3 Not-So-Secret Keys to a Joy-Filled Life

I have finally realized that I cannot bark, punish, or fight my children into obedience... because fear-based obedience is temporary and empty. I've had an "awakening" that the only way into a trusting relationship in which they seek to be obedient to my will (and one day God's) is simply through LOVING them well.

Some of this is really stepping on my toes, but YES! It's all a secret, but not really, at all. I just have to REMEMBER it and DO it.

But HOW? And what does that even look like? Aside from the obvious hugs, kisses, encouraging words, and late night chats (that we all do anyway). I mean, it sounds great on paper... but what do I DO when they argue, fight, talk back, or don't obey? Sometimes I'm a mess- everything is a mess- and it's hard to see through that. In the almost clairvoyant and life-altering writings of Sally Clarkson in The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity and through God's Word, I have come to three conclusions or "keys" that I believe are fundamentally transformative:

1. Gratitude:  I realized that I must THANK God for the opportunities that my kids present faithfully throughout the day to be corrected. I must be fully and whole-heartedly invested in this work of motherhood. I cannot straddle the fence, always fancying the greener grass and waiting for a different way, an easier way... to see if He might be calling me to do something bigger, better, shinier or easier with my days. I have to be all in, all the time. THIS is my calling and blessing. 

2. Praise: The second "Ah-Hah" moment came at the end of Proverbs 31 when it says in verse 31 (NLT)

"Reward her for all she has done, Let her deeds publicly declare her praise."

Let everything I do with my hands be in praise of Him.

I serve my family as worship. As I sink my hands into those nasty dishes in the sink for the 123,458th time in a row, I am doing so because I am blessed. I have food to dirty the dishes. I have a nice electric dishwasher to sanitize all the germs away so we aren't sick. We have dishes to eat off of and forks to eat with. We have all the fresh, organic, healthy foods we could ever want. WE. ARE. BLESSED. (Here's a FREE, awesome guide for casting vision and TRACKING all of your blessings for 2018). 

YES!!! I must be fully and whole-heartedly invested in this work of motherhood. I cannot straddle the fence, always admiring the greener grass. I have to be all in, all the time. THIS is my calling.

3. Prayer: As I focused on those truths in the muck of the dishes, my heart began to truly sing and praise him. The thing that made the change was this: I had to pray fervently that my actions would be my praise to Him. I had to pray that he would incline my heart more fervently toward Him, and that He would be glorified in my service. God began to open my eyes to look for ways to see the JOY in all that I do that so often feels so boring and repetitive.

Rather than living life aggravated, shouldn't I walk in praise and worship for the JOY that I get the opportunity to share in every day? Has this been a secret I'm just getting in on? Isn't living a life of seeking-joy the type of legacy I want to pass along to my children?

Church and bible-talk and memorizing scripture and praying together does nothing for the souls in this home if I don't live the peace of God out throughout my day, toward the people I've been entrusted to love and lead.

Ann Voskamp says that our souls become what we attend to... should we attend to the joy in our lives or the worry and fears?

I am coming to realize that if I reside in a place of absolute gratitude for all the moments, even the hard or boring or mundane, then I will be praising HIM with my deeds... praising Him as I do those deeds and through those deeds.

Nothing is more of a testimony to those whom I share my home with than that I am constantly in a state of joy because of His love. It is undeniable and unfathomable and irresistable. Life will never be perfect, but as long as I am seeking to glorify Him and praise Him with my deeds and seeking HIS perfect will in each moment, then I cannot be undone.

I cannot be angry, impatient, dissatisfied, irritated or desperate at the SAME TIME that I feel gratitude and joy. The dark cannot reside in me when I am residing in the light. Praise God for this gift!

It can be hard to stay focused on God as we walk through hard days. Check out the beautiful, encouraging scripture I've created for you below (free, of course!)

If you have been encouraged or challenged in any way, please share with me in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!