We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit. You just cannot help it, it is innate, you know that even though it’s been several long years of getting these calls on a somewhat regular basis, your soul knows that one day you will get that dreaded call. The call to end all calls. The call that your loved one has died. Well, we got that call, though it was not that my dad had instantly died, praise God. I simply cannot imagine getting that call and living with the guilt associated with not being able to say goodbye to the living, not being able to ask for forgiveness, not being able to reconcile whatever needs to be reconciled between either party. My heart aches for those who have faced that situation in their lives. Our ending was supernaturally blessed by the Lord on so many levels. For that I will always be eternally thankful.
As I go through the process and season of putting my father to rest, I immediately put on hold all our best laid plans to launch the Joy Movement. And I question, can I even go through with launching #joymovementkc? I had no joy, at least I felt like I did not. Of course, I had joy in the way things ended. I had joy amid that sacred time that the Lord granted me with my daddy while he was in the ICU. Joy during grief, yes, that is real! However, in the days following his death, my body, mind, soul, and spirit were beyond weary, empty, numb. I will never forget sitting with my knees under my body, almost in a fetal like position but sitting upright in the plush corner chair of our bedroom talking with my assistant and bestie Lisa and bemoaning the fact that all our hard work would have to be placed on hold. And questioning if I could even launch something called “the Joy Movement” at this time, or in the months to come. She wisely replied to me, “What better time?” Still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. Something I had to wrestle with at the time, mind you. Yes, what better time. Because sharing Joy with others fills you up. Sharing joy heals. Sharing joy can be medicinal in a way no other drug can. Sharing joy in turn brings you joy. Brilliant concept, huh? Been around since the creation of the world. Lisa knew, and it’s something we all know, instinctually, that giving of ourselves, helping others, coming alongside people in need, volunteering etc.…is how we were created! It takes the focus off us and places the focus on others. The pithy acronym for JOY, “Jesus, others, yourself” is not so pithy at all. It is the proper perspective (in my humble opinion) of how we are to live our short, dusty, fleeting lives on this earth we temporarily call home. Jesus first and foremost, every morning, each day, with every breath. Other’s needs second, and ours last. Not an easy acronym to follow as we are all living in our flesh and constantly fighting to rise above in our sanctification process. Everything really is a choice, isn’t it? Choosing to love. Choosing to share joy. Choosing Jesus. Choosing to change our perspectives. Choosing to shop small. Yep, had to throw that in, was trying to not place it after choosing Jesus, of course! That being the most important and impactful choice you will ever make in your earthly life.
So, all that to say, we launched #joymovementkc on June 17th! We have lots of merch for you to purchase on our Grace Thru Faith site, even things you can gift to others, because that is what it’s all about, right? Please follow us on our @joymovementkc Facebook and Instagram sites and join us in this journey! Thank you for reading and thank you for continuing to support small.
Would you agree that there are some things in life that we choose and some things we do not? Things we would never choose, for instance Covid or Cancer or any other seemingly awful disease or situation. However, the Lord in his omniscience sometimes chooses to allow these seasons in our lives, for His purposes, ultimately.
Every response from us, however, is a choice. We can choose to accept the situation or not. We can choose to fight back, or not. We can choose to praise Him above all, or not. We can choose to heed His promptings, or not.
If you think about it, everything from the moment our feet hit the floor each morning till our head hits the pillow each evening, everything we say, think, and do are choices. We can choose to love people each day, we can choose how we respond to others, and on it goes. Every minute of our lives involves a choice in how we respond.
All this to say, we can choose to be obedient to the Lord’s calling, prompting, and commandments, or not. There have been two specific times (many more actually) but for this blog I am choosing to focus on two specific instances the Lord has called me to thus far in my life.
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.