Thursday, July 26, 2018

In Search of Joy

I've been thinking a lot the last few weeks about what brings me joy. I could relate to what a friend wrote to me in a letter this week. "I often live for the things that make me feel happy." When lots of things in my life are not happiness producers that is a problem. This summer my happiness meter has jerked up and down like an oil well.

I feel happy when...
Ed has enough energy to play a game with the children
the children are helpful and well behaved
my laundry is flapping on the sunshine
we enjoy a yummy meal of fresh garden produce
a bouquet of cheery zinnias sits on a clean kitchen counter
we get a lovely rainfall at exactly the right time

I feel sad when...
the groundhog chews down my zucchini plants to the ground
Ed falls asleep mid-sentence right after supper
nasty words bounce around the living room
I fight a losing battle with tiny ants in my kitchen

I don't want my joy to be dependent upon things, circumstances, and the weather.

I think God delights in giving us gifts like zinnias and a sun-ripened tomato and I want to find joy in these simple pleasures. When God answers our prayers, I want to rejoice. But these things can't be the source of my joy.

We are nearing the fifteenth month since Ed's GBM brain cancer diagnosis. Every day I thank God that Ed is still with us since I know that many with GBM do not have even fifteen months. Ed fights fatigue but still works and enjoys spending time with the children as much as possible.

But saying that "it could be worse" is a small comfort when I wish my husband was cancer free. It makes me mad that I can't plan next weekend or next month because all plans depend on how Ed feels. Counting blessing, though a valuable exercise, can't always salvage broken dreams. Even Jesus wept with his friends so I don't think we have to force a smile on our face when our hearts ache.

My joy cannot be dependent upon circumstances. When I think of the believers who have been persecuted for their faith  and lost every earthly pleasure to serve Jesus, I realize that I have all I need for joy. Ed has had such firm faith throughout this past year that all will be well. He has confidence that in life or in death, God is with us and we have nothing to fear.

I've been reading slowly through Isaiah and love the prophecies of Christ such as Isaiah 61:3. "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."

I want the joy in my heart to be because of Jesus.

This week Ed had another MRI which showed significant tumor growth in the last month. Aggressive GBM like Ed's can double in a week or two, but even knowing that fact doesn't make these scans any easier to prepare for.

In hopes of slowing the growth of his tumor,  Ed has decided to do some more radiation. He starts August 1 and will have 14 treatments. Please pray that the treatments will go well and that he will not have severe side effects. Pray that our faith in God will stay strong, and we will find joy in Him.

I'd love to hear about the little gifts of God that are bringing you joy today as well as what brings you deep unfailing joy in hard times.

31 comments :

  1. We're continuing to pray for Ed and all of you! God is mighty and is guiding Ed through all of his health and life decisions. Ed's faith in God is a rock to your family ... lean on his faith when you feel weak.
    3 John 1:2 -- "Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health as your soul prospers." God bless you all!

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  2. Some joy moments for me today.. Lunch at a coffee shop with the 3 daughters that I still have, while my heart aches and relived what was happening 1 short year ago. Then came home to find a bouquet of flowers from a caring family. A bouquet of joy in the midst of pain.
    Diane

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    1. Diane-
      I've been thinking of your family often this summer and the memories of last year. Glad that you are surrounded with support in your pain.
      Blessings,
      Gina

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    2. Same. Thinking of & praying for you often, Diane!

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    3. Diane, I too think of you. You have such a network of prayer people! The Lord bless you.

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  3. "Unless the Lord had been my help,
    My soul would soon have settled in silence.
    If I say, “My foot slips,”
    Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
    In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
    Your comforts delight my soul." - Psalm 94: 17-19

    This passage has become very precious to me and is on a card above my kitchen sink (held up by a bunch of lavender from our garden; another of God's lovely gifts). When I see it, I will pray for Ed and your family, that the joy of the Lord will be your very real strength.

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  4. QUERIDA HERMANA: EN DICIEMBRE PASADO JUSTAMENTE EL 28, DIOS ME REGALO UNA NUEVA NIETA,NACIO MUY PREMATURA, ERA LA PRIMER HIJA DE MI HIJA Y SU ESPOSO, ELLA HABIA SUFRIDO VARIOS ABORTOS ESPONTANEOS, TUVIERON QUE OPERARLA DE URGENCIA (CESAREA)PORQUE MI HIJA SUFRIO UNA PRECALMPSIA, CASI SE MUEREN LAS 2, MI NIETA SOLO VIVIO 2 DIAS, MI HIJA SE RECUPERO, AUNQUE VIVE EN EL DOLOR DE NO PODER TENER A SU BEBE, Y YO YA NO SOY LA MISMA DESDE ENTONCES, ELLA SE LLEVO UNA PARTE DE MI. HACE 2 MESES ELLOS MI HIJA Y MI YERNO, ME REGALARON UNA PLANTA DE ROSAS, SOLO ERAN LAS RAMAS SIN HOJAS, NO FLORES, LA PLANTE Y LE DIJE A DIOS QUE SI EL QUERIA QUE FLORECIERA,LA BAUTICE CON EL NOMBRE DE CHELSY, ASI SE LLAMO MI PEQUEÑA NIETA Y PARA MI SORPRESA, ESTE ROSAL QUE PARECIA QUE NO IBA A SEGUIR VIVIENDO, EMPEZO A LLENARSE DE HOJITAS, DANDO SUS PRIMEROS PASOS HACIA LA FLORACION, AQUI ESTAMOS EN INVIERNO Y HUBO MUCHOS DIAS DE FRIO Y TAMBIEN HELADAS. SIENTO QUE CHELSY ESTA EN ESE ROSAL QUE PRONTO DARA SUS ROSAS, ME LLENA DE ALEGRIA MI CORAZON DOLIDO, A LO MEJOR NO SIGNIFICA MUCHO O NADA PARA TI, ESTO QUE TE COMENTO, PERO ME AYUDA A LLEVAR ESTE DUELO, ESTA SEPARACION MOMENTANEA, CONFIANDO EN MI SEÑOR QUE EL HACE LAS COSAS A SU MANERA, EN SUS TIEMPOS, AUNQUE NO ENTENDEMOS PORQUE SUCEDEN ESTAS COSAS, SI SABEMOS QUE EL,TIENE EL CONTROL DE TODO. SEGUIREMOS ORANDO POR TU ED, Y QUE DIOS TE DE FORTALEZA EN ESTE CAMINO LLAMADO VIDA, NO TE OLVIDES QUE ESTAMOS TRANSITANDO UN LARGO DESIERTO, HASTA QUE LLEGUEMOS A LA TIERRA PROMETIDA. BENDICIONES.

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  5. I am still praying for your family, Gina. Being joyful at such a time isn't easy I must say. I hope the radiation helps and that the side effects aren't too bad for Ed.

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  6. We will be holding you all in prayer during this scary and trying time.
    Joy for me is a pain free, or limited pain, day for Dh, who has Polycystic Kidney Disease stage 5. He's on the transplant list at Mayo Jacksonville, but of course nothing is ever guaranteed.

    Joy is a cool afternoon on the porch, playing a game with our son, just being together as a family and having DH feel like being part of that time.

    I know how a disease can affect your emotions, your outlook, your faith. Rollercoaster is indeed, an apt description. Hugs to you all through this.

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  7. i continue to keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. I take time each morning to think about Ed and pray for his day to be an easy one with all he is going thru. My husband sees his surgeon in two weeks to have a scope to make sure he is still cancer free. I am not too sure when the next CT scan is - we will know on that date. My husband was stage four and has been cancer free for 17 months now. Bless you and the children.

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  8. Thank you for sharing honestly of your joy and sorrow. My heart is crying out to God on behalf of you and your family.

    The joys in my day: my mom giving my older children a fun-filled outing, the relief of simplifying our upcoming weekend plans, an unexpected visit from my sister with a plate of bars, a painting class with my friend.

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  9. Praying for Ed for effective radiation therapy with minimal side effects. Praying for you and your family to feel the strength that only Our Heavenly Father can provide.
    What brings me joy? One of the things that encompasses me with joy and I feel the love of God when I walk under a canopy of trees, covering me in His loving protection. It feels like a very physical reminder of His love. I first felt it the week before my husband was diagnosed with cancer and my mother’s health was declining sharply- I experienced such inexplicable joy on a drive down a road with a beautiful canopy of large trees. During that difficult time, the memory of that feeling reminded me that we were indeed sheltered by Our Heavenly Father.

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  10. "It could be worse" has often NOT been a comfort as I have battled chronic illness. I have had seasons of pain with no end in sight when God whispered, "I am here with you!" My husband & I rejoiced as we realized last night that I had done housework in the morning, picked blueberries in the afternoon, & washed the kitchen floor on my hands & knees last evening! A few years ago I was barely dragging myself out of bed! We have no way of knowing if this good season will last or when the pain will flare worse again, but there is joy in this moment! Praying for you often!

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  11. Gina I follow your journey and pray for you and your family. We too face trials as my husband struggles to come to terms with his recently much reduced capacity after an amputation twenty five years ago. He fought to live a fully active life all the years we were raising our children, but is now facing full term “retirement” whilst still in his 40s.
    My simple joys are: seeing his pain and stress relieved; finding activities that we can do together and finding a new way of being now that he is so much more at home; growing cooking and preserving food to feed my family, as my mother and grandmother taught me; the ordinary wonders of the natural world around us each day, the flowers and birds in the garden. The sun shining long shadows across the barley fields and the wind rippling through the long grass in the meadows. Peaceful times with my needlework, and a fifteen minute quiet time in the evenings to enjoy a bath tub before bed. Praying through wakeful times in the dark.

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  12. My father insisted we see and savor the small...so now for me the unexpected lizard on the fence, the frog, the dragonflies on patrol at the creek, the skunk under the garden shed...the noisy ravens, the silent deer at dusk...all remind me, there is grace. There is order. I am not in charge. Prayers and love to you.

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  13. Gina, I think for me, liitle things that God sends bring me joy, such as a beautiful sunset after a thunderstorm has past. I posted a picture of such a gift on my blog recently.
    I've been keeping you and your sweet family in prayer.

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  14. Praying for you and Ed. God bless!

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  15. Gina, your blog brings me joy to know someone else who is faced with adversity still has to hold book clubs, cook dinner and not fall apart.
    It gives me joy to hold onto childhood memories and dreams I used to have, although now they are all shattered. I often think of what might have been...even though for whatever reason it’s not.
    Sometimes I go as far to catch a glimpse of life without brain tumors, seizures , cancer or medicines four times a day. Everyone is well for just a moment. Daydreams what a joy.
    You are my favorite writer! Andrea

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  16. Dear Gina,
    Just praying for you and Ed and the family. Praying for these new radiation sessions. May God bless you and your family in all things.
    Shelley p
    from over the pond

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  17. I'm always amazed at your strength. I have walked your path, although not for a few years now. It was my mother who had cancer.She has been gone for 16 years now. Just yesterday, an old friend of she and my dad's came to buy produce from me. He has lived in Florida for several years, so we reminised about old times. To be honest, I guess that was my joyful moment of the week. To hear old stories,and relive happytimes! I'm still praying for your family, hope all goes well!

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  18. we don't know each other but I am a reader of your blog. this quote was an encouragement to me today as I face my trials so thought I'd pass it on...

    Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.…When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.-Kahlil Gibran

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  19. I'm struggling with joy myself in a trying summer (nothing like yours, though) and was glad you shared yours. Maybe I can add "ant free kitchen" to your joy list? Wipe the floors and counters with vinegar (and rinse) to eradicate their scent trail. (The first ants that find a food source will leave a pheromone trail for the rest, so just wiping up crumbs isn't enough to discourage them.) We also left out baits made of half granulated sugar and half borax in jar lids and bottle caps. They take the bait back to the nest, and it wipes out the colony. That might not work with small children around. May God give you strength for your burdens.

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    1. I was going to comment that I eradicated a big ant problem in my pantry by setting out lids of the borax/powdered sugar in their scent trails. I didn't even wipe anything down with vinegar. The ants carried the borax/sugar back to the nests and they ALL disappeared!

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  20. Good Evening Gina,

    As always, I continue to pray for you, Ed and your family.
    You asked your readers to share what brings us joy and sorrow.
    For me, sorrow comes when our children are struggling - even though all but one is now grown.
    What brings me joy? Trusting in the Lord. Trusting that ALL THINGS work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Trusting that the tough times in life will somehow, someday bring glory to God our Father. Trusting that God's promises will not falter, regardless of how things may appear or look in any given moment.

    Thank you for sharing your journey of Trust in our Lord. I think it is edifying to the body of Christ.

    Blessings,
    Mrs.B

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  21. I pray for you and your dear family. I get a big ole lump in my throat just thinking about all the emotions you are sifting through and trying to understand. God loves you very, very much and He understands the deep grief you feel. Lean into His arms, He will carry you.

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  22. I want the joy in my heart to be because of Jesus. Amen to that. I know it's harder than you can say, and not everything is able to be written. For me too, though my hard things are very different and far less obvious. Right now I find joy in the nearness of family and in the godly forever love they have for me. And I find joy in summer and green grass and clouds and puppies and children and Christian friends who support and inspire me. You are one of those friends. Thank you. And thank you for your trust in Jesus. It means a lot.

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  23. Beautiful, Gina. And spot on. I could write on and on, and would love to continue this conversation with you! Blessings on your day!

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  24. We love that the Lord entrusted us to be caretakers of our son and He gives us hope that things will be better enough someday to get out of this "box" to some extent; to be able to do the simple, but enjoyable things. The hardest thing is having a couplehood in the midst of something like this, but we manage and God has truly been gracious to us. We have our days, though, when we fall down.


    One thing we find great joy in is our ride to the grocery store through the country. This morning we saw two fawns playing at the edge of a cornfield. We always see some interesting wildlife and we find cows and bulls lovely creatures as well as all the other farm animals. We often stop and speak to them - yeah, people surely think we are silly, but that is ok. Makes us smile.

    We are praying for your dear husband and family.

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  25. I had the day off from work yesterday. It has been such a hot summer and God blessed my day with rainfall and the temps stayed in the 80's instead of over 100! Praise God! I am always praying for healing for Ed and for strength for you Gina. You are an inspiration and I thank you for your honesty.

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  26. Continued prayers for Ed and your wonderful family. Thank you for sharing with us even when I'm sure you don't feel like it. Praying the tumor would shrink and amaze the doctors!!! God is able to do more than we ask or imagine. Nothing is impossible with God.

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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