This Sunday, most churches lit the candle called the Shepherd’s Candle in the Advent wreath.  This pink candle represents joy. 

What is Christmas Joy?

Christmas Preparations: you know the drill: buying presents, going to pageants, kids out of school, decorating, wrapping presents, living Nativities, Christmas cantatas. Whew! We stay in the road, right? No wonder highway tempers flare more at Christmas than any other time.

Wedding photo

December 17, 1988

This Christmas, I didn’t go to the retail stores for presents. Nope, I shopped from the surgical waiting room at a local hospital. They admitted my husband on Thanksgiving Day with abdominal pain. (No turkey for us this year.) His routine 45-minute gall-bladder surgery turned into a complicated two-hour procedure. I’ll spare you the gory details, but the surgical nurse said I had “one tough guy.” Six days and one serious bacterial infection later, they released him.

My hubby is home! Yay! And today is our 29th anniversary. 

And here’s more fantastic news: this week I signed a contract with Rachelle Gardner of  Books & Such Literary Agency, something I’ve wanted for around ten years now, so I’m ecstatic. Thank you, Lord!

Why do I need an agent? These days, there are so many ways to publish your work. However, given my physical limitations, it’s always been my goal to go the traditional route. That means a publishing house buys the manuscript, pays an advance, and then helps with marketing, editing, etc. to give it the best chance for the largest audience. An agent helps a writer get her manuscript ready for an editor, navigate the publishing waters, and so much more.

It’s been a fabulous month so far, right? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful, but I’m still having difficulty focusing on CHRISTMAS joy — the real “Reason for the Season.”

Is anyone out there having the same issue? Feeling guilty about it? I know I do.

Choosing Joy

The Bible Project says that “joy” is one of the key themes throughout the Bible. But listen to this: joy is not a happy feeling, it’s a definite choice that we make. Their Advent video on Chara/Joy (see below) says,

Joy is an attitude God's people adopt, not because of happy circumstances, but because of their hope in God's love and promise. @joinBibleProj #Christmas #findingjoy Click To Tweet

Product Info: I’ve been using The Bible Project’s YouVersion app to read the Bible chronologically. I’ve found that most days, there’s a video devotional like the one below or I can watch videos on their website. It’s really helped me focus during this busy month.

In this video, they say that when God chose Moses to return to Egypt to release the Israelites, they rejoiced, even though they were still slaves. That decision told the world that they would not be ruled by circumstances, but their joy would come from their faith in God.

That’s what I need to do this Christmas: choose joy. I don’t have to wait for that joyful feeling to drift down over my shoulders. When I feel sad, stressed or aggravated, I need to stop and remind myself to discard those feelings and choose joy. Believe me, it’s hard, but with God’s help and direction I can do it.

You can, too.

I’ve embedded the videos and links below that have helped me focus when things are difficult. And if you can’t play the embedded videos, there are direct links, too. 

Inspiration to Choose Joy

What helps? You know the drill:

  • Reading my Bible,
  • praying for my family members as I wrap their gifts,
  • singing songs with Christian messages,
  • watching uplifting movies and televisions shows.

Is this a guarantee that I won’t lose my temper or get sad or just act “blah?” No, just ask my poor hubby. I struggle like you do. When I mess up, I ask forgiveness and remember that God loves me. That’s all we can do.

NOTE: If you or someone you know is having real difficulty this Christmas, scroll down to the bottom of this post for more information.

The Bible Project’s word study of Joy

 

Matthew West’s Broken Things

Hillary Scott’s Thy Will Be Done

 

Matthew West, The Heart of Christmas

What helps you keep a positive focus, or better yet, focus on Christ? Next week I’m talking about traditions. What traditions help you remember the real reason for Christmas?

Marry Christmas

and a happy New Year!


When You Can’t Choose Joy

If your sadness just won’t go away or if it’s more than you can bear, you may have a serious, but treatable, medical issue. Don’t feel guilty because you can’t “snap out of it.” Take a look at this website. If this sounds like what you’re experiencing, talk to your doctor and find a Christian counselor to help.

Or, if someone you know is suffering from depression, be compassionate. Listen. Don’t judge. And most of all, be patient. Christmas is the hardest time of year for some, so offer to help and pray for them.

And if thoughts of suicide have crossed your mind, don’t take a chance. Call the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

I’m praying for you.


English Standard Version (ESV), The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.