The Joy of the Simple

Last summer our family had the wonderful opportunity to gather at a beach house on the mid-Atlantic coast. My husband’s colleague is the owner. He had offered to let us use his spacious vacation home many times, and since we all live in very different areas around the US, the idea was especially appealing. Once my children found out about his generous proposal there was no turning back. Like bees to honey they were attracted to the idea, and we all made plans for the trip.

The week we spent together was the most refreshing, relaxing gathering we had in a long time. There was no set agenda, but there was plenty to do that was cost efficient or free. We chose a few family activities that fit our fancy: a picnic in a park with a free concert, ice cream and evening fireworks; a sandcastle competition (the artistry was incredible!); and a bonfire on the beach with a hot dog and marshmallow roast. These kept all of us sufficiently entertained. Of course, we took advantage of our proximity to the sand and surf. My husband is the only family member who is not quite fond of either, but even he enjoyed our daily frolics there.
Obviously with plenty to do outdoors, one might assume that we did not stay in the home very much, but we also found many ways to enjoy our family time there as well. Food teams that included the children kept everyone fed, the creativity coming, and the laughter rolling. The “Beach Birthday Bash” was particularly fun to put together and celebrate. We played games, watched some family movies, and kept our littlest granddaughter entertained with the toys that had been left behind by the now grown-up girls in our friend’s family. We created many special memories and truly treasured all that God had put before us during our family vacation.
One thing I had intended to bring or buy to use for downtime was a puzzle that featured a summer theme. Having done neither, we were delighted to find that our friends had left quite a few in the home. On a night early in our stay, the girls picked out an ocean scene to put together. We chose to keep it on the dining table, which was a central point in the living space. No one would have guessed that this activity would turn out to be the best and most memorable recreation of our entire time in South Bethany Beach! I believe down to the person, everyone participated in some fashion. Very often several family members sat around that puzzle and spent sometimes hours trying to assemble the difficult ocean segment. My thirty-two year old son was especially engrossed in the process. Whenever he would find a correct piece, he would shout out his fabricated word “Baoum!” which is for all intents and purposes an expression of victory. It wasn’t long until everyone who placed a piece in the puzzle would shout out the same. It was hilarious! To this day, my daughter-in-law who is a writer will site the number of words God has inspired her to pen followed by an emphasized “Bauom!” which signals to us all that she has had a very successful day. The simple activity of assembling a puzzle has left us memories for a lifetime.
It is interesting but not surprising that sometimes it’s the little things that bring us the most satisfaction, joy and reward. Luke 10 includes the story of Mary and Martha. These women were sisters of Lazarus, the man whom Jesus would literally raise from the dead. It is obvious that this trio from Bethany had a close relationship with the Lord. Martha invited Jesus to her home, and in her desire to be a gracious hostess, set about to make elaborate preparations for His visit. So much to consider; so much to do! Her sister Mary, on the other hand, sat at the Lord’s feet gleaning what she could from His teaching and simply enjoying His presence. In her haggard state, Martha dared to speak up about Mary to the Lord: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.” Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42).
At this time of year, many are busy packing the last vestiges of summer with hectic activities. Choose what is better by considering the joy in something simple. The rewards can be great, and victory is there for the taking – BAOUM!!!

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