Choosing Joy

0 comments Posted on January 7, 2019

by Pam Farrel

If your vertical relationship with God is healthy, your horizontal relationships with people will be healthier too.” – Pam Farrel, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together

To keep my attitude positive and to stay more attune in all my relationships, I like to integrate various study techniques so the Word washes over and through me, delivering positive life improvement. For example, while writing Discovering Joy in Philippians last year, I pondered how joy positively impacts a person’s life—and relationships. Most people see Philippians as primarily a book about joy, but as I plunged a bit deeper, I easily saw some relationship best practices revealed in this short but powerful book of the Bible.

Wash the Word
One way to gain a new mindset is to allow God’s Word to play the soundtrack to your life. You can do this in the daytime by layering God’s Word throughout your day: play Christian music, post verses, hang Scripture art, place devotionals and Bible studies throughout your home so that at any time, the transformative Word is in sight and within earshot. While writing Discovering Joy in Philippians (and in the next year while I will be teaching it online), I fall asleep to the audio version of Philippians, or a play list with worship songs about joy. By listening to God’s Word, my fears are calmed, I am infused with joy and courage, and my heart is refined. This priority on relationships is reflected in the letter of Philippians:

Verse 3: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.

People can tell when you feel thankful and appreciative of them. We want to live in such a way that when people recall us, or someone even mentions our name, they light up with praise and delight. Also, by thanking God for someone, with this “attitude of gratitude” it builds a sense of deeper respect, honor and gratefulness toward the person.

Verse 4: always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy

Praying for someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a person. Knowing someone is praying for you, with JOY, draws us to people because they express gladness and sincere excitement when they see us.

Verse 7: It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…

My husband, Bill, and I use this verse as the theme to our book The Marriage Code. We love how God gives the goal of living as “partakers of grace,” then He shares HOW to do that: “hold you in my heart.” This means we choose to NOT make a relationship about a list of behaviors. To “hold in your heart” means carrying someone with constant love while giving the benefit of the doubt to his intentions. When a relationship is based only on behaviors, NO ONE can stay good enough, long enough to succeed at a relationship. Love gives the grace that trumps human imperfection.

Walk Out the Word
Another way to gain a fresh appreciation of a verse is to read it in a few translations or paraphrased versions. I appreciate the expanded vocabulary definitions included in verse 9 and 10 in the Amplified version:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight, so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin];”(emphasis mine).

I also cherish this verse in The Message:

“So, this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…” (emphasis mine) 

Weave the Word
Consider transforming your life and your relationships by reading, LISTENING then weaving the Truth into your personal world. Pick up some Christian books at your local bookstore, and add in the audio version of the book, or purchase an audio Bible and listen your way through the Word. Ask yourself, “What one area, one change if I made it consistently, would make the biggest difference in my life?” Then select a Word of the Year connected to your answer as the bullseye to aim at for life change. At, we have a digital resource called Your Best Year, which helps you kickstart the process of your Word of the Year. (I also walk women through this growth process in 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman book.) When you select your Word of the Year, like Bill and I have done for the past four decades, you gain the action steps to transformation.

Select a Word of the Year to motivate improvement in ONE area of your life and choose a verse to go with that word. Fashion a theme for the year (something that would be on a coffee mug or tee shirt). Select a song of the year (or create a play list.) The concluding key to success in creating a Word of the Year plan is to include your Word of the Year in one clarifying question that you ask all year to keep your life on track for change. For example:

Word of the Year: Joy

Verse of the Year: Always be full of the joy of the Lord I say it again, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

Theme: Choosing Joy!

Symbol or art: Visit your local Christian bookstore to buy a mug, tee or art that connects you to your word or theme: I have a JOY collection.

Song: “Joy” by FOR King and Country or “Joy” by Rend Collective

Book: Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Devotional Experience

Clarifying Question: Will this bring joy to myself, my marriage, my family and my world?

Have a blessed year of transformation!

Pam Farrel is the author of 46 books including many bestsellers like: Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience. She also enjoys co-authoring with Jean E. Jones and artist Karla Dornacher, and their next book, Discovering Joy In Philippians: A Creative Bible Devotional Experience, releases May 2019. Pam also loves mentoring and coaching women online, and she and her husband, Bill, stay active speaking and writing on marriage, family, relationships and on Living Love-Wise.

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