Oh, Joy!

How is your “Stress-O-Meter” reading this week? With Christmas just 10 days away, it may be reaching the critical levels on the gauge.

Considering our long lists of errands, holiday shopping, baking and wrapping, joy may be the last thing we are experiencing during the holiday season.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if simply flipping the calendar to December brought an abundance of joy into our homes? Or perhaps we could simply order a case of joy online. Then it would show up on our doorstep in a smiling cardboard box the next day. Better yet, subscribe and save so you will never run out again!

Where Joy Lives

I think we often confuse joy with happiness. Joy is a constant state of being, whereas happiness is haphazard and fleeting. Happiness often depends on someone, or some thing to make us happy. And when life fails to meet our expectations, happiness goes right out the window.

Happiness lives in the mind.

Joyfulness dwells in the heart.

Joy is a precious feeling that is carried through the highs and lows of daily living. It does not depend on outside influences to thrive or grow. It is an abiding and fulfilling joy, that unlike happiness, won’t be here today and gone tomorrow.

This time of year, I often think of the Christmas angel who appeared to the shepherds, watching their flocks.

“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” – Luke‬ ‭2:10‬

The angel was sharing the Good News of the babe in the manger, the greatest joy ever known!

As we enter the final days of Christmas preparations, try not to become overwhelmed by that to-do list. Remember to capture the joy of the small, quiet moments each day, and treasure them in your heart.

 

A Deliberate December

 

Thank Heavens for Bob Evans

How is it December already? There are still Thanksgiving leftovers in our refrigerator!

As in past years, it was a laid-back holiday, right up until the meal was served. The turkey was carved, and then there was the usual mad dash trying to get all the dishes onto the table while they were still hot. After years of serving cold mashed potatoes, Bob Evans made his inaugural appearance last Thanksgiving. Problem solved. He’s been a frequent dinner guest ever since.

Finally the candles were lit, the blessing was shared, and the long-awaited meal was before us. I looked around the table and my heart was full. My husband and children were beside me, and my brother was with us too. He stopped to visit Mom on his way to our house. Her absence was on our hearts, but we knew she was safe and warm and where she needed to be.

God has blessed my family in so many ways. His grace is sufficient for me.

🕊🕊🕊

Advent Arrives

Today we begin the Season of Advent, in watchful anticipation of our Savior’s birth. Immanuel . . . God with us.

Each year I vow to slow down and be part of the season, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the stress of it all. That’s no easy task. Amen?

It’s a rainy First Sunday in Advent, and I am quietly sipping my coffee while admiring our Christmas tree. It has become a family tradition to decorate the tree after Thanksgiving dinner, simply because we’re all together. And knowing that my brother might be tempted to not have a Christmas tree this year, I drove to his house yesterday and we decorated together. As we unpacked his ornaments, we talked about past holidays, and happy childhood memories when life was simpler — and slower.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could slow down the month of December to a more leisurely pace? It would be fun to attend every tree lighting ceremony, Nutcracker performance and choral concert I could squeeze onto my calendar. I’d like to have several weeks to decorate my home too, instead of an hour here and there. And I would love to wrap my gifts long before the task becomes completely overwhelming.

“But,” I remind myself, “it’s only the First of December!” For a moment I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge when he realizes that he didn’t miss Christmas after all — there’s still time!   

After church today, I intentionally planned my afternoon to include a little shopping, a little decorating, and a few more leftovers. I have a new devotional to read and ponder each day during Advent, and at the end of the coming week, we will once again be participating in One Starry Night in Bethlehem at my church. Now in its fifth year, there truly is no better way to share the joy of Christmas!

How will you slow down and enjoy the coming week?  How will you celebrate this wonderful Season of Advent? I’d love to hear all about your plans!