Find the joy!

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.  Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 8:15


I thought it was important to dedicate the entire month of November to being thankful for homeschool with my kiddos.  An important goal I have for my children is for them to be appreciative of the life they have and not feel entitled.  With Veterans Day and Thanksgiving packed in together, thankfulness is an obvious theme for the month.  In our home, we talk a lot about being thankful in every situation.  My husband is especially passionate about this as he has seen children during deployments who are full of joy and living with SO much less than ours.  When we hear him say “There are children starving in Africa!” it’s not just a phrase, it’s because he has seen those children and seen them perfectly content with their lives.

When Maia came home from church with a page on Joseph, it fit in perfectly with our unit.  We talked about how Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and that God had big plans for him.  I ensured them that we need to find the joy in every situation we are in.  No matter what, there is someone who is in a worse situation than us.  Wouldn’t you know that this very week God would give me an event where I needed to show up in this area as a mommy.

On Mondays my oldest daughter has gymnastics.  Back when it was warm out this was one of my favorite times of the week.  I took her on the half hour drive to her gym, went for an hour run and picked her up.  I always left feeling refreshed and loved starting my week that way.  Now that we have had the chilly weather and it’s hunting season in our home, Mondays have turned into me taking all 3 of my children in the car and praying the little man doesn’t scream the whole way.  This past Monday, my husband had told our girls we would go check out Toyland after gymnastics.  As any child would be, they were super excited!  During gymnastics, the hubby, myself and our 2 youngest sat in the van watching a movie. (I laughed at people looking at us as they drove by, this family sitting in a van with the lights on watching tv for an hour)

As the movie came to a close, Clint went in to get Maia and she pranced out of gymnastics ready for Toyland.  Kealy sat in the van pretty much bouncing with enthusiasm, her daddy got in, turned the key and ….nothing. The battery had died from the movie (we’re assuming) and now we had a night full of uncertainty ahead of us.  It was cold, rainy and suppertime.  I sat in the van with my kids knowing full well that Clint would not be up for Toyland after this and I could tell my girls sensed that as well.  And then it came to me, I remembered what I had been reinforcing all week in school and I said it… “Girls let’s find some joy!” So we did. Although it was raining, it wasn’t cold out so we were grateful for the temperature.  We had eaten a snack before we came so nobody was hungry (at least not too much!) There was an Auto Zone less than a block away from our van so Clint was able to walk there and purchase a new battery.  We had money for a new battery.  I have a friend who lived in town and thankfully she sent her hubby to come help Clint since I was useless trying to entertain 3 children. I am nursing our little boy so we had food for him readily available. My husband is an excellent mechanic so we knew he could repair whatever we needed. And finally…we looked it up and Toyland was open, until 9:00! I explained to the girls that after working all day then fixing the van, daddy may not feel up to Toyland and we had to be okay with that.

After about an hour, Clint got back into the car and he wasn’t that frustrated. I’m sure the fact that he sat down in a van that wasn’t occupied by 3 grouchy ladies and a crying baby helped.  It was really cool to see how finding the joy could change the course of our night.  I can’t help but think if we had sat in there, mulling over in our minds how unfortunate we were, our night would have continued with that attitude.  We probably would have went straight home, grouchy and hungry and thought about that stinkin van until we laid our heads down to sleep.

Looking back, I’m grateful God provided this opportunity and that I was able to identify the situation as a teachable moment. (If I learned one thing in my education to become a teacher it was do not pass up a teachable moment!) I want my children to be able to find joy no matter their circumstances.  This is an important life lesson and I’m hoping they’ll be able to be content no matter where they are.  And they can spread joy just by being in control of their attitudes during any situation, which is powerful. If they can’t do this, they are in for a lifetime of disappointment because these silly little problems will happen, and they’ll happen often. That’s just life. Hopefully, Monday night my girls saw a glimpse of what it’s like to choose joy.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12


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