Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Joy of Sisters

A sister shares childhood memories and grown up dreams. ~Author unknown

I had the privilege of co-speaking with my sister this week for the Women of Worth at Interchurch Holiness Convention.  It was a first for us, but such fun--of course everything is more fun with a sister. The theme of the convention was "The Things that Really Matter."  Melodie and I chose "Joy Really Does Matter" for our topic. I'm too exhausted to write a post for the weekend, so thought you might enjoy this first opener we did together.  From there, we both told our stories of grief separately, coming back to tie it together at the end.   

We’re sisters --
One older,
And one younger;
Yet both blessed.

We come from Carl, a giver,
And Dottie, an encourager;
Baby Brother Craig,
In full time ministry.

We’re from rural Pennsylvania --
Cessna coal country;
Home of Oll instead of oil,
And where we worsh instead of wash.
We’re from the spring in our woods,
And grape vine swings.

We’re from Hillsdale Wesleyan Methodist Church
And the old wooden altar where sins were forgiven.
We’re from youth camps at Stoneboro,
And once-a-month youth rallies.

Decorating by Linda Davidson
We are from Friday night trips to town,
And a library full of adventures.
We are from Indiana Wesleyan School,
From Morrises and Larry Muir educating sacrificially.

We are from family vacations in South Dakota,
And rambling roses from the New England states.
We’re from the healthy colors of an artist mother,
Of handwritten letters and china teapots.

We’re from Daddy’s hugs and protective care,
Of homemade ice cream and the color red.
We’re from a Daddy who made it easy to believe our Heavenly Father loves us,
And from a mother who lived the fruit of the Spirit.
We’re from forgiveness and love,

And faithful church attendance.

So many places, activities and wanderings make up who we are, but one stands out:
We are from joy!
Our mother was the epitome of joy.
Not happiness dependent on an outward gift or circumstance
But in obedience to the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:16 --
Be joyful always.

Mom’s favorite saying is, “Sometimes you have to make your own sunshine,” --
Because we all know outward circumstances don’t always make us happy,
But INWARD joy encourages us to look for the good.

Joy that carried her through a father who lived many years in a tuberculosis sanitarium,
Through severe back pain,
And an early death of her mother.
Joy through a diagnosis of cancer – first Mom then Daddy,
And through the death of two granddaughters and a best friend.
Of losing a son-in-law and sharing the grieving process with her daughter...
And still, her joy lives on.

We were birthed with a double portion of joy --
A Daddy who loved family vacations
And little honeymoons with mom.
We asked Daddy about work during a crisis time.
He laughed and said, “Oh I hung those problems on a tree outside.”
That joy enabled him to love us and Mother unconditionally.
We knew we wanted marriages just like theirs.

From there my story is different from my sister’s.
And both of our stories are different from yours.
We’ve all gone through hard times but the thing that really matters is that we choose joy.

We are keenly aware that our losses are not the only ones suffered. 
Some of you, our dear sisters-in-Christ, have faced many more heartaches.  God will meet you in your grief.
We challenge you in the midst of it all, Look for Joy!  
Fanny Crosby caught a glimpse of it through the darkness all around her – Remember her song? “GUSHING from the rock before me, lo a spring of JOY I see!”
Choosing Joy really does matter.
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