{joi joi} Goodbyes

On Sunday, a large group of people said good-bye to a dear friend. Some where closer to her than others, but no one in that room would ever be the same again. Our Joi is dead.

True, Joi Joi is in Heaven now. She feels no pain and feels with certainty the whole-making joy and acceptance that she gave to everyone she came into contact with.

Photo0120When I first heard the news, I was shocked. Joi Joi? Dead? How can it be?? ‘I’ve been thinking about you, Joi. I miss spending time with you like we used to. I want to hang out with you. Soon! Maybe we can take a picnic to the Stone Arch Bridge again. When do you have time?’ But that call was never made. I felt guilt that I hadn’t called Joi. If I had called more often, would she still be alive? Told her more often how much she meant to me, how special and amazing and loving and beautiful and irreplaceable she was?

joi1Then a song started ringing in my head. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart… Only, I pictured it going I’ve got my Joi Joi, joy, joy, down in my heart…down in my heart to stay. And all the verses would stream through my head. For three straight days that song took over my brain. Now I’ll probably cry whenever it’s sung.

But really, it’s true! The memories and love we have for Joi will always be in our hearts. The encouraging texts, the letters, the stories. Her beautiful light-up-the-world smile. That laugh that invited everyone in to be included in something funny. There are very few people I feel comfortable being myself around. Joi Joi was one of them.

And so. I spent the week leading up to Joi Joi’s funeral alternating between avoiding what and how I was feeling and then facing the pain head-on. Instead of doing the things that needed doing (like cleaning, laundry, cooking for work, etc), I did things that were better to do. Spending time with friends, playing with toddlers, chasing little ones around the park taking pictures for their mom, holding babies, cooking meals for friends, watching garden be created, praying. Lotsa praying. And some crying…ok, a lot of that, too.kiddos

The funeral was good. There were flowers for everyone to wear. People I hadn’t seen in far too long. Beautiful memories shared, wonderful songs played. The message was one of hope, not loss. Joi is in Heaven! Yes, she struggled. Do you feel guilty, like there was something you maybe could have done? Own those feelings – and release them to God. Don’t let them control you. It was what I was hoping for, but not what I was expecting.

At the end of the service I made the long trek back home and decided to go find some flowers for Joi Joi. I picked up my camera and headed to Long Lake Park for to see those walking trails laden with purples, oranges, whites and yellows. And bugs. There I said goodbye to Joi Joi again.joi2

We always pray and give thanks to God for you. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God for you because we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus. We thank God for your love for all those who belong to Christ. We thank God for the hope that is being kept for you in heaven.
Colossians 1:3-5, NLV

{Advent} The Present

The Jesus Storybook Bible tells how Abraham trusted God as his father, so did what he asked: went to offer his one and only son because he loved God that much. And how Isaac didn’t run away because he trusted his father. It hit me how much like God and Jesus this is: God was willing to sacrifice His Only Son because of how much He loves you and me, and Jesus trusted his father and did not struggle, but allowed himself to be sacrificed to save us.

“Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn’t struggle or run away.”

The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear—God’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, how I’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.”

_MG_4646Genesis 22

I am following my friend Amanda’s Advent Stitch-A-Long. You can find instructions for today’s ornament here. Prep instructions by Amanda are here.

The book used for the Advent reading is The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more information the book here or buy it on Amazon here.


{Advent} A Giant Staircase to Heaven

“You see, God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could never get back to heaven by themselves. People didn’t need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to  heaven wasn’t a staircase, it was a Person.”

At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language. It so happened that as they moved out of the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down. They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and fire them well.” They used brick for stone and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.” God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built. God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.” Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That’s how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into “babble.” From there God scattered them all over the world.

_MG_4314Genesis 11

I am following my friend Amanda’s Advent Stitch-A-Long. You can find instructions for today’s ornament here. Prep instructions by Amanda are here.

The book used for the Advent reading is The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more information the book here or buy it on Amazon here.

{Craguns} Fishing to be had

Jordan is growing up so fast. Too fast. He just turned 5 and has started kindergarten. He loved fishing off the dock just outside the cabin at Craguns, and even caught a few fish! One fish didn’t make it, though, and even thought Rob labored to release the fish from the hook, it was just too deep in there.

And Jordan’s response to his dead fish? “God solved his death because He wants the fish in heaven with Him.”

_MG_1123 _MG_1119 _MG_1112 _MG_1108 _MG_0680 _MG_0674 _MG_0670 _MG_0665 _MG_0659