Joy is ultimately what we all seek.
It is true. What is amazing about Joy is that you don't have to go anywhere exotic or do amazing things to find it. You can find Joy---true, holy Joy here. At home, in the midst of the laundry, surrounded by piles of dishes, complete with crayon on your walls: Joy is there if we seek it.
So often I get caught up in getting the kitchen cleaned up and dinner on the table all at the same time and I loose sight of joy. This happened the other night.
Chris was laying down for a nap while I made dinner for our family. The girls had been playing outside. Then they started to argue and someone ended up hurt. So I gave them each a chore to do. This is so effective on helping them get a new perspective on life. After Bekah put the plates on the table and Hannah did the silverware, they both wanted to help make dinner.
I love when they help and especially when they have such sweet attitudes about it. I already had the rice started, the chicken cut and ready to cook. I had the dish water ready in case I got a moment between things to wash a few dishes. ( My idea of a perfect dinner is having every dish washed and drying by the time dinner is on the table. It rarely happens, but I try) Hannah eagerly pulled up a stepstool and got busy washing the dishes. She did a great job and I didn't even have to redo any of them.
Then Bekah wanted to help with the cheese puffs. Here is where the joy I had started to disappear. It slowly faded as my sharp tongue and a need to get it all done perfectly entered the kitchen. I really struggle when what I am doing is taking too long and I just want to get it done. With a five year old helping that is bound to happen.
I kept snapping at Bekah to do this now or do that faster. Then I would back off and let her help. Only to turn around and snap at her again.
Why do I get frustrated at my kids and lose my joy?
They were only trying to help. Bekah was peeling the garlic, breading the chicken, getting milk poured into glasses and Hannah was washing the dishes. All these things my children were doing with a smile on their face and joy in their hearts.
Then I see that the puffs have to go into the oven NOW so the chicken can get cooked and so the rice doesn't get cold. Instead of holding onto my joy and responding to my children with gentleness and patience, I say "faster" and "I am busy. Stop asking me to help you!" and I get frustrated.
God doesn't give up on me though. He graciously keeps reminding me to encourage them, speak in love and hold onto the joy He gives me. When I listen to Him, my words turn into, "Good job with the dishes." "I love it when you help your momma with a happy heart. " "Thank-you for doing such a great job." I start to feel the joy bubbling up inside of me and it spills out onto my sweet little girls. It affects my whole family.
I reward their joyful attitudes and helping hands with beads in our good bead jar. They smile and hug me. I remember why I am here and my heart is full of love. The frustration and irritation melt away.
I think about the fact that God has placed me here to teach them and guide them. I am here to show them God's way which is always so much better than our way. I can show them joy.
The other night, my sinful nature and a desire to have the "perfect" dinner almost got the best of me. Many times it does. But this time the Holy Spirit nudged me enough to turn the tide. We sat down to a peaceful meal with happy children that helped prepare it and a mommy who is one step closer to a heart full of joy.
I need to be constantly reminded of the little things I have that bring joy. God is so faithful in opening my eyes to let me see His blessings.
Finding joy in discovering my little one cutting up plastic bags under our dinning room table. Smiling as I see her learning a new skill. Letting go of the mess.
Hannah and I made play dough the other day. I loved seeing her playing and making cookies for me. I chose to let go of the fact that play dough was getting all over the floor. Joy is a choice. Each moment of the day I can choose joy or get upset about the messes and the things around me that I don't like. Or I can relax and just enjoy the special moments that God gives me.
With Bekah at school now, Hannah gets to help me out with all sorts of things. We made an apple pie the other day. She helped me measure everything. I choose to let go of the fact that the flour was getting all over her. Hannah was such a great help and licked the bowl and the spoons as well as helped taste the dough over and over. While I was doing dishes I heard her giggling. When I turned around, this was the sight that met my eyes. She licked that whole counter top clean. My initial reaction was to tell her no and clean her up. Then I jumped into the moment with her and grabbed my camera giggling the whole time.
The we got an apple pie to eat! It was a pie that was made with joy and love.
What could be better than that?