Felice Gerwitz is a wife, mother of five graduated homeschoolers, and grandma to eight. She began Media Angels® Publishing while pregnant with her third child and went on to write and produce many books and online conferences. Felice is the founder of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network and the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network. Felice invites you to join her on her show Vintage Homeschool Moms, as well as grab our freebie character planners which change each month.
Our dream is to have a joyful family life with everyone getting along. This, however, is far from reality. Did you know that joy is a decision? You can choose to be joyful instead of miserable. This is easier said than done, but truthfully it can happen, and it will be life-changing.
There are so many ways that we can be a joyful people, and an excellent place to start is by appreciating others. Are we thankful? One reason that people are not joyful is the comparison to others. If only this or that happened in my life, then I would be joyful. Yet, when I learned to focus on my own family and what I am thankful for, my outlook changed. Our minds are a powerful tool, and it should work for us instead of against us!
One way that I have worked on this aspect with my own family is to remember events of the past. Our memories can help us to be thankful for what we have in our lives. I start by asking them to share a favorite memory. Let’s do that now. What is your favorite Christmas childhood memory? Is this easy to remember or difficult?
Sometimes we can clearly remember the events in our lives, and at other times, it is as if we see it through a haze or the memories of others. Which is why I’ve created a Christmas Memory book for families HERE. You can print this out and have your children use this book each year to add favorite memories.Either way, remembering your favorite memories helps us to be thankful.
What is Joy?
Joy is an emotion. It is excitement about an event, a person, an activity, or a gift. But, when we examine true joy that surpasses all understanding (to borrow from a Bible verse), we will find a surprise. True joy is centered not around us but around others. This is one crucial aspect that many people do not realize, but it is true.
My mother was a naturally joyful person. She was selfless and was a gifted seamstress. She would sew and give things away to others, and that brought her joy. Her sister, only a few years older was not a happy person; she too was a gifted seamstress but everything she made she kept. It wasn’t until I became an adult that the stark contrast between the two sisters became evident. I realized that I was joyful when creating and giving. Examining what gives us joy is a key to finding joy in your life.
How to Encourage Joy:
Teach with activities:
Here is one way to illustrate this, with a quick activity you can do with your children. Please have your children list (or tell you orally) five things that give them joy. What is on the list? Most of the time, especially with children, the list contains all the things they want or something they want to do, which translates into “all about me.” Selfish kids become selfish adults. These are the trophy kids we hear about with the attitude of, “what is in it for me.”
Plan a character study on joy:
Get more details, tips and advice in my Character Counts Planner on Joyfulness that you can grab for free HERE.
Acts of Kindness:
So, how do we change this cycle? One way is with acts of kindness. Each day ask the children to do one kind act or deed for someone else. Yes, it can even be for the dog or cat. I had one of my children ask me if this was okay. Be sure to follow up, and an easy way to accomplish this is at the end of the day, after family prayer time. Go around the room and ask each person to share what they are thankful for that day.
The recipient of the act of kindness can thank the other person. One of my children would surprise me and fix my bed on occasion. While it was not perfect, it was a heartfelt gift. Choosing joy helps our children think of others, and in this way, the joy that surpasses all understanding can become evident not only in their lives but yours as a family.
Sarah is a wife, daughter of the King and Mama to 4 children (one who is a homeschool graduate)! She is a an eclectic, Charlotte Mason style homeschooler that has been homeschooling for almost 20 years.. She is still trying to find the balance between work and keeping a home and says she can only do it by the Grace of God, and Coffee!