“Joy is a spiritual discipline. We as a people are much more inclined toward negativity and cynicism. We don’t find it easy or natural to pursue joy. And that’s why God in His Word actually command us to celebrate. We come by a Gospel worth celebrating before a celebrating king. We need to get down to the serious business of joy. We must wrestle for our blessing. We must fight for our joy.”  ~ Gareth Gilkeson

I mentioned before that one of my goals for this year is to live a celebratory life. 


What does the word celebrate even mean?


One definition said, “to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc”.


Another mentioned that celebration is  “to notice or honor a day, occasion, or deed”.


As I sifted through the meaning, the word celebrate was linked to “festivity” which is defined as enjoyment with a host of synonyms like cheerfulness, glee, hilarity, merriment and with related words like lightheartedness, playfulness, giddiness, rejoicing, liveliness, romping.


It seems to me that to celebrate is the embodiment of the enjoyment of grace and the exclamation point of gratitude.



As a mother in the thick of many children, many stresses, and middle age, it’s so easy to become the Tired Cynic. We can quietly begin to believe that celebrations don’t matter that much. We become martyrs who think “nobody cares whether we do anything anyway”. We believe that celebrations are a waste of our emotional resources,  are financially irresponsible, and that they take too much time to plan + execute. So we make excuses and do nothing.


On the other hand, it may be that we do want to celebrate the small things and big days, but we make celebrations too dang hard. We compare a simple + meaningful celebration with Perfect Pinterest Parties, and we think that ours isn’t good enough or pretty enough or coordinated enough so we do nothing.


I want to be done with my judgments and excuses and insecurities.


I want more Lighthearted + Merry. Glee + Giddy.  Joy + Play.


I don’t want to be remembered as the Woman who Frowned, the Woman who was Overwhelmed, the Woman who Sighed.



“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. … The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Ps. 126:2–3).


On a practical note, the simple, defining thread in the word celebrate are the words SPECIAL + NOTICE.


To celebrate an event whether Valentine’s Day, a birthday, an achievement (small or big!) or an anniversary of some kind, we are communicating to those that we love: I *notice* you and I think you are *special*. This means that to celebrate doesn’t require big, over-the-top, expensive or exhausting.


It’s a message sent to the recipient that you are seen and you are loved.


The packaging of that message can arrive in a million little ways according to your own style, budget, creativity, and limits. For me, I like to use paper garlands, jars of flowers, decorated mantels and sometimes balloons. It can be a batch of cookies whether homemade or store-bought to commemorate a job well done. Maybe a hand-written note, or using your tucked-away china for dinner, or twinkly lights strung about. Maybe it’s going out to eat or to grab some ice cream or Krispy Kreme and watching a movie. Or offering the “red plate” to a little who made a good choice or learned a new skill.



On birthdays, we can take a little extra effort to make someone’s favorite meal or dessert. We could plan an evening to go to their favorite restaurant. We can plan simple parties for our kids that involve pizza, cupcakes, and non-fussy yet happy decor. I have been obsessed with balloon arches for months. Balloons are inexpensive and make every occasion happy. There should be a photo of balloons next to the words cheerfulness and merriment in the dictionary. Simple + meaningful.



To celebrate is to imitate God. God is the Creator of Celebration and the Scripture is filled with examples of that. When we celebrate, we acknowledge His boundless goodness, His eternal joy, and His sovereign care.  We are entering into His enjoyment of His people!


Celebration is an act of rest, of releasing the push to be more efficient, go one more place, and accomplish one more thing. We instead rest in what has happened, what has been gifted, where we are now. It’s an easy and light yoke, a reprieve from sadness, grace + gratitude, and a taste of the Hope of Heaven that is to come.

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