Where Is Joy?

Why is it when Christmas rolls around, life gets out of control?  It is suppose to be a wonderful time of cookie baking, Christmas shopping, tree picking, party going, Christmas light gazing, family gathering, and church going, right?  Yet, in-between all of those things, sometimes we deal with sickness, deadlines, financial difficulties, deaths, bickering, whining, loneliness, needing a vacation from the vacation.  Where in the world are we suppose to find joy in all of the mess?

I’ve found myself asking that very question this year.  Whenever I planned out my week, things changed and threw me into a forced decision; either I take the red pill of frustration and anger or the blue pill of calm and collected responses to life’s curve balls being thrown at me from all directions.

Normally, my default response is anger and frustration, but I don’t want to be that way this season.  So how do I change?  I need to find true joy!

The thing is, I know I can never find it from the world.  It is impossible.  The world only offers temporary gratification, like a box of Sees Chocolates. =) I don’t want to chase down happiness in empty promises anymore. I want the real deal.

Deep down I know it comes from keeping my eyes on Jesus.  That is the only way I have ever felt true joy in the past.  When I stop looking at Jesus, my mind returns back to the chaos and I take the red pill.  So I am making it my goal this Christmas to get my eyes back onto my relationship with Jesus.  He is so loving and such a great companion.  He has never been unfaithful to me.  I know He has all of the solutions to every conflict I face.  He needs to become my number one priority again.  I don’t know if you can relate to the same struggle I am having.  If you are, let’s pray that God will help us get our eyes off of our problems and onto His love.  As my pastor said, we receive joy from the Holy Spirit’s outpouring of joy over our lives.  We don’t create it, it is poured over us.  Plus, there is so much to be grateful for.  Pray that we counter negative thoughts with thankfulness instead.

I am thankful for being able to serve my family.  I am thankful I was able to sit and watch a show with my teenage kids.  I am thankful that I saw God’s faithfulness and grace today.  I am thankful for a loving husband and loving children who love Jesus.  The list goes on…What is your list?

Lara~

This Christmas ~

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I drew this on an airplane, flying up to the Northwest last year.  I don’t remember what it was that inspired me to pen this picture, but I just happened upon it today as I perused through my pictures and it was ironic how timely remembering such a beautiful memory was for me this Christmas.  Advent has been about unpacking the concepts of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace and how they came to us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

My life has been jam-packed with four jobs, as a Worship Pastor, voice and piano instructor with 20 students, singer/songwriter, and a care-taker for my in-laws.  Because I have rarely had enough margin to rebound, I had lost the excitement of celebrating Christmas; until today.

Today, I sat down to listen to Christmas music as I planned out my Christmas Eve worship set.  As I listened, my heart softened in remembrance of how much God’s love was for me and my family.  “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You,” “O Holy Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  The lyrics in these songs have been carried from one generation to the next over hundreds of years, reminding us of the true promise of Christmas.   It is not about the Christmas parties, or the gifts that we must buy for everyone on our list, or the acts of service we participate in; it’s about how God reached down to His creation by sending His only son, Jesus as a baby, fully God and fully human, to be the redeeming sacrifice for our sin, and to rescue us from the chains of darkness that constantly entangle us, offering eternal life with Him.  When we think about it, why would we ever want to be separated from our Father?  Wouldn’t we want to be in His loving arms forever?

So, as I looked at this picture, I saw the gifts of the Spirit pouring down to a surrendered heart.  I saw an exchange taking place, a broken heart for Joy, Peace, Grace, Hope, Love, Forgiveness, Mercy, and Faith.  What an exchange!!  Let’s not forget about the real reason for the Christmas season and let all of the frustrations, sadness, uncertainties, sin, busyness be put to the side, so that we can be filled with the love of Jesus.

Lara~

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The Light Of Christmas

10686795_10153377889598362_7541136075211780417_nChristmas is coming!  Can you believe it? I’ve been deep cleaning my house in preparation for our guests to come.  Today’s “to do list” consists of making an assortment of cookies to give as Christmas gifts while watching Christmas movies throughout the day.  We have Christmas Eve services to get ready for, too! This is a very busy time of year.  It ALSO exposes quite a bit of darkness.  Have you noticed?

Almost everyday this week my husband has told me of at least one instance where someone was being selfish.  He only had a handful of items at Costco and two times in two separate transactions, someone cut him off to the line with a cart full of items, not stopping to even consider letting him go first since he would have taken 5 mins to check out.  Last night, someone was angry at an intersection, even though he didn’t have the right of way and sped up towards my husband honking as Brian was making a turn.

Darkness = anger, selfishness, pride, control, deceit, envy, worry, anxiety, hate, gossip, frustration, gluttony, etc… However, Jesus came into this world so that He might give Light to world.  Jesus said,“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”- John 8:12.  Isn’t it interesting that every Christmas when we are suppose to be celebrating His birth, darkness fights it?  It seems like Christmas exposes so much more darkness in those who do not walk in His light than at other times in the year.  I know that when I let the darkness seep into my way of thinking, Christmas becomes more like a chore and a pressure, instead of an amazing opportunity to expose darkness and spread light wherever I go and in whatever I do.

I was listening to Kim Cash Tate’s devotional scope on Periscope this morning (you can find out more about her by going to her website: http://www.kimcashtate.com) She reminded me how important it is to stay away from the darkness and expose it for what it is with the light of Jesus’s Holy Spirit in my heart.

What are some ways as followers of Jesus, can we spread His love this Christmas?  We need to fight back the darkness with the fruit of His Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

So let us be challenged today to combat the spirit of darkness with the light of Jesus through as many ways as possible this Christmas, spreading what the world really needs more than any Christmas card, or gift, or money, or food, or a raise; instead, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  The only way we can do this is by daily keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.  He will help us.

Blessings,

Lara

worship leader * songwriter * speaker

(you can find my music on Itunes or My Store)

 

Singing Christmas Songs

Hi everyone!  It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to post the latest Christmas songs I did on Periscope.  If you are not following me on Periscope, go HERE to follow.  I try getting on between 12-1pm p/t everyday and sing one Christmas song for you to help raise our spirits during the ups and downs of this season.  Would love to have you join me.

Here are the latest songs for you to watch:

Joy To The World – https://ktch.tv/4-hd

Away In A Manger – https://ktch.tv/4YgD

We Three Kings – https://ktch.tv/4Wnd

The First Noel – https://ktch.tv/4TrG

 

Enjoy!

Lara~

If you’d like to buy my CD, you can CLICK HERE

Singing Christmas Songs

Merry Christmas!!  Here are the next two Periscope Christmas songs I’d like to share with you.  Please join me over in “Periscopeland” if you’d like to interact live.  I scope a Christmas song weekdays at around 12pm p/t and on the weekends (when I can 😉 )

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear https://katch.me/embed/v/2bc2fc6e-2e06-38cf-ae6f-ffb885202b4c?sync=1

It’s The Most Wonderful TIme Of The Year https://katch.me/embed/v/a234c86f-0fec-394d-a5f4-c213552aed3c?sync=1

God Bless,

Lara ~

Singing Christmas Songs

This has been so much fun so far!  I hope you can join me everyday at around 12pm p/t for the Christmas Song of the Day on Periscope.  You can either download the app and search for LaraMarriott or watch it from your computer.  You can find the link on the Home Page. =)

Here are the two from yesterday and today.  Hope they will brighten up your day! Merry Christmas & God bless.

Jingle Bell Rock https://katch.me/embed/v/e292a80c-6fb1-33de-abaf-06c3179115c9?sync=1

Let It Snow!  https://katch.me/embed/v/edb4b2f1-7f3b-3827-8330-e046407babd6?sync=1

Lara~

 

 

Singing Christmas Songs

I did this a few years back and posted each video on YouTube.  It was so much fun to do!  Many people gave me their requests, like Jingle Bell Rock, Santa Baby, and even Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer!  Every video was organic and unique.

So I am doing it again for this year on Periscope!!  Every day (Lord willing) between 12-1pm, I will sing one Christmas song. If you’d like to follow me and join in the fun, please go to My Perscope Site and download Periscope on your phone or just watch from your computer.

Please let me know if there are any Christmas songs you’d like me to sing for you and I will do my best to learn them! 😉

I hope these songs will cheer you up this Christmas season and bring joy to your heart.

Here is the first song I did via accapella (since I couldn’t find my IPad for the background music lol):

White Christmas

https://katch.me/embed/v/341901c8-a3c9-3d19-bf7a-00c5310f8e1c?sync=1

Lara ~

Psalm 138:1 “I will praise You, Lord with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing Your praise.”

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