Choosing Life

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love… ” Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 (NIV)


Those of you who follow me regularly know that God gave me the word JOY and also Blessings for 2017.  A few years back God started to speak to me about putting “fun” back in our family and while I wanted Eyeore kicked out and Tigger to move back in, it took a little longer than I had hoped.

(photo courtesy of Stephanie Wittenrich)

One of the amazing things about our Father is that while He is ever the gentleman and doesn’t force His choice on us, when He knows it’s good for us and He knows we want to do life His way, He will continue to offer opportunities for us to get off the path we’re on and follow the path where He’s leading.

When God told me that JOY was my word this year, I was determined to figure out how He wanted me to implement that into our family life.  I had many false starts and stops, the enemy tried to derail me a few times with throwing curveballs, but I was (and am) determined to find that JOY (which lasts longer and is a lifestyle change compared to temporary “fun”) and figure out how to infuse it into our family life regularly.

As with all other metamorphoses God chooses to take me on, it has become more of a mindset change than a “follow the directions for expected result” change.  God used a simple thought, shared with me through multiple people, blogs, and messages over a number of days: God gave me this life and He wants me to ENJOY it.  He not only gives me permission to enjoy it – when I don’t enjoy His blessings, I hurt Him.

It may seem strange to others that I have to give myself permission to enjoy the life and blessings God gives me on a daily basis, but I do.  I get so fixated on making sure I’m walking in the direction God wants me to walk, achieving the goals God wants me to achieve, teaching my children the lessons God wants me to teach, blessings others and not missing opportunities, etc. that I suck the joy out of life until there isn’t anything left over.  That’s NOT the way God wants us to live.
While God doesn’t want me to be selfish and only live for myself, He does want me to wake up in the morning and enjoy my husband.  He wants me to wake my kids up and enjoy a conversation, a joke, a hug before we start the chaos of the morning.  He wants me to enjoy that cup of coffee, that workout (no, really), my work, my ministry, my friends, that shopping trip.  He wants me to see the joy in life.  And when I started looking, really looking, I realized there was so much joy waiting for me and I was missing it.

I know God gave me the word JOY for a whole year for a reason. I’ll admit I get sidetracked easily and slip back into my life of rules, schedules, get it done, etc. and forget to look up and see the JOY waiting for me.  If you ask my kids, they probably don’t see much of a change yet; but I’m slowly changing and soon, hopefully they will notice too.  A quick get away with my husband this past spring, a spontaneous coffee date with a friend one Friday morning, turning the radio up loudly while cleaning the house with two of my kids last night – all reasons to feel JOY.

Life is hard… sometimes really hard.  But even in the hard, look up and see if you can find the JOY God is waiting for you to discover.  Then, if you really feel energetic, share that JOY with someone else to keep the cycle going so they can find the JOY in their life to share that with someone else… and someone else… and someone else.

(photo courtesy of Stephanie Wittenrich)

I’m going to try and be more mindful to choose JOY daily instead of waiting until that special vacation or when I retire or when I get to where I think I’ve achieved whatever I think I’m supposed to achieve. God loves us all and wants us to feel JOY as we daily choose to embrace life, not just merely survive.


© Cheri Swalwell 2017

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