A big welcome to those of you joining me from the Encouragement Cafe! It's a joy to be sharing there today though the topic of my devotional is tough. If you want to read, "Christmas Without You" click HERE.
With Thanksgiving behind us, it means Christmas is upon us. This recent holiday has reminded me that this season can be hard. There's the grief that accompanies it when we celebrate (or try to) without the ones we love. There's the stress and shopping. The busyness and baking. The Christmas programs and plays.
Christmas is coming and that thought can leave us overwhelmed, but fried it doesn't have to. Just so you know I'm writing this post to myself because honestly I've been trying to keep the upcoming holiday a bit of a secret around here. It was working until the other night when my 6 year old spotted lights and decorations when we left Thanksgiving Eve service. Then yesterday the same little guy came to me and said, "Mom, they're singing the rum, pum, pa, pa-mum song on the radio. Is it gonna be Christmas?"
I had to be honest and let him know it's coming. His eyes lit up and my breath grew deep. I know my little people get filled with excitement and anticipation. They look forward to all the season holds. I do too, but sometimes I don't appreciate what it does to my kids...they get a little wound up, they want to decorate and re-decorate...which makes the new decorator happy, but the first decorator mad!!
So now before December even begins, I find myself thinking about Christmas coming and really I want to enjoy it. I want to make memories my kids will remember and I'll be thankful for. You see, whether I enjoy it or stress over it, we're making memories. This year I don't just want to sing, "Joy to the World", I want to share joy with my family.
Christmas has a lot to do with joy, but this season isn't always filled with joy. Those moments we're grieving and the tears are falling, the times our kids are crazy and we're lacking patience, when the prices are high, but money low. When are stomachs are full, but hearts are empty. When calendars fill up and energy pours out.
I don't know about you, but joy and happiness isn't the first emotion that comes to mind when I read through the above scenerios. Would you agree? So what do we do?
For me, remembering that the season is not about perfection is helpful. Realistic expectations are critical as well. 12 years as a Mom, and I'm finally starting to figure that out. We can make plans and prepare, but we must hold that all loosely because unless you're celebrating alone things can, and often will, change.
So what expectations do you need to re-evaluate as this Christmas draws near? Do you need to expect grief to hit? Do you need to remember that money is tight and a budget important? Do you need to expect your baby will grow tired and need a nap? Do you need to expect the kids to go a little crazy when decorating the tree?
Take a little time and really think about this...what has stole your joy in the past? Ask God to help you prepare for that and handle it rightly in the future.
Finally, and most importantly, I (maybe even you) need to remember what joy truly is and where it comes from. Joy isn't simply a feeling and will never be found in the perfect plans or party. It will fade away if we rely on gifts to create it. It won't last long if we wait for well behaved kids to bring it. I'm guessing, you get the idea - joy doesn't come from people.
Ultimately this great gift comes from God, it's a fruit of the Spirit and a command in Scripture. Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice!" Friends, I'm not saying this is easy, but I'm learning it is essential. Truth is life is hard, but God is good.
The coming Christmas season is proof of that...think with me for a minute, "Why did God send His Son, the boy whose birth we're about to celebrate?" John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall never perish, but have eternal life."
No matter how hard, crazy or busy this Christmas season is, I pray we each remember why we are celebrating. It's more than all the stuff we do and gifts we give, it's about the coming of the One who saves and sustains us. It's about the One who's strength can be our JOY.
Friend, ready or not, Christmas is coming! This year may we expect tears to come and plans to change, but may we commit to finding and sharing joy in the journey!
Friend, this Christmas, let us not forget He is with us - when the cookies burn, the kids grumble and even if the tree falls down, our Heavenly Father is with us!! That is a reason for JOY!!