When joy becomes a choice


Sometimes joy doesn’t come naturally.  Sometimes you are awakened 6 times in the night by teething and feverish children, and morning comes far too quickly and the sunlight feels harsh instead of… well, sunny.  Sometimes you are so tired that you attempt to make coffee in your French Press… without putting any coffee in it.  Sometimes you sneak off to the bathroom with your coffee cup, turn on the fan, and just hope it takes the kids a few minutes to figure out that you are simply escaping to a moment of silence and solitude.  What?  Don’t tell me you’ve never done that!

These last few weeks have been rough.  The kind of month that plays a mean game of tug-o-war with your last nerve.  Car accidents (no one was hurt, thank God), losing my wallet in the back of a taxi, being home alone with 4 littles for more than half of the last month, very important relationships suffering heavy strain, and now, the latest development in our saga, the disappearance of money from our lockbox. A lot of money.  We are mystified about that last one.  This all could not really have come at a worse time of year.  November is when I historically start getting very homesick.  The realization has set in: we’re spending our 4th yr in a row in Mexico for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I think I did better when it was one year here, one year at home in Colorado with my family. It seemed less traumatic.  At any rate, I’m trying to line up activities, traditions, outings with the orphans, fun food, new crafts, and all manner of things to make these next 2 months more joy-full and less homesick.

Then the unexpected happens.  One thing after another.  Just when I think I’m recovering emotionally and psychologically from one blow, here comes a new one.  I admit, once I had a moment of silence today (I will neither confirm nor deny my whereabouts in the house when this moment occurred), I whispered through a choked back tear, “really God??? Why? Why right now?”

I just remembered the lyrics of a song that says “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”  I don’t doubt for a moment that God is in control.  I don’t doubt that He is orchestrating every day of our lives, no matter how chaotic they seem to us at times.  I know this.  I’ve seen enough miracles in my relatively short life (especially in the last 8 yrs on the mission field) to readily acknowledge that God is real.  God is big.  God is intimately involved in our lives.  He cares about the details.  He is concerned with what concerns us.  I know!  But sometimes I don’t feel it.

People-to-people  relationships can be like that sometimes too, right?  Sometimes you have to remind yourself of what you know to be true, whether or not it *feels* true at the moment.  You have to choose to believe the best of your spouse, whether you feel like it or not.  Maybe you have to choose to believe that person didn’t *mean* to hurt you with the thoughtless words or actions.  Don’t assume that a lack of communication from a friend or family member is the same as a lack of love.  Assume the best.  Choose to love.

Today I’m choosing faith.  I choose to believe that God is doing something through all these weird things going on lately.

I choose to open my eyes to the blessings surrounding me.  The paintings of oddly formed butterflies on my fridge, the play-dough models of horses (I admit, I thought it was supposed to be a dragon), the perfect white calla-lily growing out in the yard, the stifled giggles and whispers escaping from my little girls’ room after the lights have been turned out for the night, the perfect aroma of coffee, the sparkle in William’s eyes… beauty.   Abundant blessings that I too often ignore for the busy-ness or refuse to acknowledge because I am *so* occupied with my pity-party.

I choose GRACE.  I choose to be a conduit that God can use to love on my kids.  I will not refuse the grace that He is attempting to give me for each moment by dwelling on the thoughts that steal my peace.

Tonight, I’m choosing joy.  Not because my situation is fantastic, or my finances stellar, or my marriage perfect, or my children well-behaved with nicely trimmed finger nails… but because I can.  Because over and over again in Scripture, joy is related to being in God’s presence.  THAT’S what I want.  That’s what I *can* do something about.  I’m learning to live my life in His presence.  I’ll letcha know when I have figured out how to do this perfectly (don’t hold your breath).  For now, I’m loving this journey.  And I’m banking on the promise Jesus gave in John 15 when He said “abide in me… your joy will be complete!”  That sounds good to me.  Complete joy.  Count me in.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:2-3

A small collection of the blessings I noticed today

A small collection of the blessings I noticed today

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