It's hard to believe November is already here--what a whirlwind this year has been! As the cold weather predictably begins to head our way, so do thoughts of past holidays and new ideas for this year's celebrations. I wrote about one not-so-perfect memory in Seasons of a Mother's Heart , a book designed specifically to encourage homeschooling moms.
Several years ago at Christmas, I had planned a special time to bake cookies with the kids. I expected it this to be a precious Christmas memory. I also expected to get twelve dozen cookies made for Christmas plates. I had melted some chocolate for making candy-coated pretzels and turned away to work on a batch of cookies in the oven.
When I turned back around to see how the kids were doing, I reeled at the sight of three-year-old Nathan using the melted chocolate as finger paint. Chocolaty goodness covered his hands, face, hair, and clothes, not to mention the cabinets and floor. Unfortunately, in my anger I made a bigger mess of the situation and missed the joy of that moment. But time and experience have since tempered my temper. Today, I would get a big laugh out of my chocolate-covered child and take a few snapshots. I would choose joy.
(Oh, how I wish that going-back idea were possible, these many years later!)
I am more convinced than ever that even in the midst of the mundane, burdensome, and oftentimes frustrating tasks of life allotted to me as a mother, God wants me to find his joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of his blessings, whether large or small. He wants me to celebrate life—the life he has given me.
But what does it mean to "celebrate" life? Does it mean that I let my house be a wreck so I can enjoy my children, or that I never entertain negative thoughts and attitudes, or that I never discipline my children? Does it mean that I simply overlook the myriad difficulties that inevitably spoil the best days, or that I ignore the burdens I carry as a stay-at-home mom, or that I close my eyes to intractable sins that won't go away?
Of course not! The joy-filled life is not found by diminishing my God- given responsibilities as a woman, wife, and mother, nor can I find joy merely by refusing to face the hard realities of life in a fallen world. There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept—the tension between ideals and realities. True joy is found by living somewhere between the ideal life and daily realities. That is where Jesus meets me, where his Holy Spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy.
To celebrate life is simply a choice. Every day, God extends his hand to offer me the gift of another day to live. I have the choice to take that gift and turn it into 24 hours of real life in Christ, or just let it become another 24 hours endured in a broken world. If I choose to accept it—to transform those minutes and hours into life lived for and with my Savior—I have the opportunity to see God at work, enjoy his presence, wonder at his creation, appreciate the expressions of his beauty and love, and touch the minds and hearts of my children with his reality. That's certainly what I desire, but it is a choice I have to make daily.
Daily. Hour by hour. Moment by moment, some days! How are you choosing joy today?
You can find Seasons of a Mother's Heart here at Amazon.
*****Many of you know I will be launching a new book February 2. I am so very excited about this book! (What else is new? :)) The name of the book is: The Lifegiving Home: Creating a place of belonging and becoming. Many of you helped me launch my last book, Own Your Life. If you would like to be a part of my launch team and are willing to help me get the word out about the book, please go to this page: The Lifegiving Home Book Launch
and ask to join the private group. Only those who sign up can be on this private page. I will approve you and you will become a part of the team.
The launch group is about women who want to help me spread the news about my new book when it comes out--in a pre-launch in January as well as a launch in February. Please do not join if you do not have time, as I don't want anyone to feel stressed. My old launch team was amazing and helped make posters and put out posts and left reviews and we watched together as the book got into the hands of sweet women all over the world. Thanks for letting me share! I am pretty excited!