(Inside: How to be a strong, joy-filled mom. Four aspects of life that will enhance your happiness. Live a meaningful life. Live with purpose.)
The teenage girl paused before my desk near my high school classroom. She exhaled while flexing her hands in stretching motions several times before plopping down in the chair next to me. I felt her anxiety before she even said a word – she was positive she tanked her math test.
“You have an A in math, what makes you think you epically crashed,” I invited her thoughts out. We continued to untangle her tension and point it in a productive direction. As she walked away with renewed confidence, I silently thanked the AP Psychology teacher and school counselor I’d worked so closely with for the tools they taught me.
Three years ago, my desk moved near these inspirational psychology people. If you’ve never, on a daily basis, sat near experts who understand human behavior – let me tell you, the conversation is interesting. I found myself saying things like, “Ugh…I’m annoyed about such-and-such” then leaning in and asking, “What do you think that REALLY means about me?” (wink-wink) Except I was totally serious. Free therapy? Yes, please. My new coworkers taught me the value of applying science-based-human-behavior research in the teaching field.
But, my curiosity didn’t end there.
I also wondered about the psychology behind family life and motherhood as well. A goal of mine is to be a strong, joy-filled mom; I wanted to know what science advised me to do to be happy. Instead of finding a to-do list, I found four areas of life to pay attention to…
…belonging, purpose, faith, and story-telling. In Emily Esfahani Smith’s research on what makes people happy, she found these four pillars of a meaningful life to be vital. She explains more in her Ted Talk below.
But, happiness is not reserved for when we “arrive” at these four pillars, joy arises in our journey along the way to becoming a strong, joy-filled mom. We’ll never totally check each pillar off our list; instead, we’ll find joy in our journey as we nurture each. Let me explain more…
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Some of my best childhood memories are around the dinner table. As I dipped my bread into my bean soup, I felt valued, listened to and as I belonged. And the laughter? My sister turned the events of her day into hilarious stories. Consistently. One time I laughed so hard a bean flew out of my mouth into my dad’s soup. And he still ate it. Oh, my disgusting.
How lovely it is to create a home where everyone belongs. When the front door creaks open, backpacks are dumped and shoes kicked off, our kids instantly feel embraced. How are we, as moms, paying attention to creating family belonging? It can be done in so many ways: car rides, dinner time, tuck-ins, board games and even trips to Target. The point is in the mundane, we connect with our kids. The more we can get to know our little ones through quality conversation, the better.
I created a family devotional that does just that. It’s so simple. At the beginning of the week, you read the Bible Verse and short paragraph challenging the reader to see God in his/her everyday life. Then throughout the week, you share how God revealed Himself to you. It can be done during car rides, dinner time, tuck-ins, board games and even trips to Target.
I’d love to share it with you – grab the FREE family devotional below.Get the FREE Devotions for Kids eBook here!
With all of my heart, I believe you have a divine purpose on this earth. God gives you a holy calling to use your gifts to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Do you want to know God’s perfect plan for your lives? It’s this:
“I think God’s hope and plan for us is pretty simple to figure out. For those who resonate with formulas, here it is: add your whole life, your loves, your passions, and your interests together with what God said He wants us to be about, and that’s your answer.” Bob Goff, Love Does
The secret to joy is not when you arrive at your purpose, but the journey along the way. And if you’re not sure of your next right step, I teach the section of a course over at Extravagant Hope on how to find direction when God is silent. The full course also includes my Extravagant Hope colleagues’ teachings on (1) What to do when God says, “Go.” (2) What to do when God says, “No.” It’s full of wisdom and completely FREE! Get a sneak peek of the section I teach in the video below. Then click on the below button to get instant access to the whole course!
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I’ve tried to do life on my own merit. I’ve independently moved forward (neglecting my faith), then crashed and burned. My teaching job was cut; I experienced a second miscarriage; I landed in a deep pit. It took me two years to claw my way out of that valley, and that healing didn’t really begin until I started to believe God’s truths.
You all – I am convinced that happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances – it depends on knowing the Living God and believing that there is more to life than the current pain and sorrow. I encourage you to learn to hear God’s voice in your life, calm your anxiety and own His peace through Christian Mediation. I created a free mini-eBook that walks you through:
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We all are writing a story through our lives. I use this fourth pillar as a question: Do I like the story my life is telling? If the answer is yes, I keep going. If it’s no, the God of second (and hundredth!) chances can help me rewrite and change the story of my life, whether it’s through new behaviors, changed circumstances or renewed perspective.
Mommas, we will for sure continue to stumble into moments where we exhale deeply, clenching and unclenching our hands, sure that we failed “the test.” Not a math test though…a parenting moment, a relationship nose dive, a tanked purpose… But, I promise you, we’ll find our footing again. We find the people we belong with, walk our purpose, build our faith and continue to write (or rewrite) our story. We renew our confidence and keep moving forward. Because we’re strong moms – and our joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances. We will find it in our journey, I promise you. Keeping going, warrior momma – you were called with a holy calling for the exact life you are living.
Let’s stay connected, strong momma! Let me occasionally email you empowering content and fun freebies. Get the freebies mentioned above (except the course, you have to click on the button under the Free eCourse for that) and more by signing up below.
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, educator, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration in parenting, family connection ideas, encouragement for moms, and more empowering content. Read more in the “about” section of this page.