Lessons From Our Littles: Joy Edition

Parenting. Mothering. This job, this calling, this life. 

I truly believe it is one of God’s strongest; hardest; and possibly, best means of refining me. Of creating a new me. A me that reflects Him instead of this world, instead of my own selfish desires.

I am constantly learning more about the depths of His love through the deep and, really completely insane, yet still actually meager (compared to the way He loves!), ways I love my own children. I am learning about His overwhelming grace and mercy.

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Parenting. Mothering. It stretches me, as well. I am stretched, as I learn about love, grace, and mercy; and how to give these to those I love. To those I am mothering.

And then there is more I am learning. I learn in the random everyday moments. In the ways only children live. And my eyes are opened to the innocence, the purity contained in these littles. And I see, that perhaps, they are leading me. Reminding me what life should look like. What life truly is. How life should be lived.

It seems, that somehow, somewhere, we lost our way. We allowed the world to corrupt what God began in us. We drew closer to the world and ran further from what God has for us. And we forgot.

What is beautiful, is this. That through it all. Through all our running, our forgetfulness. God is still there. He is still good. And He is still God. He will remind us. He will refine us. He will draw us back.

And for me, that He uses my children, my littles, is such a beautiful tender display of grace. Of His proclaiming His undying love. For me.

DAILY LESSONS

Lessons from my littles are both large and small. They are expansive; like the lessons on love, grace, and mercy. And they are more simple, like joy. Today, I want to share a few of the ways I am learning from my littles. This is Part One of Lessons From Our Littles. 

Daily, I see lessons from my littles. I live in our schedule. In our rush. Then there, before me, my littles show me the way to live. A reminder of ways above mine. I pause. I smile. And honestly, I continue on my way.

Today, I stop. I choose to be intentional. And not just remember, not just smile. But today, oh today, I will embrace those reminders, and I will use them to motivate change. To allow myself to be refined.

JOY: My daughter truly has the gift of joy. She finds joy in the small things and celebrates everything. She remembers who God is, His love for her, and finds her joy…and consequently, her freedom there. Being able to experience her joy is one of the most amazing gifts I have been given. Truly, I am learning so much from this amazing daughter of mine. I shared other ways I am learning about joy from my littles here.

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Photography by the talented Keren Sarai Photography

EXCITEMENT: My children get so excited about the little things! I’m pretty stingy on sweets, (for them. That’s another thing I could learn from them, but that’s for another day!) for dessert, they get one bite size piece of candy. Or 2-3 m&m’s.

And they are ecstatic. They remember to find excitement in the little surprises of life as well as the big ones!

They love adventure and trying new things. They love to be surprised. Their excitement when we go out, even somewhere seemingly ordinary, is bubbling over. They love to explore and discover.

Getting to live through their excitement is an honor. Because as much as I get excited about big, fun things – I am the exact opposite for normal, seemingly mundane things. I call it being a realist. But really, it is being a party pooper. And it is something I am trying to change. I want to live fully alive. Awake to the beauty that surrounds me. Even, and perhaps, especially the beauty in the mundane everyday parts of life. I want to live excited for each new day and the adventures that await me.

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ADVENTURE SEEKING: These littles in my care are crazy! Seriously, my sweet Boy Child pedals his trike down our (slightly) sloped drive as fast as his little feet can push him. And at the bottom, he quickly jerks the handlebars, causing him to skid to the side, hardly ever careening over onto his side (don’t worry, we wear helmets!).

No matter how many times he has fallen, he jumps back on and pedals down the driveway again. He’s seeking adventure. And loving it. Somewhere along the way, as I got older, and maybe a little wiser, I stopped taking risks (or any risks I did take!).

Yes, I love to travel and I love road trips (as I wrote about here), but I stopped seeking that adventure. Perhaps daily life has (a lot) more adventure in it than before. But honestly, I think there’s something deeper here.

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COMFORT: THE END OF JOY

I stopped seeking adventure.

I started getting complacent and comfortable.

Comfort is nice. Believe me, I prefer to be comfortable, and have created our home to be just that. A retreat, a place of comfort, of grace. However, when we live our lives in comfort, from a place focused on comfort, we miss so much. We miss adventure, the thrill of something new, excitement, and ultimately joy.

When we live comfortably, we miss out on the extra that God has for us.

The hard part about comfort is that we don’t always realize just how comfortable we are. You know those extra comfortable couches, that just suck you in. Comfort is like that. It sucks you in. Until you’re stuck, lounging. You are no longer actively living. You have become complacent. You are no longer actively seeking out God’s will, God’s plans. You are stagnant.

What’s great about comfort, is that it’s easy to change. Throw your hand up, ask a friend to pull you off of that comfortable couch. And go.

Today, pray about where God is moving you. Where He is asking you to go next. And then, say YES. Seek that adventure. Embrace the excitement of following after God, and surrender to the joy you find there. It won’t be easy. It will definitely be uncomfortable. But oh will it be worth it all. 

I would love to hear what you are saying YES to — so we can encourage one another on in this journey together!

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This post is also part of the Grateful Heart Link up with Ember Grey, Find Joy in the Everyday link up with Hope N Griffin AND the link up for Friday Favorites with Andrea at MomfessionalsNarci at Grace and Love Blog, & Erika at A Little Bit of Everything Blog for Friday Favorites! Because even when learning, refining, and change are hard – finding joy and growing, learning, and being refined are still some of my favorite things. Remind me of that when I says it’s too hard.

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18 thoughts on “Lessons From Our Littles: Joy Edition

  1. I love your heart for your kids & growing in Christ. I can totally learn so much from my kids in the way they embrace life & their excitement over little things!

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  2. LOVED this, Ashley! Your kids are so adorable, and I’m really thankful for your charge at the end– to ask God where he’s leading us and say yes. I wrote a post about something God has been bringing to my attention today. So this was perfect encouragement to read!

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  3. Being a mother brings so much joy to my life. I love their look on life, their joy in the little things. Makes your stop and take a step back. & really take in all the blessings we have.

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  4. It is so easy to get sucked into comfort like you said! I have learned so much about God and his mercy, grace and love for me by just watching my kids too! God is so good. Thanks for encouraging me to see it more!

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  5. Doesn’t it blow you away that your kids were this little? I hardly remember it, and now they look so old! The part about Alena’s joy made me smile. NO ONE can touch Alena’s joy — not to match it nor to take it away. I’m looking forward to (also totally terrified of) being pulled off my comfort couch in the coming months!

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    • Seriously, Brittany! And these pictures actually weren’t that long ago! I completely agree – her joy is so deep and just as contagious! And don’t worry, it’s super wonderful leaping off that comfort couch. But really, I think you’re doing it already!

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    • Thank you Hope! It is so true – parenting can be hard, but through the challenging seasons and times I can rest assured that there will be growth. For me and my littles. And that is totally worth the hard. And the messy. Their cute little faces, hugs, and words are too. 😉

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  6. I feel like I am holding my breath while my boys also pedal furiously and “skid out” (they named it that, appropriately) on a daily basis. I’m always ready for the next injury (because, let’s face it, it’s always coming), when instead I should be embracing the joy WITH them. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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  7. Love this post! Last month and this month I gave been focusing on the character quality of joy on my blog (I do a different character quality each month). I thought it would be appropriate with the joy we have from the birth of our daughter. 😊 Last night I was writing out a family devotional for my blog on Monday focused on joy and God as the source of true joy. I love how you concluded with comfort hindering joy and adventure. It is so true! We are getting ready to move across the country in less than a month! We are excited, but I keep getting overwhelmed and letting worry cast shadows over my joy. Thank you for the encouragement! I can’t wait to share this post!

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    • Thank you, Nathana! I love the idea of focusing on a different character trait each month. It is so easy to let worry and planning, even, push the joy to the side. I love that when I forget, God uses these littles to remind me and refocus me. Or like right now, He gently nudges me, in things like a beautiful sunset. Reminding me of His love, of His goodness, and that He is good. And once again, I run back to joy. And freedom. Thank you for the encouragement and CONGRATULATIONS on your little girl! 💗

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