The other day, I was at a baby shower for my precious friend, Catherine. I met Catherine through work about five or so years ago. I was an Admissions Counselor and she was my go to Financial Aid Advisor for students. I could always count on her to make sure things did not slip through the cracks. Early on, much of our friendship was over the phone. Any time she wasn’t at work, I could always find myself missing her because things just weren’t getting done as well as they could. I remember once when she had been gone for several days, she was helping me with a particularly difficult case. I asked how she was feeling since she had been out sick. She mentioned she had been really sick because of a migraine. I could sympathize because I, too, have been incapacitated by them from time to time. Only, I found out that day that she had been suffering from a steady migraine for over TEN years! Thinking back to all the migraines that have had me bent over with vomiting and hiding from any light or noise, unable to do anything but sleep, I simply could not fathom living with a constant threat of any one of those conditions every single day. Yet, Catherine? She has consistently chosen joy in spite of it. And I’m starting to understand where she gets it from.
Catherine and her husband live in a home that has a really unique layout that accommodates them plus their soon coming baby on one floor, her parents on another floor, and her Nana on the main floor. They made a decision as a family to move into this home partly because of her health conditions and partly because her papaw and nana needed extra help as he was suffering from cancer. Last year within months of each other, Catherine and Ryan’s first sweet baby slipped into the arms of Jesus before she reached full term and her Papaw followed suit. My heart just ached for that family. But just like she did with her health issues, Catherine chose joy in these circumstances as well. So back to where she gets it from…
At the baby shower, I found myself beside the gorgeous spread of food along with Catherine’s Nana. “I just had a wonnnnnndddderful husband,” she said. “I miss him so much. He was so good to me and so Godly.” I told her I had heard how amazing he was and was so sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet him, and that I had been praying for them.
After a brief lull, she blurted out, “I just love to write!” My writer ears perked up. She went onto tell me that in January, she decided that she was going to sit down and write a devotional book to give each member of her family. She described how hard she worked on it, especially in the late summer months, and how God worked it out for her to get the best deal possible to have it printed.
I was quite impressed. She had such gumption and I so admired that. I thought back to Jon Acuff’s book, “Start,” and how he challenges people of all ages never to give up on their dreams and to simply begin making them happen by overcoming anxieties and hustling. Nana was getting it done and not letting the fact that she was 78 or that she had suffered side affects from a stroke years earlier get in her way!
Her love of writing didn’t stop with her self-published devotional, though. No, it spilled over into good old fashioned card and letter writing. She explained that there were a lot of ways that she really wanted to minister to people, but because of family schedules not always working out for her to get up and go visit, she was limited. So, she got the list of 50 or so home-bound people from our church and decided to write every one of them. One lady even had been hoping for a pen-pal, so that’s just what they are! Her pen pal writes Nana back the second she finishes reading the letter she has received. Yes, I can see who has taught Catherine what it means to choose joy.
“There are a lot of things I can’t do,” Nana shared in her thick Texas accent. “But this is something I can do! And I love it! You know, everyone can do something.”
I wanted to just fling my arms around her in gratitude for her huge heart and the wisdom she had just shared.
She’s right you, know. Everyone can do something.
I think about my Mimi, who with failing eye sight, prays faithfully for her family, friends, church, community, country, and world. That’s something.
I think about my Mama, who lives on a fixed income as a widow, cares for her own rapidly aging mother, invites lonely souls to her home to celebrate holidays, and sorts through her old stuff to use it to bless someone who needs it more. That’s something.
I think about Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned for his faith in Iran, and how he is being used to spread the gospel with people across all kinds of boarders and closed doors and how he prays faithfully for those who persecute him. That’s something.
I think of simple citizens who use their voices to speak on behalf the voiceless babies whose lives our country has deemed as optional. That’s something.
I think of my sister and sister-in-law, who have stayed up through the night just to show love and care to their sick or sleepless children. That’s something.
I think of people who I’ve seen on life support, and all they could do was lay there as the machines beeped. They reminded me of the brevity of life. That’s something.
I think of the janitor at our old church who would great me with an enthusiastic smile and kind word every time I would walk into work. That’s something.
I think of the compassionate EMT workers who took such good care of my Mimi when she collapsed and offered calming reassurance to our family on the ambulance ride over. That’s something.
I think of the texts and emails friends have sent, which to them may have seemed random, but have caught me at moments when I desperately needed encouragement. That’s something.
Yes, everyone can do something. Each of us are accountable for deciding to do it.
No matter how small or great the task, there is much purpose for each job the Lord has presented for us to do. Don’t let your conditions keep you from being perceptive of the needs that exist all around you. There may be a lot of stuff you want to do, but can’t. That’s alright. Move forward with the notion that there is something you can do. Look for it, pray for it, find it, and do it. That’s all. Just do it.
If I chose one word to summarize what God is speaking to me this year so far, it would be, “nike.” Not only is this word on my heart because it’s Greek translation means, “victory,” but also because of the shoe company’s age old slogan, “Just Do It.” My fast approaching 30th Birthday has had me weighing what I hope to accomplish in this life and how those things lines up with God’s purpose for my life. Sometimes I’ve let my inability to do certain things stop me from doing, well, anything.
But nearly 30 years later, God is boldly cheering me as a coach would to watch carefully for the tasks He presents for me to accomplish, to lace my Nikes up and just do it.
Because everyone can do something.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5 ESV
I love your post. I just began leading a women’s study on JOY and your thoughts fit to a “T”.
Well done!! I am drawn immediately to those who shine the light of God’s Presence and Provision. Those just like your friend. Because of Jesus.
Thank you so much for the encouragement, Jeanne! And how neat that God would lead you to this precise post as you begin leading your study on joy! I love how marvelously He works! May God bless this season of ministry for you and let your joy in Him be your strength and contagious to each person you meet! Please do stop by again! Blessings to you, sister!