Seeking Joy

I’ve had a very long day today, but I am determined to share my thoughts before turning in for the night.

Today, as Advent began, I found myself contemplating the need for joy in this world. This is especially true during the Christmas season when happiness and contentment seem to be short in supply.

Why is joy so elusive this time of year? Why are we so unhappy?

I think many of us feel battered about, and are constantly running a day behind long before the holiday season arrives. We become so preoccupied with making everyone around us happy, that we forget to look for joy ourselves!

Sometimes joy can be found in the most unusual places, and often when we are not expecting to find it at all . . .

When Jesus was born, an angel appeared and told the shepherds about the birth of a Savior. The shepherds had been tending their flocks, and keeping watch over their sheep at night. It had been a day like any other, and they certainly were not expecting this life-changing news.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:10-11‬

Jesus’ birth brought joy to all people . . . even lowly shepherds. And not just a little joy, but great joy! This was news to celebrate, so the shepherds hurried on their way to see this child for themselves.

We need this same joy today!

What if we each kept a “joy journal” this coming week, and wrote down all the ways — both large and small — that we experience joy? My guess is that we will be amazed with all the places we discover joy when we truly begin to seek it. And if we don’t find it, let’s create it for someone else!

Have a joy-filled week!

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

I’ve seen those words together so many times before, even printed on everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts. I truly know what they mean, for I am all three.

We enjoyed a busy Thanksgiving Day in our home. It was full of food and family, and one more recent tradition — watching the National Dog Show. This year was particularly exciting for me because my favorite breed, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, won for the Herding Group! I‘ve never owned a dog, but if in retirement I find myself on a small farm (apparently a growing possibility, if you ask my hubby), a Corgi may enter the picture. At least, there is one in my imagination, sitting beside me on the front porch as I sip my morning coffee. 🙂

But that will have to wait for a future post . . .

I am thankful. We were feeling especially blessed to have Mom with us this Thanksgiving. She had emergency surgery last Monday to implant a pacemaker, and is feeling so much better now. And since everyone was home for the holiday —including our son, who drove all the way from Flagstaff, AZ — we decided to decorate our Christmas tree while the turkey roasted. We have learned that when a loved one has dementia, you make the most of every  moment. Even though they may not remember, don’t miss the opportunity to see them smile while making your own family memories.

I am grateful. We took our time at the table, savoring the delicious dinner and a rare moment when our entire family was all together sharing a meal. Mom didn’t say a word, but listened to our conversation and ate every last bite of food on her plate. We talked about past holidays and laughed at stories from our childhood. My brother and I often search our mother’s face for a glimmer of recognition, but receive only a faint smile. He pats her shoulder and reassures her, “It’s okay, Mom.” She was too tired for dessert, so my brother took two slices of pie to go, and drove her back to the nursing home.

I am blessed. After the dishes were done and the leftovers were packed away, I gratefully settled in for three days of rest. The next morning, I stayed in my PJs until late morning, enjoying the peace and quiet while everyone else slept in. I love weekend mornings for the solitude. It is my coffee time, my quiet time. I purposely avoided the Black Friday madness, opting instead for a bit of armchair shopping and a cranberry orange scone. I even enjoyed the cold, rainy Saturday that followed, particularly because I had nowhere to go.

I have learned that giving thanks is a daily practice that extends far beyond a festive table laden with food. I am thankful, grateful, and blessed for and by a God who loves me and continues to guide me through each day, no matter what it brings. Every dawn that breaks is a new opportunity to give gratitude to Him, and also seek new ways to share my many blessings with others.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.‭‭ – Psalms‬ ‭100:4‬

Amen.