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Category Archives: joy

Lest you think that all I do is sit around and cry, I would like to reassure you that it is only a small part of my existence. I actually have not cried very much, considering the terrible sadness in my heart. But I do feel the sharp pains of anxiety fairly often.

The best cure for that is to make plans, to force myself to move and get involved in living, when often it’s the last thing I really want to do. I think for the last couple of weeks, I have grieved deeply for the loss of my mom as I once knew her. But I have decided that is a very necessary part of this process. There is no way I could have been so close to her, and not grieved the loss of our relationship, even though it was very painful for me at times.  So I have determined to grieve when I need to, simply because that is inevitable, and I can’t rush the different phases.  I have been almost immobile (physically and mentally) for about a week, but I am working through that, and starting to feel some energy once again. After having been so very sick, as well as so very stressed, perhaps my body is calling the shots, and leaving me with no choice but to be still. I am learning to listen to its wisdom.

But in between the grieving, I will continue to live my life, and try to look to the future with hope and expectation. Making plans is a faith statement that life will go on, and that there is a reason and a purpose to all of it. I read a sign the other day in a shop that said, “Hold Onto Your Dreams–They Are Your True Wealth.”

I am a big believer in dreams, and in turning those dreams into reality, with God’s help. When we lose our dreams, we lose everything. A dream is our assurance that tomorrow can be better than today. So I dream…

I try to keep writing as much as I can, because it brings such a release from sorrow and heartache. If I can get it down on paper, I have processed it enough to feel some relief. And when I am happy, the joy has to spill over through my keyboard or pen. And isn’t that what life is made of anyway…sadness and happiness…sorrow and joy?

Only those who have deeply felt sorrow can truly feel joy. And aren’t love and hate just centimeters apart? There’s not really such a great divide in our emotions–just a block or two. They just feel like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and sometimes I am so weary of it.

I am doing much better with my Collectibles booth at the indoor flea market. I have had more time to devote to it lately, and sales are up. (Of course, prices are down for that to happen. Grin.) Oh well…a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?

Seriously, I have decided to add some jewelry to my inventory. That means purchasing locked jewelry cases, as theft is a huge risk in a flea market. Don’t you just hate thieves? Grrrrrr….

So, I’ve purchased 2 medium-sized countertop locking jewelry cases, and also some lovely black velvet display pieces, so that the shine of the jewelry will really “pop.” The cases were ordered via the Internet, and are hopefully on their way. I thought that I  might sell Sorrelli jewelry in one, and Vintage and Fine Jewelry in the other. Lord knows if it will sell, but one lady there is having quite a bit of success with Sorrelli. Sorrelli said there are no additional openings for dealers in this area of the country, so my inventory will have to come from auctions, or other sites that sell Sorrelli. Sometimes I win an auction at a very good price on Ebay, so we will see how that goes.  It will fit right in with my Victorian feel–teacups, teapots, beautiful glassware, and lovely small treasures. (Yes, I know…I’m truly trying to get the “flea market mentality” and forcing myself to throw in some “junk” here and there, as long as it doesn’t ruin the ambience I’ve got going. LOL!) I had been in antique malls for so many years, so it’s difficult for me to grasp the trash to treasure concept, but I am making the effort. You sure can’t sell items at antique mall prices in a flea market, but this is the best place to be right now in our small town, as the owner does advertise and has a year round clientele, not just a tourist season one. So that helps. It seems that when he gets the people in there, I am able to make sales. Think there could be some correlation? (Smile.)

I have also been packing (at a snail’s pace) for another getaway to the ocean. We are going back to the area we visited for Christmas. It is only a 2 1/2 hour drive, and we had a house right on the beach. This time we have rented one where the ocean almost comes up under the house.  (I say this bravely, though it is my husband who is thrilled about that part. I just hope I don’t get seasick. Well, there’s always Dramamine I guess.)  I will write and let you know how it goes while I am there. We are planning to go now at the end of March, then again in September, and also at Christmas. (I’ve never gotten Rob to get away this much ever.) I know he really likes the fact that he doesn’t have to drive so far, or that we don’t have to fly.

And somewhere in there, we are also going to Portland, Oregon. He has an adoption seminar he has to attend, and we are hoping to spend some extra days there, as we have heard that the mountains and the coast are very beautiful. However, he is usually exhausted after those meetings, so I don’t know how good we’ll actually feel after that. (But we will hope for the best.)

I almost never got to travel with him before anywhere, as there was first Chelsea to care for, and then my mom. Once in a while a friend kept Chelsea while we went to the mountains, but that was at the most, once a year. So there is something wonderful to be said about the freedom we now have for the first time in our lives. We are so not used to it. And it seems that it is important to separate yourself from home at times. Just a change of scene can be therapeutic.

So that’s all for tonight. I think you could say that I am feeling a little brighter, and a lot more hopeful. I will try desperately to hang onto that feeling for as long as I can.

Yes, it’s a positive thing to be dreaming and making plans…

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After several days of overwhelming heartache and hurt, I would like to turn my focus to the simple pleasures of life. It’s not the expensive, elaborate things that mean the most in life, but rather the simple things.

Last Sunday, on the spur of the moment, I stopped in the deli at Publix, and picked up some snack items, for an informal picnic with my mom, at the nursing home. She had mentioned that she would love some potato salad, and Publix has terrific potato salad. My favorite is called “Southern Style.” It tastes just like homemade! I also picked up some sliced Havarti cheese, some fresh fruit, and 2 small slices of cheesecake. Even though my mom is a diabetic, at the end of the day, she will always have a snack to ensure that her blood sugar does not go low in the night. (So we considered the cheesecake her bedtime snack.) Okay, that’s stretching it a bit, but if you can’t live a little every now and then, what’s the point, right?

I bought one of the Publix green tote-bags for $.99, and put all the picnic items in it. I had already made up a bag of drinks, utensils, plates, and napkins.  So bearing food gifts, I headed toward the nursing home.

This nursing home has almost no decent places for a family to meet, outside of the room. And my mom looks forward to getting out of the room whenever she can. But we discovered a “get-away” made in heaven. The Senior Living Residential area has a lovely atrium, and it just so happens that there are actually hidden away doors, far down at the end of the hall, that connect the two. Bingo!!!

It was almost 7:00 p.m. when I arrived. I called for the CNA to transfer my mom to her wheelchair, and I kidnapped her! We ran away to the atirum. (Okay, I did stop at the nurse’s desk, and tell them where we would be.) I’m too law abiding not to. LOL!

The atrium is beautiful. It looks like a huge courtyard, and it even has lights on poles, that have fans on top of them, near each sitting area. You can adjust the brightness of the lights, and the power of the fans, by an easy to reach switch. The atrium also has lots of tables and chairs, and game areas, etc., and most of all, lots of green plants. Can you imagine how good this seemed to us? We were away from the unpleasant smells, and the heartbreaking sights of the nursing home, and we pretended (for a little while) that we were together again, on one of our “girls nights out.”  I put a lace tablecloth on the table, and added a battery-operated flickering candle that looked so real!We laughed and talked, and squealed about how good everything  tasted (especially the cheesecake.) One older lady, who lived in the apartments, and was strolling by with her walker, stopped to see what we were doing. (She thought the picnic wasdelightful.) We had so much fun!

We actually forgot about the time, and finally realized that we had better get back to the room, as the nurses did their nightly “drug pass” between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. It was a little after 8:30. (However, my favorite male nurse (who only works my mom’s hall sporadically) said it was okay for us to go, and that we could stay as long as we liked, and he would leave her room for last.) It pays to have connections! LOL!

As we rushed back to the nursing home part, we saw Snowball, the cat, prancing down the hall towards us. Snowball is a declawed cat that lives in the nursing home. How cool is that? (D. J. The Golden Retriever visits every week also.)

We told everyone that we passed that we had “run away” for awhile. They all smiled and nodded with delight. We smiled too, until we remembered that the nurse would be taking Betty’s blood sugar before bedtime. LOL! Oh well

We have so many of these precious times to recall in the “outside world”, and we are making memories still, even in the nursing home. And so we find happiness in the simple things, and in just being together…

Since I often share the tears and stress with you, I wanted to also share the joy! I took my mom for the follow up of some medical tests, and the results were very good! One was a liver ultrasound because her liver enzymes were elevated for over a year. The doctor was very concerned, and had her take a blood test that day and then ordered an ultrasound. But much to our surprise, and with great thanks to God, almost everything had returned to the normal range on the liver enzyme test. There was a small cyst on the liver, but lots of people have them, and there was nothing there to worry about. And secondly, my mom had a brain MRI, due to being extremely off balance. But the news was good there also. She had previously had some ischemic attacks (TIAs). These are often referred to as mini-strokes. But looking at a comparison since 1999, all the report said was that they were a little more obvious than back then, but there was no sign of an infarction or a stroke. So that was good news, and I could tell that it made my mom very happy. 🙂 I asked the NP what caused her to be so off balance, and basically it is an aging brain. It is quite common in older people, and seems to continue over time, which is what makes it so sad when they refuse to use their walkers. One fall could drastically change their lives, and the lives of their caretaker.  She told the nurse practitioner, “I thought it was time to say my prayers.” (By this she meant to say farewell.) But the nurse practitioner said, “I think God’s gonna keep you around a while longer.”

It’s funny, my mom later said, “Well it looks like I’m gonna live longer than I wanted to.” (She really didn’t mean this quite the way it looks on paper.) She has always been afraid of getting really feeble, losing her eyesight (which is really bad already) and being incapacitated. (No, NOT decapitated.  🙂 Grin. Just a joke.) I told her, “Don’t worry about that for now. Let’s just thank the Lord that you got a good report today, and trust that He knows when the time is right for you. As long as you are enjoying life, and not suffering horribly, let’s be glad.”

It’s funny, since my dad died almost 3 years ago this coming May, I have actually been amazed at her will to live. I wondered (as did many others) if she would even try. But I do believe that my constant care and availability to her, has made a big difference in her life. We do have struggles at times, but we also laugh a lot. Sometimes we are like two kids, and it has been an amazing bonding time between us, since my dad passed. It has been very, very difficult in some ways, but also very touching in others. I know that I have done all that I could to make her life richer, and more fulfilling. I have had to learn what I can and cannot do. Counseling has helped so much. I learned I was not responsible for her happiness, and I always thought I was. She has a lot to do with her happiness and attitude. I also learned that I couldn’t do anything about the aging process, (as much as I would like to chase it away) and that there are so many things to deal with, and challenges to face. I have learned (and am learning daily) so much about elder care, and the importance of disability aids. I never knew these things before, and I have much greater compassion for all that the elderly have to deal with.  I wish I could be an advocate for them in some way, before I am old myself. I have always loved elderly people, even since I was a little girl. Maybe it comes from being raised by my grandparents (alongside my mom) until I was 7 years old. (My parents divorced when I was 2. My mom remarried on my seventh birthday.)

As the years passed, and I watched my grandparents age, I saw the struggles they faced with grace and determination, and sometimes just plain true grit. And I will never forget their courage, and persistence when the going was tough.

So that’s it for today. Good news, what a blessing…

Please view other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

I have often wondered about sorrow and joy. Why does there seem to be so little joy, and so much sorrow? But then I remember one of my favorite poems by Kahlil Gibran, and I would like to share it with you:

Then a woman said, “Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.”

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

When I was younger I was so enamored with Kahlil Gibran, and I think it was because of his great sensitivity. I identified with many of his thoughts, and I knew that he must have suffered a great deal to be able to understand life so well, and write the things that he did. He was well acquainted with death, as his sister, Sultana, died of tuberculosis at 14, and the next year his brother, Bhutros, also died of tuberculosis, and his mother died of cancer.

Though many of his writings deal with Christianity, and condemn the corrupt practices of the Eastern churches and clergy of that day, he uses many spiritual terms in his writing and poetry, and his maternal grandfather was a Maronite Catholic priest. I commend him for exposing corruptness, for it is not a church or a minister that I serve, but only God. I have been hurt, and helped in church. Church is really not a building, it is a body of believers of Jesus. We are the church.

Somewhere along the way, as a Christian, I thought I had to give up his writings. And where I got that idea I don’t know. Perhaps because New Agers and other cult groups quote him also. But I have found peace with any misgivings I may have had about that, as the older I get, I find myself returning to his words that always speak peace and truth into my soul.

In the end, it is the human experience that unites us and draws us together. I can have my beliefs, and you can have yours, and still I can learn from you, and you, hopefully, from me as well. I believe our lives are a living testimony of the God we serve. I don’t need to preach to you–I need to live the Word. (But how often I fall short of that goal and desire. Still, I don’t stop trying.)

Since we sold our Christian coffeehouse, Crossroads, I have been at a loss as far as church goes. We had a Bible study there on Sunday evenings. A small group of people gathered, and I cooked and my husband and I led worship, and we taught. It was a wonderful group that loved each other dearly, prayed for each other, and actually saw quite a few healings. But the coffeehouse did not make enough money to even pay the expenses, and the rent was so high that we could not continue after 4 years. Our minister from a church we attended for many years–a Charismatic church (Spirit-filled) called Abundant Life, came to the coffeehouse and ordained Rob and I as ministers. It was so special, but shortly afterward we had to sell Crossroads. I have never yet found a church home that I thought “fit”, and my husband and daughter have attended another church, which was especially good for my daughter. Now she attends services in a movie theater, and my husband visited last Sunday, and likes it a lot. So at any rate, I’m not against church at all, but I have been hurt there, and I don’t like to “play” church. I want to see the Gifts of the Spirit in power, and I think the church should do what Jesus said we would do-free the captives, heal the sick, raise the dead. The power is there, but the church seems to fall into established procedures, and always regulates everything so tightly, that it is difficult for the Holy Spirit to move in power. I am looking for a church where He does have freedom. I live very close to the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, and it was anointed (though even that ended in strife that was finally settled), and I LOVE to watch the Toronto Airport Revival from Canada.

I would love for us to have our own (unconventional) church or a Bible study again someday. It was so much fun to meet in a coffeehouse atmosphere, and be casual and comfortable. It is in my heart to teach, and I especially love to minister to women. Women can sometimes be so cruel to each other, and we need to be there for each other instead of hurting each other, as life is very difficult, and we really need each other.

I will not allow the things that hurt me in this life to make me bitter, because I can be of no use to anyone if I am bitter. I will always look for the good in people, and thank God for the ones who are faithful friends. We all let each other down at times–not one of us is perfect. It is love that makes the difference. Can we still walk in love? Even when we hurt so much we can hardly function? ( Okay, I’m trying.)

As the poem said the very things that have brought us sorrow, have also been our greatest joy. No one can really hurt us unless we care about them. If we didn’t care, it wouldn’t hurt. The people we love the most, often bring the greatest sorrow. But would we ever say that we are sorry that we have loved? I would not. There is nothing in my life (even the things that have brought me the greatest pain) that I would change. Because it is in those things that we grow, and we are changed into His likeness. And those are things that will make us more like Jesus, (or as hateful as the devil.) We have a choice to turn bitter, or as I said in my post yesterday, to release a sweeter fragrance when we are crushed.

No matter what the outcome of your honest efforts, don’t give up. When they say you’re finished, you’re just getting started. When they say you can’t, say, “Yes, I can.” When you want to fall into depression, put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. God still has a plan for you, and He will bring it to pass. When others say it can’t be done, do it anyway… 

Please view other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

I thought that I would share that I had a very good day with my mom on “our day” this week. She was in a great mood (wow), and I could not believe at the end of the day, how much better I felt, because she wasn’t grumpy! I didn’t feel so exhausted when I got home. My emotions were not all over the place.

I have been working for awhile on not letting myself be pulled into someone else’s negative emotions, but it is very difficult. I seem to be greatly affected by the mood of those I am around. It is so easy to take on depression, or sadness, or a bad attitude. One of the hardest things to do is to remain positive, when you are around someone who is very negative. It is extremely easy to find yourself taking on their emotions.

With my mom, I have tried to empathize with her moods, or any pain she might be having, but still not let her bring me down. Some days it works, and some days it doesn’t. But it is something to be aware of.

I am also learning that I can’t make someone else happy. Particularly when dealing with my mom, I have felt as though it is my responsibility to see that she is happy, but it’s not possible. Each person is responsible for their own happiness. I believe joy starts on the inside, and most days it is a choice, pure and simple. The challenge is to find a way to remain stable, while being around an unhappy person. Believe me, it is not easy, particularly if you have to be with them for long periods of time.

If you are with someone that you can walk away from, it might be a good idea to go and do something else, until they have a change of attitude. I can’t do that in my situation, but I will sometimes try to change the conversation, or suggest that we do something else.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons that I have learned in counseling, is that I cannot make my mom happy, and I can’t give her immortality-though I would love to do both. When I fully realize those things, then I am relieved of a lot of pressure that I put on myself. And aren’t we really our own worst enemies? I have always been a people pleaser-trying so hard to make everyone happy, and sometimes losing my own happiness in the process. Can you relate?

At the end of the day, I know that I am doing everything I possibly can to make my mom’s life better, and to see that she is properly taken care of. I feel peace about those things, and that is all I can do.

But since we had such a nice day together on Wednesday, I told her that I would come over on Sunday afternoon and take her to the craft store, eat supper together, and then take down her Christmas decorations. She seemed to like that suggestion, so hopefully, we’ll have another good day.

The lesson here is a good one for all of us. Try not to let other people’s gloominess and discouragement make you feel that way also. If you can’t walk away, take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and keep smiling…

Today was my counseling session. I have finally narrowed it down to once a month. I started when my dad was dying in the hospital, and kept on through the adjustment of caring for my widowed mom, and some continuing problems with my daughter. My counselor is a Christian, and I know God brought us together. Sometimes I think all we really need is for someone to listen. Luckily for me, my insurance pays some of the cost.

It’s funny, now that I am just going once a month, I have already weathered and worked through so many things, by the time I see her. But isn’t that true for all of us? Whose life is not a roller coaster of emotions and situations? The ebb and flow of life can be counted on.

One of my favorite authors is Kahlil Gibran, and in his book The Prophet, he writes:

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

I really relate to that. Who can make us weep, but the one we care so deeply about? We are suspended always between sorrow and joy. They are definitely inseparable.

He also writes about pain:

And a woman spoke, saying, “Tell us of Pain.”

And he said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

That’s incredibly beautiful to me, though I don’t claim to understand it in its entirety. But somewhere deep within, I get it. Pain and trials form character in us, like nothing else can. We learn to be steadfast and to overcome. And we learn to be weak, and fall on our knees before the One who is so much stronger. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (We are weak, but He is strong. A truth we sang as children, but have yet to learn.) The Word also says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Now that’s a thought, isn’t it? In the upside down world of the Kingdom, it’s another paradox.

God empties out everything that is “us” before He fills us with Himself and all His attributes. As long as we think we can do anything on our own, His grace and strength will not appear. But when we realize that we are nothing without Him, we can achieve the impossible.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “God will have no strength used in His battles, but the strength He imparts.”

I like what Kahlil Gibran wrote about accepting the “seasons of our heart”, just as we accept the seasons that nature goes through. The good thing about that is we learn that no one emotion will overtake us-good or bad, because like the seasons, we are changing, and going through a divinely inspired transformation. And sometimes it takes joy to transform us, but a good deal of the time, it requires sorrow. Why? I think because we are vulnerable in the place of sorrow. We give no place to self-reliance when we are hurting, and we are more apt to hear the voice of God, and to willingly receive His correction, guidance, and love.

What season of the heart are you in today?

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Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life) says that life on earth is just a temporary assignment. This world is not our home, and therefore we will never truly find complete happiness here. Yes, there will be happy moments, but also just enough discontent, sorrow, rejection, and hurt to make us realize that we are strangers in a strange land. Happiness is not about material success or great fame and popularity. Those things can never be trusted.. Rick wrote, “Never focus on temporary crowns.”

Wouldn’t it make us more content here, if we always kept in mind, that we are just passing through? When this life is over, it’s not the end of the story. It would make many things easier to bear if we thought that way.

What is happiness to you? Is it a nice house, beautiful clothes, a boyfriend, girlfriend, or lover? A new car, expensive jewelry, a great career, or other signs of success, by the world’s standards?

I have found that happiness is fleeting, but joy abides. Happiness comes and goes, but the joy of the Lord is always present. It’s our strength. Why? Because we know we are loved by Him, and we know that there is something better  in our future.

God wants us to enjoy life, not just endure it. I believe that when we find our purpose, then we are fulfilled. That’s how we find fulfillment, by doing what we’re called to do.

Now you can’t just make that happen, though many try. God has to reveal it to you, sometimes little by little. Look for confirmations that God is leading you in a certain direction, and then follow His lead. He can change your life overnight with one connection, or one introduction. Or maybe your calling is to be the best mom or dad that you can be. Whatever it is, you will know in your heart, as God shows you His plan. And it’s never too late or early to find it. Even if you’ve gotten off the path a bit, He can bring you back.

You might not think you’re important, but without you everything would be different. You would be amazed to know all the lives you’ve touched. Sometimes the greatest ministry we could ever have, is to love those close to us unselfishly, and to simply give of ourselves.

In our upside down Kingdom of God, if you want to be first, you must be last, and to become the greatest, you must be the least. You can have all the success that the world offers, and still be a failure, still be unfulfilled. That’s because our happiness is not found in things, or great achievements, but in Him. And we will find a way to praise Him, when life is stormy, and the way is rough, simply because He is worthy.

So some days will be happy, some will be sad, some will have sunshine, some will have rain…