Where Are You Finding Joy in Ordinary Places?


This picture makes me smile.


I took it on a recent family adventure to the Everglades. It holds sweet memories of a sunshine-soaked January day spent looking at alligators and eating ridiculous amounts of seafood. The colorful, beat-up, not-running VW Beetle on cement blocks reminds me of what I long for in life -- to see more joy in ordinary places.


What's funny about this captured moment is that it didn't start off joy-filled. In fact, it was born out of a rush-rush, go-go moment where we were all running late. None of us had eaten and we were all beyond hangry, annoyed with each other, and to be real, kind of navigationally challenged (okay, maybe just me).


Come on people -- We were in Florida! In January! It was 80 degrees!

If that doesn't scream joy, I don't know what does.


When I finally got my navigational act together, we settled on the one place to eat that didn't sell bait and tackle as part of the menu. (Just kidding but not really) To call it homegrown and humble was a generous compliment. We ordered, settled in, and ate seriously one of the best meals I ever had.


Isn't that funny how joy just shows up like that?


The moment had Philippians 4:8-9 written all over it.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

When our family slowed down and our bodies caught up with the moment, we were finally able to find joy. After we could feed our hearts, rest in the surroundings and take the time to fully see what was before us, then we could come to know what the author Paul was talking about (from prison no less!) The food, the beauty, the time together in the sunshine -- all of it was loaded with joy as a blessing from God. But I'm a bit embarassed to say, it took us some time and getting over small stuff to see it.


Here's what the funny joy moment taught me:

  • It's hard to see joy when you are rushing.

  • Sometimes you need to look past the surface to see the good stuff. (people included)

  • Sometimes the best restaurants do sell bait and tackle.

  • When you look deeply for joy, it might be everywhere.

I'm grateful for the words Paul wrote centuries ago that could be revisited at a crazy seafood restaurant. As Paul was writing from prison, he sent those words to encourage others. Even during difficult times, he still found a way to spread joy. My hope is to see and live more of Paul's words into my daily doings. I want to not just read about, talk about or write about joy, I want to actually wear the joy goggles.


How about you? Where are you seeing joy? Where is Philippians 4:8-9 coming to life in your midst? My invitation is for you to take a moment and look up from where you are to see what is before you. It may not be a sunny day eating seafood in the Everglades. But, my guess is that you too will find joy in ordinary places when you look for it.


 

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