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.
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.
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.