Joy in the Ordinary (Advent Series)

Welcome to week three of the Advent. Today our post is on this week’s theme, Joy. It has been written by Holly Berg from Scattered Words. Holly is a mom of two, wife, writer and horse lover living in Alberta. She is sharing her story on finding joy in the ordinary, and reminding us how to do that this busy Christmas season.


slowing down to find joy in the ordinaryLast night I was cleaning up the kitchen while my children played at the table.  I had brought the Christmas boxes in from the storage room and the first thing I unpacked was our nativity scene.  They immediately got to work setting it up, lining up the fences, arranging the animals just so, and moving Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus inside the stable to keep warm.  My two-year-old daughter placed the angel in its spot on the roof of the stable, pressing the button so the sound of joyful music filled the room.

These are the moments I miss when I am busy.  

And Christmas is a very, very, VERY busy time for my little family.

If I had to choose one word to describe the holidays it would be hectic.  My husband is involved in our week-long church production. There’s a Sunday school concert to attend as well as two public school concerts.  We do a day of Christmas baking with all the ladies on my husband’s side of the family. There’s tree decorating, outside decorating, and a trip to Candycane Lane to see everybody else’s Christmas lights.  We have three separate family dinners, plus our own little family celebration – and all of this while I attempt to maintain order in our home, work evenings, attend various other Christmas functions that pop up, and try to keep up with my five-year-old’s busy social calendar.  I don’t know if it’s just me but it makes for one very busy, very crazy, very hectic month.   

Christmas is a time of joy for my kids.  It’s an intense season for me, but for them it’s a season of joy and anticipation.

I don’t remember when I lost that feeling, that joyous sense of expectancy.  

I grew up in church.  I know Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness as we await the coming of the King.  I’ve heard the story hundreds of times.   It’s easy for me to imagine the visit of the shepherds – their fear, as the angel of the Lord stood before them.  Their relief – then awe – at the angel’s message.  Their excitement and the decision to “go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  (Luke 2:15, NIV) And the joy and adoration they expressed when they found their way to Mary and Joseph and the baby as He lay in a manger.  The shepherds “returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2:19-20, MSG)  

And I can picture the Magi, after their long journey, following the star they had observed in the eastern sky as it went before them, until it stopped above the place where the child was.  Their joy and excitement in worshipping the newfound King.  “Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him.” (Matthew 2:11, MSG)

But how do I find that joy today? With my busy schedule? Standing elbow deep in front of a sudsy sink filled with dirty dishes? 

Sometimes – in this season busy-ness – I forget that Jesus is my joy.  Psalm 4:7 says “You have put more joy in my heart than what they have when their grain and wine abound.”  HE is my joy.  HE is my joy – and he fills my heart!

I think Christmas is the perfect time to regain our focus.

“Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done, spread the news of his great reputation!  Sing praise-songs to God.  He’s done it all!  Let the whole earth know what he’s done!  Raise the roof!  Sing your hearts out, O Zion!  The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”  (Isaiah 12:4-6, MSG)

We need to share our joy.  

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that looks like – but I do know that even when it’s busy, even when it’s crazy, even when it’s hectic – we need to look up.  Look up, and show up for the people around us.  

In my case, among other things, it means slowing down so that I can see the holy in the ordinary.  It means settling for a less than tidy house, a less than perfect Christmas tree, and maybe even a less than traditional Christmas meal.  It means welcoming friends and family into my too-small home – and it means leaving a sink full of dirty dishes for a night (or two!) and pulling up a chair at the kitchen table to play “Christmas Story” with my kids, making sure that I put Jesus in the right place not only in the Nativity set, but also in this busy season of life.

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