Small Steps to Joy

My friend Katie uses a different voice than I do when she speaks to her children. Hers is always coated with sweetness, even when giving admonition. It’s worthy of note, her voice. It caught me off guard the first time I heard it, because it contrasts so significantly with my own. She praises a child, warns a child, reprimands a child, encourages a child- and never any of it without a gentle joy dancing around her words.

And they listen. Their little hearts are made stronger by that transmission of love and direction.

How different this looks when I reprimand my chlildren! It may begin with words teetering on the edge of frustration, but it rapidly increases to what might be called a cold reproach. My reprimand, offered to a little heart yearning for Truth, does not testify to Heaven the way Katie’s does.

Not even close.


It’s the early morning of January 12th. I open up my book of Small Steps, hoping for a little something I can chew on throughout the day. And there it is.

“They are led and bound more by gentleness than by force or harsh words.”
~St. Catherine of Sienna

And the challenge- to acknowledge that a mother’s gentleness springs from the joy of knowing that God is kind and merciful. To not speak a word of harshness or frustration for a whole day. To fill little hearts, instead, with the sweetness of a mother’s joy.

And I take up this challenge with both hands. On the 12th, yes.  But I am a work in progress, and must be gentle with myself as well as my children. I take it up again today, a new day. My duty and privilege is to transmit Heaven’s joy to my children, even in moments of rebuke or chastisement. May my own words be coated in a tone sweet enough to bear witness to Our Lord’s enduring, nurturing, gentle love.

Oh, that these little hearts entrusted to me will listen to my words, and be filled with JOY.


(Read more posts about finding JOY in January over at Elizabeth’s. I hope to see you there!)

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  1. says

    Such good advice and not just for our children and families, also for the people/children we encounter at our jobs and every where else. Proverbs 15.1 “A gentle voice turns away wrath”

  2. says

    It is a tribute to your own growth in virtue that you have heartily acknowledged what it is you are trying to change, improve upon, … or even the very fact that something needs to be changed or improved upon. You, my dear Sarah, are a woman *I* admire; and this space is simply too tiny to list all the ways that you make me a better child of God. :)

  3. says

    I loved this post. This is something I need to work on as well. I have a friend like yours, who uses a different voice with her children. I admire her so much.