5 Tips to Maintaining Your Joy

The end of the year is upon us and Christmas is less than two weeks away. Many are hustling and bustling about with parties, shopping and wrapping up not only gifts, but the year at the office as well. Others may be dealing with a health issue, a job loss or a difficult relationship. Where is Joy amidst my circumstances you may ask?

Perhaps Mary asked the same question so many years ago when she, bursting with the child of God within her womb, sat upon a donkey and made the long, strenuous journey to Bethlehem to fulfill the census. Tired, in pain, and uncertain about the future she obeyed the angel of the Lord and submitted to God’s plan for her life. Sometimes life involves circumstances that try to steel our joy, but the good news is: we don’t have to let them.

This week I’m sharing on some techniques I use to maintain my joy. When things are most challenging, it’s easy to lose track of what’s really important and to keep my focus where it should be, I start each week in Advent with the lighting of the Advent candle and meditate on the gift of Christ for that week. This week the focus is on Joy.

So how can we be more joyful during times of peak stress? Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that help me keep my joy level up and my stress level down.

1. Learn to say that two-letter word “NO”. I only accept offers and invitations my heart is into. Say NO to everything else.

2.  Ditch the guilt.  When I say NO, I am being loving by being true to my values. I don’t need to feel guilty for declining an invitation, not sending Christmas cards or not baking a gazillion cookies. If I feel stressed doing something, it’s just not worth it.

3.  Look at the big picture. I ask myself this question “What’s really important here?” When the stress level rises, it is easy to get bent out of shape over trivial things. Our logical brains go haywire and we can’t think straight. By stepping back and refocusing on the big picture, I can find joy in any situation and act in a loving manner.

4. Overlook people’s mistakes. We are all human. People won’t always be on time, say the right thing, or give the perfect gift. Let things go quickly and don’t dwell on what someone said or did that really won’t matter tomorrow anyway. Focus on the positives of your friends and relatives.

5. Learn to lighten up. Make people laugh. Tell a funny story and a joke that doesn’t offend anyone. Laughter raises the joy level. When tensions rise, making someone laugh is a good way to diffuse the situation.

With a little forethought, it is possible to keep our joy during peak seasons. I’ve shared some tips I hope will help you keep your joy not only during the holidays but every day. Write me and share the techniques you use to maintain your joy.

Until next time, keep your focus on the true gifts of Christmas. Share the joy and above all, keep looking up!

A Christmas Poem for You

Twas the month of December and all through the house, the women were hurrying and bustling about. There is shopping, and cooking and decorating the tree. Oh, my goodness, will I ever have time for me?

Tis the season to be jolly it is said, but with these extra activities, I just plop into bed. So much to be done, so little time left. Visions of gifts and deadlines swirl in my head.

But what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an angel of peace beckoning me near. “Come now, my child, sit at my feet. Dwelling in my presence is so very sweet. Do not be afraid, all will get done for God has sent you his own precious Son.”

The true gifts of Christmas are hope, peace and joy, the angels proclaimed to the shepherd boy. Let me be like Mary, so calm and so mild. Her focus instead on the new born Christ child.

O Lord, forgive me I am such a sheep. I pray for my family in your protection to keep. It’s not the glitter or the red velvet bows, but the peace & love within my spirit that his glory shows.

Enjoy this season. Take time to relax and have fun. God loves us so much He gave us His Son.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Hope for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us and with them come a mixed bag of emotions, fun, stress, drama and anticipation. Perhaps like me, you have lost someone or something you value this year. It may have been a parent, a home, a job, a son or daughter or a relationship. The holidays will not be the same this year, you may be thinking to yourself.

But are they ever the same? A lot changes in the course of a year, doesn’t it? Friends get married. Others get divorced. Babies are born. Loved ones die. Old friends move away. New friends come into our lives. Things rarely stay exactly the same as the year before.  Life changes and that is a good thing. The certainty of change means there is always hope.

As the season of Advent begins, the focus for this week is Hope. It is the first gift of Christmas.
It is a time to reflect back on the year and ask ourselves what can we do differently next year to improve our lives, to live closer to God, and to walk more in love. Each of us is on our own path and we each have different steps to take, but take them we must, if we want to move forward into a more peaceful and rewarding life.

We may need to let go of unforgiveness or bitterness; be more grateful, generous, less self-centered. We may need to laugh more and stress less; surrender more and control less, trust more, and fear less. In every trial, there is a hidden treasure in the form of a lesson to be gleaned and applied to our lives.

Look at the example of the young girl named Mary. When the angel of the Lord told her she was going to be with child, which in essence meant she was going to be an unwed mother, a crime punishable by stoning, what was her response? “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” Mary was willing to trust and to surrender her life and her will for God’s purposes. Can we say as much?

Mary’s hope was in the Lord and in His great love for her. For this same reason, we, too, can have hope this holiday season. When we are secure in the knowledge of God’s immeasurable and unfailing love for us, no matter what comes our way, good or bad, we can rest in God’s promise to be with us. His name, Emmanuel, means exactly that – God with us. Like Mary, sometimes we don’t know what the future holds, but we can hold fast to the One who does.

What are your hopes this holiday season? What is the longing of your heart? Whatever it is, give it to the Lord, and trust that He will surround you with His amazing love this season. His gifts are for every child of His and that means all of us.

If this post has encouraged you,& you’d like to receive my weekly posts, please enter your email in the space provided and do pass it on. Someone you know may need a little hope this season. Until next week, keep looking up!

Finding Joy

What is joy? Is it the same as happiness? What about contentment? We are all in pursuit of “happiness”. But what is it really and will finding it really make us happy? Have you ever thought about the differences between each of these? Since we are in the third week of Advent and the focus in on Joy, this recent incident makes perfect fodder for this week’s post.

At a Christmas party this weekend here at my complex, I had quite a lively discussion about the differences between happiness and contentment. Seems folks have very different takes on what each of these are.

“I’m content”, I commented.
“You mean you’re settling,” he said.
“No, I am content. At peace with my life.”
“Well, I’d rather be happy,” he said.
“Happiness depends on our circumstances and is temporary,” I countered.
“Contentment is boring,” he replied.
“What about joy?” I asked.
No answer.

I took a poll at a nearby table and asked what everyone thought. The question precipitated quite a variety of answers. Philosophers define happiness in terms of the good life. The Declaration of Independence says that  “the pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right. Happiness speaks to the external qualities of life such as health, wealth, & beauty. Happiness is in the mind and the feelings. Yes, we all desire and seek the good life, but what happens when our external circumstances change? The stock market takes a nose dive? The doctor gives us bad news or our relationship hits the rocks? What then?

Then our perspective changes. It is time to seek the deeper gift of joy.

What is joy? Joy is spiritual over carnal. Joy comes from God. It pervades my soul and my spirit  when my external circumstances fail to provide me with the happiness my flesh craves. Consider this verse from Ecclesiastes 2:26 :

 “For to the one who pleases him <sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”>God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”>the business of gathering and collecting, <sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>only to give to one who pleases God. <sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”

If your circumstances are less than perfect this holiday season, do not despair. Life will never be perfect here on this earth.  If you are broken hearted or sad, you can still have joy, because there is One who will never leave you or forsake you.  If you are stressed out  with all the demands of the season, relax. Joy does not come from things or people. Joy comes from the spirit of God.

So today, if you are seeking more joy in your life, I encourage you to find time to meet with the Giver of joy. For more on this topic, check out this interview with Kay Warren, and until next time, keep looking up!

http://www.christianpost.com/news/kay-warren-saddleback-church-co-founder-helps-christians-to-choose-joy-71725/

The First Gift of Christmas

This past sunday began the season of Advent. Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. It is a time of expectation, anticipation, and yes, hope. In Christian circles, Advent is a time to focus on the true gifts of Christmas – hope, peace, joy and love.

This week the focus is on the gift of hope. What do you place your hope in, dear one? Your job, your significant other, your children, or yourself possibly? Sadly, as we all know, each of these can and will disappoint us.

But there is one person who will never disappoint, and his name is Jesus. Yes, Jesus – the Messiah, the Christ child. Jesus is the reason for the season. It is not the shopping, the decorating, the food preparation, or even the giving of gifts. It is Jesus who brings us the true gifts that will last forever.

Have you lost hope in something or someone? Did some event not materialize the way you wanted it to? Or perhaps some person or situation failed you? I encourage you, dear one, to look to Jesus. He, like Coca-Cola, is the real thing. He is the only source of hope we can cling to in this world. When all else fades, Jesus is still there to light our way. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Be filled with hope, dear one, and until next time, keep looking up!

Do You Have Hope?

“These are the best of times and the worst of times” Charles Dickens said in his book “Tale of Two Cities” years ago which still holds true today. People everywhere are in crisis: war, famine,poverty, abuse. I could go on. We are all struggling with our experience of life on this planet. If I focus on all the negative events, sicknesses (remember swine flu?)and economic crashes, surely I would crawl under the covers and never come out.

But God. I love that. But God.

This is Advent season; a time to focus, not on the dark and dreary days of December but on the light of the world that is to come: Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ Child and the gifts He represents.

This week the focus is on the gift of Hope.

Where do you get your hope from? Is it from this world? Your bank account? Or perhaps your significant other?

Sorry to inform you but all of these will disappoint. The only true hope we can have is in God. He is the source of Hope and He never disappoints. He is my light and my salvation. He is the lifter of my head. When all else fails, He never does and is always there for me even when others have fled.

Without hope, we will sink into despair, despondency, and disillusionment. I think hope is a choice we make in our attitude. I have seen so many tough situations turn around that I know that there is a God and He does care for us. It is up to us whether we are going to put our hope in Him or in ourselves once again.

This Advent season will you put your hope in God? Will you choose to think that things can improve? Let the Hope of the World fill you today. “With God, nothing is impossible.” Luke 1:37.

Do You Have Hope?

“These are the best of times and the worst of times” Charles Dickens said in his book “Tale of Two Cities” years ago which still holds true today. People everywhere are in crisis: war, famine,poverty, abuse. I could go on. We are all struggling with our experience of life on this planet. If I focus on all the negative events, sicknesses (remember swine flu?)and economic crashes, surely I would crawl under the covers and never come out.

But God. I love that. But God.

This is Advent season; a time to focus, not on the dark and dreary days of December but on the light of the world that is to come: Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ Child and the gifts He represents.

This week the focus is on the gift of Hope.

Where do you get your hope from? Is it from this world? Your bank account? Or perhaps your significant other?

Sorry to inform you but all of these will disappoint. The only true hope we can have is in God. He is the source of Hope and He never disappoints. He is my light and my salvation. He is the lifter of my head. When all else fails, He never does and is always there for me even when others have fled.

Without hope, we will sink into despair, despondency, and disillusionment. I think hope is a choice we make in our attitude. I have seen so many tough situations turn around that I know that there is a God and He does care for us. It is up to us whether we are going to put our hope in Him or in ourselves once again.

This Advent season will you put your hope in God? Will you choose to think that things can improve? Let the Hope of the World fill you today. “With God, nothing is impossible.” Luke 1:37.