Naomi Snow DayI received a phone call this morning at 6 AM from the Austin Independent School District, a recorded message announcing that school was cancelled today for “inclement weather.”

That inclement weather is a winter storm blowing in, icing over the roads and teasing Austin with a tiny bit of snow, a rarity for Central Texas.  A big smile crept across my sleepy face as I had the delightful job of letting my kids know the awe-inspiring, mind-boggling, joy-inducing news: NO SCHOOL TODAY!

This is something that never happened to them when we lived in Indonesia, as snowflakes tend to avoid the equator.  So for the first time ever in their lives, winter weather has halted a regular old grueling day of wake up, jump up, get your day started, learn your lessons and do your homework.

Ana sent me a text message from her room at 7 AM asking if school was cancelled.  Instead of texting back the answer, I had to deliver this unbelievable message in person.  I tiptoed into her room with the news at bedside and the reply was an exultant, whispery yell, “YESSSSS!!!”   She’s still in there sleeping now to celebrate (8:53 AM).

Next Jordan stumbled of his room, worried that he had missed his alarm (I had gone in earlier to snatch it away).  “Dad, I overslept,” he cried out.

“No you didn’t.  No school today!”

What???!!  Fist pumps.  A twirl.  A lifting of his face to offer praise to the heavens.  A run to the window to confirm the news.  His “YESSSSS” that was louder then Ana’s.

Stephanie and I were the most excited about Naomi’s reaction, as our princess born in the tropics can’t remember ever seeing snow in her five-year-old life.  Little Naomi looked through the doorway at the white rooftops and started squealing.  “No school today?” she asked.

“No school today!” we answered, even though she never has it on Fridays (that’s okay, five-year-old’s aren’t known for their calendar adeptness).

More squealing.  More wide-eyed wonderment at the light, white frosting on the ground (definitely not enough to make a snowman, but impressive for us Texans nonetheless).

That feeling of waking up to a snow-cancelled school day, there’s nothing quite like it in the whole world.  I remember growing up in a small town in Arkansas, listening to the radio on mornings when it snowed, and hoping against hope that the grind of school would be obliterated by a day of frolicking in white powder with my friends and making a snowman.  Those were the days before the news was delivered by automated messages to your cell phone.   Yet still unbounded joy then and now.

I have a couple of questions for you.

The first is, how long has it been since you have experienced joy?

Think about it for a minute.   It’s been a while for me, honestly.  I want to have that wide-eyed wonderment that Naomi has in her face this morning more often.  I want to “fight for joy,” as John Piper says.  In fact, that is one of my New Year’s resolutions, to fight for joy every single day this year, for joy to be normative in my daily life as Paul admonished us: “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

The second question is, how does God feel about you when you experience joy?

I experienced joy as a father today as my kids experienced joy, maybe even to a greater degree than theirs.  I was giddy with the thought of delivering the good news.  The anticipation of their faces lighting up lit up my own heart with joy.

Make God joyful.  Be more joyful.  Clutch on to Him more tightly this year than you ever have.  Let the reality of “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah  8:10) permeate your life.

You have to look carefully to find the mini-snowman
You have to look carefully to find the mini-snowman in this picture

Now get out there and scrape enough snow off the driveway to make a mini-snowman.

— Mike O’Quin, author, Java Wake and Growing Desperate