Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The toddler has drawn an amazingly Picassa-like picture on your freshly painted wall, the bathroom looks worse than a roadside rest stop, one child is discouraged while others are just plain silly during school time, the laundry monster threatens to consume you when you descend the stairs to the basement, the septic system is overflowing and, to top it off, you haven't planned dinner ahead of time! "Mamma said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this Mamma said..." It doesn't matter if you have only one child or a dozen, discouraging days are a fact of life.

As Americans I believe we often mistakenly believe that God is obligated to make us happy. Nowhere in God's Word is happiness listed as a right for us as believers. On the contrary, we are told that trials will come (James 1:2-4, I Pet.1:6-7). I am not sure that a bad day qualifies as a trial, but I know that my response to life's small difficulties can either glorify the Lord or not. Like a spoiled toddler, we can be tempted to stomp our feet at the Lord, demanding Him to make us happy, instead of embracing the joy that He offers in the midst of daily difficulties.

Want to experience joy in the midst of life's difficulties? Here are twelve tips to help when days don't go as planned.

  1. Spend time early in the morning in God's Word. This helps me to align my thinking with the truth of God's Word and equips me to handle, the difficulties and temptations that surely await me in the coming day. I have found that if I don't make time first thing in the day, the tyranny of the urgent often keeps me from ever spending time in God's Word.
  2. Scripture memory. This allows me to contemplate the truths of Scripture even when I don't have opportunity to sit down with my Bible. Believe me, if I can do this, so can you! I will share specifics in another post soon explaining how we have used a scripture memory system that has enabled us to memorize whole books... even my three and four-year-olds have significant portions of God's Word "hidden in their heart."
  3. Prayer My desire is that I would live a life characterized by 24/7 prayer. We are commanded to "pray without ceasing" ... I know that the Lord wants us to run to Him first in all of life's difficulties. It can be so easy for me to run to other things first... the freezer (those chocolate chips are calling me...), a phone call to my husband or a friend, or any other diversion that keeps me from clinging to my Precious Savior.
  4. Pray and humbly ask the Lord to reveal any area of sin in your life that you might be ignoring. Refusal to obey the Lord will surely remove the joy from your walk with Him. On a more practical note.....
  5. Plan meals in advance. When I preplan our meals, I am able to do whatever prep work is needed in advance (or delegate it) and glide into dinner-time without that sickening "what-am-I-going-to-feed-twelve-hungry-people" feeling. Batch cooking has also been a tremendous help for me. I will post additional thoughts and information about both meal planning and batch cooking in the future.
  6. Go to bed on time! Consistently getting 8 hours of sleep will cause anyone to become discouraged. As a parent of both teens and toddlers, I know how challenging this one can be.
  7. Rise early. When I rise early I am able to spend time alone in God's Word, throw a load of laundry in and get breakfast started before the children are up. If I don't, I feel that I am being drug through the day by a band of wild horses. If one of the little guys does get up earlier than I expect and "interrupts" my time with the Lord, I don't mind. I consider it a time for them to see their mother spending time with the Lord and I welcome them. I do require them to sit quietly nearby with a Bible story book of their own though. It can be a sweet time together.
  8. Exercise. Consistently spending time really working out has been huge for me through the years. In different seasons in my life I have exercised in different ways. My current favorite is bike riding. There is a 13 mile-long path near my house that I love riding on. When the weather doesn't cooperate though I will do step aerobics in the living room. It's pretty cute really... toddlers stepping right along with Mommy. At times I have walked or jogged. Find something that you can do consistently and just do it.
  9. Delegate. Step back from the things that are most frustrating you and pray and consider what the Lord might have you do differently. Many times I find that the fault is my own. I have not taken the time to joyfully and purposefully train my children in a certain area and I am reaping the fruit of my training neglect and haste to "do it myself." Children can do an amazing amount of chores to help lighten the load around your home. Plus it is fun to work alongside them.
  10. Tackle a small project that you have put off. The satisfaction of crossing something off of your "to do" list can be an encouragement to work on other projects. I especially enjoy working on an aesthetically pleasing small project.... like hanging a new picture or cleaning a window that I enjoy looking out of. Consider breaking larger, more unpleasant projects up into 15-minute bite-sized pieces. I might not be able to sort that mountain of summer clothes that I need to put away all at once, but I can make a huge dent in smaller 15-minute increments throughout the day.
  11. Listen to encouraging music. I enjoy music that reminds me of the Lord's loving care and faithfulness in my life. Hymns are fabulous as is a great deal of praise and worship music. Quiet instrumental music is most often my choice when we are working on school work, but even that can remind me of the great truths of Scripture.
  12. Remember that "this too will pass." If I were there with you, I'd give you a big hug!

Sometimes the most difficult thing about life is how "daily" it is. I believe that it is so important to glorify the Lord even in the small things that we do. Placing our hand in His and joyfully trusting Him in the midst of life's small trials not only brings glory to God, but is a wonderful example to our children too!

(If you are experiencing more than discouragement, I would encourage you to read Terry Maxwell's article on depression here. I found it to be full of excellent advice.)

Psa 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. Rejoice! You are loved with an everlasting love.


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