Every year we come to the busy season of Christmas. We all feel the pressure to give the "perfect" gifts to our beloved ones, friends and family, becoming stressed and pushed and feeling a need to live up to expectations surrounding me in this materialistic culture. But long after each year's gifts have been forgotten, if we give to our loved ones a joyful heart, we will have given them a gift that will be with them their whole lives. They will come to us again and again for the "Life" they need to feel, hear and be comforted by during every season.
First, we must have a heart that says, "I receive you into my life as a gift from God."
Then, a joyful heart seeks to encourage every day--to intentionally give words of life and encouragement to those who so need to hear love.
“I appreciate you. You are a gift of God's love to me; you are faithful, funny, fun, creative” (or whatever is the key need of the person God has strategically placed in your life!)
"I believe in you and know God is going to use you in a special way."
"I have made so many mistakes in my life, but God has forgiven me and given me grace. He has already forgiven you and wants you to know His love."
A joyful heart is one that plans surprises--lighting candles, putting on beautiful Christmas music, serving a cup of tea, hot chocolate or coffee even in the midst of a busy day, maybe even with a little treat--and says, "Let's make a memory together right now--you are special to me."
It might lead you to bring a single rose to a friend or leave a love note on a pillow or in an email to a weary husband; a struggling friend; someone you appreciate; or a far off child.
Perhaps your joyful heart might cause you to take time to play a game, giggle at stories, lie in bed with a toddler or teen late at night even when we are tempted to be weary and just want to go to sleep. We must still make a habit of stretching ourselves, to extend ourselves as purveyors of His joy and grace as He shows up and gives us strength.
A joyful heart says, “Where can I leave a spirit of Christ's fragrance today? Where can I dance the dance of life in the midst of darkness?”
May we cultivate joyful hearts this Christmas!