Archive for the ‘Journal In A Jar’ Category

Journal In A Jar

Today’s paper strip question:  “What about your family makes you happy?  Share a moment where they made you happy.”

I struggle with the word “happy” because it is such a fleeting emotion.  I much prefer the word “joy” because it is something that grows deep roots, and is felt even in the most dire of circumstances.  Here is the new question.  I ask those of you reading to ponder it.

“What about your family brings you joy?  Share an example.”

I know without a doubt that I have an unusual family situation.  I have been married to the same man for 20 years.  We homeschool our kiddos.  We enjoy spending time together.  Our parents get along, and have never had a difficult time accepting each other as family.  We’ve enjoyed many holidays together.  I know that if I never have more than this that I will die completely satisfied.

One of the biggest sources of joy for me lies in the Yayas kitchens; both my momma and mom-in-law’s.  It’s truly is the hub of the house.  During those first years of homeschooling, the cousins and sis-in-laws gathered once a week around Yaya’s kitchen island.  We would cook or do a project.  The kiddos would end up in the playroom for down time and watch a video while the “grown-ups” ate lunch or sipped on tea.  Those were precious times.  When my brother moved to town to pastor a church he and my sis-in-law joined us in Yaya’s kitchen for Thanksgivings or Easter or for an evening together.  My nieces grew to know my sis-in-law and know that she cares for them.  My mom and Dad are called Aunty and Uncle by them.  These moments fill me with joy to overflowing, and I will cherish them forever.


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Journal In A Jar

Last August a friend of mine gave me a going away gift.  After almost a year on the island, I feel like I’ve finally settled down enough to enjoy it.  Today I opened the jar and drew out my first writing prompt.   The purple slip says, “Describe one time when you were brave.”

It was during the Summer of ’89 that I met my best friend.  We actually met a month earlier in the lunch line of our college cafeteria, but I didn’t really get to know him until a few weeks later.  The camp director hired us to be a part of the program staff, and we ended up spending mornings together down at the campfire acting out the bible stories our buddy Garfield told the campers.  We made a good team.  He and I played off each other well, and our improv theater skills worked to our advantage.  He seemed to always want the best for me.  He was always willing to give me the laugh.  He is a true theater guy.  He wants the scene, no matter how small, to be the best it can be even if the focus is not always on him.  The desire to get to know him grew even more.

Several weeks into the summer camping season we hit high school camp.  It was a great week.  I ended up counseling a group of girls that I had counseled 4 years earlier for a junior camp.  Instead of the girls heading off on their own way during free time we ended up choosing activities together.  One afternoon we had the opportunity to repel a set of columns.

Quite frankly, to me, the idea of repelling down a sheer rock wall was terrifying.  I thought back over times in my life where heights were a challenge for me.  As a four-year old we hiked up to Rooster Rock.  I made it up only to realize that I had to go back down.  The trail towards the top seemed particularly gnarly to me.   I locked my knees, which is the worst thing to do, and hugged the rock on the inside of the trail as we descended.  It was probably my first panic attack.  A year later there was a slatted bridge to cross in the Jefferson Wilderness that, to a five-year old, had huge spaces between the boards.  I was convinced that I would fall through.  Somehow my family got me to cross.  I don’t remember if they threatened me or just picked me up and carried me.  During my senior year my parents brought me along on a trip to Guatemala to see my bro and sis-n-law during their tenure with the Peace Corps.  We made our way to a set of Mayan ruins.  I was standing before amazing stone architecture begging to be explored.  I climbed right up the first one.  I was above the canopy of these expansive old trees when I realized that I was looking over the tops of the expansive old trees.  I stood for a moment paralyzed by the knowledge of how easy it would be to stumble and fall down the hundreds of steps I had climbed up moments earlier.  My brother pretended that he was going to push me down the stairs.  I almost punched him, but was afraid that in swinging my arm I would throw my balance off thereby plunging to my death.  My sweet mother gave me advice on how best to go down. It was one of the few times, if any, that I ever told her to “shut-up!”  I’m afraid of heights, but my sense of adventure is too strong.  I had to go repelling.  I had to show the girls that I could face my fears.

We stood next to the church van.  All sorts of thoughts went through my mind of what could go wrong.  My chest tightened.  I saw my best friend walk up.  He saw the look in my eyes, a look that 20 years later he has come to know so well, and said, “I have your back.  I won’t let anything happen to you.”  A strange peace came over me as the girls and I climbed into the church van.  However, as we turned up the narrow road to the columns again I felt my chest tighten.  I started searching for my means of escape, and then I looked at my campers.  I couldn’t stop now.  I was the only counselor in our cabin that stepped up to go with them.  I had to follow through.  A hand rested on my shoulder.  “I got your back,” he reminded me.

We ascended the trail to the top.  It was covered with loose gravel and made for slippery footing as I turned to look down.  There isn’t much room to maneuver above the columns, or anything to really grab onto to steady your balance.  I felt my foot slip and heart thrust into my throat.  It was the same paralyzing feeling that I had on the ruins in Guatemala.  I searched for his eyes.  He had his faded purple bandana on his head and a big smile on his face.  He had my back.  I let out a long sigh.  I don’t remember if I went first, last, or somewhere in between.  I do remember feeling complete peace as I took my first step out over the cliff.  By the time I hit the ground I realized that I really enjoyed myself, and had created a great memory with my girls.  I also knew that this new friend of mine was someone who I could trust with my whole heart.

The ascent is never that scary.  It’s when you turn around for the descent and you see where you came from that your circumstances appear overwhelming.  I was reminded that sometimes life isn’t about looking back at where you come from, but it’s about taking the next step into the future.  Repelling down the side of that hill wasn’t so that I could commiserate over the fear in the climb.  It was all about my expression of joy in overcoming the fear.

I have to admit that my idea for this entry came from my husband.  I read the purple slip to him, and he mentioned that day at The Columns.  It wasn’t the easiest thing for him either.  He didn’t normally belay from the top.  I didn’t know about that until today.  Personally I think that The LORD knew it was going to be a significant moment in building trust between us, so he gave my hubby the extra ounce of courage needed to help me be brave. 

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