Finding Your Joy Again | Guest Interview with Stacy Park of Spark Wholeness

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I had been through a really rough previous year but how I also felt like I was finally coming up for air. I also talked about the importance of opening up to others about struggles, so that you can have support from your community and not go through life alone. 

Last weekend I met up with my friend, Stacy, and we talked about similar experiences and offered mutual support to one another regarding finding joy again. It was such an encouraging and refreshing time to be open, honest, and vulnerable about seasons of joyless-ness while also knowing that these seasons don’t last forever. Sometimes it is actually the tough times that produce the most joy. How can you truly identify what joy is unless you haven’t had it for a while? In the Bible, in the book of James, it is explained that those who follow Christ should actually count trials as joy because we will be strengthened and He has promised that we will not be lacking in anything!

James 1:2-6

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

After Stacy and I talked about life and things we were learning, we transitioned into talking about JOY! I had some questions prepared beforehand and below is a summary of what we discussed. I had hoped to type this in a dialogue style, but we had such a great time talking that it just became impossible to write down everything we spoke about. We talked, and talked, and talked. Aren’t friendships great?? I hope that you will be encouraged by our discussion. Also, if you follow my Facebook page or IG, I have videos linked from a live-chat that Stacy and I had for her website. 

What does joy mean to you? And what is the opposite of joy?

“Joy is a choice that needs to be made everyday! It is turning from pain and giving all your pain, worries, and care to the Lord–knowing that He will fight for you and give you joy (Exodus 14:13-14). Pain leads to growth and growth leads to joy! The opposite of joy is pain–and often times they both come hand-in-hand.”

What does joy look like to you on the inside? And what about the outside?

“Internally, joy begins with the mind. You have to focus on what is good and the blessings that God has given to you. Internal joy is being able to practice gratitude, even when your flesh doesn’t want to. When you have the right metal frame of mind to focus on blessings and gratitude, the mind can control other parts of the body which can ultimately lead to experiencing joy! An external display of joy can look like having a quiet confidence. You are anchored in peace and you know that your identity is in Christ. External joy will be genuine, as well. If you have joy in Christ–you will not have to “fake” trying to be happy.” 

Can you recall a time that you felt far from being joyful?

Due to privacy, I am not quoting things that Stacy shared with me but I will summarize this section. Stacy shared with me that she has been through a few years of dealing with surprising hardships, challenges, and testing of her faith. She shared with me that these hardships have not been comfortable for her, she has often felt like wanting to run away from the pain, and maybe even question God. Stacy shared that her family has gone through various challenges in the last few years–and that not many outside people knew. While she was still trying to minister and serve her family, not being able to open up to people outside her family was very isolating. 

Do you have any specific Bible references that encourage you when it comes to having joy? What truths do you speak to yourself? What about any specific worship songs that encourage you? 

“Bible verses that encourage me are Philippians 4:8–fill your minds with things that are true, noble, right, pure, and lovely— and Psalm 104–enter His courts with thanksgiving in your hearts. And some worship songs I am loving are from Hillsong, especially New Wine. Truths I speak to myself are that God has not given me a spirit of fear but a sound mind ( 2 Timothy 1:7) and also that I am not lacking anything in Christ. I surround myself with things that remind me of God’s word, truth, promises, and signs of hope. Gratitude journaling is very powerful and helps you to remember what God has done.”

What are some practical things to keep in mind when it comes to finding your joy?

“Make a list each week of 10 things that make you feel joyful and schedule time for each of those things to happen in your week–it helps to give you something to look forward to. Be in prayer and worship during your commute each day, it helps to set the tone of your day. Take a sabbath and truly rest! Sabbath can be a powerful time to evaluate stress and identify things that are stealing your joy. Also make an effort to take breaks from social media–it is sometimes a joy-killer and comparison is dangerous! Go to workout classes that are fun and make you happy to exercise (ie yoga, pilates, rock climbing, etc). Community is another important thing to have–even if you feel like shutting yourself off from people, make yourself get out and go see your friends, family, church anyway!”

Just for “funzies”, what are 4 things that bring you joy?

“Some types of music that I am really loving are Selena Gomez’s new album, Tayla Parx, and I love turning on Post Malone and jamming out in my car! I am a Rachel Hollis guru and really like her books Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. Chuy’s Taco Salad with Jalapeño Ranch also really brings me so much joy!”

How can others connect with you (Stacy) and your ministry, Spark Wholeness?

“Readers can connect with me on my website– sparkwholeness.bigcartel.com— I have some new clothing products, including leggings! Readers can also go to the “Schedule Me” section of the website for fitness classes, workshops, speaking events, etc. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.” 

Stacy, thank you so much for hanging out with me, being vulnerable, talking about joy, and all the other funzies that we had last weekend!! Readers, I hope something about our conversation will help you if you are also dealing with a season of finding your joy again. Which of these questions, that we discussed, stick out to you the most?

Love From Amy Blog

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Blog: Lessons from Last Year

On January 31st, this past weekend, my blog turned 4 years old! Yay!! I know that year 3 was kind of a wash, but I learned many lessons about myself and life during that time. Today I want to celebrate new beginnings, refreshment, a new year, and new goals–which is what I am hoping year 4 will be for this blog.

I would like to share with you 4 lessons that I learned last year during my little hiatus. While I probably learned more than 4 lessons–these are the ones that stick out to me the most.

  1. Material things will not and do not make you happy. I mean, I guess they kind of do–but if you go in with the mindset of “well, if I get this or that then I’ll feel better about myself,” you will be wrong. I think in the first couple years of blogging, I tried to accumulate so much stuff because “that’s what everyone else was doing” so that things could showed off and reviewed. While yes, I know that some bloggers do a really good job of giving reviews, writing about fashion and style, and marketing for other companies–I was doing a really bad job at it. After a while all of the stuff I had was beginning to crowd me and make me feel overwhelmed with the amount of money I was spending and also just how much stuff I had to maintain. I do not mean to offend other bloggers at all, because I know that many have full-time careers through them, but this was a lesson that I learned because of my blogging and social media experience. This lesson made me check my heart and evaluate the motives behind my materialism. I have since adopted a much more minimalist mindset.
  2. Moments with Jesus are powerful and change everything. If you read my last post, you’ll know that I mentioned my battle with anxiety and depression last year. There were many times that I felt so paralyzed by it all that I couldn’t really pray anything other than “Jesus, help me.” My quiet times with Jesus were not as often as I would have liked–but the moments that I would meet with Him and when I felt so desperate–I knew He was with me. I would instantly feel peace and an assurance that He knew exactly what I was going through. The times that I spent in His Word were so powerful because everything was relevant and applicable to what I was dealing with. That’s one of the amazing and powerful things about the Bible and gospel message–it is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12)! I encourage you to, even if you don’t know what to do or what to say, spend time with Jesus! He loves you, He is waiting for you, and He has given us access to Him at all times (Ephesians 2:18).
  3. Life is precious. Life is short and must be valued and celebrated! Last year, my mom went through cancer treatment and throughout the whole process, the reality of mortality was scary. It made me want to make the most out of the time that I had with her and my family each day, to not complain, but to plead with God for more time. As I mentioned in my last post, she is now cancer-free and God was, and is, so gracious to our family. I know that this world is not our home and one day we will be in eternity. I am so thankful for the promises of God and the hope we have of spending eternity with Him. I hope, very much, that you have the same assurance as well. I don’t mean to turn this post into a morbid topic, but that’s just reality.
  4. It’s ok to wear black 99% of the time. I’ve come to the reality that I just really like to wear black. I used to think it was boring, I really should wear more color, or that everything just looked the same. But that’s just me and my style–and I love it. Yes, I do have some color in my wardrobe–but it will most likely be accompanied with black. It’s classy, versatile, appropriate for all-year wear, and it’s great to mask the occasional coffee spill. Ha!

Those are my top 4 lessons of the last year! Some are pretty serious and some are not as much–but I think important, nonetheless. What are some lessons that you learned last year? I would love to know!

Things I’m Loving Lately | AD

Hi friends! Welcome back to the blog and for another favorites-related post! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this and I have a few favorites to share with you. This post is sponsored by Riverdean Watches–thank you, Riverdean!

Netflix’s The Final Table

I was sick with a strain of the flu a few days after Thanksgiving and into the first week of December and spent a lot of time in bed. I also spent a lot of time reading and catching up on Netflix shows. One of the shows that I watched in entirety was The Final Table on Netflix. This show is a cooking competition between the best chefs in the world and each week focused on a different ethnicity of food. This show was so fascinating, inspiring, and definitely worth the binge.

Netflix’s Salt Fat Acid Heat

I’ve been so interested in reading the book Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat and was happy to learn that it had been made into a Netflix special. This show was inspirational, educational, funny, and gave me the travel bug super bad. Samin spoke about her experiences with food, cooking, and taught how to incorporate these essential elements into home-cooking. This show is also highly recommended if you need something to watch!

Riverdean Avalon Watch

Riverdean reached out to me a couple of months ago to ask if I would like to try some of their watches. I’ve been thinking about getting a new watch and was very excited to receive this one! I love the color and the marble design on the face of the watch! It has been the perfect accessory to many of the outfits I wear! Riverdean has kindly offered to give my readers a 20% discount off any orders using the code “LOVEXAMY20.”

Use code “LOVEXAMY20” to get 20% off your order!

RMS Beauty Products

I’ve been trying to switch to all natural cosmetic products and decided to give RMS a try. I’ve heard so many good reviews about this brand and my best friend has also worn their products for years. I am hooked. I bought a concealer and luminizer and love how they look on my skin. I plan on writing a post about “clean beauty favorites” at some point, but I think that I’ll be using RMS concealer and luminizers for a long time.

Boxing

I took a boxing class with some of my friends in the fall and I’m (left) hooked! Haha, jokes! But seriously, this type of workout has been so therapeutic for me and has been really fun. It’s been a really long time since I actually enjoyed working out. I bought a boxing bag for myself and hung it in my garage, so now I can box whenever I wan

Repost | Beating the Winter Blues

Y’all. I think the groundhog lied. I’m starting to feel as though winter will never be over. I try not to complain too much because I know there are places much colder than Oklahoma. However, I’m over the teasing of the Oklahoma weather system. One day it’ll be 20 degrees and the next it’ll be 70. I feel like I could go crazy at any moment, haha! Not to mention, also, that my hands and feet are chronically frozen. Whatevs.

Today I’m reposting a blog post that I wrote a little over 2 years ago. It’s so easy to write content and then just forget about it. However, I thought it would be fitting to repost this one–because maybe some of these tips will be useful to you too during this frigid and glacial time. Ok, I’ll stop being dramatic now. Enjoy!

Beating the Winter Blues 
December 17, 2016

Now that daylight savings time is over, the days are much shorter and it gets dark SO much earlier. The other day it was almost pitch black at 5:00 in the afternoon and I felt exhausted because it felt like it was 10:00 at night. Does anyone else get into hibernation mode and become a complete couch-potato? Not to mention that it is also becoming colder and blankets, comfy clothes, and blasting the heat sound so much more appealing than anything else. In case this fits your description here are some things you can do to help beat the winter blues.

Stay active

The winter weather and darkness can make you feel like a completely unmotivated blob. Try to get in at last 30 minutes of exercise a day by either bundling up and going for a walk, going to the gym, or park a little further away from the front doors of places where you are Christmas shopping. I know that my mood and energy levels are significantly different when I make an effort to get moving.

Be around people

Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and vice versa can lift your spirits so much! Being with family and friends is definitely better than secluding yourself. I know that some people can only handle so much “people time” and need some time to be alone–but don’t make the being alone part a lengthy habit.

Plan things

Instead of just going home and planting yourself in front of Netflix, why not plan something fun? Some ideas are going ice skating, going out to dinner or having friends over for dinner, driving around to look at Christmas lights, go see a movie at the theatre, FaceTime or Skype someone who lives out-of-town, go see a Christmas play or show, etc.

Fun night at home

On the nights that you just need a relaxing evening at home, plan what you are going to do that evening. Find a movie that you love, pop some popcorn, make some coffee/tea/hot chocolate, put on a face mask, read a book, give yourself a manicure/pedicure, etc.

Light

Just because it is pitch black outside, it does not mean you have to be in the dark, as well. When you are home, light some candles, plug-in those Christmas lights, light a fire in the fireplace, and just make it cozy.


You Are Loved: Encouragement on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is the international day of love, sentiment, and all things lovey-dovey/mushy. If you are single, married, dating, etc., I hope you’re able to celebrate the day with those you love.

I feel like there is so much pressure associated with Valentine’s Day that sometimes it’s not a day that people enjoy. Some may have experienced pain and heartbreak on this day or might just be longing for love. Regardless, I want to share some encouragement with you, in case you need it today.

First of all, you are incredibly unique, precious, and loved. I hope you never forget that. You have a valuable purpose in life and there is no one else like you. You are fully equipped and have what it takes for life, in Jesus’ name. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline”– 1 Timothy 1:7

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”–Numbers 6:24-26

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…”– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”–Galatians 5:22-23

God’s love will never be taken away from you. He loves you so much and has given His life for you. In the scope of the universe, humans are just tiny specs. But yet God loves you so much that He came to die for you. God cares for you and you are valuable to Him. He will never leave you or forsake you. You are not alone and are not forgotten.

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.”– Psalm 36:5-6

“The earth is filled with your love, LORD; teach me your decrees.”– Psalm 119:64

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”–Romans 8:28-29

Because of God’s love, you now have an example of how to love others. You are part of a fellowship of other believers who love Him and you just the same. Because of God’s love, you are part of a community that is different than all the others.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”–Romans 12:9

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”–1 John 3:18

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”–1 John 4:7-8

“We love because He first loved us.”–1 John 4:19

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”–John 15:13

Happy Valentine’s Day my friend!