May our sons know that Your kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in Your Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 14:17
Especially on Sundays.
Sundays we play board games—my three-year-old son and I forming a team, my four and a half year old already dominating at Settlers, his father showing him the ropes. Then I read them The Velveteen Rabbit by the woodstove, and we wear slippers—the cozy knitted kind, autumn winds at the windows.
Supper is nachos with melted cheese and a movie—something like How to Train Your Dragon—and we finish it after the boys have a bath, ending the night with a bowl of popcorn and them snuggled between us on the couch.
We’re a family that does life together. My husband rushes home from work as a school teacher to spend time with the boys before bed; he’s their jungle gym. They climb all over him and then go outside to ride in the wheelbarrow and gather wood for the fire and we eat every supper either together or over at Trent’s parents’ house because family lives all around us.
I didn’t have this growing up–this closeness to one another, this village-raising way, but I also didn’t know a lot of joy growing up. I felt very isolated and alone and I’m wondering if joy isn’t just being confident that we are loved? (<<<—Tweet that!)
And not just by one another, but by the Father who gives us good gifts through each other.
SAFE IN OUR LOVE
Every night before bed I go into my boys’ room and tuck them in, kiss their soft cheeks and pray over them as they lay there—and more often than not, my youngest especially, lies with his arms splayed out, his heart and body completely unprotected, his face in a peaceful smile.
This speaks so loudly to me of the confidence he feels. It brings tears to my eyes—he is so safe in our love, he doesn’t need to curl up in a ball and protect himself as he sleeps.
I have no doubt God enters our rooms when we’re asleep and kisses our foreheads and sings over us, like Zephaniah 3:17 says. He quiets us with his love, he delights in us, but how he must weep when he sees the way we’re folded up in our sleep, our faces pursed, our arms wrapped tight around us—because the world can be cruel. The world teaches us to look out for ourselves–it’s each man for himself in the 21st century.
FAMILY BREAKS THE RULES
But family shouldn’t follow this rule. Family should be a safe place, a haven, a house of laughter. It should be unguarded and free, a refuge where Mom and Dad rejoice in their kids, and where the kids feel delighted in.
Please note, this is not to say that joy means spoiling our children—by no means. I believe in discipline, in firm teachings, and in living with less, not more. No, joy means people, not things. It means a condition of heart, not a state of mind.
And it’s not easy. As mothers, we need to make time for long walks, alone, to find the strength to continue to delight in our kids’ company. But oh, that beautiful moment when we return, and open the door, and the flurry of little feet and arms and legs as they wrap around us and say, “Mommy, we missed you!”
What a wondrous welcome home.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Reflect for a moment on your life. Where do you find the most joy? Is it in the right place? Why or why not?
Throughout the day, pray the ten scripture prayers found at the end of the Joy chapter in Praying for Boys!
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.
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