There was not a lot of joy in the Ward family on Saturday morning. We began our day earlier than we would have liked, because as much as we try to explain it to our three preschoolers, they seem to have no concept of sleeping in on the weekends. After breakfast we got everyone dressed and began our marathon morning of errands. We had things to do at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart and Costco. If you have never been to one of these three places on a Saturday in December, please take a minute to praise God for his guidance in your life that has kept you from such madness. If you have never been to one of these places on a Saturday in December with a 4-year-old and twin 2-year-olds, take another moment to give thanks to God.These places are no picnic for a family of three small children and Tim and I spent our morning navigating the aisles of these stores doing our best to be quick and get home.

As I reflect on that morning, I’m sad that I got caught up in the stress of the situation and allowed the joy of the season to vanish.

Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent. On the fourth Sunday of Advent we reflect on the joy that Christ’s birth brings. Tom preached about the joy that Elizabeth and Mary displayed. Though Mary had every reason to be scared and stressed, she spent her days filled with joy. In Luke 1:46-49, Mary says:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me
holy is his name.”

It’s easy to read this passage and miss the tremendous faith that Mary must have had. We can read this hundreds of years later and know that Mary was right in her prediction. But imagine for a moment the bold faith that she must have had to make that statement this early in the story. She was filled with so much joy in the Lord that even the weight of being an unmarried pregnant woman could not cause her to panic.

I long for the joy that Mary had. I long to live a life where joy is a constant in my life and not a passing feeling. As I enter this final week of Advent, I wonder how my days would be different if I made a decision to be joyful in all circumstances?

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