I Wanna Be Like Her… For Advent and Joy

UUGGHH!  I had such high hopes for Thursday.  It’s a day a typically work, but I had a bump in my work schedule, so I had the day free.  Not really free, of course, because it is December and there are all manner of things to do, but still, I was gonna get ALL THE THINGS done.  To make a long story short, it has been hard to find the one and only thing my daughter wants, and in our price range…  a size 15 western barrel saddle for a quarter horse.  If you don’t ride horses, then you don’t know, and neither did I until about a month ago, but these things can be crazy expensive so I was looking for a used one.
I spent the day internet searching, calling and even driving, looking all over, from Santa Barbara to San Clemente (a 100 mile radius) to find one.  AND I FAILED!   So I went to the grocery store to buy a dessert for a party for Friday night, and then I got home and got a text from the host that the party was cancelled, which means essentially I did something on my to-do list that did not even need to get done.  And lastly, my dishwasher broke, in December, when you have ALL THE PEOPLE over.  So there are dishes and dishes and dishes.  It just makes me feel defeatist and the rest of the house has fallen suit.
UUGGHH!  So there I was at the end of Thursday, really bummed, that nothing seemed to get done.  And I was reminded again, of how quick our happiness can come and go.  I’m regularly saying, ‘The secret to happiness is lowered expectations.’  I say it as a joke, but there’s really some truth to it.  When we think we can have less, and do less, then we feel satisfied with less.  My other little jokey truth about happiness is, ‘If you want to be happy, get use to disappointing people.’  It sounds selfish but, you know, ‘put on your own oxygen mask first.’  You just can’t do ALL THE THINGS for ALL THE PEOPLE.
But back to bummed me on Thursday…  My daughter could see how frustrated I was and she gave me a hug and told me it was okay.  And then she said she would take a coupon for Christmas.  That’s it, a COUPON.  I’ve already told her that her gift is so expensive that is all she is getting and now she is okay with me just giving the promise that someday I will find one and then she can have it.
I wanna be like her when I grow up.

Photo by Kate Noelle Photography

I mean really!  I think I saw that glimmering moment were she brought all her maturity and declared ‘kindness to mom’ more important than her long awaited gift.  She was ready to say Christmas would still be good without all the presents.  Happiness can come and go, but my daughter was connecting with something deeper.
To talk about joy, as a follower of Jesus Christ, is to talk about something entirely different than happiness; it is unconnected to the particular circumstances of the day.  Joy comes from knowing your value comes God, you are ‘holy and dearly loved’ by God and ultimately, you will be cared for by God who has a made a way for you to be together for eternity.  Joy comes from that abundant love. So joy cannot come and go.
Declaring that is good, but living it out…  that’s a tall order, especially in suffering.  Our dear friends from church are there right now.  They lost their home and 3 pets in the Thomas fire on December 4, leaving in a hurry with one cat, a few heirloom quilts, a computer, and a change of clothes.  Aside from loss of life, there are few more devastating things to have happen to you.   They are grieving.  And yet, they feel God’s peace too.  They keep saying that God is sustaining them with calm during their sorrow.  One day the wife writes, “God is close, more than close, but it’s ok that I feel such sadness… After all, He is the one who created my heart & He will minister to it.”  A few days later she writes again, “God’s taking care of us. He IS able! And I am thankful! So very sad, heartbroken even, but grateful, so grateful, we couldn’t get through this without Him. Glory to His Name!
I wanna be like her when I grow up. 
I so hope that I can be honest during hard times and still trust God.  I want to be like my friend who is claiming Philippians 4:4 right now, “Rejoice in the LORD always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The LORD is near.”
Did Mary, the mother of Jesus, do that, too?  Was that her secret?  Did she just trust that God was near and somehow or other that everything would be okay because of that?  I mean, to be a pregnant unwed teen, in any age, just is not news to celebrate, and yet we read of her singing… “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  (Luke 1:46)
I think deep down she must have found that joy that only comes from knowing God’s great love for her.  She must have taken the long game, forgetting what other’s might have thought, or what she had expected her life would be, and pressing in to what God had for her.  Perhaps knowing that God loves her, in spite of any missteps she may have had, gave her the ability to have joy and hope in spite of the trial she was to face.
I wanna be like her when I grow up. 
There’s this line in my favorite Christmas Hymn this year, O Holy Night.  It says … “he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”   I cannot get over that line….  HE APPEARED!  God came.  He showed up… in the nativity as Jesus, and again and again every day, even the worst of days, even when I am the worst version of myself, and as the Spirit of God, God comforts and guides me.
When God appeared in my life, that’s when my soul felt its worth.  That’s when I discovered myself as I was meant to be.  I am holy and dearly loved, of great value, sacred, even rejoiced over by God.  And so, my friends, are you.
May you experience God’s presence and care this holiday season.  May He appear and may you know your worth.  And may that give you great joy.
Jeanine
PS – Friends, I am grateful that our friend let me share the story of the loss of her home.  When I asked permission, she said “Yes, please let’s use this for God glory.”  So would you make reading this blog be for good?  Please be prayerful as the fire continues on.  Even today, Saturday, flames threaten Westmont College and the Santa Barbara area.  There are funeral preparations for a firefighter who was a young father.  Please give as you are able.  I’m sure there are other ways, but an easy way, is to support the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles that helps displaced people.  You can make monetary donations or even order stuff and have it delivered directly via Amazon (I love prime!)  https://urm.org/2017/12/emergency-donations-needed-fire-hope-gardens/   Or try this website for more ideas… http://www.newsweek.com/how-help-southern-california-wildfire-victims-donate-volunteer-741827
PPS – This blog post is post 3 in a 4 part series for Advent.  You can check the other’s out with the links below.
Week 1 for Hope…Holiday Lite
Week 2 for Peace… The Herod vs. Santa Smack Down
Week 3 for Joy… I Wanna Be Like Her
Week 4 for Love…  For Better or For Worse
If you want to get notifications about future posts sent to your e-mail so you don’t miss them, then you can subscribe at the side bar or the bottom of the page, depending on the device you are reading on. Cheers! 

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1 comment

  1. Renee December 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm Reply

    I love reading your blogs and what a blessing they are. You are truly a gifted writer. May God continue to bless you and use you. Love you, Aunt Renee

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