December- I Am Joy-filled. 

The Christmas season enters our hearts and minds here in Oregon as the leaves one by one fall to the ground. The evergreens seem to stand taller to provide the green to our landscape. Winter comes and turns the air sharp and icy to the touch; a white haze settles in the atmosphere where cold meets the clouds. Certain days, snow and ice blanket the ground. The pond and waterfalls freeze over, fish settle into hibernation, and here on the Ranch, the winter birds flit back and forth from the naked trees to the evergreens. Our little farm goes into a dormant season, as we spend more time indoors, venturing out to check on our outdoor animals, the occasional check in on the starts the greenhouse, and of course trips to the barn for more firewood to keep our fireplace going in our home. I find it interesting that in this time of dormancy and quiet stillness, the Savior of the World entered our world, birthed in a lowly barn, 7,000 miles from our own barn, and over 2,000 years ago. The brightest joy we can carry comes from Christ entering our earth during the harshest and darkest of seasons within nature.

A friend of mine recently mentioned it was interesting that my art studio moved from a cute little storefront to a barn. My husband and I worked hard to convert the rustic space: we cleaned, insulated, painted, built trim, installed heat, and proper lighting. And when the space was ready, I created my first painting nestled in the peace the space held. And I knew God had called me home. Here in the barn to create and make. For it wasn’t what I had planned, or thought of for the future of my studio. But I knew it was so much better that what I could have planned myself. God’s way is always better and always good. He doesn’t promise easy, but He promises good.  It was not in the chasing after my own happiness, but through the quiet stillness, reflection, hard work and trust that God had a plan. Joy fills me as I know there is a reason why He made my hands eager to create, inspired my mind with endless ideas, and gave me a heart for those who need encouragement and hope for their own journey. My friend reminded me that Jesus began his life and mission in a barn, and there was a reason God called me to have my own studio within our barn. It all made sense. The true joy, found within God’s provision and grace, is described as “delight; the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”
The deepest joys I have felt in life, are sometimes in the seasons of deepest sorrow, or seasons of waiting for what is to come. As I paint and create faithfully in my studio here at the Ranch, my heart fills with joy as I wait and see what is to come when the winter season melts into the spring.  God is doing something sacred here, and I feel honored to partner with the Maker to create something good, something beautiful, something Joy-filled. What ever season you may be in, know that the Light of the World will show you the way, if you let Him, this I promise you.
LIFE VERSES FOR THIS MONTH:
John 8:12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Genesis 8:22″While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.”

Isaiah 9:6  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting  Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

John 1:9-14  The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him,  who believed in his name,  he gave the right  to become  children of God, who were born,  not of blood  nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of  grace and  truth.

John 3:16  For God so loved  the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

VERSES ON JOY:

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

John 16:22

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Psalm 4:7

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

 John 15:11

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

1 Peter 1:8-9

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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