As we enter the holiday season this year I feel the mood around me to be different than past years. Politics, economic uncertainty, and a persistently negative media presence seem to be doing their best to destroy our spirit and leach the joy from the season. It is one of Satan’s most effective tactics to play on our fears and uncertainties until they grow to drown out everything else. I refuse to let that spirit win, so here are my joys.

1) The prospect of rising food costs has provided incentive for learning forgotten ways of providing. This year my family is experiencing the old-fashioned togetherness of foraging for wild foods. My husband will be taking my son hunting for the first time and teaching him how to dress out his harvest for himself. Already we have found bounty and beauty that we never saw before though it lay right beneath our feet.

2) Locally grown resources abound around my home. There are dozens of farmers within driving distance, and small, local groceries stocking their produce are much promoted. Those same stores also sell locally produced canned goods like jelly and sauces. A local meat processor does enough business that it had to double its capacity this year. Our state has begun to drill its own water wells. Local sawmills have begun to pop up.

3) We have good neighbors. We look out for each other, trading needs without question or hesitation. Young or old, well off or not, everyone has something to share.

4) We are blessed to homeschool our children, to have them with us always, to know them in ways I never knew possible, to guide them in finding who God made them to be. We are blessed with amazing friends who share this blessing, whose children reflect their abiding connection with the God who made them. The relationships that have grown from our shared connection are a source of strength and joy through all challenges.

5) We have the knowledge, constantly increasing, of the provision God made for our mental and physical health. Because of this, we are capable of caring for ourselves in case of illness or injury, and of using God’s bounty to reduce the need for intervention.

6) We have a roof over our heads. It may not look like much to the world; it’s small and needs repairs. Our furniture shows definite signs of wear, and our decor is, well, functional. Despite its perceived shortcomings, it is a home that we are blessed to fill with life and love.

7) We will spend this holiday with family, as we have every year of our marriage without interruption. We will carry our bounty of food to their home, where my nephew will rush to the door to greet “his kids” and my daughters will daub themselves with ingredients in their eagerness to participate in producing the feast. We will join hearts in prayers of gratitude and joy and chatter excitedly about Christmas plans.

8) God’s creation has screamed His name from every corner this season. I don’t remember such a vibrant fall in our part of the country as this has been. Brilliant colors, the sounds of well-fed wild things, and crisp weather surround us, filling us with contentment.

9) I am blessed with an unshakeable marriage. That isn’t an accident, and I will never take it for granted. Our relationship has been forged by the fires of loss, childbirth, health challenges, financial uncertainty, and miscommunications, all of which we fought through together to know each other as intimately as ourselves. We are two halves of a whole, and I pity anyone who may try to break our bond.

10) I am safe in the arms of my Savior. He left infinity to wear our finite form, to become like me, to struggle like me. He experienced life like me from birth to death, a death more horrific and humiliating than any I am likely to meet. And He did it to show me who I could be, to show me a life I could never have imagined otherwise. Because He did, nothing on this earth can touch me, no matter how hard life gets or what is done to me. I am eternal with my Father and my Redeemer.

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