And how good it felt to live out these words from I Thessalonians:
Be joyful always;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
These verses have been the beat of my heart in this current mothering season of my life. Sometimes they are the truth that I live. Other times the reality I aspire to. And, if I'm honest, often the pang of conviction for the person I want to be and commands I want to obey, but don't.
Some moments are really hard and I forget to be joyful, don't know how to be thankful for the ick of life. Like a month ago when, instead of going out to celebrate my birthday with a dear friend, I was cleaning up vomit from two sick boys. Or like a few weeks ago when instead of crafting with friends at Mom's Night Out I was sitting on a hospital bed listening to the high pitched hum of fluorescent ER lights waiting to hear if my baby had pneumonia. Not a lot of joy pouring from my heart in those moments.
But it doesn't even have to deal with sick kiddos or being kept from something fun for my joyful, thankful heart to get crowded out by discouragement and ingratitude.
It's the everyday moments that test me, too. The moments when the 4-year-old isn't listening and the 2-year-old is whining while the 9-month-old is crying and everyone (including ME!) is hungry and tired and I just want them ALL to GO AWAY! (My heart beats in frenzied frustration just thinking about it.)
How can I be joyful and pray and give thanks in a mamas-gonna-go-crazy-just-like-these-kids moment?! And who would expect me to? And why should I?"Be joyful now, Lord?" my heart asks. "But these challenging children and this hectic house aren't making me happy!""Pray to you now, God?" I question. "In the midst of this chaos when I can't even hear my own thoughts?""Give thanks to you now, Jesus?" I wonder. "For what? The disobedience or the tantrum or the soul-piercing scream?
"...for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."Yes, despite my grassy knoll euphoria of two weeks ago, I definitely don't have a picture-perfect life or always choose what's right. But I know my God and I know that His will is ALWAYS good. So that's what I'm trying to choose. Bit by bit. Day by day. Find joy in and give thanks for the strong minds and bodies and voices of my three amazing boys. Pray and ask God to show me how to live out His word and grow in joy and gratitude for the privilege of being a mommy.
* * *
And this is just the ordinary life of a stay-at-home-mom of little ones. This is not divorce or unemployment or cancer. I count myself blessed that I haven't had to walk one of those journeys.
I'm also blessed to know some who have and, despite their circumstances, are choosing JOY and PRAYER and THANKSGIVING along the way.
Meet my beautiful friend Alyssa.
Isn't she stunning? This picture was taken two days after she had a mastectomy for Stage 3 breast cancer.
This is Alyssa rocking the pixie cut when her hair started to thin.
Here Alyssa, with our friend Kathy, pose during chemo for an awesome thumbs-up photo.
And I absolutely love this precious moment captured of Alyssa and her husband, Randy, right after she shaved her head for the very first time.
Can you feel her joy?
Oh, and did I mention that Alyssa is also the mama a 2-year-old little boy and is 8 months pregnant with a baby girl?
I'm sure that Alyssa has bad days. Hard days. Days of questioning and struggle, sadness and pain. Yet she chooses joy and thanksgiving because she knows that God is good and faithful and His love never disappoints!
Alyssa recently posted something on Facebook that I think of often and it helps me to be joyful and pray and give thanks ALWAYS, too. She wrote:
My personal interpretation of Habakkuk 3:17-19:
“Though I am bald and have one boob
and am pregnant and starting to waddle,
Though I don’t know my future
and sometimes that really scares me,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Trusting in Him I take heart and gain strength.”