I spent way too much time last night reading my own blog. For some reason, I got started reading my posts from when Annabelle was born and the following six months of her life.
All I can say is… wow. The memories! I felt like I was reliving the past and had to brush away tears, remembering some of those posts that I wrote with tears rolling down my face at the time, too.
|Joy: Annabelle’s first hilarious Halloween costume!|
I’ve also noticed something else.
Something that I don’t like so much.
I’ve changed a bit.
And not for the good.
I mean, we all change, right? But for the longest time, while I felt totally battered down by circumstances, I very much had a strength that was 100% God given because it wasn’t of me. And I knew it. I KNEW that I couldn’t handle what I was given. I KNEW the struggle it was to get up each day and fight for my sweet daughter each day. I KNEW that going to work most days, leaving my daughter at the hospital, was wrenching my heart out.
But I also knew that somehow, I did it. I made it through.
|Joy: Heart Day!|
I wasn’t perfect. I look back and see a lot of things I wish I could go back and do differently.
But my sweet Annabelle is here today, and she’s THRIVING.
I can not begin to tell you how thankful I am for that all over again today, after my brief trip of reliving her journey.
Then this morning, God pricked my heart and reminded me how very remiss I’d been on my Bible reading of late. Reminded me of our frequent conversations and how many times He’d revealed himself to me during that first year of Annabelle’s life, but not because he’d be so great to do so, but because I’d been very focused on seeking Him.
I haven’t been so focused lately.
|Joy: Life-long friends|
Most days I blame it on LIFE. Because at the time, I’d felt like life had stalled a bit. Sure, I went through the motions, but nothing else mattered. I had learned to seek God and lean on him EVERY SINGLE DAY, not just when I had five minutes to carve out.
But then we got back home… and things became overwhelming. My emotions became overwhelming, quite honestly. I’ve had personal ups and downs, but when it came down to it, I put LIFE before God. Lost my focus on above and starting focusing more on things of Earth.
So this morning, I sat down with my Bible, not even knowing where to begin.
A bit half-heartedly, I asked God, okay, where do I start.
|Joy: Meeting David, the little boy with the GREATEST smile.
Jesus is enjoying his smile now in Heaven!
I was about open up at the beginning of the new testament … because when in doubt, start at the beginning, eh?
But then the word “James” filtered into my brain. No clue where it came from (okay, I have a big clue! GOD, duh, Krista!)
So I turned to the book of James and read chapter one. I wasn’t even through the first two paragraphs before I felt totally convicted and knew that the direction to read James was directly from Jesus.
I’m sure you’ve read the verses before. I’ve probably been made to memorize them at some point in my childhood because they were so familiar.
James 1:2-4 “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
I actually blogged about that once during Annabelle, or right before. How HARD it was to look at our circumstance and consider it “joy.” I like how the above version puts it though, “an opportunity for great joy.”
I wasn’t clapping my hands saying, “YEAH!!! My baby was born with half a heart and might die, GO GOD!” That would be just dumb.
But our trouble gave us the opportunity for great joy, and I can honestly say God did bring joy from it. While I’m not perfect, I AM a stronger person. It brings me great joy when people come to me and tell me how much Annabelle’s story has impacted them. It brings me great joy to be able to pray for the people I’ve met, the other moms and heart babies, who I would have never known if I’d not walked this journey. And it brings me great joy to be able to stay home with my kids most days, which never would have happened otherwise. And it brings me great joy to be able to snuggle with my Annabelle everyday, thanking God for the gift that he has blessed me with.
|Joy: Annabelle’s FAVORITE toy in the hospital.
She played with that thing for HOURS!
Some days lately, I’ve forgotten to take joy. My trials are mild compared to what we went through those first two years. Yet I find myself bellyaching more, not focusing on God, on not taking advantage of the gifts of JOY he has given me.
It even applies to my blog. I’ve been a bit ho-hum lately, viewing it more as a chore and with the mindset of “people don’t really want to hear what I have to say anyway” instead of the opportunity God has given me to share my heart and doing what I have listed on my header… learning to find JOY in Life’s crazy journey.
So today, here is to finding a tidbit of joy in your day, even in the not-so-nice stuff. To focusing on Jesus, who is our TRUE joy giver.
What do YOU consider joy today??