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At (in)courage, we empower women to be like Jesus. Our writers share what’s going on in their life and how God’s right in the middle of it. They bring their joys & struggles so that you can feel less alone and be empowered by the hope Jesus gives.

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  1. That was a terrific story especially as you wait for months to see if the operations and treatments will be effective and the person recovers and life kinda sorta goes back to where it was before the nightmare happened.

    It is terrific that in the midst of fear, anxiety, pain, etc that a simple mask made all the difference to your family.

    • Thank you, Elizabeth-Anne… We had to be super-intentional to choose happiness and seek moments of joy during that season. There were some days when it was really hard, but sometimes the looking is what saved us.

    • I needed this. Having lost another section of my lung to cancer and trying to heal I had come to the place of tears yet again. Pain, oppression, frustration, a little self pity (admittedly) being confined, over extending my wounded self had set in hard. Like sticking your feet in concrete and leaving it too long as it sets up. Hard to get your feet out of the stuff-stuck!
      So I needed to laugh. And I was reminded of a time my friend, Diane, and I went to the Holy Spirit Renewal Conference in Greenlake, WI. It is an American Baptist retreat held each year there.
      She was a brand new Christian, I was nearly Pentecostal by that time.
      We were seriously seeking God and growing accordingly. But one day God decided joy should be the agenda item of the day. Nothing really set us off, we were just taking a walk around the lake on our lunch break when we noticed a beautiful butterfly and one of us pointed it out. From there we became rip roaring “drunk in the Spirit”. We were belly laughing and near rolling on the grass. We hurt from laughing and so did everyone we passed. It was contagious.
      Oh what a glorious lift to the day. Everyone enjoyed the moment with us. So God’s agenda for joy over-rode every idea we had and it was noted “they had been with Jesus.” Thank you Lord for joy and laughter.
      That was scores of years ago and it still brings joy to my soul.
      Thank you dear writer for reminding me in this little pit of despair I am in that joy is mine-rightfully mine. The joy of the Lord is MY strength.
      It is 2:30 am I am in pain and headed for an ice bag to put on my searing surgery sight that is burning and throbbing bring me close to tears, yet I smile remembering not only does God love me, He is my hope, strength and he is the author of joy and laughter.
      Donna R Upshaw

  2. You are so right! We can have JOY in our lives, but for a moment or a season, we forget about happiness. We are caught up in our situations and can’t see past that. We are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. I am miserable, and no one wants to be around me. Lol! Today, from this day forward, I choose to take the Happiness Dare and be happy, truly happy, in this season. It won’t last long. I have confirmation of that. And time flies whether you are having fun or not!
    What if not being happy, produces wrinkles on my face from my frown?! I can’t have that. Lol!
    Lastly, I cannot be a good witness when I am not happy.
    Thank you for your encouragement and for your honesty.

    • Cindy, I think your final point here is so important. I have a sentence in my book about that: “Grumpy Christians make horrible advertisements for Jesus.” Now, clearly, there are days and even seasons where happiness is way out of reach. We all need to give ourselves grace during those seasons. TRUE happiness allows space to cry, to be disappointed, even to be angry. My hope and prayer is that this Dare will give people the tools they need — through the power of the Holy Spirit — to keep taking the next step forward during those seasons, with the promise that happiness is recoverable. Thanks for being here!

      • Thank you for the reminder in the book that while, yes, Isaiah did describe Jesus as a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, that he was also one who enjoyed life. He attended weddings, took long walks, ate with friends… . I truly cannot imagine a dour Jesus being someone who would willing call children to him ( or that kids would go to)! I also was so grateful for the discussion that Jesus was likely the happiest person ever on earth!
        Life is hard, no doubt about it. Sometimes the world seems to spin out of control, yet we can choose how we live. I choose happiness!

  3. What a great post. Happiness IS a choice. It is not wrong to want to know happiness. And you’re right. When we forget it in the midst of the hard, sometimes we need to be reminded that happiness is good. I hope your daughter is doing better. 🙂

  4. Jennifer, thank you for this much needed posting today-I thank the Lord for His provision and timing 🙂 I pray that your family and you keeping walking with grace that He has given, that is so evident in your life in this time. Such a beautiful example 🙂 As I read the replies, I am so thank-full for your saying that happiness comes from living an open and vulnerable life that includes tears, angry, and joy. I needed to hear that today 🙂 May we each look to the author and perfector of our faith that leads to such happiness in knowing that Jesus is our All in All who hugs us close and walks with us on this journey of life hand in hand 🙂

    • An,

      You are so welcome. And I’m glad you’ve received this message so gently in your hands. Yes, happiness is definitely living an open and vulnerable life, with tears, anger, joy, disappointment, and all the other emotions that we feel. Grateful for you!

  5. Oh, thanks for this post on HAPPINESS… something I was raised with, springing from the inner joy which characterized my parents. Happy parents have a great and profound effect on their children even when times are a bit tough. Years later, you remember back and wonder at your own feelings of worry and despair. Wow, where did this come from? Our Lord Jesus has not changed and He is the same now as He was 60 years ago! I choose HAPPINESS, I do! 🙂

  6. Jennifer,

    Praise God your daughter is doing much better! “Lately, the world feels like an ugly place, you know?” I have felt as though the world is just as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah. Quite frequently ask God when is He coming back-how much more of this must we endure? I have been in the dark crevices of life these past few years. My aging dad was put on hospice last July. He’s had mental health issues (dementia, etc.). It has been an up and down roller coaster with him. Through it all God was there. God did a miracle for me and healed my dad some what. I have my happy back. I can laugh, smile and enjoy life once again!
    Happiness is a choice and not always easy in this crazy mixed up world!

    Blessings 🙂

  7. This is all so reaffirming! The last few years have been roller coaster with my best friend had a triple bypass and a new hip with in 3 moths of each other. He did not handle either surgery well and has had a very difficult recovery! We are alone in Southern Florida and I have been his lone care giver. Happiness has been a struggle! I have always been such a happy person and always saw the bright side of everything! I eventually just brought him to live with me because it was too difficult to be back and forth all the time. I finally realized I was not happy about anything, it took tons of prayer to get back on track! Very scarey time to lose sight of the faith I have always had in Jesus and His love for me! Please pray for me that never happens again. If we remember to keep our eyes on Him and don’t allow ourselves to get to involved in other things, I think we will be ok, even in bad times, we must remember to pray and talk with Him. Thank you for reminding us to stay close to Him and allowing ourselves to be real. Praying for your family!