Tag Archives: joy

CRAZY JOY

Oh Christmas time! The most wonderful time of the year. It really is, isn’t it? No other holiday can compare when it comes to the food, music, decorations, and traditions. And what sweeter praise than that of our Savior entering the world. It melts the heart and warms the soul.

My favorite thing to do is cuddle up in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate while my favorite Christmas songs play on the record player next to the glowing tree. Nothing fills your home with peace like songs of worship and a manger scene on your mantle. Sadly, this season is gradually overbooking itself and stealing away those comfy couch nights. Between parties, jobs, charity events, and family gatherings, there’s hardly any time to stay in and rest. I can already feel the stress of the mess called my social calendar taking over. And it’s quite overwhelming.

But that’s how the holidays go, right? Each year, we say we’re going to take it easy this time. We’re going to get ahead of the gift-wrapping and the cooking and “actually enjoy this Christmas”. Then, we’re surprised that it’s the same chaotic thing as last year. We finish the Thanksgiving leftovers, blink, and it’s Dec. 26th.

So how do we slow down without slowing down? How do we breath while we’re suffocated by tinsel and bows?

Be intentional.

You’re already ahead of the game because you know what’s coming. You know who to buy gifts for, you have access to a calendar, and you have Christ to lean on.  Don’t let your To-Do list intimidate you; don’t be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ if it’s getting to be too much; and most importantly, set aside some time to spend with God. Read your Bible this holiday season, and pray for peace when you feel it leaving you.

The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace. PSALM 29:11

The biggest mistake we can make is thinking we can get through the holidays without His help. Christmas isn’t about the hustle-and-bustle. It’s about HIM! It’s about love, generosity, and Jesus Christ coming into the world to selflessly show us the Way. You can’t keep the crazy from coming, but you can be intentional about it.

Instead of looking at your gift list and letting it freak you out, bring a friend to help and make it fun! Stop to talk over coffee or take a Christmas lights viewing detour. Then, when it’s time to wrap all those gifts, make hot chocolate and put on some Christmas music or a Hallmark channel movie in the background. And on those days full of family and food, don’t stress over what you’re bringing – let Pinterest do that for you! Smile that you can serve your loved ones, and look forward to sitting with them around a fire. Ask them questions about how they’re doing and what’s been going on.

The Grinch put it best:

He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

We can’t stop the crazy. So embrace it. Have fun. Give thanks. And don’t let the true meaning of Christmas get away from you in the process. This season is about a Savior leaving His heavenly home to come to earth for a short time. And in that short time, He saved us. But it all started with a baby in a manger, three wise men bringing gifts from afar, and Mary trusting the LORD with everything she had.

Jesus came to serve and to do it joyfully. Be glad that you have people in your life you can celebrate with. Instead of letting the enemy steal your joy this season, pray for peace from the Prince of Peace Himself. Do everything with a purpose: To Love.

He puzzled and puzzed til his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved

JOY

“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?” George Gordon Noel Byron

The word happiness evokes thoughts of newlyweds on their wedding day, children unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, birthday parties with all your friends, and vacations to exotic lands. Everyone longs to be happy; it’s our life’s greatest pursuit. We spend money, collect things, search for new experiences. But if happiness depends on circumstance and the life you lead, then what happens when your marriage turns into something it didn’t start out to be? What do you do when your toys rust, friends turn on you, and traveling no longer does the trick?

People spend each day desperately attempting to be happy, but daily success, failures, and inconvenience toss and turn us upside down. We’re at a loss when we don’t get that promotion or find out our best friend has been talking bad about us. When we have car trouble that keeps us from affording vacation or the doctor gives us bad news, our world is shattered and ‘life isn’t fair’ anymore. So what’s the cure? How do you escape the unavoidable disappointment of something good gone wrong?

Christ.

The contrast to happiness is joy. Happiness is dependent on happenings, but joy is dependent on Christ. The key to immeasurable joy is living in constant intimate contact with Christ. He is the source of all joy – through suffering, serving, believing, and giving. You can fake being happy for a time, but no one can pretend to have the joy of Christ.

While Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he wrote a letter to Philippi counseling them about humility and unity. Though he was locked up, he did not let that discourage him or keep him from sharing the gospel. Paul shared Christ with his prison guards and lead them to becoming believers. Paul taught us that our current circumstances aren’t as important as what we do with them. How we act in certain situations reflects what we believe.

When Morgan got hurt last year, it was tough. I really struggled with anger over having to go to LA by myself. I spent so much time worrying how I was going to move there alone and questioned why God had allowed this to happen. But the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). I realized that even though I didn’t have Morgan there with me, I had God. Even though I’d lost the comfort of my husband’s presence, I had the comfort of His Word. I learned that sometimes when things don’t go your way, it’s for a reason; and despite how unhappy your circumstances may be, Christ’s joy encompasses all.

If I measured my success in LA by how happy I felt all the time, how many auditions I went on, how many jobs I booked, how much fun I had, or how many friends I made – I would have failed by everyone’s standards. But because I followed Christ out there and did it for Him, I succeeded.

Paul could have viewed his imprisonment as a limitation, but instead, God used Paul’s placement in Rome to bring the gospel to the center of the empire, as well as to give Paul plenty of time to write letters that would one day end up in the New Testament to teach you and me. Whether it is an actual prison or a place that feels like one, God wants you to serve Him faithfully. Faith in Christ will make you happy, not your own interpretation of life’s successes and failures.

As Christians, we must not rely on what we have or what we experience to measure how happy we are. We can find joy in all things, both good and bad. Look for ways to demonstrate your faith in the highs and lows. Our prayer should be to desire to know Christ above all else. Rededicate your life to finding joy in Him.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him… I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:8-10

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

#thingsadored


Photo by Anna Grace Photography