Joy, weeks 32 & 33 (slacker again!)

I missed a week again!  Oh well.  At least I have a new picture to show for it, one that is more joyful than those I took in January, as it came at the end of a perfect week before we turned our heads homeward.

It’s our last night.  Tomorrow everything shifts when four of my children go back to school.  The oldest two will follow suit on Tuesday.   Either I’m in denial or I’m experiencing one of God’s little miracles as my heart is not so full of worries and stress as it usually is.  Returning from vacation earlier this week, we were immediately flung into the time crunch of a soccer tournament and much did not get done, yet my heart is calm.  I guess I’ve sent children to school enough to know that the years when we’re ultra organized and the years when life is still whirling at the end of August have little difference between them once you jump in.  Either way you get wet.  Some things go smoothly, some surprise you and soon everyone is adjusted.

I think I learned some things at the beach, things I’ve been trying to learn for years, and yet finally they are at work in my mind, heart and day.  This year has been a difficult one for many reasons, but perhaps the thing that makes life most difficult is when what you’ve dreamed, planned or expected doesn’t happen, or when the opposite of those things compose the life you end up living.  Much prayer, reading, thought and some hard lessons are beginning to teach me something:  the path I’m walking may be nothing like I pictured, but I can praise the Lord that there is a path, that He knows where it leads, and therefore I can receive whatever He gives me as a good gift because He is good.  I have wasted too much energy fighting for the path I always wanted, the one I pictured, the one I always felt I was working for.  There is a path and that is enough.  I cannot see what is around each bend in that path, but I can trust that He will clear the way when necessary and help us over the obstacles the rest of the time.  I guess I’m learning a new level of faith, and instead of fighting against the way things have played out I feel acceptance.  I don’t deserve any of the blessings that I have and yet He gives them so freely.

I’ve often thought, as a dear friend once said, that God’s economy is one of abundance.  Lately I’m coming to understand that the currency is love.  Where time or money or health or any other thing may be in short supply, love can always exist in abundance if we just choose it.  And if love is the currency, then relationships are the goal.  I look around me at all the personalities, all the needs, all the different sizes and stages that fill our lives and tears prick at my eyes.  Each of these children is precious to me.  As we cast one fleeting, backwards glance at a summer spent together, I turn forward with a heart full of hope.  I hope I can keep this feeling with me.  I hope I can use all the craziness of the school year to give love in abundance and create stronger relationships.  I hope, I hope, I hope.  And I have faith we will move forward.

There are a hundred things I want to share here, things both trivial and meaningful.  I’m hoping to make a fresh start here as we get back in a good routine.  As for my goals, there are many little things I’ve let go of, but the essence of my efforts is alive and well.  I am learning to find joy in everyday life, to find more to laugh and smile at, more to be grateful for.  I have one specific goal I set for August and today we set the ball rolling on it.  It’s a project that will take a lot of people to make it work but so far everyone seems to be enthusiastic and I am thrilled.  I feel so good about this idea!  We also have an important family event in the next two weeks which I hope to pull together successfully.  If I can do those two things and work toward a healthy fall schedule I will be satisfied.

The evening approaches and the sky turns gray as the sun settles beneath the horizon.  The big kids are cleaning up dinner in the kitchen and it’s a rare night when they’re cooperating.  I love listening to their voices as they work.  In the room where I sit the younger children begin to tidy up, bringing a smile to my face as they work.  My youngest climbs across a chair precariously to settle in my lap (on top of my computer), stick her face fully in mine, wrap her arms around my neck and give a big kiss.  She climbs down, runs around, and finds a new direction from which to climb until she’s distracted by a toy.  In a few minutes we’ll read the scriptures together and kneel in family prayer, then tuck them in for a big day tomorrow.  I love this feeling.  It’s the feeling of family, and it feels great!

God bless you in your week,
Jennifer

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