Do you have joy this Christmas season?

b0a72c0de8112cec62b8a7de13c7eedaIsaiah 55:12 (ESV)

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Joy.  The last word in my series, and an important one…especially as 2016 comes to an end.  It’s been a tough year for a lot of people.  Six of my friends have lost a parent this year, my dad lost his third wife, there have been cancer diagnoses, other illnesses, suicides…the list goes on.  How do you find joy in the midst of all of this?  I think you have to choose it.

When I feel overwhelmed, I look for joy in the simple things.  It may seem trivial…and of course it does not take away the pain of what is going on, but it does help me to take the focus off of the bad.  Some of the things that give me joy:

Spending time with my hubby.
Having family time with my kiddos…which is hard because their schedules are so crazy.
A cafe mocha from Starbucks (hey don’t underestimate a good cup of coffee).
Walking in the rain with Lucy…I can talk to myself and no one can see me doing it because of the umbrella (smile).
Hearing a baby laugh.
Being in nature…if it’s the ocean that is a bonus.
Coming home to my dog Lucy…she always makes me feel like I’m the most important person in the world…and I guess I am since I’m her person (smile).
Puppies and kittens…luckily the internet is full of these so I don’t have to adopt any more furry babies…four is enough for me!
Laughing with a friend.

These are just some of the things that bring me joy.  They are simple, but things don’t have to be grand to bring us joy.  My friend Tara has a great perspective on joy that she shares in her blog Songs of Joy“.   You should check it out!

I encourage you to find joy in the simple things.  Life is too short and finding joy can help bring us peace, hope, and love.

Peace, Hope, Love, Joy…the words of this holiday season.  I hope you have them all, but especially love…because love matters.

Joy in the journey…

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining my fellow blogger Holley Gerth in her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge of encouraging others.  This week’s theme is “What brings you joy?” This was a timely theme as I read a post from someone else this week that was upsetting and it has plagued me ever since. I plan on writing a post about it in a day or two.  It goes along with something I was already working on.  So, thinking about what brings me joy was a good distraction.  Here’s just a small glimpse of what brings me joy:

I love me some coffee – Venti decaf non-fat no-whip mocha lattes.

Walking my dog Lucy in the rain…we have the whole neighborhood to ourselves…so peaceful.

Sitting on the beach with a good book.

Hiking in the mountains.

Listening to music…really loud (smile).  This also includes singing and dancing along to the music.

Celebrating 25 years of marriage this past September.

Babies laughing.

Holding hands with my husband.

Watching my daughter’s creativity blossom.  She is a talented artist that can make something out of just about anything.  Can’t wait to see where God takes her talent.  She can draw, paint, sculpt, etc. Her creations make me smile.

Seeing the changes in my son this year at college after such a tough year last year.  He went from losing 15 pounds last year, because he couldn’t leave his room to go to the cafeteria due to anxiety, to this year joining clubs, becoming an officer in one of them, tutoring, being in a film for the school…the list goes on.  Reading his writing (he is also a talented writer) and listening to him play the player also brings me joy.

But the thing that brings me the most joy lately is when someone tells me that this blog has made them think about homosexuality differently.  That this issue isn’t as “black and white” as they first thought.  This makes my heart smile.

Just a glimpse of what brings me joy.  The list could go on and on.  Life isn’t always easy, but if you look you can find joy in even the simplest of moments.  My journey has been one of many tears, but lately the tears have been tears of joy.

Psalm 126:5 (NIV)

5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.

joy in the journey

Remember to find Joy in the journey…and as always love each other…because love matters.