“When you flourish, you become more you.” John Ortberg
As 2018 draws to a close, how will you end it: in fits or with a flourish? Also, how did those New Year’s Resolutions you made last January work out? Will 2019’s list be pretty much the same? Lose the weight, get that business off the ground, write the book, (ahem)…
Do you even remember what your goals were?
If that made you want to stop reading, I get it, but you can relax; this isn’t a post about how to miraculously cram a year’s worth of goal reaching into the next 30 days. I want to talk to you about what it means to really flourish (it’s different than success, by the way) and how even if you failed miserably on those resolutions you can still end the year with a flourish.
If you’ve ever worked retail at Christmas you know how easy it is to become jaded about gift giving.
When I was newly married, I worked at a small, family-owned drug store and I remember being appalled at the number of men who came in on Christmas Eve and asked ME to pick out something for THEIR wives. Reaally?! Because back in 1972 drug stores weren’t exactly miniature Wal-Marts; Evening in Paris gift sets were about it for a last-minute gift option. Recently I read a statistic which said that 23 million people typically go shopping on Christmas Eve! Hey, I may be a procrastinator but even I don’t do that.
I shopped for light bulbs the other day. What. An. Ordeal. Can I just tell you how confusing it was? And how expensive? Oh, for the days of a ninety-nine cent incandescent bulb and the only choice you had to make was the wattage.
Edison would shake his head at it all. Can you imagine his face if he could hear us tell Alexa to turn on the lights?
The absolute miracle of a light bulb barely registers a mention on my daily gratitude list, Counting It ALL Joy. Not until the bulb burns out or the power goes off. I don’t really appreciate the light until it’s dark.
I’ve experienced days (weeks, months) of darkness, the jet black, can’t see your hands in front of your face kind. I’ve groped around, blindly searching for a switch to illuminate a way out of the deep despair.
Matthew 4:16 says, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light.”
I’d seen and experienced that life-giving light of Christ, but there were times both the light and the life were MIA. Just when I needed them the most. Read more
I received a message recently from someone who reads my nightly gratitude post, “Counting it ALL Joy” on Facebook. Here’s what it said: “Your Counting it ALL Joy is killing me.”
I’d been posting a lot of things about my new little granddaughter including an adorable picture of her in her hedge hog Halloween outfit, so I thought she meant it in a nice way – killing her with joy. But then I read further.
“ …we face issues that do not have a shred of joy in them. I stand here in front of your words and beg my Father to help me, in faith, believe it and to live it. This formidable mountain casts a deep shadow.”
Oh my heart. She’d been reading not just the gratitude posts but also the blog series on climbing the mountains in our lives. Her mountain was so vast the shadow was blocking out every bit of light. All I could do was empathize because I’ve been there. That’s how this whole practice started—when I was drowning in the depths of my own darkness. It’s one thing to count your blessings when you can look out your rustic farmhouse window, see the sun rise and the light fall on that patch of glorious sunflowers you planted last spring. I looked out the window and all I could see was the dumpster. I get it.
How do you count it all joy when you’re not joyful?
“Ugh!” I groaned when I read the advertisement for yet another Christmas holiday how-to book, guaranteed to result in the “BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!”
Shaking my head and murmuring to myself, I headed downstairs to spread a little Christmas cheer to my unsuspecting husband.
“Can you believe this?” I fumed. “How To Have the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER?!”
“The pressure the media puts on women: do more, spend more, decorate more, craft more, bake more... Like it’s a competition! Like any of that has anything to do with Christmas!” (I might have been just a tad over-caffeinated.)
“Um hum,” he mumbled, without looking up from his coffee.
“You know what? I should write a book about how to celebrate a stress-free Christmas. I could do it with my eyes closed!”
“Do it,” he said.
And so I did.
But I should probably back up a minute.
Hi. My name is Susan. I’m a Christmas-aholic. It’s been eight years since my last “stressed out” holiday.