Finding Joy in the Midst of Life’s Circumstances {Book Club: Chapter 2}

As moms we can lose our joy without even realizing it.  It is a slow fade.  As the dishes pile up and the laundry multiplies, day after day goes by and grows into year after year.  Before we know it we can look back and wonder where time went, and if we aren’t careful we can miss it altogether.

But I know that it isn’t just the mundane daily tasks that can get to us. It is the trials of life added to everything else that can wear us out.  There is a season of about 6 years of my life that I can look back at and know it was a REALLY hard time. I am certain that the reason it was really hard, wasn’t  because I was taking care of my little ones.  It was hard because I experienced miscarriage after miscarriage during that time, which clouded my whole view.  Don’t get me wrong. I believe mothering is hard, but I think the circumstances of life make it much harder.

After this particular hard season of my life I remember my usual joyful self feeling burned out and uncharacteristically down.  It took time, but as I turned my focus from myself to Him, God brought joy back to my heart.

In Chapter 2 of her book, Dancing with My Father, I love how Sally Clarkson points to a time like this in her own life and the realization she came to:

He (God) missed the “me” of the old days, when I so freely loved him, believed in miracles, and was filled with hope and joy.” He instructed me to “remember from where you have fallen.”

I needed to look back and remember who I was before my trials. I needed to find my joy not in my circumstances, but in God.

As we look at the life of David in the Bible, we see a man who was “stuck” in his circumstances, and chose to fully embrace where he found himself.  He entered into that time and focused not on what surrounded him, but WHO surrounded him.  He chose to keep his eyes on God. I have often wondered why God would call David a “man after His own heart” when David had so blatantly sinned against Him.  As I look at the life of David, the consistent detail is that he sought to find his strength and joy from God alone.

In Psalm 16:11 David writes,

“You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

David knew where to find true joy….in God’s presence.

“As David had a different heart, one that saw God every day, that praised and worshiped God without the pretense of religion but from the heart in sincerity and humility, so I needed my heart to be. I wanted to be like David, to get rid of pretense and performance. But to do that, I had to look at my heart and ask, Have I become bitter, railing sometimes against what has happened in my life, and shut God out? Is my heart like that of David; humble, thankful, worshipful? …. If David was right to declare of God “in Your presence is fullness of joy” and “in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” then that was where I needed to find it—in His presence. So my search for joy started with learning to experience God’s presence, to see the facets of his reality every day.” – Sally Clarkson

Friend where are you finding your joy today?  Have circumstances and obstacles turned your heart from Him and the joy that comes from His presence?  Please share your thoughts in the comments. We would love to hear from you. Also take a few minutes to watch Sally’s video below and be encouraged my friend!

photo credit


Don’t miss this powerful encouragement from Sally as we look at Chapter 2 of Dancing with My Father.


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  1. says

    It seems I learned pretty early on that if I didn’t figure out how to find my joy in the Lord, it was going to be pretty difficult to find! I know I need to hear His voice, to ask for His strength, and to spend time in His presence every day. BUT I still find myself sometimes looking in the pantry and not even realizing that I’m trying to find joy in … whatever chocolate/sweet thing might be at hand! Ugh. And how many times do I have an unspoken belief that a vacation is the answer to everything? I need God and my girlfriends (usually my author-girlfriends!) to point out when I’m being totally stupid about my joy-seeking!

    • thebettermom says

      Oh I need those reminder as well Misty! :) It is sooo true that we can so easily seek out other things to “fill us up”. Praying for you and all of us that we would find our satisfaction in HIM alone.

    • thewilkinsiv says

      Oh, it’s so true that I am often looking for other things to bring me joy (food, tv shows, working out, distraction after distraction . . . .), and it seems I am having to learn over and over again that none of those things work! I love Sally’s words in chapter two about how God is actually that party planner, he created so many joyful things and gives us daily companionship. I am learning that I have to CHOOSE to enter into that companionship with him first instead of companionship with all of those other sources where I am so tempted to go to seek joy! For the past couple of weeks I have been getting up early to read this book and the bible and to pray – and what a difference that is making in my relationship with God and my source of joy! Even with less sleep I am more joyful in general, a better mom and wife to my family. Not that I have it all figured out ( I so do not!), but I am seeing that when I am faithful God is faithful . . . as Sally said in chapter two, God has missed that joyful me that I was early in my relationship with him!

  2. Melinda says

    Ruth – as I read your writing, I cried. I too have experienced miscarriage after miscarriage in the last couple of years. I had a healthy son in 2008 and since then have experienced 3 miscarriages. The last 2 years (the last year has been hard) have been trying to squeeze joy out but I am glad God had put worship and praise on my heart before these hard times or I probably would have caved to depression.God certainly had prepared the way before me. He even gave me Isaiah 43:1-2. There are times I am grieving and it is hard to handle all the days to days with the circumstances like this but I now God is with me. Would you mind sharing more of your experience with miscarriages. My e-mail is Thank you.

    • thebettermom says

      Hi Melinda.. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Oh miscarriage is soooo tough and heartbreaking. I had 5 miscarriages – 3 of them at 16-20 weeks. I became extremely fearful of what would happen each pregnancy and never really could enjoy a pregnancy because even when I trusted God it would STILL happen. (I have 4 living children and had miscarriages between each one) The cloud that covers you during this difficult time is something that takes years to lift. I finally feel like I can “breathe” again. Melinda I just want to encourage you to allow yourself to grieve. Let the Lord take you through the pain. We never fully know what He is doing, but like Sally said in her video, “This giant is something in your life for His glory. Face this giant by faith with Him in your life.” Praying for peace for you. ~Blessings, Ruth

  3. Trisha Goddard says

    For me, it is easy to find joy in “doing”, “giving”, and “serving”, and I have found that at times, that is what I focus on more on than my Heavenly Father. This year has been a Spiritual growing year for me, and thankfully, I can say that as I dig into God’s Word more and know my Creator, Savior, and King – my JOY is deepening and daily I am growing to be a woman after HIS heart!

    [Some thoughts and applications for my life: ]
    – JOY is found in HIM, my Rock, and He is Who I first need to run to in the morning (not my laptop for emails and Facebook)!
    – I can praise Him in the storms of life (trials, changes, hurts, struggles, etc), even though I really don’t want to have to go through them!
    – I can come to Him and pour it at His feet and instead of asking for things as I pray, start naming all that I am thankful for! This changes my attitude from wanting to joyfulness very quickly!
    – FORGIVEN – one powerful word! But there is JOY when all is Forgiven!
    – SAFE in His arms! Thank you, Lord!

    A lot of these thoughts/applications come from some songs that are continually challenging me and from my recent Good Morning Girls Bible studies on Proverbs 31 and Colossians.

    • thebettermom says

      Oh Trisha I am with you girl! When I decided to make it a priority to rise early in the morning and spend my first moments with Him my life drastically changed. It is a continual work of spiritual discipline on our part to follow Jesus with everything we have…not just in what we are doing, but in spending time with HIM! He is our source of strength and joy!

  4. Amy Marie says

    First of all, Ruth, I pray that our Lord continues to comfort you in regards to the loss of your precious babies!

    I bought the book used and it is STILL on it’s way to me! I’m trying to be patient. ;) I just love what I’ve heard and read via MomHeart and here so far though! The vlog was so good! Thank you, Sally! I especially loved the parts challenging us “do we want just the fingerprints or MORE of the Lord” and also the sobering part about “barrenness of the soul”. Powerful food for thought! THANK YOU!

    I definitely find my joy in His Word! I know when I start to get frustrated or cranky or overwhelmed it’s because I’m not feeding and quenching my thirst from His wellspring! He is the Bread of Life and the Living Water!

  5. Amy Marie says

    Another HUGE way that I find joy is by listening to beautiful praise/worship music or instrumental music and also getting out into nature. I think the reason is that they take my mind off myself and my struggles and put them onto the One who walks along side me through it all!

  6. Karen says

    I am in the midst of this great struggle right now. Truth be told, joy has elluded me my whole life. But, raising little ones has opened my eyes to the desperate need I have to claim joy in my life. It’s not just about me anymore. My children need to see it, to experience it, and to learn it. It’s incredibly hard to even find the time to make joy a priority with all of the constant demands of being a wife and mother. I know it’s invaluable to grasp Gods presence in our lives, but I feel so exhausted with homeschooling my kids, dealing with health issues, and carrying the burdens of so much past hurt (including a miscarriage). I don’t ever want to give up the pursuit for joy! I just wish it were easier to find. I’m thankful to know that I’m not the only mother who struggles with this. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  7. Krystal says

    This met me right where I am today!!!! I have been struggling with recurrent miscarriage since my daughter was born 3 years ago…as said above “miscarriage after miscarriage” I am struggling with it so badly! Though just this past week something inside of me changed…I was listening to the song Take My Life and singing along when the verse “Take my will and make it thine it shall be no longer mine, take my heart it is thine own it shall be thy royal throne, Take my love my Lord I pour at your feet it’s treasure store, take myself and I will be ever only all for thee.” When I sang that I felt myself surrender…I thought to myself (as if it was some big epiphany) “If I push and push for MY will to be done, what good is that for me? What will I get out of it? Nothing good, I can assure myself of that. What do I know to be true about You, God? That you are good and that I am supposed to trust that You will provide for me and that You have good things in store for me…even better than the best thing I can imagine-carrying a baby to term” Even though I knew and always said, “God is good” and I knew all the veses that proved it…it wasn’t until that day when God opened my heart just a bit more to TRULY feel and believe it to be true and to finally surrender to Him-whatever He has in store for me, even if I don’t know what that might be. I’m still not 100% over it, don’t know that I will ever been 100% over losing 8 babies, and I think I will always have questions for Him about why He chose that for my life…but I am leaning into Him and beginning to see what it means to truly trust Him when it counts most- when I can;t see what’s ahead for me yet still let Him lead where He wants me to go.

  8. Farrah says

    I too experienced a miscarriage many years ago at a young age..Now at the age of 28 I am going thru a different difficult struggle or struggles. Thankfully God blessed me with a beautiful Angel I get to watch grow, laugh, & tear up the house like a tornado everyday :) A 210% 2 yr old little boy…The struggle however is that recently my health has deteriorated so badly in the last 6 months & I have no clue why. I am always extremely fatigued, my whole body hurts, & recently I can barely eat without getting sick. Every Dr I have seen has told me something different. First Fibromyalgia and RA, the next said Bi Polar disorder (basically its all in your head Farrah). The funny thing about that diagnosis is that I have suffered from depression and severe anxiety since I was 15 yrs old. And I regularly see a psychiatrist who has assured me I am not bi polar, Depressed, severe anxiety disorder and post tramuatic stress disorder YES but not bi polar….So day after day of taking different meds some bad side effects I have become so discouraged, angry & irritable that my depression is back full force..I havent felt this dark demon of depression since 2008 and now I am a mother and I feel so guilty EACH AND EVERY DAY because I dont have the strength to take him outside or I am too impatient with him… It is literally killing me inside because I am estranged from my own mother who has caused so much grief and pain in my life that the MOST IMPORTANT thing in this world to me is to be the Best mom that I can be each and every day. I feel like so much is going on inside of my body and honestly I am scared. And angry at the same time because I feel Like I am not doing my best or being the best I should be for my son. It isn’t his fault that I am sick but I also dont want him growing up seeing his mom always sick & sad & depressed….I have been trying so hard to learn how to hear God’s voice and be obedient and everyday I feel like I take 5 steps back. I just pray to hear His voice and comfort.


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