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.

two given fridays

 

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It’s been a nervous-queasy-pit-of-the-stomach-heart-thumping patch of time.

When the Friday sun dips deep into the horizon’s bed,

I will have witnessed two celebrations of life with

collections of people I love and cherish.

Assemblies of people compressed with mourning and gratitude.

The ache is palpable when you surrender those who have

entered the gated confines of eternity.

My mind has been stacked high of thoughts and reflections.

and captivated that in this instance,

the celebrants are two men who lived

strikingly different lives.

To my emotions there is no difference,

only an abiding sense of loss.

One with a cannot-be denied personality and a uniqueness of thought.

A brilliant civil engineer and my father’s best friend.

A life defined and magnified by a multitude of life roles and positions.

My uncle ran the corridors of life with a small footprint many would say.

His impact may have not been scattered abroad like most

who charge through this world.

He may have not had acclaim or an ever-growing list of followers

on social media

but to our family,

to those who loved him,

he embodied a precious life.

The ripples of his life may have only created a few concentric circles

but they changed the surface of the water.

My mom and her now only living brother locked in an embrace before a

sunflower laden casket will forever remain

the most lovely and tender of etched images.

I suppose neither one wanted to be the first to release the other,

breaking a spell of suspended reality,

knowing Felton’s days had been fully counted

and redeemed.

Two men.

Two lives.

Each one mattered because they were precious to us.

Whether footprints softly melted by the shifting tide

or ones immortalized in cement,

every life leaves a priceless imprint.

Look into the faces of the people you love.

Dare yourself to look upon the people who cross

your path,

you know the ones,

the ones without shiny exteriors

and who the world would say possess

puny significance.

Boldly and graciously send a smile towards them.

Your face can remind them of their worth

and today’s blessed existence.

While you are stretching your face muscles,

aim a grin at the super sparkly earth dwellers too.

We are not promised tomorrow.

Spread love today.

It’s the best way to make every

given day,

a celebration of life.