A Guest Post by Sophie Elise
You had the perfect hour planned. The kids would go down for their naps and quiet times and you would sit on the deck with your cup of tea and Bible for a little quiet time of your own to refuel for the rest of the day.
All that stood between you and that hour of bliss was your children’s cooperation.
You started with your toddler. Next, you gave him his milk, read him a story, patted his back much longer than you would have liked to. Finally, he fell asleep. You tiptoed stealthily out of his room, silently screaming at the squeaky door as you inched it shut behind you.
Next up is your preschooler. You read to her, cuddle her, sing her favorite song. Take her to the bathroom. Twice. Finally, she too settles.
You put the kettle on for tea and gather your journal, pen, and Bible.
Then the unthinkable happens–just as you’re pouring the tea into your oversized mug, you hear him cry. He’s awake and upset, and you know by the ferocity of that scream that your desperately needed quiet time just disappeared.
What do you do now? How do you reconnect with Jesus–the source of all joy–in the middle of a chaotic day with your littles?
Is it possible to refill our cups with joy so that we have enough to pour out on these precious ones who depend on us so dearly?
The Source of All Joy
First, let’s consider where our joy comes from and in what circumstances we are intended to feel joy. Then we will look at how we can reconnect with our source of joy when we can’t even hear ourselves think.
The greatest joy we can know comes from Jesus: Peter says, Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). When we believe in Jesus–simply believe–we are filled with joy.
Joy also comes from the inworking of the Holy Spirit in us: Paul reminds us, the fruit of the Spirit is … joy (Galatians 5:22). When we accept and walk by the Holy Spirit, we produce this fruit.
Further, it comes from trusting in God: again, Paul writes, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him (Romans 15:13).
So, if our joy comes from believing in Jesus, walking by the Holy Spirit, and trusting in God, our job, then, is to set our minds on these things daily (or as often as needed) so that we can stay joyful.
The territory of a stay-at-home mom with little children is often challenging. The demands on your body, mind, and energy are heavy, and there are too few breaks throughout the day to refresh. I’m a homeschooling mama of four kids ranging in age from one to ten, and I struggle with this regularly. I get so tired out from being “on” as a mother all day–answering all the questions; cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning; settling sibling disputes; trying to get exhausted toddlers with the willpower of mules to take naps.
Where, in the midst of all that, does one find the time to stay joyful?
Called to Rejoice Always
The answer, at first glance, may not be totally reassuring. James 1:2-3 tells us, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Easy peasy, right?
Staying home with our children is a privilege, to be sure. I feel deep mom guilt every time I complain–even inwardly–about how hard it can be. I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to witness every miraculous moment of my children’s development. But some days, it so doesn’t feel that way. My faith is seriously tested. I’m tired, I’m worn down, I’m weak. The enemy uses that opportunity to whisper lies: you’re not good enough. You can’t do this. It’s too much for you.
But my God whispers back truths: I delight in you. (Isaiah 62:4). You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13). Come to me. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. (Matthew 11:28).
Even as We’re Tested
Is my faith tested daily as a stay-at-home-mom? Absolutely. Is it producing perseverance, as I learn to trust in Him and walk by His Spirit? Indeed. And not only are we called to rejoice when we face trials, but in all of our afflictions, suffering, and, oh yeah, always.
Always. In all things.
In our living rooms this morning as we soothe our children after one more tantrum, and in situations far more difficult. In the words of Saint Paul, “Again, I say, rejoice!”
Putting it into Practice
That’s not to say this is easy. Focusing on our faith in Christ, our trust in God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us in the midst of chaos is hard.
Here are some ideas on how you can draw your attention back to these greater truths when you’re feeling completely worn down in your role as a mom.
There are countless references in the Bible to ‘songs of joy’ and ‘shouts of joy.’ The Israelites danced and sang joyful songs with timbrels and lyres. David told the Levites to make joyful sounds. Psalm 28:7 says, My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him. We are created to praise and worship the Lord with a joyful noise!
Worship is something you can do–together with your kids–at any time of day. When you’re feeling especially drained, play a few of your favourite worship videos through your computer or TV. Let the kids sit or dance as the screen captures their attention, while you meditate on the lyrics, or better yet, sing along in your loudest, most joyful voice. It only takes a few songs to renew a spirit.
2. Give Thanks
When we give thanks to God, we reflect on all He has done in our lives and throughout history, and we cannot help but increase our faith and trust in Him, which we know leads directly to joy.
Make a list with your children of all the things you are grateful for. Let them decorate the list with colored markers and glitter. Praise God together for His goodness and His faithfulness.
3. Serve Together
Let’s head back to Galatians 5 for a moment. How does Paul define walking by the Spirit? Using our freedom…to serve one another humbly in love. (vs. 13). This is what will produce the fruits of the Spirit (including joy) in us.
Bake cookies and bring them to your next door neighbour. Draw pictures together and ask your children who they would like to give them to. Offer to watch the children of another tired mama for an afternoon so she can get some rest. Make a nice dinner together and set the table fancily as a surprise for the rest of the family when they get home.
Look for ways to bring joy to others and see how God, in turn, fills you with his Spirit of joy.
Staying joyful as a stay-at-home mom of littles can be a challenge, even on the best of days, but as we recall His promises and engage in the activities that help us remember how good our God is, we too will experience His inexpressible and glorious joy.
Sophie Elise is a writer, entrepreneur, and homeschool mom of four, passionately pursuing God’s rest. She writes to encourage women to persevere in faith and deepen their trust in God. She’d love to connect with you through her website, My Cup Runs Over or on Facebook.
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