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 Delicate Balance

Do you remember a game called “Don’t Spill the Beans”? It was always one of my favorite games to play when I was a kid. As I recall, the beans were evenly divided into trays, then each player took turns adding one bean at a time into a little pot. The pot was suspended in a plastic holder that tipped a little bit each time a bean was added. At some point, one too many beans was added and the pot spilled over. The player who spilled the beans had to keep them all. The game ended when one lucky player was able to get rid of all their beans without spilling the pot.

The Tipping Point

I’ve had days lately that felt a lot like that bean pot. New problems kept piling on each day, threatening to tip the balance. Every time I thought things were finally settling down, another bean was added to my overflowing pot. My days were spent trying to keep things balanced and in control.

I’ve learned that whenever I feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, it’s time to step away. It’s amazing how even a small change of scenery can give you a whole new perspective!

Simple Joys

Yesterday was a good day to visit Mom. She is always so happy to have visitors, and I love to see her smile. We took her outside to get some fresh air and sunshine before returning to her room.

My cousin sent her flowers last week, and I marveled that they were still fresh and colorful on her windowsill. And the spring bulb garden I brought three weeks ago had finished blooming, but the leaves were still lush and green. All the flowers and plants brightened Mom’s room, and they bring her so much joy. It’s really that simple. My brother told me how her roommate and all the nurses love the flowers too. They change the water daily and pinch off the dying blooms. Clearly, the flowers are thriving with all the attention — and so is Mom.

Fresh Perspective

My drive alone in the country is always enjoyable, as I get to sing along with my favorite Christian artists on the CD player.  (Here is one of my favorite tunes from For King and Country.)

Shenandoah Valley is coming alive again with green grass and grazing cows dotting the hillsides. The parking lot at the Appalachian trailhead at Bear’s Den was overflowing with hikers. The median on the road I travelled was carpeted in blooming daffodils. Sometimes God answers our prayers through scenery and song. “See, my child? I am still here.”

Later in the day I spent time weeding our garden beds. Their roots were deeply embedded in the winter-hardened clay soil, but I persisted until the task was finished. It was satisfying work for a  warm Saturday afternoon.

All-in-all, it was a better day. A smile and a hug from Mom, and a good dig in the garden, then suddenly my bean pot was balanced again.

We never know what weeds the next day will bring, but we can always find a moment of joy when we take the time to seek it. Let it wash over you!