Christmas is joy!

Joy to the world! The Lord has come!

When I was a little girl,

      Christmas was fun! Sleigh bells rang in the dark. Santa’s sleigh tracks were found in the middle of the yard. Early Christmas morning, we three kids woke early, wrapped ourselves in warm bathrobes, and quietly stepped down the big stairway to the living room where we were welcomed by the brightly lit tree enveloped with big, cone-shaped electric bulbs of red, blue, green, orange, and white. Sleepy Mommy and Daddy met us by the tree and then made our day so special! The true meaning of Christmas was imbedded in each fun tradition.

Christmas was fun! And Christmas was joy!

When I was the young mother of little children,

     Christmas was fun! Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk the children had set out. On Christmas Eve, Daddy read the Christmas story from his Bible. Matt, Kristen, and Amber slept in their warm flannels and fleece, on the floor, their heads on pillows under the tree lights. They never heard Santa place the Detroit Lions football helmet, Cabbage Patch dolls, 4-wheeler Big Foot, or Care Bears under the tree, just inches from their sweet, sleeping bodies. One Christmas, when Daddy was out of work and the money was scarce, he made a 4-wheeler track for Matt and a horse stable for the girls.

Christmas was fun! And Christmas was joy!

After the children were grown,

      Christmas was not as much fun any more. And Christmas was not filled with as much joy.

Family gatherings, once a vital part of the season, now had  empty spots, once held by special grandpas, grandmas, aunts, or uncles.

Songs and carols, once heard on the old, blonde 78-rpm player or later on the cassette tape, now brought a lump to my throat and an emptiness to my heart.

Now Christmas was only as fun as I made it for the brief time the children came home. And Christmas was joy only when I forced myself to find joy during those times.

 

But today,nearing the end of the most difficult year of my life, I am reminded through my devotions that Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always!

 (Philippians 4:4)

 He prayed for the Colossians to be strengthened with all might, according to God’s glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness!

(Colossians 1:11)

Paul, a man who had suffered terribly, knew the link between joy and strength. We are strengthened with all might and joyfulness.

I need to be strengthened. And I want joy! The new covenant (testament) continues the same promise as the old covenant (testament) — the joy of the Lord is our strength!

(Nehemiah 8:10)

So this Christmas season, I will find the joy that the Lord promises,

and I will let it strengthen me!

I will find joy in remembering my Daddy and Mama and the legacy they left me.

I will find joy in the arms of my faithful husband.

I will find joy in my grown children who love and honor God.

I will find joy in eleven beautiful grandchildren–one wrapped in the healing hands of God and one still in his mama’s protective care, awaiting his March delivery.

And I will find joy in a God who loves me and has granted me unmerited grace, increasing faith, and abundant hope through this year.

 

I will sing, “Joy to the world!”

And I’ll find that joy when I remember that “The Lord is come!”

I will “receive” my “King!”

I will “prepare Him room” in my heart.

And I will fill that room with the joy He promises in His Word!

 

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come!

Let Earth receive her King!

Let every heart ~~ prepare Him room,

and heaven and nature sing,

and heaven and nature sing,

and hea~ven and hea~ven and nature sing!”

Sing with joy and be strengthened!

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