What a blessed week it has been! Our family is healthy and well, spring is in the air, our life is free from crisis this week, and my house is clean (for the most part!). Life is good! 🙂

The kick-off to the Monday night Bible Study was so much fun! The church hosting our Bible Study had pre-purchased 40 books, and we sold them all (and need to order more)! The women were excited and God’s presence was definitely with us! I can’t wait to see what the Lord will do in and through this group over the next 5 weeks! 🙂

Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to share at Sunshine Church’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) gathering. What fun!! I knew it was going to be a great time when I first saw the room ~ it was bright and colorful and full of life! The moms were warm and caring and my heart quickly connected with theirs! I love following God and going wherever He leads (although it is almost always out of my comfort zone) and then watching Him work in powerful ways!

In my message on Tuesday morning, I shared 7 things that I believe we need as moms to not just “survive” motherhood, but to really “thrive” in the role God has called us to. Whenever I share this message, there is one part in particular that seems to especially connect with the women ~ discovering (or rediscovering) what brings us JOY.

In my own journey, there is a definite season in my mothering journey that I lost my joy. When my youngest (Sarah) was born in 2004, I felt called to leave my full-time ministry job to be a full-time mom. I knew this was what God was calling me to do, and looked forward to the challenge. However, once I was home full-time, I felt completely overwhelmed and inadequate. My kids were ages 6 months, 1, 2 and 10. (So, yes, we had 3 in diapers!). It was exhausting and lonely. Most of my friends stopped calling. (Not as much fun to “do lunch” when Cindy has 4 kids with her). I was scared to go anywhere by myself with so many kids. I watched my neighbor go blueberry picking and apple picking with her family, and then spend the day making fresh pies. Her son refused to eat my mac and cheese because it wasn’t homemade. I felt like such a loser mom. Another friend was out of the house each day by 8:00 AM and would go to the park and the beach and always had fresh, healthy snacks for her kids. My kids were addicted to apple juice and ate sugary fruit snacks. I thought maybe I should go back to work ~ maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a stay at home mom. I felt so alone. My counselor at the time said, “Well Cindy, it sounds like you’re going through a desert experience.” Really? You think?? I just paid you $10o to tell me that?! I had completely lost my joy.

And then a dear friend shared with me advice that had been passed on to her. She said, “Cindy, you need to parent within your personality“. My personality?? I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I was just in survival mode ~ trying to make it through the day without crying and whining (the kids, not me) and have a half-way healthy meal on the table for supper. A shower for me made the day a celebration. Parent within my personality? Who was I? What brought me joy???? I didn’t even know anymore.

So I started to make a list. For me, I love people and parties and celebrations. I love loud fun music, and adventures, and doing things in “themes”. I enjoy friends and serving others and most importantly, I am passionate about teaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and His great love for us all.

Soon I started to incorporate those things into my days. We had “Terrific Tuesdays” and “Wacky Wednesdays” and “Super Saturdays”. We would invite friends over for a pink princess party, or have a luau in our driveway, or have scavenger hunts throughout our house to find mini pots of gold. We sang fun, loud Bible songs and went for prayer walks and put flowers on our loved ones doorsteps (and then rang the door bell and ran away)! We had a ball! 🙂 My JOY was back! 🙂

Now please know, just like I’m not cut out to bake all day or can fresh vegetables, you may think I sound like a weirdo because I love colorful, plastic table cloths. Or that I love to have indoor picnics complete with plastic ants. That’s ok. The key is to find out who God created YOU to be ~ and then be THAT person! Live a full life being the man/woman God created YOU to be. Discover what brings YOU joy and then parent within YOUR unique, God-given personality. Your family (and the Kingdom) desperately needs you to be YOU!!! 🙂

What brings you JOY? What are the things you love to do?? What family activities are most fun for you? Or if you could plan a day full of JOY ~ what would that day look like?? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!!

Let’s pray: Dear God, THANK YOU for creating each one of us unique and special and full of gifts to build Your Kingdom. Please remind us who You desire us to be ~ and help us to silence all of the voices and the “shoulds” around us. Thank You for the promise of LIFE to the FULL in Your Name. Thank You for the gift of JOY!! May our lives reflect the freedom and fullness and JOY of following You!! In Jesus Name. Amen 🙂
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