It is fun to have fun but you have to know how!*

"We can have lots of good fun that is funny!"
Our family is preparing for a 1900 mile road trip starting tomorrow, so I carefully planned last week to minimize last minute stress and late nights before traveling.

There are just some things you can't plan for.

I thought I had accounted for the tire issue in our van.  Every few weeks, the tire pressure light pops up on the dashboard, and I stop and fill up two of the tires a bit.  I really didn't think this was a big deal, and decided I didn't need to have them looked at.

You can't plan for ignorance.

On Friday, The Bard took the van to work so he could surprise me by fixing the tires, and getting me a really nifty cord that allows me to play my iPhone through the car speakers (can you say free audio books from Homeschool Radio Shows?).  Turned out there was a nail in one of the tires, and a loose sensor in the other.  Oops!  It also turns out that it is dangerous to drive with low-air tires.  Double oops!

Lesson learned, right?  From now on I will be right on top of low-pressure tires, yes indeed!

Lesson not finished.  Saturday morning when I drove to the Post Office, the low-pressure indicator was on again.  I stopped and measured the pressure.  Same two tires.  Errrg!

This means that today, the day I am supposed to be putting last minute touches on packing, we have to get the tires looked at again.  

"But that is not all, oh no that is not all."

Little Warrior started coughing last week.  A cough here, a cough there.  No fever.  No runny nose.

"Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now!"
Normally I wouldn't think twice about something like this; I'd just let it run its course with vitamins and rest.  But we are driving to visit my father-in-law, who will have just finished 8 weeks of chemotherapy.  So I watched him carefully.

A little runny nose.  Then a little more.  And a lot more cough.  By Friday his pack-a-day cough had me on the phone to the nurse.  My father-in-law's immune system and the particles spraying from our four year old's mouth could never be allowed to meet.  We decided to wait until Monday to see if it would resolve.  Sunday, the cough was bad enough that I kept him home from church so we wouldn't have to condemn the nursery and Sunday School room.

You can't plan for illness.

Today, the carefully-planned-relaxing-day-before-the-massive-road-trip, will also include a 2 hour round trip to see Little Warrior's doctor.  Not counting the actual appointment.

Should I bother mentioning that I burned my hand and my leg (!) in two separate altercations with the oven this weekend?  Or that I jammed my right pointer finger so badly I couldn't use it for typing yesterday? Or that Little Warrior fell asleep in his car seat just after telling me he really needed to go to the bathroom?

Sometimes it gets to the point where the insanity reaches critical mass and I just start laughing.  Admittedly, there might be a tinge of mania in there.  Still.

A cheerful heart is good medicine and all that!

Now, with the clock ticking, we forge into the adventure of today, praying that God will make a path to an early bed time!

"That was what the [mom] said... then [s]he fell on her head!"

* with apologies to Dr. Seuss

One stitch at a time

"Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that; one stitch at a time taken patiently, and the pattern will come out all right, like embroidery."    - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Baby Steps

One of the challenges of being a perfectionist is that my focus naturally wants to fall on the end of a process.  As I look toward what I ultimately want, my gaze skims past a seemingly endless array of missteps and failures.

This is rather distracting, sort of like trying to listen to your husband in a room strewn with toys, dishes and clothes while your children jump up and down shouting for attention.  I don't know about you, but there are times when even a Herculean force of will could not keep me single-mindedly focused in that tumult.

The noise of my mistakes can sometimes derail me so badly that I sit down and give up.  Like clapping my hands over my ears and wailing "Aaaaa! I can't hear myself think!" to my raucous children, I fuss and whine at my own flaws.

Sometimes it is hard for me to remember that while it's important to have a goal, the joy is found in the journey.  It also helps me to consider my heavenly father's perspective.

As a parent, I expect our four year old to be able to put away his toys, make his bed and help set the table.  I don't expect him to mow the lawn.  Our thirteen year old is a whiz at mowing the lawn, but I don't expect him to drive to the store and do the shopping.  I do not love my sons any less for what they are as yet unable to do.

I want so badly to be a daughter that makes her heavenly Daddy proud.  When I stumble, which I do every day, I like to imagine Him thinking, "She's trying, she's really trying."  I don't get upset with Little Warrior because he writes a lower case "d" backwards sometimes.  In fact I am thrilled that he wants to write at all!

Bit by bit, little by little, God is making me over into the woman He called me to be.  "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come."*

If every day I take a baby step toward the goal... if I focus on the present moment... if I keep my eyes on Jesus, "the author and perfecter of our faith"** (oh wait, He's the perfecter not me?)...

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"***

I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

*     2 Corinthians 5:17
**   Hebrews 12:2
*** Philippians 3:13-14

The power of love

"Being loved makes me feel lovable.  And it makes me feel more loving."
~ The Princess, age 8.5

Joy vs Happiness, part 2

Joy vs Happiness, part 1

Love is the difference between joy and happiness because joy comes from my heart, while happiness is a reflection of my circumstances.

As I pondered the idea that love made the difference, my past experiences crystallized.

Of course I was happy when I graduated from an arduous (and almost disastrous) college experience.  My circumstances were changing, and I had overcome a massive obstacle.  But I couldn't be joyful, because I was terrified.  My outsides were smiling, my insides were quivering.  I had not yet learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5).

When our little son was born, I had received the gift I had longed for since I was a child - the gift of motherhood.  On the outside it was the fulfillment of a dream.  On the inside I was overwhelmed with the responsibility, exhausted from the constant sacrifice, terrified for my child.  What if there was an accident, what if he got sick, what if children were mean to him, what if I made a bad parenting decision?  And on and on and on.  The breaks in the clouds had been the result of a powerful mother love forcing them aside, but even love for my child wasn't strong enough to hold them back for long.

It's not that I got better at feeling love, it's that I became more intentional about doing love.  This was a result of my love for Jesus, which in turn was a reflection of His love for me.

"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

I see it like this:

Jesus loves me --> I love Him back --> I want to please Him --> I obey His command to love through my actions (even when I don't feel like it) --> His reward is joy!

Not what I would have expected.

I had come into adulthood thinking that love was an emotion.  A wonderful emotion that, if I were a better person, I would feel more strongly and more often.  But it turned out to be more like an incredibly rich chocolate cake.  I couldn't feel it into existence, I had to do some work!

The ingredients were things like obedience and patience.  Forgiveness and sacrifice.  Those words sound ever so pious, but not like they would make chocolate cake!  They sound boring and hard and old-fashioned.

Hard, yes.  And about as old-fashioned as you can get.  But boring?  Not so much.  The interior life is stretched to capacity trying to walk out such things.

Honestly, there were times when I obeyed out of sheer stubbornness.  The world was falling apart around me, and I was determined to find some stable ground.  I was going to plant my feet on that rock no matter what.  I was miserable anyway, might as well be miserable and obedient.  Maybe at least God would be happy.

I expect He was chuckling at me.

Just me

Approximately every two days, my husband and I have a conversation that ends with him saying, "Just write!"

It's just that I get a little caught up.  Being, in nature, a perfectionist, I want to do it RIGHT!  This is pretty much impossible when it comes to writing, and totally impossible when it comes to life.

I've said to him several times, "But someone smarter and better than me has already written about this somewhere!"  Today he said, "If you ever had a single thought that no one else has ever had in the history of the world, it would be a miracle."

Of course, he's right. 

He wasn't insulting me or my intelligence, he was rightly bringing my attention to the truth... we all muddle through, most of us face the same general trials and joys (in varying forms and degrees)... it's what some might call "the human condition".

The only thing unique I have to offer is my story.  How I muddled through.  And am still muddling.

I worry wonder if I come across as holier-than-thou (trust me, I'm not).  I fret over ponder whether what I write actually makes sense to anyone but me (anyone? anyone?).  I'm nervous concerned that all this joy stuff makes me seem like a cardboard cut-out saccharine Pollyanna (check with my kids on that one.  On second thought, never mind, eek!)

So I'll let you in on a secret.

I am so muddling through it isn't funny.  I am writing about joy because it has blown me away.  Surprised by joy?  Yep, that's me!

I am far from the constantly-joyful-peaceful-nothing-bothers-me-send-it-my-way woman I desire to be.  But I am soooo much closer to that than I was 3 years ago, or 5, or 10, or (good grief, it hurts my brain to remember those wretched days) 20 years ago.

The 20 year old me would not have recognized the 40 year old me.  Frankly, she would have been shocked.  I think maybe that's what amazes me the most... what I least thought would make me whole when I was young was the very thing that has freed me.

So, that's what this blog is about.  Me.  Muddling through.  Seeking joy in the journey like that person wrote in the sidebar of my blog.  Oh, that was me.

The bouncy ball of joy bounced back at me!

Today as I walked through the living room, where the children were busy at their school work, The Princess looked up and smiled, "You look pretty, Mama."

I was so surprised, not only because I wasn't feeling pretty, but also because I was wearing an absolutely normal, and quite simple, outfit. I hadn't been trying to look pretty; I was just bustling from one task to the next. "Thank you!" I smiled back.

She popped up and followed me to the kitchen. With a twinkle in her eye, she told me, "Someone once told me: if you think something nice about someone, you should say it," then she gave me a big squeeze.

This made me smile even wider, because that someone was ME!

Years ago, I was sitting in church, and my dear friend Tammy was reading the scripture. I was struck by how pretty she was. She is one of the most humble people I know, and I wondered if anyone ever told her that she is pretty. Suddenly it occurred to me that if I never told her she'd never know that I was thinking it. So after the service I found her. Her reaction was much like mine (surprise!). It clearly touched her.  It was the first time this had occurred to me, and I determined to be more intentional in speaking my positive thoughts.

Unfortunately, it is a norm in our culture to give slightly true compliments at expected times... if you dress up, people will say you look nice; if you cook a meal, people will say it is delicious.  While I do appreciate these affirmations, I must confess I sometimes wonder how honest they are. 

Offering an encouraging observation or an unexpected compliment is kind of like stealth joy spreading.  It must be completely honest, one heart to another. 

We all need feedback in differing amounts, but there are few humans who don't need any at all.  It is easier to give negative feedback than positive!  But like any habit, we can cultivate the habit of speaking aloud our positive thoughts about others.

It was fun today to be on the other side of that feedback loop with my daughter.  Funny thing is, as much as I loved being told I looked pretty, the best feedback I got was that my girl had been listening and was eager to keep spreading the joy!

Lessons From the Garden ~ Pruning

As I was doing some pruning recently, I had to make some hard cuts.

Just like thinning sprouts in a vegetable garden, when you prune, you don't just remove what is dead, you often remove green as well. This has always been hard for me, so I have tended to hold back on pruning.

In the past few years I have become more aggressive in my pruning, and have been surprised by the increased bounty as a result. The plant's energy is less diffused and is able to focus on putting forth more flowers and fruit, instead of more branches.

As I cut away dead branches and green branches the other day, I was thinking about how I resist God's pruning in my life. I can accept Him pruning the dead branches. Yet on more than one occasion God has cut something out of my life that I thought was good, and could have borne fruit. I've mourned those green branches.

But like an experienced gardener, God anticipates the increased harvest.

Oh Lord, give me the faith to trust your pruning shears!

Joy vs Happiness part 1

For years I have tried to grasp the difference between joy and happiness.  I've always sensed a fundamental distinction, but been unable to define it.  The dictionary is no help - according to Webster's the words are essentially synonymous.  My heart told me that something was missing in the dictionary.

When I was 23, I graduated from college.  I was happy that day, yes.  Relieved!  But joyful?  No.  I was too scared to be joyful.

I spent almost 30 years looking for happiness.  I caught occasional glimpses, but disappointment lurked around every corner, waiting to envelop my hopes.  Life was hard, people were selfish, and I couldn't escape any of it.

I could force myself to seem happy.  I could convince myself I was happy.  But it felt like a coat I kept trying on that just didn't fit.  A beautiful, over-sized, falling-off-my-shoulders coat.

When our first son was born, the heavy clouds that hovered around me would occasionally break.  The sunshine of his giggle, the way he stopped fussing when I held him, the newness and possibility in his brown eyes... the darkness pushed back for a moment.

But life would still be hard, people would still be selfish, and I still couldn't escape.  Heaviness again.

I can't say exactly when joy began to overtake me.

In its inevitable way, life kept getting harder.  A second trimester miscarriage.  An unemployed husband.  A new baby.  A traveling husband, making me a part-time single mom.  A new home business.  And then a big move, first for over a year to live with my parents, and then to a farm.  And still a traveling husband.

But something was happening to me.  I was holding less tightly to my ideas of what I wanted, and looking more at the other people in my life to try to understand what they needed.  And then I was trying to do it.  I was learning to love.

And that is when the clouds stopped regrouping so quickly.

As I chose to simply obey... "Love one another"... and stopped thinking so hard about myself, joy snuck in.

A few days ago, as I sat on my couch in the early morning, the familiar pat-pat of Little Warrior's feet sounded.  He delights in sneaking into the living room, waiting for me to catch his eye, then flying into my lap.  We kiss and snuggle until we're all filled up.  As he rounded the corner that morning and our faces lit up at one another, God spoke to my heart.


Love is the difference.

Food, glorious food...

I was not a happy baby.  Although I don’t remember that time in my life, my parents’ stories paint a picture in my mind of a screaming baby, a baffled mother and a frustrated father.

When I was four years old, my grandmother read an article in a “ladies’ magazine” about cow’s milk allergy.  She gave my mother the article, my mother recognized her crazy daughter, dairy exited my life, and within 24 hours I was a different child.

Because of that, from the earliest I can remember, I have been aware of my relationship with food.  I’ve always known that certain foods can negatively affect me. 

At age 7 I stopped eating lamb.  Lamb negatively affected me emotionally.  I couldn’t bear the thought of eating a soft fluffy baby sheep.  Within a few years, no more veal (baby cows have feelings too).  By the time I was 19, I was a vegetarian.

It was at this point that I began to learn in more depth about healthful cooking.  I subscribed to Vegetarian Times, which not only had recipes, but also nutritional education.  I was fascinated, and absorbed it like a sponge. 

I learned I enjoyed cooking.  I also loved the challenge of cooking delicious food despite health driven constraints.

When I had children, this “hobby” expanded exponentially.  I became more focused on whole grains and alternative sugars.  The latter was even more driven home when I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia at age 30.  After 11 years of being a vegetarian, I started eating meat again.  Now I knew that certain foods could positively affect me.

At 35, now with two children, the second of whom had been born with a sensitivity to dairy and chocolate, we moved to our homestead, where we hoped to grow as much of our own food as possible.  Once again my cooking repertoire expanded.

Our bonus baby, Little Warrior, was born when I was 37, and he came out chock-full of food sensitivities.  My diet was pretty crazy when he was a baby, but boy was I thankful that he was exclusively nursing so that I could control what was going into his body!  He was sensitive to dairy, chocolate, tomatoes, wheat, eggs, soy, coffee, citrus and strawberries.  My miserable, rashy 2 week old became a smiling, peaceful 2 month old.  And I learned how to cook with extreme food restrictions.

What does all this have to do with joy?

Food is a huge part of my life... as an eater, a preparer, and a grower.  I spend hours each day dealing with food, and I (mostly) love it.  The closer I get to eating foods the way they were made by God, the more delicious they are and the better my body feels.

Since food is such an important part of my life, it seems only natural that it would play a role in this blog.   Every so often I will post a recipe that our family enjoys, that is simple and healthful.  Some of them are my own creations, others are favorites whose source will be noted.  My recipes may not fit your specific dietary restrictions, but I hope you will find something here and there to try.

Most of all, I hope you will find joy in your kitchen!

Spread it around

Sometimes I feel like a little kid with a jar of strawberry jam. The thicker I spread the jam on the bread, the more it drips on my shirt, my fingers {lick lick}, my cheeks, my skirt...

Like strawberry jam, the more I spread joy, the more I become saturated in it.  Random acts of kindness bring me such satisfaction!

The crazy thing is, spreading joy is SO EASY. A card sent for a birthday. A surprise stop at the bakery with the kids. A note in The Bard’s lunch. A compassionate word to an overworked checkout clerk. A game played with Farmer Boy, or a ribbon for The Princess' hair. Even just a short email checking on a friend who has been down.

And it’s the simple kindnesses shown to me that make my heart swell. A grubby little hand offering me a weedy flower. A bed made without being reminded. A book sent by a friend who thought of me when she read it. A desk in my room because The Bard once heard me mention I might like one some day.

"Give and it shall be given to you" ~ Luke 6:38

Slap some sweet sticky joy on the lives around you today and lick those fingers! Yum!

Anger Management 101

It seems there are obstacles to joy everywhere I turn. Anger is a big one. While I am by nature somewhat slow to anger, by the time I do get angry, those slowly building clouds have become a hurricane.

The bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not get angry,” but it does say “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Over the years God has led me to several strategies for managing my emotional pot when it’s at a rolling boil.

One of the most effective strategies I’ve found is to go for a walk in our fields, removing myself from the situation before I sin. I am sure it would be amusing to see me practically running, as I barrel across a field, sputtering and crying out to God, while wide-eyed cows stare and birds fly up in a panic!

I think those walks help in several ways. No doubt going to God with my outburst is the most helpful - it gets it out (stuffing always backfires!), and He fills that spot in my heart with peace. He often also gives me wisdom into the situation - sometimes wisdom on how to handle it, sometimes on how my own sin brought it on in the first place.

I also think, being a physical creature, that the exercise itself helps (and I can assure you that when I storm, I storm FAST). My tightly clenched jaw, fists, stomach, SELF!, are slowly released by the effort of speeding over hills and panting out my grievances to God.

When all my built up energy is released through prayer and exercise, I am able to return to my family and be rational.

You know, I expect that God’s desire for me is to never get angry at all. To be so still on the inside, so constantly in His presence, that I am able to handle all circumstances in peace. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col 3:15) But he is a gracious God, and meets me where I am.

He makes

This morning I was reflecting on Psalm 113:9, the verse in my blog header: “He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children.” For some reason the word “makes” caught my attention in a new way.

When I set out to make something I usually start with raw materials. In fact, I generally prefer to create, especially food, as much from scratch as possible.

I enjoy baking our family’s daily bread. Occasionally I will make our bread starting with the wheat berries, which one of us grinds into flour. After adding yeast, milk, oil, honey and salt, I knead and bake the dough. Doesn’t that seem like bread from scratch? It really isn’t. I don’t grow the wheat, press the oil, harvest the honey, gather the salt or milk the cow (although that I DO hope to do some day).

God, on the other hand, is the original scratch baker. His raw ingredients are so raw He made them himself.

Take me for example.

The creation of me - and you - was not just a one time event at our conception. That was the beginning. We are works in progress, being molded and shaped by God - if we will allow Him.

When I think about God making me a joyful mother, as it says in Psalm 113:9, I realize two things.

First, it is He who does it, not me. He makes the joyful mother. I have to choose to allow Him, and it is not through my own effort.

Second, it is ongoing. He is doing it now and will continue to... He makes. It doesn’t say “He made the barren mother joyful once and it lasted forever.” It's in the present tense.

Happy is she who submits to God’s ongoing molding. The promised result, according to God's word, is joy!

Lessons From the Garden ~ Our Offerings Magnified

We've had a rough summer gardening-wise. We live in the south, where we have two major gardening seasons - the spring garden and the fall garden. These two gardening seasons are broken up by blistering heat on one side and an occasional freeze on the other.

This spring I had a fairly decent garden, until my life became consumed with making an endless parade of costumes and props for our daughter's play. In April and May, neglect was my main gardening strategy.

In June we went on a three week vacation. By the time we returned, with the assistance of our timed irrigation and several unusually heavy rainfalls, the garden had dramatically transformed into the Amazon jungle. A fruitless jungle.

All the plants that had been producing had died except for the tomatoes. There were lots and lots of overripe, and even dried, tomatoes on the plants. The tomatoes that appeared edible were bland and unappetizing.

Needless to say, I was discouraged.

I was afraid to let my kids in the garden for fear of snakes. The waist-high grass was full of hard burrs with evil double hooks. And did I mention the blistering heat?

My gardening strategy morphed from neglect to utter denial. Garden? What garden?

One morning in July, I went outside early while it was still possible to actually breathe, and peeking nervously over the gate, saw that the dying tomato plants had sprouted a few new green leaves. Curious, I went into the garden, and to my amazement saw green leaves poking out of browning tomato stems everywhere. This unexpected surge of life inspired me, and I spent several hours weeding and pruning 4 or 5 of the plants closest to the gate.

The next day when I went out to continue down the row, my carefully pruned plants were covered with grasshoppers. It seems that the weeds had been camouflage, and without those swaying grass fronds, the bright green leaves shouted "Eat me! Eat me!" in irresistible Grasshopperese.

That was it, I was done. I didn't even feel guilty about not working in the garden. Most days.

But the time for planting the fall garden is upon us and today it was time to be a grown-up. I wanted to begin taking dominion over that garden again! I decided I would spend two hours in the garden with no expectations of what I would actually accomplish. Because I had turned off the irrigation system weeks ago, I had definite expectations of what I would find in the Garden of Death - a lot of stuff to rip out.

I grabbed the weed whacker, put on my protective gear, and wrenched the gate free from the morning glories that bound it to the fence. Advancing slowly, the weed whacker leveled the waist high grass in the paths along the tomato bed. I was too busy trying to hold the weed whacker steady with my out-of-practice arms, and my eyes were too blurry from the constant drip-drip-drip of sweat to actually look at the beds.

I put the weed whacker away, gulped some ice water in the kitchen, and then, bravely (oh I felt terribly brave), I did what I least wanted to do... I went back to the garden to honor my time commitment.

And there, at the beginning of that tomato bed, I saw a miracle. Somehow, God had preserved those grasshopper-covered plants that I had pruned. Beyond them were dry dead sticks, but those first few plants that I had tended were not only alive and leafy, they had flowers and sweet little green tomatoes.

I stood there with my mouth open, then burst out laughing. My tiny effort, given with hope, had been received and magnified. Those itty bitty balls of green didn't care that my hopes had been dashed, that I had mourned the tragic loss of my garden. They were busy fulfilling their calling... growing.

My offering was so small, yet with God's provision of sun and rain, that offering turned into tomatoes. Imagine!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor 15:58

What encouragement it gives me to know that while I have so little to offer, and so frequently get discouraged, God has the eternal perspective! He takes every offering of ourselves and magnifies it to His glory.

Under Duress

I am a perfectionist. This is a serious hindrance to joy in my life.

I am writing now because my husband made me. I was moaning about how hard it is to write tonight, and when he asked for the link to this new blog I sighed and said mournfully, "Being Joyful".

He laughed and told me I had to post this. Under duress I am here to confess...

My name is Patti and I am a perfectionist.

Loving the moment = joy

Have you ever taken a photo with your mind?

Today I was lying on the couch singing with Little Warrior (age 4). Now that he's "big" he "does school" like his siblings, and singing nursery rhymes is part of his new routine. But today I was running on just a few hours of sleep, and by the time we got around to singing, I was one tired mama.

Little Warrior and I lay side by side on the couch. He chose the songs that he felt we could comfortably sing in a prone position. We sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider". We sang "The Alphabet Song". We sang "The Wheels on the Bus" (with all our custom verses, including giggling sisters and knitting grandmas). We sang and sang and sang.

At one point I turned to look at him, and he took my face in his hands, leaning his forehead against mine and singing.

{snap!} went the camera of my mind, catching the close-up of green eyes and curly golden halo. {save!} whirred my heart as I felt those soft little hands and the vibrations of his wobbly song against my face.

Present in the moment... joy.


Years ago I opened a small online store. God had tugged and nagged at me for months, and I met Him at every nudge with protest:

"But Lord, I am tired!"

"Have you noticed the 5 year old and 5 month old?"

"Don't forget about homeschooling!"

"You know my husband travels for weeks at a time!"

"But my life is sooo hard already!"


I finally gave in. For reasons I still don't fully understand, I opened that business, and gave it the name that it seemed meant to have: "The Joyful Mama."

It was the name I felt led to use, but I remember at the time laughingly telling someone that it must have been meant prophetically because I sure wasn't feeling very joyful. I felt tired, overwhelmed and grumpy.

What I wanted from God in those early days was courage to walk through life and its endless turns with some tiny glimmer of hope.

What I found was joy.

There is no denying that this life of ours is fraught with pain and suffering. I still struggle. And yet everywhere I turn I see glimpses of beauty, and deep inside, I feel a joy that gurgles and bubbles, just waiting to overflow out my heart.

Jesus was just waiting for me to ask Him to unstop the cork.
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