Everyday is the same. Luke shrugs his backback on and lumbers off the bus, brows furrowed in thought. Levi rushes past him towards me flushed and grinning. With his coat falling off a shoulder and backpack bouncing he bellows "That was the best day EVER!" Luke will often try to articulate that it is impossible to have a "best" day everyday. But Levi can't hear him because he has already launched into explanation of why the day was so wonderful. It wasn't always this way, goofy grins, and chuckling loud at life. He came into the world with colic. Red faced and little fists clenched. I never knew quite what to do when the crying would start. With unkempt hair and emotion I would pace back and forth. Sometimes praying sometimes crying not knowing how to soothe this new child of mine. The one we named Levi, "one who lives in harmony". Trying everything I could think of to get him to sing a different melody. The colic passed leaving me exhausted and unsure and Levi emerged from it contented, eyes smiling. I would pray over the boys in their cribs before they could talk or understand words spoken. Different prayers for very different boys. Luke's prayer was that he would love others more than himself and God even more than that. And for Levi to be a joy bringer. To carry God's joy into the lives of others. And laughter comes easily to him. Whether we have a house full of Highschool kids, leaders, or friends his nature is easy and light. The only thing better than to belly laugh is to get someone else to join him. He is still the one person who can get Luke to laugh until hiccups punctuate each intake of breath. Right now, at seven, Levi can wear joy and laughter with ease. As he gets older, life will get harder. Belly laughing at life will be seen in most circles as silly, childish, and niave. I remember my mom often praying "God give me joy as my strength today." Joy withstands the storms, the judgements, the pain. It chooses to trust that there is always the option of a content and happy heart in Christ. Joy is the ballast in seas of changing swells. Happiness bubbles up and breaks, pain pierces and dissapears, but joy can remain. My prayers now for Levi are often whispered in the dark. Words he understands but can't hear because he is already asleep. Words asking for him to choose joy as his strength in a world that arms itself with false power and control. That this chosen joy will point others to the true joy bringer. The one that gives life to the full and sees past the swells that rock us. I hope you get to experience that type of joy this season and learn to choose it each day.
"Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."