Faith, joy


There’s a song we sing at our church (and I am sure many of you sing it as well) called New Wine by Hillsong. At first hearing I was captivated and deeply moved. It has a beautiful sound and a powerful message of surrender. I get caught up when I sing it and think, “YES! That’s what I want, God!”

But is it?

This blog is intended to make us aware of the words we sing in worship and help move us from merely Sunday singers who give lip service to the Lord, to a life of real growth and power. So read on to see if you should stop singing New Wine.

It begins,

In the crushing, in the pressing, you are making new wine.  

Have you thought about how wine is made? It is a literal process of crushing and pressing grapes to squeeze out the juice. Sound fun? Maybe if you’re the barefoot one in a giant vat of grapes in the countryside of Italy. But the reference in this song isn’t grapes, it’s us. Do you really want to ask the Lord to press you? We want the good stuff – the metaphorical wine to flow out of us, but in order to produce wine we must go through a process that may require crushing. CRUSHING. And we sing it like it’s nothing! It’s a strong statement so we need to be sure of what we are asking.

In the soil, I now surrender. You are breaking new ground,

For something new to grow, there needs to be a surrender to the process: Death of the old, burial, breaking open, sprouting new growth, pushing up through the dirt towards the surface, blooming in the sun, being watered. All of these steps are necessary in the cycle of growth. Are you ready and willing to let the old die? Some of us may say, “YES! The old hasn’t been working very well for me, I gladly lay it down!” But others of us may get stuck there. What we’ve been doing is working just fine. Do we really want to give it up, let it die, and and endure the crushing to squeeze out something new? Well, if you believe the next phrase, then yes, you actually do.

The song goes on.

So I yield to You and to Your careful hand.
When I trust You I don’t need to understand.

If you trust that God is a loving and careful Creator, then it does become easier to surrender to the work the Lord wants to do in your life. But let’s not be fooled, it’s not that simple to surrender to something you don’t understand. In fact, you wouldn’t be wrong to be leery of the idea.

So how to we get to the point of surrender? How do we agree to the process when we don’t know what’s ahead? Furthermore, how do we ask to be pressed and crushed?!

The answer for the future is often found in the past. Look back. How has the Lord touched your life? Have you been rescued? Has the powerful and loving hand of God interceded and guided you into something new and unexpected? What was your life like before God?

When I look back I can see the are moments when doors were shut, walls were built, and times when I was yanked by the hair away from the edge of the cliff. Those moments weren’t always easy, in fact they were often very painful, but with hindsight I can see the loving and powerful work of the Lord doing something greater in my life. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. It reminds me of a quote I love from Dag Hammarskjoid, “For everything that has been, thank you. For everything that will be, yes.”

If you need even more proof of the faithful and careful hand of God, go to the Word! The big-picture narrative of the Bible is the beautiful love story between God and humanity. It’s amazing to see the constant mercy, love, and grace given to us with the freedom to choose to receive it. I challenge you to read if for yourself (it’s especially interesting to read it in chronological order. You can find all kinds of reading plans on the Bible app).

When you look back and see the Lord’s work in your life, it becomes easier to open the hands that grasp for control and surrender to His leading and we are then able to sing,

Make me a vessel, make me an offering. Make me whatever you want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all you have given me. Jesus bring new wine out of me. 

Do you ever get frustrated when cleaning out bottles?  My family puts much more than water in them and leaves them all over the place. You never know what’s growing inside! They are hard to clean because you can’t see all the way in and around the edges. So you shove a brush inside, shake the soapy water around, and rise, hoping for the best. We too are vessels, filled with the fresh, living water Jesus gives us.  But because of our sin, when we go to pour out that water to others, it is often tainted – like the hidden mold or residue in the bottle.

Something powerful happens when we realize that we are vessels filled with the spirit of the living God! Through faith in Jesus Christ and the repentance of sin, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in and works through us. What a gift!! Because of this, we are invited to do the work Jesus did – spread the good news and empower others to do the same. In fact, Jesus said we would do greater things than he did. WHAT?! HOW? Because of the power of the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the ability to do far more than we can imagine. But there is a giant IF right here….IF we follow his leading and surrender our time, attention, gifts, and agendas to the Lord. When we offer our lives to the Lord as an offering, to be poured out, He is faithful to take what we offer and do infinitely greater things.

Scripture says that new wine can’t be put into old wineskins. Why not? This idea isn’t something familiar to our modern sensibilities. A wineskin couldn’t just be refilled when empty, it had to be replaced. New wine would expand when put into a container and an old used wineskin was already expanded to it’s limits, therefore new wine would cause it to burst.

We love to sing it loud…..

Where there is new wine there is new power
There is new freedom and the kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.

Oh, it’s so fun to ask for more! More power, more freedom, more fire! But do we really mean it? The reality of this request, the passionate cry of our hearts is, “I want to be used by you! Do something new in me, Lord!” but that requires us to exchange our old skins – our old flames, for something new.

That’s not easy! Our way, the old way of doing things, works well for us. We’re used to doing things one way and getting a pretty satisfactory result (or we wouldn’t be doing it that way). So, in order to have something new, something better, we have to sacrifice the old…even if it’s not broken. The song says, I lay down my old flames…it doesn’t say, I want you to start the fire because mine burnt out. If you are laying down your flames, that means there is already a fire.

Are you willing and ready to lay down what you have now for something new? Are you ready to be pressed so the deeper, richer stuff can come out?

One more thing. In the Bible, wine is often a sign of freedom and joy. Are you ready more of both? If you are, SING OUT! If you’re not, stop singing New Wine.





The reason I’m offensive

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? I have to confess something. I haven’t been able to stand you ever since I started coming to this church. There is something about your perkiness and your energy that just rubs me the wrong way. When you are up on the platform I put up a wall in my spirit and want nothing to do with you.”

You may be shocked to read this, but I’ve heard it many times. In fact, I love it!! After one of the services where I was preaching a few weeks ago, a woman I didn’t know came up to me, said this, and went onto say…

“I just didn’t believe it was real. I didn’t think you could say something that would touch me or effect me in any way. But I have to repent to you. I was wrong. I am sorry. Today the wall broke and I was so impacted by your message. I know that who you are and what you carry is real. I just needed to tell you that. And thank you for being you.”

Yup. Heard it before, and I’ll hear it again. I celebrate when this happens! Because here’s the thing…..

I know that the joy I carry can be offensive.

The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that the joy of the Lord isn’t real. That the purity of love is a facade. That no one could be that happy all the time. And in a small way, he’s right. I am not that happy all the time – but I am always joyful.

So why is joy offensive? The enemy’s voice tries to be louder than my joy and say to someone, “You’ll never have what she has. And plus, is it even real?!” That voice causes disdain and offense to creep in, it rubs people the wrong way and suddenly a wall is built.

I have never claimed to be a happy-maker, I am a joy bringer. That means that I proclaim the good news of Jesus and release the power of joy that comes from spirit of the God. I am not interested in your happiness, nor am I focused on always being happy. I set myself right in the middle of the fountain of love flowing from the throne of God and my goal is to release what’s flowing through me.

A marker of joy is freedom. Everywhere Jesus went he left a wake of freedom and joy. Joy comes as a result of chains being broken and the release from bondage. But those who are unaware of their bondage have a hard time coming face to face with my joy, let alone receiving their own! That may also be offensive. I am not sorry.

I don’t mind being bold – taking a risk – and saying that offense to joy is a sign of bondage. Notice I did not say that you not liking me is a sign of bondage. I give you permission to not like me, that’s okay! But I want to encourage you, if you do feel an aversion towards me, check it. Why?

I compare it to those who mock or look down on the Polllyannas of life. Pollyanna was an optimist. She didn’t deny the bad, she just looked for and focused on the good. Those who didn’t like her were under the influence of the lie that they couldn’t have what she had….then, because she was fearless of their disdain, they did experience joy for themselves and the whole town was transformed!

The benefits of being a joy bringer are great…but it also has consequences. People judge me. They write me off as being fake, shallow, or annoying. But I’m not bothered by that. I know it’s not personal. I know where it comes from and I bless people where they are and trust the Lord to do the work. He cares even more about your joy than I do. The thing that I find so precious is that the Lord moves people to actually confess to me how they’ve felt! And for as many people that have done that, there are MANY more who wont (and they don’t need to!).

Yes, my joy can be loud, but that doesn’t mean it is always at a 10. Joy can be peaceful and quiet…and while my joy tends to be outward and booming, that doesn’t mean yours will.

Your joy will look like you.

My joy isn’t offensive because it’s loud, it only highlights what you believe. If you believe the lie that joy isn’t for you, then you will not like the noise my joy makes. It will rattle and clang in your ears. But if you are open to the truth that joy is for you and that there is no limit to the joy you can have, then I encourage you to take it! Grab hold of the joy that is offered to you in endless supply from the original Joy Bringer himself, Jesus.

If you are one who has been offended by my joy, I bless you.

If you are one who wants more joy, I bless you.

If you are one who needs to know that your joy will look like you, I bless you.

I bless you to know the truth that joy is for you.




Faith, joy

How to gain influence

I asked the Lord this question this time last year. I was working so hard to build my social media platform and blog following in preparation for shopping my book to publishers. When it comes to publishing, it’s often a numbers game. It’s exhausting and yet necessary for any kind of public platform.

But I was exhausted and found it draining to my soul, so I asked the Lord,

God, how do I increase my influence?

In total God fashion, he immediately popped back with one word.


I was surprised and yet not at all shocked by his response. I didn’t quite get it, but was up for the challenge of finding out exactly what he meant. The thing is, I thought I was intimate with the Lord! Cearly, he had deeper places to show me.

To be honest, I was disappointed and a bit frustrated. You see, I’m really good at getting things done. God knows this about me, which is why just about every time I’ve had big promotions or leaps forward toward my goals it’s after he’s asked me to do nothing – like zero. I have been told the following,

  • Sit down.
  • Just look at me.
  • Who better to speak for you than me?
  • I’m going to do it and when I bring it to you, you’ll know it’s me.

That’s right. When God wants to do big things in my life he asks me to step out of the way.

So what do I do? I obey! I’ve learned that his ways really are better than my ways. Yes, I know how to do things and get them done, but what I can accomplish on my own is not nearly as significant as what He can do.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that God wants to do amazing things in our lives, but we have to work with him, not against him!

And don’t worry, there will be work ahead! When the time is right, He’ll say,

Ready, GO! Do what I’ve created you to do! Be you and watch me do the rest!

We are so much more productive when we are working with the Lord, not arm wrestling him to do it our way. Because that’s the crazy thing about God’s love, He’s not a bully and we have the choice to do what we want and how we want to…It’s just way harder and less effective.

So once again I’m looking to the Lord this year. Focusing on attention and gaze on the love of my life. I’ll work hard at the things he puts in front of me and listen and obey when he tells me to back off.

If you’re like me and wondering how to become more productive and influential, the best practical advise I can give you is to dive into the Word of God like never before. If you’ve never been a Bible reader, start now and try reading one book of the Bible, or 1 Psalm a day. If you are an occasional reader, get on a consistent plan. If you’re a lover of the Word, try a new translation.

You may not see it right away, but you’ll soon discover the change in your heart and in your perspective. Things will shift and ways will become more clear, and this time next year you’ll be able to look back and say, “hallelujah! He is faithful!”

I believe the power of your influence is directly related to your connection with the Lord. The more your mind and heart is in tune with the Lord’s, and your steps are in line with the Spirit, the less energy you have to spend cleaning up the mess of sin, and the greater your love grows.

You can’t have authority over that which you don’t love.

Love. Love for yourself, for others and for God. That’s the greatest influence one can have.

And let me be clear… That love does not need to be returned – just given. You’ll be filled as you look to the Lord – His is the most sufficient love you’ll ever know.

I bless you this year to be more intimate with Lord than ever before and watch as your love influences the world!



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Day 24 – Candle of FORGIVENESS – JBA

Merry Christmas eve!

What a wonderful journey this has been. Thank you, dear friend, for joining me for the Joy Bringer’s Advent.

Today is the last candle…. The candle of forgiveness.

As we light it together, let’s just stop for a minute and take it in – the forgiveness of Jesus.

There is nothing greater.

There is nothing more powerful.

There is nothing more passionate.

It’s for you and for me. I am blown away by his love.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

There have been times in my life when I was very aware of my crimson red sin. I felt the weight, I lived in the shame, and sometimes I repented, and other times I buried my head in the sand of excuses and pride. Then there are times when I live oblivious to my sin because it’s not so high on the sin-o-meter according to the list created by us.

Here’s a recent experience…

I was sitting with a group of pastors and one of them shared a story about a guy who was visiting him. They were in two cars and the visiting friend wasn’t keeping up as he was following in a car. My friend had to keep pulling over and waiting for the guy to catch up. When they got to their destination, my friend, the driver in the leading car asked, “are you ok? Was I driving to fast?” The guy, with total sincerity said, “oh, your fine. I just don’t do anything to grieve the Spirit so I follow all the traffic laws.” We all laughed at this guys “extreme conviction” and joked, “that’s crazy! Then we’re all going to hell!” (of course we don’t really believe that).

Later, while I was in bed, I asked the Lord,

“God, do you actually care about traffic laws?!”

To which I heard him kind of laugh and say, “well…. it’s not about that. It’s the spirit behind it.”

Ugh…immediately I was deeply convicted.

The spirit behind my blatant disregard for some traffic laws is PRIDE. It’s my pride that says, “I don’t have to follow that rule, that law doesn’t apply to me.”

I repented for the pride in my heart that has lived there without any acknowledgement for so long. Who do I think I am?! Forgive me, Lord Jesus!

Often, we get caught thinking that our sin isn’t red. It may be a little pink, but not RED. But from God’s perspective it’s all deep crimson. When we do this, we cheapen the price Jesus paid by shedding his sinless, crimson blood for us to live in freedom and loving relationship with the Father.

We don’t like to think we need a savior. We don’t like to think about our shortcomings and our sin. We don’t like to focus on that part. But the good news of the gospel is that that is exactly who Jesus is!  We can’t celebrate Christmas without that part!

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”  Luke 2:11

He is our savior. And through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven. We are washed white as snow.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior, Jesus, it’s important that we see the whole picture. You may not want to look at it, but the invitation in this moment is to ask the Lord to show you your red….but not so he can condemn you – he doesn’t do that. No, he wants to take that red, and turn it white. Will you let him?

See the whole picture and receive the fullness of his love.




Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 23 – Candle of PEACE – JBA

Deep breath.

How about we do that again, I need it.

Deep(er) breath.

That’s a little better. Now it’s time to light our 4th candle – the candle of peace. Isn’t it pretty? I just want to sit here and look at it…

Tomorrow is the last day of advent, and it isn’t lost on me that today we are led to dwell on the gift of peace. It’s like the Lord knew something about human nature (go figure).

There is something in us that feels the need to work, strive, and busy ourselves when we know something is coming. So when the angel appeared to declare the arrival of the new born King, the message was,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Peace to those on whom his favor rests. Did you know that’s you?

No, really. You are favored by God. And the Lord wanted all of us to know that with the gift of the Savior comes peace. We don’t need to earn the gift. In fact, we couldn’t even if we tried. That’s why he came – we needed it, didn’t deserve it, and couldn’t earn it. So it had to be a gift. And gifts are free.

I need this message today.

We have taken the idea of Christmas – the celebration of the greatest gift ever given – and turned it into the most busy and stressful time of the year!

I want to start out by confessing that this has been the craziest holiday season for me. I have a ton of balls in the air, and while none have dropped, and my juggling act has been quite impressive, I am screeching into Christmas with nothing left to contribute.

I am not proud.

So, today, (while doing 4 Christmas services) I am going to center my attention on the declaration of peace that precedes the gift. I am grateful that the Lord knows us. He knows that we are inclined to work from a place of worthlessness and fear and he meets us in his generosity and love and says,

“my child, rest”

Have you been like me this year? Working to make this season great for everyone else, but not resting in the gift? I am stopped by this revelation. If we are receiving his favor, we need to honor the Lord by not making this season about work. Of course, we can have fun and celebrate, but if it becomes about everything else but the celebration of His love and gift, what are we celebrating!?

So, today, I receive the good news of the peace that we are given before the gift. And I bless you to join me.

Peace, be still.



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 22 – Till He Appeared – JBA

I couldn’t end the Joy Bringer’s Advent without talking about the lyrics from the most beloved Christmas song of all time, Oh Holy Night.

Oh Holy Night

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.

How many times do we make mention of our worthlessness? You may not realize it, but it’s actually common language for us.

We have been groomed by society to believe (or at least state publicly) that we are less than. We don’t want to appear cocky or arrogant so we minimize, negate, and contradict what the Lord says about us. But the problem is, we don’t just say it, we believe it.

I’m so (stupid, dumb, lame, fat, ugly, etc.)

Never mind, it doesn’t matter

I’m not good enough

I only did well because…

I can’t do anything right

I’m only human

This song captures the beauty of what else happend the night of Jesus’ birth.

Humanity was affirmed.

God himself became a human. Humankind is not worthless. If it was, the God of all the universe would not have chosen to reveal himself as a human. He could have picked another created being! God could have come as a tree or a bird or a jewel. He came to restore the value of humanity. And in that moment, like the song says,

The soul felt its worth.

Instead of convincing yourself that you are less than and a hopeless cause, come into agreement with what the Lord thinks about you.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Worthy of love. Worthy of gifting. Worthy of blessing. Worthy of the birth of the savior. Worthy of salvation.

And Jesus makes a way for you to live into that truth. He was born to affirm you. He lived so he could show you. He died so he could free you. He rose from the grave so he could defeat the enemy of your soul. He ascended into heaven so he could live with you forever!

You are worthy. Believe it.



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 21 – Xmas – JBA

Merry Xmas!

Don’t be mad….it’s not what you think!

I was curious what the word Christmas actually meant…turns out it’s not as obvious as you’d think!

Yes, the first part of the word is in reference to Jesus Christ. It’s a form of the words “Christ’s mass,” or “Cristes Maesse” and was first recorded in 1038.

The word Christ (originally, Crīst) comes from the Greek word Khrīstos, a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, meaning, “anointed.”

The second part of the word Christmas – maesse – is a version of the Latin word missa, the celebration of the Eucharist – eating bread and drinking wine in memory of Jesus, or Communion, as many of us know it.

The tradition of gathering together in church to celebrate who Jesus was and what he did for us was mostly centered around Easter and Pentecost. But because of the celebrations  that occurred in December of a pagan origin, the religious community began to hold gatherings to honor the Lord. Thus the Christmas season began, and the birth of Jesus was celebrated in the winter.

So what about the “heathens” who write x-mas?!  Are they taking Christ out of Christmas?! Well, turns out it’s not an elimination of Jesus at all!

Khrīstos (the origin of the word Christ) appears as “Χριστός” when written in Greek. This abbreviation first appeared in the 16th century and was in direct reference to Jesus! The intention of this abbreviation was never meant to take Christ out of Christmas.

Whatever way you look at it, who Jesus is and what he did for us is worthy to be celebrated. No matter what anyone else’s intention is, this time of advent is for you to reflect on Jesus. As Christmas fast approaches, if it’s not already in your plan, I invite you to join together in a community of faith to celebrate the birth of the savior of the world, Jesus.



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 20 – Grace And Peace To You – JBA

Our Pastor shared this idea with us today and I immediately thought of you! I’m passing along the joy to you. (Thanks, Pastor John!)

Most of the Apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament include this phrase somewhere in the beginning,

Grace and peace to you.

When Paul was writing these letters he wasn’t lying on a beach, or hanging out in a cabana sipping on something fruity. No, Paul was typically in very stressful situations (like jail!) and writing with urgency to people who were also in trying times. We all know that change is often very messy, and the early church didn’t have it easy! There was much opposition and they were breaking molds and establishing new things that today we take for granted.

But still, grace and peace to you.

For most of us, we are in a very stressful week. Pressure, deadlines, expectations, and heightened emotions often surround Christmas.

But still, grace and peace to you.

Odds are, we may find ourselves in sticky situations, tense or awkward moments, and even experience disappointment.

But still, grace and peace to you.

We may be faced with real opposition and difficulty.

But still, grace and peace to you.

The whole point is that no matter what we face, we can always grab hold of the grace and peace that Jesus offers us at every moment.

The catch is, we have to grab it.

We also have the power to extend it. As you have received it, so you can freely give the grace of the Lord to those who need it (and don’t deserve it…but that’s why it’s grace). We can operate from a place of peace in those moments of chaos and turmoil and disperse it to others.

It is possible to be carriers of God’s grace and peace so that wherever we go, or whoever we encounter, we can freely give it away.

So, during the Christmas celebrations, however they look and whatever they bring your way…..

grace and peace to you.

Grab it, and give it away!

And joy!! Much joy to you!!



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 19 – The Most Joyful – JBA

Friends, it’s coming. Can you feel it?

My goal for Joy Bringer’s Advent is to help us stay more centered and deeply connected to the Joy Bringer, Jesus.

As I was reading scripture this morning, I came across something that I hadn’t seen before (I love the living Word!).

In Hebrews chapter 1, the writer is describing the relationship between Jesus and the Father and says,

“Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you,
pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

Hebrews 1:9

Did you catch that?! Jesus was the MOST joyful!

As we are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, we can be assured that it also looks like being saturated with the oil of joy.

Oil is something we put in or on things to loosen it up…to move freely and more effective. The oil of joy helps us – powers us – to move through the rough, sticky, and narrow areas of life with freedom and ease. Joy is really that powerful!

The reason Jesus was the most joyful was because he was free from sin, shame, burden, and fear. He was so light and free that no matter what he encountered, he could maneuver through it, come out unscathed, and still joyful. That came from a total understanding and trust in who his Father was and who he was.

I would like to confess that as we get closer to Christmas, my work load increases and my pile of to-dos are growing, I am feeling the pressure….and I still haven’t purchased one gift(!). But I am taking a moment to saturate in the oil of joy….the stuff that only comes from God. I need to move freely and smoothly through this next week. What I have learned is that to maintain my joy, I need to rely of God as my source and not manufacturer it myself. The artificial joy substitute may work for a bit, but my version will run dry and there will be chafing (haha, that’s a visual!) and it doesn’t just irritate me, it affects others. I want to be like Jesus and move smoothly, with freedom and power, leaving a wake of joy behind me.

So, in Jesus name I bless you, and myself, with oil of joy that flows from Jesus. Let’s get saturated and leave a trail of it everywhere we go!



Joy Bringer’s Advent



Day 18 – Permission To Dim The Lights – JBA

Do you need a reason to celebrate this year?

I have been there. No matter where I looked I couldn’t find a reason that was big enough to get me past all the other reasons to grieve. You’re not alone, and it’s ok.

If you’re in a season of difficulty, I want you to know you have permission to tone it down. There is no pressure to perform. Even if it feels like you HAVE to produce all the bells and whistles of the Christmas season to satisfy everyone else – you don’t.  Everyone could use a bit of subtle reverence in their lives. It’s ok to not blow it out like every other year.

When the world around us rejoices with a bright and loud cheer, we can be led to feel like there is something wrong with us. My joy is loud, but it hasn’t always been, and your’s doesn’t have to be either.

There are some helpful ways I have maintained my joy and gratitude even in times when it didn’t show on the outside.

  • Recognize the real feelings. If you’re struggling to “get it up” and celebrate the way others are, or the way you’ve done in the past, it’s important that you identify the reason. If you don’t, you may find yourself angry and frustrated with those around you. The Grinch took his personal pain out on those who were genuinely joyful. It wasn’t their fault, but it exacerbated his pain because he wasn’t aware of the source of his anger.
  • Give yourself permission to dim the lights. You don’t have to put on the show like you have in the past just to please others. It’s vital that others in your family or friend group understand where you’re at and that you share with them the reason you are a bit turned down this year. AND BE OK WITH IT, even if they aren’t.
  • Keep your thoughts in front of the Lord. It may feel as if others don’t understand your pain or grief. I’ve heard things like, “it’s been so long since that happened,” or “but look at all the good stuff around you.” Everyone has a different process and you can bless them to not understand.  So, instead of relying on others to understand and even give you permission, share all your thoughts and feelings with the Lord. He really does understand you and he cares about all of it.
  • Make a gratitude list and check it twice. When it feels like nothing is permanent or trustworthy, what you can rely on is that God is good. Turn your attention to the things you are grateful for. This can be hard! I know this all too well. Your flesh doesn’t want to focus on the good. Misery loves company and your flesh is a powerful voice against gratitude. So do it anyway! Start with the small things and watch that list grow long! Then, read it over and over.
  • Ask the Lord what he wants you to do. God never wants to overwhelm you, but he does want to keep you moving forward. Ask him what he wants for you…sometimes he’ll say, “just sit here with me for a bit,” or “start with a shower today,” or “let’s go get a tree, but you don’t have to decorate it, just enjoy the smell.” He knows what you need and what you can handle. He is so faithful.

If you’re not in a season of difficulty or grief, that’s great, but it’s important we remember our lives move through many stages and those who are in places different than us, are granted permission to be right where they are. If your joy is loud in this season, ask the Lord how you can assist someone. You may be surprised by the answer.



Joy Bringer’s Advent