Season of Joy


 

Meaning of ChristmasI write this on a quiet Christmas.

My loved ones are far away, yet I still find myself almost giddy with joy. I do feel blessed to have the love of family and friends. I have a home, a job, and all my needs are taken care of.  All this makes me happy. But I feel such an overwhelmingly deep joy that can’t compare to anything else in life, that I’d be a fool not to share it with others and let you know how to have it too. Christmas is a great reminder of the source of my joy.

I tend to analyze and over think everything and put fact before feeling. I’m ‘the glass is half empty’ person and have to work at looking to the positive. But this joy I’ve found is bigger and truer than emotions and it comes up to the surface bubbling over any simmering everyday feelings I have.

Such JOY!

I’m not talking about the mood of happiness but a solid joy that never leaves me even in my darkest moments. This deep and lasting joy can only be from the source of life, the Creator because no person, pastime, pleasure or project in my life equals this holy joy. Nobody. Nothing. It’s too powerful to be from this earth.

I am not talking about any religion or church. What I’m talking about here is not anything man-made.

To be honest, in my 60 years of life I have embraced it then ignored it, pulled it back to me, then pushed it to the side, hung onto it tightly, then looked away only to grab it as my own again. Every time I come back to what I know is real and right it confounds me how I could wander off. Words don’t even begin to express how much of an impact this has made in my life and who I am. 

I guess I just did it. I just looked at the baby Christ child in the manger and refused to accept him as a holiday decoration or church tradition or the birth of some great enlightened man. Something about this baby intrigued me like nothing else. Even as a youngster the manger scene drew me in. That’s another beauty of it all, how simple and attainable this joy is that the Christmas story shows us.

For those in doubt, I could toss around the apologetics here. I could go on and on about the historical facts of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection or how science lines up perfectly with the star in the east the three wise men followed, and quote Bible verses, but I’m not going that route. It’s too easy. A little research goes along way. I say take the time to ask and listen then the truth will melt over any doubts. Start by reading the books of Luke and John in the New Testament. You seek, you’ll find. I still have questions but none that will keep me away from what I’ve learned and experienced. 

When I open my heart to allow the unseen to be my reality and let this truth dwell in me, I experience this supernatural joy. It’s fantastic. You couldn’t make this stuff up. I mean, really think about it. Look at this Christ child. Look at the whole situation. God came to earth in the form of a fragile baby with the purpose of our reconciliation back to Him. This Jesus would pay for our unholiness by his death, he’d rise from the dead and teach us how to live in communion with our Creator. It’s absolutely amazing and here it’s at our fingertips if we want to embrace this Christ child for who he said he is, which is God with us. This relationship with the Almighty is for anyone. Free. No need to walk inside a church or go through any ritual or belong to a group.

So why am I filled with such a deep joy? Because I hold tight to the message and meaning of the manger. I look at Jesus and I find forgiveness of my sin and shame, access to mercy and grace. The Father loves me as I am, giving direction and purpose in life and the promise of a perfect eternal life after this one. Powerful! If that doesn’t urge you to look into Jesus, then you’re not doing yourself any favors, and you’re missing out on the true meaning of Christmas…and of life. This joy can be yours if you want, and the joy Jesus gives can’t be taken away from you. You ask for it. He gives it to you. 

It doesn’t mean you walk around with a permanent smile and everything in your life is rainbows and roses. Life has too many ups and downs to be in continuously on top of the world. That is not promised to anyone. This joy is from the core. Things happening around us can’t touch it, no matter how we are feeling.

That’s why I can be joyful this Christmas, tomorrow and into next year. Life will bring it’s pain and trouble and happy days will come and go, but the joy Christ alone brings is powerful and gives strength on good days and bad days.

What a gift this joy is, that Jesus came to give everyone!

 

 

 

10 Ways To Have The Perfect, Non-Perfect Holiday

holidayThis time of the year can be crazy and stressful or beautiful and meaningful. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Solstice , Kwanzaa, Christmas or something else, there is so much to do.

December is busy for me. I celebrate not just Christmas, but also our wedding anniversary and several family member’s birthdays.

I’m older now and more relaxed about a lot of things but the first few years as a young wife, I wanted to have the perfect Christmas.

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right, left, north and south

Library - 1545(spoiler alert: this is not soft…sometimes i think too much)

i am writing this out of a deep frustration…

 …at how the obvious is not noticed and the endless piles of mud are tossed..all the deep and lovely words about time and space and truth and beauty are raped by those who have put up a wall so high and so thick that no miracle or magic can be seen or heard through it……on our short journey through this life experience there is no place for these solid walls…

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Halloween in 1961

Halloween 1961That’s just me hangin’ out by the jack-o’-lantern waiting to go trick-or-treating. It was 1961 and I was 5 years old. (Notice the dog face to the right of the pumpkin. I wish I could say this was a ghost dog that appeared when the picture was developed, but it’s nothing like that, it’s just our dog, Lassie.) 

My mom had taken me to the five and dime store to buy my costume.

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On This Day

Diary

ON THIS DAY

(I spoke at my mother’s Celebration of Life service on August 29th. Here it is.)

 

For the past several years my mom was living her life in a wheelchair unable to do much of anything, losing the strength to hold a book or spoon, stay awake very long or to even speak.

 This could be frustrating at times for her, this once independent, active person. And, I’m sure when she thought back to her prime years, that she found joy and satisfaction in those memories.

 Sometimes on my visits I would read from one of her old journals she’d so faithfully kept for most of her life, and we’d both marvel at how much she used to do in one day.  As her memory failed, her own written words from years past were interesting and enlightening to her.

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Blood, Sweat and Ice Cream Cones

FullSizeRenderI used to work for a temp agency that placed me in offices around the city to fill in for receptionist and office support work. A particular job could be anywhere from one day to two years. I worked all over the city, meeting lots of people and experiencing all types of office environments.

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Friday Nights at My Dad’s Store

Go GamblesI walked into the drug store late on a Friday night when I noticed a sign saying “OPEN 24 HOURS”. I’m glad they stay open late. It was the only chance I had to get shopping done before the weekend. Next stop would be the grocery store, open until 11:00.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, my dad owned a hardware store. You’d never see that sign in his store or any of the stores in our small town. They all closed at 5:30. But Friday nights were different. The stores stayed open until 9:00.

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My Dad

me & daddyMy dad…I thought he was the next thing to Superman. Even though he didn’t leap from tall buildings, (although I did see him fall out of a tree once landing on his feet!), he could do a little of everything, and do it well.

 

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I Did Not Go To Church Today

church steepleI did not go to church today.

I drove around taking pictures of church steeples.

 

I walked up the steps of a big old church to get an artsy shot and there sat a young man who looked like he’d had a rough night, a real rough life. He was waiting for a bus.

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The Current

road to Nancy's

road to Nancy’s

After driving over 100 miles, I turned off the freeway to a county road then onto a narrow dirt road that leads toward Nancy’s. Driving through the lonesome wooded hills and swampland, cattails grow on both sides of the road. Nature looked picture perfect on that summer day out in the middle of nowhere. One more turn goes down a crude winding driveway that leads to her large rustic house, an impressive work of construction done by her husband’s hands.

Here is where hospice was set up for her.

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Turn Up The Silence

shoe on TVI’m that driver with the loud music on. Heavy bass, please. I enjoy TV. Most of it’s junk to me, but what I like, I really like.

I love to have my family around me. There is no sweeter sound in the house than the voices and footsteps of those I love.

We live in a noisy world. Sounds are everywhere and are a normal part of our everyday lives. Sounds from people, traffic, social media, TV and music are whirling around us in a constant hum, and we just sing along.

Have you ever found yourself in a very quiet place?

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A Is For Amazing

first apple

This apple has come a long way.

This morning it glowed in the sunshine like a giant ruby. My husband brought it home after he’d been to visit his mom. She lives with his sister in the old house that has been in the family for five generations.

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Summers Outside

sand townWhen I was a kid, my friends and I were outside all day long in the summer. After breakfast I was out the door and into the summer sun where us kids decided what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it.

We were old enough to leave the yard but not old enough to have a summer job. This is a glorious and brief time in a person’s life. Those years between your mother’s apron strings and sliding into the work world. The ‘Tom Sawyer’ summers, I call them. Days spent outside, barefoot, with no keys, money or phone to carry. Days that were simple.

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Adventure at the Yellow House

Usually my blog has pleasant postings. True, my world is full of recipes, pretty junk and I’ve been to cool places, but to be honest it isn’t all cupcakes and monkeys. 

I’m going to share with you the other side. The yellow house isn’t always fluff, one day it was iron.

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Women’s History Month: Frieda

FriedaThe theme for Woman’s History Month (2013) was ‘celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics’. The names of famous women who’ve done impressive things is too long to list here. But I can think of several women in my personal history who are worth a mention when talking about outstanding females.

I think of my Grandma Frieda

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