When You’ve Lost Your Joy In the Midst of Marriage & Motherhood

When You've lost your joy

The tag line of my upcoming book is Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.

If you have followed me for more than 3 years you know that long ago I touched on the subject of depression just slightly.  The series was not well received because I personally have never suffered from clinical depression…so I deleted the series and decided that I would allow other women who have walked through this valley speak to this tender subject.

And though I have never been clinically depressed, like most,  I have had sad – very sad – seasons in life when I’ve lost my joy.

One sad season was when my husband was gone on a business trip over 200 nights in one year.  I stood at the window weekly, with little toddlers wrapped around my legs, waving bye bye to daddy with tears streaming down my cheeks.  This was a long and lonely season.

Every time I’ve moved from city to city – from my hometown to Chicago to Columbus and back to my hometown, I’ve experienced deep sadness that sometimes turned into anxiety and an outbreak of hives.

I’ve had dark days when tears came easy or I felt like a failure and like quitting everything in life.  We have had hard moments in our marriage where I’ve woken up to the reality of why some people throw in the towel when the going gets tough.  I get it…marriage is hard.

I’ve cried over my parenting struggles trying to raise my wild child and my whole family can attest to years of me –crying in the New Year– because I just get emotional on New Years Eve lol!…I get way too reflective and sad about all my failures, flaws, fears and frustrations.

Sometimes…I’m too serious for my own good.  I call this being a realist. And reality is harsh and cold sometimes – life is not all bubbles, balloons, butterflies and ladybugs.

And so I learned long ago that joy has had to become more than a feeling because God commands that we have it.

“Rejoice evermore.” – I Thessalonians 5:16

I have to fight for it.

I have to battle for it. I have to pursue it or my own emotions of sorrow simply squelch all my joy…till I’m a puddle on the floor in tears.  And that is not the woman you see on this blog.  By God’s grace, through the ups and downs, I have experience Psalm 40:2:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Time and time again, I’ve slipped into a pit and found God to be my firm rock at the bottom.

And a book that has heavily influenced my joy through marriage and motherhood (and influenced the writing of my book) is John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.  

Piper writes in the chapter titled When the Darkness Does Not Lift:

It will be of great advantage to the struggling Christian to remember that seasons of darkness are normal in the Christian life. I don’t mean that we should not try to live above them. I mean that if we do not succeed, we are not lost, and we are not alone, as the fragment of our faith cleaves to Christ. Consider the experience of David in Psalm 40:1-3.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

The king of Israel is in “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog”— descriptions of his spiritual condition. The song of praise is coming, he says, but it is not now on his lips. It is as if David had fallen into a deep, dark well and plunged into life-threatening mud. There was one other time when David wrote about this kind of experience. He combined the images of mud and flood: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps. 69:1-2).

In this pit of mud and destruction there is a sense of helplessness and desperation. Suddenly air, just air, is worth a million dollars. Helplessness, desperation, apparent hopelessness, the breaking point for the overworked businessman, the outer limits of exasperation for the mother of three constantly crying children, the impossible expec- tations of too many classes in school, the grinding stress of a lingering illness, the imminent attack of a powerful enemy. It is good that we don’t know what the experience was. It makes it easier to see ourselves in the pits with the king. Anything that causes a sense of helplessness and desperation and threatens to ruin life or take it away—that is the king’s pit.

HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG!

Then after the cry you wait. “I waited patiently for the LORD.” This is crucial to know: Saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited. I have known saints who walked through eight years of debilitating depression and came out into glorious light. Only God knows how long we must wait. We saw this in Micah’s experience in Chapter Six. “I sit in darkness . . . until [the Lord] pleads my cause and . . . will bring me out to the light” (see Micah 7:8- 9). We can draw no deadlines for God. He hastens or he delays as he sees fit. And his timing is all-loving toward his children. Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness. I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.

Friends, if you are in a time of sadness or depression, I recommend this book and if you can’t get through the first 200 pages just flip ahead to the final chapter on depression.  This chapter has been a great comfort to me AND the PDF version of this book is FREE on Piper’s website here. Yes – free! :)

I own these 4 well-worn books by John Piper.

piper books

And I have read many more books by John Piper because he offers the PDF version to over 50 books on his website FREE  at DesiringGod.org - is that not an amazing gift?  What a true minister of God’s word!  I hope you would take the time to browse his books and see if any of them can help you with a spiritual matter you are struggling with.

Chime In:  Have you struggled with a loss of joy?  How did God help you overcome this season of life?

What books have you read or recommend by John Piper?

Walk with the King,

 

 

Need more encouragement?  Pick up a copy of my book:  “Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.”

Joy

 

 Be joyful always. ~ I Thessalonians 5:16

Walk with the King,

When the Bottom Falls Out

Last summer, my husband was walking down our deck stairs holding my daughters hand… they stepped on one stair (these are higher up than they appear in the picture) and it gave out – then they stepped to the next stair and it gave out too!  Thankfully my husband had my daughter by the hand and she did not fall through.  He strong armed her onto the 3rd step down but he got injured from gripping the railing – the wood punctured his hand and later developed an infection - it was just a mess!

The bottom fell out literally for him that day.

But I think of so many blessings in that moment.  I am thankful he was holding her hand…if he had not been holding it – she would have fallen through!  I am thankful that he has a strong hand that was able to get her to the next step safely.  I am thankful that he took the injury in place of her being injured…and it makes me think of Jesus and his strong hand and how he has endured the pain of the cross for us..

In Hebrews 13:5 he says “Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you.”

God is always with us – he has a strong hand that upholds us when the bottom falls out.  He has taken the pain of our sin upon him and covered it over at the foot of the cross…he loves us, protects us, comforts us and never will leave us.

So the bottom fell out for me today…

I had a rough week last week with a cold that turned into Laryngitis and then my washing machine broke with a load in it and more loads to go… and really I was just feeling whiny last week!  I thought surely this week would be better…

But today my son tied our wagon to his bike and my daughter got in and he pulled her along – until she flew out!  She knocked out her two front teeth (which thankfully were baby teeth) but really scraped up her face.  Her lips are swollen and right now she can’t close her mouth to drink or eat…I’m pouring water into her mouth :(

Waaaaaaaaaaaah!

Sitting in the emergency room – I put on a smile for the kids…but inside I wanted to just throw up!  The blood was a little more than I could bare!  And the butterflies came as I worried about all the worse case scenarios. After X-rays, some reassurance from the Dr. that her mouth will eventually close again when the swelling goes down (lol! I needed that reassurance!), and some comfort from facebook friends :)  I am feeling a little better.

(I took a picture of my daughter’s face but I could see at the Dr.’s office she was embarrassed of it – she complained that she looked like a clown – so I thought it best not to share it with you all right now…but on Saturday we are having her 7th birthday party – so I’ll be taking pictures then – you’ll get to see her toothless smile next week when I post pictures.)

But as we drove to the ER, I prayed with the kids and I told them - even though this took us by surprise, this did not take God by surprise.  When we woke up this morning – God knew this accident would happen today.  His strong hand was with us – and he carried my little girl to the 3rd step down.

And in hard times like tonight – when the tears seem to flow easy…I’m reminded of John Piper’s words:

It is crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.  This is the way Paul thought in Phil. 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ESV

The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him.  Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Christ is faithful first!  It is HIS mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  HE gave me just enough mercy to make it through last week’s inconveniences.  HE gave me the mercy I needed for today – when this frazzled mama just wanted to cry her eyes out in the waiting room and I am counting on HIS mercies for tomorrow’s trials!  I can testify - HE is faithful first!

Some days we have to fight for joy.  We have to fight to see God in the hard things of life.  It is crucial that in our dark moments we remember that though our grasp on God may feel weak – He has a strong hold on us.

Walk with the King,

Sometimes I’m a Critical & Cranky Wife

Sometimes I can be cranky…especially when my husband parents differently than I do. For example, I like an early bedtime and lately my husband has been allowing the children to stay up late…too late for mommy’s patience! lol!  And when I get cranky…I get critical…

It’s easy for me to slip into the role of teacher and judge to my poor husband. I think as wives, we see our husbands faults and point them out – but does taking that role ever bring a woman marital bliss? Nope!

We know that when our husbands fell in love with us it was NOT because we were wonderful teachers and judges…

They married us because they loved the sparkle in our eye when we smiled at them.

They loved how we made them feel.

They loved how we respected their thoughts and wanted to hear and understand them.

They loved how we embraced their dreams of the future and were so trusting and loyal and how we overlooked their short comings.

 
Then they married us – and well – Proverbs 19:13 says “a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”
 
Do you catch yourself maybe not criticizing your husband out loud but thinking critical thoughts in your heart – maybe he comes home late from work one night and your annoyed that dinner is cold. Then he does it again. Then he does it again and suddenly you boil over with anger and an abundance of bitterness comes out.  Yea – I’ve been there!
Luke 6:45 says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
 What if in the dinner situation, we thought how blessed we are to have such a hard working husband who brings a pay check home so we can have a warm home, food on the table and a bright future for the children? There are women who are all alone at dinner time with no husband to be expected. They are living pay check to pay check and worried about their children’s future. If we thought this way – when our husband walked through the door he’d be greeted with a warm hug (and maybe a big ol’ wet kiss) rather than the cold shoulder.
Who we are at home, behind closed doors, is who we really are.
Do our husbands come home to a quarrelsome wife or a wife who has a sparkle in her smile when she looks at him?
 
Do our husbands feel judged by us or do they love the way we make them feel?
 
Now you may say – “but Courtney – you don’t know the awful things my husband does“!
 
I don’t – you are correct – but I do know that God’s word says to not be quarrelsome and to store up good things in our hearts – it’s important we follow God’s principles in marriage.
 
Sometimes, we need to have a talk with our husbands to air or resolve issues .  But other times we need to choose to overlook their flaws and look at our own.   The reality is – I can be a critical and cranky wife at times and that is not okay.  We need to  resolve our own heart issues and choose to have joy because joy does not come from our husbands but from God. 

Walk with the King!

Courtney

My Reflections on the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards are this weekend. 

It’s the famous ones who walk the red carpet.
 
It’s the honored ones who walk the red carpet.
 
It’s the beautiful ones who walk the red carpet.
 
It’s the talented ones who walk the red carpet.
 
It’s the wealthy ones who walk the red carpet.
 
It’s the gifted ones who walk the red carpet.
 
And I…I am about to walk the red carpet!
 
Every morning, I walk the red carpet right up to my sink where I rinse the morning dishes.


I am honored to have a husband and children to take care of.

I am beautiful in the eyes of the Lord, living out his will for my life as a wife and mother.
 
I am wealthy on the red carpet, for many in the world do not have a sink with running water in their kitchen.
 
I am gifted on the red carpet – gifted with the riches of God’s grace that come through my faith in Christ Jesus his son.
 
There is no greater honor than the red carpet walk I do every morning in my kitchen.

 
Join me, as you step up to your kitchen sink – in welcoming a joy that the world cannot understand.
 
My red carpet is…
A GIFT.

Thank you sweet Jesus for delighting me with this gift!

 
Walk with the King!
 

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Thursday I went to a dinner party at my dear friend Kelly’s house. 

The table was beautiful and the food – perfect.

This is one of my troubles with the holidays…everywhere I go the food is perfect.  

I have this terrible love/hate relationship with food in December.  I seem to not be able to restrain myself very well…a nibble here and a nibble there and by New Years Eve I don’t fit in my jeans! lol!

 

But sweet Kelly had served a healthy meal of soup and salad and then off to the family room we went to talk and laugh and enjoy one another’s company.  

Midway into the evening, I wandered into the kitchen with one of the girls where we were greeted with a plethora of Christmas cookies.

 

In usual fashion, I picked up a cookie and immediately felt guilt…hmph…“I really shouldn’t be eating this” I thought…then my friend verbalized it…she said something like “I have not been able to work out in a few weeks…I really shouldn’t eat this.”   We both laughed because I was thinking the SAME thing!  But here’s the annoying part, we just ate a perfectly healthy meal…why are we in the kitchen beating ourselves up over these cookies?

I’ll tell you why – because very few women feel they are thin enough. 

With every bite we enjoy - there’s this tinge of guilt…stealing the joy of the gift of food God has given us.

Recently I’d been reading in Ecclesiastes and right there in the kitchen with my friend, I quoted this verse:

 “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.” Eccl. 8:15NIV
Eat, drink and be Merry!   Ecclesiastes 2:24, 3:13, and 5:18  all say that food and drink are a gift from the hand of God to be enjoyed! 
  

The smiles around this table are gifts from the hand of God.

The food is a gift from the hand of God.

The drink is a gift from the hand of God.

And oh yes, even the cookies in the kitchen are gifts from the hand of God.

And while I want to acknowledge that indulging in anyone of these gifts is not healthy…I also want to add, the enemy does not want us to enjoy the gifts that come from the hand of God.

The enemy loves that I can be having a perfectly enjoyable evening and yet find misery there in the kitchen! He wants to steal our joy!

And so I say with vigor – Enjoy these moments in December.   Savor the food, the drink, the laughter, and the love.  These are all gifts from God’s hand that he intends for you to enjoy.   Give thanks and enjoy!  Eat, drink and be Merry.

“The merry heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15

Walk with the King,

 

Motherhood is a Huge Time Zapper!

I remember when my son lost his very first tooth. A funny thing happened, he swallowed the tooth – which made for a little pickle when I tried to figure out how we were going to do the whole “tooth fairy” thing!
Daddy wrote a note to the tooth fairy explaining the situation and – good news – the tooth fairy did indeed show up!  But not without my husband and I first having a discussion about the going rate for a tooth these days. My husband suggested a pretty high price – I on the other hand tend to be cheap, so I threw out a low bid and we ended up in the middle.
Considering the costdo you realize how much these kids have cost us? I’m not even talking about money here – I’m talking about time and energy!
Before I had my first child, I thought the hard part was going to be the pregnancy and delivery. Boy, was I wrong!  First it was my nursing struggles ,which I shared on Monday, and NOW the hardest part for me is taking the time and energy to train my children to do what is right.
The wise mother takes the time to correct her children over and over and over again so they can experience the peace and freedom of living a life in accordance to God’s word and in peace with God and others. But this takes something very BIG – OUR TIME!
How are we doing with spending time with our kids? I have felt myself tempted to get the kids outside so I can get my work done inside. I have felt the pull of trying to get the kids in bed early so I can find some “me” time. These things are not wrong in and of themselves – but it is wrong if we spend the entire day – just corralling them like cattle from one activity to another and never spending real quality time with them during their day. 
Our children need their mommy’s time. They need us to take the time to look into their little eyes and tell them they are loved. They need us to just sit and listen to their goofy story. They need us to look up the answer to that weird question they have, that we don’t know the answer to – but they are really interested in. And they NEED us to take the time to read them God’s word and train them to do what is right.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says it is the parents job to teach our children God’s commands.  “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  The only way to live out Deuteronomy 6:7 is by giving your children time talking together.

Motherhood is a huge time zapper! I see some moms bitter at their kids for the time they require – they snap at them and growl at them for being such a burden. God does not want us to resent our children for taking our time and they should never feel guilty for the sacrifices we make as moms. Let your complaints of motherhood remain between you and God and not you and your children and cling to Jesus and his example in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

Now go let’s go look our sweet peas in the eyes and be there for them.  If this is a struggle  - we need a perspective change.  Let’s View our children as gifts – say it out loud to them – “you are a gift“.  Watch them light up – they hunger for words of love and affirmation.  When we see them as gifts - we open ourselves to the joy that they bring us – like when your first child loses their first tooth! So exciting!
Walk with the King!


This post is linked to Raising Homemakers, Titus 2sdays, and We Are That Family.


Today is Women Living Well Wednesday! It’s a Link-Up Day!!!

Join the fun, do a little blog hopping and don’t forget if you join below -please add the Women Living Well Wednesdays button to your post so your readers can find us here! (posts can include the topics of marriage, parenting, homemaking, finances, recipes, organization and more!)

I Am About to Walk the Red Carpet!

The Academy Awards are this weekend.

It’s the famous ones who walk the red carpet.
It’s the honored ones who walk the red carpet.
It’s the beautiful ones who walk the red carpet.
It’s the talented ones who walk the red carpet.

It’s the wealthy ones who walk the red carpet.
It’s the gifted ones who walk the red carpet.

And I…I am about to walk the red carpet!
Every morning, I walk the red carpet right up to my sink where I rinse the morning dishes.


I am honored to have a husband and children to take care of.

I am beautiful in the eyes of the Lord, living out his will for my life as a wife and mother.
I am wealthy on the red carpet, for many in the world do not have a sink with running water in their kitchen.

I am gifted on the red carpet – gifted with the riches of God’s grace that come through my faith in Christ Jesus his son.
There is no greater honor than the red carpet walk I do every morning in my kitchen.

Join me, as you step up to your kitchen sink – in welcoming a joy that the world cannot understand.
My red carpet is…
A GIFT.

Thank you sweet Jesus for delighting me with this gift!