Monday, December 19, 2011

Fight For Your Joy

Nehemiah 8:10: "...The Joy of the Lord is your Strength." (NIV)

I'm sharing this blog from my own personal experiences in hopes that others will be able to relate and find healing through this part of my testimony.

Each year during the holiday season millions of people around the world fight depression.

It is so easy for memories of Christmases gone by to turn into despair; longings for better times.

Often they build up in our minds as surreal images that are so romanticized they cause our current condition to seem bleak even when it isn't.

Last Christmas was the first year I celebrated the holiday season without my mom.

She passed away in July, 2010 from lung cancer and to be brutally honest, I was not emotionally ready to face it.
I was a mess!
I wondered at times how I would get through some of those long nights in December where I slept on the couch in my living room by the warm lights of the Christmas Tree.

I mourned throughout the holidays last year.
At times I felt lost, overwhelmed by my sadness.

God brought me through those nights though.
His Holy Spirit comforted me and at times I could feel him holding me tight in His arms.

On Christmas morning of 2010 I awoke to share Christmas with my dad.
He spent the night at my house so we could face that morning together.

That morning Birmingham, Alabama experienced our first white Christmas in over a century.

As the flakes fell silently on the lawn, tears streamed down my cheeks as I recalled the many times mom and I had prayed for a white Christmas.
Suddenly, yet gently, those tears of grief began to turn to tears of joy.

That prayer that she and I had secretly whispered together each year since my childhood had finally been answered.

It was as if our Abba Father gently kissed me on the cheek and whispered that everything was going to be alright.
I felt a peace come over me and my faith leapt as I trusted that God really was in control.

That day, our Savior's Birthday, marked the beginning of healing for me from the grief of my mother's death.
That day, which I had dreaded since her passing, was the day my joy began to return.

Christmas 2011 finds me blessed far more then I can believe.

God has done a major work in me, healing me emotionally of so many hurts that surrounded 2010.

He has confirmed my call into ministry and has grown this blog to now reach thousands of people in 30 countries around the world.

To God Be The Glory!

God has totally changed my life on a personal basis as well.
Last January, while attending a conference in Colorado, I met an amazing man.
We fell in love and eleven months later, we are celebrating our first Christmas together.

We have decorated our tree together, attended Christmas parties, gone to concerts, snuggled up to watch cheesy Christmas movies, and even baked our first pound cake with each other!

In so many ways these holidays have been a dream come true.

Even though I am living a beautiful dream with him this Christmas I still find that I have to fight for my joy.

Those moments of sadness from missing my mom still flood me unexpectedly some times.

I understand that is a normal part of the grieving process but it was beginning to dampen each day.

Beginning in November I started to fall into a general malaise, a fog of numbness, even during these joyful times with him.
It was progressively getting worse.

Finally, about two weeks ago, I took a stand!

First, I prayed for God to help me.

He reminded me that I should cherish the memories that are so fond but allow myself to live in the present; to focus not on the people and things I have lost but on the wonderful people and things He has placed in my life.

Then, God gently reminded me to remember the reason we celebrate Christmas.

He sent Jesus as a babe in a manger to deliver us from the bondage of Sin!

2000 years ago our Father God sent His Son to be The Sacrifice, The Deliverer, The Redeemer, and The Conqueror!

If nothing else, that alone is cause for joy!

Since that day that I took my stand to Fight for my Joy I have been able to live life focused on Jesus and the miracle of His wondrous birth.

I'm able to live in the present and keep an attitude of gratitude for all that God is doing in my life.

I encourage each of you to Fight For Your Joy during these holidays.

- If you are down because of the loss of a loved one, cherish the memories that you shared, but allow yourself the freedom that comes from living in the present.
Look around you and begin to thank God for the blessings you have right this very moment.

- If you are alone this Christmas, know that there is a loving Father, our Daddy God in Heaven, who adores you.  
He will give you peace as you focus on celebrating the birth of our Prince of Peace, Emmanuel.

- If you are feeling dragged down by the hectic pace of this Christmas week, take some time to pause, pray, and meditate on the reason we share this holiday to begin with.

No matter what you face leading into Christmas take a stand against the enemy and decide that you are going to Fight For Your Joy!

Don't forget to check back Christmas morning for the annual Christmas Day Post on the blog.

Merry Christmas and May God Bless You with His Joy This Season!

As always remember:

God Loves You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until Next Time,


Carrie Underwood - "Do You Hear What I Hear" - Opry Live