“…this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)
I don’t remember why I felt like a failure as a mother during the preparation of Christmas that year, but it concerned me that I had focused so much on Santa Claus, shopping, cookie exchanges, and Christmas parties that I was exhausted and had not focused on the true meaning of Christmas.
All of the above had wiped all my energy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Was I really suppose to be feeling this way during one of the most joyous times of the year?
Then I realized, I had become entangled with garland, tinsel, lights, and egg nog that celebrating was focused on merchandise and outward show. Inside I was feeling sorrowful and empty, but my outward appearance was a facade.
My focus had to be removed from the temporary, but to what would bring value and connect others to the heart of God. It was then that one of our family traditions began ~ Christmas Shoebox!
And now, our family looks forward to hosting a Christmas Shoebox party when we gather to assemble our shoeboxes to bless children. It is a special time of celebration with our close friends and family to share with children the love, peace, and joy of Jesus.
Year after year activities are planned and become centered around “stuff” and forgetting the true meaning of Christmas.
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Psalm 32: 1 (NLT)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should forget caring for ourselves during the holiday season, however, consider how refreshing it would be to pour into someone else’s life from your full cup.
To hear the laughter of all the children, the humming of Christmas carols, and the smell of the fresh-baked cookies fills my heart with joy each year as we gather for this festive time of celebrating to pour into the lives of others.
This is a powerful example of discipleship to others. and I am strengthened and encouraged.
The JOY of the Lord is Your Strength.
Much emphasis is given to sales, the latest gadgets, and the newest toys or doll ~ all these things are temporary. The gift of salvation is eternal.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The secret to joy for the Christian is to believe that God’s Word and to act upon it.
Bringing JOY to children to receive this token of love has been worthwhile year after year.
Every child matters and this Christmas Shoebox bless their life!
I was so self-absorbed with me and the “season of red and green” that my life as a disciple of Christ, who is Joy to the world, was lost.
I lacked JOY, but thank God that has changed today.
As a mom and wife, let us pause and invite JOY in our hearts this Christmas season that isn’t based on festive decorations, or beautifully wrapped gifts.
(J)esus must be FIRST ~ We should come with a surrendered heart and ask for forgiveness of our sins. This will cleanse us from all unrighteousness and give eternal life.
(O)thers matter ~Love your neighbor as yourself. Then forgive no matter what hurt or painful situation we’ve had to endure. Jesus forgave us so we are compelled to forgive others as well as ourselves.
(Y)ourself ~ Let It Go! the past guilts and disappointments. Focus on moving forward with a new goal.
JOY comes from reflecting on Jesus, Others, and then Yourself.
You can connect with LaVonda at https://lavondamccullough
LaVonda is a speaker, author, and Life Coach specializing in women empowerment with a Christian-based approach, helping women find complete freedom as she teaches them to embrace their identity in Christ and build their faith. She lives with her pastor-husband and 3 children in Stuttgart, Germany. Connect with her at www.lavondamccullough.com.
Read LaVonda’s articles HERE.