Finding Joy – The Unexpected

As I lay here in bed at 4 a.m. Sunday morning listening to the freezing rain pelt the bedroom window. The end of the week news just like the weather in mid-April is not what I wanted to hear.

Last week started with putting Heaven’s Vineyard, our cottage in northern Michigan on the market. It was a bright sunny day, even though there was about two inches of snow on the ground. But the weather this time of year isn’t totally unexpected in northern Michigan and neither was putting our cottage up for sale. Our sons are grown and away at college. Vinny Sal and I are looking to enjoy life daily and not just on weekends with a three and half hour car ride with two pups in the backseat. We had plans with the proceeds from the sale of our cottage.

(an excerpt from my prayer journal 4/9)

joy is found
never can be sold
memories

Last Monday was my birthday. It was pleasant enough and I had taken the day off work to enjoy peace and quiet. The day was gray, dank and snowing but still relaxing with a delightful book in hand for a future book review for this blog. It is how anyone who knows me would expect me to enjoy my birthday.

(an excerpt from my prayer journal 4/10)

the sun shines
on the day after
my birthday

I found joy today in the office. Yes! The office! Because I work with fantastic people who decorated my little cubicle, a birthday card signed by all, and beautiful, delicious cake.

Last Wednesday was my first day at physical therapy. It was all around a difficult day in mind, body and spirit. More theory than answers to the diagnosis. It wasn’t unexpected and neither was my friend’s response.

(an excerpt from my prayer journal on 4/11)

You know where I found joy today?

I thought it was just the robin belting out a song this morning amid a slight snow shower in spring. Joy could have stopped right there but at the end of a long, difficult day there was more joy to be found.

Some days are difficult to get through for whatever reason. But I found joy today in a friendship I have had less than two years. She is in a ‘class’ of strong women in my life that know and when I need an encouraging word and sometimes when I need to be talked off the ledge, so to speak. We all need those types of friends and I am grateful for her today. And sometimes these friends don’t even know the joy they bring… but now they do… I at least I hope they do.

Last Thursday the last line in my prayer journal before heading out to the office was this:

(an excerpt from my prayer journal 4/12)

“Where will I find joy today?”

At lunch time, I took a short walk outside and in my prayer journal I wrote, “JOY! 69 degrees, balmy breeze and sunshine!”

In Michigan, the weather can be 69 degrees midday and by nightfall a blizzard. The drastic change in weather seemingly in hours is to be expected.

At 4 p.m. the unexpected did happen. As everyone at the office huddled into the conference training room, the company announced it would be ceasing operations nationally and we all had a job and a paycheck for at least the next 60 days.
I went through a similar scenario in the summer of 2009. While still shocking I did not shed a tear. I did not feel a sense of overwhelming panic like I did that July 9 years ago. What I did feel as I looked around the room at many faces of varying degrees of age and looks of disbelief was sorrow. I deeply understood the internal wave of panic, the many questions without answers, and the sense of failure although unwarranted by either company or individual.

Friday, the 13th. Where would joy be found?

Friday was the second day of physical therapy and no less daunting and exasperating.

(excerpts from my prayer journal 4/13 throughout the day)

It’s Friday the 13th. Many people find this to be a “bad” or an “unlucky” day. But for those who intentionally look for joy will find it even on today.”

no love lost
wishing time away
melting snow

Yes, it is Friday the 13th and then this happens… It is not the birthday present I had hoped for this week, but there is still JOY to be found in all the wonderful people I have met here. They are the BEST people I have been associated with in my career.

Then Saturday, time to think (and write)

(excerpt from my prayer journal 4/14)

There is joy today in the soothing sound of a steady albeit a cold rain. Spring will arrive eventually as well as the joy in mind, body and spirit. Joy always seems its’ purest when radiating from a bright yellow sun against the bluest hue of a cloudless sky. Yesterday is done. Today is beginning and tomorrow holds the joy of opportunity.

Where there is joy there is hope. And where there is hope, we thrive.

Back to today, Sunday, the start of a new week

As I continue to lay here like lead in the waning night time hours writhing in bodily pain with still unanswered questions of my own future, I know this one thing. In mind, body and spirit, I will find joy in each day.

Every day is like the weather in Michigan. The unexpected will happen. But there is joy to be found. I remember many years ago when I was going through my own job loss panic, one of my colleagues said to me, “Do you have your family?” Yes, replied. “Is everyone healthy?” Yes, I replied. “Then you have everything you need.”

I have a God and a family who loves me. I’m not dead. I’m alive. Yes, I have everything I  need for mind, body and spirit.

As for my colleagues who are my friends, I am reminded of Psalms 27:17:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Darkest Hour

 

I’ll write the question again. Why is joy so important?

Where there is joy there is hope.
Where there is hope, we thrive.
When we thrive, others thrive.

Peace,

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The Blogging Owl

 

The Joyful Journey is a blog series. This is the second post in the series. I will be blogging pages from my journal on where I have found joy. All blog posts will be stored in the category labeled #TheJoyfulJourney.

I hope you will join me on this expedition of finding joy. Not only finding it but sharing it with me and the followers of The Blogging Owl. Whether in posting a comment on The Blogging Owl page or have a guest blog spot on The Blogging Owl (email me at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com).

P.S. I will be back to posting book reviews and other stories of the nest soon!

 

Finding Joy

What is Joy? How does one recognize joy?

By sight?

By sound?

By smell?

By taste?

By touch?

Where is joy found?

Can joy be found near a cemetery plot or only in a nursery?

Can joy be found in a pile of autumn leaves or only in a flower garden?

Can joy be found in the halls of a hospital or only at a beach picnic?

Can joy be found on the city streets or only in mama’s kitchen?

Can joy be found in the mirror or only in the arms of a lover?

When is joy found?

Is joy found when we are ready to find it or only when we least expect it?

Why is joy important?

Where there is joy there is hope.

Where there is hope, we thrive.

When we thrive, others thrive.

We become what I call, ‘Watering Cans’. Watering Cans help people and animals thrive.

In today’s world, joy seems more difficult to find.

Our world moves faster today than yesterday leaving us all a bit more depleted of hope. We can pray where there is more division than togetherness. We can pray for all what is wrong in the world than what is right. I encourage prayer!

Yet the world will never be free, and it will never be fair. It will never be all what we hope it to be. While we know it will never be a perfect oasis that is precisely why we need to find joy. So let’s find joy together.

The Joyful Journey

If you are like me, you write daily in a journal. I refer to my journal as a prayer journal. You may refer to your journal as simply a journal or perhaps something else. And if you don’t journal, please start this journal expedition with me today. As I tell people who don’t journal but who would like to start one, you don’t have to be a writer. Your gift may be in painting, drawing, photography, but please understand this one thingyou do have a gift. It is in our gifts that we will joy.

Why today?

Why not today?

I do have a confession though and that is today is my 57th birthday. After my blog series, Lent – In My Opinion, I have realized that what is missing in my life and perhaps in yours too is that we don’t recognize the joy in our day. No matter how bad our day may seem there IS joy. And in this journal expedition, The Joyful Journey, I will be blogging pages from my journal on where I have found joy. All blog posts will be stored in the category labeled #TheJoyfulJourney

My birthday wish today is that you will join me on this expedition of finding joy. Not only finding it but sharing it with me and the followers of The Blogging Owl. Whether in posting a comment on The Blogging Owl page or have a guest blog spot on The Blogging Owl (email me at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com).

Expedition Checklist

 Journal / Fountain Pen
 Good eyeglasses
 Water bottle (or coffee with a double-shot of espresso)
 Determination
 Perseverance
 Sharpen your five senses plus your sense of adventure!

TheJoyfulJourney

May we find joy,

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The Blogging Owl

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

 

 

Lent – In My Opinion, My Tattoo

Today, April 1, 2018, is Easter.

As I have posted here a few times on the topic of Lent – In My Opinion, I have wondered in writing how “fasting” from expressing my opinion matters.

Over the last 40 days I have been reading and listening to many other’s opinions from all ages and generations on topics that ran the gamut of existence here on earth without expressing my own opinion. (I wouldn’t admit to being 100% silent but, in my opinion, I think I was darn close to it). And irrespective of age or generation, the opinions I read or listened to ranged from the cruel and insensitive to an articulate wise point of view. As I mentioned in my last post on Lent – In My Opinion, Part 3, all opinions do matter, but will they matter? And I came to the realization that each one’s opinions, whether I was in an agreement or not will matter just as my opinion will matter.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

For my opinion to matter I reason, I must reflect the values of what I believe are important in how I live, how I work, how I interact with others whoever they may be. My values and my opinions determine my priorities and will ultimately determine how my life will matter. It will also determine even more than just here on earth.

In my first post, Lent – In My Opinion, my husband, Vinny Sal said I should not choose fasting from what I call my coarse language, and in his words, my ‘potty’ mouth because I would fail the next day just like diet resolutions on the January 1st. Yet in fasting from expressing my opinions I have also reflected on the words I choose to express my opinion. Can another word be used that may be more effective? Is there another word aligns better with my values? Is there another word that will make my opinion matter?

How will I make my opinions matter?

My values are rooted in the Word of God. I read the Bible or a Christian devotion almost every day and I write daily in a prayer journal. Yet, as a sinner I have failed many times expressing my values in my opinions as God would like me to reflect them. My words must be His words.

The art of self-expression

When my sons were in high school, they would often say they wanted a tattoo. A few of their friends were getting tattoos, why couldn’t they? My answer was always, “Your body is on loan from God. He wouldn’t like you to tattoo his masterpiece.” I knew then that when they reached adulthood they wouldn’t need my permission or approval. I just hoped they would think clearly about what tattoo and where they would tattoo their body.

Since that time I have become fascinated by why people get tattoos and how they choose what to tattoo on their bodies. After all, it will be there forever unless of course they rue their decision and go through through the painful process of medical laser surgery to remove them.

While I am sure some tattoos were mindlessly ill-conceived or gotten under inebriated circumstances and they were too ashamed to admit it, the majority chose their tattoo because it reflected their values, some event, a personally held conviction or message.

My tattoo – Luther’s Rose

My youngest son now has three tattoos in which he has shared the meaning and the reason behind each one. Friends and co-workers have tattoos. Vinny Sal vows he will never get a tattoo. And after my Lenten fasting I have found that I  now want a very special tattoo. A tattoo that reflects to me in the mirror every day a message of what my values are based upon. Although it is sad to think I need a reminder at times, I have chosen Luther’s rose for my tattoo.

(From: Letter from Martin Luther to Lazarus Spengler, July 8, 1530)

“First, there is a black cross in a heart that remains its natural color. This is to remind me that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart will be justified (Romans 10:10). It is a black cross, which mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy nature, that is to say, it does not kill us, but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Crucified One (Romans 1:17).

Luther's Rose - original

The heart should stand in the middle of a white rose. This is to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace—it puts the believer into a white, joyous rose. Faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). This is why the rose must be white, not red. White is the color of the spirits and angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12).

This rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that a joyful spirit and faith is a beginning of heavenly, future joy, which begins now, but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed.

Around the field of blue is a golden ring to symbolize that blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. Heavenly blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and better than any possessions, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”

A special placement

My Luther’s rose tattoo will be etched above my heart near my left shoulder so as I look  in the mirror each day, it will remind me of the excruciating lashes etched on Jesus’ body for each and every one of my sins. It will remind me that my words and actions must not cause pain, but gives joy, comfort and peace. It will remind me that a joyful spirit and faith grasped in hope surrounded by a blessedness is better than any possession here on earth.

Unlike my gold cross necklace that I can put on and remove, my tattoo will remain as a reflection to all that my opinions do and will matter when I keep them rooted in a believing heart justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Peace,

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The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone