Choosing joy

My view as I sat on my front porch.

Last week we had a garage sale. It involved hours of work. Even though I have done numerous garage sales, this one was tough.

I have learned that the older I get, the more difficult it is for my body to recover from a lack of sleep and long days. And in my 20’s or 30’s my body would have immediately rebounded back.

However, this time I did not rebound as quickly.  I could not find any energy in the days that followed.  My days still began at 5:00 a.m. and ended near midnight each night.

Exhausted and completely wiped out, I was struggling to stay focused those first few days after the sale. In fact the day after the sale, I ended up helping my husband out back on our property. He was clear cutting some trees and making a path around the property. We have miles of trails, but also have to deal with tons of brush and trees in the way. It is a very tedious process to cut, chop, and clear a path.  During this entire time my body was screaming at me to stop working.

I should have listened to what my body was saying. I should have rested. But I did not. The next few days I was extremely exhausted but attributed it to overdoing it.

And just a few days ago I woke up to a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes.  My teeth hurt. I could not open my eyes without pain. I spent the day alternating between chills and overheating.

Finally, after two days I went to the doctors. Strep throat. All eight members of my family are being treated for strep throat as a precaution.  Shared cups and kisses abound in a large family.

Snapshot of my morning

Today I woke up tired and beat. I just wanted to sleep.

Diapers, dishes, and Danny needing help.

Spilled milk, squished Pop Tart, and permission slips to sign.

I attempted to do dishes. The baby started crying.  My impatience was growing by the minute.

Needed to remind one of my youngest daughters that she had to brush her hair, find her shoes, and get her backpack ready.

I tried dishes again. Youngest daughter who goes to school lost her backpack. Upset.  We were running through house looking. Suddenly, she remembers it is in our Suburban. I realize that her dad took the Suburban to work for the day, over thirty miles away.

Three of them left for school. Now its just me and the two youngest and a sick sister still sleeping.

I still have strep. I am tired. I want to sleep. I also want to get all my chores done for the day.

The youngest two will have nothing to do with it. Tears and tantrums over teeth getting brushed wrong.

Quickly, realizing that my day was going to spiral out of control if I allowed my anger and impatience to dictate my actions.  I gathered my two littles onto my lap. We prayed.

Afterwards, they ran off to play. I went outside to gather my thoughts.  My attention was drawn to the lilacs on my front porch.

A fleeting moment….

Lilacs thrive in northern Michigan for the last two weeks of May. Their fragrant blooms permeate the air for such a short time.  I look forward to their presence every spring. Unlike other flowers that stay in bloom all summer long, lilacs are fleeting in their blossoms. However, their plant on which they grow survives all year long. It is a strong hardy plant that can withstand all sorts of tough northern Michigan weather.

Just like the blooms of the lilac plant that are short-lived,  so are the many moods one mom can face throughout her day. If we, as mothers, reacted to every single mood that dictated our days it would create havoc in our homes and families. Not all situations need to be ‘reacted’ to.


Syringa vulgaris

I have learned some lessons the older I get. I have learned to rest. I have learned to listen. As a mother, it is important that you are able to breathe and to find that peace of mind.

Just like the refreshing rain of summer, God’s grace is also refreshing .  He renews me.He revitalizes me. In Jeremiah 31:25, we are reminded that He “will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”  Matthew 11:28 tells us that,  “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” You can get rest. You can find renewed strength. Not the kind of rest you find after a nap, but true rest. Rest for your soul. You alone are not meant to carry your burdens.

This morning I could have easily justified my bad attitude with the fact that I am sick. I could have excused myself from doing chores. I could have phoned a friend and have “gotten permission” to take the day off because I “deserved” it. I could have continued on and allowed my impatience to grow or let it fester.

However, I chose joy. Joy.  Joy is a  willful and conscious decision. Choosing joy involves sacrifice. Choosing joy goes much deeper than just having a happy day because things are going well. Choosing joy is deeply rooted in faith, hope and trust in God.

Psalm 16:11:

You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

By choosing joy, did all of my problems disappear? Did my chores magically get done? No, but I was transformed.  I knew that today was not my battle to fight. I chose to put my faith in the one who sustains me. The one who already fought the battle for me. However, just as the Lord’s mercies are new each morning so are the choices I must willingly take. Right or wrong. Easy or hard.

Some days are easier than others and it is easy to choose joy. However, then there are days like today. Days where I can choose between lilacs or the antibiotics.  I choose joy!


9 thoughts on “Choosing joy

  1. Stephanie, this is just what I needed this morning. Thank you for sharing. Somedays are certainly harder than others to choose joy but in can be done with a renewing of the spirit! <3 <3 <3

  2. Lilacs are absolutely gorgeous. We had them growing up and I’m always so excited if they’re in bloom when I’m at my parents home. I hope you are feeling better!

    1. I have so many childhood memories of lilacs while I was growing up. I was excited to have them at the house I now live in, too.

  3. Loved this post! I feel like I can relate to this daily. I have such good memories with lilacs and now will probably think of this everytime I see them in bloom. Thank you.

  4. Wow, choosing joy can be so tough. Thanks for the encouraging words! As a mom of a four year old and a nrwborn, I’m definitely going to try to choose Joy more today!

  5. I love the phrase where you said that not every situation needs to be reacted to. How true!! This is something that I need to work on, as I deal with my children. Most of the time, I am upset about my own self, but take it out on them because a situation arose. And most of those times, I don’t really need to react to what they did. I need to step back, observe, and change my attitude to one of joy. Thanks for this encouragement!!

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