The Joy Dare: February

Join me on a Joy Dare. Find 3 things to be thankful for every day and by the end of the year you'll have over 1000 reasons to be thankful.


Lyrics By: Tom Loewen
Music By: Derek Elliotson, Leah Duerksen, Chris Kenny
Performed By: Leah Duerksen

Love It’s a many splendored thing Love is king It is patient and kind Leaving no one behind Love is the cure Perfect and pure It always endures Even through pain Love remains and sustains Love acts with urgency In an emergency Love is currency Though you can’t sell it or buy it Love whispers in the quiet And shouts from a mountain Love is the fountain of youth Love is truth So unchanging, it’s prehistoric But always new, love is euphoric Love is the food that nourishes And when it is fed, it flourishes Love is fragile But it can be agile Adapted for every circumstance Because love knows how to dance And when life makes demands Love abandons its plans Makes time for early mornings and last minutes Because love has no limits No conditions Love is our mission Life’s greatest ambition It believes in parity But love is more than charity When loves sees a need It’s the first on the scene Like vaccine Offering healing and help Because love lives beyond itself Love And it’s true, what they say: If you want love You’ve got to give it away

the joy dare: day 20

3 gifts you only saw when you got close-up
  • I found a spiderweb or five while I was dusting today. The sun shining through the window enhanced the intricate weaving of the fine silk. It was beautiful.
  • Snowflakes. When you get up close and personal with a snowflake and you take the time to stop and look, it's a very neat reminder of God's creativity and love for His creation.
  • Life. I noticed new shoots on the curly willow branches and the dogwood branch in the arrangement in our front foyer. Mom picked them from trees in our yard and stuck them in a pot along with some pine boughs, cedar cuttings and other greens, now they are growing. Anyone want a curly willow tree or a dogwood?

the joy dare: day 19

  • a grace in the kitchen: Borscht! I am loving the fact that on a blustery, stormy, snowy day there is Borscht in a pot on the stove ready to be warmed up and eaten. Mom made a big pot earlier in the week and I'm loving that I don't have to make anything for supper tonight.
  • a grace in the weather: Snow! This winter has been pretty mild so far. Today was snowy and stormy and has left the roads pretty slick. But the world outside looks wonderfully white and clean.
  • a grace that might never have been: _________ (struggling with this one, so I'll post and come back to it)

the joy dare: day 18

3 gifts from God's Word
  • Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NLT) "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ."
  • Psalm 34:18 (NIV) "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

the joy dare: day 17

  • one gift that made you laugh: the boy that I tutor on Tuesday nights. Last week we played 'Boggle' and one of the words on the list was 'nuts'. I used the other side of that sheet of paper for some math questions today. He turned the paper over and pointed to the word, so I asked "nuts?" and he burst into giggles (like a little school girl).
  • one gift that made you pray: "Thank you for Southern Ontario winter temperatures." We were at 9°C and rain all day while other parts of Canada were hovering around -40°C. While I do like some snow and cold during the winter, -40°C is a little excessive.
  • one gift that made you quiet: my friend, Tarina, told me about the car accident she was in on the weekend. She walked away with minor scrapes and bruises but the car is a complete write off.

the joy dare: day 16

3 ways you witnessed happiness today
  • watching Austin beam with pride as he jumped into the deep end (repeatedly) without the use of his life jacket.
  • my friend's look of sheer joy and excitement as she picked up, smelled and drooled over the freshly baked, gluten-free grape pie that she took home with her this afternoon.
  • while watching "Transporter 2" tonight, I glanced back to my friend during one of those intricately choreographed, incredibly complex and truly unbelievable fight scenes in the movie just so that I could see him smile. He caught me and asked "what?" with a bit of a smirk on his face. It was just really nice to see him smiling, maybe not truly 'happy', but content in that moment of time.

the joy dare: day 15

  • one thing you wore: Oma socks. Labels with her name were put on all of my Oma's clothing when she moved to Tabor Manor (helps the people working in the laundry department). At some point, because her ankles were getting too swollen, she needed some new socks, not her white or gray cotton ankle socks. So, when the socks were replaced my mom brought home several pairs of white and gray socks that were still perfectly good. Over the years, some of the name tags have come off of the socks, but some of them are still there and today I wore a pair of white socks that still have labels that say "Lydia (Isaak) Janzen".
  • one thing you gave away: I'm not sure this would count because so much of the giving is also in the getting, but I gave away some hugs. I don't think there is anything I like more than giving a good hug - well, maybe getting one.
  • one thing you shared: Sushi! I enjoy eating sushi - a lot. It's not something I get to do on a regular basis, but today I went to 'Real Sushi' for lunch with Lee and Marion and their 2 little ones.


Lyrics By: Tom Loewen
Music By: Derek Elliotson, Leah Duerksen, Chris Kenny
Performed By: Leah Duerksen

Hope It is more than wishful thinking See: our world is like ship, but it’s sinking The good in us is shrinking Sliding, swirling, skidding Out of control But there is an anchor for the soul Hope sees the world as it should be As it could be Knows nothing is impossible When the power of the gospel Capsizes us Right-sizes us Hope believes that what is right Matters more than what is right now Hope is how We know good will triumph in the end That brighter days are just around the bend And, even when we don’t comprehend Hope is what helps us transcend It seeks to move us Flow through us To improve us Hope gives us eyes to see It is our guarantee Not a pipe dream And hope swims upstream Against the current of despair In our brokenness, it is repair In our darkness, it is glowing Silently knowing That the end will be better That every red letter Spoken will come true When the world is made new There will be no sorrow or strife Because hope looks at life From a different vantage point And hope does not disappoint If we want to reverse this downward slope What we need is hope

the joy dare: day 14

3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God
  • Seeing mommy and baby reunited after me babysitting for several hours. Baby was cuddling and still could not get close enough to mommy  - so cute!
  • The absolute look of joy on my friend's face as she experiences snow for the very first time in her life. She recently got married and moved from South America to Canada to be with her husband. Now, as an adult, she is experiencing her first Canadian winter and yesterday was the first 'real' snow of the season. Loved it!!
  • Friends of mine posted this picture on facebook...

the joy dare: day 13

3 sounds you hear
  • the wind and rain-turned-to-snow whipping against my window at 4:16am. Although I am wide awake, I am in my flannel pajamas and curled up under some warm blankets listening to the icky weather outside. It makes me very thankful for the roof over my head, the glass in the window panes, my bed and my blankets.
  • my muffler. Ok, you're probably thinking that's a sound I shouldn't be hearing. But when my exhaust pipe detached itself from my catalytic converter, by car got super noisy. My brother, Gary, was able to rig up a temporary 'band aid' which has made my car much less noisy than it was. So yay for brothers!!
  • the rolling pin thumping and rolling across the countertop. That means my mom is making pie! This is not an unusual thing at our house. Most weekends there are at least 3 pies sitting on the counter waiting for Friday/Saturday company and Sunday's family lunch. This has been going on for a number of years and my mom has mastered the art of pie-making. She even makes a gluten-free one for me and I LOVE lemon meringue pie!! Maybe I can convince her to add that to the list. Right now she's preparing pie shells for chocolate cream pies and coconut cream pies that will be a part of the Spaghetti Dinner & Pie Auction happening at Scott Street MB Church on Sunday. She's already made several of the fruit fillings (cherry, peach and grape) and tomorrow my sister is coming to help make the pies. It sounds like there will be chocolate cream pies, coconut cream pies, cherry pies, peach pies, grape pies, harvest pies and apple pies. Mom's even experimenting and creating a tropical fruit pie - yay for being guinea pigs!

the joy dare: day 12

  • something above you: the rain falling from the sky (it's January 12, it could be ice, sleet or snow - rain is ok in my books)
  • something below you: good tires on my car
  • something beside you: I pulled in to a parking spot at my bank as a pick up was pulling out of the spot beside me. I glanced up and made eye contact with the driver and was surprised to see that it was a good friend of mine (he was picking up a toilet from the hardware store). that chance encounter turned into an hour at Starbucks and sharing some of the joys and struggles in our lives over a cup of coffee. I LOVE moments like that!

the joy dare: day 11

3 yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy
  • golden sunlight streaming in through the kitchen window in the middle of January
  • yellow daffodils and crocuses - the first pops of colour peeking out of our garden every spring
  • the goldfinches that flutter and play in our magnolia tree all summer long

the joy dare: day 10

  • a gift that's sour: homemade dill pickles that are cold, crisp and crunchy
  • a gift that's sweet: Obst Moos (see recipe here)
  • a gift that's just right: Tuesday night is "swimming with Tina" night. we will swim laps and talk and then soak in the hot tub for a while. good times with a good friend!

the joy dare: day 9

  • a gift in your hand: getting hugs from Ella, Austin, Maleah and Addy
  • a gift you walked by: my mom busily sewing patches for a quilt she's working on for my brother and his wife (it is a thing of beauty)
  • a gift you sat with: spent the evening chatting with my cousin, Marion

the joy dare: day 8

  • a light that caught you: watching the smile creep across Daniel's face as we made eye contact across the foyer at church (that was almost immediately followed by a big hug. I love that kid!!)
  • a reflection that surprised you: today our church started a new sermon series called "13thirteen". Today's focus was on "keeping the faith". One of the analogies Mike, the pastor, used was Jesus as a 'travel agent' vs Jesus as our 'trainer and coach'. Imagine you are trying to get to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. You pretty much have 2 options - you could go as a spectator with the ticket which was purchased by your travel agent and will be sitting in your desk drawer until you need until you need it and it really doesn't change your life at all OR you could go as an athlete/competitor who as earned a spot in the Olympics because you've completely trusted your coach and trainer and done what he says which has completely changed every aspect of your life - from the way you walk to what you eat to when you sleep. Which option is more representative of how you've lived your life of faith? I'd like to say that Jesus is my 'coach and trainer', but I often fall back into my comfort zone and use him as my 'travel agent'. (to see the sermon click here)
  • a shadow that fell lovely: the dark shadows of the clouds that were floating and swirling in front of the almost-full moon


Lyrics By: Tom Loewen
Music By: Derek Elliotson, Leah Duerksen, Chris Kenny
Performed By: Leah Duerksen

Faith It may seem like a lack of common sense Given the lack of evidence But faith gives strength in the present tense Because faith has confidence In the supernatural Some say faith isn’t factual That it’s all superstition That it’s mindless But faith is vision Not blindness And though faith doesn’t need to see it to believe it It’s more than a feeling It’s a belief that there’s someone on the other side of the ceiling Revealing That God is there Listening to every prayer Faith gives us strength in our grief It is belief, put into action It is a holy passion The soul’s reaction To the Spirit’s revelation A divine orientation Faith doesn’t have all the answers Isn’t a cure for cancer Doesn’t believe in chance Doesn’t depend on our circumstance Faith doesn’t mean there’s never any doubt Faith doesn’t have it all worked out But faith can break through our hardness And when you take a leap in the darkness It’s the light that flashes Faith lifts us from the ashes And when a soul repents Faith is our defense No matter what you come against Faith brings victory Faith is a mystery Like the tiniest seeds Becoming the mightiest trees Faith is our root system Digging deep into ancient wisdom Faith is the fuel for the engine A whole new dimension Of inspiration It is an invitation To life with no safety net But faith is the prerequisite Without works, faith is dead But when you live it, it spreads

the joy dare: day 7

3 graces from people you love
  • cleaning the house WITH my mom (that's usually my job on Saturdays)
  • hugs from Harry and Ziggy, Rudy and Lenore, Jesse, Jennelle and Leah (my aunts, uncles and cousins who came over for a games night)
  • watching the Leafs' game with Jesse (and they even won!!!)

the joy dare: day 6

  • one thing in your bag: Dentyne Fire "Spicy Cinnamon" gum. I LOVE cinnamon!! It can probably be traced back the the gum my mom used to carry in her purse - the original Dentyne gum which was cinnamon flavoured. While I do appreciate some of the minty flavours and detest the fruity flavours, I will always have a fondness for cinnamon gum.
  • one thing in your fridge: home-brewed iced tea. There is nothing like our iced tea, it's just the best there is and nothing can compare.
  • one thing in your heart: the joy of baking! Today it was with my mom and nieces and what a busy day we had! We made chocolate chip cookies, bite-sized apple pies, cherry chip mini-cupcakes, ham and cheese buns, apple tarts, meat buns, platz and buns. All of those goodies are headed into the freezer to be pulled out for school lunches.

the joy dare: day 5

  • something you're reading: Dan Janzen's engagement announcement!!!
  • something you're making: lasting friendships with "the girls" (that refers to some combination of Nancy, Karen, Lisa, Vittoria and myself at Starbucks on the first Thursday of the month)
  • something you're seeing: my dad sitting at the kitchen table looking like he's reading but his eyes are actually closed

the joy dare: day 4

  • one old gift: the joy of reading. Although my evening was not quite what was planned, I did enjoy my evening. I was at Starbucks with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I've loved reading for as long as I can remember and tonight was no exception.
  • one new gift: camaraderie (ca·ma·ra·de·rie/ˌkäm(ə)ˈrädərē/
    Noun: mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together).
    Over the past year or so, I've gained a definite appreciation for one of my friends. We can laugh, talk, cry, yell, get angry or just sit in comfortable silence. We can pray with/for each other, embarrass each other and support each other. We share our joys, sorrows, struggles and burdens. I love the ease of our friendship. Tonight got busy and life got in the way, so coffee together didn't work out. But we were still able to share snippets of our day and our frustrations with each other and encourage each other to keep on going. Just as I was packing up my things, on heard a song on the radio and, although I didn't completely recognize it and there were no lyrics, it reminded me of the song "You've got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story (I'll add a video link at the bottom of this post) and that just made me appreciate our friendship on a new level.
  • one blue gift: our pool. My folks have an indoor pool and I love it! I am trying to lose weight and have several 'swimming buddies' who come over at various points in the week to swim laps with me. Having access to a private, indoor pool all year long is definitely a gift.

the joy dare: day 3

3 lines you overheard that were graces
  • "Komm, Herr Jesu; sei du unser Gast; und segne, was du uns bescheret hast. Amen."
    English translation: "Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest; and bless what you have bestowed upon us. Amen." This has been my dad's 'go to' meal time prayer ever since I can remember. This probably isn't what is meant by the word 'graces' for today's joy dare. But it's not only the table grace my dad always says, it's the one my Oma Janzen often said too. And when I think of Oma Janzen, I have to think of the word 'grace' because she embodied the word.
  • "Yeah, outside is great, if you're dressed for it! Crisp air!" That was the response I got via text message when talking about chicken noodle soup, ice wine picking temperatures and feeling sorry for my dad and brother who were working outside for a number of hours. My dad and brother and the ice wine crew started to pick and press our ice wine grapes at 3am. The day stayed cold and temperatures didn't start to rise until the following morning and the whole ice wine crew was pretty chilled by the time they were able to take a break. The text came from a friend who is an avid skier and has spent many years in BC (not in the rainy parts, but in the cold and snowy and mountainy parts). I guess many people would enjoy this kind of weather. In fact, because it was clear and sunny, I bundled up and went for a walk to enjoy the "crisp air".
  • "Dear Lord, forgive me for trying to fill the empty places of my soul with people, possessions and positions. I want to know what it means to have You, Lord, as the satisfier of the deep places meant only for You. Show me. Teach me. Lead me. And I will follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen." This was the prayer at the end of the daily devotional that is e-mailed to me (well, the end of yesterday's devotional that I didn't read until today). This prayer is a lesson I've been learning over and over and over again. I recently told someone that looking back on 2011, I see a lot of negatives and not so many positives. It wasn't a 'bad' year, but it wasn't necessarily a 'good' year either. It is very easy to lose focus on Christ and shift the focus to me and what I need/want and to fill my life with people and things and activities - to the point where they start to crowd out my time for prayer and the time I spend with God and in His Word. As always, God forgives and I try to stay focused on Him. But God's forgiveness is the epitome of grace. (click here for the full devotional)

the joy dare: day 2

  • a gift outside: the playful cats
  • a gift inside: the warmth of an electric blanket
  • a gift on a plate: yogourt made from goat's milk (Liberté Goat Yogourt)

    the joy dare: day 1

    3 things about yourself you are grateful for
    • my love for kids
    • my love for all things "craft"
    • my love for friends and family

    The Joy Dare: January

    Join me on a Joy Dare. Find 3 things to be thankful for every day and by the end of the year you'll have over 1000 reasons to be thankful.

    For more details, check out the joy dare.