Joy: A Product of Thankfulness and a Provider of Freedom

I have been thinking a lot about JOY lately.

As I was getting my littles down for naps, the other day, I was struck by their joy. It seems so easy for them to find it and to express it. Just a smile or a tickle from me elicits free and wild laughs. Giggles that never end. They experience extreme and boundless joy when their dad comes home from work. They surprise me with the depths of their joy over simple and small blessings.

I find myself watching them and wondering: When was the last time that I laughed so free. When a simple act made me feel so joyful.

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea – I am a happy person. I find time for myself and I have the honor of being a stay at home mom. I love my life, my family, my home… But am I “tilt my head back with laughter” joyful?

JOY + THANKFULNESS

As I think on joy, I keep coming back to thankful. Shouldn’t a posture of thankfulness produce joy?

If I am truly listing and numbering those gifts, those blessings, the small and big ways that I am thankful – shouldn’t I be experiencing that same boundless joy? If I am thankful each day, shouldn’t I be overly and abundantly JOY-FILLED?

Maybe. And maybe not. I know that I do find and feel joy as I take the time to remember all the things I am thankful for. I know that I find joy in the act of remembering God’s faithfulness.

I think it’s the way joy looks. It can be harder to see joy in this stage of life. Between the constant movement, the interruptions, the watchfulness, the constant noise, the activities and schedules. Joy can seem fleeting. It almost feels like it’s hiding.

REMINDERS OF JOY

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine was at church. They had just had a baby and I was genuinely surprised to see them. And I was JOYFUL. I literally (and perhaps, embarrassingly) ran up the steps to sit near them, to hug them.

Then the sermon was about JOY. About how joy, blessing, comes after obedience. You know how I get message after message until I finally stop to listen. So here it was. Again. Something I had been thinking on myself, mulling over. Joy.

So I thought. I listened. I took notes. And I realized. I AM JOYFUL. God was, and continues to, show me joy. It is there, it is for me. And it is in my life. It is in my thankfulness list, and I am continually reminded of it as I add and continue to number my thankfulness.

JOY + FREEDOM

But what’s more, there is FREEDOM in JOY. There is freedom to lean in, to trust God. And to KNOW His blessing.

Psalm 97:1 (Yes, this is the Psalm I read today. If you haven’t read the Psalms before, I would love if you would join me in reading a Psalm, or 2, each day!) says this:

“The Lord REIGNS, let the earth REJOICE…”

It is so simple. Just 7 words. The Lord reigns… So rejoice! That’s it. There aren’t any constraints on joy, true joy. It doesn’t say – If the Lord reigns AND your life is easy and happy, THEN rejoice. No, I can find joy because God is in control. Period. That’s it.

I can be joyful because God is sovereign. I can find rest in His power, knowing that He is in control. And because God is in control, I can rejoice. And again, because He is in control, I have freedom.

My friend, Lori of the Boutelle Family, told me this week, after our feedback appointment for my sweet Boy Child (more about that appointment this week. You can read more about our journey, here), that it is okay to embrace the joy. To find freedom in it. I don’t know why, but sometimes, freedom can be a hard thing to embrace. It recognizes that you do not have the control you thought you did. Freedom can be hard. It can look different that you expected. But it feels…oh it feels JOYFUL. This week has been a roller coaster, but through it all, I have been challenged to be obedient. To find my joy. And to let it free me. And to rest in the God of All.

CHILDLIKE JOY

Now does my joy look different than my children’s joy? Sometimes. And that’s okay. I don’t find joy from climbing onto a chair. And the most difficult part of my day is not getting back down from said chair. We are different. Our goals, our knowledge, our tasks are different. Why wouldn’t we experience and express joy differently as well? And when I do feel that joy like a child, the joy I felt when I ran to my friend, it is equally beautiful and freeing. It reminds me of the joy I  felt when I was a little, myself. And in this instance, it reminded me of the beauty in community, the treasure of a friend, and the joy found in relationship.

Today, as I dug in the dirt, pulling weeds, preparing the gardens, my joy looked different. (And no, the irony that I was cleaning out the garden and removing the weeds, while thinking on my own heart and clearing away the lies, is not lost on me.) My joy rested. It was thankful. Thankful for this land to care for and for a job well done.

Though my joy may look differently than it did when I was little, it is still JOY. It is beautifully perfect because my joy can rest. It rests in obedience to my God. My joy is whole and unshakable because it KNOWS the God of the universe. Because He cares for me and loves me.

So I will continue to obey. To walk in faith. I will follow Him. I will continue to number my thankfulness. And I will continue to find and experience joy. Simple and pure JOY.

I hope you join me, as I choose joy. 

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Next week, I will again be hosting a link up with my friend Lori from The Boutelle Family. It will be about finding our quiet time, our me time. This is something I have really been embracing lately, and would love for you to join us! For more information about how the link up works, please visit our first link up

Rejoice

Today has been a hard day. A long day. And still somewhere in there, a beautiful day.

We had my sweet boy-child’s third appointment. It was a hard appointment. He didn’t want to do the testing anymore. He didn’t want the rewards. He just wanted to go home.

At the end of the appointment, the neuropsychologist did some free play with Sweet Boy-Child. It was sweet and he loved it. The hard part came when I was asked how often we free play. With 4 littles and especially, Baby Boy, around, it’s almost impossible to play without being interrupted or the play destroyed. All ending with Boy-Child screaming.

I Am Not Enough

Realizing, or rather, remembering my human-ness was hard. Is hard. I cannot and never will be able to be everything for my children, my family. While that is usually okay, today it was hard. Did my human-ness somehow fail my son? I know it didn’t, deep down, I do. I know he is beautifully and wonderfully made. But in the stillness, in the quiet corners of my mind, my heart, I wonder. I cry.

I am thankful that in those moments, I have a community of women that lift me up. That pray for me. That talk with me. That remind me, that I am Sweet Boy-Child’s mom. I was CHOSEN. They remind me that I am a good mom. But most importantly, they pick me up and point me back to the One who is enough.

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