Finding inspiration for everyday life in everyday life

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Returning from a pastoral visit, my heart felt weary, my soul heavy. Turning into our driveway though, I saw my 6 year old in his bright yellow batman pyjamas hovering at the front door waiting for me, a big smile on his face. Oh the joy! The sight was pure joy and balm to the soul.

It made me think of the Scripture “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). That evening I had caught just a glimpse of what joy does. The healing side to it. How much more then does the joy of the Lord give us strength. Because of its supernatural origin, the joy of the Lord—our gladness of heart—is present even through the trials of life. We abide in Christ and we have access to a joy that means in the hard times we can sing, in the trials we can praise. Our spirit stirs us, joy arises and we are strengthened.

Though tears may fall
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs
I will praise You, Lord
In the dead of night
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there’s hope in my heart
I will praise You, Lord
The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength


“Just then, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the City of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:9-11)

Great joy! That’s what the birth of Jesus brings! It is the unfolding of God’s plan for our redemption. For all people. Not just the wise, not just the nobility or the rich. All people. The hardworking shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It included them. The Wisemen from different lands, it included them. It includes all of us.

As we sing in our Kiwi carol Te Harinui, this is the great and glorious word! That God would come to earth to make a way for us to call Heaven home. To entrust us with the gift of His Son.

Te Harinui translates from Maori as “The Big Happy”. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate translation! Christmas is a time to celebrate, to remember with great joy God’s gift to us. This is definitely big Happy news!

‘Once in our world a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.’ (C.S. Lewis)


I’ve been feeling rather undone by Christmas this year. As I listen to carols playing I have found tears easily springing to my eyes. The familiar words so joyous, so glad have been wrecking havoc on my spirit. You see this year I got a little broken, my heart’s a little more fragile, a little more vulnerable. Grief has visited. Worry and fear have oft crouched at my door.

But my tears aren’t in sadness. They are a response to a deeper awareness of my need for Emmanuel – God with us. That I need the Prince of Peace in my every day living, all my days. The carols remind me, remind us of the hope, the joy, peace and love that is found in Christ. And as the carols sing of the promise of Jesus, I know that we live in the reality of that promise. That God is with us. That Jesus has come.

This year may have held its hard days, but they were not dark. For the promised Light of the World shone His light into my darkness. Brought joy when mine was gone. Jesus has displaced fear with His love, despair with His hope and left peace where there should have been none.

So while I may continue being a little teary this Christmas it is only because my heart is joining with the angels declaring “Glory to God in the highest!”








It was Queen Elizabeth who said that “grief is the price we pay for love.” And it was her grandson Prince Harry who recently shared that when you’re grieving you need to know that there is laughter after the tears, happiness to be found, life to be lived.

Some days when we’re in a hard season, when we’re having a tough time facing whatever we’re facing, it helps to look a little further down the road at someone who perhaps has walked a similar path. We look for glimpses of life after tears, of joy and brightness. We hang on to the stories of bravery, of overcoming, of slugging it out and making it to the other side. It lets us breathe and know that this too shall pass.

Sometimes it is a simple as hearing that the sleepless nights will end, the stress at work won’t last and even that the dentist appointment will be ok!

It’s knowing that the horizon will beckon us forward again to new seasons. There is a time to mourn, to weep, but there also comes a time of laughter and dancing. And it’s knowing that God is here with us today in the tears, but there tomorrow too with abundant grace and mercy.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)


Attending a wedding recently, I loved the vows written by the Bride and Groom. “I choose you above all others, I choose to love you, I choose to grow old with you…” Beautifully vows expressing their choice, their decision to marry each other.

Everyday we make thousands of choices. Some small and rather insignificant – what shoes to wear perhaps. Others more weighty – a work decision, a major financial commitment. Other choices relate to our reactions and responses to what the day holds for us.

At this time of year, we remember one woman, Mary – Mother of Jesus. To be told by an Angel that she would bear the Son of God would have been an overwhelming event!  And the out working of the word just as epic – to be pregnant while not yet married was potentially a disastrous turn of events. Of all the myriad of emotions that she could have been feeling – excitement, fear, worry, confusion, she chose to express one – JOY. Mary chose to respond with joy, to focus on the good and not the bad! To focus on God’s plan for her life and not the fear of people’s reactions.

Someone once wrote “there is not enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. Only you can decide which can live there.” That’s one of the choices we get to make. To choose faith over worry, faith over fear. And often this is a daily choice or one that even needs to be made hundreds of times in any one day. To intentionally choose to focus on the good, on God at work in our lives and not the things that bring us fear and worry.

“And Mary sang this song: My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God!” (Luke 1:46-47)

Today, I choose joy.




Peace. Love. Joy. Hope. The themes of Advent. This is the promise of Christmas. Through Jesus we have access to a peace that passes understanding, a hope that is secure, joy that is rooted in God and the unconditional love of the Father. All beautifully interlinked. This is why Christmas is something to celebrate.

The enemy seeks to rob us of our joy and peace, hope then becomes vulnerable and fledgling. During this time of Advent we have the opportunity to put joy, hope, love and peace front and centre in our lives. To remember that whatever we are going through the Christmas Promise is that God loved us so much that He sent His son to our world. With Him came His abiding presence, His rest, His redemption, His love. With the birth of Jesus came new hope, peace, joy and love.

This Christmas may the peace, the love, the joy and the hope of Jesus be with you.


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