This week we took a few days off and headed to the lake! It was a simple mini road trip that we all needed and enjoyed. This year has been so difficult — of course that is true for everyone and is not exclusive to us. We have had a much easier time than many. But the chaos, uncertainty, and sadness takes a toll, especially on the kids.

bird flying over the lake

We took advantage of the flexibility of our new homeschool life, and vacationed during the week when less people were out and about. We passed a couple of peaceful days at the lake, where we slowed down and enjoyed nature and each other. It was blissful to have a break from the noise of TV and the distraction of trying to keep up with everything online. We enjoyed quality time talking and laughing and playing. We watched the birds, insects, and even deer we encountered. Then we found a beautiful trail that challenged young legs but brought us to an overlook that was more than worth the climb.

sunflower

Freedom to Delight

I am new to the homeschool mom life. It was nerve-wracking to make that decision this year, and I still don’t know if it will stick long-term. It can be a lot of work and stress, but the greatest gift it has given our family is time. Without the pressure of so many time constraints, I have found the freedom to delight in my family. We are not perfect and we can grate on each other’s nerves just as any family does. But when I take the time to slow down and really look around at these precious people, I see that I am so blessed.

A thief of joy

It’s hard for me to let go of my natural compulsion to be a fixer. It’s a tendency that can be both a blessing and a curse. The drive to help and encourage others is good and I believe it is a gift from God. But if I let it, it can also consume me. I can be fooled into thinking I alone am the person to fix all the problems. It can whisper in my ear, “if you don’t solve this, nobody else will.” This pressure comes from problems both trivial and global, and it can be a real thief of joy. It can rob me of delight.

As I grow older and experience more life, my eyes have been opened to so much more pain and suffering than I expected. There is so much hatred and anger in the world. This, too, can be a thief of joy. I wrote recently about the struggle to find balance when the burdens feel so great. It’s easy to become numb and shut down when troubled thoughts overwhelm me. It’s also easy to go into hyper-mode, where my pride and anxiety push me into thinking I need to do God’s job for Him.

A third way

But there is a third way. The way of peace and joy in leaning into God in these moments. Not abandoning responsibility or taking on everyone else’s responsibilities either. Instead, there is a way of trusting and praying while doing the slow, steady work of serving in the daily moments. Small acts of generosity and sacrifice are the offerings I can bring. I still have to fight the urge to do something big and grand to feel like a hero. Therefore daily, I take my burdens to Jesus and believe him when he promises that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. As the old hymn asserts, “I’ve found it so.”

I occasionally need reminding that it is appropriate and good to rejoice in the midst of struggles. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and it should be apparent in the life of every Christian. As the psalmist says, “In your presence is fulness of joy!” (Psalm 16:11)

This week I am thankful for so many things: changing of seasons, beautiful weather, time with my family, delightful kids, a loving husband, and the joy and hope that comes through following Jesus.

What brings you joy today? What is delighting your soul?