Joy in the Journey

Choosing Joy in the Journey

What a beautiful privilege for me to guest post on Mandi’s blog. Not only is she a very dear friend of mine, but she is someone who has imparted much wisdom to me repeatedly over the years. The Lord has truly anointed her life with a practical wisdom that flows so naturally through her. I am honored to call her friend (and am loving every page of her new book!).

As a fellow mother of 4 unique and precious children, I have continuously searched the Lord for wisdom in parenting each of the 3 children, I have the privilege of raising this side of heaven, and one precious little boy is my constant reminder in heaven that each day here on earth is a gift. Everyday we are given a fresh slate to love, hope, dream and choose joy together.

Over the last 16 years I have learned over and over again that what may work for one of my children, isn’t necessarily the best approach for one of the others. That is one of the many wonderful reasons why parenting is indeed a great adventure! One needs constant wisdom and a heart that is willing to listen and learn to parent positively.

Let’s be honest, as much as we adore our kids, it’s dynamic. We all come with unique perspectives and personalities. It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, but lately I have been pondering an encouraging passage of scripture from Psalm 128. The theme of joy is what stands out so clearly to me in this journey of parenting.

1.  How joyful are those who fear the LORD all who follow his ways!

2.  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!

3.  Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.

4.  That is the LORD’s blessing for those who fear him.

5.  May the LORD continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. 

6.  May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!

What speaks to my heart through this Psalm is the many promises of joy and blessing that comes when we parent in the fear of the Lord, following His ways. It describes a beautiful picture of family¦ where there is place to flourish; a place where our children WANT to sit around the table, because it is a safe environment of peace and joy.

God’s way leads us to choose joy! It’s a shift in focus. It’s allowing space for the balance of the busyness and responsibilities of every day life to be countered and tempered with joy¦ giving space to laughter and choosing to enjoy special moments. God’s heart is for us to be able flourish within our homes. There is a peace and joy that comes into our homes when we begin to honor each other, because we honor God.

Laughter has such beautiful healing properties. It always lifts the heart and shifts our focus to see a brighter picture. Inviting joy and laughter more into our busy lives can only bring life! What a gift we give to our children when we teach them to laugh through the storms of life.

One of the hardest things as a parent is to watch our children go through hardship. We can coach them through life’s obstacles, but at the end of the day we are not always in control of what they will choose and negotiate, but just like we give our children medicine when they are ill; we can teach them to take a good dose of the medicine of joy to carry them through as they learn to look to the Lord. While joy does not deny the pain and hardships of life, it does lift the weight and heaviness.

As a family we learned this well when we lost a child almost 6 years ago. I quickly learned that I had a choice in how I was going to negotiate such immense loss and what tone I was going to set in our home for my husband and children. We could either be defined by loss and pain, or we could seek to heal. As we opened our hearts to choosing joy in the midst of sadness, beautiful healing has come. It has never taken away our loss or love for our precious son, but it has given room to acceptance and the willingness to live and love with purpose this side of heaven. Joy has brought healing!

May your hearts find encouragement today in whatever you are negotiating. The joy of the Lord is your strength to parent with courage! May your homes ring with laughter and may your choosing to embrace joy fill your hearts with exceptional memories.

Much love, Janine

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