Tag Archives: Joy

What Are We Riding Next? ~ In Search of Joy

What Are We Riding  Next? ~ In Search of Joy

All around them loud, excited screams of riders rose above the roar of the ride. Next to his dad, he was silent but the expression on his face was anything but quiet. Mouth open wide around a huge grin, arms raised with hands high over his head, he was having the time of his life. In those moments, everything was right with him.

As quickly as it had started, the ride screeched to a stop.

Expectant brown eyes looked up at his Daddy. “What are we riding next?”

This third week of advent, the celebration of JOY, brought this memory to mind. It seems that joy can be elusive. We have moments, or pockets or seasons of joy. But it seems that of all the expressions of pleasure or happiness, joy is the one that people seem always in pursuit of.

Perhaps part of the issue is our confusion between happiness and joy. Happiness is a response to getting the thing I want, of well-being or success. Whether for oneself or for others, happiness seems to be the result of good fortune.

Joy is more of a deep sense of satisfaction and contentment, a certain abiding in the present without striving. It’s the result of practicing our faith in God even when our circumstances are not the best. As we remembered last week, we are not hopeless; our Savior came to ensure that we have hope in eternity with him!

As I’ve searched my own heart, I realize that joy can be found when I focus on just a few things. This is far from a four-step process to guarantee joy, but I hope it helps you as you look forward to Christmas.

  • Be still, but quiet the negative voices in your head. Spend some time in God’s Word.
  • Step away from social media, especially if the holidays are particularly hard time for you. And don’t feel bad about cleaning up your follow list if certain people or sites trigger you!
  • Practice gratitude. Keep a journal and write something that brings you joy. It’s a great place to go when you need a reminder.
  • Look for someone who might need someone to come alongside them this season. Visit a local nursing home or pet shelter. Joy bubbles up in service to others.

And the rest of the story? When that little boy looked up into his Daddy’s face with that question, a patient voice responded. “Little Buddy, I’m not sure what’s next, but that sure was fun! Let’s talk about what we liked best.”

Today, friend, I’m not sure what’s next. You may be facing some uncertain days, but I pray that joy will come to you as you settle into focusing on the good rides you’ve taken and the people you’ve shared them with.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news
that will cause great joy for all the people.
Luke 2:10

Wishing for you…JOY,


I Want a Perfect Christmas

I Want a Perfect Christmas

Christmas Morning.

When I write the words, I alternate between anticipation and dread.

I’ve shared childhood Christmas memories here before. Christmas was a very special day in our family. There was no other like it – the mood in the house was positive and everything else was put on hold for a day.

As a child I couldn’t have known how desperately my mother must have missed her extended family, more than a thousand miles away. My focus was appropriately narrow; as a child I saw only the joy of our celebration.

I’m not so naïve anymore. I’ve been at this “adulting” thing a long time. I’ve come to realize that there are not many “perfect” days in this life.

I’ve also realized that perfect is in the eye of the beholder.

My natural tendency is to catalogue all that is not as it should be, or as it once was. That tendency is from the pits of hell and will steal your joy, friends.

If I’m not careful, I’ll note all of the imperfections that surround my normal life and my special days. I’ll stay in a funk and wonder why people avoid my joy-sucking presence.

I have known some memorable Christmas mornings. It’s tempting to long for those days and to mourn their passing, comparing every celebration to that “perfect” one. (My memory is also remarkably selective!)

This Christmas morning, my sweet hubby and I will again awaken to a quiet house. Our children have been celebrating in their own homes for years, making memories with their children. I’m tempted to long for the “good old days” rather than embracing the peace that will fill our hearts as we enjoy what has become our “new” normal.


This is a little glimpse into our Christmas preparations – a couple more to add, but I think you get the idea. Lots and lots and lots of joy when we gather!

My thoughts quickly turn to the widows and widowers who will wake up alone this Christmas morning; the single parent who is navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce. I remember those in military service, on mission or even in prison. People are mourning legitimate losses all around us.


Christmas is just another day for so many who are separated from home and family.

What about that little family on the first Christmas morning? Mary and Elizabeth spent months chatting as they anticipated the arrival of their baby boys. I’m pretty sure that not one time did Mary say “I hope I deliver mine in a stable, out of town, with no one but Joseph around to deliver him.”

The first Christmas was anything but perfect in my natural mind’s eye. I’m also positive that Mary didn’t “naturally” invite dirty shepherds into her meager labor and delivery spot with a hospitable heart. But in her joy, she was able to celebrate the delivery of the promised child. He was given to her, but she knew his life was significant far beyond that stable.

Mary’s joy was not hers alone. The joy of her son, the joy of her family, was to be shared with the world. He was also OUR promise. Jesus was Christmas; the fulfillment of the promise that we never have to be alone again.

The joy he brought is not fleeting, nor is it found in perfect moments. It’s in relationship with our perfect savior.

Before you read on….

If you are mourning a loss dear one, mourn it.

Cling to the one who knows your sorrow and feels it. His word promises that he knows your every toss and turn and he catches every tear. My heart aches for you; it is your loss that has allowed me to see the frivolity of my mourning over failed expectations.

I’m praying that God bends right from heaven and kisses your cheek.

If you are like me, fighting the urge to hope for perfection this Christmas season, go to the source of joy.

Accept no imposters, avoid the cheap knock-offs that the world is pushing on your Facebook news feed.

If you long for the joy of the “perfect” day, these verses are my gift to you.

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

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,”
Proverbs 8:30

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dried up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

And last but not least….

“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

 Merry Christmas, friends. May your life and your joy be full.


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