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Choose Joy

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Andrew and I have dreamed about living amongst the redwoods for decades. We talked about moving north “after the kids graduate,” but it always seemed a distant, far off dream. We left this dream in God’s hands and waited until He made it clear that moving was the right path.

Five and a half months ago, Andrew and I left our house in Newbury Park for the last time and drove up to Sonoma County. Moving in the middle of a global pandemic did not seem like an ideal time, but I have learned that although God’s timing does not seem to often line up with my ideal timing, His timing is always perfect. I have found so many unexpected blessings and moments of joy.

Living in Sonoma County is a different pace of life, slower, more rural. We see the changing of the seasons and the growth of crops. I have watched the vineyards go from stumps in the ground to lush vines full of fruit. It is incredible to see God’s handiwork firsthand. Every day I look around at where I live in awe and unspeakable joy. It is so much more than I ever imagined. I feel God’s love all around me. Every time I drive anywhere I feel like I need to pinch myself. Is this really where we live?

This move has been far from easy. We ran into delays when we first got to Sonoma County that left us living in a hotel for six weeks. We reside in a tiny recreational vehicle with a shower my 6’6” husband cannot even stand in. And we are loving every minute of it.

I have learned to slow down, to enjoy the drive. Not too long ago, I found myself caught behind a tractor going about ten miles per hour with no option to pass. Rather than take the impatient approach of tailgating and getting upset, I slowed down and reveled in the scenery. The beauty of God’s creation is evident all around me.

I could focus on the negative, focus on the struggles and the inconvenience of this move. I could chose to be grumpy about every delay. But what good would that do me? When we focus on the negative, we miss out on so much that God has for us. So I chose joy. When there is a delay, when something is hard, I chose joy.

There are times when it is easier to choose joy than others. When we first got to Sonoma County and I found out we would be living in a hotel for six weeks, well, it was a shock to my system and it took me time to recover. But I found that God blessed us in that season and used us to bless others. It gave me a chance to get to know the area and find my local craft store!

Every day is a new chance to chose joy. Every day is a new chance to be thankful. Where in your life do you find joy? What ways can you slow down and enjoy the drive? What are the dreams that you are holding onto, waiting for God’s perfect timing? I pray that you remember to be joyful in all circumstances, not because life is always easy, but because God is always with you.


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