friday joy (transitions edition)

 

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I believe joy is always present.

It’s just that during roll call, joy frequently chooses to respond inaudibly.

But joy is there.

Even when it has to be dug up from the depths.

Sometimes joy hides.

Or we push it away and simply don’t have or want

our line of vision adjusted to spy it.

Joy can seem like a fickle companion cloaked in mystery.

You might feel all frowny, out of sorts and then without warning

joy lands as unexpected as a dragonfly lighting in your midst.

Joy is a direct hit to the soul, like shouting,

“You sunk my battleship!”

Except even if your vessel takes on water,

you win.

Your soul has been saturated with an ocean of joy.

          *****

I skipped last Friday’s joy post.

Last week, was an exceedingly difficult one for several people I love.

So many dear ones have been in long and short holding

patterns of waiting for the deepest sorrow to land.

Friends waded into the crashing waves of grief as

they said goodbye to a precious 2-day old baby,

a brave husband and a dearly beloved mother.

I am sure if I took a poll of readers, you could offer

your own version of pain or sadness you experienced.

It seemed hollow to write about the joyous wonders of

ice cream or a favorite pen.

It’s important to mourn with those who mourn.

I am praying  each family will discover joy hasn’t

abandoned them, it’s pressed down during this

time of weeping and reflection.

I haven’t witnessed the dragonfly landings of last summer.

But I know dragonflies exist.

We might not always feel joy.

But joy exists and quite remarkably can

coexist with sorrow.

(If you don’t believe me, take yourself to see the
movie Inside Out immediately….brilliant!)

Joy came and is coming to me in two ways this week:

Ocean Joy

Honestly, I am kind of cheating as I write this post.
(see what I did?)

But by the time, you read these words, we will be on

a beach, enjoying cooler weather and my soul will

be drunk with joy and rest.

I love the Oregon coast for so many reasons.

I feel the presence of God in every thunderous clapping of waves and

each cycle of foam skimming my toes.

 I hear Him in the wind that inevitably destroys my

hair style yet rebuilds my frame.

It’s where I first knew without wavering,

I loved Carl and we told

each other those three huge words.

Don’t let anyone convince you to believe

“I love you” are three little words.

Our time on the coast will look quite different as

there will be three in attendance.

You may have noticed, I didn’t use the word “only”.

It’s obvious I want our family of five to always be together,

especially at the beach, but I am learning when I use

the word only, it minimizes the number and members.

The word only can kind of have an attitude and I am fighting

this with all I have.

There will be three of us at the beach and we will

build sand castles of joy right beside a couple of missing footprints.

Life verse of joy

I paraphrased a verse to a friend in an email this week.

It caused me to reflect on how this verse has given me

not only peace over the last decade but it also has established

joy in the midst of trials.

“and that is why I suffer these things.
But I am not ashamed,
because I know the One I have believed in
and am persuaded that He is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.

II Timothy 1: 12

Our family is dealing with growing pains.

I suppose this is the right term for this patch of time.

The only way I can express this season is to say if our family were

a piece of elastic, there has been gradual and rapid stretching away from

the hands who have held the elastic.

And just when our hearts settle into acceptance of this newly created space,

this new dimension, the elastic snaps back into place with a ricochet of hugs.

The elastic remains but changed.

No longer can you run your hand across its smooth surface as

it now possesses ruffles all along its length.

So when there are days when I feel the stretching as well as weeks

of slack, I remember that really in all things but especially regarding my children,

I know God will guard them as I continually entrust them to Him.

I wouldn’t entrust them to anyone but I am confident I can hand

them to their Maker because I know whom I have believed.

I know He remains tethered to me and my family.

I know He is the fullness of joy, because He is the

Designer of dragonflies and oceans and sunsets.

On sad or happy days,

He remains my joy.

*****

Book Joy

Finished: Wild in the Hollowssuch an incredibly honest and transparent memoir. I loved it.

Beach Reading: Big Little Liesbecause I am going to the beach and it was on the Lucky Day shelf at the library.

May joy curl up beside you this weekend and bring you comfort.

And if it’s too hot, may joy come waving a fan to cool your body and soul.

friday joy (hot weather edition)

Remember those mason jar flowers standing strong
in the midst of the harshest of temperatures?

Behold 5 joys that stood out to me during this recent hot spell:

Meet Fantasia, my personal fan!

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What took me so long to buy one?
This has been the best $12 I have spent in a long time.
I am sure it is common for mates to have differing body temperatures and such
is the case for me and Carl.
It has always been this way but to put it delicately,
since arriving at the doorstep of 50 ,
I’ve had to “welcome” spontaneous temperature flares, if you gather my meaning.
With the twist of a dial, a breeze comes to the rescue.
Gone is the usual night table clutter now that Fantasia has won my heart.
If the photo captured the floor, you would see our dog Hazel happily
dozing on my side of the bed as well as a few books scattered on the carpet.
Ahhh, Hazel and I feel so much better, thanks to Fantasia.

The Sorta Awesome Podcast

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It’s summer and the days have been long and hot.
My morning and afternoon work commute has been the same.
Instead of getting an attitude (well, most of the time),
I have started listening to The Sorta Awesome podcast.
You may have read Megan Tietz’s blog Sorta Crunchy over the years.
She made the decision to discontinue blogging this past January.
Heavy sigh.
However her archives remain online. Yay.
As an aside, Megan is responsible for what qualifies in my blogging world as creating
a viral post for me.
I am forever grateful for her sharing during her Sunday Brunch series.
I loved her blog but she is a natural at podcasting with her group of co-hosts and special
guests make it the perfect accompaniment for driving, cooking dinner or simply eavesdropping while sipping iced tea in an Adirondack chair.
The topics are a wide variety of, well awesome.
My favorites so far have been about making friendships as an adult, personality types and summer. I am saving several for the car but I plan to listen
to the newest one on how to build a love-filled home this weekend.
Check it out here. I use Stitcher to manage the podcasts I enjoy.

Everything I Never Told You

I read Everything I Never Told You a few weeks ago and I
continue to think about it.
This book contained a vitally important reminder regarding the words
I say to my children. My words may be filled with the highest intentions
and the most noble motives, but how are they interpreted by the hearer?
It has made me ponder the repetitive words/sentences I say over my
children.
What truly is my motivation?
I have had to wade to a new shore of understanding to find if my words
are pure or perhaps wrapped in bandages from my past life wounds.

Tillamookies

I hesitate to post something that is not widely available in the U.S.

Yet I have to share how much joy these little ice cream sandwiches have created
during the heat of the evening.
I don’t have mad skills when it comes to eating ice cream in a cone.
My confession sounds ridiculous but you have never observed me, have you?
There’s a reason why I always order ice cream in a dish.
We all have our issues and mine comes in the form of a waffle cone.
These little sandwiches hit the spot and satisfy my waffle cone envy.
Plus they are not outrageous in the calorie department.
Try them and if you live faraway from Oregon, go here.
Enter your zip code and if you come up with nada,
press the Tillamook Please button to create a form to
give to your local grocer!
Everyone should have a Tillamookie!

Inside Out

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Caleb and I escaped a hot Friday and went to see Pixar’s newest movie Inside Out.
Oh how I loved this movie!
In fact, it was discussed on one of the Sorta Awesome podcasts and I was nodding
away in agreement.
I think Caleb was the perfect age to see the depiction of emotions as he embarks
on the adventure of middle school. Yet as an adult, I gleaned a lot as well.
I think it is the perfect movie for everyone.
Plus do not get to the movie after the previews as the Pixar short was exceptional.
It made me cry…which is quite easy but still, it was precious.

Okay I fibbed, I need to add a favorite photo of joy and one more joy to round
out the Friday Joy, do you mind?
That’s a lot of joy in one sentence!

Photo Joy-The Peanuts Movie and Caleb!

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We cannot wait for The Peanuts Movie!

The Beginning, The Middle and The End of the Urban Adventure Quest

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The Beginning.

A little background is in order.

We are a family of five.
Carl and I are a week shy of 29 years of marriage.
Hooray!
We have two daughters Carlen and Courtney who are 25 and 22 and a son Caleb who is 11.
Also hooray!
Our family dynamic is changing.
The majority of our days have shifted to Carl, Caleb and me on the home front.
This has been a slow shift.
You need to know this because I often hear so many parents, especially moms
saying “We only have “fill in number” more summers with “fill in name of child”.
This is true.
But it isn’t always true.
I am not pointing fingers because I moaned the same words.
I believed when Carlen was handed her diploma that life as we knew it was over.
It would never be the same or the five of us.
It was a time to celebrate and grieve.
Life does change but it doesn’t always mean the age of 18 marks THE END.
My advice is to enjoy all the years and seasons and don’t bemoan the future
before it has been written.

Rewind to the night before the 4th of July.
Carl and I had said good night to Caleb and as I was leaving his room,
he peeked out and sadly said his sisters were not going to be with us
tomorrow and it was THE FOURTH OF JULY!”
Hugs commenced.
It was about 11pm and Carl and I sprawled on our bed with laptop and Portland Monthly’s
summer guide and tried to devise a plan to make the 4th fun for Caleb.
We stumbled upon the Urban Adventure Quest which is a smart phone driven scavenger
hunt around downtown Portland  as well as other cities in the U.S.
Think The Amazing Race which is one of our family’s favorite shows.
We whispered a prayer for God to lift Caleb’s spirits and for
his weary parents to have energy despite the heat.

The photo above is the three of us ready to start at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

We had a blast trying to decipher clues and solve puzzles.
What added to the adventure was running into other people who had the same idea.
We felt we knew our downtown quite well but often we drive past buildings
and never see the details. We uncovered a whole new world and learned
more history of our city.
We were sweaty but we were having such a great time when we found this guy!

The Middle

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If you don’t recognize him, this is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and an All-Star.
It had been a rough week of trades for the NBA team and Damian will remain and
be the face of the franchise. He was so gracious to take a moment for a photo.
Caleb was brave enough to ask.
To say this made our Caleb’s day/week/month/life is an understatement.
He kept saying amidst giggles that this was the best 4th EVAH.

The End

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We did it!

Several hours later, we finished, solved all the puzzles and found all the clues.
We were hot, sweaty, exhilarated and famished.
Now we want to do the one in Seattle 🙂

I couldn’t help thinking over the last few days about how God takes our feeble
attempts and adds to them in spectacular ways.
We did our part by finding something fun to do and we simply asked Him to bless us
with energy of body and spirit.
He adding something unexpected in the middle to our beginning and ending.

It’s a joy to be loved by God with such imagination and timing.

Sometimes joy is as close as your night table and often we need

to sit and reflect on our days to recall what made joy bubble up in your spirit.

So tell me, what’s your most recent joy?