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The One Question That Restored Joy in My Home and Soul

Ever start a new year determined to be a better version of yourself, especially as it relates to the people in your home?

“This year I’m going to be a better…wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend…”

Perhaps even unknowingly, we imagine changes like these:

  • We (finally) get the house organized with charming lockers that solve all wars, minimized clutter with only the cutest curated decor that also ends global suffering, clean countertops except for coordinating cooking appliances for all our homemade meals we cook using our time-tested meal plan that has our family thinking our name is Betty. Crocker, not Ford.
  • We adopt an ideal tech-free rhythm so we easily resist the scroll when people are present, yet somehow become social media mega-influencers with no-need-for-filter images captioned by witty content that has us selling our wares in our sleep.
  • We discover that ever-elusive magical balance and manage a schedule that feels both sturdy with purpose while reserving ample margin for free play, social connection and rest.
  • And while we do it all, we laugh because we are happy; we listen patiently and never rush; we play on the floor with our kids and dote on our spouse; we live within our financial and caloric budgets because we manage our emotions well and others admire our ways.

Any wonder why by February all we want is a donut and a nap?

Enter the scene: Valentine’s Day. If this sounds like you, and you’re weary, I’d like to share the one question that recently changed the way I live…and not only restored joy to my home, but to my soul as well!

It all started with tears, a calendar and a different question: What’s for dinner? Meal-planning was what actually broke me, leading me to find a different way of living in my home.

See, historically meal-planning has been the thorn in my side, my Achilles heel, the chore that chewed me up and spit me out week after week. I know it’s just choosing what we will eat for seven meals and there are thousands of ideas/tips/hacks/printables available to me online. Yet, I felt like a failure on a regular basis and the absurdity of the struggle only made it worse. Why was this so hard?

I found clues when I asked one question that changed everything. I didn’t even consider this insightful at the time, but it ushered in a wave of joy we were missing!

I asked my family what they like to eat.

I know. It’s genius.

After 11 years of kitchen-driven anguish this one shift brought real relief for my meal-planning woes. My family actually had ideas and knew what they wanted, so all I needed to do was collect a dozen of them, tweak them a bit to optimize nutrition and then list them in my handy dandy Hope Planner.

Sounds in my home:

“This is the best Mommy!”

“Great Babe!”

My soul: peace with joy

So, what is the magic behind this one question?

Why so much joy from one small change?

A light-hearted walk this season with the oh-so-light and always in season Cow Horn Hoops, made with love in Uganda

For one, I pivoted from trying to be a “better version” of myself to just being myself. After all, I actually believe I belong to my people, flaws and all, so I must have what it takes to love them well.

Second, I accepted I’m not all women on the internet! I’m me, with my family, in my home with my job. At some point I just forgot I’m allowed to do what works for me and my people. As a result, I outsourced my life to others and lost the joy of generating life my way!

Of course I’ll still search “delicious ways to cook veggies” but I’ll be looking for ways to live my version of a healthy and meaningful life, not to live others’ lives.

“All women can live uniquely meaningful lives, but not all women can live the same meaningful life.”– me in my latest book, A Mother of Thousands – From Barren to Revolutionary 

Wearing Noonday Collection’s Wild and Free Cuff, handmade with love in Guatemala

One side benefit to living my life out from my life: just about everything is simpler! Now I talk to a few real people that matter and meet real needs without trying on all the ways that work for others. I even tried simply asking my husband what he wanted in our relationship, rather than guess and strive to be “a better” wife. Turns out he doesn’t want a better me, just the real me who is happy to be with him.

What else could happen if we took the pressure off ourselves to live the same kind of meaningful life as other women, and focused instead on what is meaningful to our people? We may not only discover our meaningful lives, but find joy waiting for us there too!

Meet Heather Yates

A true writer at heart, Heather has been an Ambassador for over four years. She left her career in law to pursue other passions, like serving in ministry at her church, publishing books, speaking, and building her family through foster care and adoption. Fun fact: She and her husband also custom rebuild Chevy trucks!