wishbone“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

This weekend is cozily nestled between Thanksgiving and Advent’s beginning, filled with deep connection, fun events and the anticipation of the holidays starting to swell within us as we zip about shopping, holiday decorating and seeing our favorite faces.

Combining the undercurrent of giving thanks and the wide-eyed wonder I get from Advent drawing near, I can feel in my heart this new deep seated joy. The circumstances may not have changed, but my heart did.

Brene Brown in all of her research discovered that gratitude is the key to unlocking joy in your life. Joy is rooted on the heart level. Yes it may not feel intense in every moment of life as circumstances change, but if you teach yourself how to practice rhythms of gratitude, your heart will learn how to see the world from a spiritually joyful place. The most joyful people I know are not those who have had it easy in life or haven’t made mistakes, but they are the ones able to open their eyes, look around and say “God is here.” and life is still good. To me, that is joy.

This year in particular was speckled with some of the hardest most disillusioning moments I’ve had to rumble with in life. Yet, despite all that brought us to this Thanksgiving day, here I sat, here we sat, circled in love, in deep honest authenticity and joy with one another. God works within our stories. Not in the stories we wish our lives would write.

As I’ve been thinking on this practicing of gratitude, I can’t help but think too about Advent. About when our savior came into the world, small and tiny, quiet and easily missed if one was not looking for him. Christ came in a time of deep deep silence. The kind of silence that devoid of Faith would be my definition of fear. “Will God ever come? Does He care? Am I believing a lie? Are we really all alone? Will we have to do this on our own? Make this whole thing turn out well?”… fears I can only imagine that would’ve mounted from generations of silence… “He said he was coming to save. But will He?!”

And yet, there was the small few who when He came saw Him, the quaint, mild, lowly few that chose to walk day in and day out trusting “God, this doesn’t look good. I haven’t felt you work for a long time. But I trust you are at work and you are fulfilling your promise!”

The circumstances of their lives didn’t look any different hours before Christ came. A mere little baby was born. Yet because they were awake, faithfully alive, full of anticipation…. they saw Christ come into their worlds then and every day since.

See I think gratitude and faith have this way of not necessarily changing our lives on the outside. This next moment will probably look much like this one right now. And yet, if I open my eyes, look around with faith, I will see God in it.

It might not be where we want God – He doesn’t tend to work the way we want Him too. But He will be there. He already is here. If only we knew how to see differently.

So this Advent, as it is about to begin, I want to think on how I can change how I do life so I can see life differently. Meditate, read, pray, be quiet, walk, journal… what would help us to see our Lord come in the sacred spaces of our everyday lives transforming the ordinary into the divine. He is here. He is coming. Every day we get to trust, to wait, to anticipate, and to see where He shows up.

Extra Musings and Random Thoughts

This Advent I am going to go through Ann Vaskamp’s devotional The Greatest Gift for something new. If you’re looking for one that I love, I read every year Richard Rohr’s devotional Preparing for Christmas and every year I still get something out of it.

I just saw the latest Hunger Games movie and loved it! Glad they didn’t fully show all the gory parts of the books… I’m all about the plot and love story parts over the action of course 😉  It was a fun Thanksgiving weekend movie for sure!

(On the other hand my mom and I accidentally rented American Ultra for us and my dad on Wednesday thinking it was more of a light hearted romance comedy…yea not exactly!!)

Black Friday shopping is way different than growing up. With stores spreading the shopping out over Thursday night and online, we went to mall around 7:30am and parked no problem! It’s still fun to go for sport, but definitely not as crazy as it used to be. I look forward to a little BF fun with my aunt, mom and cousins every year 😉

So thankful for all of my family and friends making Thanksgiving and my life always special everyday. Thank you all! The picture above is my brother and I having fun pulling the Thanksgiving turkey’s wishbone. Can’t remember the last time we did that!

Lastly – how is it Christmas season already?! I plan on slowing down as things speed up. I’ll be using screens and facebook less, cutting it out of the evenings, and spending more time in the quiet heart spaces, the present and truth so I can soak in this season and feel wholeheartedly present, awake, excited and ready when Christmas day finally comes.