My last post of 2018. Wow, the year went FAST!  Maybe my joy journey, as chronicled in my prior posts this year caused it to whiz by.  Or, was it the non-stop work flow? Maybe it’s just age? Whatever the reason, life is hurtling by – and I’d better stop and pay attention!

Instead of being caught up in the commercial hustle and bustle this holiday season, I’ve tried to seek true holiday spirit – one of the most special forms of JOY – in my holiday activities.  While I have been experiencing joyous, momentous fun-derful things, I’ve also been dealing with some sobering and sad things, too.  It has been a challenge to be fully “UP” as the year draws to a close.  So, I can’t just share the JOY moments with you, because it wouldn’t be authentic.  Here are some joyous and less-joyful things I’ve been experiencing:

Joyous Stuff

  • Decorating our tree – with my husband, three girls and two boyfriends – a record crowd participating in a task that is sometimes completed only by me. Having my family participate was such fun for me!holiday-run
  • Attending the Omaha Symphony’s Christmas Spectacular with my crew and two nephews and enjoying the big band, the traditional songs, and the dinner afterward.
  • Experiencing Handel’s Hallelujah – hearing my nephew sing this classic with the East High Singers, along with their open invitation to alumni which made the choir huge, with full-grown adults joining in, remembering their parts from high school (with no rehearsal!) and singing this beautiful song full-out.
  • Participating in a Holiday Lights Run with my hubby and friends from the Papillion Runner’s Group.
  • Crushing our annual Holiday Exercise Streak by running at least one mile every day since Thanksgiving Day (and through New Year’s) and planking every day, too.

The Less-Joyful Stuff

  • 22813984_10209512046870471_7534704874396063480_nMy mom, who is equal parts Mary Poppins, Maria Von Trapp, Gloria Steinem and Dr. Ruth, has been battling congestive heart failure for years. Right now, it feels like the disease may be gaining on her, with two hospitalizations in 10 days and now a move to rehab to get serious about getting the congestion off of her. Because she’s been ill, my parents weren’t with us for our annual Symphony tradition. I’ll admit to being afraid of losing my momma and having to go on with life without one of my very best friends.  To stave off overwhelm, I try to focus on how grateful I am for all of the time I’ve gotten and am still getting with both of my parents.  And, I know this disease has highs and lows and she’s tough, so I’m praying for many more years with Della.
  • My partner, Tamera, lost her father, Terry last year. Colleague Amy lost her father-in-law last week.  Their feelings of loss are magnified by the holidays.  It must be that way for everyone who has lost someone dear to them. It isn’t until someone I love has experienced such a loss that I realize how painful this time of year can be.
  • My mom’s last living sibling, her sister Ruth, passed away this past Sunday. While I wasn’t close with Aunt Ruth, I dearly love her son, Joseph. He and his family are here, sleeping in my home as I write this.  There is such joy in having him, his wife and their beautiful girls here, despite such a somber occasion.
  • I have a number of very close friends battling cancer and I admire their strength and courage and commitment to be well. Yet I’m angry at the randomness and ruthlessness of the disease and the chemicals used to treat it.

Fear of loss.  Real loss. Friends with illness. These things are right here, in my space, right now.  Along with divisive politics, pollution, prejudice and even hate.  And yet, every day I wake up filled with hope. Because of my relationship with God and my faith that all of these things – the joyous and the sad, the good and the bad – are in His hands. 

He rules the World with Truth and Grace,
And makes the Nations prove
The Glories of His Righteousness,
And Wonders of His Love
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders, of His love

Whatever your religious beliefs, we are all called to have faith in a greater good that gives us purpose and meaning.  To persevere in the face of loss. To seek gratitude instead of fear.  To find comfort in the words, actions and presence of others.

This holiday season, I’m experiencing both joy and fear. Excitement and fatigue. And in all things, absolute wonder at the magnificence and mystery of this life we’re living.

What about you? What are you experiencing this holiday season?

With Wonder,