Fight Back With Joy

I received this book to review from Worthy Publishing. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Sometimes a book just falls into your lap at just the right time and speaks right to what you are going through at that moment. That’s exactly what happened with Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg.

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As you might recall, I chose the word JOY as my word of the year for 2015. I chose it reluctantly, but can see countless reasons in these first five months of the year why God led me to that word. When I heard about Fight Back With Joy, I knew I needed to read this perspective on joy – and I was overwhelmed by what God taught me through Margaret’s words.

I should tell you first that we’ve had a somewhat turbulent first half of 2015. Plans were made and then turned upside down and we were just along for the bumpy ride. I believe this is why God chose JOY as my word of the year. And it’s also why He had me pick up Margaret’s book.

From the very first words, as Margaret also describes reluctantly choosing the word joy, I knew I would relate and learn from this book. I wrote about what joy really is in my post earlier this year, but I stand by her assertion in the intro:

“Many people live joyless lives because they don’t understand what joy is, what joy does, how to discover joy, and what to do with it once they find it.”

Margaret’s experience with joy was so relatable to me, but our battles have been very different. Fight Back With Joy walks us as readers through her battle with cancer and how she used joy as a weapon to fight off everything negative that came her way. It is extremely poignant, vulnerable, raw…all pointing back to God, the source of all joy.

“Joy emanates from the abiding sense of God’s fierce love for us.”

I think I have half the book underlined because Margaret’s words spoke to me SO much, but there was one chapter in particular that jumped out and grabbed hold of my heart.

Earlier this year, I shared our Bible verse of the year and why I thought God had spoken this verse to me. I was so wrong, not about the verse, but about the meaning. Our change in plans this spring means we won’t be moving to the small town by the river. I couldn’t understand what God meant for that verse in our life, hanging in our living room, until I read Chapter 8 in Fight Back With Joy.

If you weren’t with us at the beginning of the year, our verse of the year as a family was:

“They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” -Isaiah 49:10

In Chapter 8, Margaret shares a story from the Bible I didn’t know very well about Caleb’s daughter, Achsah. There comes a point where she is newly married and living in a desert – an actual, physical desert. Instead of wallowing about her dry, awful living conditions, she boldly approaches her father and asks that he give them springs of water. And he grants her request.

When I read those three words – “springs of water” – a chill went through my body and I perked up to see where God was leading this train of thought. Turns out the train was going right where I needed it to go, to this statement…

“In the desert of despair, springs of water unlock reservoirs of joy.”

Our springs of water are usually not physical water. They weren’t for Margaret and they weren’t for me. The springs of water she experienced and the ones I have found are so much more life-giving.

“Achsah’s story serves as a reminder that we can petition God for sweet water when circumstances make us feel like we’re sucking sand. In those moments, we can ask for special favor and expect God to work in powerful ways.”

This chapter prompted me to ask and I fully received new blessings from God in the midst of our desert. Springs of water – and joy – were found in new opportunities, deepening friendships, moments celebrated together.

“A prayer for springs in the desert is a request to discover the fullness of life even when facing trouble and difficulty.”

That fullness of life, when found in Christ, is what joy is all about. God used this book in powerful way to lead me to those springs of water, and they have been filling me with joy ever since.

No matter where life has you right now – in a season of drought or abundance – you will find inspiration in Margaret’s words.

I really want to give every single one of you a copy of Fight Back With Joy. I can’t quite afford that, but I am giving away three copies thanks to Worthy Publishing!

To enter, tell me something that has brought you joy in the past week! For an extra entry, tweet about this giveaway and come back to tell me you did in a separate comment! This giveaway is open until Monday, June 1st at 9PM CDT!

[Tweet “I entered to win 1 of 3 copies of Fight Back with Joy by @mafeinberg from @WorthyPub!”]

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My “Joy” Book List for 2015

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In an effort to fully embrace my word of the year for 2015, I’ve been thinking of ways to keep my mind focused on joy. Smiling more, laughing more, singing + dancing more, praising more, and reading more.

Yes, reading brings me joy, but I wanted to be even more intentional about reading books that make me smile. Coincidentally, I received a couple of memoirs written by funny ladies for Christmas and that was the start of my “joy” book list for 2015! And since joy comes in all shapes and sizes, this list will be very eclectic!

These books aren’t the only books I’m reading this year, but I’ll always have one of these books going throughout the year. And if you have books that would fit well on this list for me to add, please tell me in the comments!

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My “Joy” Book List for 2015

Bossypants by Tina Fey – I’ve already started on this one and laughed until I cried several times. It is Tina Fey humor in print and I’m greatly enjoying it. {just a warning: if language bothers you, you might want to pass on this one}

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler – As soon as I’m done with Bossypants, I’m going to devour this. I’ve heard great things, and, well, Amy Poehler is just awesome.

In This House, We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo – This “joy” word is not just for me this year. I want joy to be what our whole family is about and I think Courtney’s book is just the inspiration I need! Also, I love the word giggle.

The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle – Melanie’s first book, Sparkly Green Earrings, had me laughing out loud while pondering motherhood’s joys and struggles. This one is about marriage and I can’t wait to dive in!

Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker – Carlos is a riot on social media and I love this idea of really living your life. Joy comes in those moments where we really live, doesn’t it? This book is waiting patiently on my Kindle and I hope to get to it very soon.

Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan – That title just screams JOY! I started this book with the Influence Network last year but got sidetracked with the holidays, so I’ll be picking it back up this year.

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones {with the kids} – Sally Lloyd-Jones is just my favorite. We adore the Jesus Storybook Bible and How to Get a Job…by Me, the Boss has us in tears of laughter every time. I know this book won’t disappoint!

And that is not the end because I’ll keep adding your suggestions and other joyful books I discover throughout the year! So share away…

What books have made your smile and laugh recently?

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Getting My Spark Back

It’s not just because of winter. I’ve felt a little dull for a while now.

Not dull as in boring, but dull as in not bright, not sharp.

I used to be bubbly and optimistic and a total social butterfly. Yep, I’m the one who constantly got a check next to the “talk too much” box on her report card. In elementary school.

I’m not sure what exactly to blame the dullness on – lack of sleep, the hormone rollercoaster that comes along with being pregnant and nursing, a never-ending to-do list that felt like it was swallowing me whole – I can’t really pinpoint it. I have not felt sad or hopeless or depressed – just BLAH. And the strangest part is that 2012 was a GREAT year for me and for our family – one of the best ever. But still…

Late last year, partially thanks to reading Desperate, I started to realize that I did NOT like my current frame of mind. I related so much to this quote from Sally…

Sitting in the dark, I could suddenly sense the Lord whispering in my ear, “Don’t neglect to see the beauty of life around you while being overwhelmed by the duties of life.”

I don’t know that many people would notice much of an outward difference in my behavior, but ho-hum, cynical, sometimes pessimistic thoughts had taken the place of my old eternal optimist self. I wasn’t feeling like there was much to get excited about in my day-to-day.

I kind of felt like a punch in the gut to make this realization, but a good one, if that makes any sense at all.

What in the world do I have to feel pessimistic or cynical about? Nothing, I tell you. And allowing those thoughts to take over had stolen some of my spark for life as well.

Then God got a hold of me in a few ways to say, “You have LOTS to be excited about, my dear, and I’m going to help you find that spark again!”

It started with my word for 2013: celebrate. Celebrate isn’t about parties and presents, but about the way I want to live every day: celebrating the life God gave me, the calling He has placed on me, the people with which He has surrounded me! One day it meant dancing in the kitchen with Double J, another meant making homemade donuts just to see the smile on the faces of all of my guys. Challenging myself to find reasons to celebrate has made me smile and be silly and I’m loving the word He gave me for this year so much already!

The word of the year choice also naturally led into my commitment to take Ann’s Joy Dare – counting 1,000 gifts in my life in 2013. I used to write a Multitude Monday post here every Monday counting my blessings, but it started to feel unnatural to share those blessings for all to read, so I stopped for a while. Now, I’m craving the counting and, just 14 days into 2013, I’m so glad I took this dare! I have a little moleskine notebook next to my bed to record these gifts each night and my soul rests well when I end the day with gratitude.

Desperate also helped me realize how good creating is for the well-being of my mind. Sally wrote this in a note to Sarah Mae…

Celebrate life in your home in the ways that bring your pleasure. Cultivating the art of life in your home not only brings you happiness, but it makes your home a lively, fun, fulfilling place.

I love making beautiful things, whether it is food or a crochet project or decor for our home. Creating is calming and exciting for me, all at the same time. And a creative project can be completed, which feels like a major accomplishment in the world of laundry and dishes and diaper changes that just don’t stop! I’ve made it one of my goals to do something creative each and every day, even if it is only for five minutes!

And to round this all out, God sent me one more way to bring my spark back. The opening sermon series at our church for 2013 is called “Ignite.” I kid you not. It’s all about bringing back the spark in our relationship with God. He really does give us the desires of our heart when they are lined up with His, doesn’t He?! I know my joy and spark for life are truly found when I am regular communion with Him.

This week’s sermon was about the study of God’s Word. My passion for daily morning study of the Word has come and gone in recent years, but this Advent, I dove into the Good Morning Girls Advent study using the SOAP method and rediscovered how much I LOVE starting my day that way! I’m now working through the current She Reads Truth: Fresh Start plan on YouVersion using the SOAP method. I crave that time in the Word as much as I crave my morning coffee. I call that a “win” towards getting my spark back!

I’m not content to live a dull life, expecting each day to be just like all the rest, missing out on the joy of living with Him and for Him and surrounded by His blessings. The life of a mom is full of routine and responsibility, but it does NOT have to put out your spark for life!

If you’re feeling like I was, let me pray for you and me and all who feel like life is making them dull. There is joy in the midst of the every day and we must each find what ignites the spark in our own lives and make those things a priority!

And if you are a mom feeling this way, I must recommend you read Desperate. You will find encouragement and hope and understanding there. Read it with a friend. Share your feelings with someone who will listen and pray and help. You are not alone.

 

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