Why I Choose Joy (& Why Complaining is Toxic to Your Family)


When my husband contracted Lyme Disease over 20 years ago, we didn’t realize the many long-term effects the disease would have on him. One of the more serious effects is a weakened immune system. If there’s an illness floating around, he is unfortunately the one in the family to get sick first. So to combat this, he takes extra vitamins (and extra precautions) than some of us.

I read a saying once that said, “It’s not that the outside influences are too strong, it’s that the inside fortifications are too weak.”

It reminded me of the verse, “ . . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10c)


Joy is a powerful influence for good, and a deterrent to evil. Being one of the very first fruits of the Spirit, true inner joy is a quality that Satan despises. It is so powerful, in fact, that the Lord says that it is your strength!

In raising godly Christian young people, joy in parenting is a must! It is like raising a tall, stout wall of defense in the lives of our children. Many of the second-generation Christians I interviewed told of their parents’ joy, and the impact it had on their lives.

While in the northwest one spring, I met Shari, a young assistant pastor’s wife with two small rambunctious children. Her late father was the pastor of a mid-sized country church, where her parents had ministered for 20 years. Shari, a fourth generation Christian, is part of a remarkable family with all six adult children serving the Lord. Her parents’ attitude was that serving the Lord was the best thing in the world.

“My parents simply loved serving the Lord,” she told me. “They truly enjoyed everything they did for God, whether it was soul-winning, bus visitation, cleaning the church, counseling, or anything. It wasn’t just ‘working in the church.’ To them, it was serving the Lord, and it was the most wonderful thing in the world. I guess I grew up thinking the same thing. It seemed to me to be the best thing ever; it was all I wanted to do with my life.”

Shari’s sentiments were not at all unusual. A vast majority of the godly people I talked to felt exactly the same way. In fact, 98% of my respondents said their home was happy!

Let me remind you that these young people know why they are now serving the Lord. It is not rocket science, nor is it merely a theory; it is the principles of Scripture lived out in the lives of their parents that made all the difference.  In some cases, like Shari’s, we see generation after generation of joyful Christians that have impacted the world.

I was quite surprised to learn that the vast majority of my 2nd Generation Christians felt very strongly about these caustic characteristics. They felt that:


Complaints are poison.

Unthankfulness is cancerous.

Criticism is corrosive.


Does this mean that these folks never had anything to complain about? Hardly.

“My parents had a lot of hardships, raising us seven kids,” Lance told me. The son of a pastor, he is one of the older children of a large family. His mother had recently succumbed to cancer, after a short but brutal battle, leaving his father with several children still at home.

“With a passel of very active boys and one special-needs child, there was always something going on. We kids knew they must have had financial troubles, but we never heard about them.”

How, then, did they deal with difficulties?

PRAY, PRAY PRAY! – One young man told me, “I saw God work in our family’s life time after time, in incredible ways, in direct answer to prayer. There was no other way these things would have happened.”

Trust God – Another middle-aged lady said, “My folks had a deep trust in God—almost unbelievable. Words could not express how much faith they had. To me, his trust in God connected that abstract thing called faith to my real life. It became a kind of security blanket to me; I began to trust in God through trust in my parents.”

Never Complain! “Did your Dad complain?” I asked Robbie. “Never,” he replied emphatically. “How about your Mom?” I wondered. He thought for a minute and then answered, “No, not that I can remember.”

Be Content!Godliness with contentment is great gain! I asked my 2nd Generation young people,“Would you say your parents were content?  Were they generally satisfied with their life?”  One man answered this way: “Yes, I really think they were.  Of course, they always wanted to improve themselves, but they were satisfied with their lives.” Not surprisingly, his answer was very consistent with the rest of the interviewees: 78% said that their parents were content.

Because Unthankfulness, Criticism and Complaints are so toxic to my family, I choose JOY! It may be hard to let things go sometimes, but the benefits to my family outweigh any desire I have to hold grudges.

Question: Why do you choose joy? What makes it hard to choose joy sometimes? What other things are toxic to our families?

Special Announcements:

  • Stay glued to the Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments!



  • Keep your eyes out for the upcoming release of my new book on this topic, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, coming in September! In this book, there will be:
    • Not just information telling parents why kids are going astray, but proven parenting practices that have worked for generations that are successful in raising godly children.
    • Dozens of interviews from those 2nd generation Christians who KNOW what their parents did RIGHT.
    • Charts and graphs detailing the results of the interviews
    • Assignments to help the reader implement these principles in their own parenting.
    • And much, much more!

If you have a blog and would like a review copy of the book, let me know! All you have to do when you’re done reading it is to post about it on your blog! Leave a comment here or email me, and I’ll get in touch with you.

Here are some helpful resources:

One Thousand Gifts – Here’s a book that you can’t read too quickly! And that’s a good thing – because the whole theme is to help us to slow down and enjoy the little moments of life. One Thousand Gifts shows us that we can be thankful even in the hard times.

The Power of Parent-Child Play – is an excellent book with all sorts of ideas to help us lighten up and enjoy our kids! They love to play, so it’s a tremendous opportunity to connect with them.

Christine Carter, at http://www.christinecarter.com/community/blog/ has a whole pile of good research on the subject of happiness and how it applies to parenting! Her blog has given me heaps of food for thought.

Sara at AJoyfulMother.com has some good advice, too.

The Barna Group has some tremendous articles about why young folks leave the church and why some stay. They can be found here and here.

For your information, I get nothing from recommending these resources. They are just great books that I’ve read and I think are very helpful.

Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word,
and Happy Wives Club

Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage

Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum


    • Lisa says:

      Thanks, Joanne! I’m so thankful that Jolene has such a great blog and has opened it up for all of us!

      I figure complaining is worse than worthless. Not only do some people stop listening to you, those who truly matter – our children – DO listen…and the results are so sad.

    • Lisa says:

      I think I was stepping on my own toes as I was writing. Imagine my surprise when I interviewed all those people, and they told me how their parents so very rarely complained! But God is good…He can restore the years that the cankerworm has eaten!

    • Lisa says:

      I don’t know that any of us come close to Lance’s mom, but I’m thankful that the Lord can take us from where we are to where we ought to be by His grace!

      I appreciate your transparency, Gail!

  1. Kim Adams Morgan says:

    Lisa, Great information for everyone to read and put into practice. I used to say everything that was on my mind. I learned when I got married that my husband acted on everything I said trying to please me…not a good combination. I quickly realized if I had joy, and a God-centered marriage, it changed our entire marriage. Kim @ Pouring Down Like Rain Linking from The Better Mom Mondays

  2. bluecottonmemory says:

    I keep telling my boys, “What you speak is what you get” – that what you lose on earth is loosed in heaven and what is loosed in heaven is loosed on earth. “Who are you giving the power to,” I tell the boys with their words – being positive, speaking faith makes all the difference.

    What a beautiful inheritance these parents you talk about gave their children:) Thank you for sharing the resource links, too:)

    Wishing you blessing – and joy – this week!

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, I’ve noticed that when I’m positive about something that is easy to complain about – say, a chore or something – the kids get more upbeat about it as well. They pick up on our attitudes quickly!

  3. Beth says:

    I’m leading a women’s small group through the book, Unglued, and our emphasis this past week was on gratitude. And Lysa TerKuerst, who wrote the book says, “Gratitude diffuses Attitude.” I think joy and gratitude are two sides of the same coin. God uses them powerfully to “strengthen” us as you’ve pointed out so eloquently, Lisa. Thanks for sharing this family’s story of joy in the work of the Lord. Great thoughts, my friend.

    • Lisa says:

      That sounds like an interesting book, Beth! You’re right – joy and gratitude are two sides of the same coin. Or perhaps gratitude is the parent of joy…but then, so is forgiveness. I’ll hafta think a thought or two about that one.


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