JOY in Despair – It’s there!

JOY in Despair – It’s there!

Joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.

Happiness needs security.” — these two statements are Ann Morrow Lindbergh‘s take on the difference between happiness and joy.

What do you think?

Is it possible to find JOY in despair?

Have you ever experienced joyful moments, even when you feel like you’re hanging from your fingertips over an open abyss? I have.

From my experience, that joy experienced in the midst of despair is all the sweeter because of the juxtaposition of the two.

Are you in a time of despair?

Hang on.

You will make it through.

And watch for those moments of JOY…

they’ll show up…

and they’ll be sweet.


” I’ve found a joy in sorrow, a precious balm for pain;

a beautiful tomorrow of sunshine after rain.

I’ve found a branch of healing near ev’ry bitter spring;

for ev’ry anxious feeling the Lord does comfort bring,

for ev’ry anxious feeling the Lord does comfort bring. “

Hymn “I’ve found a joy in sorrow” by Ira D. Sankey

Read more about JOY – in this post, and this one and this one!

Making it through…

So how do you find those moments of JOY when you’re sorrowing, or in the dark, or hanging on by your fingertips?

  • Focus on what is in your life now – and in the past – for which you can be thankful. Gratitude is a key to unlock those moments of JOY.
  • Surround yourself with those who will encourage you. Try very hard to push yourself into visiting with those who will pray with you, and lift you up. (It’s hard. I know. But the battle is worth it!)
  • Watch what you read – find a devotional that will lift your spirits. This devotional, “Streams in the Desert” is one of my most favorite resources. It’s old, yet still so very relevant.
  • Listen to songs with words from Scripture. Hymns. Sing along. Music is a powerful tool.

These items won’t be something new – rather they’re a way of living: thankful and optimistic. They’re the soil in which to plant future flowers of JOY!


weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning

Psalm 30

Structure your Happiness – 100 days experiment.

Structure your Happiness – 100 days experiment.

Happiness is fleeting. In my life, the feeling of being happy shifts like the weather – the only surety is a change in and out and in again of happiness.

I’m imagining you might relate? It’s rare for anyone to be happy every day. (By-the-way, being joyful is a different story from the average happy moment. Read some thoughts about JOY here.)

Most of us merely want to have more happy days than we’re already experiencing.

Just like choosing to live in one part of the continent with more days of sunshine, than a different part of the continent with fewer sunny days, we do have the choice to structure our lives to experience more moments of happiness.

Is every day sunny? No. Will every moment be happy? Of course not. However, you can…

Structure your happiness – 100 days experiment!

Just so you know, I don’t think you need a special book, app or planner to take action toward structuring more happiness in your life. Purchasing something isn’t necessary. You could design your own map, print your own tracking pages, or just use a plain notebook to make notes.

The idea is to have a plan and then track progress over a period of time.

Happiness 100 days - plan to have more days of happiness.

I ordered the 100-day Happiness Planner for my birthday a few years ago. It was during a hard time. No tragedies – just life.

During this time I felt like I needed to take strong, decisive steps to structure my days to include opportunities to feel happy. I looked at many programs, considered creating one of my own, and then – for my needs – I decided to invest in the 100-day Happiness Planner.

This resource provided certain properties I needed:

  • a short period – 100 days is just over 3 months – to try new ways to structure my days/weeks and experiment with specific goals
  • no particular dates (undated) so I could write in my own dates and begin/end as I chose.
  • opportunity for reflection – questions and room to journal my thoughts
  • planning space for daily and weekly events
  • space to record thankfulness every day/week
  • a way to track what I was learning via Scripture and actively listening in church services
  • positive affirmations (although, I replaced some with God-honoring statements for the ones I didn’t like.)
  • and more – you can read about the 100 Day Happiness Planner here – I liked this resource so much that I became an affiliate.

This site, PostiveThanksLiving.com grew out of my time working in the 100-day Happiness Planner.

What do you need to structure happiness into your life?

More happy moments may not happen all by themselves. Sometimes we need a boost, a trigger, or a tool.

I hope this site, which grew from my time of reflection, can be a boost and trigger for your life. My goal is to provide positivity and gratitude prompts so we all have what we need to add some happiness into our life.

What other tools to structure happiness could you use?

Maybe you need to focus on adding some healthy boundaries to your life? This is a good book to learn how to do that.

Perhaps you feel it’s time to pursue deepening your marriage.

  • Rob and I talk about this book with couples all the time. It’s practical and easy to implement, no matter in what state your relationships exists.
  • Or maybe your marriage is just fine, but you need to do some planning as a couple – this is an excellent resource.

Have you ever done a “vision board”? In simple terms, it’s a collection of photos/images of what you’re working toward pasted or printed onto one paper. (I couldn’t find a resource to link to here, so I guess I’ll be creating one in the future!)

What other tools do you need?

Leave a comment – what has helped you find more happiness in your life in the past?

structure your happiness with the 100 days of happiness planner
Click here to explore this resource – but remember, it’s not necessary to buy this – you could do it on your own if you feel motivated…
structure your happiness - 100 days Happiness Planner
Have you made a list of those things which make you happy? Ranking items is a powerful way to make this idea real…
PIN this to your Pinterest!
Positivity Gifts – Mother’s Day

Positivity Gifts – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is coming… use this time to honor the loving women – regardless of relation – in your life!

Those women who encourage you like a mom

might really appreciate something you make.

And what’s more encouraging than a bit of positivity?

Remember – it isn’t about the dollar amount or the blood relationship – it’s about honoring the connection! You could even give this before the day!

Make a Positivity Garland

Make a Positivity Garland - use the prompts, some string, and flowers.

It’s easy – just some circles with positivity prompts,

(you could use the ones provided in the PDF or make your own)

a length of embroidery floss,

and a few artificial flowers!

Less than 20 minutes

and you’ll have a pretty little garland

for that special woman who loves you.

Make it for a friend, for your friend’s mother,

a courageous single mom, the woman whose babe is in eternity,

a grandma with far-away grands, or that “yet to be” grandmother,

an elderly loved one who never had children,

someone who is longing for children but whose arms are yet empty,

or any special lady who needs a lift!

Give this even before that second Sunday in May, to keep those ladies’ thoughts uplifted!

Here’s the PDF to download

with the words in the circles and some instructions:

Mother's day gift  for someone special who loves you like a mom - a positivity garland

Want to make something else?

Try some “sticky positive thoughts”

– click to check out this post to learn the “how to”…

(This post includes a PDF for the cards

and a video where I learned how to make the little pocket):

Positive Sticky Thoughts - card bundle - Make Positivity a Habit - Mother's day gift for that special woman

And if Mother’s Day is difficult…

Too often this second Sunday in May holds more tears than joy.

If Mother’s Day is a difficult day for you…

or someone you love…

then maybe this might provide a bit of encouragement.

A mother's love has no barrier. When Mother's day is difficult.

These flowers stand as a small banner to a mother’s love.

A mother’s love has no barrier – not earth or eternity, not time or distance, not fear or hate.

We acknowledge your mother’s love.

You are not forgotten.

You are thought of and prayed for.

To miss the joy is to miss all.

To miss the joy is to miss all.

Find out where joy resides,

and give it a voice

far beyond singing.

For to miss the joy is to miss all.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

To miss the JOY is to miss all.

I use Instagram to document those things that bring me joy… and around the end of each year, our family gathers to draw/color/write a “plate” to highlight all the joys, peaks and valleys of the past year. We’ve been doing this for 18 years. (Click here to see our “plate” experience!)

Somewhere, sometime, a long time ago, I heard a person say, “If your life is worth living, it’s worth documenting.” I don’t remember who said it, but it’s remained a cautionary statement.

However, before you can document your joys – those happenings which cause JOY – you need to notice them. Perhaps that’s why I find the above quote by Robert Louis Stevenson particularly poignant…

In what way

(or ways)

are you taking action

to notice and capture the joy in your life?


For the miss the joy is to miss all - in what ways are you taking action to document your joys?

Joy is prayer - Joy is strength - Joy is love - Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. She gives most who gives with Joy.

Read more about joy – click HERE


joy - a good feeling in the soul - how do you describe joy or happiness?

And HERE

Make Optimism a Habit

Make Optimism a Habit

How do you make optimism a habit in your life?

Maybe you find being positive easy, or perhaps it feels forced at times. Even for me, there are days where I struggle to “walk the talk”. So what helps?

Positive Sticky Thoughts - card bundle - Make Positivity a Habit

Here are 3 ways to make optimism a habit:

1. Optimism grows from thankfulness. Be aware of all the opportunities you have in your life to be grateful. Express them!


2. Smile. Yes, smiling releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin which have a physiological impact. Even a forced smile works.


3. Surround yourself with positive words. What we think is important. When you find yourself dwelling on the negative, replace it with positive statements. Scripture verses work for me and a few days ago I wrote an article with 25 Sticky Postive Thoughts to see if any of them resonated for you. From your responses to that post, it seemed like you liked the idea.


In response to those who emailed after the article, “25 Sticky Positive Thoughts” – I created a PDF to print out cards with the statements.

You can download and print the cards yourself – and make them as pretty as you choose…– click HERE.

Leave a comment…

What statements would you add? Make optimism a habit!

Make optimism a habit - get 25 positive sticky thoughts to help.

Here’s the video where I learned how to make the little envelope…

5 Great Lessons You Can Learn By Being Thankful

5 Great Lessons You Can Learn By Being Thankful

Being thankful in all circumstances can teach you much more than you’d imagine. Sure, not everything feels good, but there’s always something you can find for which to give thanks.

Practice your Thanks-Living skills!

Here are five great lessons you can learn by being thankful:


1 – Thankfulness opens hearts.

Being thankful, regardless of the stage and state of your life, might not be easy, but it does impact those around you. During times when Rob and I have experienced less-than-optimum situations, expressing what we’re thankful for has created a connection.

Hardship can divide spouses, families, and friends, just because everyone is focused, in word and deed, on the struggle.

Expressing thankfulness draws hearts back together.

If you find yourself avoiding talking to those you love because of the issues you’re dealing with, then start with a sentence about what you’re feeling grateful for… talking about all the blessings in your life can engage everyone, and you might surprise each other at what you find yourself grateful for…


2 – Being thankful shapes the future.

Once you start discussing all the areas in which you’re thankful, you’ll begin to see where God has blessed your life in the past. And that leads to anticipating future opportunities. If your future is shaped in what you’re thankful for, it becomes easier to bounce back and get on track.


3 – Gratitude reduces want-itis.

“Gimme-gimme” and “I want, I want, I want” have become an epidemic in our western society. Being thankful for what we have combats the materialism of our culture in a healthy way. Once you notice all you actually possess and feel a sense of thankfulness, wanting extra stuff becomes less attractive.


4 – Thankfulness impacts our memories.

Memory is subjective. Two people can think back on the same experience and will have differing memories, according to their bent toward optimism or pessimism. Once an individual looks back in their history with the filter of gratitude, the memories can be wired toward optimism.


5 – Thankfulness balances a healthy sense of self.

Being thankful can increase an internal sense of self-esteem because it hones attention to where others are helping. By acknowledging you need help, which can be humbling, you also must shift to the belief that you’re a worthwhile person because someone went out of their way to help. It’s a curious cycle.


Yesterday I wrote about sticky positive thougthts and said I have Scripture verses posted to encourage my thinking. This is one that’s been very important to me:


… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1Thessalonians 5:18

This article about a sermon on the above Scripture is one of my recent favorites – it unpacks the idea that we don’t need to be grateful for the suffering, but rather we can be grateful in the suffering.

Do you have any “thankful quotes” you value?

Quick! Leave a comment…

For what are you grateful right now?