Finding Joy This Holiday Season

Photo Credit: flickr/Viditu.

A month ago I wrote a post about holidays being a tough time of year.  I asked readers to let me in on how they dealt with holidays that were less than cheery.  You all were amazing, honest, and very wise. And your input gave me great peace.

After writing that post I read of a challenge that a blogger I follow is doing.  Her name is Sarah Markley.  If you have never read her story, or her blog, I suggest you do so right away.  Her honesty speaks to me each and every day.  Sarah is currently doing a ’100 Joys’ challenge during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  It inspired me, and below you can read about a few of the ways I was able to find joy during what has typically been a very hard time of year. (more…)

Is Having a Family the Highest Virtue?

Photo credit: flickr/Shutter Daddy. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Call it a sign of the times. We live in a culture that encourages individual notoriety and pursues personal celebrity, so putting a spotlight on one’s own family or familial role is a natural (but unfortunate) outcome. Facebook users have taken family worship to a new level. I mean, I do care that Jimmy just wiped his own poop all over the kitchen floor, and that mom wishes this day were over already, but do domestic bloopers really deserve their own Press Release? Must the mundane now be seen as magnificent?


When the Holidays Don’t Make Everything Bright

The holidays, it seems, are here in full swing.  Our bodies are working double time to digest the week’s worth of food we ate in one sitting on Thanksgiving, and a few of you have already pushed your way through near fatal crowds attempting to get your hands on the most amazing Black Friday sale. Soon, the trees will be up, the music will play, and the baking will begin.  The holidays are the happiest, most joyful time of the year, right?  At least that is what I hear.

What happens when the holidays leave you feeling hopeless and sad?  What happens when everyone around you could not be more jolly and you are just hoping that January will come already?  What happens when that fake “no really, I love the holidays” smile fades?  I can tell you what happens; the season becomes a very lonely, isolated time of year.


Building an Impressive Life While Missing Something Crucial

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Every human being is building a life and it’s a job that continues as long as we breathe. The only thing that varies is how we approach this task. Some people will try to assemble a life that is the equivalent of the perfect custom home. Every room, every appliance, every color, every texture and every fixture must be exactly as planned.

Planning and progress as we see it are understandable things until they become all-consuming things. Then the space within life’s structure begins to feel a bit cold. This construction, while still impressive, is also antiseptic, tidy, quiet and predictable. It may be a controlled and safe environment, with nice things to gaze at, but something is missing. 


When a Move Towards Tolerance Leads to Intolerance

The world used to be a much more rigid place.  There was one color “to be,” one religion “to choose,” one church “to attend” and one “way” to conform.  Everyone shopped at the same place, bought the same things, participated in the same activities and ran in the same circles; unless, of course, and God forbid, you didn’t make the “correct” choice to participate in that “one way” thinking. Then you were an outsider.


My Life Has a Purpose. Now How Do I Find It?

I’m 31 years old, and, although maybe the time has come to start hiding this information, I feel no need to.  In fact I am pretty danged proud of myself for making it this far.  See from the moment I appeared on this crazy, hectic, “Lord only knows what is going to happen next” planet things have been just a hair past crazy, and yet I am still here to talk about it.

These 31 years have been filled with extreme joy and extreme sadness.  The road has been bumpy and with unexpected turns and twists.  But I am thankful to be here and thankful for the life God has led me through thus far. However, as I sit in my tidy little suburban home (husband, two dogs, two sensible cars, good job) enjoying my normal life, I often wonder why.  Why have I been through everything if the journey has led me to complacency?


If God Searches Our Hearts and Motives, Shouldn’t We?

6.28.2006, 2:35PMphoto © 2006 Ngai But | more info (via: Wylio)
The book of Proverbs says that “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.” In several places throughout Scripture, God examines the hearts and motives of people, often testing them to see where they really stand. Why does He bother? Is he just bored and intrusive? No, I believe God is serious about what really counts, and He’s smart enough to know that appearances can be deceptive while actions can be done with less than noble intentions. But what happens on the inside reveals our true character. So if God weighs our motivations and the condition of our heart, shouldn’t we also? Scripture is pretty clear on this. Yet those of us who study the teachings of Scripture are often the very people to fall into the trap of self-certainty.


When You Just Can’t Run Away From Conflict Anymore

Photo Credit: Giancarlo Malandra Photoblog

I’m a runner.  I am a skilled and fast runner.  In fact you might be surprised at how nicely I have perfected my skill.  Yet, before you start picturing me in a marathon, I should inform you that I mean none of this in the physical sense.  In fact, I highly doubt I would move quicker than a fast walk out of a burning building unless the fire was actually threatening damage to my fancy new jeans.  No, I run in a much more figurative way.

I run away from conflict. I treat it like a flesh-eating virus. I avoid explosive situations like one might avoid a creepy stalker.  I escape from anything that has the propensity to turn ugly.  I run far away and I move quickly.


The Insanity of the Ground Zero Mosque Debate

The proposed location of the “ground zero” mosque in lower Manhattan.

I saw a Facebook group today that took irony to a whole new level. It read “I’m flying this [American] flag to oppose the Muslim worship center at Ground Zero.” There were then options to deny or to support their position by adding an American flag icon to your profile. Unfortunately there was no “I can’t believe you’re serious” button because I would have clicked that. The great irony is that the American flag represents the very thing this Facebook group is against.