Do you ever find yourself trudging along this time of the year, feeling like you are just accomplishing school? There is no joy, no passion, no real inspiration, just a drive to the finish line? Whether your finish line is the end of May or twenty years from now, I hope to give you three tips to increase your joy in the journey.Today I want share with you my journey the last couple of weeks and the things the Lord is teaching me about joy. We find ourselves in this same position nearly every spring….
What Spring Looks Like in My House
My boys play sports in the spring and the practices and games are in full gear. We have five family birthdays to celebrate in March. I begin to scour the internet researching and planning for our upcoming school year. This helps me take advantage of conference specials when we attend a Teach Them Diligently Conference and lets me put my hands on any curriculum I am up in the air about. I love having most of my planning done before we break for the summer. This lets me have a mental break for a couple of months and have more time to enjoy summer activities with my kids. This year, I added car shopping to the list. Our van has served us well the last nine years, but has to be put to rest. We set aside time to clean closets and purge bookshelves to sell and donate our excess. All of these things are necessary and important to me, but it makes me mentally drained and physically tired after several weeks of this schedule. I get behind on housekeeping and meal planning. I feel behind on everything…….
Joy – Emotion or an Attitude
Mud tracked on the carpet, doggy pawprints on the door. Kids running in and out of the house enjoying the warmer weather. These are the things of special memories, but my drive to the finish can leave me forgetting to savor the moments, put the housework and projects aside and focus on the people in my life. As I began to ponder this recently, the Lord began to speak to me about joy. Joy is not specifically an emotion. Happiness is the way we feel, but joy is a heart attitude. It transforms my life. When I am dealing with stress, I am learning that I don’t have to feel happy about it, but I can chose to have a joyful attitude in the midst of my trials. When the kids have spring fever and want to be outside, when I would rather be finished with school, I can look to my heavenly Father and realize that these temporary trials can develop perseverance in me and teach me so many lessons about life. I can learn to stop and live in the moment. Stop and sit with my toddler and read a book. Don’t be so concerned about finishing an assignment, but learn from the process. When we are tired and weary, we have so many opportunities learn to choose joy. Here are my three tips:
1. Make a Choice
Choosing joy is more about having a prayerful attitude of gratitude and peace in the midst of stress, frustration and sticky situations than about big smiles and a happy feeling. We can ask for joy in the midst of our trials and our Father loves to shower this fruit of the Spirit on us.
2. Remember That Our Homeschooling Journey Won’t Last Forever
One day, our journey in homeschooling will be over and we will be entering a new phase of life. Some days it seems interminable, but really this is a fleeting phase in the grand scheme of our life. Savor the moments and don’t always be looking to tomorrow. Enjoy the blessings of today.
3. Put on a Garment of Praise
I remember a song my father taught me as a girl. He used to get out his guitar and sing it to me. The lyrics were taken from Scripture and went like this –
Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
Lift up your heart to God.
Pray with the spirit and the understanding.
Oh magnify the Lord.
I have found that when I am feeling stress, pushing others beyond their limits or just ready for a mental break, it is hard to stay in that mindset when I begin praising the Lord and meditating on my blessings. Gratitude and praise lift the heaviness of my heart and put my focus on things above. I am then able to see clearly the path to the finish line, but I am also able to notice the beauty on the path around me. My focus is not so narrow but I am able to take the time to see God in the circumstances and people around me.
I hope that as you prepare to wind down or switch gears in the coming days, you will remember to chose joy and enjoy the journey ahead of you!
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Jennifer Allen is a homeschool graduate, wife to her soulmate David (who also contributes to the blog), homeschooling mom, registered nurse, AWANA teacher, pianist, reader and lifelong learner. She can be found on her little corner of the web at conversaving.com. The person on the street would define “conversaving” as the act of easing the discomfort of someone left out of a conversation by including them in the dialogue. “Conversaving” the blog seeks to do the same thing, by relieving the awkward silence across the Internet of those seeking a real place to engage in constructive conversations about news, family,homeschooling, saving money, etc. Sprinkle in some laughs, tears, personal stories and curriculum reviews and you have the recipe for Conversaving.com!