Sometimes the more you say or hear a word the more foreign it becomes. Sometimes the more greasy, from handling, a concept gets the harder it is to get a grasp. I think joy can be like that, which is really sad because…joy.
I’ve been thinking on a particular string of words most of this week, the joy of Jesus. I learned of an old song by one of my favorite artists, Rich Mullins. One of its lines: “May the joy of Jesus be in you.”
It keeps occurring to me that joy, like love, is a thing that wants to and can shine brightest, and vibrate loudest, when the cacophany of sights and noise around us is most bitter, most overcast, most sad. But we don’t always perceive it that way.
It’s easy to mistake joy for a smile and when a smile is hard to find, it’s easy to feel joy is lost too. We, who still wear skin, often think we need wait for the stars to align and perfect unity of desire to be fulfilled, to feel such ethereal realities. As for the truth however, it is through heart sorrow in this life that we most can grow in knowing: joy is for here.
The joy of Jesus, it is said, was such that he endured a cross, saw shame as no thing, looked at us, and saw worth.
So I have this prayer bubbling up inside me: May the joy of Jesus be with, in, and all around you.
This week my family said goodbye to the matriarch of our family. She did little to lay hold of that claim, but it was still who she was. And as with many things, we don’t always realize what is until it’s lost.
When I was a little girl, my grandma lived in a beautiful house with white walls and white furniture that I was afraid to scuff. The lights on her Christmas trees were the most magical, her home the most mysterious in wonder. And all these things, I could not, should not, touch. I thought.
When I became a woman I realized my Grandma lived in a house just like I did. We became friends and shared wonder together, though worlds apart.
It turns out what feels like mystery often is more an invitation to come closer, rather than to fear. It also turns out that sometimes you have to become like a child again to understand better what you missed the first time around. Pain sure can disguise all of this. But joy, still waits.
I was given the privilege to share a bit about my grandma’s life, these were the words I found:
Mabel Ruth Kiesel
7/13/1927 – 6/12/2018
In life she loved her family and in death she was surrounded by many of them. Mabel Ruth Kiesel, of Bentonville, Arkansas passed on from this world on June 12, 2018. She lived ninety years and eleven months on this earth.
At 17 years of age she met Oliver Otto Paul Kiesel and after knowing him for only two months, she became his wife, faithfully loving him for over sixty three years. Otto told the story that he knew he was “hooked” by the afternoon of the first day he met her, saying she was “the best looking gal I had ever met.” Together, they built a family of six children. (Grandma tasted joy.)
For seventy-three years she was a dedicated mother to her children, and became a beloved grandmother to nineteen grandchildren, forty-five great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren, so far. That’s a long time and a lot of people —seventy-six people— on the face of this earth who had their origination in Ruth and Otto.
She was predeceased by her husband, as well as by their daughter at nineteen years of age, their daughter-in-law, several grandchildren, her parents, as well as by all of her beloved siblings though she was second to youngest. (Grandma knew sorrow.)
She is survived by five of her children, and seventy grandchildren.
This is quite a legacy for a girl born on a farm in the small rural town of Poseyville, Indiana on July 13, 1927. She traveled widely with her husband to many places and made a house a home many times over moving from E-town (as Grandpa called Evansville) Indiana to Watsonville & Palo Alto, California, then Moberly, Missouri, and finally Benton County, Arkansas as she supported her husband and their son to build, from the ground up, a home-building company now in business for forty-one years, still run by her grandson.
As a young mother Ruth taught her children songs, sewed their clothes, and enjoyed playing dolls with them. She was known for her enjoyment of simple pleasures with her family such as crafts, card games, shopping trips, and ice-cream cones. In the latter years of her life she was cared for by her daughter and her children, thereby being able to stay at home as she wanted until her final rest came. (Grandma wore skin, like us.)
Ruth Kiesel was herself. She grew more in awe of God the longer she lived. It was enough for her to be a wife, mother, and grandmother. We are grateful. We represent her here now.
How do I know Grandma grew more in awe of God the longer she lived? Because I grew with her. I grew because of her.
Through a child’s eyes distance is not the same kind of barrier as it has been through my own. So, tonight when I pray, though in sorrow over the way my family said good-bye to a part of themselves, I also have joy well up as I pray aloud because the cloud of witnesses enlarged this week and angels come near to listen.
And in all of this, maybe Grandma continues to help me grow in wonder. Maybe each of our lives can. Will we listen? Will we invite ourselves to a place that seems mysterious and as though we don’t belong…at first?
May the joy of Jesus be with you.
Hi, I’m Raynna Myers. I’m an author, photographer, homeschooling mom to six children, and a wife of 19 years. I’m creating to be the life-giver I was created to be, in the image of my Creator. This is where I share as I learn, because we need each other.
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