The scorching sun blistered my back as I hunched over the long row, gently burying watermelon transplants into the cool earth. I pressed a fist against my aching back and slowly straightened as a blast of cool water met my skin. I spun around searching for the source. My impish, dimple-cheeked daughter grinned at me with the water hose cocked in my direction.
She taunted, “Whatcha gonna do now, Mama?”
Stunned to see her lighthearted mood, in direct opposition of my own, I stared back. My gut demanded I force her to drop the hose and help me clean up our mess. A crinkle from the corner of her eye warned me to lighten up.
I was faced with a choice. I could forget my throbbing back and exhausted self, relax, and retaliate or I could reprimand her for goofing off during the gardening chores.
Supper should be started soon, and I didn’t have time for this. But she still stood there waiting for a response.
How could I not have fun with her?
As we faced off, I spun around, jumped over the row, and snatched the hose from her before she blinked. Turning the spray onto her, she shook with peals of laughter. She dashed away dodging trays of watermelon seedlings, shrieking for sibling backup. Her willing tribe jumped to the rescue, grabbing the nearest full watering cans, and pouring them down my work boots.
We didn’t finish our chores that afternoon, but it didn’t matter. We made precious, lasting memories together. I almost let Satan steal my joy that afternoon. I almost let my uncomfortableness come between us. Thank God I didn’t.
He gave me those sweet moments that day and He can do the same for you.
Have you been in those tough moments, when you’re faced with a split-second decision, and the weight of your fatigue threatens to crush you?
Parenting throughout the hot, hard times can be fun. God didn’t intend for us to live dismal days. He intended for us to have life abundantly. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
Too often we are so wrapped up in the mundane, repetitive routines of our lives that we forget to actually look and enjoy the people in our lives. The joy amidst the sorrow. The laughter beyond the pain. The thief would rather steal our joy than to have us rejoice in our abundant life.
When we choose chores over children, we let time slip through our hands. We determine how each moment is spent in our lives, whether we invest in memories or squander the spaces of remaining time.
I don’t ever want to even think about breaking away from chores to have fun with my children. What I’ve often heard is true –they grow so fast. To think we might miss these little sprinklings of joy throughout the day disheartens me.
Don’t let Satan steal your joy.
“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3
If you want to find joy in the small things this week, pay attention to the small lives you influence. They need to see us loving and living and laughing. They need to see us depositing tokens of time into their lives one laugh at a time.
So the next time your child is tugging at your leg or crawling in your bed at two in the morning or squirting you in the back with a water hose, choose love. Choose joy. Choose snuggles and laughter from here on after.