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…find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss it all.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
‘What’s your word?’ a dear friend of mine asked the group at a Christmas party over a year ago. ‘What word has God placed on your heart? What word will be your focus for the year ahead? Is your word a challenge? A praise?’ She shared that focusing on a word, your word, for the year ahead would be an incredible blessing. God would show it to you in unexpected ways. Living into your word would help you grow in your faith. It was; He did; and I grew. My word for the year was joy, a simple 3-letter word that continues to enrich my life in so many ways.
I learned so much about joy over the course of a year. Joy isn’t about a mood or a feeling. It’s not fleeting or defined by external circumstances. Joy is that deep inner knowing that I am a spiritual being. It is of God. It is my soul. It’s reflecting on blessings. It’s found in communion with those I love. It is pure and ever present. It is light and whisper and calm and praise and victory and laughter and peace and gratefulness. My joy is my spirit. Living a joy-filled life means knowing that even on bad days and in times of pain and struggle, I will not stay there. Icky times provide space to stretch and grow. Hopelessness does not exist.
‘Rejoice always.’ ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16
I recently created a wall of photographs in my living room that I affectionately call, my JOY wall. Slides at the park + dipping my fingertips in the Aegean Sea + 4 generations of my family + cheering for my college football team + riding my bike + my nephews laughing + walking the beach = JOY. These are more than just some pretty pictures. Each occasion and person touches my heart, speaks to my soul, and defines who I am. This wall is my constant visual reminder of experiences and people in my life that bring me the greatest joy. 
Keeping the word ‘joy’ in the forefront for a whole year brought about an awareness of God’s blessings unlike anything I have experienced. I saw my word in the most unexpected places and was consistently reminded of God’s grace. My word became part of my daily walk. It was comforting. It was special. Like when you hear a song from long ago or catch a scent that reminds you of something wonderful. My word became my companion. It will always be a part of me. God uses me to be His joy in the world. I am joy. What a blessing!
What’s your word?