Tag Archives: joy

It’s Always Something, Am I Right?

It’s getting close to Christmas, you guys! Maybe you’re excited like me, and maybe not so much, but this holiday season is a season of joy in many ways.

I start decorating for Christmas as soon as my dear husband gives me the okay, and I listen to Christmas music in October. I fully participate in the festivities that abound in the month of December and I love it!

My handsome hubby on Christmas Tree Day!

But it can be a time of sadness for our family too. We remember the horrible passing of my mother-in-law, and when December 26th rolls around, my father-in-law is no longer here for his birthday to be celebrated. On top of that, I have a bit of anxiety and flashbacks to last year when my health wasn’t as good and my MS was giving me troubles.

Do you ever feel like life is just one long string of difficult events (with an occasional respite thrown in here and there so your sanity isn’t entirely lost)?

If so, I know the feeling. Between the death and sickness of family and friends, the horrific events on the news, and the stresses of life in general, sometimes life can feel very…dark.

I’m guessing I’m not alone here. And hopefully I’m not alone when I say I refuse to allow that outlook to rule my mind.

So how do we fight the darkness? How do we muster the strength to focus on the good, when sometimes the good moments feel so few and far between?

We fight darkness with light. The light of Jesus, specifically. And we remember our view of life is the result of thousands of daily choices that we may not even realize we’re making. Such as:

Will I complain? Will I dwell on the negative? Will I focus on the sadness of the world? Will I choose fear?


Will I choose to be grateful? Will I find the positive? Will I find joy in good news? Will I choose hope?

I’m no scientist, but I do know the more you think positively or negatively, the more your brain gets wired to continue down that path. To me, that’s pretty empowering.

Thankfully, the pressure isn’t all on us and our abilities. Not even close.

God desires to help us and give us the mental (and physical) rest we need to keep going strong.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  –Matthew 11:28-30

If we take him at his word and give Jesus our burdens to carry, we find ourselves free to accept and be filled with joy from the Holy Spirit.

Even if sickness or uncertainty is staring you in the face today, your peace doesn’t have to suffer for it.

Consider this—we get to rest in the truth that we belong to Jesus, Heaven awaits us in the end, and nothing on earth can take those things away from us. And in the big, big picture… what else really compares?

And let’s not forget we don’t have to resign ourselves to the ups and downs of this life without a fight. We serve a God who answers prayer and performs miracles. Yes, even today God is still working miracles all around us. So let’s spend more time hunkered down in our prayer closet (or car, or bedroom, or whatever) and let’s be open to praying for and receiving the good things God wants to do in us and for us, instead of sitting back and letting life happen however the chips may fall.

What about when life is good?

Sometimes life is great. All the pieces of this crazy puzzle called life seem to fall together and we can inhale deeply and count our blessings. But if you’re like me, your peace is sometimes threatened even during times of otherwise smooth sailing. Why?

Because something always happens next. Am I right?

But instead of anxiously awaiting the next difficult thing, let’s be deliberate about choosing joy in the moment.

There are always blessings to count—let’s do just that. Let’s choose joy. Let’s open our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to rid us of anxiety and fear, and replace those things with peace, hope, and joy. In times of trial and times of plenty alike.

So even though this season in particular is a myriad of joy and sadness, I can choose. I can focus my energies on what “could have been” and give myself over to sadness and anxiety, or I can turn my eyes upon Jesus, count my blessings, (which truly do abound, as they do for most of us with running water and electricity) and receive the peace and joy that he so desperately wants to give.

Moment by moment, I’m doing my best to choose peace and joy to carry me through this upcoming Christmas season. How about you?

Let me know your thoughts by leaving me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!  

And for any of you who may be wondering, here’s a brief update on me: My middle grade Christian Fiction novel (currently titled “Power Up”) is in the editing phase. There is a lot of waiting and a lot of back-and-forth right now as my agent, publisher, editor, and I work together to get everything just right. It’s a time of excitement and soon it will be a time of teaching myself how to effectively market a book—yikes! Life is an adventure, that’s for sure. While I have a little down time in the middle of the waiting, I’ve been working on an adult Christian fiction novel. It’s a story that’s been on my heart for a while, and even if it comes to nothing, it’s SO much fun to write.

I truly do appreciate your support through this new writing adventure! Thanks for reading!

8 Tips for Retaining Your Holiday Sanity

Obligations and traditions abound this time of year. There are parties and gatherings galore. Trust me, I understand the struggle! But before you let the holidays overwhelm you:

Consider these eight tips for retaining your sanity in the middle of all the holiday hubbub.

Follow these tips to optimize your enjoyment of the season and ensure that you have time to focus on the most important part—celebrating the gift of Jesus.

  1. Get the most important things on your calendar NOW. This includes your main get-togethers, any special holiday choirs or performances that you want to attend, etc.
  2. Make a budget for gifts and use cash. When you run out of cash, you’re out. That’ll make you think twice before getting that second gift for your mom just because “it’s sooo cute!”
  3. Discuss price limits with family and friends now. Just because so-and-so always spends $50 per person doesn’t mean you should. Propose something new—maybe a five or ten dollar limit. (And don’t underestimate Dollar Tree…they’ve got some good stuff, people.) Or if you’re the crafty type, propose only homemade items (cookie mixes in jars are always winners).
  4. Just say no. If you’re like me, you can’t be at every holiday function without stressing yourself out. Don’t feel bad declining invitations. If you need to, put “rest” on your calendar and then when people ask if you’re free, say, “I’m sorry, I’ve already got something on my calendar that evening!”
  5. Eat as healthily as you can. This is an easy one to let slide, but honestly—we just feel better when we eat better! Give yourself an advantage by drinking lots of water and eating your vegetables. You’ll minimize those pesky stress headaches and feel even better about your choices when you do occasionally indulge in holiday foods.
  6. Remember, everyone has different thresholds for busyness. Respect yours and respect others’. They may or may not do the same for you, but at least you can do your part to be aware of your needs before you’re completely frazzled.
  7. Simplify where you can. Yes, I know some traditions call for going all out. But cut corners where you can. This is the perfect time of year to spend a little extra (if you can) on convenience foods…prechopped onions for example. Or do what my mom has been doing for years—roast the turkey a day ahead, carve it and put it in a dish with a little broth and covered in foil, then warm it in the oven before you serve it. No huge mess right before dinner!
  8. Reject chaos. Cut back enough to find peace and JOY in Jesus this holiday season.

Let JOY be our goal.

Let JESUS be our guide.

And let common sense and boundaries prevent us from engaging in the chaos that threatens to steal our holidays. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!

Feel free to drop me a comment—let me know your thoughts or let me know YOUR favorite time/sanity saving tip around the holidays! And don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t yet so you can get the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox! Thanks for reading!!


Let the Good Times Roll!

This past weekend was a good one. I mean, a really good one. We had family over for the night for a mini “staycation” and were able to play games, eat good food, celebrate my sister’s birthday, and just relax and be. We spent lots of time just hanging out on either the front porch or the back porch, both of which are some of my favorite spots in the world.

Although we see my family fairly regularly, there’s often more of an agenda for our getting together. A birthday party, a funeral, a holiday…which are all filled with hustle and bustle. This time was different. Nothing fancy, nobody to impress. Just chatting, wandering around the yard observing all the budding plants, playing with the kids, and just resting in each other’s presence. (Oh, and eating fried morels. If you’ve never experienced the pure joy that is a fried morel mushroom, my heart aches for you. What a sad life you’ve lived. 😉 Thanks for finding them, Dad, and for frying them, Mom! YUM!)

I’ll be honest. In the middle of having a great time with the family I found myself having to fight off thoughts like, “But they’ll have to go home in a few hours, that stinks.” Or, “What if someone gets sick or gets in an accident before we can all get together again?” You get the idea.

Am I the only one who can ruin a wonderful moment just by imagining what tomorrow might, maybe, perhaps, possibly bring? I have a feeling I’m not alone here.

I’ve been a stay at home mom for 10 years, but before that I had a 9-5. It was a fulfilling, but stressful job (social work), and I found myself rejoicing every time Saturday rolled around. And every Sunday? I found myself stressed out by what I knew Monday would bring. Instead of finding rest on the last of my two days off, I would spend it fighting anxiety about the upcoming work week. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste my good moments (or days!) worrying about the future.

Matthew 6:34 says it well. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.”

There’s no denying that troubles will find us here and there. But on those sacred instances when all seems to actually be going right? Let’s make a point to be in the moment and just breathe in the goodness of life instead of ruining it with worry. Or maybe you’re the type to feel guilty when you’re having a good time; like you should be doing something more “productive” with your time.

Well, let’s not forget this verse found in Ecclesiastes 8:15: “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.”

I take this verse to mean that times of rest and enjoyment are not only nice, but necessary. They pump us up for the rest of life’s required hard work and ups and downs that inevitably come our way.

Contrary to popular belief, God is not a grumpy old man up in the clouds who frowns down on us when he sees us resting and enjoying life. God actually loves a good party!

If you’ve ever read through the Bible you’ve seen how often people gather to celebrate for various occasions. It’s true – Jesus himself (God as a man) loved spending time with his friends and attending parties and celebrations! Isn’t that permission enough to embrace the good times??

If God didn’t intend for us to enjoy the world he made, why would he have invented so many brilliant colors, hundreds of beautiful flowers and trees, so many different personalities, and even senses of humor? There’s no denying that we have a God who appreciates fun. He gives us all these amazing gifts and loves to watch us enjoy them.

So let’s free ourselves to be able to embrace the good when it comes, instead of worrying ourselves out of the joy that God has for us today. Of course we all have work to do and bills to pay, and we do need to be responsible and fulfill our duties. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be joyful in the process and set aside times just to rest and enjoy the life God has given us.

Maybe we should actually schedule it in more often. I’d hate to get to Heaven and have God ask me, “Why did you spend so much time trudging through life when I gave you so many good things to enjoy?”

Wouldn’t you?