Thursday, September 16, 2010

press through...

...into joy.

Press through email difficulties, crummy internet, coughs, runny noses, projectile vomiting, bad tempers, SIN, rats in the walls (?!?), sleepless nights, discouragement, power outages, interruptions…

Press through into joy.

This morning, after a really rough night, I heard my own voice, as though from far away, telling Will, “We need Jesus in our hearts, because Jesus is always wonderful, Will. He’s never sick or cranky or tired, like we are—he’s always wonderful.” And a song floats to mind and I sing, with forced cheerfulness, this song my Grandma used to sing (my Grandma who’s with Jesus now, this very minute):

“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, to shine for Him each day…”

And I think Will’s not listening, until a few minutes later I hear him singing softly to himself, “A sunbeam, a sunbeam…”

and I smile, and, listening, I feel a bit more like a sunbeam myself… Obedient words to mother my son produce fruit in my own heart.

Some days life is just this brown, viscous stuff that slows me down, smears my lenses, smothers my joy in a barrage of tiny annoyances that thicken and swirl and drag me down into brown, melancholic, depressed, lack-luster living.

Press through to find that place of joy, shining through the viscous, gleaming gold through brown. At the center is always Joy shining golden, always Jesus, Who is always wonderful.

Press through into love.

Press through the every-day-ness, the tiredness, the aching muscles, the colds and bad tempers, the flagging spirits and interruptions, into real love for my neighbors, my precious boys, my precious husband, my precious Jesus.

Press through to arrive at moments like yesterday, when my reserved, elderly neighbor pulled me into her house for the first time in the whole year we’ve shared a fence. One arm around my waist, she pulled me through their gate, slightly awkward but determined… pulled me in, further in, through the yard, around to the back door and up the steps, leaving me standing empty-handed and awkward in her entry way, me protesting politely… returned with a plastic bag bursting with holiday goodies from their three-day feast… pressed it on me, smiling: “For your children,” this she said dismissively, brushed off the kindness as though it was nothing, instead of the fruit of a whole year.

And we walked back out to the street together, my arm around her shoulders this time. I leaned over impulsively and kissed her wrinkled temple, watched for her rare smile, and when it broke over her face, I said I don’t have a mother here, and would she be my mother here? And her smile widened more, eyes crinkling, and she laughed her sparse laugh, quietly pleased, embarrassed, and hugged me to her again as we walked back to her gate, invited me for tea tomorrow…

And I think of her expensive vegetables I’ve bought almost daily for a year, and her chilliness when we first arrived, the rarity of her smile, and the way she’s warmed to my children and my stumbling, laughing attempts at language-learning, and of the day I found out her birthday, and how Jesus reminded me to bring birthday cake and a gift on the day… and I mull over these precious 5 glowing minutes (for that’s all it’s taken just now to let me into her life, into her home)

—5 glowing minutes, the best minutes of yesterday.

Press through into love, for out of love springs joy. Glowing, real, lasting joy.


  1. Your stories so often make me smile, make me laugh, make me sigh, Carolyn. This one brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely moment to share with us.
    Oh how I miss you and life overseas and life with neighbors who take a year to "get to know" and the life I had grown accustomed to. I miss you and Mary and songs in S&P's house and talking over dinner in cramped one-room apartments with awkward mirrors, drafty windows, and light switches that worked only sometimes.
    I miss you, Carolyn. Kiss those babies for me. I hope one day to hug them myself!
    love you!

  2. I know why people fall in love with you. (I did!) It's your huge heart for people, your overflowing joy, your openness, peacefulness in the midst of a chaotic world, your eternal dreaming, your strength and security in Christ, your LOVE... we love you, Carolyn!

  3. Nick here, this is a very encouraging story Carolyn, and very engaging. Inspiring too.