Good Morning Gorgeous,
It’s a brand new day. A fresh start. And the Christmas Season is in full swing. In my experience, especially during the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we have to continually be choosing joy to stay grounded in the peace and hope and beauty of the season.
There are distractions begging for our attention, and many of them are still good things: the festivals, the parties, the buying of gifts, the shows and pageants. It’s the quantity of things to do in a very short time that can make the pressure build and take our eyes off of Jesus. And that is just what the enemy loves to do. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy, and what he kills and steals quite often is our peace and our joy.
If we are vigilant, we can recognize his tactics and stay so close to Jesus that we can’t me moved from peace to worry or from joy to anger.
I found myself thrust right into a situation yesterday that had all the right circumstances surrounding it to be a joy crusher, a peace stealer, and a mood killer.
Yet, by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, I stayed grounded in peace. I filtered out the lessons as treasures and my children and I grew together.
Yesterday, our family attended church in the morning and the message was beautiful. It always is, and as we leave each week, we feel filled with power and might to live out our faith the rest of the week. And then life happens right…. We are called to carry Jesus forward all week long and be the light and salt of the earth. That means when we are in a hurry, when we are late, when someone is rude, when someone hurts us, when someone runs a red light or cuts us off in traffic…. even then when real life happens, we are called to interact with the world as people marked and different because God Himself has taken up residence in our hearts.
We had planned to take a family photo at the park downtown. We knew this could go well, but that most likely it wouldn’t. We braced ourselve for it to be stressful and challenging. We have 5 kids from the ages of 2 to 13, and to get a shot of everyone looking AND smiling is somewhat of a miracle. But hey, we had just left church, we can take on the world!
The park was beautiful. The weather perfect. The kids ran and played and we snapped our pictures fairly quick, easy, and painlessly. I joked around and looked to the heavens and said, “Ahhhhh, hallelujah. That was a Christmas miracle!” Snapping the pefect photo was followed by pizza downtown, and the kids were having a blast. There were little painted rocks hidden all around the park and downtown area. They were having fun discovering them. I share all of those details because the day was near picture perfect!
My oldest loves art and interesting knick knacks, so when we passed a shop filled with these treasures, he begged to go inside. I agreed, but I turned to all of the other kids and I asked them to fold their hands as we walked inside. I explained that we couldn’t touch anything, and if they did, then we would need to leave. All started out well, the kids had their hands folded as they ooohed and aaahhhed.
Then within moments everything was unraveling. They got wrapped up in these rings that were topped with foods like cupcakes, sushi, and fruits. They unfolded those tightly clasped hands and began to point. After ppointing, touching soon followed, and then they were spreading out and touching other things. All at once, as I was calling them to me and trying to hold one’s hand and balance the baby on my hip, I knocked over a necklace. It hit the ground and broke. It had a small slab of stone wrapped in metal, and the stone broke in half.
The owner of the shop was less than kind and immediately said, “If it’s broken, then you’ll have to pay for it.” I was kneeling down and picking the broken necklace up off of the floor, and I looked at her and said, “Yes, I understand and I will pay for it.”
She looked at me, and I could tell she was shocked. I believe she was expecting some type of argument or anger from me. She simply walked away and talked to another person who worked there, and they both came over to the register and offered to have the artist who made the necklace fix it for me. I paid forty dollars for a broken necklace that even if it weren’t broken, I wouldn’t normally wear. And I did it while smiling and being kind. Why? Not because of anything good in me, but because of the goodness of Jesus who resides in me.
My kids were shocked by the whole exchange. We got outside, and they wanted to know if they were in trouble. I explained that they chose to disobey when they unfolded their hands, and that when we disobey sometimes it starts a chain reaction of events that are hard to undo. I explained that we were not going to stop going in stores in the future, and that they had to learn to behave and respect the things inside of shops that were filled with fragile items.
I explained that I had to pay for the necklace because I broke it. It was the right thing to do. And then my two oldest kiddos who are 9 and 13 wanted to blame the shop owner. They said she was mean, and she wasn’t nice when she told me I had to pay for the necklace. I reminded them that I was only in charge of my actions and my reactions. I couldn’t speak for her, but I had a responsibility to do what was right regardless of the shop owner’s attitude towards me.
And then, we talked about Jesus! How I had to pay for the necklace as my consequence, but because of His sacrifice, He already paid the penalty of sin for us. He chose to come to earth as a baby to live a blameless life so that He could remove the penalty of sin which is death. He took the consequence instead of us, and that is why we are celebrating His miraculous birth.
Friends, I had to choose joy yesterday in that moment. It was a choice set right before me. Be angry and let this moment ruin a beautiful day or choose joy and let Holy Spirit take over. I could choose my flesh or my spirit. And in this battle, Holy Spirit won. I pray that He continues to win in my life and in yours again and again.
We never know what curveballs are around the next turn, yet we ALWAYS have a choice in how we respond. I am praying that today as you rise, you feel abundant joy. I pray you are able to choose joy again and again all day long.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Draw us close to You Lord. Capture our attention and keep us in close connection with You. Help us to choose joy again and again despite anything warring against our peace. I pray you drive out the chaos and worry and angst. Refuel us with Your peace and joy unshakeable. Ground us in JOY!!
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Blessings and JOY!