Count It All Joy

Two years ago, my word for the year was Brave. The word Savor found me heading into 2020.

I’d been wondering what this year would hold and what word I’d cling to. (After all we’ve been through, how do you even plan?) It sounds silly, but I asked God for a word at the end of last year. I like to think He cares about the little things and I want to start setting all the little things at His feet. So, I did. I asked for a word and a vision for my future.

It didn’t come in a striking vision or a loud voice, but what I felt was a reminder of lessons learned in 2020 and a peaceful confirmation in my heart.

If I’m honest, I struggled a great deal with my mental health last year – constantly questioning the motivation of others and my self-worth, but over and over I kept hearing sentiments of how serving others shifts your mind away from your own problems. Fixating on yourself only amplifies them.

I took what little energy I had and made a commitment to start small this year: send more mail — small notes of encouragement, letters, drawings… all the snail mail surprises. As I was thinking through this, I realized the word Joy felt right for 2021.

The words of my mother rested on my lungs and in my heart.

A recipe for true joy:
Jesus first.
Others second.
Yourself third.

I thought of my grandmother, Marilyn Joy and my mom, Karen Joy. The importance of our names are not lost on me. And mine, too: Amanda – worthy of love.

I had a realization yesterday.

Growing up in the church, I always saw community groups and thought ‘these are your people; the friendly faces you say “hi” to at church, the people who make sure you have groceries when you’re out of work, the people that bring casseroles when a loved one passes away.’

For a good portion of 2020, I told myself lies. Beyond I’m not good enough or I’m undeserving of love, beyond I’m not doing anything worthwhile, I’m not making a difference. Beyond all of this, I believed I did not have any real friends.

I’ve been doing some heart work around that this year, because — let’s be honest — lying is exhausting. After all the times I’ve prayed for God to show me truth, wouldn’t it just be easier to take him at his word?!

Fast forward to last week when I “attended” (virtually) my Cross Point Church small group. One friend apologized for her overly raw and red face – she’d just come from getting a chemical peel. Since I’d been preparing to turn 40 and haven’t had much else to do over the past year with my time & money (seriously – I’ve now leveled up to a Sephora VIB), we doubled down on skincare talk. She gave me some advice with a brand and product to try. I mentally added it to my list since I’d just made a(nother) Sephora order.

Yesterday, a second Sephora box showed up at my door. I was so confused wondering if they’d forgotten part of my order. Nope — it was a bottle of hyaluronic acid from my friend!

Later on a walk, I realized that my expectations of community might not look like my reality, but in this case, reality looks a whole lot more uniquely suited to ME. My community looks like people driving to my house in cars decorated with balloons and streamers, only to yell out the window with handmade signs that celebrate my pandemic milestone birthday. It also looks like a friend shipping me hyaluronic acid because she knows I’m concerned over aging skin.

I am grateful for a God who specializes in custom life designs because we are not cookie cutter creatures. I am grateful He knows us better than we know ourselves.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Gail Jones says:

    Mandy, you are amazing! Joy is an awesome word for the year! Joy that we have endured a year of Chaos, joy for staying healthy, and most of all Joy for family! Mandy you inspire me in so many ways! When I grow up I wanna be like Mandy! Love you girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda says:

      Thank you the encouragement! 😭❤️🥰 Love you so much!!


  2. Joy is certainly a family name (your family) flowing down from your grandmother to your mother and now your token of love for 2021. I can’t express the “joy” I feel when I read and see the steps you are taking. Your life and accomplishments mean so much to us all and I don’t even know them all. Always remember you are a “child of the King”——I will be waiting on you all with other family when we walk the streets of gold. Do you really think we might sing in the Heavenly Choir? Love you little girl.
    You got this, whatever it is—–Love. me

    Liked by 1 person

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