Christmas JOY!

christmas joy Dec 22, 2019

 

I don't know about you, but on the eve of the eve of Christmas, all is NOT necessarily "silent, holy, calm or bright."

While the holiday season is typically described with words like Joy, Peace, Light, Merry, Hope, and Happy…  how many of us truly experience it that way?   Traveling to visit family and being married to a pastor don’t always contribute peace (or rest, for that matter), and many years I struggle. Really struggle.

As a child, the wonder of the lights, parties, fun food and presents, was all-encompassing!  But I was sheltered from the more difficult and stressful aspects of the holiday, like finances, redundancies, unmet expectations, unrealized longings, tarnished hope, and bittersweet memories… things that now challenge my ability to even see the joy, peace, and hope - let alone feel it.

My head and heart know the gravity and beauty of the message… but feeling JOY in the middle of the stress of the season has been a challenge for me. I “feel” like I’m going through the motions. I “feel” like it would be nice if this season were longer (more time to slow down and enjoy) or shorter (just get it over with).  

Part of my growth journey has been to recover some of that excitement ~ the joy ~ in the simple everyday things. Allowing myself the luxury of experiencing joy in my everyday life is paying dividends… especially at Christmas, and I'm learning to share my joy with others.  

The Joy in the Christmas story, however, is something altogether different. 

It’s big.

It’s outside of me ~ It fuels my internal joy.  

The prophet Isaiah told us (in Isaiah 9:1-6) the promised Messiah would come, and the joy of the people would be like: 

  1. An abundant harvest ~ for all my farmer friends out there, AND
  2. Dividing the spoils of war ~ I tend to think of historical pirate visuals… AND 
  3. The shattering of an oppressor’s yoke ~ if you lived through the fall of the Berlin wall, the looks on the faces of those coming over the top comes to mind...

This isn’t trivial joy... this is

 JOY!

 Freedom from oppression, miraculous provision and a peace that only comes when every “trampling boot and every bloody garment are burned as fuel for the fire” (v 5) kind of peace and JOY

Suddenly, the ugly color of my Christmas lights (yes, LED’s are ugly), arguments over the menu for the “Big Meal,” and whether or not we get everything on our wish list seem like the worst kind of petty.

The strife, the angst and the stress are put in perspective. 

The JOY he’s describing comes from understanding the source of that joy. The baby born in Bethlehem, over whom the heavenly host rejoiced, is Immanuel ~ God with usThe insurmountable oppression of sin has been broken in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah

 JOY!

May we step back from the (ugly) Christmas lights, nasty traffic, unmet expectations, tarnished hope and bittersweet memories, and truly rejoice in the beautiful reminder of exactly what Christ has done for us by taking on the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of men... so we could know the JOYOUS freedom from eternal oppression!

Come join our Intentional Optimist Facebook Group and let us know how you are celebrating JOY this holiday season! This global community of women celebrates the wonder of our beauty and diversity through helping, teaching and mentoring other women, and is a perfect place to find the encouragement you need as we head into 2020. 

I pray you find His JOY this Christmas, and that you rest in His peace and hope, offered freely and without reservation. 

 JOYOUSLY laughing at the days to come!

 ~ Andrea

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There are events in life that define our journey. Once they happen, we begin describing everything else as “before X” or “after X”. For me,it was the day my mother died. Suddenly, I became aware of my own limited timeline. The drive to find my voice, purpose and place became urgent. I dove in, head first, and discovered the desire to help myself fueled a greater desire - to help others. Soon, I stopped defining myself in terms  of roles (wife, mother, manager),  but in terms of qualities: curious, determined, happy, adventurous. I've come to understand, that the qualities that make us who we are, are what we must celebrate. We each have a special purpose, unique perspective, and unlimited potential. Better yet, we can both discover and develop them.   

I do this through speaking, training, coaching and writing -  with a focus on helping women grow into the leaders they truly are. Intentional Optimism is my philosophy of life, and includes these five pillars:

          Optimistic - Hopeful, Positive Proactive

          Present - Seeking Wonder, Generous, Kind

          Courageous – Leading Others, Adventurous, Resilient

          Energetic - Industrious, Excitement, Life-focused

          Wise - In Respect, Words and having Understanding

          Intentional - Purposeful, Planning, Growth Mindset

I'm building a global community of women helping women. A place where we foster leadership from every stage or position in life. A place where we celebrate wonder; move forward with hope and openness; share wisdom and encouragement; offer each other a helping hand; ask freely, and share lavishly; and celebrate our differences as avenues of growth and expansion.

Let’s  change our understanding of what it means to work, provide for our families, have financial stability, and be a leader in the community. Life is an adventure - let's live it to the fullest!  

It’s time to laugh at the days to come! - Prov. 31:25

Won’t you join me on the journey?