I really enjoy this season of the year – Christmastime. The lights, the sounds, the aromas, the smiles and greetings from neighbors and friends, and the spirit of giving that flows from the hearts of so many. It’s a time when we pause and shift our focus from the challenges and struggles of life to reflect on God’s amazing expression of love to us through the birth of His Son, Jesus. It’s truly a most wonderful, joy-filled time of the year. In the midst of this festive time of celebration, I had opportunity today to celebrate another gift from God – a baby girl who will be born in just a few months. My husband and I accompanied our son and daughter-in-law to their doctor’s visit and eagerly watched as the ultrasound gave us a glimpse of the little one who has come into our lives. I could tell you it was a special time for us to share. I could say we were wide-eyed with excitement. I could say it went by too fast and I just wanted to sit and watch her as she moved about and showed us how well she was developing. I could tell you how excited I was as I watched my son and his wife glowing. But all those descriptive phrases seem inadequate to really capture what this new grandmother experienced today. It was an awesome gift of joy for me. I began this morning by reading some excerpts from One Incredible Moment by Max Lucado that celebrates the majesty of the manger. Now, this evening, I’m back at home sitting by the Christmas tree reflecting on the day and thinking about how it must have been for the couple that experienced, first-hand, the birth of Jesus. The man and woman God chose to be the earthly parents of His Son. The couple He knew loved Him and would follow in obedience as His plan for our salvation unfolded. A young virgin girl and the carpenter who was to be her husband – Mary and Joseph – were part of a miracle. While they didn’t have the luxury of ultrasounds to see the baby’s development, Mary and Joseph had the assuring words of angels telling them how God was using them to fulfill His promise by sending His Son. Their deep faith and trust in God along with their commitment to Him and to each other guided them through the months of preparation and the uncertainties of what lay ahead for them, and then to a stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. I can only imagine what thoughts filled their minds and what joy filled their hearts as they held their baby, knowing he was the Promised One. Tucked among some candles on a table near my Christmas tree is a block of three letters that sends a message just right for this season of celebration: JOY. To me, it’s more than simply happiness. It’s an attitude we can choose to embrace when we focus on the positive things in our lives. It finds a home in our hearts when we foster a spirit of gratitude for the blessings God has given us. No matter what’s going on in the circumstances of our lives, we can find joy in the assurance that God loves the world so much that He sent His only Son to us and that if we accept His gift of love we will have His promise of eternal life. Isaac Watts captured this truth in a song we share each Christmas season; so let’s join our hearts and voices together: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and heaven and nature sing.” The time has been set aside and the focus offered. Now it’s up to each of us to discern how we’ll embrace the coming days. I hope amidst the baking, decorating, shopping and parties, you’ll take time to celebrate the wonder of Christmas by reading the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 and Matthew chapters 1 and 2 of the Bible. Then let your heart smile, your spirit sing and your joy overflow. From my home and heart to yours – Merry Christmas. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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