Surprised by Joy

When our glittering, 10-foot Christmas tree crashed to the floor late last night, I hardly knew what to do first. Should I grab a towel for our now sodden carpet? Pick up the shattered ornaments before a sliver punctured someone's foot? Or grab the vacuum cleaner and get busy on the 14,000 Frasier fir needles now flung across our living room?

Delegator extraordinaire, I ordered my daughter to grab towels and our son to get the vacuum cleaner. I gingerly lifted shards of silver and blue glass out of the carpet. My husband took on the Herculean effort of raising our hefty, frazzled tree.

When the mess was finally lifted up, sopped up, picked up, and vacuumed up, I stared at the array of ornaments scattered across our sofa and felt my shoulders droop. Each one needed to be hung on our half-empty Christmas tree. Again. Exhausted from a hectic weekend, I groaned.

That's when our 14 year old daughter clapped her hands and jumped up and down. "We get to decorate our Christmas tree again!"

Her beaming face challenged my scrooge-like heart.

What if the circumstances we're currently facing are really opportunities to find joy in an unlikely place?

What if, instead of expecting everything to be perfect, we looked for the remarkable in life's imperfections?

And what if, instead of waiting for joy to find us, we set out on a journey to seek it?

I think that's what Christmas is all about. It's a journey whose destination is the One through whom all joy ultimately flows.

Over two thousand years ago, wise men and kings traveled to find the Source of joy, disguised as an infant. Flies buzzed and fresh piles of manure steamed in the frigid night air. But when earthly kings knelt in the mud and straw, they received remarkable joy in the most unlikely place.

And when I knelt on damp carpet to re-decorate our Christmas tree last night, so did I.


Jody Hedlund said...

Awesome post, Julie!!! I love your daughter's response and the lesson you tied in to it! Now to find out the culprit behind the toppled tree! Was it the cat?

Andrea said...

AMEN....Seeking Joy! in my circumstances...looking beyond to that which GOD has for me!

Blessings and prayers, andrea

Sandy said...

Hi Julie, I love what we learn through our kids. Last year I walked by our tree (also very tall), and did a double-take. Our kitty was in the middle-to-top just sitting there, staring at me. It was so cute, I grabbed my camera.

I need JOY every day, not just Christmas, that is for sure! Great post, as always! XO

Debra@CommonGround said...

Such a wonderful perspective! How precious is it that a "child" could see the "opportunity" in the situation instead of the struggle!
blessings, Julie,

Bonita said...

I love your daughter's reaction! It wasn't a misfortune, it was a chance to decorate again. What an optimist!

I'm going to remember this story for the next time something happens like this at our house. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I am on a journey searching too.
Great post.
I found you on Debra's "Common Ground" :)

Karen said...

Oh, Julie, how terrible! (My first thoughts.) All that work! Then, when I read your daughter's statement, I smiled. Great lesson, loved it, and hope not too many ornaments were broken.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

I love your daughter's spirit...she must have a great mama ;)

Christina Davis said...

Don't you love it when it's your child who sees the truth.

My boys lead me to joy daily if I choose to see it. Thanks for this simple yet profound post.

achildoftheking said...

Amen Julie!

Sue J. said...

I wonder if we don't all often just sit back and wait for joy, as if it were a present to be given on a special day or in response to something we do. Not God's intention, of course, but I suspect too often we lump joy in with life's other "rewards." And when we don't receive joy....?

We sing Joy to the World, the Lord is come! I'm thinking that since He has come, we have our source of joy. Now, can we see Christ in others? In ourselves? In the day-to-day? Great perspective, Julie!

So sorry to hear of your tree, but the inspiration and joy discovered must surely be greater than the temporary loss felt.

Carla Gade said...

Julie, I'm struck dumb. Thank you for the vivid reminder of looking for joy in the disasters of life. You blessed my socks off.

I bet your tree looks even prettier the 2nd time!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Yeah for your daughter! I remember when I was little I used to love writing in my mom's old checkbooks. I don't love writing checks now. So much of this life is going at it with an attitude of joy.
Beautiful message here.
~ Wendy

KelliGirl said...

I think that's what Mary did. On the surface what joy is there in traveling by donkey (when you're 9 months pregnant)or giving birth in a stable? Yet, despite the difficult circumstances there was the most incredible joy. Joy is our choice.

So sorry about the tree. I've heard that dreaded crash before. Ugh! But as your daughter demonstrated, when we choose joy we get to decorate all over again!

Christmas blessings my friend,

Cheryl Barker said...

What a timely post for me, Julie. I have a Christmas tree issue to face today, too -- though small compared to yours! I've already been groaning about it, but you've showed me a better perspective. Finding joy in unlikely places -- love that thought!

Janna Leadbetter said...

Julie, this is such a beautiful post, one we can all learn from.

And I'm going to be very careful around our 10ft Christmas tree... ;)

Gaia said...

Interesting how things turn out and lessons learnt. Thank you for sharing. We should all look at the positive and simply smile more even during a mess.Bless you.

Sande said...

Don't you love kids who remind us that we do Christmas because we enjoy it not cause it's just one more thing on our to do list. sighs.

Perspective through babes. Not to be surprised because we have Life through the most amazing babe.

Am I slow or something though? Why wet?

Lisa Smith said...

I've been pondering this same question lately. As far as the tree, I've been there too. I anchored my tree to the wall with fishing line one year because it fell over so many times. ha!

Beautiful post.
Have a joyful one!!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Setting out on a journey to find joy... I like that.

God is quietly and gently moving my spirit to the manger this year. It's been a huge gift to me in this season of struggle. I don't suppose I've ever known a Christmas in my 43 years when I've loved him more, adored him more.

Thanks for stopping by. It's always good to hear from you.


Sandra Heska King said...

Say thank you to your daughter for teaching us to find the remarkable in imperfections and joy in the manure of life. Thank her for reminding us to dance in the midst of flies. This post touched me.

Ginny said...

Excellent post! The older I get the less enthusiastic I become over cleaning, decorating, baking, shopping etc. This year, I decided not to complain, but just do what has to be done. I think that works for me and I am finding joy in what I am doing.
Don't kids just set you on the right track sometime??

lynnmosher said...

Joy jumps on us in the strangest places, doesn't it? Three snaps up to your daughter! Great post, Julie!

Janean said...

"We get to decorate our Christmas tree again" --- how sweet is THAT?? You're right in that sometimes those unexpected moments are opportunities to develop our character and check our attitudes. great post!

Rachel Beran said...

Wondeful! Attitude has been on my mind a lot lately. It's really about our attitude and spirit in situations like this...we can CHOOSE to be positive and cheerful or to grumble. Either way the Christmas tree was still on the floor and had to be dealt with. :) Great job of choosing to be joyful when things didn't go as planned.

Your blog is a wondeful gift to me throughout the year, Julie!

Merry Christmas to you and your family! Many blessings in 2010!

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