We pulled out the Christmas decorations ready to deck our halls. My 6 year old had been begging us for weeks to “please put up the Christmas tree.” The time had finally come Thanksgiving morning. We started upstairs and before we could unpack the first box, my husband hurt his back. He laid on the floor and groaned while I answered the oven buzzer alerting me the pie was ready.
An hour later we discovered a section of lights out on our “perfect for the small space we have for it” family tree. We tried to replace fuses and even dared to consider replacing the whole section, light by light. The kids were left disappointed with our set back as we headed across town to be with family for Thanksgiving lunch. We were late, I forgot the olives and the drinks and the. . . Minute by minute I could feel the life being sucked out of the season by stresses, mishaps and disappointments of every kind.
It happens every year. Ok, every day of the year, especially for us moms. So focused on our responsibilities, to-do lists and commitments we miss so much pleasure. Because who has time for pleasure, right? Who has time to really enjoy all of these things we have to mange?
And we try to keep it simple. We do. But somehow we always go back to busy and complicated and stressed out. I’m not sure why this happens. Maybe we feel we have something to prove with all that we can accomplish. Maybe we feel a deep, immense sense of obligation to make life grand. Maybe we’re too busy managing our large lives to take the bull by the horns and slow it down. I’m learning in all of our efforts to make life something special, we’re missing the simple pleasures it has to offer us. And as my children rapidly grow before my eyes, I’m convicted that I must stop the vicious cycle before we miss out on so much. If I can accomplish this during the holiday season, perhaps I can carry a new-found lifestyle with us into the new year.
As I was reading through the Bible on joy this weekend, I rediscovered many declarations (often by David in the Psalms) of wonder and pleasure.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8
Words that profess the source and the object of our joy. Words that declare truth, even when David may not have felt like it was truth. Words that point my focus back to the One who makes my heart glad.
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing“. . .Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will sing praise to the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. . .you make known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16
I hope to meditate on these words this month as I go throughout the holiday season, purposing to find joy in all things. As we focus on the source of true joy, maybe we should be asking ourselves these questions:
What brings me joy?
The holiday season in general brings me joy (when I’m not overwhelmed and stressed) but more specifically, what brings me the most joy is undistracted family time, music and giving/receiving gifts. I absolutely love having faith-building conversations with my children so walking through our Advent journey will also bring pleasure to my heart this holiday season. These are the good things that bring me joy, and these are the things I must spend my time and energy on this month
What brings YOU joy?
What steals my joy?
Feeling out of control, overwhelmed and discouraged robs me of my joy. Comparing myself and my life to others is the greatest thief of my pleasure. Acknowledging these traps puts me one step ahead of their power over my life.
What steals YOUR joy?
How can I cultivate joy in my family and in our home this holiday season?
What brings my husband joy? My children? What habits or trends do I need to break in order to allow my family to experience the joy of the season? As the heart of the home, moms hold so much power in what their families experience throughout the season. This truth doesn’t have to bring pressure. It’s meant to motivate and inspire us to cultivate joy and peace for those we love.
What creates an atmosphere of joy in YOUR home and family?
How can we bring joy to others this Christmas?
The more we turn our focus to others and get it off ourselves, our commitments and our own crazy, the more joy we’ll experience. We absolutely love our small town and the way everybody knows everybody and everyone helps those in need. Each year we partner with a business in town to provide gifts for local families in need. This small act of love and partnership brings us so much joy as we help bring Christmas joy to others.
How can YOU and YOURS bring joy to others this season?
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
This month we celebrate the source of our joy. He came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). These words were spoken long before Christmas trees and wish lists, over-sized homes and closets full of clothes. His promise of a full life had nothing to do with things or programs or even lofty dreams.
It was all about HIM.
He is our joy and in him is our strength to thrive, no matter what. In the midst of busyness or suffering, as we draw provision from the well that is Jesus, we are filled with deep, unwavering, authentic joy. That joy is the fruit by which we are nourished. That joy is contagious. It’s the greatest gift we have ever received and could ever give.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3
I don’t want to miss out on real JOY this season. And I don’t want you to miss out on real JOY this Christmas either. Will you join me this month? Let’s drink deeply from the well that is Jesus: our salvation, our hope, our pleasure. This is where joy flows freely in and out of our lives. This is where Christmas comes to life.
Do you long to experience more joy this holiday season? How can we partner with you in prayer and support in seeing your joy complete this year?