Hey friends, Merry Christmas Eve! I missed writing to you guys about JOY week for Advent. If you have a minute, my heart is thrumming.
Have you been celebrating Advent, either traditionally or in your own special way? I love a mix of the two. There is always a place for tradition, and there is also a need for making traditions very personal, for infusing everything we do with purpose and meaning. With personality! After all, the only traditions that really stick are the ones we make our own, the ones that serve us with the most authentic JOY. So dig in and be honest about how you want the holidays to be. Less obligation, more intention.
The last few weeks, I have been soaking up a magical rhythm of quiet time, reflection, and journaling, some very average farm chores and housework (soothing, you know), mixed with wild holiday activity, old songs and new understandings, lights and decorations, baking (so much baking), swimming in memories, time with friends, romance… Just keeping the current of life alive. We are all moving through time together, and I am here for it, as the kids say.
Joy is one of my favorite topics. A few years ago, you might remember, my husband started receiving this persistent message, “Count it all joy.” It became our mantra in a dark valley, and we have learned so much about it since then. Counting It All Joy is a post I wrote in 2017, when it was all fresh.
Joy has nourished us when we were tired and needed strength; it has floated gently us when we might have succumbed to grief; and joy has inspired us to build brand new things in our life. Joy changes everything. It’s the secret sauce.
How wonderful to learn that there are some ways to manufacture Joy, when it seems scarce or completely unavailable.
Have you ever tried a Joy Dare? I think Ann Voskamp first shared this idea. Find one of her templates, or better yet, make your own. Grab a notebook, have a list of prompts ready, then see how many days it takes you to journal one thousand expressions of joy. Last week I sat down to write out just a few thought prompts of my own and quickly listed 77 separate ways to count my own joy. Each of those immediately flowers into dozens of actual blessings in my life. It’s overwhelming in the best way. Joy comes to us and moves between us in such a variety of flavors and textures, it’s thrilling to articulate it all. And the act of taking stock is so empowering.
Also, learn what others have experienced. For reading material, I cannot fervently enough recommend The Book of Joy. Have you found it yet? We gobbled it up a couple of winters ago with a small group of friends, and we all gained so much from the material and from the subsequent conversations. It’s packed with wisdom and encouragement form Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The stories they share, the deep study, the timeless human-nature-wisdom and advice for good living, it’s all just priceless. Give it some time soon, if you haven’t already.*
The 8 Pillars of Joy According to the Dalai-Lama
Some of my favorite Christmas carols are all about joy, and this past week I have been reflecting on the lyrics more deeply. Sing the songs that make you cry and laugh, get your family to sing with you, play the best music in your home while you work. There’s something about good music that we are designed to receive. Buddy the Elf was onto something.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing
I love how much God wants us to experience joy! He loves us so much! What He wants is for us to be joyful. We are repeatedly invited to rejoice. Re-joy ourselves and each other. It’s something we can do, not just something we occasionally, when we feel lucky, happen to notice. And then it an also be a total surprise! Of course our joy tanks can be depleted from time to time, but we can refill them. We can choose joy. We can walk the paths that pursue joy and allow it to flow generously for everyone.
I have learned that choosing joy is about a lot more than just looking on the bright side or finding the silver lining. It is that, but it is also deliberately living in whatever way cultivates the best life, the best reflection of Love, for the most people, day after day after average day, not just on holidays or for show. Choosing joy is an ongoing pattern of living that keeps us in alignment with Him.
Two more old blog posts about JOY:
Okay, something amazing happened last week that I need to share. But it is a long story. It might need to be written in three or four chapters, so stay tuned. See the above photo.
For now, may all the details of your Christmas Eve be glowy and warm, centered in Love, steeped in just the right amount of tradition, and infused with your authentic personality. I am so excited to spend some quiet time with my own little family tomorrow. We are wildly thankful to be celebrating this Christmas in our own simple, joyful ways.
“Therefore being justified by faith,
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith
into this grace wherein we stand,
and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
* Side note: The co-author Douglas Abrams has now co-authored another book, this time with the much loved Jane Goodall. The Book of Hope is newly released, and the Lazy W will be hosting a discussion dinner in January or February. Please consider yourself invited!