Some days when we ask for the day’s to-do list, God hands us something unexpected.
When I sit down with God in the morning, I come with a pen and paper because there are things to be done. I am a little task-oriented maybe, and so that’s what I bring to the relationship. I come asking what I need to do this day, what action I should take in one situation or another or sometimes it’s just that I need to God to fix my broken soul so that I can function for the day. I forget that God is more than my Personal Advisor.
Yesterday, God handed me the words “take joy”. Take joy in the day ahead. Look for it. Receive it. Fill yourself up with it.
Sometimes God asks us to work and to give up things and to take decisive steps in a new direction. Other times he asks us to play and to look around and open our eyes to Himself, seen in the faces and colors and gifts that are around us.
Why I don’t always feel I have permission to take joy, I don’t know, but it is probably based on bad theology. Joy is freeing. Joy inspires worship. Joy feeds gratitude and love and peace.
So I took joy. Here are some of the things I took:
Joy #1: A goldfinch
I have a new birding app called Merlin Bird ID (from Cornell Lab) and it is my favorite. You select a few identifying features of a bird you see — easy ones like size, color and where you saw it — and then it gives you a list of possible species. Yesterday morning I saw this tiny, vibrant bit of yellow hopping around on my fence: it was a goldfinch.
God was so creative with birds. Not just sizes and colors, but their songs and their personalities. Birds are a love note from God telling us that we’re going to be OK and that maybe we’ll feel better about that if we dance around and sing a little.
Joy #2: A shoe selfie
There are these trails about 15 minutes from my house that wander up and around a hillside and down along the river. In the summer it is a cruel place to be — by then the river stinks and the desert is an oven — but in the spring, the place is glorious. And all the more glorious when you have a friend with you.
Nancy is one of my favorites, but she would not let me take her picture. So this is what a selfie looks like when the other person won’t selfie with you. If you look closely, the shoes are smiling because they are happy to be hanging out together. Just like their wearers.
Joy #3: where I live
These are the aforementioned trails. Sometimes living in Idaho is not ideal, like if you are looking for clothes that don’t make you look like a grandma or if you’re trying to get people to do something progressive like build a library.
But then Idaho will look at you like this, and you can’t help falling in love again.
Joy #4: white dishes
I recently became plateless and was surprised at how hard it was to find affordable square white plates that were not too big or too thick or too sharp. Like I said, Idaho is a great place for wilderness, but not so much for buying items.
But thankfully Idaho has the Internet, so we can buy stuff there. I found these lovely dishes at Crate & Barrel and I was hoping they would live up to their photos. They did. And for the first time ever, I have plates in my cupboard that I love. Necessary? No. But so so very fun.
Joy #5: Paper!
When I ordered plates off the Internet, I forgot how plates are maybe not super convenient to ship. They came in big boxes and were wrapped to forever in this paper stuff. I was about to be angry for how unfriendly this dinnerware option was for the environment, when I noticed that it was all 100% recyclable paper. And there was room in my recycling cart.
This was Mr. Pebbles’ favorite part of the day; the rabbit was curiously exploring these mountains of paper.
Joy #6: A dishwasher!
If I had a Quiet Contest with my new dishwasher while it was running and I was sleeping, I would lose.
That is how ridiculously quiet it is. And even cooler? The dishes come out clean! This was not true of our previous dishwasher. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have to wash the dishes after washing the dishes.
Joy #7: My new toy
I have been baking since kindergarten; it is something that is almost essential to my being.
So I am more excited about my new oven than I have been about any other item I have received in years. I went all out and got one with a convection setting and it has — THREE RACKS! This means I can make 50% more cookies at once and I am kind of giddy about that. Like past giddy.
Joy #8: An evening walk
My parents recently moved not far from us, but thanks to narrow, hilly, winding roads, it’s not a direct shot and not a route I’d be willing to walk. There is an alternate up-and-around way though, but I didn’t know how long of a walk it was. The kids asked at dinner if we could walk to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a popsicle, and normally I would say no because it was a school night and there’s usually stuff you have to do in the evening — even if you don’t know what the stuff is, you probably should stick around and do it. But since my directives were “take joy”, we went for a walk instead. It was glorious and my very favorite part of my day, walking in the warm springtime air through fields and along quiet roads with my kids.