• Jo Ellen Lyons

JINGLE ALL THE WAY

It's Christmas morning. Well, let's be honest, it's closer to noon than the breaking of the dawn. So far, the day has been lazy and it may not ever rev up to the pleasant chaos of a holiday. We may call our pets our little "fur babies" but they don't quite know how to generate the same frenzy on Christmas morning as children---unless that's the moment when the cat decides to conquer the tree and take it down. So, for me it is coffee and yawning, answering a couple of texts and not much else. Can you say anti-climactic? Last year, I fell in love and was sure this Christmas would be full of new traditions and the fever from that sweet rush towards the world's shared deadline--December 24th, Christmas Eve! No. Three stinking words: "And then covid."

So last night, as Dan and I FaceTimed, and I whined a bit, he reminded me that Christmas was about Jesus and maybe I needed to adjust my expectations. Sigh. He's always stinking right, that fellah. And so I watched "White Christmas" and wrapped his present and kept my pouting to myself. There's a song in that movie "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" and when it came on, I was humbled. So humbled. You see over the last few years, I've learned that gratitude is a game changer. I believe it is, in fact, a cure all. For depression and mental fog and disappointment and even poverty and grief and just being stuck in general. There I was whining about what I didn't have when I should have been jumping for joy about what I do. (Full disclaimer: I don't jump.). But dangit, I CAN count and once I started counting my blessings . . . well, it got the party started. Can you stand a little bit of whats jingling my bells on this fine Christmas day? Firstly, that man o' mine. And man, oh man, he's quite a specimen. Smart and funny and ridiculously talented. He's also so generous with me and has no problem telling me "no". Like how in the heck was God able to wrap so much deliciousness into one package? Put a bow on your head, Dan Burnevik--you're dreamy and all I've ever wanted in a man, a friend and a partner. I'm so grateful that I get to be family with you.

Secondly, everyone else. That sounds kind of silly but you know what? I'm surrounded by amazing people. People who love me and are generous and who inspire me and who make me laugh and hold my heart when its wobbly. My cup runneth over in the friends department.

Like Brad Strittmatter and Cody Hirt, who are silent partners in my life. I go along and do my thing and then say "Ummmm . . . can you help with this?" and they just make it happen. Or they tell me the smarter way to do it and they make me laugh while they're doing it. Their wives and team rock and because of them, we have two videos coming out and t-shirts for the band. The videos were filmed at Mesquite Creek and are gonna be fabulous! And Toby Nunn just made my t-shirts happen. He owns Kermode Outdoors which is a local apparel company and he held my hand through this first purchase of making the band's merch legit. Cody tells me all the time, "You're family." And that's how they treat me. And Robin Eissler. She supports me in everything I do and has taught me to do things in a big way but also in a smart way. And she gets it when I can't make something happen. Lotta grace there and that's a priceless gift. Again, she and her family treat me like family. And Catherine Marzilli. Who, by the way, just sold me her car for a $1. YEP. One dollar. Because her love language is gift giving, she decided to sell her car for one smackeroo and then was reminded that I was in the market. So, yeah, the cup of coffee you got at Starbucks yesterday? Well, it cost about five times more than the sweet little vehicle I'm driving. But Catherine has given generously to me in every aspect of my life--love life advice, musical encouragement and just that faithful friendship that checks in and worries a bit and brings solutions so you're bolstered. Like a big sister.


And Christy Hullum. By phone, day or night, there's this voice that makes me laugh and hears the darkest things and somehow manages to polish them up into manageable moments. She knows me through and through and insists I'm wonderful. She really should do PR for a politician.

And Natalie Metcalf. Her talent astounds me almost as much as her generosity with advice on how to do music. She inspires me--kinda the way watching a rocket ship makes your dream bigger. And how about those Chocolates? My gratitude for the musicians in my life is beyond words. You can see it on stage--because I'm relaxed and happy. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and they're making it happen. They are truly delicious in so many ways and I'm constantly wow'd by them. I have so many moments--on stage and off--when I'm overcome with awe at their talent and collaboration.

I just realized that the list of people who rock my world and jingle my bells is the length of a telephone book. Remember those? Yes, I can do math but I'm not sure I could faithfully count all the people who bless my bones on the daily. That's why I try to say "I love you" each and every time. Because there is so much love given to me so regularly. But I can't contain it in one blog post. So I should probably just talk about my dog. But before I do---let me mention three biggies from this year:

Destiny and Parker--they are huge supporters of the Box of Chocolates and I get the biggest kick out of them. So much fun sharing this journey with them. Denise Page, owner of Gumbo's, has kept us working. A LOT. God bless her and all the other venues who have scrambled to make ends meet and still included live music! Also in the music category is Laura Beasley, an old, old friend who is an advanced vocal coach. She's poured into me this year, helping me understand this instrument and patiently waited for me to learn what often comes naturally--which interestingly enough is the hardest thing to learn sometimes. What a blessing! Then, of course, there's Lucy. Right now, my laptop is resting on her back as I type. Only because she insists on laying across me as often as possible. Her outstretched leg has ended up on top of my foot and her sweet head is positioned so that I can stroke it. In my world right now, there's not a sweeter sound than hearing the muted jingle of her dog tags as she follows me around. And like Dan reminded me last night, it is my life in Christ that matters most. These people and blessings could be stripped away and I would most definitely grieve. Knowing that Jesus was born, so that he could die, so that in him we could truly live, is the foundation of my life. Over and over again, I'm learning that there is a sweet path for my feet that includes great love and tremendous abundance. Even in the midst of a pandemic. Given that truth, I can whine or I can make a joyful noise. I choose to jingle all the way. May your eyes be opened to all of God's goodness that is yours. May your mouth be opened to make a most joyful noise. May your heart be filled with an assurance of great hope. May your Christmas and New Year's be blessed . . . and then blessed again.

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