The Day I Was Given a New NameThe Day I Was Given a New NameThe Day I Was Given a New NameThe Day I Was Given a New NameThe day I was given a new name: Makena, Kikuyu (Kenya) for “Full of joy; The Happy One.”

The single most effective way to turbocharge your joy is to make a gratitude visit. That means writing a testimonial thanking a teacher, pastor or grandparent—anyone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude—and then visiting that person to read him or her the letter of appreciation. The remarkable thing is that people who do this just once are measurably happier and less depressed a month later.”

-Dr. Daniel Seligman

Can I Really Have More Joy?

Yes. You can have more joy. Because joy is not based on circumstances, but on a deeper knowledge that God is who He says He is.

There are volumes written on the subject of joy, but I turn to only one: the Word of God. I base my entire life and life’s work on the words penned in this ancient text. Philosophers come and go, but God’s Word remains.

The Day I Was Given a New Name

Something very interesting happened to me while I was in Kenya (October-November 2015).

Kenyans had a difficult time pronouncing my name, “Janell.” Their English interpretation of vowels and consonants differing from ours, so the “a” and the “ll’s” in my name were challenging. Every time I told them my name, they giggled and sheepishly tried to pronounce it.

So, on a “gratitude visit” (which I know call our home visits with The Holy Family Centre, Nazareth Hospital, Kenya), I mentioned to Kendi, the nurse/social worker taking us on home visits, that everyone had trouble with my name, so I needed a new name.

“I’ll have one for you by the end of the day,” she smiled, in her beautiful, radiant way. “Let me spend the day with you and pray and see what God says,” she said.

I was excited. What would it be?

The day was long and hard, yet mysteriously joyful. Kendi, Lucy (Peer Champion for The Holy Family Centre), Andrea, and I bonded like Superglue and became fast friends and kindred spirits. Trudging down red-clay pathways to visit clients, we sang and talked and laughed and prayed.

Can I Really Have More Joy?Two dear sisters we met along the way. Margaret, on the left, shared words with Kendi
as we were leaving. The two giggled. Kendi turned to me, “She wishes you lived in the neighborhood
so she could come visit you everyday and hear your big laugh. She likes your big laugh.”
The funny thing: I don’t even remember laughing, let alone “laughing big.”

Joy is not based on circumstances, but on the veracity of God. Only God can transform extremely difficult circumstances and relationships into opportunities for transformation.

At the close of the day, Kendi says, “I have your new name.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, sitting at the edge of the back seat. “What is it?”

“Makena, the Happy One,” she smiled proudly. “Full of joy.”

“Makena,” I whispered, while looking out over Banana Hills, the city we were visiting. “The Happy One.”

Joy is Not Based on Circumstances

I share this story for one simple reason: my joy does not come from me. Truth be told, I suffer on and off with depression and limiting beliefs and very often, low self-esteem and shameless self-deprecating. I’ve sought God about all these things and know that these qualities do not honor Him.

Without a doubt, I believe one very important part of my pilgrimage to Kenya was to restore the joy of my salvation, the deep delight of being saved by God (VOICE):

Psalm 51:12-14,

Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You;
    let Your willing Spirit sustain me.

 If You do, I promise to teach rebels Your ways
and help sinners find their way back to You.”

Join the Joy Journey

2016 is going to be my joy journey. I’m letting go of several things that seem to steal my joy and opening my heart and hands for greater measures of joy.

Please join me. I’m becoming more intentional and strategic, because Distraction hates it when we do that, and have streamlined a way to focus my studies and writing. I’m more hopeful than ever and just can’t wait to see what God does in our community of real women committed to leading remarkable lives. It’s going to be REMARKABLE!!! Invite your friends, too, because the more the merrier:

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