Celebrate: Discovering Joy in Life's Ordinary Moments [NOOK Book]

Overview

“...Be happy and full of joy, because the Lord has done a wonderful thing.” Joel 2:21 (NCV)


What does it take to be happy?


We spend so much of our lives waiting to be happy. When I meet Mr. Right . . . when the kids are grown . . . when I retire . . . What are you waiting for?


Right here, right now, even...

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Celebrate: Discovering Joy in Life's Ordinary Moments

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Overview

“...Be happy and full of joy, because the Lord has done a wonderful thing.” Joel 2:21 (NCV)


What does it take to be happy?


We spend so much of our lives waiting to be happy. When I meet Mr. Right . . . when the kids are grown . . . when I retire . . . What are you waiting for?


Right here, right now, even in the midst of the challenges you face every day, there is so much to appreciate and enjoy. It’s a matter of perspective—knowing where (and how) to look for the blessings God has given us. Join us and start noticing the joys hiding in plain sight. You’ll find there’s plenty to celebrate!


Through this study, women will discover the hidden joys in life no matter the circumstances, learn to live with an attitude of gratitude, and find the secrets to contentment and hope.


Features:



  • Twelve weeks of Bible study

  • Questions for discussion

  • Leader’s Guide included for leading your small group study
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781418550509
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Series: Women of Faith Study Guide Series
  • Sold by: THOMAS NELSON
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 637,581
  • File size: 713 KB

Read an Excerpt

CELEBRATE

DISCOVERING JOY IN LIFE'S ORDINARY MOMENTS
By Margaret Feinberg

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4185-5050-9


Chapter One

Unwrapping the Gift of Contentment

There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

G. K. Chesterton, English writer

A story is told of a wise man who traveled around giving away his gift of wise words for free to anyone who asked him. Upon entering a remote village, the wise man was greeted by a local man who was standing in his yard waving his hands wildly.

The local man explained the challenges he faced in his small one-bedroom home. Though he worked hard, his family shared a very small space. Recently, he'd had several arguments with his wife and didn't know how to improve his marriage or create a sense of peace in the home.

The wise man noticed several chickens and a goat in the yard. "Do you have any animals other than these?" he asked.

The villager said that he also had a sheep, two dogs, and a cat. "Place them inside the house with you!" the wise man advised.

The wise man noticed some tools in the yard. "Do you have any tools other than these?" he asked.

The villager said that he had a few more he stored behind his house. "Place them inside the house with you!" the wise man advised.

The wise man noticed a pile of leaves and dead branches in the corner of the yard. "Do you have any other leaves or branches than these?" he asked.

The villager looked at him hesitantly and said that he had another pile in the back. "Place them inside the house with you!" the wise man advised.

"I'll be back in three days to check on you," said the wise man before disappearing down the road.

Desperate to help his family, the villager did exactly as advised. Three days later, the wise man reappeared as promised.

The villager ran toward him and complained that everything had become worse. The animals were making a mess of the house. The tools were taking up too much space. The leaves and branches left dirt everywhere. Their house was a disaster, and everyone was unhappy.

"Remove everything you brought in, and I'll return tomorrow," the wise man said, before turning and walking away.

Though frustrated, the villager did as he was instructed. The next day, when the wise man reappeared, the villager had a sparkle in his eye and a huge grin on his face as he proudly announced that the house felt so much bigger, cleaner, and quieter now that everything was removed. He and his wife were delighted to have their home back. The wise man smiled and walked away.

This story illustrates that sometimes the only difference between contentment and discontentment is a shift in perspective. Nothing changed for the villager except for his outlook. Unwrapping the gift of contentment that God wants to give us often requires a change in perspective. We need to look to God to be reminded of what's truly important, recognize what lasts forever, and identify what has real value in our world. God desires that we don't experience contentment as a passing fancy or fad, but instead that we live out of a deep sense of contentment that permeates our lives, our attitudes, and our relationships.

1. Imagine that you were the villager and the wise man had advised you to bring your possessions inside from your yard, your car, or your workplace for three days and then remove them. What do you think the experience would teach you? What would be the most difficult aspect of those three days? What would be the easiest aspect of those three days?

2. On the continuum below, how content are you in your life right now? Explain.

3. In what areas of your life do you tend to struggle with contentment the most? Place a check by any of the following that apply. Explain your selections.

___ Financial/Wealth ___ Relationships/Friendships ___ Health/Wellness ___ Status/Titles ___ Age or Stage in Life ___ Others

The book of Proverbs, usually attributed to Solomon, is known for its words of wisdom. Proverbs offers various sayings and aphorisms still repeated and cherished today. Proverbs 15 uses the metaphor of a feast to show the difference between contentment and discontentment.

4. Read Proverbs 15:15–17. In what ways have you found these proverbs to be true in your life over the course of the last three months? When are you most likely to forget the truth of these proverbs in your everyday life?

The Psalms comprise a collection of songs of thanksgiving, hymns, laments, and other types of ancient Hebrew poetry. While a large portion of the book of Psalms is attributed to David, many of its authors are unknown. Psalm 131 is a song of trust—its author encourages believers to be content in all circumstances.

5. Read Psalm 131. Which phrases from this brief Psalm speak directly to the issue of contentment? How did the Psalmist cultivate the gift of contentment in his life, according to this passage? Which practices suggested in this passage can help you cultivate the gift of contentment in your own life?

The apostle Paul talked about discovering contentment in every circumstance—not just when things were going well but also when he faced challenges and difficulty.

6. Read Philippians 4:10–13. According to this passage, what is the secret to finding contentment in every circumstance? Why is it important to discover contentment that is not based on circumstances?

Paul's letter to Timothy encouraged him to stick to the things that bring contentment in life: godly living and sound doctrine. He also urged Timothy to avoid the earthly desires that lead to discontentment.

7. Read 1 Timothy 6:3–21. In the first column below, make a list of things mentioned in this passage that increase contentment in everyday life. In the second column below, make a list of things mentioned in this passage that decrease contentment in everyday life.

8. What steps can you take over the upcoming week to intentionally embrace the gift of contentment in your life?

When we unwrap the gift of contentment in our lives, our focus shifts from trying to achieve or acquire more to celebrating all that we've been given.

Digging Deeper

The author of Hebrews echoes Paul's warning to Timothy against the love of money and encourages the readers to be content with what they have. Read Hebrews 13:5–8. Reflecting on this passage, how has God shown Himself faithful to you? In what specific ways have you discovered God as your helper? Who has demonstrated and inspired you to live a life of godly contentment? Prayerfully consider any areas of your life where God is calling you into greater contentment.

Bonus Activity

Purchase a journal or use a few pages in a journal you already own to make a list of things for which you are grateful. Add at least ten specific things to the list each day. Reflect on God's presence in your life and celebrate God's faithfulness. Thank God for all He has done and all He has yet to do in your life. Celebrate the reasons for contentment in your life.

Chapter Two

Discovering the Gift of Gratitude

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

Thornton Wilder, American playwright and novelist

A simple word of thanks can go a long way toward making someone's day. Whether the word of gratitude is expressed in a handwritten note or a hallway conversation in which someone pulls you aside to share their appreciation, these words of affirmation are powerful. They are powerful not just when you receive them, but also when you give them.

Some scientists believe that gratitude is essential to happiness. In fact, a group of scientists have engaged in a long-term research project exploring the effects of gratitude on health and well-being. The researchers found that people who are grateful have higher life satisfaction and positive opinions as well as lower levels of depression and stress.

Among case study participants who kept a gratitude journal on a weekly basis, most felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the upcoming week when compared to those who only wrote down their difficulties or daily events. Scientists are proving what many of us have known all along: Gratitude can increase enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy. In other words, gratitude is good for the soul.

Despite the benefits of gratitude, cultural anthropologists have noted that some cultures don't even have a word for thanks. While saying thank you may be ingrained in our culture as an expression of politeness and civility, some cultures don't use the word thanks at all.

Maybe that's because gratitude goes beyond the words thank you and reaches into the heart. Popular author Thomas Merton once noted, "To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us—and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him."

Merton pointed out that gratitude takes nothing for granted but is always awakened to the wonder and awe of God's goodness. Those who are grateful discover God's goodness not just through mental assertion or belief but by experiencing the goodness of God in their lives. God desires for us to discover the gift of gratitude in our lives—a gift that, like contentment, truly keeps on giving.

1. Name five things that you're grateful for in your life right now. Say each one aloud.

2. How does saying aloud what you're grateful for affect your emotions, your perspective, or how you feel about life?

3. In the last 72 hours, when have you told someone thank you or been told thank you in a significant way? Describe the experience. How did you feel afterward?

4. When, in the last week, did you miss the opportunity to be grateful? What was the effect on yourself? Your relationships?

5. According to each of the following passages, when can thanks be offered to God?

Psalm 119:62: 1 Chronicles 23:30: Philemon 1:4: 1 Thessalonians 1:2: 2 Timothy 1:3:

When are you most likely to offer thanks to God in your own life?

6. Look up each of the following passages. What do each of the following encourage us to give thanks for?

1 Chronicles 16:34–35: Psalm 30:4: Psalm 119:7: Psalm 136:1–3: Isaiah 12:1: 2 Corinthians 2:14: 1 Timothy 2:1:

For what are you most likely to offer thanks to God in your own life?

7. What happens to your relationships with God and with others when you express approval, appreciation, and gratitude?

8. What practical steps can you take over the upcoming week to be more intentional about being grateful to God and others?

When we discover the gift of gratitude in our lives, we realize that it's a gift that keeps on giving. The more grateful we are, the more grateful we become.

Digging Deeper

Paul offered instructions to the church in Thessalonica specifically regarding their attitudes toward God. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Reflecting on this passage, in what kinds of moments or situations in your own life do you find it easiest to express thanks to God? When is it the most difficult for you to express thanks to God? Prayerfully consider how you can express gratitude to God even in the midst of these challenges.

Bonus Activity

Last week's bonus activity encouraged you to purchase a journal and record specific things for which you're grateful daily. Continue the practice this week by adding more each day. At the end of the week, reflect on everything you've written down. Prayerfully reflect on how your level of contentment and gratitude has changed since you began the journal.

Chapter Three

Rediscovering the Gift of Love

For the love of God is broader, Than the measures of man's mind; And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.

F.W. Faber, British Theologian

Built more than fifteen hundred years ago, the mausoleum of Galla Placidia still stands in Ravenna, Italy, as one of the best preserved of all the mosaic monuments. Walking into the small building, built by the emperor of Rome for his sister, is an unusual experience. Though historians herald the wonders of this structure, most tourists are surprised by how little one can see when walking inside.

The building has only a few small windows. The scant rays of sunlight that illuminate this ancient building are often blocked by crowds of tourists who come to see this ancient wonder. Travelers who are in in a rush will often miss the beauty inside. Crammed into the tight, stuffy space, many take a quick glance before scurrying back outside. However, those who linger often discover a hidden secret. Alongside the wall is an easy to overlook metal box. Whenever a visitor drops a coin inside, the lights suddenly flip on for a few brief moments, illuminating the lustrous tiles of the mosaic. The dark blue dome comes to life with twinkling stars that cause even the most tired traveler to ooh and ahh at the breathtaking scenes. A deer drinks from a spring. Fruit and leaves hang ripe—ready to be plucked. Jesus reaches out tenderly to one of his sheep. As quickly as the lights turned on, they turn back off, and visitors are left in a room that seems darker than when they walked in. Yet those who have caught a glimpse of the wonder of the mausoleum walk away with an unabashed sense of delight in the discovery.

Like wandering into a dark mausoleum and discovering a beautiful, illuminated mosaic, we can find ourselves in awe whenever the lights turn on in our spiritual lives and we catch another glimpse of just how much God loves us. In those moments, it's hard to not to be overwhelmed with contentment, gratitude, delight, and joy. The truth that God loves us is not only foundational but also eternal. Of all the gifts that God gives us, the greatest is his love. We were created both out of love and for love. Apart from the love of God, it's impossible for us to walk fully into everything God has for us. So even if you've discovered God's love for you, it's a gift worth rediscovering each and every day of your life.

1. Like the tourists visiting the Galla Placidia, when did you first experience God's love being illuminated or becoming real to you in your life? Describe the moment.

2. In your everyday life, what types of situations or interactions make the love of God the most real to you?

3. What situation in the last three months has tempted you to doubt, question, or even forget God's love the most?

The book of Romans is known for being Paul's systematic theology. While written to the church in Rome so long ago, the words and ideas in this letter still resonate with churches and believers today. Romans 8 expresses the depth and transcendence of the love of God.

4. Read Romans 8:35–39. What 17 things does this passage say cannot separate us from the love of God? Fill in the chart below.

5. Reflecting on the list you've created from Romans 8, which of these things tempts you to second-guess or lose track of God's love the most? Explain.

The idea of justification through Christ's death on the cross is a consistent theme throughout Romans. Paul reminds readers of the beautiful picture of love found in Christ's death for us, the unrighteous.

6. Read Romans 5:6–8. According to this passage, what is one of the most significant signs of God's love for you? What does it mean to you to lay down your life for someone else? Other than Christ Himself, who in your life has made a significant sacrifice on your behalf? Describe.

John makes it very clear in 1 John 4 the source of—and reason for—love. To love is to offer evidence of our association with God. We love because God first loved us. John says that by loving others, we are able to know and see God.

7. Read 1 John 4:7–12. In what ways is our love for one another a reflection of our love for God? Describe a moment in the past month when you chose to love someone because you loved God.

8. What are some practical ways you can keep the reality of God's love alive in your heart? What are some practical ways you can build up others in the reality of God's love?

When we discover the gift of God's love in our lives, we realize that it's a gift we simply can't keep to ourselves. We must pass it on.

Digging Deeper

John reminds us that true love overcomes all fear. While it may seem natural to be afraid and fearful concerning love, God's love is not something we should be afraid of. Read 1 John 4:18–21. Reflecting on this passage, when have you experienced the presence of love triumphing over fear? How would you define the love of God? What does this passage reveal about the love of God? Why do you think the love of God is so important? What would life apart from the love of God look like?

Bonus Activity

Make a list of five people to whom you would like to express the love of God over the course of the next week. After you record their names, write down the words or actions that you would use to demonstrate that love and be intentional about sharing God's love with each person. When you gather next week, share your experiences with the group.

Chapter Four

Sharing the Gift of Generosity

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.

Mother Teresa, Nobel peace prize winner

When we discover the gifts of contentment, gratitude, and love in our lives, we can't help but overflow with generosity in response to all we've received. Generosity literally springs up inside of us because we can't contain it. How much generosity is bubbling up inside of you? Take The Full o' Generosity Quiz and find out!

The Full o' Generosity Quiz

1. Your best friend's birthday is tomorrow! You are anxious because:

a. You need more time. You have no idea what she wants and you haven't had time to find out. You'll grab a gift card for her favorite coffee store in the morning.

b. You've secretly been asking around about what she really wants. Now all you've got to do is wrap it, write a personal note in the card, and wait to see the smile on her face.

c. You've had her present purchased, wrapped, and the birthday card filled out for weeks. You can't wait to see the sparkle in her eye when she unwraps what you already know is the world's best gift.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from CELEBRATE by Margaret Feinberg Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Nelson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword....................vii
Introduction: God's Invitation to You....................xi
Saying Yes to All God Has for You....................1
1 Unwrapping the Gift of Contentment....................3
2 Discovering the Gift of Gratitude....................11
3 Rediscovering the Gift of Love....................17
4 Sharing the Gift of Generosity....................25
Throwing Confetti Alongside a God Who Celebrates....................33
5 Celebrating Through Remembrance....................35
6 Celebrating Through Experience....................43
7 Celebrating Through Rest....................51
8 Celebrating Through Sharing....................57
Bubbling Over with Celebration Everyday....................63
9 Bubbling Over with Strength....................65
10 Bubbling Over with Kindness....................71
11 Bubbling Over with Hope....................79
12 Bubbling Over with Life....................85
Leader's Guide....................91
Notes....................113
About the Author....................115
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  • Anonymous

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    Dancing dancing

    I love dancing! <3 hope.

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    Dance Floor!

    This is the dance floor, a barren grass floor, only a couple foxlengths away from the DJ's sterios. If you ever get hungry, just go to the refreshment table ((next result!)) I hope to see some slow dances throughout the duration of the party! ;3

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