4 Things You Need to Be a Strong, Joy-Filled Mother

(Inside: How to be a strong, joy-filled mother. Moms, paying attention to these aspects of life will help you be a happy mom and strong mom.)

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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.

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Taking this further, I also wondered about the psychology behind family life and motherhood. A goal of mine is to be a strong, joy-filled mom; I wanted to know what science advised me to do to be strong and happy.

So as I looked around trying to find a magic checklist of how to be a strong, joy-filled momma, I came across Emily Esfahani Smith’s work. Instead of finding a to-do list, I found four areas of life to pay attention to…

  1. belonging,
  2. purpose
  3. faith
  4. storytelling

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 mother.

We’ll never totally check each pillar off our list; instead, we’ll find joy in our journey as we nurture each of the four pillars Emily Esfahani Smith talks about in her research. Let me explain more about how this can unfold in ordinary mom life…

1. Be a strong, joy-filled mother through creating belonging in your home.

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 if 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, shoes kicked off and cell phones plugged back in, instantly parents and kids all 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 as a family. We create a place every loves to come home to, especially us.

One way to create belonging:

If you’re looking for an idea, 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.

Grab the free ebook HERE.

2. Be a strong, joy-filled mother through exploring your purpose

With all of my heart, I believe you have a divine purpose on this earth. But, not in an anxiety-inducing-try-to-find-your-needle-in-a-haystack-singular-purpose way. Nope. None of that.  Instead, in a Hmmm, how can I get curious about using my gifts to be the hands and feet of Jesus? sort of way. 

The way Bob Goff explains God’s perfect plan for your life resonates with me. He says:

“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

Then, the secret to joy is not when you arrive at your purpose, but through your experiences in the journey along the way. Do you want to explore this idea more?

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.” (Pastor Lori)
  2. What to do when God says, “No.” (Mendie)
  3. What to do when you’re just not sure. (Me)

The course is 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!

Yes, I want the FREE eCourse!

3. Be a strong, joy-filled mother through growing your faith

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 (student numbers were down); 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.

One way to learn to hear God’s voice in your life is, to calm your anxiety, and find peace is through Christian meditation.

I created a mini-eBook that walks you through:

  • Calming your busy mind to focus on the present.
  • Meditation on God’s truths. (Over-riding your negative self-talk)
  • Prayer
  • Listening to God’s stirring in your heart.
  • Grab the eBook below or read more about how Christian meditation works here

Another way to learn to hear God’s voice in your life is by learning to notice the burning bushes all around you.

They crackle hues of orange and yellow and remind us that God reveals himself every day to us through motherhood. Read my full series on growing your faith through ordinary mom life here:

Growing Your Faith: Imperfect Faith is STILL Faith
Momma, is God in More Control of Your Life Than You Think?
This is How I Hear God Speak Through Motherhood

Mommas, Increase Your Happiness in the Chaos
Tired Parents, You are Beautifully Exhausted
A Miracle Happen Every Day: Do You See It?
In 5 Minutes I Was Reminded of the Joy of Being a Mother

4. Be a strong, joy-filled mother through storytelling

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.

One way to evaluate the story your life is telling

There is a reason journaling is so popular – it’s an excellent way to sort through your thoughts and visually see your story in front of you.

I’m a little ridiculous when I pick out a journal. The paper has to be the right thickness, it has to open just right and I need pens that feel good in my hand. Here are some fun journals if you looking to start…

Be a strong mother, be a joy-filled mom

Mommas, we will 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 feels-like-it-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.|

Keep going, warrior momma – you were called with a holy calling for the exact life you are living.



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Confidence to Be You Series

You are created exactly as you are and this world needs you. Read more in the Confidence To Be You series here:

How to Silence Negative Automatic Thoughts
Be a More Confident Mom By Exposing These 5 Lies
Momma Knows Best: A Quick Story to Help You Know This
What is Your Story: How Sharing Your Story Gives Life

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