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

 

Starting Fresh in September

Last week I wrote about how September is my favorite month and holds so much meaning for me. This month signifies a new start, the beginning of a new birth year for me, and reflection over the last year. September is about starting fresh.

Today I’m going to encourage you in some ways that you can also have a fresh start this month. What do you love most about this month??

Personal Health

Start a new workout plan. Be better at healthy meal planning and prepping. Go to bed earlier. Drink more water.

Relationships with Family and Friends

Put the phone down more. Be intentional about spending time with others. Have people over and look for ways to gather others. Send more texts or messages to friends and family to let them know you’re thinking of them. Look for ways to serve those you love.

Work Life

Get to work early. Focus on work tasks and really give it your all. Facilitate a positive work culture and environment. Clean and organize your work space.

Spiritual Health

Make a point to spend time with God each day. Spend your commute in prayer and as you go about the day. Be open for opportunities to share the love and compassion of Christ. Begin a new Bible study plan.

Home

Bring out the fall candles and decorations. Make a point to keep the house clean and cozy. Put away your summer clothes and bring out all the fall wear. Declutter. Finish a project you’ve already started.

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My Summer Reads

For as long as I can remember, summer has always been associated with reading. When I was a little kid, my siblings and I would all do the summer reading program at our local library–and sometimes we would even try to race each other as to who would finish the quickest. The librarian must have thought that we were some of the most well-read children with how competitive we would be, haha! (What the library didn’t know, though, was that sometimes we read a bunch of kids board books and books that were honestly too easy for us to read–oopsies)

This summer, there are a few books that I really want to read and, like always, I’m going to try my best to have these read by the end of summer.

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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This novel is set in London during 1939–1942. It was inspired by the letters written between the author’s grandparents during World War II. This novel focuses around the stories of three characters and it is written “with dazzling prose, sharp English wit, and compassion…a powerful portrait of war’s effects on those who fight and those left behind” (People, Book of the Week).

Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup

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 After going through the home-buying process, this book is especially appealing to me! I’m excited to learn more about life, organizing, finances, etc., from a Biblical perspective.

Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good For You and Avoid Those That Aren’t By Henry Cloud and John Townsend

2dadd0e5-7e5f-4ad5-9339-dc9d1b73dc39I heard about this book a couple of years ago and really wanted to read it. Based on the title, I think that this is a really important lesson to learn when it comes to relationships in your personal life, social life, and work life. This book will help to identify those who aren’t relationally trustworthy and also those who are relationally safe.

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

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This book seems to be right up my alley. A book about adventure, traveling, and making it meaningful? Yes please!!

What are you reading this summer? Do you have any recommendations for my fall reading list?

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Happy 2nd Blogiversary: My Biggest Takeaways

HAPPY 2ND BLOGIVERSARY!

Today is a reason to celebrate! Two years ago, on this day, I started this blog and it’s been such a fun journey! I am so glad that I started this blog and for what it has become! To celebrate today, I’m going to share with you some of my biggest takeaways from this past year and some of my favorite posts that I wrote. I’m going to celebrate with cake today and I invite you to do the same!

Do what you love!

On days when blogging can seem overwhelming, remember why you wanted to start blogging and don’t get lost in the rest. Remember your passion. And have fun!

Pray for growth and opportunity!

I think that God has given me the desire to blog and so I’m praying that He will continue to use me in whatever way that looks like. It’s been amazing to be a part of some conversations that have been the result of blog posts and the people I’ve been able to reconnect with. I’ve also been given some amazing opportunities to write about and I’m praying that there will be more to come.

Quality over quantity!

I have learned that I would rather post higher quality content rather than sub-par content–just to post a certain number of posts. This year I want to work on producing higher and higher quality content.

There is no perfect way to blog!

Your blog is your blog! Don’t compare yourself to others and enjoy your own creative process. Easier said than done sometimes, but remember that you have a unique platform to express your heart.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for help!

I have found that a lot of bloggers are so helpful when it comes to answering questions and giving advice. You will never learn new things if you don’t ask questions or seek out others to learn from.

Go to workshops and listen to podcasts!

What a fun way to learn! There are so many good podcasts out there that can help bloggers learn new information and tips. If you are a blogger or writer interested in going to a conference–I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you go to Declare 2018!


My top 7 from 2017:

  1. Awkward Much–this was a funny post to write! Here’s a little peek inside my everyday life and a little dose of transparency.
  2. Master Packing List for Carry-On Luggage–I have used this PDF so many times!
  3. Maine Travel Guide–this was a favorite because it meant I got to see my bestie!
  4. Living with Celiac Disease–a little bit of information about Celiac and what it’s like for those who live with it.
  5. Snapshots of 26–this was so fun to look back on my 26th year of life!
  6. Declare Conference Haul–this was also such a fun post because I got to talk about Declare!
  7. Ways to Style: Fall Outfits–I was really happy with how this post turned out because it was the first one shot on my Canon.

A HUGE thank you to my family, friends, and bogging buddies who have been with me every step of the way! Thank you for supporting me and encouraging me on the days when I didn’t feel like blogging was important. Thank you for always giving me inspiration and for asking me to write about things. Thank you for telling me to keep going. Y’all, it’s meant the world to me and I’m so excited for year 3 of Love from Amy! I love you all so much!

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Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas

Only 20 more shopping days until Christmas! If you’re done shopping–way to go! If you aren’t done yet–remain calm and have no fear! Over the last few years, my family has changed the way we exchange gifts and, to be honest, it’s actually taken a lot of the stress away. However, I always like stocking stuffer gifts and the process of filling the stockings. If you are doing stocking stuffer gifts this year, I have a list of gift ideas in case you need some inspiration. I also have a blog post coming out on Friday with alternatives for gift-giving, so make sure to read that one.

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For Kids

-Socks (I think silly socks or fun patterned socks are way better)
-Books
-Subscription services (ie. Highlights magazine)
-Chapstick
-Gloves
-Lego
-Hot Wheels
-Games
-On-the-go cups
-Fun patterned Band-Aids
-Rubber duck
-Milk straws (you can find these on Amazon but they are straws with flavor pods inside and they turn milk into different flavors)
-Silly drinking straws
-Gift cards
-Candy

For Her

-Essential oil blends
-Candles
-Tea
-Coffee
-Socks
-Nail polish
-Subscriptions (i.e. Birchbox, magazine, etc)
-Jewelry
-Wallet
-Hand cream
-Mug
-Chocolate
-Gift Cards

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For Him

-Pen
-Graphic print t-shirt
-Shaving kit
-Beard oil
-Movie
-Coffee
-Yeti (or similar insulated coffee mug)
-Socks
-Gloves
-Gift cards
-Beef jerky
-Candy
-Watch

For Friends

-Passport cover
-Sunglasses
-Coffee mugs
-Coffee
-Novelty print socks
-Gift cards
-Candles
-Snacks
-Photo gifts

Basically, I don’t think you can go wrong with getting anyone socks, haha! These are the main things that I think would be great to gift as stocking stuffers. I hope this list was helpful to you if you are trying to figure out stocking stuffer gift ideas! If I am forgetting any ideas that you like, make sure to comment below what they are. I hope you are having great December and that you’re enjoying the Christmas spirit!

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