Sunday, September 13, 2009

Birthday Well Wishers Get Their Wish

So many people wished me a happy birthday that I thought I might share with my well wishers exactly what kind of a happy day I had.

My birthday really started one day early with a box in the mail from a dear friend. This box contained nice roving and one handmade, particularly pretty, green scarf. Well, I was off to a good start.

The next morning I woke with plans to finish painting my room. It just so happened that my birthday this year was on a Friday, which also happens to be one of the busiest and most stressful days on the farm. We spend Friday making sure that everything is ready for farmers market on Saturday. After I had an amazing country breakfast, that Nathan made, Ellen asked me if I would help her move some cows before I started painting. No problem.

We then spent the morning traipsing over various pastures, rearranging various herds. There was a sick calf that was lost in prairie grass as tall as we were so we spent a while half-heartedly searching for it. When we finally gave up and decided to get back to the house, we found it in the wrong pasture. As soon as it saw us moving towards it, it went even farther in the wrong direction all the time hacking and coughing but moving pretty quickly none the less. So, after about a half hour of careful maneuvering we finally got the calf up to the house to be treated. So ended my eventful morning.

After lunch and a quick nap I finally got to paint while listening to an audio version of Prince Caspian. My painting was interrupted by a birthday call from my oldest sister which was interrupted by the advent of a familiar but unexpected green car. After becoming rather confused and hurriedly being let off the phone by my oldest sister (poor dear) I ran out the door to find that Gracie and Cassie had both surprised me with a visit. I was ceremoniously sprayed with my own silly string while babbling incoherently about only God knows what.

Apparently, Ellen was in on the whole thing and she invited us to come with her and Nathan on an errand to Dallas with supper as part of the deal. She also mildly berated me for having my birthday on a Friday because she felt that she was too busy to do it justice. She was much more concerned with the well being of my birthday than I was. As Gracie noted, "Somebody's got to be concerned with it."

Supper was Italian and the Tirimisu was great. It was suggested numerous times that I should use my new liberty to buy and drink alcohol legally but we never got around to it. I was personally thinking about a few months ago when it would have been nice to be old enough for rental car agencies to recognize me as an adult.

I received three good books from Cassie and Gracie. I hadn't gotten books for my birthday for a few years and look forward to enjoying these.

I had requested pumpkin pie (from the home grown, all organic pumpkin that Ellen and Nathan were very proud of) but there wasn't time in the busy day. Which meant that my birthday got stretched to Saturday as well. God gave me the birthday gift of a rainy Saturday, which meant no farmers market and no getting up early.

We enjoyed a very nutritious breakfast of pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Unfortunately, we put the candles in a little too soon and they melted so fast from the wrong end that we barely had time to light them and blow them out before they were nothing but soggy wicks. Then, we had to figure out how to remove the unusually large amounts of still hot wax from the pie. It ended up being a holey pie.

I am blessed. As I consider how grateful I am, I can't help but add that the only thing that could have made my birthday better was to see you all. People that, as a general rule treasure me, but as a definite rule people whom I treasure. I know it sounds cliche. My only defense is, cliches become cliches only because so many people identify with them.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Joy Revisited

For some months now, I have felt rather odd when I have had the chance to interact with people who are hurting because of life. I usually welcome these interactions because I understand and I have hope from my own experience to offer. Lately, I have felt as though I had lost my right to say that I understand.

Life is still . . . unpredictable. There are still painful situations that I wake up to every day, all is definitely not right in the world. Yet, it all seems inexplicably okay and suffering seems to be unrealistically absent in my life right now. Not just a dull detached 'okay,' but a rich often delightful 'okay.'

I was trying to explain this, and my confusion because of it, to a friend who was being crushed by the weight of her own life problems. She surprised me by saying that I should encourage others with this. How could it be encouraging to a suffering person to tell them that my life is very enjoyable right now? I was still trying to excuse it as some kind of weird and embarrassing anomaly. Then I remembered my post from December of last year.

I wrote about joy. I had found that it was not a luxury but a necessity and I accepted if from God by faith, in the face of contrary feelings. Could it be that this strange 'okayness' in my life was a direct result of that acceptance of joy?

I am still not entirely convinced. I still feel a strong urge to apologize to the world for not currently being in pain of some sort. But it does cause me to wonder, why don't we think of joy as a practical gift of God? Why do we never hear sermons on the necessity of it? Why do we still believe that joy can only exist when our circumstances line up favorably?

Nehemiah 8:10 says, " . . . the joy of the Lord is your strength." Being sick and experiencing physical weakness has made me realize that strength is not a vain desire but a necessity for life. My mind kept wanting to tie this in with the armor of God in Ephesians. I think I finally found a viable connection.

Armor is useless on a person without strength, not only useless but incapacitating. Joy is necessary. If you are living without it you are only barely surviving. I don't know what joy is exactly, I suspect that it is an unexplainable mystery.

I am particularly interested in your thoughts about joy. Have you thought much about it? Have you heard much about it? Have you experienced it? Do you consider it fleeting or lasting? What is your general understanding of it? Has God brought it to your attention? If so, what came of it? How do you think it is related to emotions, circumstances, and faith?

Thank God, I don't have to understand His gifts to accept them, experience them and live in them.