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Hope & Joy, Coming Right Up

wreathI’m gonna get right to it. There are two things happening tomorrow that I am super excited about! One is an online devotion study centered around hope, and the other is a photo-a-day project that highlights joyful things. BOTH of them begin tomorrow. Hope-and-joy-focused awesomeness. Who doesn’t love that??

So, a bit of explanation:

There’s an online friend I met through a Facebook group for a writer’s conference we both attended this past summer. Her name is Stephanie Adams, and she has a site called R.E.A.L. Women (Relationships through Encouragement, Accountability, & Love.) Stephanie focuses on women being real with each other and themselves, centered around what God says about who we really are. She writes and hosts online bible studies encouraging women to dig into God’s word to gain wisdom on how to live real lives.

Not long ago, Stephanie opened up an invitation for women to contribute to writing companion articles to go along with a holiday-time devotion study. Since the theme of the study would be centered around hope, I jumped at the chance to participate. After submitting a writing sample, I was offered the chance to contribute alongside 13 other writers for this study. (Yay! Thanks, Stephanie!) I began working on what ended up being a very open, raw piece of writing for me. I hope y’all don’t hate it. It just came from the real that I’m living in right now.

The devotion study, Hope Is, begins tomorrow, December 1st. I can’t wait to see how all 14 ladies’ writings will mesh. None of us have seen each other’s articles, but Stephanie already said she could see them working together. God is so cool like that.

If you or a sister-friend you know would like to participate in the Hope Is devotion study, it’s not too late to sign up! Click here to register. You’ll receive the daily devotion content Mon-Fri from Dec 1st through the 18th. You’ll also get access to a private Facebook group for the study, so you can discuss your thoughts with other readers and encourage each other along in finding hope in all the moments of this season. And of course, you’ll get the bonus articles that accompany each day of the study (Keep an eye out for one written by yours truly, entitled Giving on Empty.) So check it out, register ASAP, and spend the next few weeks focused on the best thing ever: Hope.

In a solid tie with hope for the Best Thing Ever award is another favorite concept of mine: Joy.

Have you ever met someone that just radiates joy? I don’t mean someone with a slap-happy smile plastered on their face. Not even a perky person. Those things aren’t the same as joy. Joy is something peaceful, something that makes the corner of your mouth curl up into a contented, relaxed smile. Joy is something small or something big that makes you feel complete just for a moment. It’s a kind of shalom. No matter what’s going on around us, we can savor small droplets of joy in every moment.

My friend Melissa knows all about those droplets of joy. Joy is her thing. She seeks it. Breathes it in. Savors it. Moments move more slowly when we can find joy in them. We can stay in them, draw them out, capture them, and return to them whenever we want to. Because joy is something that is within us and can’t be taken away.

Melissa has taken on many endeavors in the name of joy. As she does so, the joy spreads. (See what she did there?) A couple years back I started participating in one such project called 25 Days of Joy. Beginning December 1st, we snapped a photo of something that brought joy to us that day. We hashtagged that little photo #25daysofjoy and shared the heck out of it. Every day up through Christmas, we focused on joy. The whole process wasn’t fancy or time consuming. It was fun, easy, and just plain joyful.

Jump on the #25daysofjoy bandwagon! Check out the Facebook page here and post your photos to share with other participants if you’d like. Any way you choose to participate, I know it will do your heart good to see the joy in your everyday moments this season.

So, there you have it. A big ol’ dose of hope and joy, available to you right now! I hope you will participate in one or both of these opportunities to focus on hope and joy over the next few weeks.

Joining me for either of these?? Leave a comment to let me know!

Hope & joy to you this holiday season, lovely people!

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