“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).
A few months ago, in a process I can't really describe, Joy stepped up to be my word for 2019.
When pulling out my Christmas decorations, seeing it written on so many ornaments, I realized it had been trying to get my attention for a long time, waiting for me to truly understand it.
Now, I'm not talking about joy that is used interchangeably with happiness. The joy I speak of isn't dependent on circumstances or events. It's certainly there in happy times, but also in sorrowful ones, too.
This joy is happiness, all grown up. Wiser. More resilient. It's the friend or spouse who knows all of your quirks and bad points, but loves you anyway. You know they will always be there when you need them, lending their wisdom and strength.
I've heard that JOY is an acronym for "Jesus, Others, You", and that makes sense to me. To feel joy, I think it's necessary to cultivate your spiritual side, to reach out and help others, but also to take care of yourself.
Joy helps us overcome fear and anxiety with the knowledge that everything will be okay. It is a gift that hold hands with faith, and brings peace along with it. Circumstances change... today's happiness will inevitably fade, perhaps even end in tears. But possessing joy is knowing today's blue skies and sunshine may disappear behind storm clouds, but the sunshine is still there, bright as ever, and will return. Stormy days just help us appreciate the sunny ones, and remind us we're not going to melt in the rain.
But joy finds beauty even in gray skies. It's where we find those silver linings.
Today was a gray day. But finishing up my prayers on our back deck after this morning's walk with Belle, I spotted a robin perched on a bare limb about 20 feet away. He remained there quite a while, perfectly still, staring straight ahead, as if lost in thought. Maybe he was finishing up his prayers, too. Then he chirped an 'amen' and flew off.
That was just one sweet! for the morning. Another was the sound of the rushing creek below us. Our ponds are full and overflowing, thanks to all of the rain we've had this year. I'm grateful recent rains have been spread out, not falling all at once and causing floods.
Here are a few others from the first couple of weeks of 2019...
My sister had surgery on a herniated disc this morning and she can already tell a difference in her hands.
Belle's 8th birthday!
Long visits with older clients who don't 'e-sign' documents
A visit with Little C, Josie, and their mama and daddy after two longs weeks since the last visit
Dinner and viewing houses with a friend who is ready to buy her own home again after several years of personal challenges
The Eiffel Tower in our little town, all lit up (I hate to stop and get a photo)
Rain washing much of the cedar pollen away
An inspiring and fun retreat with our priest and members of our church finance and pastoral councils
Beautiful weather for a one-day trip to Houston with colleagues, and perfect timing to witness the day's glorious sunrise and sunset
Remaining semi-calm when my phone completely died overnight and hours of charging didn't seem to revive it
Trying one last time... and seeing a spark of life in my phone!
A great clinic with other Agent Leadership Councils from all over southeast Texas and finally eating at Peters BBQ in Ellinger (the ribs! yum!) on the return home
A season of gorgeous sunsets and sunrises
The bright red of a cardinal on a gray day
Enjoying a fun lunch sponsored by builder DR Horton with my accountability group
Three listings under contract within one week
Toasting the birth of the Shallue Property Group with my teammate, Amanda
The sight of ducks flying through the hollow
Celebrating a friend's 60th birthday at one of my favorite restaurants...Ajo in Round Rock
Pots of Hoppin' John and chili for welcoming 2019 with our nephew, his family, most of our kids
Little C's first visit to our house and our Christmas present from him
May you be able to focus on Joy and cling to it throughout this new year!
I think Joy sleeps in strange places. We're always looking for her in shiny, happy, fun times, assuming that Joy prefers her twin brother, Pleasure, when she often hangs out with her somewhat stoic big sister, Strength. Joy is not always easy to recognize, dirt-smudged and sweating, brambles in her hair. I want to believe she sometimes wears a ski mask.
~Edmond Manning, King Perry