Spirituality for Today – February 2015 – Volume 19, Issue 7

The Secret to Receiving Pure Joy

Janice Alonso

A photo of a snowy field against a pink sky

I am an orderly person by nature. At the beginning of each new year, I sit down and organize my calendar, go through closets and drawers, and I sort through the pantry to weed out any products with freshness dates that may have expired. I like starting the new year on a good foot. I periodically tweak things that become cluttered or simply ended up in the wrong place during the year. Even with all my good efforts to keep things this way, by December things have become disheveled again. Last year, I began my usual January practice, but by February I realized many projects would have to be placed on the backburner. By summer those things on the back burner had been moved off the stove, and by fall, I couldn't remember and didn't even care what those projects had been.

At the start of the year my husband and I decided to clean out an area of the basement that had become a catchall. The space was packed with things we hadn't used in ages, yet could not bring ourselves to get rid of. The first weekend of January I hauled everything into my exercise area and cleaned the eyesore from bottom to top. I sketched out a rough diagram of how I planned to store wreathes, wrapping paper, and sentimental memorabilia. I purchased several large plastic storage bins: all ready to bring order to this pile of mish-mash.

In January a series of snowstorms knocked out our heating unit and a couple of appliances. In an especially icy area, our nine-year-old Labrador Jasmine slipped and hurt her leg, causing her to need surgery. This surgery came while I was staying with my younger daughter-in-law who'd had surgery five days earlier to hopefully correct a problem that would allow her and my son to have a baby.

In May we found out my older daughter-in-law was a few weeks pregnant with her third child, and already beginning to show signs of a difficult pregnancy. The doctor put her on complete bed rest where she stayed until she delivered, with many trips to the emergency room and a six weeks stay in the hospital. In June, our six and two year-old granddaughters moved in, with a couple of days break each week. On those days I played catch-up to stay even. Projects… what projects?

Our third little granddaughter was born at 33 weeks and spent nineteen days in the NIC-U. She came home the Sunday before Christmas. During the last year God has taught me many lessons and bestowed countless gifts. If I ever questioned my faith, this experience reassured me that I have not. I got up even earlier to capture my precious alone time with God because once the girls awoke, there would be no quiet time. By the time bedtime arrived, I usually crawled in beside one of them and fell asleep too. During my quiet moments I prayed earnestly for God to place His healing hands on this forming life and her mother and bless my younger son and his wife with a baby. I lifted them all up and asked that my heart follow His plan.

Life is good. God is great. His vision is far more seeing than mine. And while I didn't like the reason we had little ones in the household once more, I enjoyed and will treasure those six months. Even now my husband and I have laughed and cried tears remembering many of those moments. God used this time to bring me nearer to Him. I never wavered an inch in my faith during this period, but I did surrender all control (or control I thought I had) to His far-reaching design. Mixed in with the tense moments were just as many happy, funny, and tender experiences that brought pure joy into my heart. These are just a few of the things I learned, or more truthfully relearned:

  • I don't need quiet time to talk to God. I discovered my thoughts could transmit directly to God just fine when I asked for patience and a sense of humor over the shouts and squeals of little girls.
  • A schedule is handy, but it shouldn't be the baseline of my life. Life will go on no matter what I've planned, often "accomplishing more than I'd ever hoped for." The important things will get done. Things that don't get done – well, perhaps they weren't all that important anyway.
  • Regularly scheduled fitness activities and classes aren't the only way to lose weight. Carrying a two-year-old on your hip, bending over to pick up Duplos and LaLaLoopsy dolls and trotting up and down stairs with dirty laundry can match any weight training, yoga, and Pilates session.
  • Some of the most valuable moments in life are those sweet after baths smells and Princess gown snuggles when tiny hands stroke my face at bedtime and tell me, "Mimi, you're the best."
  • I can write fast when I have to.
  • My husband and I still really do make a great team.
  • True heartache comes when I am totally helplessness to "make it all better" for both my sons.
  • Organization isn't what it's cracked up to be. In fact, disorganization can be quite a memory builder – I had to actually remember where I put Doc McStuffins' stethoscope.
  • The station "Escape" on my car radio helps me focus on the road ahead and not on the elbow-shoving going on in the backseat.
  • Bathroom humor is still just as popular as it was when I was a little girl.
  • God never leaves me. He is present all the time, not just when I decide to come to Him.
  • God will give me strength for all situations. He will give me the exact amount of energy I need for that day, just like manna from Heaven.

The message in a recent sermon was invaluable for me. "Happenings" are what make you happy, but true joy comes from knowing God is going to take care of you no matter what. Our newest little granddaughter will be two months old on the day our first little grandson, born to our younger son and his wife, is scheduled to join our family in this world.

Yes, life is good and God is all I need to receive pure joy.

The End