Might have been bad timing….or not?

Can you believe I chose “Joy” as my One Word for 2017?

Joy. Really?

When I picked this word back in January, my crystal ball was evidently malfunctioning. For who in their right mind would choose Joy knowing their husband would be facing brain surgery in a month and a half? How in the world is one to be able to pay attention to Joy in the middle of crisis and chaos?

I had good intentions choosing Joy for my word this year. Yep, those good intentions were to try to see moments of Joy around me. But it’s oh so much easier to notice Joy when life is beautifully smooth, isn’t it?

Joy seems more elusive when we’re weary with one challenge after another. It’s hard to see the Joy in life when we’re up to our eyeballs in worry and anxiety. Choose Joy is a phrase batted around by those trying to offer help for people facing hopelessness, despair and uncertainty. Like “choosing” joy is as easy as choosing which pair of shoes to wear…or choosing what to order for dinner.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34

Isn’t that the truth.

Back in January, it was so easy to write that Joy doesn’t come from a worry-free, prosperity-filled life. In a more self-reflective moment, I wrote this:

I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

Very profound if I do say so myself. I just don’t know how well I’m doing in this department while in the middle of these “circumstances,” which are hard and more than little overwhelming at times. Left on my own, I don’t feel anything has settled in my heart except mental exhaustion, much less peace and strength.

But there I go again, confusing Joy with Happiness.

I have discovered my hindsight is working fairly well. In hindsight, I’m thankful for the flu. Yes, you heard correctly. I got the flu the Sunday before we were to leave on vacay. By Thursday, Entrepreneur was showing the first signs of it. A flu headache, coupled with the headache he already was experiencing is was drove us to the ER…and to the discovery of the cancer mass.

As terrifying as this event has been, in hindsight, I see it did provide opportunities to repair some family rifts, and opened up heartfelt conversations that otherwise might not have happened. I suppose there are things to be thankful for in the middle of chaos. Focusing on being grateful can result in experiencing Joy.

So, even though 2017 has not started the way I’d hoped, I am going to try and feel those moments of Joy in the middle of chaos and confusion by focusing on being thankful and grateful.

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Time definitely doesn’t wait for anyone

Twix 10 months
Texture by Kim Klassen: chill magic, 100% soft light

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.

Treasure every moment you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with. And remember time waits for no one.
~Unknown

This really puts things into perspective. I hope this weekend and every day forward, you value every precious moment in life. We’re given 86,400 seconds each day. How we choose to spend them is completely our decision. We can spend them being bitter, resentful, angry and depressed. Or, we can value every second we have and spend that time making the most of what’s been given to us.

It’s a hard concept. Believe me, I’m learning this the hard way. Many times, at the end of the day I realize how badly I’ve failed and lost that precious time. We all need to learn how to savor every moment, and not take time for granted. A lesson sometimes learned too late.

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Never count your life by the leaves that fall

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Textures by Kim Klassen; Nested, 50% Multiply and 1402 Magic, 100% Soft Light
Light burning around the photo’s edges

Count the gardens by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.
Count your life by the smiles and not the tears that roll.
~Unknown

Attitude and gratitude. Two very hard virtues to embrace, aren’t they? How easily we ditch the good and only focus on things in our lives that don’t go how we want them to go. How easily we count the tears instead of the smiles. Maybe the tears are coming from health issues; maybe they’re from relationships; maybe they’re caused by life-altering events. It’s all to easy to become consumed with how awful everything seems in our corner of the world. Let’s face it…we’re all a bit narcissistic at heart…thinking the world revolves only around us and what would make us the happiest…or saddest.

This past year has been a roller coaster of smiles and tears; Blessings and worry; Optimism and destroyed dreams. As I sit here looking out the window at yet another blustery, rainy day, it would be very easy to sink into an abyss of depression….focusing only on the things in life that are not perfect. Heck, there’s a lot that’s not even close to perfect. And Peanut has shared her cold with me…which means Twix will have one shortly. Perfect.

But mixed in with those tears, worry and destroyed dreams are these things:

1. Twix came into our lives. And while it was sooner than expected and she faced a few health concerns, she is now a thriving 8-month-old blessing.

2. Peanut is growing into a little girl with a quirky sense of humor and attitude to match. It’s a roller coaster of emotions with her, but I’m sure it’s hard for such a small package to sort out the mixed up bag of happy, sad, angry, worried and independent feelings.

3. The Investigator, Peanut, Twix, Entrepreneur and I all live together. Now this may seem like both a blessing and a curse (and sometimes it is), but through it all Entrepreneur and I have been fortunate to be able to help The Investigator get back on her feet and offer much-needed child care and support. The payoff has been that we’ve been able to be an integral part of our grandbabykins lives during these formative months and years.

4. The Investigator has a job she loves and is making a positive difference in the lives of children who need protection and families that need help.

5. The Floridian is doing well in her new job and keeps in touch with us via phone and social media quite regularly. Which is a total reversal from her college days! 🙂 She is living the Florida dream and (most days) loving it.

5. Financially we’re holding our own and are not in danger of becoming homeless! We have food in the kitchen, a solid roof over our heads, warm beds in which to sleep and enough to make our lives comfortable. The investment portfolio takes a beating every now and then with our up and down economy, but is still in the black.

I know the rain will continue to fall and there will continue to be more storms on the horizon. Life will continue to throw curve balls and tears will fall. But, at the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, I hope we can focus on the smiles amidst it all, knowing that nothing in life is perfect. We just have to do the best we can with what we’ve been given and understand that God will sort it out in the end.

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Recipe for a good life

give and take
Textures by Kim Klassen; 1010 at 70% screen; 1111 at 100% soft light

Life is full of give and take.
Give thanks and take nothing for granted.
~Linda Poindexter

Gone is the blaze of Autumn glory from the trees and bushes. What’s left is the rigid, branchy framework that supports the buds in the spring, leafy shade in the summer and eye candy in the fall. So often we take for granted this supportive framework…only choosing to look at the lovely window dressing.

The freshness of spring, lushness of summer and beauty of fall have now given way to a more somber season…a season of reflection and thanksgiving. Have you ever thought it odd that Thanksgiving corresponds with a time of year that appears more uninviting than other months? Do you think it’s to draw our focus away from external appearances and help us to focus more internally? Could it be a deep breath before the glitter and sparkle of the holidayz distract us once again?

Thanksgiving….a time we overeat and sit in front of the TV watching football pause and count our blessings; a time to reflect on what’s important and re-prioritize our attitudes.

Thanksgiving…a season to look at the framework of our lives and recognize the importance of its support. A framework that holds us together and gives us stability throughout the different, and sometimes difficult, seasons of our lives.

How often do we take people in this framework for granted? When was the last time we said thank you to someone for being there for us? It could be a heartfelt I love you said in such a way that conveys deep appreciation instead of a quick, passing phrase. It could be an embrace that lasts a little longer than usual. It may be quietly taking their hand and conveying our gratitude with a smile.

Many of us are entering the holidays without someone we love around anymore. May we always remember to not take anything or anyone in our lives for granted. Life is short…as  Autumn reminds us as it slips quietly into Winter’s grasp.

And may we always remember to give thanks to the One who has given us the people and blessings in our framework. People and blessings we sometimes casually take for granted.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! ~Psalm 118:28-29 

Linking up with Quotography: Remembrance and Thankfulness,
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