Friday, May 22, 2009

The Joys of Family Life

The Joys of Family Life

This week in book club, the focus of the week was joy. How we fulfill the vocation of wife and mother by creating, encouraging and accepting joy into our homes sounds simple enough. But, first I’ll load the dishwasher, change the baby, pay the bills, and get dinner going. Before this mama knows it, bedtime routine begins and joy gets pushed off until tomorrow.

I’ve always been, for the most part, a very joyous person. “Bubbly” was the word teachers used to describe me in parent-teacher conferences when I was young. Although I’m sure this was a nice way of telling my parents I may talk too much, I’ve always taken it as a compliment. I fell blessed to be able to find the joy in difficult and stressful situations. Being able to see the value of suffering has been a true blessing in my life. This clearly does not make me some contemplative, spiritual guru—no, not by any means. Just as any other spiritual gift given, I often fall short on my use of it. My husband and I have even discussed our fear that we only know how to develop ourselves spiritually, as individuals and as a couple, in times of crisis. And, in our short marriage we have had our fair share of times of crisis. Thankfully, we have grown tremendously as man and wife- and as Catholics- during these times. We’ve grown so accustomed to this way of life, we’ve almost become too comfortable with the cross we carry.

A family can’t live in emergency mode forever. People dealing with illness who insist on keeping their everyday lives in tack always amaze me. I’ve often heard about people who don’t want to die in a hospital, they want to go home and be present in their everyday lives, even as they die. As hospice sets up camp in the home, people still go to school, go to work, laugh, play games and watch TV.

I’m searching for that everyday joy. We finally feel as though we have a grasp on some sort of “normal” for our family. Our prayer is that we can learn how to accept it, and find joy and spiritual renewal in the everyday happenings of our home. We truly want to make this our domestic Church. Maybe, it will begin with joy!

It sounds so dramatic to me, to have to work on joy. Earlier this week, as I discussed joy with the wonderfully faith-filled women in book club, it was quoted that if you do not teach your children to find joy with you in your home, they will go out into the world looking for it elsewhere. This thought sent shivers down my spine. People do horribly damaging things to themselves and others- all in the efforts of filling the hole in their lives they don’t recognize as longing for God. This is not what I want for my children. I don’t want them to yearn for joy, I want them to live in the Lord! I want simple, everyday, joys to be enough for them because they know they will find the ultimate joy when they return home to us in this life, and home to God in the end.

Our hearts long for peace. Ultimately, we find that in God’s Kingdom after our earthy lives are finished. But, until then, we yearn to be close to Him. This is why we love, we dream, we work. There is joy in the everyday tasks of living. The mere possibility of knowing and understanding, just for a moment, what its all about. These moments are found in the smiling faces of our children, squeaky clean, or muddy messes, that is where the joy lies. Just to get through the tasks of everyday life I struggle with, I often need to remember our holy family. There have been times when cleaning the kitchen seemed so dooming I couldn’t even get myself to do it after telling myself, “I’m doing this for my husband, I’m doing this for my kids.” Nope, on a few occasions, I’ve cleaned the kitchen only because Mary did it for the baby Jesus and so I can do it for him too!

I pray I will become better at weaving the little joys into our lives. I vow to play in the grass (sans shoes, my favorite way!) even when the house is a mess. I want to be able to see myself through the eyes of my children and not be ashamed. I want them to remember mama’s smiles, not a twisted face of worry and stress. Tessa inadvertently showed me this face, through her eyes, this week after she got a hold of my camera and took a picture as I was yelling, “no, no, no!” It is certainly not what I had expected. But, in an effort to find the joy in it, I will share it here:

Attractive aren't I? Yeah, that's what I thought! With this lovely face I announce to you that starting today, it is Joy Week here at Falling Upward! I encourage you to reflect upon and pray for joy in the everyday lives of you and your family. I also invite you to post your own blog or share some of them here at FALLING UPWARD. Make sure to link back here to Joy Week, as joy is something to be shared--or so some Christmas songs will tell us......


Trinity Mommy said...

I am thrilled to have found your blog.. I need to have a "joy" week! I find that I need to learn to slow down, live in the moment and with my eyes open BUT this is so hard for me to do!!!

Sarah Mae said...

Hilarious picture! It is strange to have to work on joy, but it makes it all worth it! :)

Katie said...

Just prayed for joy and the ability to show it well! Thank you for the lovely post and the reminder of our responsibility to be joyful for our families. I'll try to figure out the link think and maybe have one of my upcoming posts refer to the joy you have described!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Holly, I am glad that you can be so honest as to share a photo that does not show your beautiful side. But it is a real side, and we all have moments of imperfection. That you continually want to strive for joy despite reality if imperfection is admirable, and something important to me as well. Nice post!

Here's one of my posts I think you've read that your readers might enjoy. It's short and sweet!

Kim said...

What a wonderful, inspiring post! I will have to make it joy week here too. I have been thinking about joy for a while and really enjoyed your post here. You are so right when you say, "if you do not teach your children to find joy with you in your home, they will go out into the world looking for it elsewhere." What a scary thought! But so true. And the solution? Live joy, be an example of living in the Lord! "I don’t want them to yearn for joy, I want them to live in the Lord! I want simple, everyday, joys to be enough for them because they know they will find the ultimate joy when they return home to us in this life, and home to God in the end." More than anything, I want that for my children too! Thank you, Holly, for your post!

edawson said...

Holly - you are a joy. Simple as that. And by embracing yourself (you've always done this by the way, very jealous of how awesome you are at being you), you're embracing joy. Keep on keepin on. Love you!