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.

surprise landings

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Last Sunday, our family took a trip to the beach.

Only we never laid eyes on sand.

We were so happy all five of us could spend a day together taking in the cool breezes

and getting lost in the sound of the crashing surf.

We also wanted to take our dog to the beach for perhaps her last time

to play tag with the waves.

Five individual schedules aligned but collided with too many other details

to document here but the end result was traffic.

After two hours in the car and not making progress,

we took a quick vote and decided to try and find a lake.

Google Maps to the rescue.

We found a lake however,

it was late to find a prime spot with some shade.

We had prepared for the beach and not blazing sun.

Translation: we had grabbed sweatshirts and not sunscreen.

We had an umbrella which burrows easily in the sand but

not so well in hard soil supported by driftwood and rocks.

Once we set up “camp” very much off the beaten path,

(and we had quit our muttering)

a dragonfly landed on Carlen’s chair.

Just like my thing for ladybugs,

ditto for dragonflies.

We took pictures and selfies.

Our disappointment in the change of terrain dissipated

by a winged creature’s chance landing.

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This beauty wouldn’t leave and when the time came (Carlen wanted her seat back)

I tipped the chair and found

a tall blade of grass to hasten its departure.

We lasted only a couple of hours and the heat was really hard on

our pooch Hazel.

We drove home from a different destination than we had

envisioned but we left full of the deposit made into

our memory banks.

Now we have  lake memories to add to

the other ones of dragonflies

landing in our midst.

I wrote a post 3 years ago describing two different

dragonflies landing on our house and staying for hours

or in one case 2 days.

When I revisited this post, although I can be quite wordy,

I was extremely wordy back then.

Feel free to read those words but in case you would

like the Cliff Notes, read on.

We questioned why those dragonflies landed and remained.

The answer was revealed in a Google search in ten words.

Dragonflies need to stop and rest,

just like everyone else.

As much as I love watching dragonflies

zoom across the air and marvel at their

beauty and grace,

because of these past sightings,

they also remind me to rest.

Make rest your destination.

Last Sunday our destination was more

than a beach, it was to spend time as a family.

A lake, a beach or even a backyard could accomplish this goal.

Rest isn’t always an easy road.

There can be many obstacles and detours needed

to find the place of rest.

Seek rest no matter what it looks like.

I think rest is very much off the beaten path.

Eventually I hope rest will become a well-worn trail

for the majority.

If a dragonfly needs rest,

so do you.

Wherever you travel,

may you be filled with

the priceless deposit of rest.