About the Author

Bonnie Gray is the author of Sweet Like Jasmine, Whispers of Rest, wife, and mom to two boys. An inspirational speaker featured by Relevant Magazine and Christianity Today, she’s guided thousands to detox stress and experience God’s love through soul care, encouragement, and prayer. She loves refreshing your soul at...

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  1. Bonnie, it brings me joy to be an encourager of others & It brings me lots of joy to read how you became an overcomer of so much to bring much joy to the world!

  2. Oh how I needed to hear this today! My mom is of the similar mindset that love is expressed by how much you “do” for someone, whether physically or materially. She has spent her entire adult life giving to others until she had nothing left and the result is a depressed, anxious woman with no joy in her life. She expects the same from me and applies guilt to achieve it.

    Thank you for the reminder that my joy comes from the Lord and HE is who I should put above all else. Then the rest of my life will be in better alignment.

  3. My joy comes from happy childhood memories and I intend to pass those memories along to my grandchildren by teaching them love of cooking, crocheting, crafting, extensions of what my Grandma meant to me….. I was the only girl in a family of 6 and was treated like a princess. I wish all could experience my joy.

  4. Jesus
    Others
    You

    This is how I was taught as a new Christian-serving others before myself. But sometimes I forget that it is serving the Lord before serving others. That means I need to have the right attitude of heart so that the serving others is not done begrudgingly. I need to allow God to minister to my heart, to bring me close to Him and be filled up with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control before I can spread this to others.

    Painting. Singing. Dancing alone in the kitchen with only God watching. Reading. Sunshine walks. These fill my cup, and remind me of His kindness.

  5. Reading your devotional today was God’s perfect timing for me, a blessing giving direction in my own journey. God’s love is like unceasing ripples in a pond and my heart was blessed by this ripple in time.

  6. Thank you so much for this devotion. I also lived in a household of putting others first. I am still working on changing that mindset.

    I love to read, birdwatch, encourage others, talk with my granddaughters, craft and write letters.

  7. How precious these words are to me today. As the days pass more quickly than I can keep track of, I am finally understanding and giving myself the opportunity to experience joy. Thank you

  8. gosh that bonnie gray is a master of words – her book rocked and so does her devotional today. thanks, mrs bonnie, for making me focus Lord Jesus and the joy his kingdom brings to me!

  9. This was much needed to hear today. Thank you dear sister. I have spent my entire life giving myself to others, that I don’t know how to fell joy anymore. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt it. Oh, maybe when my children and grandchildren, great children were born and when I received Christ into my life, but I have fallen to the wayside… I am much ashamed to say. I don’t spend as much time seeking Jesus as I should. I care for elderly in laws, one which is bedridden and can’t care for himself, the other is 93 and she is slowly declining. But there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. I lost my dad 6 weeks ago to Covid but he was lost in mind, long before that.
    I guess I just felt spent and wondered that God had forgotten his child or was punishing me for being for my parents mistakes.
    I don’t know anything anymore. I’m lost… I pray and I worship and I still I feel empty. Please give me some guidance ladies and pray if you would. Thank you.

    • Margaret,
      My dear sister in Christ, you are not alone! Caregiving can be such an exhausting experience, and it may feel selfish to take time for yourself, doing (or simply NOT doing anything at all, just RESTING!) something that SPARKS JOY in your heart, but it is not selfish! You are not too old to rediscover God’s love for you, and His delight in you! I am praying the words of Zephaniah 3:17 for you today, that you may grasp the truth of His Word, “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

      • Thank you Shari for your kind words. . I will keep them close to my heart. I have book marked that passage in my Bible. I know God will leve nor forsake me but I just feel so alone sometimes. Blessings dear sister.

      • Zephaniah 3:17…..one of my favorite verses, especially when I have angst. I imagine His singing is a comforting lullaby.

    • It is so hard to be a caregiver and feel you are doing it with grace and kindness when you are exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. There are days when you don’t have the energy to even try and seek God. And that’s ok. I get that way too in helping my Mom-in-love. It isn’t wrong to feel your emotions, to feel as if you are empty, lost. The fact you read today’s devotional and reached out to this community and asked for help and prayers, to me means you still have that spark of the Spirit. God is there, and he knows you love him. You need only remember that God’s faith is big enough to hold you and your feelings. His love endures forever with you.

      • Bless you Maura. I can’t remember how much outpouring of love there was here. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to share here. I’ve always been a part of this little community but I have been so busy with caregiving and loss lately that I’ve lost myself. Thank you all for being a source of love and strength. I need it! Now I just need to get back into the word and get right with God. Be more diligent with my prayer life and my walk with Jesus.

  10. I really needed to hear these words today. I too grew up in a home where it was selfish to chose my joy over that of others. I’ve carried that same belief into relationships with friends, my spouse, children and into my career as a healthcare worker. I got so burned out I was suffering physically, cognitively and emotionally. Everything I did was adversely affected. I had to take a break from my job and am still dealing with anxiety and depression that is paralyzing at times. As a child I LOVED anything to do with horses! Pictures, movies, models, etc. I started volunteering at a place that provides horseback riding lessons for people with disabilities. I get the horses ready, grooming and tacking them. I feel so at peace! My husband doesn’t like the time I take away from him. I feel so guilty, but feel like God wants me to have this one little bit of joy. I’ve felt this love of horses for so long. So again, thank you for sharing your story and reassuring me God loves me and wants me to feel his joy.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I can think of several things that I feel bring me joy. Knowing that my three girls are thriving brings me joy, knowing that my mother is doing well brings me joy, knowing that my doctor’s report shows victory brings me joy, knowing that my husband’s drink route is doing great brings me joy and being around babies make me smile and bring me joy.

    I am hesitant when I think of my own personal joy. It’s been so many years since I was told what true joy was all about. It is a spiritual gift given to Believers from our Lord and Savior. Society does not define joy the same way. Somehow a break in the line of communication has occurred over the years. Being a daughter, wife and mother has really consumed most of my energy, extra time and Bubblegum Money. I suppose we all need to rethink words like happy, content, and joyful.

    Happy is determined by our circumstances, so we have to be prepared when circumstances change, content means you are alright with life as it is but you are willing to plan and wait for things to get better. Now joy is a precious gift and you don’t have to do anything just believe that God prepared joy for you. What a refreshing thought.

    I pray that other daughters, wives and mothers know their value in God’s sight and how He loves you and wants you to experience His Joy every day.

    Until next time . . .

    Brenda

  12. Bonnie, your words are exactly what my heart needed this morning! I was just sent an article by a trusted counselor on the subject of Self-Compassion, a truly foreign concept for me. Though it feels like uncharted territory to begin this journey toward understanding how to be compassionate towards myself, I realize that it is a necessary step in my healing, and to understand who I am as God’s Beloved daughter. Thank you for your transparent vulnerability, you and your words are a beacon on the path of healing for so many people!

  13. I love this idea, Bonnie! I chose joy on Saturday, when I adopted a kitten from a shelter. I knew it would inconvenience other people, but I did it anyway. And I am happier and feel more loving towards others already! (But I had forgotten all the work! Tee hee!)

  14. I too feel joy comes in doing what others want to do. I get pleasure from doing for others but I don’t remember my last feeling of real JOY just for myself.
    I would love to find that JOY from God, my walk with Him, serving Him…I taught for many years. I changed churches and do not get to teach. I feel that was my gift and way of serving God and where I got JOY…not in my merits but God’s. I do miss it…

  15. After reading your insightful, transparent words this morning, my first thought was, “I wonder what number she is on the Enneagram…”
    As a two I struggle (wrestle, roil, resist) with this same line of thinking and doing.
    Today.. I’m going to read. I’m going to write and I’m going to think thoughts , brainstorm creative new thinks.

  16. A dear friend sent me this today after I had asked for a “selfish” prayer request just this morning regarding a birthday dinner I’m planning for my husband’s 60th birthday. His mom is in the hospital right now, and I want my beloved MIL to be well, but I don’t want my dinner plans in just 2 weeks to change. I felt so selfish asking it! My friend sent me this blog post – how timely! How lovely! How gracious of the Lord to nudge you to write it for TODAY. Thank you!

    And “building a world for my Barbie dolls” was one of the things that gave me incredible joy as a child. My sister and I still say no one played Barbies like we did. I wrote a storyline for each session. haha! And guess what? Today, over 50 years later, I’m a children’s author.

    God is so good to us!

  17. I so resonate with what you were taught as a child and as a young woman wanting to go to college and having hopes dashed. My circumstances were vastly different but I had a father with anger management issues and life revolved around what he wanted and needed. This was the pattern I learned and lived with as my mother did all she could keep the peace in the household. I grew up and married a man totally different from my father, even tempered and so I thought all would be good. However, there still was an underlying attitude that he would have what he wanted, we would address the kids needs and activities and so my needs were often at the bottom of the list. I had to fight for anything that gave me relief from tension and gave me joy. He would approve of some of those things, if they did not cost much, and they did not involve him much. I finally insisted on family vacations once a year when our finances permitted it. Initially, he did it begrudgingly, but grew to enjoy them (mostly). One adult son took on his father’s attitudes and has created pressures on me that are unnecessary and even to this day, I have had to stand my ground (and justify at times) to do the things that I love to do. I am gradually working my way into not feel guilty when I address my own needs for joy in my life. I also have the responsibility to direct the care of my 101 year MIL who has dementia and now lives in long term care. As you can imagine, many of my joy activities have been curtailed to be available for her care and due to the pandemic. I am tired now and searching for Joy in other ways now. I know God wants me to have Joy and I am trying to find it in the little things in life instead but it is also a mindset that was thrust upon me over many many years that I have to unwind from. Your post brought tears to my eyes as I recognized myself in your words. Thank you.

  18. Deana Chadwell in Soul Bare (2016) suggests we turn up our joy detectors, and take note of the delightful, small things of life, then give credit to the God who provided them. “Joy is in our gratitude,” she says. What a perfect time to begin developing another joy-making habit–right before Thanksgiving!

  19. It’s taking awhile but my counsellor is trying to get me to be kinder to myself and watch for things that give me a joyful spark. Sewing, colouring, walking in nature, watching praise bands online and playing a game with someone all seem to do that for me. Now I have to DO those things more! Thanks for the encouragement Bonnie!

  20. This means so much to me! I really needed to read these words tonight. My passion and joy is directing music- adult and children’s choirs at my church. Lately, however, there has been a person on our staff, who has been very rude to me. It’s difficult to work in this situation and is causing a great deal of stress and anxiety for me. I deeply appreciate this reminder that God gave me this gift, which I treasure, and wants me to have this joy so I can continue to share His joy and love through my music.

  21. I don’t normally stop to read long narratives. “I’m too busy!” is what I always tell myself. But something compelled me to pause and ponder this writing. I’m glad I did. Just reading and reflecting on it brought me joy. Thanks for being a blessing today.

    enJOY!

  22. Bonnie,

    You are such an encourager of women. Your words come at just the right time to soothe hurt souls. When I need to release stress I simply start a pillow fight with my husband. It doesn’t take long before we are both laughing. Simple pleasures in life bring me joy. It can be making bread or various foods for others. I get pleasure out of helping others. Enjoyment comes from listening to various types of music & dancing around my house. Also enjoy watching some game & home reno shows. When we can I love to snuggle with my hubby.

    God wants His children to be happy & enjoy ALL that He blessed them with. You don’t have to be a “doormat” to others & constantly give of yourself. You have a right to choose that which makes you happy. So go out there & enjoy ALL that God has given you. Color your world beautifully!

    Blessings 🙂

  23. I remember singing in Children’s church and feeling so joyful, I wanted to dance. I still feel joyful when I sing in choir at church–that is how God gives me my heart’s desire!

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