Choosing to Model Joy

There was a chill in the air as I drove my oldest to school. I grabbed a sweatshirt and mumbled a complaint about the breeze that cooled us down. Taking a cue from his momma, my son crossed his arms, pulled up his hood and commented on the dropping temperature as well.

I forget sometimes that what I share colors the views of my kids.

Recognize your influence

I forget this when I fuss at fellow drivers, stress out about schedules, complain about fatigue and am generally discontent about my day. I forget that what I say, what I see, what I do, and how I feel impacts those little ones around me. Because, as their Momma, I am teaching them about the world in which they live. I am helping them to look and to see and to take it all in. It is my repeated words that will replay in their heads as they grow and as they become the ones who are in charge of all this.

And the truth is, I have a choice. I can consider my words and use them carefully as teaching tools for my kids. I can slow myself down and seek to find the wonder in the world around me. I can choose to share, from a positive place, this amazing gift our God has given--all of creation, its beauty and bounty, displayed for us to see.

Focus on the blessings

Right now, outside my front window, there is a tree with leaves tinged red. It stands in beautiful contrast to the greenery all around. And this morning, the yellow, autumn light shone beautifully against the fading leaves and sunflowers in the forest outside our home. And not two minutes ago, a hummingbird, dressed in gold and green, hovered happily above our feeder, preparing for his journey home. Do you see what I see?

I can spend the next several months fussing about the weather and reaching for a hat. Or, I can open my eyes and my heart to the hand of the Creator that is evident all around. And, if I am careful, I can take the time to show my children this wonder that I see. I can take the time to draw them closer to the One who loves them best and teach them to see His world from a place of appreciation. Because I know the season will change. And I know people will fuss when it’s hot and fuss when it’s cold and fuss when it’s wet and fuss when it’s dry--but is this who I want to be? Is this what I want to teach?

Follow God's heart

This lesson reaches far beyond the weather outside. It causes me to stop and ask myself what I am offering my children each day. Am I following God's heart? In Philippians 4:8 we are instructed to focus on the things that are true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Where are my words dwelling? When I have the chance to complain or compliment, which do I choose? When I am faced with judging or joy, what will my words express? When dinner is simple and children misbehave, when I am tired and the budget is tight, what am I teaching my kids?

I want them know that no matter the circumstances, we can wonder in the world we have been given. I want my children to know that they are loved by their parents and adored by a God who takes the time to color the tip of an autumn leaf red. For them. For beauty. For wonder in the world He has made.

Will my words teach them this today?

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at

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