Taking joy

Children are a gift from the Lord;
babies are a reward.
Psalm 127:3

I don’t think I’ve ever met a parent who would disagree with this verse. Children are such a blessing! But while we might all say we agree and acknowledge this truth, there are times we forget it in the everydayness of life.

Sleeping baby Prince.

When my children were babies they were notoriously bad sleepers. My first child, Prince, would wake me up every hour of every night for the first 21 months of his life. The only thing that would comfort him and put him back to sleep was milk, from me. My Princesses was also up every hour most nights, but only until she was about 12 months. I even remember some nights where I was woken every 30 minutes. I remember times I would try not to feed them, but it would either result in me walking around the lounge for two hours, singing, rocking and patting before finally giving in and feeding them, or else go straight to screaming.

Needless to say, I was a pretty tired Mama during those days! Sometimes in the night, when I was desperately sleepy, I would get frustrated and angry. I certainly wasn’t thinking of Psalm 127 THEN. I was thinking how unfair it was that other people had babies who slept through the night from 2 weeks old! But one day, something made me change my outlook. I don’t remember what it was, but I began to realise that if I was awake so much of every night, I might as well make use of it.

So I began to use my nights for God. Sometimes I would pray. I would pick a person – usually one of my kids or my husband, and all the time I was up pacing or patting or feeding I would be praying for that person. What a way to spend an hour in the middle of the night! Other times I would plan lessons for the girls’ group that a friend and I ran in the local community. And other times I would think up new designs for my online store, Upstream Christian Designs. And whilst these things didn’t make me any less exhausted, they did make me much less frustrated, and a much better Mommy.

As my kids got older, sleep (eventually!) got easier. But as happens in life, when one problem is solved we quickly find more to take its place of discontent in our hearts. Things such as fussiness with food, arguments between siblings, meltdowns over things that seem so unimportant to me, having to repeat the same things over and over and over each day and just wishing they would learn and remember what I say, are all situations that can rob me of taking joy in my children today. But when I stop to think, I remember that they are just children. They are small, fragile beings who need me to gently help and guide them as they learn about life.

Fun family day at the beach!

I think God made sleeping children so beautiful because he knew that parents need a daily reminder of how precious they are! It’s so easy, when they are sleeping, to delight in them. What really counts is keeping that joy when they are awake. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned over the years: love your kids fiercely and delight in the simple things. Last weekend we took a family trip to the beach. There was a moment on the sand when I stood still and watched my children playing, and listened to them laugh. They have such infectious laughs! In fact, we were in the car recently and Prince was showing Princess how to force a pretend laugh, but it quickly turned into real giggles and soon all four of us couldn’t stop laughing! Precious memories.

There are so many opportunities every day to enjoy our children and remember the gift that they are. Instead of letting tiredness, stress and frustration rule our hearts, let’s choose peace, and joy, and love. This is not just a one-time choice – “I choose joy!” – but a choice we make many times every day. When my kids are having a disagreement I can choose to sharply reprimand them and feel resentful that they can’t agree on something as simple as who should carry the box of toys. Or I can remind myself that these things which mean so little to me are very important to 3 and 5 year-olds; that they are still learning to conquer selfishness; that I have a teaching moment in front of me now, that I am about to model the way to deal with a problem. As it happens, I have just dealt with that very situation right now, and am relieved that I followed my own advice! As a result, both kids worked to sort out the problem with calm voices and discussion, both are now enjoying playing and being together, and I am feeling full of joy and peace 🙂

It’s so much more fun to choose joy. Let’s encourage each other to choose it every day!

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5 Comments

  1. Tobe said,

    March 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for encouraging me (so many times) to remember this 🙂 It is very important to me, probably because I have struggled with it and wish I had understood earlier. One thing I had to get past in order to progress to taking more joy in my children was the idea (which I, rightly or wrongly, took from some Christian parenting books) that your children can (and therefore, in my mind at the time, “should”) be able to behave at a certain level after a certain amount of “correct” parenting. The problem with this theory is that if & when they don’t get it right as much as you think they should, it can cause you to become impatient and resentful towards them – both very unhelpful to the whole family. Going back to first biblical principles is what helped me – I am not perfect and God is infinitely patient with me, whilst still hoping I will try my best to follow His ways because they are best for ME. He delights in us and in the same way we can delight in our children.
    The LORD your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
    He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”
    Zephaniah 3:17

  2. Bernice (Hotchkiss) Raben said,

    March 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Dene: I’ve only received two of your blogs since signing up the other day, but you continue to encourage me. I don’t have any children at home (they are now 38 & 35 yrs old), but your lessons still give praise worthy advice on dealing with each other.
    May God continue to bless you & your writing skills!
    (I met you a few times when I was in Cambridge)

    • DeneM said,

      March 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks for your comment and encouragement, Bernice! May God bless you too, as you live for Him.

  3. March 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    […] We can always find the blessings of parenthood if we try: Taking joy […]

  4. September 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    […]  I have shared before some practical ways to encourage joy in our children. We also need to be living joyfully ourselves. On top of this, I believe teaching our children to live life God’s way will help them access […]


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