Hindsight

My favorite part of every day is right after waking up in the morning. During my first cup of coffee, Ella knows it’s time to leave mommy alone to read her bible and sip in peace. The absolute best part of this tradition is seeing her imagination develop as she plays solo. I can’t get enough of seeing how she cares for her baby, runs away from a monster (“Don’t worry mom, he’s nice to me!”), or dresses up as a princess.

This morning, while Ella counted farm animals and determined they were eating all the apples in the trees, I was thinking about how much has happened in one year. Toddlers have a way of making you realize how quickly time goes by, since they are such sponges, absorbing everything you teach them (accidentally or not) in such a short period.

Exactly one year ago, I had my first symptoms of RA and Lupus. It is surreal to look back and think that 52 weeks ago I had no idea what was going to happen, and how this unwelcome guest inside my body was going to decide to be a squatter for the rest of my days.

But this squatter has become more of an annoying guest that daily graces me with his presence rather than the all-consuming monster that ate my life. That monster was left in 2017 and there I intend for him to stay. I’ve had enough of him.

I will never be grateful for this disease. Never. But in coming out of a year that was my darkest, each day feels like a gift. “Gift” sounds so cheesy, but I literally cannot think of a more accurate descriptor.

When I awake I am thankful that I was able to sleep. A year ago marks the point where sleep became very truly next to impossible. I would cry until my body was so exhausted it had no choice but to ignore the pain and finally pass out. Now my crying is strictly for sappy movies and seeing how quickly Ella is growing. And the Cowboys not making playoffs.

When I awake, I sit up. Without wincing. And I am so thankful. Then, I get to place two feet on the floor and bear weight on them, stand all by myself, and walk myself down the stairs. These simple actions required two strong hands to support me through them all, and at least twenty more minutes.

I get to pick up my daughter, snuggle her close, and ask how she slept. I get to sit on the floor and help change baby’s outfit for the seventh time because this outfit matches the stroller much better, Mom.

I get to walk over to my coffee pot and make a cup of my favorite vice, inhale deeply, and praise God that I was physically able to get there. Not long ago, my incredible tribe of friends used to come over each day, make me coffee and help with Ella because my body could not do it. My hands and wrists did not have the strength to hold the pot. My legs could not support the ten steps to get there.

There are truly hundreds of moments in my day that I remember how big of a difference a year can make. I pray that my next flare up isn’t as lengthy or severe, but living each day knowing anything can happen helps keep so many priorities in line.

Yeah, yeah there’s still some stiffness and I’m getting strength back veeerrrrry slooooowly, but I cannot contain the joy that I have in finding a treatment that is working.

So thank you for a full year of prayers, happy thoughts, and sweet messages. Thank you for coming to my house and still being my friend, even though I was mostly a lump. Thank you for bringing us food, picking up our ClickList at Kroger, watching Ella, buying me wine, sharing books to read, bringing dessert, smiling and laughing and making me feel normal. I only hope I can pay forward the deluge of good things from this past year to someone else who needs it.

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Fa La La La Late

Motherhood has done nothing to curtail my procrastinating.

In college I always said that I had to wait until the last minute because journalists do not get the luxury of a generous timeline. Lies. I just like the drama of finishing something at the last minute. Or perhaps there is just something in my brain that is truly incapable of managing to complete a task without eking it out at the last minute. I have my theories, but we shall never know.

Wink.

Anyway, here is the rest of our festive alphabet fun, the quick rundown, a little late as per usual. I did not take photos of her letters past “T” because I just kept forgetting to, y’all. The excitement of Santa’s arrival was too much. You’re just going to have to trust me we wrote them, okay?

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I love every one of these letters. These are her first attempts at each. Now she’s pretty flawless at “M,” so it’s fun to see her first try! “S” is still written as she has it here. We’ve been working on writing it with my hand over hers and it’s coming along slowly but surely. I’m so proud of this girl!!! By two and half, I bet she will be a pro.

Here’s what we ended up doing for our daily activities. Some are different than originally planned because, life.

Merry Christmas, and Haaaappy Hoooolidayyys. Yes we did dance to NSYNC. More importantly, we made cookies with friends. Pictured is E showing my sweet and wonderful goddaughter how to work Sophie the Giraffe. She was very serious in her description of exactly how to squeeze her to make the best squeak sound.

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North Pole! We did not make a gingerbread house. Since there was a lot of baking the day before, I decided I didn’t want to make my kitchen messy again. Sometimes a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do. We instead stayed in our pajamas for far too long and watched the first two Santa Clause movies and talked about all of Santa’s friends at the North Pole.

O Christmas Tree. THIS WAS MY FAVORITE ACTIVITY!! We had so much fun making the Christmas tree together and putting the ornaments on over and over again. I had originally intended on using the hearts from the sorting activity from day “I” as ornaments, but my very particular toddler informed me that the hearts were for sorting and were not ornaments. So out came the felt and the scissors. I have photos of this day on my instagram, but if you’re reading this you’re probably already following me on instagram because we are real life friends and have probably already seen this.

Polar Express and pajama day was as fun as I anticipated. We have a Melissa and Doug train set that we got out and pretended it was going to the North Pole. I had really good intentions of making hot chocolate, but E wanted chocolate milk instead, so I just had yet another cup of coffee. Does anyone else cry at the end when he talks about growing up and everyone he knows not being able to hear the bell anymore??!?

Quilting day did happen (a couple of them in fact), but we did not make a baby doll quilt. E helped me with a quilt gift for my aunt for Christmas! In fact, I took this photo from her because I forgot to snap a picture. E likes to be the basting pin hander-outer and fabric stealer. She also likes to tie fabric around her shoulders and pretend she’s Daniel Tiger. Basically, she’s the best sewing companion.

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was her favorite of all the Christmas movies, and later she found a Clarice from Hobby Lobby that smells like chocolate. Why is this a toy? I don’t know. But E has never experienced anything more hilarious in her life than smelling this reindeer. I could hear her with her Daddy across the entire store cracking up and yelling, “It smells like chocolate!!!.” Clearly, she came home with us.

Snowflake Day! And scissors! E was introduced to scissors this holiday season, which will be a part of her preschool curriculum we are starting in January. We attempting snowflakes and she discovered a love of fringe. Check out these fine motor skills we are building! Hooray! We also watched Daniel Tiger’s Snowflake Day episode. E started acting a bit run down today.IMG_5876.jpg

did not stand for “tidings,” but instead stood for “time to take naps.” It was well-spent, as my sweet girl was nursing a cold.

Up on the housetop. We did build block towers, and then we built paper towel forts and threw our snowballs at each other. E was still recovering from feeling sick. Spoiler alert: She felt better before Santa visited!

VERY SURPRISING VISITORS! My out-of-state parents came to town! (It was a good surprise, we love them a lot.) Our “v” day was definitely my favorite Christmas surprise! I wish I would have gotten a photo of E’s face when she saw them. I’ve never seen a smile so big!

Winding down. Since E was still recovering, from her illness, we practiced our letters on her magna-doodle and snuggled a lot. We ate Thai food and after E went to sleep, I got to be Santa for the first time, since E didn’t really care/realize what was going on last year and the year before. M and I watched my all-time favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard. A perfect Christmas Eve, observed.

X-mas morning at our house! E asked Santa for a pink robot (yeah, I have no idea where that came from either, so I ended up making one–pic on instagram) and a baby. She received both and was thrilled.

Yelling at the Cowboys game. There goes playoffs. Also, a beautiful Christmas Eve with my in-laws and Granny. E cracked us all up by asking each of us individually several times if we were done eating so she could open presents. It’s so hard to wait! Even when the food is delicious!

Zzzzz. Resting after a fantastic holiday season.

I hope yours was also merry and bright.

Jesus, Kris Kringle, and a Snowball Fight

I was not a good photographer this weekend. Actually, I’m never that great of a photographer. Back in my marketing days I was great at telling you what photos I needed, by capturing them myself was not my forte. So thanks for reading my little posts even with bad light, angles, aperture, zoom, flash, camera words.

Anyway, too much fun was happening to stop and take pictures! I try to remember!

Saturday mornings are always tumbling, so J was for jumping. Afterward was a beautiful time of learning the Christmas story and acting it out with our Little People Nativity. E asked precious questions about baby Jesus being born in the stable, and declared that Mary loved her tiny child over and over, a quote from one of her favorite books. Then she decided Jesus needed to play soccer with her. I think Jesus would be all in.

Writing went well, too. It was the only writing picture I got the past couple days–oops!

J was also for Aunt Jenni, my college roommate and one of E’s favorite humans. Mama had a girls night out, and I have to say that I can tell I’ve grown into an adult because I had the foresight to save my last taco from my Taco Bell Big Box for after we hit up my favorite brewery. #personalgrowth

Kris Kringle was the subject of our K discussions, and E got to see Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town. She enjoyed and actually watched most of it! We did not do a structured educational activity about Santa, because some days we just don’t. We did get to bake cutouts with friends! It was only 20% dough eating, 80% cookie cutting and I call that a win.

In the evening, E and I did a super fun craft together in preparation for our Let It Snow day! I took $1.97 white kids microfiber tights from Walmart, and had E stuff a couple handfuls of polyfill in the toe. Then I sewed two rows of stitches 1/4″ apart to close the polyfill in, and cut between the rows so it was like there was a new toe to stuff each time.

Voilà! Snowballs that are safe to chuck at each other and household objects with minimal damage!! I got this idea from a music class we used to regularly attend. Yes, I realize they are not a classic ball shape, but E didn’t seem to mind 😊❤️

During L day we had a fantastic play date with friends that included alphabet puzzles, Little People, and a pretty spectacular version of Jingle Bells sung by three toddlers accompanying themselves with bells and a tambourine.

We of course had to listen to, “Let It Snow.” E and I had several snowball fights throughout the day, and she made “snowball soup,” mentioned in one of her Little Critter books. This consists of snowballs in a pan and pretending to feed them to various stuffies.

I can’t recommend the indoor snowballs enough. We had so much fun making them together and even more fun throwing them at each other.

Now excuse me while I get some rest. I have a big day of baking and dancing to *NSYNC tomorrow.

I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

What do I care how much it may storm. I’ve got my love to keep me warm.

How fitting our letter “I” theme comes about the day after such a snowy day for so many people! I’m jealous of my family in Pennsylvania that has enough to build a snowman. We’ve not shared this tidbit with E who acts out the entire song, “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” at our front door. She’d demand an immediate trip to a more Arctic climate.

Our “H” day yesterday was fun, but we didn’t spend much time on an organized activity to share. Uppercase “H” went over well, and our activity was hot chocolate, snuggles, and a way too short nap because E was too excited about the promise of a Christmas cookie.

Today was special because we talked a lot about love and giving. We spent the morning sorting out E’s big girl toys and stuffies from her baby ones, and will be donating the ones she’s outgrown to a local church that gives families a chance to shop for toys in great shape at no cost to them. I was proud of how she listened and sorted, but admit I snuck the box away at an opportune moment because she is only two and is passionate about things that are hers.

We also spent time looking at photos of family and friends we love. This led to a conversation about Daniel Tiger’s family and how he loves them, too. And how we need to go fix the clock factory after the storm, so off we went by trolley to the land of make believe.

Our learning activity today was another game with felt. I know people are all, oh cashmere and shearling are the fabrics of Christmas but y’all, it’s really felt. With some hot glue thrown in. You heard it here first. #trendsetter

I cut a bunch of hearts out of different colors and mixed them all up. E sorted them by color and had a lot of fun doing it! We (unsuccessfully) tried identifying patterns. I think that will be an awesome skill to work up to, but we aren’t quite there yet.

“I” has taken the place of “E” for the most beloved letter. She enjoys making the dot on the lowercase version.

The most perfect part of today was when E started singing and dancing to our song of the day. We listened to the Dean Martin version, of course, as well as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Ingrid Michaelson. E particularly enjoyed the Ingrid Michaelson version, and I have to say, I did too!

My apologies to the classics.

Hope this inspires you to get into the holiday spirit with your kiddo! Let me know if you have any fun letter activities you’ve been doing–we would love to join! 🎄

Elves, Football and Trick-or-Treating

If you do not have a toddler at home, you may be unfamiliar with Daniel Tiger. He’s the sweet puppet from Mister Rogers turned cartoon character who teaches songs and life lessons, and is my daughter’s absolute favorite character.

One of her daily activities is to have me tie a bandana around her neck, and she runs around the house yelling, “SUPER DANIEL!!” at the top of her lungs. It’s as awesome as it sounds.

The past few days have been what I think of as Super Daniel days. I haven’t posted much about my health as of late, but I’m doing incredibly well–a well that I couldn’t remember feeling a couple short months ago. My doctor and I have found a meds combo that’s working, and I truly am starting to feel like myself again, with just a few quirks here and there.

Whenever I have Super Daniel days, I like to go go go and enjoy every last moment. There’s a lot of playing and not much writing or sitting down–I sit enough on other days! So here’s a little catch up on the fun we’ve been having.

The Letter E

Clearly, this is the king of all letters. E learned this letter first, and is an old pro at it by now. Our Christmas activity was to make pancakes and watch Elf. We had E’s partner in crime over for our breakfast party, and the girls got so distracted by playing that the movie was a flop.

After our play date, I started the movie over because uhh, I love it, and she got into it before her nap. Since her angel ornament went over so well, we decided to make an elf for our tree. I definitely winged it, but think he turned out pretty cute! E is also becoming a hot glue gun pro.

The Letter F

Ever since she saw Frozen for the first time, E has been begging to build a snowman. She acts out the entire song and thinks I’m cruel for not letting her build one. When I try to explain that we do not have snow to build a snowman, she asks to go to Mimi and Papa’s house. I cannot win.

I thought with this love of snowmen, Frosty would be a favorite for sure. Nope. She didn’t really care. I even got corrected when I shared that the letter “F” was for Frosty.

“No mommy, ‘F’ is for ‘football.'”

I think that was one of my proudest moments as a mom.

What she did love about her snowman-themed day was playing with her felt snowman, especially recreating his face over and over and announcing whether he was happy or sad. This little snowman was a gift from my mother-in-law who picked it up at the dollar store–totally worth it and you need one. E was entertained for so long! I tried to get a picture, but she told me she was too busy to smile.

Writing “F” was pretty easy-peasy for her after E, so she shared how to do it with some friends. She also just learned how to wink and had to show off her mad skills.

The Letter G

“Can I go trick-or-treating with the Grinch?”

From the moment she first experienced going door to door and receiving candy from strangers, E has been wanting to reenact Halloween. When we saw the Grinch, she thought he was going trick-or-treating and immediately became jealous.

Sorry, love. Not til next year.

Apart from causing great envy from my dear toddler’s sweet tooth, the Grinch did help us learn the letter “G”! She prefers to write the lowercase version.

We discussed how the Grinch’s heart grew, and how he became kind and generous to others. Then we talked about how we can be kind and generous and think of others as well. To show our love for Daddy, we decided to make him some art. Thanks Pinterest and Michelle from Crafty Morning!

This project was tons of fun–we used tempera paint on canvas and a metallic Sharpie. I don’t think I’m quite the potato cutting master that Michelle is, but E didn’t mind.

E loved using the stamps and made several more pages full of ornaments after we were done with the canvas.

Here’s the final project:

If you’re playing along with our alphabet, let me know if you’ve come up with some fun days, too!

B is for Baking

Important public service announcement: Red Cherries and Maraschino Cherries are NOT the same thing. Red Cherries taste like Robitussin and are horrifying. Don’t be misled by their cheery color and identical exterior–they’re imposters!

That being said, we had so much fun making this recipe, recommended by a friend. They turned out delicious and had excellent active toddler steps–dumping ingredients into the mixer, rolling the dough balls, rolling them in nuts, and topping with cherries. Yum!

Baking is one of E’s very favorite things, so she was in her element. The recipe calls for a 2 hour chill time, so we had some extra time for letters, playing, and getting dinner started.

I’m so proud of E’s letter work. She’s having a lot of fun and got to practice them with her Daddy today. I posted her progress on Instagram.

Someday she will probably ask why I take photos of every detail of her life.

C is for Change of Plans, D is for Decorating

Today is not baking day. We had a better idea.

Since it is Saturday, Daddy is home and we decided to decorate our tree! Sweet girl had tumbling class in the morning, so Daddy brought down all our ornaments from storage, and I put the ribbon and picks in the tree while E was learning back bends, parallel bars, and forward rolls.

I recommend any solo tree trimming you may do this holiday season to be accompanied by a peppermint mocha and dancing to Gwen Stefani’s new Christmas album, but you do you.

Tree trimming with a two year-old is adorable, and I want to take the tree down just so we can do it again. She tries to hug and kiss all the ornaments, which leads to the parenting problem of not wanting her to knock the tree over, but loving her sweet spirit. We had to move the Minnie Mouse ornament my mom got her for her first Christmas out of reach because she was starting to love it a little too aggressively.

Another decorative Christmas tradition we have is to put out the carousel nativity our Best Man and Matron of Honor gifted us several years back. The top has propellers, and the heat rising from the candles makes it spin. E is fascinated by this. We also got to work on some fine motor skills during setup by inserting each propeller in the proper place.

Since this whole alphabet thing is supposed to be a fun way to learn, I’m not taking letter order or my initial ideas too seriously. This is real life, and sometimes we have no sugar and need to grocery shop but don’t want to. So today, “C” is for carousel and “D” is for decorating, and it is perfect.

A fun weekend perk–Daddy gets to help with letter practice! She is pretty solid with C and D identification, and is just starting to write them (or what will eventually look like them). We practiced on her magnetic doodle board, chalk board, and hopped around on her letter mat. She was really in the mood to write the letter F, so we rolled with that too.

Y’all don’t worry, we did end up grocery shopping, so the letter B will not be neglected much longer! So ready for some holiday treats. 🤶🏻

A is for Angel. And Accidents.

Last night my sweet girl was helping cook dinner. It’s one of her favorite things to do. Her Papaw thoughtfully built us a learning tower that’s the perfect size for my kitchen and had a stool that nestles into the bottom. It’s the bomb.

Well, my joyous toddler was turning to say something about the sweet potato I was chopping, and she slipped and smashed her face onto the railing. I think we both did a great job of keeping our cool while my neighbor, who is a dear friend and truly the best neighbor ever, ran ice over in her bare feet as fast as she could because I was out.

Long story short, my baby started this advent season with a fat lip, torn frenulum, cut gums, and a restless night.

Morning miraculously brought a cheerful girl, so we did our “A” activity right after breakfast. Here is where I listed the full alphabet plan if you’d like to take a gander.

We like to practice letters together on our magnetic doodle board, so we did that first.

She informed me, “Mommy, ‘A’ is a little bit tricky.” Agreed, little one. She’s great at identifying this one. I explained how to draw it by saying the arms of the “A” are high-fiving at the top, which was largely unsuccessful. Now we just high five a lot while discussing “A,” and she writes it how she wants to write it. I’m proud of her attempt!

After some more practice, we talked about how “angel” starts with “A,” and how the angel told Mary she was going to be a mommy to baby Jesus. E loves the Little People nativity, so we can act the Christmas story out. Usually the angel turns into Super Daniel from Daniel Tiger.

As for making an angel ornament, I looked up a bunch on Pinterest and used none of them because they were way too involved for our little morning activity. I think the key to successful crafting with a toddler is brevity.

I cut a circle, a triangle, and some hair out of felt and got out my low temperature hot glue gun. E helped me squirt glue onto the felt and helped push down the pieces.

Ta-da! Okay we aren’t done. I had some eyelet trim I cut for the wings, and made them by gluing the cut edges down a wee bit so it doesn’t fray, and having E glue them to the back of the triangle. Then we added a loop of ribbon.

To finish it, I cut another piece of felt for the back and glued it on top. Make sense? Good.

Now the best part!! E drew a face on our angel and decorated his robe. She LOVES drawing faces, which is fun.

Our angel is a little Grinch-y. I love it so much and can’t wait til she’s older and I show her how “A” is for “angry angel.”

She can’t wait to decorate our tree tomorrow! I can’t either. We are headed to a festival in a small town near us where we will meet Santa, see lights, and drink hot chocolate with some wonderful friends.

And probably some Baking Cookies in there somewhere 😉

Let me know if you decided to have your own “A” day, too!

Christmas A to Z

I’ve been obsessing over focusing on teaching E the alphabet lately. She’s been singing it for a very long time, but we are working on letter identification and writing now.

Another obsession: Christmas. I am over the moon to start sharing all the Holly Jolly with E now that she’s older. While she was sleeping yesterday I came up with a plan and wanted to share it if you have a little one learning the alphabet, too!

Here it is in list form as texted in a fit of excitement to my husband. We will work on identifying and writing that letter each morning and afternoon, as well as the Christmas activity.

1. Angel: Read about the angel telling Mary she’s going to be a mommy to Jesus. Make an angel ornament.

2. Baking Cookies: B&C. Self explanatory. Utilize the 6lbs of butter sitting in fridge because it was on sale.

3. Do You Hear What I Hear: Talk about the shepherds and make a sheep ornament. Also listen to that song because it’s great.

4. Elves: Watch Elf. Snuggle. Eat pancakes and syrup. This sounds like the best day ever.

5. Frosty the Snowman: Build a felt snowman and watch Frosty the Snowman.

6. Grinch: Read “The Grinch,” and do something kind for Daddy since we are not like the Grinch.

7. Hot Chocolate: Make hot chocolate duh. Put bourbon cream in mommy’s. Ha.

8. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm: Go through pictures of family and friends and talk about how we show we love each other. Donate stuffed animals to friends who need some extra snuggles this Christmas to the fire station.

9. Jesus: Read the Christmas story and play with our nativity.

10. Kris Kringle: Learn all about Santa and how he teaches us to be kind, and watch Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. Eat Berger Meister Meister Burgers, which I just made up but bet someone has done this on Pinterest.

11. Let it Snow! Talk about winter weather and have a play snowball fight. Watch The Year Without A Santa Claus (with the snow miser! This is Daddy’s favorite).

12. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays: Dance party to NSYNC’s classic. Bake more cookies.

13. North Pole: Make a gingerbread North Pole. Or color North Pole coloring pages and watch The Santa Clause if I’m feeling less ambitious.

14. O Christmas Tree: Decorate a felt tree, watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Don’t you judge all my screen time.

15. Polar Express: Play with trains, read Polar Express, wear pajamas all day.

17. Quilt: Sew a baby doll quilt for baby. Little do you know, you’re getting a Bitty Baby for Christmas, sweet girl. Muahaha! (Yes I’m aware this is out of order. We have a plan to do Rudolph on a Saturday 😊)

16. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Movie, craft, reindeer snacks!

18. Star: Read and talk about how the shepherds and wise men followed the star. Cutout cookies day!

19. Tidings we bring to you and your kin: Make Christmas cards for friends and family.

20. Up on the Housetop: Build with blocks to make chimneys for Santa to go down. Knock them over. Build them again.

21. Visions of sugarplums danced in their heads—Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

22. Wise Men: Receive three gifts—spoiler alert, new books–play hide and seek with the wise men. This is our at home Christmas Eve. Make ahead Christmas breakfast cinnamon rolls and casserole. This doesn’t have to do with wise men, but yum. Set out cookies for Santa and reindeer treats.

23. Xmas morning at home.

24. Y & Z: Year in review: Look at photos of the past year from Chatbooks and talk about all the ways we are proud of how she’s grown. Talk about goals for next year. Then Zzzzz: New jammies and hit the hay because tomorrow is Christmas morning with Memaw and Papaw.

Isn’t that fun??? I can’t wait. I plan to write a small post each and take some photos. You should play, too!

Broccoli and Chocolate

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Neh 8:10 

I felt the same sentiment toward this often repeated section of a verse as the sentiment John Green shared about another common platitude for sufferers in A Fault in our Stars. 

“Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”

Strength. 

Joy. 

I’ve heard it a thousand times growing up in church and didn’t really see how joy could be defined as a strength. A comfort? Sure. A benefit? Yes, that makes sense. But a strength

Before I was sick I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about strength. When I did, it was always in reference to working out and fitting into some cute sundresses. Strength training. Strength building. Dress fitting. 

True physical weakness brought about some pretty intense lessons in humility. Going from an active lifestyle to being unable to stand is strange. Your mind is telling your body to do all these normal things you thoughtlessly took for granted and it won’t listen. And it hurts. A lot. Inside and outside. You literally can’t even! You don’t have the strength to do it. How odd. 

That’s what I remember thinking the most at the beginning. How very strange it was that my limbs weren’t listening to me. 

Riding around in a wheelchair has taught me a bit more about humility. It’s humbling to be pushed through a crowd of normal people and have them stare at you, smile a little too much and use small words, or avoid eye contact completely in a pitying sort of way. I want to scream, “I’m perfectly normal! My legs just don’t work sometimes! Please stop looking at me like I’m a tragedy or my brain doesnt work!” 

When you’re in a wheelchair, your disease automatically comes up, too. It’s okay. I understand. You’re curious. But I know after you hear my sad little story, you’re going to look at me with sad little eyes and tell me how sad you are that all these sad things are happening to me. Thank you. I know you’re sincere, but a discussion outlining how sad your life is with every well-intentioned person you haven’t seen in a bit can wear on your nerves. 

You see, I don’t need your sadness. I have a strength in me that I didn’t realize until I tapped into it at my weakest point. 

Joy. 

Currently, I’m in a really great place physically. I mentioned it in my last post, and things are still getting better each week, which is quite frankly a dream come true and I am thrilled. But the happiness that comes with feeling better each day is so easy and fickle, as it is entirely based on what my whacked out antibodies decide to do. Happiness can’t even compare to joy. There is no substance—nothing to hold. 

That little verse in Nehemiah 8, which also advises to drink some sweet wine—cheers!— declares that the joy of the Lord is your strength. A little background: Nehemiah wasn’t a priest. I feel like it’s so easy to look at Old Testament stories and think to myself, “Well, of course he had a big purpose, he was high up in the church.”

 Nope. Nehemiah was actually a regular career guy, more specifically in the field of Persian politics, and God was able to use him to bring some restoration to the Jews after Babylonian captivity. There were obstacles and challenges, but He really used this man and his career for a greater purpose. 

This brings me joy. Not to be confused with a constant state of euphoria. That’s unrealistic and probably pretty annoying in a person. 

I have purpose, and purpose is where my joy resides, giving me the confidence to handle any challenge, disease-related or otherwise.  A knowledge that whatever pain the day may bring, it’s 24 hours where I have a chance to take a small step toward achieving my purpose for living in this world.