Hurting during the Holidays (aka Crying at Christmas)

172649 crying angel Hurting during the Holidays (aka Crying at Christmas)

Photo Courtesy of Oziris


While most of us know Christmas as the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, I would venture to guess there is a much larger population than we think who are hurting during the holidays.

I recently heard Mandisa’s new song, “Christmas Makes Me Cry” and it made me realize just how difficult of a season this can be, even for those of us who celebrate the joy of Jesus’ birth.

For one reason, I’d say it’s simply because we stress ourselves out.

So many of us look forward to Christmas for so long that once it’s here, we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves to create the ‘perfect’ month for everyone.

Secondly, and a close follow up to reason #1, no-one is perfect. So to think we can create the perfect anything is absurd. Even when nothing else is going wrong around you, people are still people, and face it: we disappoint each other.

Thirdly, most of us do have broken relationships in our lives, whether through death, separation or even just family fall-outs. Regardless of where you stand in this spectrum, this season that centers around family will make those relationships ever-more present in your mind and can make your celebrations slightly bittersweet.

I for one spent most of our Christmas Eve service crying my eyes out. I grieved over most of the reasons I just listed…and then was mad at myself that I couldn’t ‘move on’ and stay focused on the reason I was sitting in church in the first place.

I’m especially thankful to my friend Trish (who, with her husband, wrote an amazing book on relationships that JUST came out, “Beyond Ordinary“…everyone needs to pick this one up!) who let me cry on her shoulder and reminded me that not only is it impossible for me to control anyone else’s behavior, it’s OK for me not to have all of my own pieces perfectly put together all the time either.

Of course, there are the plethora of other valid reasons why crying at Christmas is more prevalent than we might think:
*Families separated because they are separated by members serving in the military
*Family members in the hospital or assisted-living centers who can’t be at home
*Families torn apart due to a recent tragedy, whether it’s a car accident, an affair or anything in between
*Foster children who have been bounced from home to home and find themselves, once again, without someone to love them
*Family members who desperately want to get home to each other, but can’t afford to travel
*Children with parents in prison
*The homeless who don’t know where to go to get a hot meal on Christmas

I could go on and on, and still may not even have touched on what you’re experiencing this Christmas.

I bring this up not to depress you, but rather to say you’re not alone. And as much as I love this time of year, I think I may have been living in a bit of ignorance to think that just because the calendar says it’s Christmas, everyone should therefore be happy.

But I’m reminded of song lyrics that say, “Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning” and God’s promise from James 1:2-3 that tells us:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

My tear-fest yesterday reminded me of what my Christian walk is all about: I’m not promised happiness on a day-to-day basis, but I can Choose Joy. In Kay Warren’s book with the same title, I learned that “Joy is deeper than happiness, lasts longer than excitement, and is more satisfying than pleasure and thrills”.

So if you’re hurting this holiday or crying this Christmas, just remember, we worship a Savior who Himself experienced the ultimate pain and humiliation: a criminal’s death on a cross. Reach out to Him with your troubles while also reaching out to those around you. Chances are if you’re harboring hurt, they just may be too, and you can comfort each other while challenging each other to choose joy this Christmas.

Wherever you are and whatever you may be going through, I pray the peace of Christ Jesus falls on you and your family. Merry Christmas!

pin it button Hurting during the Holidays (aka Crying at Christmas)

Pure Joy Project

Pure Joy Project Mom Kids 225x300 Pure Joy ProjectI’m trying something new. It’s called the Pure Joy Project. I created it. Will you join me?

I should stop right there. After all, it’s when I keep talking that I get myself in trouble!

I’ll admit it: I’m a cynical person. I could blame it on my (almost) 85 year old Jewish father who taught me to always question everything. I could blame it on growing up as an only child and having to always counter balance myself. Heck, I could just flat out blame it on always wanting to voice my opinion.

Whatever the case, I’ve recently felt my snappy personality could be detrimental. Sure, it leads to some witty comebacks every now and then, but more than that, I feel it:
1. Fosters a negative instead of a grateful heart
2. Sets a poor standard for my children

So I’m making a stand.

Here.

Now.

Will you join help me?

Much like a diet, I realize I’m a gung-ho person: I jump whole-heartedly into a project, but then quickly find ways to rationalize my way out of it.

But realizing that is half the battle, isn’t it?

So I’ve created the Pure Joy Project. Well, ‘create’ may be a bit strong. Let’s just say I’ve put a name to an idea God planted in my heart.

As I’ve been praying about this cynical dilemma I have, I realized that much of my cynicism comes from either feeling like I don’t deserve the trials I face or feeling like I’ve been treated unjustly. (I’m just being real here – I hope that’s ok). At the same time, I also became aware that I was constantly coaching my daughter to “see the positive” in every situation, though she tends to do the opposite.

That’s when it truly dawned on me: Joy is a choice. We don’t deserve it. It doesn’t just happen. We must strive for it…

Just look at James 1:2-3
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. <emphasis added by myself>

It’s not natural to be joyful when staring adversity in the face, yet those are the instances we often look back and appreciate for making us who we are today.

So today, will you consider making a change choice with me?

I’d like to think we could make this change permanently, but for now, let’s just give it a week.

Start by catching yourself every time you think something negative and reframing it into something positive. Instead of telling your kids what NOT to do, be more clear in communicating your expectations of them up front. Before you gossip and chit chat about what the person in front of you at Starbucks is wearing, find a way to make them feel a little more special today.

Whatever your trigger is for you, confess it and ask for help! I want us to encourage each other – to become Lil’ Miss Sunshine – but to relax, focus on what’s important and let go of those nit-picky things that turn our backs into a ball of stress.

Think you can handle that?

Good. Here’s where to start:

1. Join me for a LIVE CHAT on Blog Frog tonight on how to “Give Back during the Holidays”.

2. Write a post on your own blog, Facebook page or even Twitter status sharing how you plan on putting the Pure Joy Project to work in your life this week. Share the direct link on the linky tool below; Make sure to use the hashtag #PureJoyProject so we can follow and encourage each other!

3. Leave a comment below with your #PureJoyProject pledge and let us know what one area of your life you’ll choose to turn into Pure Joy this week!

Really, I need this more than anyone, but I figured if I’m struggling with this, some of you may be as well….so we might as well help each other!

I can’t wait to hear from you…

.

pin it button Pure Joy Project

Delight Yourself in the Lord

Kariss dream 300x200 Delight Yourself in the Lord
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Ps 37:4

I was reading Kariss her daily devotional before school this morning and it had a picture of a little girl picking off petals of a flower; remember those days of, “He loves me, he loves me not”? The focus was wishes – instead of wishing for what we want, wish for what God wants FOR us. When we align our hearts with His, He grants those desires.

Is this really possible? If we delight ourselves in Him, will we receive our greatest desires? Sometimes this seems too good to be true, but it is absolutely God’s promise to His children. The key is to delight ourselves IN HIM and His way, not in the mall, the internet or the person we share our lives with. When our will matches up with God’s will for us, we receive blessings beyond what we could have asked for ourselves. What does he ask for in return? Complete and reckless abandon to Him.

I find myself telling my kids this a lot, but I wonder if they see me modeling it frequently enough. When I focus too much of my attention on my work, our home, or even them, I’m communicating that God is not the priority. Instead, I’m transmitting the notion that somehow I have a better idea of how life should work than God does. While schedules and priorities are necessary, they should never take the place of complete and reckless abandonment towards God’s desires for our life.

What are you hanging on to? Who are you clinging to? If your answer is anything besides God, take the time now to confess and release it to Him. Sometimes it’s just the idea of someone or something that keeps us from claiming the blessings God has in store for us…

pin it button Delight Yourself in the Lord

Delight

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Ps 37:4

Is this really possible? If we delight ourselves in Him, will we receive our greatest desires? Sometimes this seems too good to be true, but it is absolutely God’s promise to His children. The key is to delight ourselves IN HIM and His way, not in the mall, the internet or the person we share our lives with. When our will matches up with God’s will for us, we receive blessings beyond what we could have asked for ourselves. What does he ask for in return? Complete and reckless abandon to Him.

What are you hanging on to? Who are you clinging to? If your answer is anything besides God, take the time now to confess and release it to Him. Sometimes it’s just the idea of someone or something that keeps us from claiming the blessings God has in store for us…

pin it button Delight