The roar of the ocean wave. Birds hovering over the water. Another crash as the wave breaks. The sunshine breaking through the clouds just right creating an ambiance of color as the evening threatens with its darkness.
Coffee. With a friend. In silence. In that seat in the corner watching the people walking by.
Maybe its that sports event with lots of people screaming and cheering for their team. (Honestly – that would not be me, but I do know others that this brings a smile to their face).
Each of these are examples of what might bring a smile to a person’s face. Something that they enjoy. This past Friday I participated in a five minute free write on the word enjoy and was struck with how the word looks similar to “In Joy”. I want to get pleasure out of life but I want to be living my life in such a way that I am “in joy” and life’s bumps and bruises don’t shatter or debilitate but rather end up bringing out a richer color to the landscape or intensifying the flavor of the coffee. Living like that takes a shift of my mindset.
I have two books in my to read pile – one is Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way” and the other is “Listen Love Repeat” by Karen Ehman, both of these books approach the idea of loving the people around us in practical ways. I have been hearing a lot as both of these ladies have been promoting the books and I have been challenged (even before I read them!) to be more intentional in loving people. Strangers. Friends. Families alike. One of the thing, a sad thing I have realized as I have reflected is that in the name of busyness and “ministry” and life I have allowed myself to not be as intentional as I could be with loving others. When we practically love others we are being encouragers. We have the opportunity to say thru our actions and words that we see them. In the process of showing love, something happens in me – I live more and more “in joy” and life is enjoyable.
Two examples from the past few weeks come to mind…..the teacup and the shrimp tacos.
My niece turned four this year. She is a bundle of energy and full of smiles, independent and very sweet. I don’t see her very often because we don’t live close by but we do chat. In one of her messages to me she mentioned she wanted a teacup birthday party. One of the things I like to collect is tea cups, in fact its to the point I have started to let go of some of them. As God has been working these thoughts of loving others practically, to hear and act, an idea formulated. I thought it would be fun to give her one my teacups for her birthday. I have no idea what her reaction to this will be, but I know what working on this project has done for my heart. The time invested in making the keepsake box and picking out the cup helped me to step outside the practical strings of life. What do I mean by that? The practical strings of life – the bills, the cooking of meals. Keeping the house clean. Homeschooling. Appointments. Situations outside of my control yet directly impacting my life. As I stepped out of the practical strings of life – the creativity and the joy in me bubbled more. I was giving. Jesus has richly blessed me and I have an abundance I can give from. Living in joy, and being able to enjoy life, that cup is getting fuller and starting to bubble out more.
I enjoy cooking. I enjoy trying new things. One of my favorite ways to have shrimp is bang bang shrimp – its an Asian flare to the shrimp that has a great mix of sweet and spicy. Our family for the most part is on the Paleo diet (no grains and no refined sugar. This past weekend I made bang bang shrimp tacos, paleo style; yes it took time but the time equated to showering my family with love.
This week of Thanksgiving – what can you do (small or big) to bring a smile to someone’s face, while you walk through life. To share encouragement. That they matter. Loving them. Maybe its a gift, like the teacup. Or maybe its practical made with love, like the bang bang shrimp tacos. Maybe its sharing the ocean and whale pictures from vacation with your preteen son who calls them “brain farts” and simply laughing. Enjoying the beauty of God’s creation that He allowed you to capture on the camera. Whatever it might be don’t ignore the opportunity because of an excuse. We have so many things to be thankful for often times we simply miss them because we are trying to live life and not living in joy.