Refresh Your Soul Week 1- Praising and Reflecting

As I have been studying and praying through this series, it is clear to me it will not fit into one day a week. All the Lord is showing me on how to refresh is going to take 2 days a week! On Mondays, we will have a time of refreshing in the Word and then Tuesdays will be intentionally looking at our lives and build an action plan.

So here we go….

Today we are going to be intentional about offering praise to the Lord and reflecting on 2012, the good and the bad. 

I encourage you to find a quiet spot. 

You are going to need:

  • 30 minutes of quiet
  • Your Bible, turned to Psalm 66
  • A pen and a journal
  • a candle
  • quiet music
  • something yummy to drink {these last 3 are optional, but I think they enhance the experience!}

1. Take some time to read Psalm 66. Write down any words or thoughts.

The best way to stop focusing on my exhaustion and weariness of soul, my trying circumstances, my pain, is to focus on worship and praise of God. He is worthy to be praised and adored, and my soul cannot help but be lifted and refreshed when I spend time praising Him.

When we don’t turn our eyes on Him, our eyes automatically turn to our self. Charles Spurgeon says this, “He who makes little of God makes much of himself. They who forget adoration fall into adulation. The eyes must see something, and if they admire not God, they will flatter self.”

I find his statement true in my own life. Take a moment to intentionally turn our eyes off of your problems and choose instead to focus on praising Him.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!’”

All the earth will worship You, All will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name.

2. Take a few quiet moments and speak to God about His wonderful works. His many blessings. His awesome character. Write them down.

3.Now, let’s take a few moments and reflect on this past year.

How has God been faithful to you this last year? What are some things that show His goodness and love to you? Often, we are too busy or “forget to remember”. Remembering can greatly fortify our souls and bless our hearts as we look at what He has done.

“Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds, toward the sons of men.

4. Spend some time reflecting on what great things God did in 2012, for you, your marriage, your family.

Write down all the things that come to your mind, big or small. 

The psalmist in Psaln 66 remembers the faithfulness of the Lord when he led the Israelites through the Red Sea in verse 6, “He turned the sea into dry land; They passed through the river on foot; There let us rejoice in Him!”

5.Now, as painful as it might me, take moments to reflect on hard things. The painful, broken things God used or is still using to refine you.

For you have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppresive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.”

Spend  time thanking God for what He has done and asking Him to continue to heal painful spots. Also ask Him to continue to teach you to trust in Him as you refresh you soul this year.

6.Lastly, share {if you want} with us the things God has done, the joyous and the heart-breaking. Let’s praise Him together for the good things, and see His hand together in the hard things.

“Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.”

Here are mine….

His works in my life in 2012:

  • allowed me to grow deeper in my walk with Him
  • brought a deepening of close friendships which have been a balm to my soul
  • Dave and I started instituting “at home” date night which has renewed our marriage
  • our family took several village trips interior, which were life-giving as we did ministry together as a family {you can read about our most recent one here and here}
  • the kids and I took a soul-refreshing trip back to the States, and I was able to spend time resting and hanging out with family {and drinking Starbucks!}
  • several wonderful things that I am not at liberty to share via the Internet

The hard things that God used {is using} to refine me:

  • the devastation of learning family secrets, which led to the blessing of meeting my wonderful brother and deep reconciliation with my family, learning the hard way that brokenness is a gift
  • continual pain and exhaustion due to Lupus, that God continues to use in my life to show me how weak I am and how much I need Him in my life.
  • experiencing severe burnout, which left me spent, through which God is continuing to show me how to rest in Him
  • near constant power outages and the constant yelping of the neighbor’s dog, which I wish I could say have grown me immensely and I am so spiritual I even thank God for the disruptions. But honestly? I am not there. I can survive them, but I am not to the point where I would say I am thankful for them. I pray I might continue to choose here.
 Now it is your turn.
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  • Lisa J

    I wish you a blessed year ahead!

    • Joy

      Thank you Lisa!

  • brooke

    We, too, have walked some difficult times this past year and God has grown us through them. It is so good to look over the year and see where we’ve come, realize how hard it’s been, see it for what it really is, gather strength for the year to come, see what God has done in our hearts. God be with you as you walk the path you are on.

    • Joy

      I am so glad, Brooke, that God is blessing you through the hard times and giving you strength for the next year ahead. Be blessed!

  • Esther

    Thank you Joy. Thank you for allowing Him to shine through your more gratefully through the joy and brokeness. You are a light in my life!

    • Joy

      Wow. Thank you. Your words bring tears. Thank you.

  • SarahB

    God has blessed us mightily this year! A new baby girl to love, strength to make it through each fussy day with her :), another year with our precious little girl, all we need has been provided, He has strengthed my walk with Him, given me another year with my wonderful husband. There have been struggles with postpartum depression/fears and the loss of two angel cousins. God is good and faithful always! So thankful each year comes one day at a time!

    • Joy

      What a beautiful thing to be blessed by a precious baby girl! Rejoicing with you! And, yes, those fussy days, and dealing with postpartum hardships can be soooo difficult. Make sure you take good care of yourself Sarah. I am cheering for you, mama!

  • gayly

    The last few days I have been thinking a lot about 2012 and looking ahead at 2013. IT is ëasy”to remember all the good things of the year behind us but this morning as I was studying, it was also good for me to think about the hard things and to focus on what God has taught me from the difficult road. Thank you.

    • Joy

      You are welcome. I agree, it is so much easier to remember the easy things, but my soul has been greatly fortified {just like you mentioned} by remembering the hard things, and seeing how God uses them to draw me closer to Him. Thank you!

  • Lou Ann

    Excellent! Love the wonderful walk through how to. Very sound advice and challenge. May we all praise more and complain less. And yes . . . there are still things that are easier and harder to give thanks for. May we all do it! Thank you!

    • Joy

      You are so right and so welcome. :)

  • Linda

    Thank you for the simplicity of this refreshing time! It is just what I need. Bless You for sharing this!

    • Joy

      You are so welcome. I am glad that I can walk this with you!

  • Terri S

    Dear Joy,

    Thank you so much for your lovely post. I have been blessed again and again by what you share. Today I spent about an hour and followed your plan above. God revealed some things that I am so grateful to remember.

    God’s works in my life in 2012:
    ~He drew me closer to Him through various bible studies this past year, but especially through a study in Hebrews.

    ~ He called me to be obedient to be Baptized this year after many years of his saving grace before being baptized! Praise Him!

    ~ He was faithful to bring a Classical Conversations Community to Madison this year that we are able to participate in and we have been blessed by the community and He has brought friends for my children and myself to the community as well.

    ~ He has blessed me with Christian friends who love and pray for me, and look to be in community – I longed for that.

    ~ I was blessed to spend Mother’s Day weekend at a retreat center just focusing on God and His blessings in my life. Lovely quite time – I especially enjoyed the spring flowers.

    ~ God has called our family to go on a short-term Mission trip to Guatemala this March, and I am so excited to see the work he will do in our family and the people we serve.

    The Hard Things God used and is still using to refine me in 2012:
    ~ A very difficult season with my 9 year old son. He is teaching me patience, consistency in child training, and obedience to how I hear God calling me to train him even when my husband disagrees. This was especially difficult, but brought my son’s karate instructor and his school in to help me with consequences. God blessed me with a lovely Christian woman to mentor my son and me from the school.

    ~ Because of the difficulty with my son, it created issues in my marriage that caused me to cry out to God. I believe God drew my husband closer to Him because of this. He also provided a weekend marriage retreat for us, and we are working through many communication issues and other things as well. Still very difficult for me.

    ~ God has been calling me to let go and let Him control things. A work in progress for me as I am a first born and control is ingrained!

    I feel blessed by the opportunity you provided to Praise God and Reflect on what he has done this past year. I am not good about doing that, so this has been a wonderful opportunity and I wanted to share my heart a little since you share your so much!

    May God richly bless your obedience to his call to mentor and teach.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Terri S

    Madison WI

    • Joy

      Oh Terri, praise God for the blessings, those are so sweet and soul-touching, and it looks like the Lord brought you some really special things to pepper throughout a very difficult year. Thank you, so much, for your honesty in sharing your struggles. I am sad for your pain and trials this year, but I can see how God might be using those in you already as you seek to give Him control of your situation and circumstances. Standing with you, sister. :)

  • Sara McNutt

    Thanks for sharing this! It encouraged me to create my own lists.

    • Joy

      Oh I am heading over to see it… thank you!

  • Abigail

    Well I am a college student, not in a relationship or a mother, but I love your blog and the encouraging things you have to say, it i always a great reminder.
    For me, God has provided. I applied to Bethel for PSEO not thinking I would be accepted but God not only got me here for classes, but has gotten me a room on campus with girls on my floor who love him so much. God has used this las semester to help me grow in my walk with him and has blessed me so much, I am so very grateful.
    Last year my parents seperated due to legal circumstances. Because of the law I have not seen my father in over a year. I moved into college, went through a heartbreaking break up without the support of my dad. God has used this to help me rely on Him more, to not try and rely on myself. I thank God so much for everything he has given me. I am thankful that while I went through difficult situations, he gave me the strength to endure. God is Great :)

    • Joy

      Wow. This is exciting and heartbreaking for me. I am so glad to hear that you are blessed to be surrounded by godly women who spur you on, and that God is using so many things in your life to draw you closer to Him. How painful it must be for you, though, to not see your daddy in over a year. I pray that the Lord will show Himself to you this year as your Abba, Daddy, and that you can continue to rest in His arms. :) Blessings.

  • Jo

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’m coming out of a year of much fear and doubt and am really looking forward to this series! It is an answer to prayer!

    • Joy

      Jo, I am blessed to hear this. May the Lord continue to build you up in faith and trust in Him this year!

  • my_redeemerlives

    Love this Joy! Thanks for sharing it with us. You are such a sweet woman and so inspirational!

    • Joy

      Thank you. I am blessed to be able to share what God is showing me. And oh, I have so far to go….

  • Marci H

    You are truly amazing. Thank you for this. Exactly what I needed!

    • Joy

      Yeah, I am so NOT amazing, but thank you! :) I am so so so glad that this is what you needed. It is what I needed,so I’m glad it is helping others too! :)

  • Amy Yoder

    Thank you so much for this! It has been wonderful to be able to look back over the past year. God has blessed me with an adoption and some answers to our infertility. It has been great to see His hand at work regarding our family. I am so thankful that we were able to adopt our 2 year old son! That wouldn’t have happened if we were not struggling with infertility. God you are so good! Our hard thing of last year was losing my job of 13 years as a nurse. I am a labor and delivery nurse and was honored to be able to witness and help little ones come into the world. Losing my job was a very hard one for me. I felt like Abraham placing Issac on the altar. I had to surrender my job into God’s hands. It was a hard test, but I know He is faithful! I am currently a stay at home mother to our wonderful little boy! God is teaching me so much! Blessings.

    • Joy

      Oh Amy. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of that. What an amazing blessing to be able to adopt your precious son. That is a huge praise for 2012! I can only imagine how difficult it must be to give up a job/ministry that you loved so much and blessed others. Thank you for sharing your heart with such openness.

  • Colette Port Hoekstra

    YAY for Starbucks! ;) I can’t wait to do this. xoxo

    • Joy

      Thanks Colette, or are you still going by Cosette? :)

  • Bethany

    Thank you so much for this devotional! The Lord really used it as a mighty time of healing in my life. Thanks so much!

    The Good Things:
    He has drawn me closer to His heart through tough times.
    Provided me with a good college situation!
    Strengthened his relationship with two of my best friends!
    Guided me through decisions I could not make alone.
    Let me act in two beautiful plays, and dance in a recital!

    Tough Things:
    Lost myself in a relationship, and blurred some boundary lines leading to guilt–God used this to define Grace in my life as I have never seen it before.
    Struggled with some relationships.
    Inability to see His Plan for the future.

    He is at work in our lives! He was in 2012, and He will be in 2013! Thank you Lord! Thank you for your grace!

  • adiamond329

    I am so thankful for this post. It is hard for me to think in tangible terms of how God has been working in my life in the last year. My family has faced many harships – finacial, physical, and even some emotional damage done by other Christians. As a result, my faith shattered. I am finally at a place to take Baby Steps back into the arms of Jesus. My favorite part of Psalms 66 is the last verse
    “Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!”
    I’ve certainly deserved the opposite, and am so deeply amazed at the Truth that He has not rejected me, even though others have. He is faithful.

  • Dayna

    In 2012, God blessed me with new relationships with friend and family that have been a gift to my heart. He has brought stability to my new business where my work can be done to help and minister to others as a counselor. I have been able to stay home another year while only having to leave to work one day per week. My children have been sick alot, and this reminds me of what I’m hear to do and to grasp onto Him for strength and comfort when I don’t know what else to do. Doctors who can help heal my children. Minor struggles in my marriage that have opened my eyes to my own flaws and led me to be more in the moment and build a stronger loving relationship.

  • Kris

    Thank you, Joy!
    Blessings this year-
    - God taught me so much about Grace- offering it to others and understanding receiving grace from him
    - being able to stay home with my precious kids and watching them grow
    - God is showing me to stop doing so much and relax in him and enjoy the little moments
    - after 9 years of indecisiveness my husband decided to leave his job for the ministry. Got provided him a way to do both- part-time ministry an still run a business he enjoys
    - after years of not having a church home close to us in our home town, The Lord placed in on the heart of those in our church to start a satellite campus in our town!
    - I’ve realized working part time and beig a mom/homemaker full time has put a lot of stress on my home and family. God has showed me I need to take a step back and place my family first an enjoy them!
    - several passing out spells of my 4 yr old- scary times and tests- however god is faithful and there is nothing seriously wrong with him!
    - family relationships have been stressed and there has been some hurts and pains
    - small marriage struggles

  • Katie

    Joy! I have been so blessed through the humility and truth of your blog. Thank-you. I am thankful for this series to renew, refresh and add perspective to my life.
    2012 was a great year of provision from the Lord…he is always so faithful in the small and big things. It was encouraging to see a few relationships go deeper and gain couple more prayer partners..isn’t knowing someone is praying for your family the greatest feeling?!
    Hard things: being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease and the changes that entails. Also, my second born has learning/behavioral challenges that sortof came into full bloom…leaning into Him for wisdom and strength.

    The verse that popped out at me from Psalm 66 is 17: For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. It’s usually a grumble and to reflect on my attitude should be of praise was just what I needed to soak in. Have also committed to backing off facebook and other “fillers” that do not use my time intentionally

  • Sarah

    I just wanted you to know I spent time doing this today and my sould is refreshed. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily and ignore God’s presence, but this helped me put my past year in the perspective of a thankful heart, and give up to God my current struggles. Thank you so much for this!

  • Esther E Hawkins

    Ah, I read this as I was feeling inundated with all that I need to do. The reminder and opportunity to lay it all down and spend time with God and to testify of His goodness is very welcome – thank you! As I think back on 2012, I am in awe of God’s redemptive power in my life. 2010 and 2011 were filled with grief through a miscarriage, and 2 other traumatic events that shook us deeply. However, in 2012 the Lord has restored all that was intended to destroy us. We now have a beautiful little boy and have come through struggles stronger and with more confidence and faith in Him!

  • Amy

    Joy, I want to thank you for allowing God to use you to lead other women in worshipping and growing in Christ. This refreshing is just what I need and feels wonderful. I am encouraged by your sweet, humble love for and trust in God while you serve Him and am committing to pray for you weekly. Bless you and thank you!

  • Megan Bone

    2012 Joys and Blessings:
    My love for God was reignited!
    Our family purpose was made clear… we are called to join MAF (that’s how I found you!).
    God gave me stamina to become a runner and I completed numerous 5ks…something I never thought I could or would do.
    Through running God gave me many new friendships and took away much of the loneliness I had been feeling.
    God began healing my horrible skin that has been sore with eczema for my whole life.

    2012 Hardships:
    The worse year at work ever…filled with stress, un-peace, and turmoil.
    Numerous sleepless nights with my 1 year old.
    A family divorce which then led to my sister-in-law going to a mental institution and then later arrested.

    Much sorrow over not seriously pursuing our family’s purpose in missions earlier.

  • Lynnebee

    this series has been SO good for me. I am a glass half empty kinda person, so I look back and see all my mistakes and failures. It is WORK for me to see the blessings…its how I am wired. So I tend to be worn out alot! I am being intentional about choosing JOY, seeing the GOOD and not harping on the bad. Seeing God’s grace has been an eye opener for me, and I admit, I am starting to feel refreshed ;-) Praying for you always, and so glad the Lord had laid this series on your heart :-)

  • Kim B.

    So needed this quiet time reading today :) Love how God brings me to it at just the right time! I also LOVED that although I’ve been following your blog for sometime, I just now realized your name was Joy which just so happens to be my word for 2013! A double blessing today :) Thank you for these posts & inspiring us to refresh our souls in Him. Blessings!

  • Heather

    Thank you Joy for this encouraging devotional..I took your recommendation from a previous post on Sally Clarkson’s books..thank you so much for that as well

  • Britney

    Thank you for your openness! It is such an encouragement to me in my season. Your blog posts have helped me to be in the Word more and to set my mind on things above. I would love to sit and have a long conversation in person with you to encourage each other in our faith, but I am truly honored to read your blog posts! Continue your amazing ministry of this blog and I truly appreciate your honesty!

    2012 hardships:
    Experiencing panic attacks and depression during our first few months of marriage
    Experiencing a panic attack on our wedding day & throughout our honeymoon
    Quitting a job that I was stressed out with
    Living in a city I don’t have a heart for

    2012 refining experiences:
    Finding a new NEED for Christ daily
    Reading the Word more consistently
    Opening up to friends in the city God has placed us in