This Advent, I have been thinking a lot about joy. I believe each person has a God-given, infinite supply of joy. Advent is a time when we celebrate the familiar joy of Jesus’ birth and his presence in our lives today. It’s also a time for us to anticipate the unimaginable joy we’ll experience when Jesus comes again and we are reunited—a joy greater than any joy we’ve ever known.
The joy of Advent is always available to us, but sometimes we forget. We get distracted by the cares of everyday life. We confuse joy and happiness, thinking they are the same. But they are different. Happiness ebbs and flows, often influenced by our choices and others’ responses. Joy is a steady source. A constant and unwavering well with a direct line to our Lord, who always loves us, unconditionally.
The past several years many external challenges outside my control have worn me down. For a time, my joy seemed diminished. On a recent trip to Tuscany, I rediscovered my heart’s joy. Sprinkled throughout my stay in the Tuscan countryside, I found reminders of who I am and what God has called me to do with the talents and life he’s entrusted to me.
In my “After Tuscany” life, I’ve tried to take a few minutes each day to remind myself what joy feels like and what brings my joy to the surface. I’ve tried to acknowledge the cares of life that threaten to make me forget about my ever-ready source of joy… and to lay down those cares at Jesus’ feet.
A few examples of things in my everyday life that bring me joy:
> the sky, especially the color of the horizon just before sunrise or just after sunset, or when patterned clouds reach across the expanse
> pottery and jewelry handmade by local artists
> playing air-guitar (or drums or keys) to the crazy-good music interlude of a seventies or eighties classic rock song
> capturing moments of light and life in a photograph
> handwritten letters
> reading or hearing the perfect line in a book or movie— one that makes me pause and write it down because it’s like a message from heaven that says exactly what I needed to hear
> the creative process
My creative process this week included creating journal artwork: I sketched ideas for Advent candles, scanned a sketch into Illustrator to create a cleaned up outline, then digitally painted it in Photoshop.
Sharing my writing with others also brings me joy. This week, I am sharing an excerpt from Unimaginable Joy: An Advent Journal. I would love for you to try it out and comment below or send me an email to let me know how your journaling goes. Each week of Advent, I’ll share a new excerpt. Week One focuses on knowing and acknowledging joy.
What are some of the everyday things that bring your joy to the surface? What are some of the cares of this life that threaten to distract you from that joy? What are some of the ways you can remind yourself of the joy of Advent and the unimaginable joy that awaits us?
Karen’s life experience is intertwined with her roles as a wife, mom, stepmom, writer, publisher, photographer, traveler, and woman of faith. All these elements tend to make their way into her blog posts.
“Writers have to write. It’s something deep inside us that pushes and pushes until we let it out. It’s part of the air we breathe, this need to make sense of the world around us and to somehow find the right words to express and influence the way we each feel and interact and love and live.”—Writing is Risky Business