom in a garden, a reminder that we must cultivate joy

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.

A garden with vegetables growing in it

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.

A bench in a flower garden just turning green

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.

A meme that says, "Joy is something that needs to be cultivated with intent and purpose." ~Lindsay Harrel on a backdrop of an open zucchini blossom

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.

Connection

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!

White flower blossoms

Gratitude

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? 

Giveaway!

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).

Click to Tweet: Finding joy means doing things that remind us of the deeper hope we have in God.

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

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.

Author Lindsay Harrel shares three ways to cultivate joy in this difficult season we're living in. She's also giving away a copy of her newest book.

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

Website

Facebook

Instagram

26 thoughts on “Joy: Three Ways to Find Joy in Difficult Times”

  1. Perhaps not joy, but perception.

    This is where the pavement stops,
    this is where the arrows fly;
    this is where you earn your chops,
    this is where the legends die.
    This is where the sand runs red,
    thi is where the fresh blood flows;
    this is where we stack the dead,
    this is where the glory goes.
    This is where the giants fall,
    this is where you see the end;
    this is where you lose it all,
    this is where you need a friend.
    This is where you do not yield;
    these are your Elysian Fields.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, you have the heart of a warrior and the spirit of a hero. Thank you for your poem. In the end, God knows our hearts behind our actions, and He looks most at where our hearts are at in relation to Him. Though joy may not be a companion for you right now, compassion and truth come through your words. Thank you for sharing here, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Jeanne, for sharing your friend and her words here!
    Lindsay, I live in the reality of “choosing joy” so often. My natural tendency seems to be a talent for finding the dark side of a situation, but God’s at work–and he never gets tired ot teaching me!

    Like

  3. I’m cultivating joy by spending extra time in nature observing the wonders of creation. Your book sounds amazing :). It’s nice to meet a fellow Arizonan writer (and Jane Austen lover).

    Like

    1. Anita, spending time in nature helps me to be more mindful of God’s presence and cultivates joy in my heart too. It would be really fun if you and Lindsay ever have the chance to meet. 🙂

      Like

  4. Sounds like a wonderful story! I’m intrigued! Will add it as a read for your book club. And book club is one of the joy’s in my life. Love discovering and talking books!

    Like

  5. Jeanne, thank you for introducing us to Lindsay. I am in total agreement: we do get to choose joy. It is a choice we get to make every day. I find that cultivating gratitude for all the blessings I have allows me to choose joy when my inclination might be to look at all that is wrong with the world.

    Like

    1. Yes, Laurie, it is a choice we make each day. I’m with you, when I’m cultivating gratitude joy seems to dwell more freely in my heart. Thanks for the reminder to look for the good.

      Like

  6. This is a beautiful post, and I agree with all your tip about cultivating joy. It’s so important to look to God and to discover a joy deeper than we will ever find in our circumstances.

    Like

  7. This is great, Jeanne! And so true that joy must be intentionally cultivated. Great reminder.

    Like

  8. What a great post and a wonderful reminder that we can choose and cultivate joy even amidst these uncertain times!! Gratitude is a big one for me. I have endured many seasons of anxiety and journaling the good gifts around me (from the big ones to the small ones) is so healing and helps redirect my gaze from my problems to by God.

    Linking to a recent post about Jesus as a Good Shepherd with insights from one of my favorite books, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, which I think is such a timely book!!

    Like

    1. Elena, I’m so glad we “have control” over this facet of this collective experience. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that gratitude is an important key to cultivating joy. I love that you’re journaling gifts. I do the same thing. Thanks for sharing your link. I’ve read that book and gleaned so much from it! appreciate you stopping by!

      Like

  9. Hi Lindsay! Thank you for pointing us to joy through prayer, connection, and gratitude. I agree that in order to find joy there is a sense of intentionality that we need to grab onto. I am seeking joy these days by getting outside and walking. There is so much beauty if we just stop and look for it.

    Like

    1. Mary, thanks so much for stopping by! I like how you’re seeking joy…there’s something about being outside and seeing God’s beauty, feeling the air move around us, feeling sunshine on our skin that encourages joy.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great message, Lindsay! During this crazy time, I’ve tried to cling to the sure joy I have in Christ. The Solid Rock is our only sure footing. Love this line, Joy is “something that needs to be cultivated with intent and purpose.”

    Like

  11. I am so very grateful that the joy doesn’t leave just because we might be unhappy or things aren’t going our way. Praise God for the fruit of the Spirit which stays with us no matter what our circumstances! I so appreciate this gentle nudge to cultivate that holy delicious fruit He’s planted deep within.

    Bless you both …

    Like

  12. Lindsey and Jeanne, thank you for this great reminder that joy is a choice. I’ve found that doing things I’ve never done before, like running outside with my daughter and trying recipes that used to intimidate me, is helping me choose joy during these weeks at home. Blessings to you both this week!

    Like

  13. I asked a mom in her late 70s, over lunch at a women’s conference where I spoke, “How do you live joy when the ones you love make are walking in challenges that are not yours to fix.” She answered, ““God will give him [her] more than Satan has taken,” – but it’s still hard to live joy when your kiddos struggle. The answer to that question has been a quest since last year – because it was something I struggled with that I finally found the words to ask. Thanks for this post – a piece to my puzzle!

    Like

    1. Please, please forgive me! Somehow, your comment got caught in my spam pile. 😦 I’m sorry I didn’t find it sooner. Wow, the woman you spoke with shared great wisdom with that. Sometimes the only thing we can do is change our perspective and yield our hearts to trust that God sees and is working. Thank you for sharing this.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.