Bubbling with Joy

Well hey there! Long time, no chat! I’m excited to be back posting again, although I can’t promise how long it will last or how consistent it will be. I do have 3 kids (and all the accompanying laundry). Anyway, it really does feel nice to be logged in and get to share a little about what the kiddos and I have been up to. Let’s catch up:

  • Punky has officially finished Kindergarten!!! We are homeschooling , and this was the end of our first “official” year. We have really enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to starting 1st grade this year. Hopefully I will get a chance soon to write up a full review of the curriculum we used, so keep an eye out for that!
  • Bay will be starting Kindergarten this year! It’s a little early, but he tagged along with Punky over the last year so I think he’s ready. He already has a lot of the Bible and science concepts down pat, so we will focus on the math and phonics pieces, and be sure to take it nice and slow. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that it all happens at the pace our family chooses. So we can start Kindergarten a little early and take 1.5 to 2 years to complete it if we want – no problem!
  • We have added a 3rd rugrat to our crew! LouLou is 9 months old now and super spoiled by her big sissy and brother! It’s going to be interesting trying to do school with both big kids with a toddler around – pray for us!
  • We’re building a house! Just when we thought it couldn’t get more interesting than a 1st grader, Kindergartner, and a toddler, let’s add all the stress, decision fatigue, and busy-ness of building a house to the mix! But seriously, we are so blessed to have the opportunity to build our family dream home! We have been trying to move or build for several years now, but the timing just hasn’t been quite right. We are getting to build on my husband’s family’s property within 5 minutes of my parents as well – it is truly a dream come true for us! We are just in the beginning stages, so it’s going to be a while yet, but I will keep you posted on our progress!

So, yeah, those are the biggest things that have changed since I posted last. It’s a lot to be excited about and thankful for! However, there have been lots of long days (and nights) when I didn’t really have an attitude of gratitude. I’m sure you can empathize with me when I say that it is hard to be joyful when you haven’t had much sleep, the older kids are arguing for the hundredth time, hubby is calling wondering what’s for dinner, and you feel like 2 pots of coffee isn’t enough to get you through the afternoon! Being a parent is HARD! There’s always about a million things going on! The one thing you want when everything is going off the rails is a bit of quiet, but when you get it, you get this terrible feeling that the kids are up to no good. What’s a mom to do?!

The kids and I have started working on a little Summer unit to keep us going a little with school work without being too demanding. No workbooks or formal lessons. Just some basics and lots of fun. The theme of the unit is the Fruits of the Spirit. We really love to listen to this Fruits of the Spirit song – gets us up dancing and acting crazy every time. It has also helped Punky memorize all 9 fruits! (By the way if you don’t know what the Fruits of the Spirit are, click HERE for more info!) Today we worked on the second fruit – joy. The thing about joy is that it’s more than being happy. Having joy is totally a God thing, because it’s having that deep, from-the-heart, no-matter-what kind of happiness. It’s HARD to be joyful in all circumstances. To find joy, not in spite of the crazy and stressful things, but IN the crazy and stressful things. To count all the tantrums, boogers, snacks, laundry, errands, teachable moments, messes, and chaos as JOY is nothing short of a miracle! But it is so freeing. When you can look at each moment, good or bad, and remember that it is being used to glorify the Lord and fulfill His plans, Mama you’ve got a joyful heart and a much less stressful day!

I was trying to share this with the kiddos today – get them to understand that true joy is more than just feeling happy or being nice. That’s a tough lesson for most adults and even more so for the littles, but every opportunity to share a little about God, what He has done for me, and what He wants to do for them is a seed planted, so I’ll take it! We started by making a joyful noise along to some fun worship songs. The kiddos love getting out their box of noise makers and being allowed to be as loud as they want with them! Our selection is just a random assortment of instruments from various gift sets over the years like castanets, maracas, egg shakers, and even a cow bell! Sometimes we use them a little more calmly to work on rhythm and beat, but today was about joy, so we gladly made a LOT of noise! Even LouLou got in on the action! Then we read the story of Paul and Silas in jail (found in Acts 16) and how they managed to be joyful despite being imprisoned, and how being joyful in those dire circumstances helped bring the jailer and his family to Jesus. In case you weren’t aware, kids have a keen sense of what is fair, and being put in jail for believing in Jesus was completely outrageous to Punky! This story definitely got her attention!

Just to really seal the message, we moved to the kitchen for an object lesson. A great visual for joy is bubbles – they’re light and fun and always bring a smile to your face. We also tend to think of bubbling brooks, an overflowing cup, or feeling lighter than air when we think of joy – all things that can be associated with bubbles. So we made some bubbles, but not the traditional kind. We had to go all science-y with it and talk about chemical reactions while we were at it. First, I spread some baking soda out on 2 plates. I also mixed a couple drops of food color in with some white vinegar in a glass. I let the kiddos use some cheap droppers to drip the vinegar onto the baking soda, which of course produced pretty bubbles. It’s kind of like us – we’re the baking soda and when you add Jesus (the vinegar) we get all bubbly with joy! Punky enjoyed adding the vinegar one drop at a time, while Bay went to town squirting it on in big splashes. Then we took it one step farther by blowing up a balloon with the same chemical reaction. If you’ve never done it before, it’s easy. Just add about a cup of vinegar to an old water bottle. Use a funnel to put about 1/2 a cup of baking soda in a regular balloon. Then fit the balloon over the bottle opening, being careful not to let the baking soda pour into the bottle until you have a good seal. Once the baking soda falls into the vinegar, it starts making bubbles and the gas blows up the balloon, kind of like how we are full of joy once Jesus comes into our lives! Of course, once you have a blown up balloon, you MUST tie it off and play “keep it up” all around the house!

It’s been a fun day, full of adventures and lessons. Some parts of it were harder than others and it required an act of prayer to find the joy in those moments. I hope my kiddos notice when I’m struggling to find the joy and take a moment to send up a silent prayer for help being joyful in ALL circumstances. I hope and pray that you are finding joy no matter what your circumstances are as you read this. It truly is a blessing to put aside our fear and stress that we so often cling to, and just….be. Until next time – play, grow, & learn 🙂

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