A Love Note

This has been another difficult week for us. Steve’s final “hard” chemo treatment was last Friday and the subsequent days have been filled with nausea, chills, fatigue, no desire for food and very little communication. He’s always been a quiet guy at home but these days he sits in front of the television in unbearable (for me) silence.

I assume it is a lonely place to be in for him (he doesn’t want or can’t talk about much of anything) and I know it is for me. So how do I cope when the ocean waters threaten to breach the walls and overflow?

I walk and I talk (or cry) with God.

On Saturday, the day after Steve’s treatment, l went on one of those walks. As I finished a crying jag and a rather one-sided conversation with God wherein I fussed that He didn’t care about me (us) and that I felt completely alone (which I’m not) and whined about Him not listening to my prayers, I stopped walking to blow my drippy nose. I looked down. There, off to the side of the trail was a beautiful pink stone made of crystals. It rested all by itself surrounded by a sea of white and gray rock. The light rose-colored stone isn’t one usually found in our area and was, most likely, brought in months ago when contractors laid the makeshift road.

You may not think anything of that, but I believe that the stone was a love note from God. I picked it up, gently put it in my pocket and took it home with me. I don’t usually collect stones but this one was special!

The rest of the week was no easier but that love note helped to get me through the next several days. When Steve had a really tough time or when he took a nap during the day and I was left alone with my thoughts, I remembered finding that stone and, just like that, I wasn’t alone anymore. God was right there with me!

You would think that I would have been satisfied but, no. That’s not really human nature, is it?

Yesterday, as I walked a different road/trail with Ella, I was in the middle of another conversation with God. This time, I made certain that I spent some time in praise. I thanked Him for the blessings in my life. I thanked Him for Steve and that he appeared to be feeling a bit better. I thanked Him for the beautiful, cool day. However, in spite of all of HIs blessings, I again began to feel as if I were alone. So, I did what humans typically do, I asked God to show me (prove to me, I suppose), again in a tangible way, that He was there. It didn’t have to be much, I told Him. It didn’t have to be another pretty piece of earth with crystals in it. An object of any kind with an interesting shape or color would suffice! Nothing out of the ordinary…just something that would shout, “I’m here”.

As we walked the last quarter mile of trail, I noticed a flat, clear plat of land just to the left of the trail on which we were walking. I didn’t recall seeing that piece of land before and we stepped off of the trail and walked over to see what might be there. I scanned the ground and noticed a ‘rock’ with an interesting shape resting near the center. Bending down to retrieve it, I was amazed.

A fossil!

There was no mistaking His intention. There was no doubt in my mind. That fossil was God’s shout of, “I’m here”!!

Our God DOES answer prayers. All we have to do is ask. His answer won’t always be “Yes”. Many times His answer is “No” and sometimes it is “Wait”.

Twice this week, He answered my simplest request with a “Yes” and provided a tangible object for me to look at and remember that He listens and responds. Our difficult days as a family are not over. My prayers for Steve’s healing may not be answered in the affirmative but, when things get tough, I am going to look at those two stones, both created under heat and pressure, and remember that Steve and I are not alone! We will come through this time stronger than ever!

It certainly helps knowing that our God stands with us…Always.

Back with a Few Thoughts on Joy

Joy is not always easy to find but is, most often, right beneath our noses.

Our lives and focus here On Joy Road have changed dramatically since September and especially since Steve’s diagnosis of lung cancer in early November.  Joy has been hard to pin down, much less write about, so I beg your forgiveness for my lack of attention to the page.

Over the past few months, I have come to understand that joy isn’t always so clearly seen, felt or even identified. Joy isn’t found in continuous happiness or sustained fun or activity. I now know that when we focus/really hone in on the concept, we only find true joy in a single experience, a sound, a picture, a touch, a person…a moment.

Here are a few of my “joys”:

JOY is watching dozens of butterflies gather around the tall blue flowers Steve and I planted last spring.

JOY is a good meal, a great cup of coffee, BBQ and craft beer.

JOY is the doe that gracefully stepped out from behind the tall, umber grass to greet me.

JOY is found in that doe’s eyes as she stared at me as if to say, “It’s going to be okay”.

JOY is the sound of Steve’s excited exclamation when he spots three pairs of Cardinals playing around in the garden flying from tree to tree.

JOY is Steve calling me over to share the moment!

JOY is in the giggle of our grand babies enthralled with all things new.

JOY is our son’s phone call in the middle of the day and our daughter’s laughter at the end.

JOY is waking to Steve’s soft breaths of sleep. No hiccups. No pain. Just rest.

JOY is a new book, time to paint, and laughter between old friends.

JOY is a smile, a hug, a hand resting on your shoulder.

JOY is Steve making fun of my thick Texas accent when it slips out!

JOY is finding a pretty, out-of-place, stone on my morning walk along an old trail.

JOY is in a hard day’s work, the act of creating something out of nothing and cooking.

JOY is in kindness, trustworthiness and love.

JOY is seeing my mom’s laughing face on my phone or receiving a “How are you?” text from her.

JOY is a vanilla ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day, hard peppermint candy and a powdered sugar doughnut.

JOY is in the smile from a stranger.

JOY is sitting with Steve on the back porch, sipping a bold red wine while watching the sun slip below the horizon, sharing memories.

JOY is getting to spend one more day together.

JOY is knowing that the Creator of all things knows the number of hairs on our
heads and that He has declared that He thinks thoughts about us,

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

JOY is faith.

JOY is hope.

JOY is time.

JOY is love.

JOY is…life.