My favourite part of the JOY edition of Faith at home has got to be the Joyful People Top Trumps.
I made Top Trump cards of 8 Bible characters (4 women, 4 men) each of whom has a song in the Bible.
I also made a blank set for you to create your own ones, either of other Bible characters, or of people you know.
This got me thinking of joyful people I know, you know the ones, they seem to have an inner glow which doesn’t fade despite difficult circumstances.
I asked some of these people to share how thy cultivate joy in their families, and over the next week I’ll share one each day to inspire you.
These families aren’t perfect – they would be the last to say they are super-saints or anything like that, but they are REAL people who have REAL joy in their lives, so I thought their stories were worth sharing.
I hope you enjoy their reflections.
Hello! We are the Kellys – Rich, Naomi, Isla and Joshua. Isla is five and is profoundly disabled. She’s in nappies, has no language and is fed by a tube. In many ways her disability poses very real challenges for our day-to-day life, yet we refuse to be defined or limited by this. In our family we cultivate thankfulness as a practice. We say grace before meals and take every opportunity to talk about what we are thankful for, even for small things. On our journey with Isla, we celebrate “inchstones” not milestones and throw a party or pop a bottle of champagne when she learns a new skill. We refuse to allow our circumstances to dictate our joy but rather believe that God has good things for our family and his heart is for us to experience his joy in our lives.
In our family, we plan for joy! Each week, we put aside time to prepare for, and start the anticipation for, activities, meals, events and moments which we know will be joyful.
There is always something to look forward to and, when it comes around, to re-joy-ce in!
Sometimes we’re awaiting ice cream for breakfast, or a bonfire with friends in a few weeks, or exploring new places next year.
Sometimes planning is simply having a great playlist ready for the inevitable traffic jam. Planning can also bring the joy out of the mundane, like knowing money spent on essential bills is going to an ethical company. Or choosing to be surrounded by memories of joy-full moments with loved photos on the wall.
The core of our joy is knowing there is always something to be joyful about, and therefore choosing daily to focus on hope.
I’ve been thinking about thankfulness and what a gift it is to be thankful. There has been so much uncertainty and there still is, but to be thankful… it grounds you, makes you present (and boy is that a fight sometimes, or is that just me!) gives you peace, and if you’re in the trap of comparison, thankfulness does a good job to stop that too. Comparison is the thief of joy, so watch that one!
Thankful for each day, each breath, truly. All of it is a gift. Thankful to share each day with these three. Don’t get me wrong, it comes with moments that I’d rather not share here, but might include something like, I don’t know, say, a child putting a long wrapping paper tube up the chimney and soot going all over the lounge, face, clothes, you know that kind of thing… or “I’m hungry, I’m still hungry, I’m still hungrrrrryyyyyyyy”, or huffs and puffs and stamped feet over something or other – fill in the blank – BUT we can still be thankful. It’s not to say that you’re thankful for all the stuff that you can’t control, but thankful for the moments that surround those things.
We start our day and end our day saying what we’re thankful for – what are you thankful for today? Today it was “Nelly” (a friend) and “Jesus I love you with my whole heart”
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (psalm 100:4-5)
As parents we can often be trying to work on various different habits or character traits in our kids, and sometimes we can focus so much on the things that need growth that we overlook the amazing beauty and giftings and awesomeness they already carry / my challenge is to be thankful for where they’re at now / same for me too – I know Jesus loves me right where I’m at but is believing more for me. Thankfulness, even in the process – it’s a game changer ✨
Joy is not something that we can find and hold tight to, it is something we make room for in our lives, its a gift! In a culture where we are told ‘more is more’ I think we are squashing out opportunities to find and experience joy. We need to learn to simply make room for it and receive it. I am learning to recognise my limits and instead of seeking to be out of a situation to grow contentment and be grateful for what it is.
I think this is what makes room for joy to come into and grow in our lives.