Joy

Asher and I have always struggled with food.  He has been a picky eater from birth.  He takes 30 minutes longer than the rest of the family to eat dinner, but he'll gobble down dessert like he'll never get a chance to eat again.

I love to give my kids healthy snacks and I often give my growing boys special treats in between meals.  Asher always scarfs the food down by the fistful and is "STARVING" and close to tears just seconds later.  So, long ago, I learned to tell the boys to eat their snacks slowly and enjoy them.  The other day Asher asked me what it meant to enjoy his food.  Quite honestly, I was stumped as to how to explain such a rich word to my four year old.  

"It means to like eating the snack and be happy while you're doing it."  I told him to just sit in his happiness.  I really struggled to explain the concept. And I'm not sure that it made any sense to him.  Maybe I should have looked it up.  Well, I just checked the definition at Dictionary.com and I think they struggle with defining it too.  As a Christian, we're taught that you can have joy in every circumstance.  That it's an internal feeling, not based on what's going on around you externally.  But the dictionary defines it as, "The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good…"

I'm pretty sure that joy is not caused by something, but someone.

Our pastor talked about joy today in church.  He defined it as a soul satisfaction; getting the most out of life.

Joy has been a big part of my life and the life of my family.  When I found out I was expecting our first baby, when we thought about names, I couldn't get the name Joy out of my head.  I loved it as a middle name for a girl, and when Randall decided on Isaac, meaning "laughter", I thought it fit as well.  When Asher was born, I went through the same process, looking for names that meant joy for a boy and first names that went well with the middle name Joy for a girl.  Asher means "blessed" and that stuck with me.  We are so blessed and my joy comes, in any circumstance, through that blessing.

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While I was in labor with Isaac, I listened to this song and it became part of a soundtrack to his birth and childhood.  He is my joy, as is Asher and their daddy.

This whole blog is about joy.  I find joy in knowing my boys.  I find joy in the everyday, ordinary things we do together.  I write them here to remember them and to pass that joy on to you.  

But I can also find joy in the trials our family has entered.  When Randall's dad passed, there were moments of great depression, but for me, an underlying feeling of joy that Bill is healed and whole again with his Creator.  There was even joy in my heart in the months that passed as Randall and I grew closer as we figured out how to live this life after Bill's death with a sadness that we will always have.  That joy rested in the hope that we will see Bill again some day and the hope that on the other side of this trial, we will be stronger together.

Our pastor said that finding joy takes practice.  "Practice finding joy in the little things," he said. "And rest."  So maybe I was right to tell Asher to just sit in his happiness.  So much of joy comes when we stop and take in what is going on around us.  Despite the circumstances, we are loved.  We have good, good things surrounding us.  

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Two boys, you were born joyful.  Isaac, you have always laughed and been silly, bringing joy to all around you.  Someday you'll learn that there are times to be silly and there are times to be serious, but in every situation, there is joy to be had.  

Asher, your smile brings joy to everyone around you.  You love others so well.  May you never stop giving your life bringing hugs.

I pray that you boys will always have joy inside of you.  This joy is hard to define, but it is something internal, and eternal.  In every situation may your heart overflow with satisfaction.  May you know deep down inside that you are loved by your family and so much more importantly by your Creator.  You are loved so deeply that he sacrificed his most precious possession, his son, so that you may have joy for eternity.  May that knowledge inspire you to get the most out of life.  May that knowledge move you to smile, to worship, to tears of JOY.

Experiments

The boys and I love to do experiments.  I like to think we live an inquisitive life, learning all the time.

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Currently, the boys are playing in the backyard but they keep running from the backyard to the deck and back down again…

After watching them run back and forth for a few minutes (I was busy in the kitchen baking a peach cake…mmmm.. but keeping my third eye (you know, the ones moms have in the back of their heads) on them) I asked them what they were doing.  

Isaac answered, "We're doing an experiment."

"What KIND of experiment?" I asked.

"Just an experiment, MOM!" Asher retorted.

"We're taking Tabby's dog leash and hooking it up to people and dropping them off of the deck but the leash will catch them." Isaac states.

"That sounds very exciting, but you know that if you hook the leash up to a real person like you or Asher, and jump off of the deck the leash will not catch you.  You WILL break a bone."

"Yeah, we know"

"Ok, so make sure you just experiment with toys and not people, okay?"

"Ok."

Twenty or so minutes pass and I hear a huge crash and clatter outside.  I swiftly make my way to the deck.  "Everybody okay?  What happened?"  

"Nothing." Isaac says immediately.  

I look down, and Asher is on the ground underneath the deck.  He's standing and doesn't look to be hurt in any way.  Plus the crash sounded more like a table was overturned than a boy breaking multiple bones.

"Asher, you okay?"  

"Yeah, I'm fine, Mom." He says confidently as he runs inside the house.

That's when Isaac says, "What?  Is he bleeding?"

Asher seems to be completely unharmed and insists that nothing at all happened.  

I'm loving this latest phase, where I feel safe enough to let the boys play alone outside.  They've been entertaining themselves all day.  They've only destroyed half of the house with a huge hot wheels race track and they even cleaned up all of the pillows they had thrown around the first floor as they made landing pads to dive onto off of couches.  This really is a fun stage.  

 

I remember one of my first real tastes of freedom.  Back then we weren't so afraid of bad guys in our own neighborhoods (or we weren't afraid what neighbors would think of us) so kids were free to roam.  I remember packing snacks and riding my bike down to a creek on the edge of my neighborhood for the day.  I remember playing Jailbreak and Capture the Flag, hiding in the dark around the neighborhood while Mom and Dad had their Bible study in the house on summer nights.  And one of my most favorite memories of all was riding my bike with my best friend to a lookout tower miles away from the vacation home where we were staying.  We climbed it and talked and laughed for hours as we overlooked marshes and an ocean that went on forever, completely alone in the world for that day.

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These little tastes of freedom were moments of pure joy for me growing up.  They were moments that reflect how God loves us and gives us freedom.  He wants us to feel the exhilaration of that freedom and I want to give that gift to my boys.  

Maybe not quite yet though.  My watchful eye (and ear) are almost always on them.  They're only four and six years old right now…  

And they say things like, "Let's try it on Tabby next!"  as they whizz by me.

A Magical Evening

Isaac lost his second tooth yesterday.  At 4am to be exact!  He woke us all up to show us it had fallen out all by itself in his sleep.  It occurred to me that I never got around to documenting how the first tooth came out.

 

June 21, 2011 just happened to be one of those magical ordinary days.  You know when nothing particular is going on, but everything just seems to be going your way.  Randall was out of town so the boys and I were keeping busy.  We ran some errands and came home just as it started to rain outside.  The light rain brought a cool breeze with it and the boys and I decided to sit outside on our covered porch and watch it come down.  Years ago, the boys bought me a bench for my front porch and many perfectly ordinary and perfectly magical moments have happened on that bench.

The boys played on the porch and stuck out their hands to feel the rain and I snapped a picture.  Here’s what Isaac’s teeth looked like that afternoon:

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There is something about teeth that just give me the heebeegeebees.  I don’t want to hear them or touch them at any time.  I knew Isaac’s tooth was loose, but since Randall was out of town, I knew that Isaac would have to be the one to pull his own tooth.  I wanted nothing to do with that!

Sure enough, when bedtime rolled around, Isaac’s tooth fell out all by itself.  He handed it to me in such excitement!  He was so proud of himself!  I asked him what we should do with it and he immediately said, “Put it under my pillow!!!”

I played dumb, “Oh that’s right, so the tooth fairy can come.”  I told him that I’d like to keep his first lost tooth, so we decided to write the tooth fairy a note asking her (or him) if she would please leave the tooth for us to keep.  We went downstairs to find a piece of paper for the note and before I knew it, Isaac was out on the back deck.  I watched him from inside as he yelled, “I just lost my first tooth!!!” into the night air.

He came back in and announced that he had told the tooth fairy that he lost a tooth so she would know to come tonight.  It made me smile.

We went upstairs, put the note and the tooth under Isaac’s pillow and finished our bedtime routine and I tucked the boys in for the night. 

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A friend came over to keep me company while Randall was gone so I went downstairs to entertain her.  A few minutes later, Isaac yelled down the stairs, “Mommy, the fireflies are out!  Can we go catch them?”

I had mentioned to Isaac that I don’t feel like it’s really summer until we catch some fireflies.  I hadn’t seen any in our yard yet, I assumed because our yard was infested with cicadas!  But the cicadas were silently piled up in our lawn asleep for another 13 years by this point.  Isaac had been looking out the window, I’m sure for any signs of fairy dust or a fluttering of tiny wings announcing the arrival of his tooth fairy when he saw the lightening bugs.

He ran downstairs and begged to go catch some.  I couldn’t refuse him.  It was the best ending to a magical day.

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Well I guess the best ending was that the tooth fairy did come and left a crisp dollar bill under his pillow as well as his first lost tooth.

 

Isaac, keep believing in the things unseen.  The world is full of magic that God created just for us to marvel.  As you grow and learn, much of these things will lose their mystery and luster.  Still, I pray that your curiosity will never grow dull of this spectacular earth.

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Overheard

Isaac: When daddy dies, I'm getting all of his legos.

Asher: Do you want me to cut you up?

Isaac: It's okay if I die because I trust in God.

Asher: You won't you'll just be cut.

 

 

Asher: And I trust in God too.

 

 

Asher: Idiot.

 

And this, my friends, is why we ask people to wait until after they have finished second grade to make the decision to be baptized.