Call it an exercise.
Trying to form a habit.
I want my wrinkles to be smile wrinkles, not frown wrinkles.
But, most of all I want the atmosphere of my home to be joyful. Giddily, gloriously, laughingly, addictively joyful. Perhaps my goal seems unreachable, the bar set too high. After all, it’s an ugly world we live in. It’s a house full of sinners that I live in, and I am the chief.
Yet God’s Word speaks it, commands it, commends it, provides it. Therefore it must be attainable. So, I’ve set myself the goal. Joy is my goal. Pray for me. I’m bound to fail.
“And I commend [suitable for approval or acceptance; recommend] joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.” ~Ecc. 8:15
Does this not go against the grain?…saying the exactly opposite of what I’m always telling our kids? “Stop being so silly! Be serious!”…and His WORD commends joy. So, I smile again. Right this moment. I will practice this thing recommended to us.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.” ~Proverbs 31:25
Ha! I’ve never equated “laughter” with “strength and dignity”…but His Word does! I will laugh this coming school year, when things aren’t done and the kids don’t want to do school. I will laugh when I fear my inadequacy. I will laugh with them when we discover new things. I smile this moment because this is a good plan. I will practice the strength and dignity of laughter throughout our homeschool year.
“A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” ~Proverbs 17:22
I know the medicine God gives for my homeschool…for my life. A joyful heart is what the Doctor orders. Lord, help me to remember this when the school days are difficult. Help me to rejoice in this when school days are fantastic. I will smile this moment. I will practice taking this medicine right now and feel it’s curative effects in my heart. Thank you, God.
“Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything.” Deuteronomy 28:47-48
This joy-thing is of utmost seriousness. It comes with blessing and with curse. As I serve my family, I serve my Lord. The atmosphere of my heart and my home matter. I am utterly sobered. I am too weak. I struggle with discouragement and depression. How can God command this thing? Yes, Lord. So I smile right now, again. I practice this joy.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” ~Galatians 5:22-24
What a God! What a Savior. He commands…and he provides the growing. Yes, I crucify my flesh – a painful violent death. I lay down my right to have things my way in my time and bow to His greater agenda of joyful life. So, I praise God…and smile again. This joyful moment. I will practice this fruit that God is growing in my life.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” ~Psalm 30:11-12
Ah! And here it is again! He transforms it. He changes my ‘clothing.’ He clothes me. And here is the purpose – that my glory, this beautiful medicinal gladness, will sing His praise. Thank you, God! I shout it with a smile on my face – practicing, ever practicing. Thank you, God!
“Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” ~Nehemiah 8:10
Do you know what I know? I know that every day, every moment, is holy to the Lord. Don’t be grieved, He says. Go your way, He says. School your kids. Love your husband. Bless your church family. Reach out to your neighbors. Go. You have strength. It’s the joy of the Lord. So, I practice the smile again. A full-blown, crinkly-eyed smile. And I feel stronger.
Here are my practice instructions. Practice isn’t easy. It involves destroying and capturing. It’s hard. I think I’ll flex that joy muscle again. Smile. This moment.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~Philippians 4:4-9
(The six smiles in this post are my six beautiful grandchildren.)