* a living room lit up only by candles, Christmas lights and a fireplace fire, and looking at it all while cuddled up with my family
* a flight booked to California
* date night with Justin
* listening to Trevor sing the "Doh-Dohdey-Oh-Doh" part to "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight"
* putting pigtails in Aila's hair and them watching them bounce around as she dances
* praying over my family
* getting booked to speak
* knowing child care is figured out for the children
* making a new friend
* a phone call to a lifelong friend
* having my quiet times by a lit up Christmas tree
* belly laughter
* loving going to church
* sleeping in
* dipping Oreos in milk
* green lights when I'm running late
* coupon savings
* warm clothes from the dryer
* getting Christmas cards and praying for each family that sends them
BUT JOY....joy. Joy is a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough. Joy is stripped down, simple, but magnificent all at the same time. Joy is abiding peace--calm in the midst of chaos--it's quiet colliding with cattle that are lowing and visitors who just felt compelled to come see the newborn king.
And joy is the steadfast knowledge that God is God, and God is good even when all of these "happiness" type things don't fall into place. There are lots of things on this list, and they're wonderful.
But joy surpasses them all. Happiness is not a given, not always readily available due to our circumstances. But joy is.
Joy to the world, the LORD has come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
and Heaven and nature sing...