December 5, 2007

Extraordinary Joy

Mary Southerland

 

 

Today’s Truth

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Always be joyful! (NCV)

 

Friend to Friend

The holiday season should be filled with joy and laughter. Instead, holidays are often marred by stress and frustration. When I think back to the night Jesus was born and I remember the joy that surrounded every part of His birth, I wonder if He is disappointed in the way that we celebrate His birth?

 

I am convinced that a great deal of holiday stress is due to the fact that we do not understand a very important truth – we were created to be vessels that contain His joy! Yes! You and I were created for joy! In 1 Timothy 6:17, we are told that “God richly gives us everything to enjoy” (NCV). I think we place unrealistic expectations on the big celebrations in life – and miss the daily celebration of life.

 

Christmas is not just a date on the calendar – it is a lifestyle. Every day should be lived in light of Jesus’ birth. Every day should be lived in the light of God’s gift to us – His one and only Son. When we know Jesus Christ, we know joy. That joy makes the ordinary special. So celebrate!

 

·         Celebrate Tuesdays

·         Celebrate half-birthdays

·         Celebrate haircuts

·         Celebrate new jeans

·         Celebrate braces on

·         Celebrate braces off

·         Celebrate the first hint of fall in the air

 

My husband, Dan, is a master at living life to the fullest and finding joy in the ordinary! One Christmas, we were flying home to Texas to visit family. Our church had just finished seven consecutive performances of a Christmas pageant – in which our entire family was involved – kids and all. Cooking and laundry had been way down on my list that week and consequently, we had no clean clothes! “If we don’t do laundry tonight, we will arrive in Texas without a stitch of clothing to wear” I announced to Dan. Being the wonderful husband that he is, Dan said, “I will help!”

 

We gathered all of the dirty clothes in the family room, turned on a television Christmas special and put in the first load. (Our family room had one wall of solid windows, the perfect spot for our sofa, which was the command station for Operation Laundry.) After several loads and a couple of hours, I could tell that Dan’s enthusiasm was waning and that he was bored with the whole idea of clean clothes. I could relate! The dryer buzzer sounded and the last load was done – which was a good thing – because so was I! I should have known that Dan was up to something by the slight gleam in his eyes as he headed to the garage where we kept the washer and dryer. “Don’t get up, honey. I’ll get this load!” Sensing the end in sight, I quickly began to sort, fold and pack the clean clothes in front of me. When the garage door opened, I looked up to see my husband prancing in, a basket of clean clothes in his hands – and a pair of my underwear on his head! We both died laughing – until we heard what sounded like – but couldn’t possibly be - peals of laughter outside the family room windows.

 

You see, every year our youth group decorated and delivered Christmas trees to shut-ins, to families that couldn’t afford a tree and to nursing homes and the children’s ward of our hospital. However, a contest was a traditional part of the holiday project. The ugliest tree was always delivered to the pastor’s home (our home) on Christmas Eve, but since we would be out of town on Christmas Eve, they had chosen that night to deliver our tree.

 

Outside our windows, were a group of youth and youth leaders, ugly Christmas tree in hand, watching their pastor dance around the family room with a pair of his wife’s underwear on his head. (Some of them are still in counseling today!)

 

I wanted to move immediately! Instead, Dan ran to the front door and invited the now hysterical group to come in for hot chocolate! That was ten years ago, and to this day, that family story lives on as one of our funniest family memories.

 

What is my point? Start today…looking for ways to bring joy and laughter into your home during the holidays. Strain the ordinary moments of each day through joy. Celebrate life! Lighten up! And make this the best holiday season of your life!

 

Let’s Pray

Father, I pause right now to think about and celebrate that holy night so long ago that changed the world forever. I want to find You and Your handprints in my life this week. Help me to be the vessel of joy You created me to be and then share that joy with my family and friends. I give this holiday season to You as an offering of praise and thanksgiving!

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 

Now it’s Your Turn

  • Read and memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Always be joyful!” (NCV) When you face stress and frustration this week, remember and meditate on this verse.
  • Think of three ways to promote joy this week.
  • What ordinary moments of your life can you celebrate?
  • Make specific plans and ways to bring joy and laughter into your family schedule this week.
  • Be spontaneous! Call a friend and have fun!
  • At the end of the week, evaluate the difference a focus on joy can make in your attitude.

 

More from the Girls

If we took ourselves less seriously, and God a whole lot more seriously, life would be so different. God came so that we can have an “exuberant” and “abundant” life. Don’t waste a single moment of it, my friend! Start your day tomorrow with the prayer, “Lord, I want all that You have for me today! I choose joy!”

 

Check out my new CD, “Laugh More - Live Better”. It will help you focus on laughter and the joy of this holiday season. And it is on a special Holiday Sale in our Online Book Store. Celebrate! We are doing the same!

 

 

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