Finding Joy in this Hol-y-day

I absolutely love the days we’re in.
I love the holidays, because I love everything about them.
I love the creative surges which burst full of decorations and all the simple details given inside these days.
I love the memories they hold and I love the food . . .
Oh, how I love the food!

And yet no matter how much I love these days, they can come with some anxiety too.
Because with all of the wonderful feelings of this season, there’s so many desires we wrestle with.
Hopes and expectations, which can honestly get tangled up in the midst of the excitement of the season.

Because what we deeply hope to happen in these days is sometimes the farthest thing from what really does and we can ache in these times.

You see for some there’s a lot of pain inside the holidays.
And although we dream up a perfect picture of what we’re hoping they’ll be and we set our tables to adorn the beauty we’re anticipating for some there’s who isn’t coming to dinner today or reminders of broken relationships sitting in their midst.

For several years I fought this battle between what I wanted everything to be like and how it actually turned out.

You see, in the very midst of what we dream for these days to look like, we somehow lose sight of the beauty we already possess.

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I know because I lived like this for years.

I thought in order for me to be the best at what I was, these days needed to look something like a Norman Rockwell painting, with all of their corkiness they needed to hold an emblem of perfection.
And in some strange way I thought they should reflect all I’d ever read and seen surrounding them . . . as if there was a certain expectation which could be packaged up and lived out.

But what I found in the middle of this kind of thinking is a lot of disappointment.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own for keeping hold of something that never really existed.
And I realized what happens when we live like this is we end up losing a lot of what we’ve spent years hoping for.
Because I honestly often felt as if I was failing at bringing all of this to life.
But then I realized I was wrapping unattainable dreams around our family and hoping for joy to be found inside this.

And here is where I fell short the most . . .
Because when we make the mistake of placing joy inside of unrealistic hopes and dreams our peace hinges on our circumstances rather than the posture of our heart.

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I learned this back then and I’ve been learning it a lot more lately.

Right here in the middle of the greatest struggle we’ve ever had to walk through, I’ve come face to face with this reality once again.

You see, I somehow used to believe the lie that when our heart is the heaviest, it has the greatest risk of breaking and joy couldn’t be found.
Because when we make the mistake of connecting joy to this idea of what our days are supposed to look like, we live in the midst of make-believe, rather than in the beauty of these present.

Yet when we exchange what isn’t real for our real lives,  it’s here we find a lasting joy in the beautiful things of greater worth.
We realize just simply gathering together and breaking bread even while our hearts break wide open, these are the days God intended for us to live.

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This past year, although there’s been a pile of hard lived out I must tell you our richest blessings are found here. 
Because as I woke up this morning the first words I spoke was ‘thank you God that we get to celebrate this day together’. 

You see we aren’t always promised another day like today and so the one’s we are graciously given must be listed in our giving of thanks. 
Because when life is threatened, it becomes one of the greatest gifts we possess. 

And I know isn’t the easiest to always do.

Because honestly we struggle to let go of what’s breaking us in order to receive the blessings we already have . . .
Inside the unexpected details of these days I pray we can look past our circumstances and embrace what we’ve been given.

And its in our giving of thanks within these hol-y-days when our worship is louder than our cries, that we truly find God right beside us in our midst.

When we exchange our expectations of the way life should be for a humble expectation of what God’s about to do
– we come face-to-face with his grace.

And friend this is honestly the one thing we can count on and expect
is – – his overwhelming goodness and grace.

And it’s here we decide to not be overwhelmed with all the worry, but instead we choose to worship.

We choose to worry less and worship more in his holy presence

And so today we take a vow to no longer be driven by perfection . . .
I will not allow stress to steal my joy.
Instead, we’re choosing to rest in singing praises to God.

Because no matter how our season unfolds
— God has us and he’s healing us too.
And no matter what today holds or even the rest of this week, He will never leave us nor forsake us.

So, today no matter how hard this day might be, let’s make a promise to inhale & exhale all the blessings God’s given us.
Let’s set our tables with his grace recounting our blessings one by one . . . all the ways he loves us and has never forgotten us, let’s join with all of heaven in worshiping him.

We will take ever drowning thought and bring it captive to God.

And that place you feel like giving up, look around at all he’s doing for you.
Because the places that tear us apart the most are often the ones God’s using to put us back together again.

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And this Thanks-giving day may we know huddle around our tables even if our family tree is as torn apart as Job’s and trace God’s love, which has surrounded us through it all.

Because even out of a messy lineage, Christ himself connects us to our loving Father, God.
And God always brings good, even out of the hardest of days.

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I dedicate this post to all of my friends whose hearts are feeling a bit busted up and torn apart right now . . . may you know the precious love of God as you bring him your worship.

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