The air is crisp outside. Houses that line the neighborhoods are lit by sparkling Christmas lights that have been delicately hung across the rooftops. Christmas trees are decorated with colorful ornaments and are standing tall. The stores are bustling as people check off items from their list of gifts to buy for loved ones. Fires are roaring, carols are playing, and snow is falling, well in some places anyway.
This time of year feels different than any other time of year. The colder temperatures are less inviting to run around in, yet people seem to be everywhere as they make their preparations for the big day. Presents are being wrapped, hot cider is on the stove, and Christmas movies are being watched.
There is a natural hustle and bustle in the air as people go from store to store, buying the perfect gifts. It is the best feeling to make a purchase knowing how much that person will enjoy their gift. There is nothing better than seeing people’s faces light up with pure joy as they tear open the packaging and are met with that special gift, especially when it’s your own kids opening up the gifts.
But what about those gifts that we can’t physically open, the kind that aren’t wrapped up in pretty paper packaging tied up with beautiful bows. The kind that are given by example, the kind that are forever and will not break over time.
As I look back through this year, I realize that I am not the best at giving my kids these kinds of gifts. For so long, we have been in survival mode. The phrase taking it one day at a time has been our only motto as I try to make sure all three of my kids are fed and anything beyond that is an absolute bonus. More so lately, it seems we have started to enter into a place where we are starting to move just beyond survival mode but not every day and not much beyond that. The weeks we actually manage a play date seem like huge successes, which definitely doesn’t happen on a weekly basis by any means.
But what has really been on my mind this holiday season is what gifts can I give my girls, gifts beyond the physical things. The gifts that will remain in them for years to come.
One of the top things that comes to my mind is joy. I know, something I am definitely lacking lately. I want to show them that even when life is hard and crazy and feels like you won’t make it to end of the day before a breakdown, there is still so much to be joyful in.
There is a joy in hearts like no other, a joy that cannot be taken from us and is not based on circumstances alone. It is something deeper. Something that helps to give us that inner drive to continue on. Our joy comes from knowing Jesus. Knowing that in spite of the circumstances around us, He is still in control of it all and we can face another day with Him by our side, carrying us through each and every circumstance we walk through.
This joy is not to be confused with happiness. I have had plenty of days this past year that I haven’t “felt” happy. I have been sad, or upset, or let down. But joy is so different than that. I can be confident in where I am in the Lord. The human emotions will still be there, but I can stand firm in Him.
I want my girls to know this joy. I want them to be confident in their relationships with the Lord and to know that they can have the worse days but at the end of those days, God is still on the throne and is walking hand and in hand with them through it all.
The Lord knows each and every tear that has fallen down this mama’s face. He has seen each and every hardship we have faced. He knows my heart and the very state it is in even in what is suppose to be the most wonderful time of the year. But, at the end of the day, He is still there. He remains the same and is not surprised by my emotions.
My deep down inside joy comes with knowing the truth. It comes from knowing that He’s got me. He’s got our family, He knows our days, He knows the trials we face and He will be there for me every step of the way. I am not alone even if it sometimes feels that way.
As I smile through the tears, I want my girls to know that whatever we face, God’s got us. And that my friends, is the greatest joy I could ever have.
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