Monday, December 1, 2008

Beginning of a season... Advent of Joy #1

We are entering what most people would call the season of Joy, Peace, Light, Hope, Love… etc. All those positive words.

I love the season of Advent and Christmas. I love the smell of the fresh Christmas tree, snow (and lots of it), candles, the warmth of a house lit by tree lights, and decorated and festive. I love buying things for the people I love, and anticipate them opening them. I really do love the season.

But this year, as I hit the end of November, I found that I was dreading it. Talking with Cindy I realized it was partly to do with some of the situations I find myself in right now.
I wrote a bit before Thanksgiving, that God was asking me to “give thanks in all things.” It was really hard to try to focus my mind there. That was because I was looking at the problems I had facing me.

After talking about it with Cindy, (and blubbering on her shoulder) I took the time later that day to do some journaling and soul searching. I realized that I really didn’t even want to “do” Christmas this year. I just wanted to jump from Thanksgiving to about halfway into January or so.

This from me, who loves (did I mention LOVES) Christmas? Why? What has me so by the neck that I can’t see the joy in the season, the anticipation, the real reason behind it all?
Fear, anxiety, insecurity, complete lack of peace about a few things… really, the enemy is hitting me up pretty hard on some stuff.

I want to bless my family and friends with gifts. Unless I come up with an inexpensive way of doing something, it isn’t going to happen. I am stressed about bills and finances.

I also was very stressed about decisions about where to go for the holidays.

Last year I felt pretty miserable. (I don’t think anything I would have done would have made me feel better.) The year before, jumping back and forth from family to family exhausted me and made me miserable.

I don’t want a repeat this year.

And so I just wanted to skip it all.
All of it.

Finally I got to the point that Dave helped me make a decision about how we are going to balance celebrating with both of our families. So, that got that decision out of the way. Some of the other things are still unresolved.

The whole point behind this is:
Where is my joy?

I have celebrated that I am going to be having one more appointment with my counselor. I have been celebrating the fact that I am SO much better now than I was this time last year. I have been celebrating with Cindy some of the amazing changes in response to prayer in her life. I have reasons to rejoice, and to find joy.

One of the things that my psychiatrist said to me early this year was that he wanted me to look for “joy moments” in my life. Rather than focusing on how good or bad I was feeling that day, (which could pull me down more) he wanted me to look for things that gave me joy. His goal was to help me increase my “joy moments” to the level I desired them to be at.

For a long time now, I haven’t focused on how many joy moments I have had each day… I just know that things have been getting better.

I do know from recent reading that the more joy you experience, the more you can experience. Your capacity to experience joy gets bigger the more you experience joy… therefore increasing your capacity to experience joy… and on it goes.

So this season I know that I need to focus on Joy… Jesus.

I have found several verses. Verses to encourage me to focus on God, to focus on the author and perfecter of my faith. Verses to give me something to grab onto… the joy that is to be my focus for this season.

There are two that I will share here.

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126:3


“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Lord has done great things for me, and I do have a sense of joy, deep inside. Sometimes I lose track of that joy. The external things distract me. The worries of this world. The struggles to do what is right, to help my family, to just get through day to day sometimes.
So I am going to try to do God’s will for me… to be joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. That was what my post on giving thanks was all about. There are so many things that are a struggle for me. I know there are going to be things that I will struggle with for my whole life. I know that new things will crop up.

I know that little by little God is going to bring up things as I am ready to deal with them.
I know that He will equip me to deal with them.

Either He will give me tools that I can use by myself (tools taught to me by my counselor, and through the experiences I have had, and the things I have worked through) or He will give me people to walk with me through them.

He will give me Himself… He is living inside of me. He will guide me and be my source of life, joy and peace.

His Joy.
That I what I want to remember today.

His Joy.
It isn’t anything I can manufacture.
It isn’t anything I can buy.
It isn’t anything I can contain.

His Joy.
It is a free gift.
It comes with His Son.
It comes from His son.

His Joy.

That is what this season is all about…

He is Joy, and I want to focus on Him.

Usually we have an advent calendar that counts down the 25 days to Christmas. I want to take the 25 days, and each day, find joy in it.


In anything that goes on in my day, in anything that goes on in my life. Anything that I can find I am grateful for, thankful for, that gives me joy, down to my soul, in the depths of my heart.

Because isn’t that what this Christmas season is all about? Isn’t that why we celebrate Christmas?

Jesus is the reason for the season.
It sounds corny, I know.

But really.

Isn’t He the reason the great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel that spoke to the shepherds praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
Luke 2:13-14

Those heavenly hosts were praising God. Rejoicing. (Forgive my liberty here…I am slightly paraphrasing and interpreting) They were filled with joy at seeing the Lord’s prophecies coming true.

This Christmas season I want to be focused on Jesus. I want to focus on joy. Jesus gives me this joy deep in my heart and despite the trials I may be going through, or the struggles I might be facing, I will focus on the joy He gives me.

My intention, since this is Advent, the anticipation of Christmas, is to focus on one thing (or more) that I can find joy in each day. All the joy moments I can find… to prepare my heart, and refocus my thoughts.

Today: Joy because my Savior has touched my heart and saved me so that can testify to His healing power.

And another simple one: I got to play in the new fallen snow with my kids, having a snowball fight, shoveling the driveway, and taking a bit of a walk with them… catching snowflakes on our tongues. It was a joy just to spend that time with them.

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