P1200961I sat at the table looking out the window, the dullness pulling at my soul.

Was it sunny? Were there flowers blooming? Was there beauty?

I couldn’t see it. All I knew was a feeling of joylessness that sat like a black cloud over my head.

“My life is boring,” I said, cleaning off my lunch plate.

My husband and I had been trying to have a family for a several years and were struggling to give up our dream of creating a family in the “normal way.” I have since learned that there are many ways of creating a family—adoption, foster care, blended families—and that these can all be normal and beautiful ways of becoming a family.

But back then, I wanted to hurry things up—my plans for life seemed to be getting further behind my friends as they had their first, second, and third babies in almost perfectly timed, two year intervals.

While I waited, my life seemed to drag on in endless tedium.

My life was not boring. My real problem was a lack of joy that caused me to focus on what I didn’t have (no children, no big announcements) instead of focusing on what I did have: my faith, a good husband, fulfilling work, a lovely home.

Not long after that, the winter thaw ushered everything into green, but we missed it. It was spring and my husband was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Our “boring life” turned into daily chemotherapy treatments and my husband’s face fading into a ghostly white pallor.

I remember thinking, I wish life was boring now. I’d give anything to have normal life back instead of going through cancer.

It was during cancer that I realized how much I missed my normal, boring life. I missed going out on dates. I missed taking trips. Because of chemo, Sam couldn’t eat normal food and was often gagging and retching through dinner. Everything about our life had turned upside down and I was aware of all the little “boring” things that were suddenly gone.

This lesson hit hard and I’ve never forgotten it–it’s the small things of life that bring the most joy. The boring days. The endless routines. The clean dishes waiting to be sorted and put away. The vegetables sizzling in the skillet. One tip of the scale and everything falls off balance. We face a new, more difficult normal.

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About a year later, my husband went into remission and I decided I would never say life was boring. He was alive and each day was counted as joy. I found good in the mundane, because boring meant normal, and normal was good.

Now, almost ten years later, the first robins appear this morning on my back patio, searching through the wreckage of dead perennials and I stop, amazed. It is still January.

I love these daily doses of joy that might be missed if I did not pause to see them.

DSC03807P1200967P1200992In grief there is always the temptation to see things through the lens of loss too much of the time, like the flowers that bloom and then die all too quickly. This lens of loss helps me to see the brevity of life, the sin of a broken world, and the suffering of those around me. Although I find this perspective gives me clarity about what’s important in life, I don’t want it to rob me of my joy—and that is a fine balance.

A balance worth seeking in the new year: the balance between a life aware of loss, but  lived with joy.

That’s why my word for the year is JOY.

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I am creating some strategies to help me cultivate more joy in my life—a Joy Plan for 2015. I’ll be sharing them here, as a way to help anyone who is seeking more joy in their life.

So if you’re seeking to have a life filled with more joy, even on the boring days, or are struggling to find joy while waiting on God’s timing and plan, guess what?  You’re not alone. I’ve been there friend, searching for the big happiness while missing all the small pleasures of life.  As author Pearl S. Buck said,

Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”

This year, let’s take back the small joys of life even on the mundane days.

The way the sun slants through the kitchen window. The fire slowly dying in the grate, turning a deep red in the darkness of ash. The way it feels to fall gently into the rhythm of sleep, your breath and mine.

The joy of another day of life.

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{The Joy Plan is coming soon!  Sign up on my email list if you want to make sure not to miss it.}

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Sara

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