A Cheerful Heart
A cheerful heart is like good medicine.
The car was packed, traffic was easy, and I hadn’t forgotten sunscreen. We sang along to a worship cd after praying, and I read my Bible during lulls in the conversation. We were on our way to the beach and we were off to a great start.
When we arrived, we pulled out our new wagon and loaded it up, delighting in the ease of it all. Free parking! Love this wagon! Perfect sunny weather!
We walked about half a mile to The Perfect Spot, complete with a lifeguard and an area nearby for surfing. Eric walked back to the car to get his surfboard and found a parking spot right by where we set up camp. A shorter walk back to the car when we’re ready to go home!
Eric and I took turns staying close to the shore with our little one while the other played in the deeper waves with Coco or went surfing. I spent the majority of the day in my favorite place, the water, coming out only to reapply sunscreen on everyone. No getting burned this time!
We enjoyed some healthy snacks I had packed sitting on our chairs under the umbrellas we’d also wisely packed and then went back into the ocean for more fun. See? A family outing is no excuse to eat junk food! What a good, healthy mom!
Soon, the sun began its long downward slope, and we began packing up our things to go home. Suddenly, Soleil was whiny –I don’t want to put on my shoes!—Coco was moping and complaining about sand, and Eric…well Eric was just plain grumpy. Me? I responded by muttering under my breath and rolling my eyes. I know, OK?
That treasured parking spot? Well it came with three flights of stairs that were not wagon-accessible. Our over-loaded wagon (thanks to the two umbrellas, four chairs, ice chest now nearly empty of healthy snacks, towels, and more) now had to be unloaded and walked up the stairs in three trips.
This wagon is ridiculous! It shouldn’t hold so much! Free parking stinks!
We started the trips up and down the stairs on slippery, sandy flip flops, our bodies still invaded by sand, with the sun beating down on our sunburned shoulders (How?? I reapplied, for goodness’ sake!). Now, the wind was whipping our hair—and yes, more sand—into our faces.
We finally got the whole load upstairs and took turns rinsing off with a jug of water. Free beaches equal no showers. The healthy snacks I’d chosen turned out to be not-so-filling and the kids were starving. I thrust a couple bags of quickly-browning (but organic) apple slices in the backseat and shut the door. Argh! It had been no less than an hour and a half since we’d began packing up. We should have been home by now! I was tired, hungry, sore, and frustrated with everyone else’s complaining!
Seconds after the kids were finally settled in their seats and Eric was strapping the surfboard to our van’s roof, I realized I’d forgotten my own change of clothes. Which meant I got to make the long trip home in a wet, sandy suit. I told Eric the news, and after rolling my eyes at his irritated response, I went and looked out over the ocean.
Well, God, I tried. I prayed this morning, started the day in your Word. We sang, talked about you and read some more of your word on the way here. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, everyone ends up grumpy and rude. And I’m sick of it! Why bother!?!
At that moment, a verse I had read before but didn’t remember quite where popped into my head. A cheerful heart is good medicine.
Ugh. I tried being cheerful, Lord, but as you can see it just doesn’t work.
I got in the car, plopped into my seat and plastered a silly grin on my face. While we were waiting for Eric to finish up, I took silly pictures of the girls in the back seat. When he got in, I smiled as big as I could at him. He looked at me like I was crazy and set off. Soon, I was laughing at my own goofy grin and Eric and the kids started murmuring…Something’s wrong with mom!
I had cheered myself up just by being goofy and in doing so, got the whole family laughing at what a dork I was. Soon, all our bad moods had vanished and we were laughing and talking again. Our ride home wasn’t perfect. We ran into traffic and ended up stuck in the car for three hours. We missed our night church service and stopped and ate forbidden fast food for dinner. Soleil and I began to turn redder and redder as the night went on, our sunburn coming into full effect.
But I’m thankful for what didn’t happen. We didn’t grumble and complain or end up arguing the whole way…or worse, retreat into a mutual irritated silence. We laughed, talked, listened to some music and I even restrained my eye rolling when Eric turned on one of his old bands.
When we got home that night, we looked at our pictures of the day and smiled over our memories. The bad moods were long forgotten, and all the blessings of the day remained. Good medicine, indeed!