The Grove: Joy

Multiple times this fall I’ve heard the acronym Jesus, Others, You for joy.

Can joy really be reduced to a simple acronym? Part of me recoils and wants to back away saying, “Well, that might work for new believers or people who are wired more innocently than I am. I’m a bit too, ahem, sophisticated for this.”

And then Jesus gave me that look that said, “My mom may have ridden on a donkey but you don’t have to act like one.” So I scraped the lofty post I’d mentally written about the joy of Christmas pasts, the joy of Christmas present, and the joy of Christmas future.

Jesus said, “Remember J.O.Y. is exactly what Velvet Ashes is about.

We are here because of Jesus. Joanna movingly shared earlier this week the ways Jesus comes to meet us.

We are here because of You. You, the one reading this, you are not a number, a lurker, a commenter, a reader, you are an image bearer of the Most High God. Without you, there is no Velvet Ashes.

We are here because of Others. This is the part Jesus whispered, Amy don’t you see the beauty of Others at times that are Big Days? On your own, your Christmas is about your story and experience this year. But offered here in the space, it grows and expands big enough to hold hope and disappointment and laughter and tears and firsts and lasts. It holds the Body of Christ.

As I’ve been carrying this post in my heart this month, I’ve seen among us the “others”

who walk  beautiful and hard paths. 

We have 

Those who spent their last Christmas “home” before moving to the field.

Others for whom this is your first year on the field — and it maybe has been more joyful than you ever imagined Christmas or  more lonely than you anticipated.

Some of us were laughed at as you shared the hope for the season and you wonder in those quiet parts “Do I hear myself? I am a fool for believing all this?”

Others still who, when you shared the good news, were met with open hearts and the doors to eternity opened. Rejoicing with you!

We have amongst us new life this year!

And empty nests. And empty wombs. And beds built for two but only holding one.

Some for whom this was their last Christmas on the field and almost every moment was pregnant with meaning and longing to capture memories.

We have cooking flops and success stories. And the packages … some have arrived and others still in route. And more than a few, “What were they thinking sending that here?” And truth be told, some that will never be sent because as the years go by, it’s not that you’re forgotten, but you’re fading.

We have in our ranks those distant from relatives and others with once-in-a-life-time visits from family.

We have those for whom this was your first Christmas off the field, either you’re on Home Assignment or you’ve transitioned back to your passport country. Oh the range of feelings and expectations!

We have people who are thriving and we love your energy. We have people battling illnesses of the body, mind, and spirit and we are sorry to see you suffer.

We have those who are excelling in language learning and those who are drowning in it.

We are all this.

And More.

At Christmas we have J.O.Y. We have Jesus. We have ourselves and our Christmas this year. And we have others and the hope of knowing we are not alone.

It’s as simple and complex as J.O.Y. Today, would you offer a slice of your Christmas to us all? We’d love to see a picture from your day.

Thanks friends. With love and joy, Amy on behalf of the Velvet Ashes Team


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.

Photo Credit: Nanagyei via Compfight cc


  1. Beth Everett December 26, 2014

    Amy, whenever I hear the word JOY I almost always think of the little song “Jesus, and Others and You, what a wonderful way to spell JOY …”   I like how you applied that to our community here at Velvet Ashes.  The simplest messages are sometimes the best!

    A Joy-filled Christmas to All!

    1. Amy Young December 26, 2014

      Beth, I haven’t heard of that song 🙂 … but maybe I should Youtube it!

  2. Kristi December 26, 2014

    Thank you for your encouraging words.  I was thinking about the angel’s message to the lowly shepherds (feeling a bit lowly myself) and also about how hope is more than a feeling.  Most of all Hope is a person.  In us hope is a state of being.  As I wrote joy weaseled its way in there as well.  It’s not a photo, but maybe it is a picture of my Christmas and my JOY.

    Be Not Afraid
    Do not be afraid
    I bring you
               a gift
                    a promise
    of great joy
    of great
    For you
    I AM
          for you
    I AM
          the Light of your
    I AM
          the Hope of your
    I AM
          your great
    Do not be afraid
    I AM
          with you
          I AM

    Maybe a bit repetitive, but I know I need to hear the Truth over and over again.
    Merry Christmas!


    1. Grace L December 26, 2014

      Kristi, I love this poem. It really speaks to me, like Jesus Himself is speaking to me. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Amy Young December 26, 2014

      Oh Kristi, I think we all need to hear the truth again and again myself :)!! Love this.

    3. Danielle Wheeler December 27, 2014

      Kristi, I love the power of the different words emphasized.  Each line speaks a different message of truth.

  3. Jennifer December 26, 2014

    The joy of celebrating in different ways and perhaps in the process creating new traditions. Stepping outside of the box of how it must be and rediscovering what really matters in the midst of it all.

    1. Amy Young December 26, 2014

      Jennifer thanks for letting us have a peek into your world!

  4. M'Lynn December 26, 2014

    Love the acronym. First time I’ve heard it (perhaps because I live under a big Chinese rock) We’re so blessed to be spending our Christmas break in Thailand this year! So far it has been a dearly needed breath of fresh air. Merry Christmas, Velvet Ashes!

      1. Danielle Wheeler December 27, 2014

        Yeah, how many people can say they had Christmas under a bamboo Christmas tree when they were a kid??  🙂  M’Lynn, we’re counting the days until we get to head to Thailand.  Wish we were there at the same time!

    1. Amy Young December 27, 2014

      Love seeing how big the kids are getting!!! And at first I thought this was a tree made out of wine bottle corks (hahahah) as I scrolled down and just saw all the circles. Bamboo makes SO MUCH more sense 🙂

  5. Ann van Wijgerden December 26, 2014

    Sending you all a Christmas Day 2014 sunset over Manila

    With love & greetings

    And thankfulness for the friendship & encouragement I’ve found here @ Velvet Ashes

    1. Amy Young December 27, 2014

      Ann, this is beautiful and calming. With love and greeting back!

  6. Brittany December 27, 2014

    What a beautiful post!  This has been an extremely busy Christmas, different from any we’ve ever had.  But a beautiful one.  Our focus was on Jesus more than ever before.  Our focus was on our little family more than ever before.  And we really got to live beyond ourselves and serve the people in our community.

    This is a Christmas tradition here in Romania, caroling in the village.  The sunset was gorgeous as we went from house to house singing about the hope of Jesus at Christmas.


    1. Amy Young December 27, 2014

      Oh Brittany, after the year you’ve had, reading this and seeing the picture just makes me happy for you and your family.

  7. Danielle Wheeler December 27, 2014

    I think my favorite moment this Christmas was two nights before Christmas when we had a family night.  Just the five of us around the tree with hot chocolate (which of course, was spilled within the first two minutes. 🙂  After we read an advent story, the kids did an impromptu dance performance, that was unbelievably adorable.  There were no cute Christmas pajamas. Our two boys didn’t have pants on, and our daughter’s night gown was too small.

    But that’s part of what I loved about it, the real-life, not for pictures, beauty of it.  And I loved the way my kids expressed their joy with abandon.

    Amy, thanks for this post, for the tender awareness of where everyone is coming from.

    1. Amy Young December 27, 2014

      Like yours Danielle, my favorite moment was captured in my mind. We have a  homeless friend who traditionally joins us on Christmas Eve (and called to verify with my sister multiple times this week letting us know how much we are now his family tradition and he ours). He was a bit manic at dinner and had bonded to me this year (long discussion before dinner about the zodiac signs of his friends. I have no interest in the zodiac, but that doesn’t matter!). At dinner he and I were at opposite ends of the table but he proceeded to talk to me all through dinner — so it was a rather happy, but silent meal for everyone else at the table as he was manic. After dinner my brother-in-law took him to where he asked to be taken.

      And while he was gone, my nieces and I shared a “surprise” (though I think everyone knew) — we’ve been practicing a Nativity musical for a month. Complete with solos, duets, all of us singing, a typed script, costumes, and so fairly decent acting.

      We performed for the family including a sister who is not a believer  :). She took many photos and texted them to friends. It is out of love she did it. It is out of love we spent hours preparing this performance for her and the family. It is out of Love that Jesus was born. It was one of the purest moments. May those images and the truth they carry come back to her and others who heard this season :). And may we not weary of sharing it 🙂 (even if, as I was, we are cast as the donkey!)

  8. Grace L December 27, 2014

    Our Christmas included a party with our small group of employees. They all prefer to use their mother tongue to communicate so here they are sharing The Story using a set of photos that they found inside a special gift box. These people have become family to us as well as employees. We miss being with our families back home but we delight in our new family here.

    1. Amy Young December 27, 2014

      Grace I love all of the red — thank you for the glimpse into your world!

  9. Monica January 7, 2015

    Oh I loved this post!  I’m trying to catch up from some of the posts I missed over the holidays.  Over the last 10 years we’ve only spent two Christmases in the States- this was our second.  So, one of my favorite moments this holiday was taking communion, together as a family, in my sister’s attic at her home in Seattle.  When my husband and I were newlyweds (17 yrs ago) we began the tradition of remembering Christ’s birth by taking communion on Christmas Eve.  We’ve maintained this throughout the holidays no matter where we’ve been in the world.  Sometimes we couldn’t find bread- so we just used sticky rice!  Anyway, my sister’s house was crowded with 20+ people on Christmas Eve, and it seemed like our tradition would get lost in the chaos.  Nope!  Before our kids were tucked into bed, my husband gently grabbed my hand, and motioned for our children to follow him, up the stairs, and up the stairs… to where he had prepared Christmas Eve communion just for us… in the attic.  I will cherish that forever.

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