Have you ever just observed someone’s attitude and thought to you yourself, “I want what she has!” That’s kinda the feeling I had when I first heard Cindy Shufflebarger speak. Granted I had no idea what she had been through in her life, certainly things I don’t ever want to have to go through. But her joy was intoxicating and it left me wanting more.
The story Cindy shared included the death of her daughter shortly after she was born. A horrible thing for any parent to have to go through for sure! Yet this mom was able to share her story without tears and even a smile on her face as she recounted how precious this baby girl was to her for the short two days she was able to hold her in her arms. This isn’t to say Cindy has no emotions! Her pain and process through this horrendous ordeal was evident, but the pervasive feeling she conveyed was that of JOY. I left in awe of how she could possibly share this story time and time again without allowing the pain to overtake her. My first thought was ‘Well she did write a book about it (Dancing In the Rain). So maybe she’s shared it so much it’s become old hat?’ That thought was quickly invalidated when she began sharing with us how she receives joy, even in the bleakest of circumstances.
Cindy shared her top ten ways to be filled with joy and although I would love to share them all here I fear I may take away from her book sales. ; ) SO I will just share the three that stood out to me.
LIVE IN THE PRESENT – It’s such a simple concept yet so hard to fulfill. I have been trying to maintain this for years. Being present, both spiritually and mentally, is a tough thing to accomplish on a constant basis. Yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s worries tend to creep their way into our thoughts all too easily.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?….So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-27, 34
GIVE THANKS – One thing Cindy shared that will forever stick with me is “thanksgiving is an invitation for joy.” I wasn’t totally sure I understood this so I decided to give it a try. That evening I was exhausted, hungry, Little Man wouldn’t stop getting into everything and dinner wasn’t even near done. I was beginning to lose my patience and curse the fact that my hubby was late again. Needless to say I was NOT feeling JOYFUL! So I decided to test her theory. I just started thanking God for anything I could think of: an oven to cook dinner on, food to feed my family, a healthy toddler who has the ability to walk and run and play, salt to improve my overcooked green beans, a backyard, a husband who works hard to provide for his family, etc. etc. And ya know what? It worked! Ten minutes later my hubby walked through the door to a happy and joyful wife. Of course Little Man was eating dog food (dinner still wasn’t done) but I’m sure he would have preferred that to an angry resentful wife who would bite his head off the minute he gets home, right?
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
FEAST WITH THE FATHER – This is an absolute must! God is the ultimate source of true joy. How can we begin to experience His joy if we aren’t first experiencing Him who created it? I will admit that on those days where I am not reading His word, praying and focusing on Christ my attitude, emotional state and ultimately relationships suffer. But when I am in constant communion with Him my true Self is revealed and I can conquer the world!
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2
“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11
I know I have left a TON of things out but I’m more interested in how you all receive and relish in the joy of the Lord?
I hope you have been as encouraged as I was by Cindy. If you are interested in hearing about her journey or purchasing her book “Dancing in the Rain” please visit her website to learn more.