Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to those who have nothing ready, this day is holy unto the Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." -Nehemiah 8:10
Lately, I have been struggling. I have been grieving. I miss my grandmother and her unshakeable trust that God had a plan for me. I miss my father in law's adoring smile for his granddaughters. I miss my clothes from last year that are now one size too small. I miss my friends who are in new seasons that do not include me. I miss babies in my house. I miss scrapbooking. I miss the homeschooling lifestyle where I made the schedule for our family. I miss the old me.
In the midst of change, I am usually happy for something new. But for all of the good that I know is coming, I have been struggling about what I'll have to sacrifice and what I might miss. But just when I was feeling weak and worn out, joy appeared. Where did it come from? I think it was Thanksgiving. We usually travel to Alabama for Thanksgiving weekend. But this year, we hosted Dan's mom and sister at our house. This is only my second Thankgiving to host in 16 years of marriage. Please refrain from comments about my cooking that explain why that might be the case.
Last week to celebrate Thanksgiving, we talked a lot about the "God is good" things that are happening in our lives. We took some time to say thanks to the Lord and to each other. I believe that this intentional worship brought a harvest of its own. In the same way that the Fruit of the Spirit grows on a Holy Spirit tree, joy grows out of worship time. There is now an unshakeable excitement about 2011 at our house.
So the theme of Crawford Christmas this year is joy! We've never had a theme before so this is kind of a big deal.
In the past, our front yard Christmas decorations featured a few white lights and our retro nativity scene. All Jesus! All season long!
But this year, I gave in to years of pleading from the kids to lighten things up a bit. We bought those lighted candy canes that line the driveway and front walk. We have a nativity scene on a flag. We have multi-colored rope lights. And a lighted sign on the front door that says "JOY." You can see our candy cane lane from 10 houses away. We enjoy driving and looking at the lights at other people's houses each year. We wanted to add something merry and bright this year for our neighbors to enjoy. It is joyful in our front yard this year. Oh joy!
And now I can't help but feel joy when I look ahead to this new season of our lives. Mommy is returning to work (part time for now) after a decade at home. Daddy is driving more carpool. Charlotte is cautious about change of any kind but is leaning on Jesus in new ways. Julia is maturing into a generous member of this family. William is thriving in his new schedule. He loves it all :preschool mornings, days with Mommy AND the sweet babysitting friends while Mommy works. God is on the throne!
When the schedule needed to change, God revealed his blueprint for the new way that we would live and work and play together as a family. The baby years are gone, but some amazing family time is on the horizon.
James 1:17 says that He brings every good and perfect gift. He is Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He completes what He starts (Philipians 1:6). He brings joy to the world. His joy is our strength! Oh Joy!