Tag Archive | Joy

Thoughts of Peace for the Holidays and Beyond

With the holidays upon us, stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression may be a part of the season for those who find themselves without loved ones near or who may be overwhelmed by all the holiday hype that distracts us from the true meaning of Christmas. I’ve often felt this way during the holidays if I had suffered some deep loss during the year or didn’t have the means to give the way I’d like.

And as I thought about how the holidays can impact our mood positively or negatively, it became clear why the Bible gives us the following wise advice. First, think on things that are true, good, lovely and praise worthy (Phil. 4:8). Second, as a person thinks, so is he/she (Prov. 23:7), meaning if we continually think and set our minds on anything, whether positive or negative, those thoughts will grow and come to life in our lives.

Our thoughts and words are powerful tools and have creative power. They propel us to act. They can draw us near to God and each other or separate us. It is with one sad thought that our whole mood and day can go from joy to sadness. Or, with one joyful thought that we feel we’re on top of the world.

So choose carefully what you cultivate and create in your life by way of your thoughts this holiday. And, make it one of your goals this holiday and beyond to retain your joy and peace in the midst of the busyness of the season; interactions with relatives, in-laws and out-laws; and all forms of family dysfunction.

And most importantly, let the Christ of Christmas, the Prince of Peace, guide your decision-making, thoughts and actions this holiday season and through the year. Let Him comfort you in those places that hurt and give you peace beyond measure where there is unrest, anxiety and frustration. Life is too precious a gift to waste on unhappiness, disappointment or someone else’s negativity.

God’s paths are paths of peace; His ways are ways of peace. So may God direct your paths and order your steps in His peace. Peace be with you who are worthy of admiration.

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Julie & Julia, Part II

 

The book: Julie & JuliaThese are my final thoughts on the book Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, who worked her way through Julie Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogged about her experience in what she called the “Julie & Julia Project.”

In the past, Julie had not pushed through obstacles so well. (According to the movie, she had written a novel that no one wanted to publish, and in the book she had been from one dead-end job after another, never quite reaching any particular career objective.)

Discouragement seemed to have stopped her from doing and getting the things she really wanted. But Julie found that the only way to avoid or break such a cycle is to work through the challenges and continue toward the goal.

Julie had two things that brought her joy – her writing and her ability to cook delicious meals. But, she didn’t feel confident in her ability to do either, so she overlooked their power to change her life. Don’t we sometimes do the same thing with the word and power of God, and with our own gifts and talents? We overlook the power of the people, things and abilities that have been there all the time. We may be blinded by discouragement as Julie was or sidetracked by some lesser desire.

However, Julie got her groove back!  She derived joy from learning the art of French cooking from Julia Child and it created a platform for her to write again.

Learning from Julie

I found three things interesting about Julie’s journey and what we can learn from her experience.

First, it’s interesting how sometimes it requires someone else to identify our gifts and talents. A big part of Julie’s come back actually rested with her husband. Her husband’s discernment of her strengths and abilities, his encouragement and support helped Julie to exit her rut and push through to the finish. And once she began the “Julie & Julia Project,” she felt a level of accountability to her readers that also inspired her to finish what she had started.

Sometimes, I think we all need another person or persons to see the greatness within us that we tend to overlook in ourselves, to help us draw it out, and to offer accountability for our actions or the lack thereof. That’s what I just love so much about God, a loving family, close friends and a good spouse: they will draw some stuff out of you, prompt you to change and even to find your inner happy.

Second, pain should help us change our course and propel us forward in the direction we should go; the pain is to cause a detour from one place to another – not necessarily an all-out-stop-everything. Julie’s pain of being in one dead-end job after another had virtually gone ignored until the “Julie & Julia Project.” She’s lived with the disappointment and misery – mostly by more drinking, cursing, venting frustrations, envy – and repeat!

She had few positive coping methods and no change strategy. But Julie finally got tired of being sick-and-tired of the same, did something different, broke the rut and found success.  So, don’t stop everything thing; only the thing that’s not working i.e. the cause of the rut.

Third, we are here to fulfil God’s and our purpose through the unique gifts, talents and abilities God has placed within each of us for our good, the good of others and God’s glory. Others need what God has placed inside each of us, just as Julie Powell needed Julia Child’s gift of French cooking to help bring out her inner joy. And like Julie Powell and Julia Child, we need to tap into what’s already within us, cultivate it and share it. Somebody needs your talent just as Julie Powell needed Julia Child’s gift of French cooking.

I encourage you to find those things that you do or desire to do that bring you joy and see where they lead you. All of you who are worthy of admiration, find your inner happiness and flow with it.

One final note on the book Julie & Julia, get the movie!