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Happiness and cheer...my favorite time of year...finding JOY

Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer…Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year…Yes, we have watched Charlie Brown's Christmas this year! I don’t know about you, but I always feel nostalgic listening to Manheim Steamroller Christmas music and the high church choral music. Alexa plays it all day everyday at this time of year in our kitchen. It reminds me of shaking presents, wondering what was in each one, warm Christmas pajamas, and staring at the twinkling Christmas tree lights after supper while my mom finished cleaning the kitchen.


While it IS such a fun, festive time of year, many people I speak to in counseling and even around town, are finding it difficult to find JOY. The feeling, that is. Even I feel rushed a bit. The loneliness over the past year-ish has taken on me personally makes me feel like I am simply going through the motions at times. I have kept myself busy with projects and organizing. In fact, I finished my biggest attempt at sewing yet - a Jon-jon romper for Deacon Boy and four pinafore dresses. I see all my mistakes in them, but they are decent looking from far away, right?!




We do matching pajamas for the traditional Christmas pajama photo on my bed we started taking a few years ago. Candy canes it is! We began a tradition of Baking Day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when Brett had to work that day several years ago and have kept it today. What was originally a disappointment has turned out to be quite a treasure. This year, we kicked him out of the house to work across town at my parents’ house so we could get our sweets baked!



We have SO many celebrations in December, it is a super-packed month. December 11th is Baby J’s birthday, followed by Raegan’s birthday on the 15th. We a re celebrating by decorating the kitchen area in Nutcracker winter themed decorations. I feel that birthdays need to be separate from other holidays nearby. Our dining area is always dedicated to birthday decor. I found some old pointe shoes in the attic we will hang in there too. Brett’s birthday is also soon, on the 29. Whew! Wild month!


Despite all the celebrations, sometimes the joy just is hard to find. We completed our usual Thanksgiving Thankful tree on the wall. With all we have to be thankful for, sometimes we wish for more or simply have struggles each day. When I take a step back and look with a fresh perspective, everyone has something they struggle with. Some of you may be going through a divorce or have parents who are. Some may be struggling with a cancer diagnosis like my mom over the past few years. Some may be struggling with purpose, failing relationships, job loss, loneliness, confusion, anxiety, or depression.



We have had new adventures in Instacarting as a family! It is the Christmas season, with several birthdays, and some needs we have around the house. While Brett was between full-time jobs last year, due to COVID, Instacart was the job supplement of choice. We decided to try it as a family one Friday lately. The girls actually enjoyed it as a game, beating the countdown clock, reading the list, and delivering groceries to front doors.




While we are celebrating Brett’s recent work promotion, it is still not enough to allow him to quit the second job yet. Some of you may be feeling frustrations in this way as well. We would love to buy a house, but that just is not possible at this time yet.


I am truly grateful that God hears my cries from the floor of a closet (been there before) or my breathy frustrations during an ordinary day that just seems crummy from the beginning. One desperate need of myself and each client I have ever had is HOPE. As long as there is hope, one can hang on no matter what the circumstances. The Holy Spirit supplies us with hope and will not disappoint (Romans 5:5).


This HOPE will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.


One huge reason for hope is to remember God’s love and His forgiveness. I can let my sin go because He has, when I gave my life to Him twenty years ago this year (1 John 1:9). This gives us the ultimate hope. Jesus will forgive you when you ask and not hold sin against you anymore. I know when I am stressed to no end, He has comforted with me and helped me survive in the past and He will do it again (Psalm 94:19).


When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.


No matter how much it feels like you are just going through the motions, waiting for difficulties to pass, breathe in every moment that God sustains you and understand He is always watching over you and will never leave you. As I have learned as a counselor and a human, sometimes the motions have to begin and feelings have to catch up later. Sometimes I must put up my Christmas tree lights and place candles in the windows even when my feelings are missing and allow time for the feelings to come, when I have no idea what God is doing in my life. Living in obedience to Christ is always the best and safest place to be, even when it may not be what I might have chosen for myself. He is my loving Father Who always knows best and is watching out for me. I have seen His blessings beyond measure before and I know I will see them again. He loves you. I pray hope for you, my sweet friend!


Love,

Charis




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