The house is decorated, complete with the red JOY sign on the front porch. It reminds me that joy is not based upon the situations of life, but upon the inner joy that only Jesus can give. It was good that I hung the sign first before I hung the stockings. The stockings are so cheery, dressed in their red and white complete with tags and the names of those I love written. Only half of the stockings are hung this year and yet...there is joy. The tree is up, filled with the hand-painted ornaments of Asia, as we hung each one I thought of the Asian faces that I hold so dear; those of India, China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, and Indonesia. Many facing hardship...and yet there is joy.
The decorating and the baking bring out a very sentimental part of me...ok sappy part of me. And, those who know me well would probably say, that side is out on most days! I always save the cards, pictures, and letters that were sent from the year before and I read them while I'm decorating. I think about the family and friends both near and far and whisper a prayer. I remember Christmases of the past as a child and Christmases when my own children were little. I remember last Christmas with all my chicks around one table, possibly not to happen again for three years to come...and there is joy. This time of year causes me to pause and to count the blessings that have been graciously granted. I'm constantly asking to be taught to focus on what has been given instead of what I think I'm lacking. A lesson learn much at this time of year...and there is joy.
This will be our third Christmas in Oklahoma. When we stepped out to make the move we had only a restlessness in our hearts that He had something different for us and His word in our hand. Ezekiel 3:22 to be exact; "And the hand of the Lord was on me there, and He said to me, "Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you." A verse that was not looked for, but given on the day Jim was going to share what we believed the Lord was telling us, to people we love and served alongside. If you know anything about Oklahoma, especially the part we live in, it IS the plains. In fact, the high school mascot is called the Plainsmen, representing the American Indians that occupied this land. The Lord has been faithful to speak here on the plains, just as He said He would. He has spoke to us about Kingdom life, church, ministry, mission, community, family, and marriage. He has allowed us to be apart of a community of believers that has been a true gift. Jim is a "tent-maker" pastor, much like in our early days of ministry and is a part of a plurality of pastors serving Sojourn of Enid. I spend my days taking care of Jim and home, and teaching and spending time with women. Graciously, Father allowed us 3 months on foreign soil this year. Only He could have orchestrated this season....and there is joy.
This year has been filled with some glorious highs and some dark lows. As I believe every year and every life is. But it has been filled with another constant; the faithfulness of our God. He has been faithful to speak, guide, teach, provide, catch tears, and be near to the brokenhearted. As we celebrate this Christmas season we are celebrating that God showed, in visible form, His faithfulness towards us by coming near. He came near to us by wrapping Himself in flesh as a baby to ultimately show His faithful love through providing redemption. And....there is JOY.
Oh Come Let Us Adore Him!
Wishing you His JOY this holiday season from our family to yours.