In October, I traveled “31 Days to Crazy Joy” with the author Ann Voskamp. Reading her book, “One Thousand Gifts”, has altered my slant on life and over the past year, counting joys and blessings has brought a richness and light to my days.
Recently, as I cast my eye about to catch others lit by crazy joy, I looked among the “saints” who’ve traveled this well-worn path with me, women who have been my mentors, my inspiration and my friends on this journey through motherhood and homeschooling. Imagine my delight when I spied joy glowing in the life of a brave young woman, the daughter of one of my dearest friends.
Talia, mama to three boys and loving wife to a tall Norwegian, would not say she is joyful many days. The two oldest boys….well, they’re rowdy and sometimes ornery and often try their mama’s patience. They are BOYS!
And the littlest one, Gideon, is a gift that comes bundled with challenges. Complications from an infection at birth sent Gideon to intensive care the first month of his life and left him with brain damage. While other nearly-three-year-olds are toddling, jabbering , declaring their independence, Gideon is learning to flex his arms and legs, working to gain strength and to find ways to communicate. He does it all flat on his back or in a special chair — silently, most of the time, but always with a sweet smile on his handsome face.
In a church pew on a recent autumn Sunday, gathered in his daddy’s arms, Gideon suffered seizures. The family rushed to one hospital, then on to another. Anxious hours, covered in a chain of prayer, brought a clearer understanding of his special condition, along with a new medication and a neurologist who has been added to Gideon’s team of specialists.
With joy shining through tear-filled eyes, Talia treasures loving words from her wise and godly husband, spoken as he drove his family home from the hospital:
“I’d rather be bringing Gideon home with medicine and a new diagnosis than standing by his hospital bed, waiting for him to wake up from brain surgery and wondering if he’ll live.”
So Talia makes adjustments, does more research about Gideon’s condition, deepens her prayer life and moves forward. Her days are full with homeschooling her sons, spinning wool, knitting, sewing, creating a home for her family.
In truth, says Talia, each one of her sons has “special” needs:
…a hand-sewn costume, designed and drawn by the oldest, Ezra, and lovingly recreated in his mama’s sewing room.
…a tramp through the woods for the fearless outdoorsman, Thor, whose curiosity has prompted more than one phone call to Poison Control.
…an immodest sprawl on the floor to get face-to-face with little Gideon, to capture that smile and see the world from his perspective.
Talia admits to a time of grieving when her son’s final diagnosis was made. She grieved for the normal family she wouldn’t have, for the freedom to plan adventures for her houseful of men. But after the grieving comes “eucharisteo” — gratitude and joy — over each good therapy session, over the gentleness learned by big brothers, over her own mother who lends a hand and wisdom when it’s called for, over a husband who sees the blessing in near-tragedy.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
The path Talia walks this day may not be one she would choose. But even on the hardest days, there is joy. This woman of God walks at his right hand, and claims His promises of eternal pleasures.
Earthly ones, too.